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Damore's Google Memo NLRB Complaint Rejected: More misrepresentations

Uploaded: Feb 17, 2018
James Damore was fired for an internal memo he wrote about Google diversity programs and political biases. The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) effectively rejected his complaint--he reportedly withdrew it after seeing a memo from the NLRB staff recommending rejection.

I have written here twice about the Damore memo and his firing because it is a good example of the declining ability to hold honest debate on important issues.(foot#1) The memo was carefully written and was the sole basis for the subsequent debate, thereby making for a very clean debate: no prior context, no competing sources.

The topic here is honest debate -- discussions of the merits of the memo's contents are off-topic.

Important notes: When I refer to the Damore memo "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber: How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion", I am referring to the publicly available version, which is purported to be the version that led to Damore's firing (minus the initial section "Reply to public response and misrepresentation"?). By all accounts, this memo when through many drafts making improvements, including incorporating suggestions from other employees. The NLRB Advice Memo is an administrative law document, and I will be assuming that it was carefully drafted. I am not a lawyer, nor do I make any pretense at having expertise in the law, so I may miss situation where the legal language differs significantly from normal English. I am omitting the corresponding qualifiers with the expectation that the reader will know to insert them.
I have made substitutions within quotes, replacing obvious redaction and changing "The Employer" to "Google" and "Charging Party" to "Damore". Unfortunately the usual means for marking such - square brackets - can't be used in this blogging software, and curly and angle brackets also have problems. Consequently, I chose to use carets ("^").

Disclaimer: I have no connections, current or past, to Google or Damore. My interest in this case is only as an illustration of more pervasive issues.

The opening (summary) paragraph indicates a strong bias against Damore.
Recognize that the bias might be to favor the employer over the employee, or it might be a bias from political ideology.
NLRB memo: "Assuming, arguendo^^for the sake of argument, but not directly bearing on the remainder of the discussion^^, that ^Damore^'s conduct was concerted and for the purpose of mutual aid and protection, we conclude that the memorandum included both protected and unprotected statements and that the Employer discharged ^Damore^ solely for ^Damore's^ unprotected statements."
I would paraphrase this as "We have no evidence of this, but it will be the foundation of our decision." Furthermore, in reading the Damore memo I spotted no discontinuities indicating protected statements had been shoehorned in.

The opening sentence is "...whether...when ^Damore^ circulated a memorandum in opposition to the Employer's diversity initiatives..." Uh, no. He didn't oppose the initiatives, but rather criticized certain components of those initiatives as being potentially illegal, ineffective and counter-productive (my words). And the Damore memo has a top-level section entitled "Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap". And the memo's subtitle is "How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion". So the NLRB memo decides that suggestions for improvement constitute opposition? However on page 2, the NLRB characterization of the memo changes to "outlining ^Damore's^ concerns about the effectiveness and necessity of the Employer's programs..." and "specific critiques of many of the Employer's inclusion and diversity policies" (critiques are not opposition), and "a long list of suggestions to correct...".
So the recommended decision of the NLRB memo is in conflict with its body.

Further down page 2 of the NLRB memo states "^Damore^ also argued that there were immutable biological differences between men and women that were likely responsible for the gender gap in the tech industry at large and at the Employer in particular, ...".
Doubly wrong. First, genetic predisposition is not the same as "immutable", and the differences under discussion were only weakly correlated to gender. Second, the Damore memo attributed only some of the gap to gender differences and argued that some of the gap was the result of ineffective measures at Google. Note: Google itself acknowledges the effect of gender differences and attribute much of the gap to "the pipeline" -- only 20% of college graduates in Computer Science are women.(foot#2)

The NLRB staff apparently used a version of the memo different from the public version because the NLRB memo cites contents that are not in the public version of the memo.(foot#3) This is strange because this non-public version of the memo is "the version of the document upon which the Employer based its investigation". Yet, Google's CEO (and YouTube's CEO??) have stated that they cut short his vacation to address the reaction to the Damore memo that had become public. Recognize that that and earlier versions of the memo had been circulating inside Google for some time.
The other explanation is that the NLRB staff wasn't working from the Damore memo itself, but another party's representation of the memo.

Guilt based upon unwarranted perceptions of others:
NLRB memo, page 3: "On the Employer determined ^sic^ that certain portions of ^Damore's^ memorandum violated existing policies on harassment and discrimination." Neither Google nor the NLRB attempt to explain what harassment or discrimination by Damore occurred. Up until now, US law has been based upon actions and intent, but there is a shift attributing to people what others perceive as their intent, not matter how unwarranted and fallacious such perceptions are.(foot#4) We are also seeing an attitude that accusations equal proof, or as the Red Queen in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland said "Sentence first--verdict afterwards."

A disturbing trend over the past few years has been to equate expressing an opinion to committing physical violence against people with different views (words are violence). This is most prominently seen in the anti-Free Speech demonstrations and violence on college campuses, but it is now being seen in the wild. For example, opposition to having a law to compel the usage of the "preferred pronouns" of transgender individuals is being characterized by advocates as "threatening the existence" of transgender people. The NLRB memo (page 5, middle of paragraph 2) cites Google reporting that the Damore memo made employees "feel unsafe at work".

NLRB memo on page 5: "^Damore's^ use of stereotypes based on purported biological differences between men and women ..."
Doubly false. First, the definition of stereotype is "a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing." Damore's memo does not use stereotypes, but presents differences as distributions that have large overlaps and "Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions." (bottom of page 3). The Damore memo goes on to say "I'm also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I'm advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism)." So the NLRB memo attributes to Damore the polar opposite of what he said.

The NLRB memo further displays its bias with "notwithstanding effort to cloak ^his^ comments with 'scientific' references and analysis, and notwithstanding ^his^ 'not all women' disclaimers." First, I didn't find a single "not all women" phrase, or anything close, in the Damore memo. Second, I find the NLRB's rejection of replicated, peer-reviewed science as a disturbing, but unsurprising, sign of the times.

The NLRB memo's conclusion (bottom of page 5) is that "The Employer demonstrated that ^Damore^ was discharged only because of ^his^ unprotected discriminatory statements and not for expressing a dissenting view on matters affecting working conditions or offering critical feedback of its policies and programs, which were likely to be protected." So, Damore was discharged not for what was in his memo, but for what various Google employees and applicants falsely believed was in the memo.
Heck of a job, NLRB.

Google's decision to fire:
The NLRB memo on page 3 provides part of the statement that Google made to Damore when firing him. Its first sentence is, unsurprisingly, false: "Your post advanced and relied on offensive gender stereotypes to suggest that women cannot be successful in the same kinds of jobs at Google as men."
Stereotypes: see above. "women cannot": No. He said differences could lead to (small) differences in the proportion of women (high or low) in a particular job.
This false claim became a frequent part of the media coverage.

The end of this Google statement includes the protected-unprotected rationale reflected in the NLRB memo's decision.

So how did Google respond to actual harassment?
The NLRB memo cites a related case of a Google employee who sent Damore an email promising a campaign of harassment ("hounding") for which "The employee was issued a final warning" (page 2, end of paragraph 2 and footnote). In a case of "blaming the victim", the NLRB sides with Google in portraying this as appropriate discipline: Being targeted with misrepresentations and false perceptions is a fire-able offense, but an actual threat is far less serious.

Harm to Google?
NLBR memo (page 2, end of paragraph 2): "at least two female engineering candidates for employment withdrew from consideration, citing the memo as their reason for doing so." My inference is that these candidates reacted based upon articles that misrepresented the memo, and didn't bother to check the primary source. How is this different from an applicant who can't be bothered to do any research on the potential employer's business? In either case, I wouldn't hire them. And since Google has so many clamoring to work there that they turn away many highly qualified candidates, how did the loss of those two harm Google?

Other resources: Because I sensed that the Damore case might have continuing importance, I collected links as I encountered them. This collection lacks niceties because it was intended for my own reference.

Off-topic: I fully expect that some will ignore my declaration that the gender gap is off-topic, and thus subject to deletion on that ground. If you decide to do so anyway, please address the fundamental contradiction of the ideology: "It is important to have gender diversity in the workplace because women are different from men and bring many different skills, aptitudes, approaches, perspectives ..." vs. "Because women are no different from men, the cause of any gender gap must be bias and discrimination."
And explain what the substantial difference would occur when the proportion of women at Google moves from 49% to 50% or more (recognize that it is the advocates arguing that anything less than 50% is unacceptable).

----Footnotes----
1. Damore's Memo: earlier discussion here:
- "Google memo": a lesson in not trusting news media, 2017-08-09.
- This time we're not lying. HONEST! No, really!, 2018-01-19. Non-clickbait headline: "Highly partisan media, the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect & examples from my history."

2. Google on the gender gap:
Revolution: Google and Youtube Changing the World (47:19) - MSNBC, 2018-01-26.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki join Recode's Kara Swisher and MSNBC's Ari Melber for a special town hall to discuss the challenges and successes of tech's disruption of the workplace, and what it means for the future of the country.
My experience with this video is that it is painful slow to load and borders on being unresponsive to attempts to skip forward or back.
Note: Kara Swisher was the author of early articles that established the false narrative about the Damore memo. MSNBC business model targets a highly partisan and ideological audience. So expect strong ideological biases.
The segment on the pay gap and Damore begins at roughly 12:45.

3. NLRB citations not in the public version of the memo:
From page 2, paragraph 3: Quotes: "top of the curve", "less-selective". Also, there were what I read to be paraphrases for which I didn't find corresponding passages.

4. Perceptions, not actions or intent: In 2007, a university student/janitor was reading the book "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan" whose cover art included two burning crosses. A formal complaint was filed against him. His union and the university administration made an initial determination that the presence of this book in the workplace constituted racial harassment. Fortunately, the forces of sanity and light were then still powerful enough to get the university top leaders to overturn this decision. It is a measure of how far we have sunk in the subsequent decade that today we see the NLRB willing to approve of his being fired.
The news article "University says sorry to janitor over KKK book: Keith John Sampson was accused of racial harassment for reading the book" NBC News (2008-07-15) is the first of many in Google search.

----
An abbreviated index by topic and chronologically is available.

----Boilerplate on Commenting----
The Guidelines for comments on this blog are different from those on Town Square Forums. I am attempting to foster more civility and substantive comments by deleting violations of the guidelines.

I am particularly strict about misrepresenting what others have said (me or other commenters). If I judge your comment as likely to provoke a response of "That is not what was said", do not be surprised to have it deleted. My primary goal is to avoid unnecessary and undesirable back-and-forth, but such misrepresentations also indicate that the author is unwilling/unable to participate in a meaningful, respectful conversation on the topic.

If you behave like a Troll, do not waste your time protesting when you get treated like one.

Comments

 +   6 people like this
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 17, 2018 at 10:30 am

Is the problem revealed by the widespread reactions to Damore's memo mainly about ideological prejudgment, or rather a trend to laziness in info sources? I realize you have carefully distinguished these factors before when citing this case, but it seems to me that a great preponderance of the public misrepresentation stems from people content to form their view of Damore and his memo wholly from prominent 3rd-party characterizations (by media, Google's CEO, et al.), even as the original document was readily available to those who cared to look. And I see this behavior incessantly today, unconscious and unremarked: people will choose an easy source over an accurate one. It could even be said that search engines per se, Wikipedia and its ilk, and the mainstreaming of the internet in recent decades promote exactly that choice.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Top Much Ado About Nothing, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Feb 17, 2018 at 9:17 pm

[[Blogger: The following is from a troll: It pretends ignorance of labor law (protected speech) and the basic facts of the Damore case. It and subsequent similar postings should be ignored.]]

Geeks have been griping about workplace equality being conferred on those of the non white male persuasion since long before they were known as geeks. so what if Damore got fired for publicly speaking his mind on company time on a matter that was not within his job description?

Google is a private enterprise. Like the rest of us techies, he had no God- or Government-given entitlement to his job. You say your piece and you take your consequences.

In other words, practice what you preach: Man Up.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by technos, a resident of another community,
on Feb 17, 2018 at 9:29 pm

The above comment is maddening because it represents the severe tone deafness that escapes logic in this case. The question of using company time was never the reason Damore was fired. It was the contents of the memo that got Damore fired.

This certainly is a logical fallacy, along with the tripe that the NLRB managed to produce. I submit that appears to be one swamp that still needs to be drained.

And, finally, to suggest to "man-up" in the era where men are being "put down" at every turn every day so that women can step on them for their advancement purposes is crass in the extreme.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 18, 2018 at 2:55 am

I don't even believe in all this gender wars nonsense. Male and female complement one another. This a fabricated narrative. I am color-blind and gender-blind. I evaluate one person at a time, I don't care if you're androgynous, blue with feathers.
So tired of this whining from both genders and from any race. As if a broad label defines who you are as an individual. Stop paying attention to the media, it's nothing but mind pollution at this point!
Our own daily life is the real narrative. Don't watch the news, be the news. Get off your damn smartphone, ditch Google it wants us permanently distracted to increase its profit. We don't need Google in our lives.
The memo is not anti-female, it is anti-groupthink and the monotonous nature of social media seems to drive groupthink because our thinking is starting to be shaped by robotic algorithms.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 19, 2018 at 3:22 pm

I'm unclear from reading Damore's memo exactly what his intent was. So, I would like to focus on one particular statement made in the blog:

>> Up until now, US law has been based upon actions and intent, but there is a shift attributing to people what others perceive as their intent, not matter how unwarranted and fallacious such perceptions are.

I'm a little unclear about how this applies. Specifically, the U.S. is an at-will employment country. So, to my understanding (I'm not a lawyer etc.), Google doesn't have to demonstrate that Damore was "guilty" of something, but rather, Damore has to show that Google in guilty of something in order to have a complaint. That is a consequence of at-will employment. And, as I said, I'm not clear what Damore's intent was from reading the (public) memo.

Google seems to have fired Damore because of bad PR. Damore's intent doesn't really matter, does it? When it comes to PR, it seems that, increasingly, perception -is- intent, even fallacious perception. In an internet world, every email or memo can instantly go public. So, every email or memo, in addition to its content, has to be written with a PR perspective, and probably a legal perspective. Scientists and engineers balk at this-- rightly, in my opinion. But, I'm not sure what the solution is.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 19, 2018 at 5:47 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Anon

On Damore's intent, the uncontested story is:
He attended one of Google's classes on Diversity, which was a tipping point for his concerns about Google's Diversity programs. The teacher asked for feedback from the participants and Damore (naively) believed the request to be sincere. The public version of the memo is the result of multiple iterations incorporating suggestions from others within Google. At first it was being circulated for suggestions on a smaller internal Google discussion group and then moved to a larger group. It was only after being circulated for some time (weeks?) on this larger group were there complaints to Google HR, resulting in his firing.

----
There are limitations on "At-will" employment: An employer cannot fire someone if the reason is a "protected category" such as race and gender. Discussion of working conditions is protected. In the NLRB Advice Memo and in Google's phone call (quoted in the NLRB memo), it was acknowledge that much of Damore's memo fell into this protected category. However, Google's claim that portions were "offensive gender stereotypes" and thus not protected was adopted in the NLRB memo. Google claimed that the citation of replicated, peer-reviewed science about moderately different distributions of psychological traits was not part of Damore's protected discussion of workplace conditions, that is, how to improve the diversity efforts by taking into account such differences. The NLRB memo seems to state, without evidence or argument, that Damore stuck these "offensive gender stereotypes" into his memo among the protected speech in an attempt to have it become protected speech.

The NLRB memo rejects the results of these scientific studies as "purported". This has led to multiple critical articles, with titles such as "NLRB declares science to be discriminatory and harassment" -- somehow failing to note that Google also placed ideology over science.

----
One of the traditional ways to assess claims such as Google's is to switch around the parties. Suppose that 10% of the employees of the Nadir Corporation were White Supremacists, and one of the other employees made a suggestion that the company would benefit by hiring people of other races, and the White Supremacist employees responded with harassment and death threats against that employee. Nadir fired the employee claiming that those remarks were intended to disrupt the workplace and therefore were not protected speech. Furthermore, Nadir administered only a wrist slap to only one of the employees engaged in harassment and threats.
Question: Would you accept that Nadir's claim was valid, sincere or legal?
Question: By backing the White Supremacists against the fired employee, is Nadir effectively adopting a White Supremacist ideology?

Recognize that Google, before firing him, told Damore to work at home because of the volume of threats from other Google employees. Combined with other evidence, is it reasonable to assume that the de facto ideology of Google (and YouTube) is an authoritarian form of "Social Justice"?

----
"every email or memo ... has to be written with a PR perspective, and probably a legal perspective"
In a country where so many are quick to find offense in anything (with college courses teaching this "skill"), this standard would spell the end of email and memos within companies. Imagine the legal and PR departments having to vet every non-trivial email before it could be distributed to anyone. And how would you deliver the draft to them. If you emailed it, the email would have to be encrypted with a key such that only the designated individual in those departments could read it, and presuming that the recipient could be trusted not to forward it. If it was hardcopy, you would have to walk it over to those departments and stay while it is being reviewed to ensure that no copies were made. Unworkable.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jack Dougherty, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Feb 19, 2018 at 8:29 pm

[[Blogger: Simply an insult to a previous commenter. I have deleted it hoping to keep an unproductive back-and-forth from developing.]]


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Michael O., a resident of Stanford,
on Feb 19, 2018 at 11:22 pm

The NLRB serves at the pleasure of the President, who last I looked (which was today) was not into political correctness. The notion that the NLRB would take the side of the employer in this case *because of bias* is absurd; any reader or consumer of the current news would understand that the NLRB, whose director was appointed by President Trump in November 2017, would be hard-pressed not to take the side of Damore. I have mathematically deduced that Damore was properly dismissed by Google. The rest of you engineers should do the same. The NLRB, clearly, would do everything in its power to take Damore's side in this case; that it was unable to do so in prima facie evidence that it could not.

It is peculiar that the blogger would state, "discussions of the merits of the memo's contents are off-topic", the do just that in your own comments. The science behind most of Damore's comments was irrelevant or inappropriate to the points he was making. Just because something is "peer-reviewed" doesn't make it correct, and his use of "scientific studies" to make a point doesn't make him correct. It is pretty clear from his memo that he had an OPINION that he tried to back up with studies that just don't support his OPINION. I'm happy to have coffee with you and his stack of references to go over them one-by-one to demonstrate my point. It will be a nice opportunity to do a little teaching in epidemiology and biostatistics.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 20, 2018 at 12:19 am

Michael O.: Why do you raise comparatively abstract and speculative points about NRLB's general outlook, and what the board might be expected to do, when you've just seen demonstrated in the blog above, and can readily confirm for yourself, that NRLB repeatedly mischaracterizes Damore's writing, even attributing to Damore "the polar opposite of what he said," that NRLB's summary paragraph conflicts with its text body, that its report asserts without evidence that Damore "violated existing policies on harassment and discrimination," etc. -- and further knowing that this blogger avowed that his central subject was Damore's memo and NLRB's treatment of it? Or did you not read what you commented on? How does this recommend you for tutorial sessions over coffee??

I'll note in passing (a completely separate minor point, just for the record and by way of friendly translation between cultures -- I may take this up further in private correspondence) that this blogger honors the venerable computer-science habit of writing "square brackets" and "curly brackets" for the typographical characters known traditionally in the US as brackets and braces respectively; I've always wondered why not be consistent and further dub parentheses "round brackets," but I don't come from C. S. culture.)


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 20, 2018 at 5:05 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Michael O

According to everything I could find, the members of the NLRB serve fixed terms, not at the pleasure of the President (strike 1).

There are currently two Democrats and two Republican members of the Board with one vacant seat. There are two competing biases here: pro-employer vs PC/Identity politics. For the Republicans, I would expect pro-employer to override anti-PC. For Democrats appointed by Obama, they could easily be both pro-employer and pro-PC. "I have mathematically deduced that Damore was properly dismissed by Google." An absurdly unsupported statement (strike 2).

The complaint was not dismissed by the Board. Wrong. It never made it to them. The NLRB Advice Memo was from the bureaucracy that works for the General Counsel who is an Obama appointee. Damore withdrew the memo, reportedly in response to the Advice memo (strike 3).

You're out. OK, a bit more.

"The science behind most of Damore's comments was irrelevant or inappropriate to the points he was making." That is a standard talking-point from the "Progressives" and I am yet to see an article that provides evidence or logical arguments. (strike 1).

"Just because something is "peer-reviewed" doesn't make it correct, and his use of "scientific studies" to make a point doesn't make him correct." You reject scientific research not because of contrary evidence, but because you don't like the results (strike 2).

"It is pretty clear from his memo that he had an OPINION that he tried to back up with studies that just don't support his OPINION." An assertions that you believe that you are right (strike 3).

Two outs. That's more than enough.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 20, 2018 at 5:07 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Former PA resident

On the naming of brackets: It comes as much from my interactions with non-native speakers of English as from computer science. The descriptive names produce fewer miscommunications. Additional most native speakers of American English make too infrequent use of curly brackets to remember the term "braces". Simplicity without the loss of precision.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Michael O., a resident of Stanford,
on Feb 20, 2018 at 8:31 am

Doug,

You come across like a troll. What's with these "strikes" and ad hominem attacks? That I am using talking points of "Progressives"? Writing that is kind of troll-like. And do you really think that the NLRB would let anything out that Trump does not support? Neither do I.

I am a scientist and I can tell you that Damore picked studies that have flaws or are tangential to his point and used them to support his already decided argument. Have you read them yourself? Are you qualified to read them? I assume neither. Unlike computer science, the social sciences and biological sciences are not just 0s and 1s. You did not address my offer to meet for coffee and to go over them with you. It's still open.

Michael


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 20, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Michael O.

Again with the false/unsupported statements.

1. "And do you really think that the NLRB would let anything out that Trump does not support? Neither do I."
The NLRB is an independent agency over which Trump has no control other than appointments.

2. "That I am using talking points of "Progressives"? Writing that is kind of troll-like."
Wrong. When someone makes a claim without support, then it is appropriate to either dismiss it ("That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens) or look for its likely source. If what you find that origin to be unsupported partisan talking points, then that speaks to lack of credibility. Assessing the credibility of a claim is not "troll-like".
In Michael O's first post, the claim "It is pretty clear from his memo that he had an OPINION that he tried to back up with studies that just don't support his OPINION." is not only unsupported, but contrary to Damore's behavior after being fired -- there are numerous YouTube videos of him in interviews and on panels, thereby allowing you to not only know what he said, but see and hear how he said it. The content of those appearances backs the memo: The observations and citation of the study results were made in a context of suggestions on how Google could improve its Diversity programs. The Progressives/Social Justice crowd has had over 6 months to explain how suggestions to increase the number of women in the workplace was a malicious statement that women were "biological unqualified".

3. As to my ability to assess the details of the psychological studies: My psych background is only intro psych, cognitive psych and developmental psych (related to Artificial Intelligence). However, my not having the qualifications to assess the details of this case is irrelevant. Damore has an academic background in biology and psych. Multiple scientists with strong credentials have looked at the memo and said that it was solid with the normal room for debate. On the other hand, those attacking Damore have not produced an even minimally credible case, but instead engaged in ad hominem attacks and claims that citing the studies are "harmful", "offensive".... Additionally, panels involving Damore have been unsuccessful in getting a credible critic to participate in the debate. If Damore's critics don't think that their points can withstand questioning from knowledgeable people, why should anyone believe them?

As to (not) meeting you to consider the details of the science: I am in no position to adjudicate the details of the studies. As commenter Former PA Resident reinforced, the topic of this and earlier blogs was on the honest presentation of ideas and honest debate.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 21, 2018 at 10:44 am

A couple of comments on your reply:

>> There are limitations on "At-will" employment: ... Discussion of working conditions is protected. In the NLRB Advice Memo and in Google's phone call (quoted in the NLRB memo), it was acknowledge that much of Damore's memo fell into this protected category.

I re-read the memo again, and, from my viewpoint, not very much of it had to do with "working conditions". Employees were apparently required to undergo "microaggression training" and "Unconscious Bias training". These sound like they would qualify as "working conditions" issues, since, it sounds like the particular training might have crossed the line dividing workplace behavior and employee personality. Employers do have the right, and responsibility, to train employees regarding acceptable -behavior-. Most of the memo seems very conversational with lots of random speculation.

----
>>> "every email or memo ... has to be written with a PR perspective, and probably a legal perspective"

>> If it was hardcopy, you would have to walk it over to those departments and stay while it is being reviewed to ensure that no copies were made. Unworkable.

Perhaps, but, in the past, I've done this very thing with "politically" (internal politics of course) sensitive drafts. Walk a hard copy to someone and have them comment on it before it goes any further. Sometimes people will do you a favor and tell you to throw something in the shredder.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 21, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Anon

"not very much of it had to do with 'working conditions' "

Notice in the NLRB memo, that both the NLRB staff and Google accepted that most (almost all?) of was protected speech under as discussion of "working conditions". Since I am not a lawyer, I accepted what they said about the law.

" Most of the memo seems very conversational with lots of random speculation."
Did you follow the links in the memo?
What is wrong with being "conversational" in a memo intended for discussion on an internal Google discussion board?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 21, 2018 at 5:13 pm

Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,

>> Since I am not a lawyer, I accepted what they said about the law.

OK.

" Most of the memo seems very conversational with lots of random speculation."
Did you follow the links in the memo?
What is wrong with being "conversational" in a memo intended for discussion on an internal Google discussion board?

Exactly what happened is what is wrong with it. Not that I have a better way and still keep the process "open". I do have some experience with a time honored way to do this. You grab a dozen people with views about the issue, who actually care about it, and assign them to work on a project to come up with a solution. Lots of meetings. Lots of stand up and informal debates in meeting rooms and restaurants. Documents closely held. Yes, it is a significant "waste of time", but, when something is emotionally sensitive, this is still the best way that I know of.

[[Blogger: From what I have heard from Googlers and read, the Google way is to prefer open virtual meetings conducted electronically, and to minimize the approach that this commenter suggests. And remember that the teacher of the Diversity class requested feedback, presumably electronic.]]


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Duveneck neighbor, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Feb 22, 2018 at 10:23 am

[[Blogger: Multiple readers have flagged this comment as "Objectionable Content". I have decided to leave it as an example of the problem being discussed here.
Recognize that discussions of his assertions without/against evidence and falsehoods is likely to be non-productive.
]]

Can someone tell me why Mr Moran has the privilege of a platform to disseminate his thoughts?

Because, his thoughts are nearly as ill-formed as the Mr Damore's. And that is not a troll's judgement, but the truth, as I shall demonstrate.

The issues which trouble Mr Damore are addressed in Google policy documents. Mr Damore sought to re-visit divisive and toxic issues long since considered and resolved. His logic was flawed, his condemnations blanket, and his perceptions and assumptions stereotyped. Anyone schooled in civics, and in the rules of logic -- topics which every high school and college student should have studied -- recognizes the problem with Mr Damore's discourse -- problems which validate the description of the discourse as a screed or rant.

Furthermore, in declaring his bias so openly, given the nature of the employee review process at Google, Mr Damore also declared his inability to judge his colleagues' performance for purposes of performance review. (Google has a 360 review process; and by design and implementation it is decidedly not a popularity contest.) His behavior therefore was toxic and corrosive. It was also antithetical to the environment and culture at Google, to which Mr Damore had agreed to conform when he signed freely his contract of employment. Google management was entirely within the scope of their obligations to shareholders and other stakeholders to dismiss him.

Mr Moran characterizes the Damore matter as anecdotal evidence of a continuing departure in modern society from honest public debate. Mr Moran's characterization is false. The Damore matter concerns a disgruntled employee openly unwilling to fulfill the terms of his employment contract. His dismissal, and the events leading up to it, have nothing to do with the free speech principles which underlie honest public debate of difficult and evolving social matters.

If Mr Moran would like to use the privilege of his platform to foster such debate, that would be entirely appropriate. But using the Damore matter as a point of departure for honest public debate, is a non sequitur, because the Damore matter has nothing to do with honest public debate.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by @Duveneck neighbor, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Feb 22, 2018 at 11:00 am

[[Blogger: A reader has flagged this comment as "Objectionable Content". I judge it to fall barely short of an ad hominem attack because its primary target is the comment, not the commenter.
I would encourage people to try to stay well clear of this grey area.
]]

Dear "Duveneck neighbor",
Just out of curiosity, are you trained as an american lawyer? The reason for the guess is that unlike scientist or engineers, american lawyers are not trained in objectivity, but only in advancing their position by any means. If your professional training does not happen to be an american lawyer, I beg you to let us know what it is, please.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 22, 2018 at 11:33 am


. . . Moreover (along with ignoring the essence of the whole original blog post here, and arguing by sheer assertion, even if the assertions are phrased more prettily here than in bar talk), "Duveneck neighbor" wasn't trained or experienced in expert English. You'll know why, if these phrasings (which would never appear in a stringently copy-edited publication) sound awful to you:

"problems which validate the description"

"the free speech principles which underlie honest public debate"

Since a persistent theme of this blog is accurate and honest representation of other people's ideas, it seems to me that ignoring the substance of the blog post's detailed argument in order to advance pet notions by assertion is little more than trolling.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by objectivity, law, science, and engineering, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Feb 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm

[[Blogger: This post appears to be from the same computer as that of "Duveneck neighbor". If so, it would be a violation of PA Online's policy against using multiple aliases in the same thread. However, I don't trust the tools enough to delete this comment. Also, while this message is defending "Duveneck neighbor", it isn't bad enough so I decided to simple note the likelihood.
]]

It is irrelevant to the discussion, whatever 'Duveneck neighbor's' background may be.

For the record, in most US law schools, logic, reasoning, and objectivity are not only central to the curriculum, but part of the oath when accepting the responsibilities of a legal professional. See for instance in CA: Web Link

(And I did not know that until a few minutes ago.)

It is an implied bit of pejorative subjectivity (which also demonstrably is false), to suggest a) DN is an attorney, b) no attorneys are objective, and c) attorneys only advance their positions by any means.

It's also refreshing to know someone here participates, who can speak authoritatively for all copy editors. And, who is also an authority for what constitutes pretty bar talk, and therefore stands unswayed by it.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by @Duveneck neighbor, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Feb 22, 2018 at 1:15 pm

Dear "Duveneck neighbor", thank you for taking time to answer my question, albeit somewhat indirectly.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 23, 2018 at 1:59 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

[[Blogger: This comment ignores what has already been said about protected categories -- legal limitations on at-will employment.]]

At will employment means just that; one time I was walked out of a company when I advised the new manager that I was making a lateral change that was already agreed upon. No warnings whatsoever. The new department head had set up a smooth transition. When I made known that I would transition to the new team on the Friday before the new job on Monday, I got frog-marched from the building that I worked in. I had already taken the coursework for the new job and the company made an investment in me but that did not matter to my old manager.
At will also applies to the employee too. She was working on a job as a contractor for IBM. One day, IBM told her that this was a six week notice that they were terminating her contract. Why the six week notice? In the next six weeks you are to train your replacements. She immediately walked out of that meeting and got hired into another company.
Like myself, she had the needed training and skillset that are still in demand.

Now it is CUSTOMARY to give a two week notice; however that is a custom seldom followed in reality these days. I think the speed of our network ( helped keep the TCP/IP based DARPAnet running before it became our www ).
I have several other examples of At-Will firings and a At-Will walkout that forced management at a famous semiconductor firm.

So custom has given way to reality in this fast paced world.

H-1b is impacting both wages and skilled ( Engineering ) positions. So there will be a bias toward employers these days. Why pay a $15/hr minimum wages, when there is NO risk to paying ILLEGAL ALIENS $5.00/hr under the table ( California has to face the consequences for violating FEDERAL LAW ), effectively forcing the people to flee to other states.

Since Google did not violate FEDERAL LAW, ( unlike the PAUSD ), they were able to remove an At-Will employee. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE A REASON as an employer in an At-Will position. The rest of the story is moot. Not even worth the publicity he got.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of another community,
on Feb 26, 2018 at 10:39 am

"The topic here is honest debate -- discussions of the merits of the memo's contents are off-topic."


I think that one of the things that hinders honest debate is the cherrypicking of quotes from Damore's memo that are reasonably likely to be agreed upon...hoping that reading/viewers infer that the cherrypicked quotes are the reason he was fired...while simultaneously ignoring the statements in the memo that are reasonably likely to have actually contributed to his firing.

Your blog post is a very good example of cherrypicking the memo in an attempt to justify faux outrage at his firing. For example, you quoted this statement from the memo:

"Many of these differences are small and there's significant
overlap between men and women"

While simultaneously ignoring these statements from the memo:

"stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism."
"Women on average are more prone to anxiety"

There is general agreement on both sides of the debate that much of the memo's content is 'protected' and fair topics for discussion/debate within the public and/or internally within a business. FWIW, I'll state here that there were some statements in his memo ("men are still very much tied to the male gender role", for example) that matched my personal experience.

But littering a memo with topics that are fair to debate does not excuse someone from the consequences of statements that forward gender biases.



"The memo was carefully written"

Carefully written does NOT equal exhaustively researched. He cherrypicked his sources to back up his own confirmation biases.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 26, 2018 at 11:50 am

It seems any serious examination of how Damore's memo has and hasn't been honestly represented (this essay's avowed subject), no matter how carefully that goal is explained and its scope limited, is foredoomed to attack by people leaping to their own pet assumptions of the examiner's objective.

Oh, for a serious critic, who will actually bother to read what Doug Moran wrote here, before holding forth against it.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 26, 2018 at 4:22 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

First a thank you to Former PA resident

> peninsula resident: Your blog post is a very good example of cherrypicking the memo in an attempt to justify faux outrage at his firing. For example, you quoted this statement from the memo: ... // While simultaneously ignoring these statements from the memo: // "stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism." // "Women on average are more prone to anxiety"

This demonstrates that ideology trumps reason, facts and science.
1. If a company is hiring from a pool of potential employees that is only 20% female and has a workforce that is roughly 20% female, how does that imply the the cause is sexism?

2. "...anxiety" : This has been repeatedly found over the years in research studies and aligns with experience by psychologists (therapy). Various evolutionary psychologists/behaviorists have speculated that this was positively adaptive. For most of the existence of our species, we were hunter-gatherers. It is good for those with primary responsibility for the children -- women -- to be more sensitive to dangers and threats. In contrast, for those involved in hunting -- men -- that would decrease the chances of a successful hunt. Again, this is speculation by some in that field (the factors in selection in a non-trivial population over many generations is nigh impossible). Note that having a personality that is a more anxious can be a decided advantage in various professions, for example a safety engineer or officer ("What me worry" gets people killed). In my professional life, I was significantly more concerned about what could go wrong than most of my co-workers -- my slogan was "Remember, even paranoids have enemies"--and was repeatedly proven to be right.

3. "cherrypicking...faux outrage": When the facts are against you, argue the law. When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts and the law are against you, argue like hell.

---
Background: The belief that there is no difference between men and women regards the mind as a "blank slate" = "tabula rasa" and dates back to Aristotle. It rejects that evolution has had any impact on the brain, although adherents of this belief seem to have no problem with evolution shaping the brains of non-humans. This ideology has been widely discredited, not just in areas of personality but in aspects such a language learning ("the human brain seems pre-wired to acquire language" has been widely accepted for over 50 years).


 +   7 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of another community,
on Feb 26, 2018 at 6:55 pm

[[Blogger:
The accusation by "peninsula resident" of me "cherrypicking" is disingenuous: It is not cherrypicking when one presents evidence contrary to someone else's claim (in this case the NLRB Memo).

The "Background" section is not a "Strawman". The definition used omits the critical component -- that a "strawman" is intended to beat up and destroyed.
In the discussion of the Damore Google Memo, the argument that it is "anti-Diversity" is almost exclusively based on "no difference" which is derived from "blank slate". The assertions of "peninsula resident" mirrors those claims.
]]

Topic (set by Mr. Moran, no less): "The topic here is honest debate"

Your words. Let's proceed...

I wrote: "I think that one of the things that hinders honest debate is the cherrypicking of quotes from Damore's memo that are reasonably likely to be agreed upon...while simultaneously ignoring the statements in the memo that are reasonably likely to have actually contributed to his firing."

Douglas Moran responded: "This demonstrates that ideology trumps reason, facts and science."

(Then Mr. Moran proceeds to discuss just about everything while making not a shred of an attempt at 'honest debate').

Okay....so....you've decided you don't want the topic to be "honest debate"? Or, you do?

Make up your mind. I'm happy to discuss either.



"When the facts are against you, argue the law. When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts and the law are against you, argue like hell."

Ohhhh, the delicious irony of you, of all people, posting this. Pot, kettle, etc.



"Background: The belief that there is no difference between men and women regards the mind as a "blank slate" = "tabula rasa" and dates back to Aristotle. It rejects that evolution has had any impact on the brain, although adherents of this belief seem to have no problem with evolution shaping the brains of non-humans. This ideology has been widely discredited,"

Strawman: A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the IMPRESSION of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent.

Considering that you made this statement as a response to my post, this is a strawman. For anyone looking for an example of DISHONEST debate, this would be an excellent "exhibit A." Strawmen are a big NoNo. Don't do it again. Thank you.

If you truly want to have a honest debate (<<<<< your words...again), TRY HARDER. Physician, heal thyself.


If you don't want to have honest debate, then by all means, continue liking and thanking posters that don't debate you at all. I'm sure you'll all be happy together in your ideological echo chamber.

Oh, the irony.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 26, 2018 at 7:06 pm

The infamous Jordan Peterson interview by Cathy Newman is very relevant to this discussion. Peterson in part accredits with agreeableness as being a quality held by more females than males and is one factor that accounts for not only the gender pay gap, but also for the lesser number of females leading larger companies. For those who haven't seen it, here's the link. Web Link It is worth pointing out that the video which is 30 minutes duration is now over 7M hits.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of another community,
on Feb 27, 2018 at 5:36 pm

Before I respond to the mistakes you made in your response to my previous post, I'll at least give you credit for not deleting it. It gives me the tiniest of hope that you can be reasoned with. Moving along...



"The accusation by "peninsula resident" of me "cherrypicking" is disingenuous: It is not cherrypicking when one presents evidence contrary to someone else's claim"

Out of context. Yet again, I need to remind you of the topic scope that YOU SET: "The topic here is honest debate." You appear to be determined to NOT stick to the very topic that you mandate others follow.

In my opinion, the reasons honest debate has been frustratingly difficult to achieve include (list not comprehensive):

* both sides cherrypicking the parts of the memo that jive with their own preconceived beliefs, and ignoring any statements from the memo that do not support their view of the world and/or the memo.

* both sides stubbornly refusing to acknowledge mistakes in their assessment, even in the face of irrefutable evidence.



"The 'Background' section is not a 'Strawman'. The definition used omits the critical component -- that a 'strawman' is intended to beat up and destroyed."

Uh, do you not remember typing this??: "This ideology has been widely discredited".

Strawman: A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the IMPRESSION of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent.

Your "background" section is a classic strawman. At no time did I argue 'there is no difference between men and women'. STRAWMAN.

Please don't do that. Thank you.



'the argument that it is "anti-Diversity" is almost exclusively based on "no difference" which is derived from "blank slate". The assertions of "peninsula resident" mirrors those claims.'

Wrong. You incorrectly ASSUMED that I was arguing "no difference". I did NOT say it or imply it or "mirror" it.

The problem were not my 'claims', the problem is that you made an unsubstantiated and huge leap in assumption. In a nutshell, you attributed to me what you *perceived* as my intent, unwarranted and fallacious as that perception was.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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