Damore: I was fired because of 'ideological echo chamber' at Google
James Damore, the engineer fired by Google after penning a memo criticizing the company's diversity policy, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explaining "Why I was fired by Google."
Needless to say, the reasons he gives are not a surprise.
My 10-page document set out what I considered a reasoned, well-researched, good-faith argument, but as I wrote, the viewpoint I was putting forward is generally suppressed at Google because of the company's "ideological echo chamber." My firing neatly confirms that point. How did Google, the company that hires the smartest people in the world, become so ideologically driven and intolerant of scientific debate and reasoned argument?
We all have moral preferences and beliefs about how the world is and should be. Having these views challenged can be painful, so we tend to avoid people with differing values and to associate with those who share our values. This self-segregation has become much more potent in recent decades. We are more mobile and can sort ourselves into different communities; we wait longer to find and choose just the right mate; and we spend much of our time in a digital world personalized to fit our views.
Google is a particularly intense echo chamber because it is in the middle of Silicon Valley and is so life-encompassing as a place to work. With free food, internal meme boards and weekly companywide meetings, Google becomes a huge part of its employees' lives. Some even live on campus. For many, including myself, working at Google is a major part of their identity, almost like a cult with its own leaders and saints, all believed to righteously uphold the sacred motto of "Don't be evil."
Echo chambers maintain themselves by creating a shared spirit and keeping discussion confined within certain limits. As Noam Chomsky once observed, "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."
But echo chambers also have to guard against dissent and opposition. Whether it's in our homes, online or in our workplaces, a consensus is maintained by shaming people into conformity or excommunicating them if they persist in violating taboos. Public shaming serves not only to display the virtue of those doing the shaming but also warns others that the same punishment awaits them if they don't conform.
Read the whole thing for an intelligent assessment of the entire affair.
This is a case that should be studied by social scientists. The gap in understanding between what Damore wrote and how the left chose to interpret it is astonishing. I don't think there's any doubt that few on the left bothered to read the entire ten-page Damore memo. And if they did, they saw what they wanted to see, picking and choosing the parts that transgressed against the overpowering groupthink present in Google corporate culture.
This selective interpretation allows that dominant ideology to flourish and smack down dissenters without having to address the valid points made. In truth, Damore couldn't have been unaware of this. What did he think the reaction would be to his point about there being biological differences between men and women that contribute to the lack of female engineers at the company?
Damore may be a talented engineer, but he's not a biologist. There may, indeed, be biological differences between the sexes that keep women from excelling in engineering and other sciences. But Damore isn't qualified to discuss them in a scientific context.
That said, there are definitely cultural differences in education that discourage women from taking up the sciences. That is something we can change, and encouraging young girls to study STEM subjects would bring more females into those disciplines.
To deliberately misinterpret what someone writes or says in order to maintain control over the thinking of employees is evil. Google should change its motto from "Don't be evil" to "Be evil only when it suits the narrative."