The Google Memo: The Economist On Nothing

Patrick Lee Miller in Quillette:

AdobeStock_113872945-e1504154724257Most of the debate about James Damore’s memo has focused on its claims about gender, diversity, and affirmative action. Those themes were indeed central to the purpose of the memo. But also important were themes that often got overlooked: reason, open discussion, and classical liberalism. In a way, Damore got some of what he wanted—more discussion about the first set of themes—although he no doubt wished he could keep his job too. Now that there has been so much discussion of those themes, now that the dust has settled after “Googlegate,” it’s a good time to reason through the best arguments on each side of the controversy. Who was right? What can we learn? How can we do better next time there appears to be a clash between the competing values of equality, science, and freedom of speech?

Many of the best arguments on Damore’s side can be found in his own memo.

This may come as a surprise to those who developed their opinion about it, not by reading the memo itself but by absorbing accounts of it in the popular press. The misrepresentation began as soon as the story broke. First to publishing the memo, but without its bibliographic links, Gizmodo’s influential account led to widespread criticism of it for being nothing more than unsourced prejudice. Ignoring not only its research, but also Damore’s many assurances that he values diversity and wishes only to criticize the ways in which it has been pursued at Google, Gizmodo began the tradition of calling his memo an “anti-diversity screed.” It was all downhill from there.

More here.