back to article Google's macho memo man fired, say reports

The Google staffer who penned an anti-diversity tract has reportedly been fired. Bloomberg reports that it has been contacted by James Damore, the author of the document. Damore told the financial newswire he had been dismissed for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” Google USA and Google Australia/New Zealand have not …

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Diversity is good, "positive discrimination" is still discrimination and is generally not good.

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So, if you don't have any diversity, and you know it's good, how do you get some without positive discrimination?

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Anonymous Coward

The only form of discrimination that is valid is discrimination by ability.

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Start over without a false premise.

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It is NOT positive discrimination - no such thing exists

You can't positively discriminate. If you say you want someone from zzz because you have no one from there then anyone from xxx or yyy can't get the job... so just because of their origin xxx and yyy are discriminated against.

If you have no diversity it is because you fail to attract or find people of suitable quality from those places. Two possible reasons - first is there are none in which case go out and do some training (a positive act), second there are but your pay, your conditions, your work are not interesting to them - find out what is wrong and correct it.

Do NOT turn around and say we only want people from zzz so sod off if you are not, this is the sort of disgusting behaviour we see from several councils in the UK.

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My thumb-down stalker... is BACK!

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Ableist!

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Anonymous Coward

"Start over without a false premise."

Start over with a quote to show which post you are replying to.

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Paris Hilton

Diversity is good

I don't see how is diversity supposed to be good. Sure, there are situations when that statement is true, but it is very much case-by-case basis and I'm quite sure the cases where general diversity is a benefit is in the minority.

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No positive discrimination

For there to be positive discrimination, there must be an equal amount of negative discrimination. If you discriminate in someones favour (for whatever reason), you are by definition discriminating against everyone else. So, the reality is that all discrimination is negative, regardless of how or why it is done.

The only option is to remove discrimination totally and simply employ (or whatever) by ability and nothing else. Within a relatively short period of time, the demographics of workforce etc. will start to change and within a couple of generations should be wherever it should be. Natural turnover and newcomers coming in etc. will sort that. If it doesn't change, it either means there was no discimination in the first place, or you've failed to get rid of the discrimination.

Problem is, some of the supposedly most PC environments are actually the most discriminatory. Take family courts as an example. Mostly biased against the father. Take politicians. Dianne Abbott, who has been racist, ageist and sexist in the past (she stated everything was the fault of middle aged, white men). Take industrial tribunals. The law in that case even has bias towards minority groups. Try raising a case for being discriminated against on the grounds of being white or a man!! Almost unheard of.

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Feel Good

Many of the people decrying the memo (such as BBC), have refused to link to it, and just toss about general comments such as "he is a bigot", and "he has cherry picked studies", without addressing any of the points he raised, or without refuting any of the 'cherry-picked' studies.

I wish people would just admit "We hate him because it makes us feel good. Not because he is wrong".

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This post has been deleted by its author

Discrimination against groups of people is always negative, there is no such thing as positive discrimination.

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Re: Feel Good

I've read the full memo not just the synopsis and it seems like a perfectly reasonable argument to make. One could agree or not, but he certainly didn't say anything outrageous or clearly wrong. The fact that he was fired exactly proves his point. It seems like at Google diversity of race, religion, gender etc is encouraged, but diversity of thinking or political belief is intolerable.

Let's be clear, unconscious bias against women and minorities is a well-studied and proven thing. And Google's programs are definitely well-meaning, and also probably well-aligned with their 'diversity' goal. What the memo guy was raising is a valid question: Is 'diversity' in and of itself adding value to Google? And Google could perfectly legitimately answer that by saying: No, it does not improve our products and services, but it DOES improve our image and thereby also our revenue and market cap.

Google would have been much better served to say: We disagree with the points in the memo but we respect all our employee's opinions. But I believe in this case it would have been attacked by the rabid ultra-left who would insist on his getting fired simply because he stated the obvious: Men and women are genetically, biologically different for valid evolutionary reasons that have nothing to do with culture or learned behaviour. This obviously and self-evidently true fact is anathema to the ultra-left

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Holmes

The World Athletics men's 100m final

Wasn't very diverse.

Where do I register my protest

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Joke

Re: The World Athletics men's 100m final

Try Oxford's Equality & Diversity Unit, but you have to look them in the eye when you make the claim!

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Start over without a false premise."

Start over with a quote to show which post you are replying to.

Pretty easy really: the false premise is assuming there is no diversity in the team. The premise conveniently elides any definition of diversity and allows the asserting that any socio-cultural diversity (people from different towns and backgrounds, for example) isn't the "right" kind of diversity.

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Re: It is NOT positive discrimination - no such thing exists

Er, I think you'll find there are at least three possible reasons - the two you mentioned, plus the "well, she'll probably get pregnant so we should hire the guy" or "I'm not sure he'd fit into the team, probably likes hip-hop and has a slightly-too-urban accent, maybe we should hire the white one".

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= The only form of discrimination that is valid is discrimination by ability.

While a noble idea, the meritocracy is a myth. Social research has shown[1] that it does not, in an all likelihood, cannot, exist in reality. FWIW, Deming (one of the founders of the quality movement) concludes that "merit" based pay was mythical and harmful to the organization.

Bootnote: social mobility (a measure of how meritocratic a society is) is lower in the United States than it is in any of the member states of the European Union, especially in the Scandinavian countries, but even including supposedly class-ridden Great Britain and France.

[1] E.g.,

(TL;DR: while merit has some effect, gender, race, and other social class markers have at least comparable, and probably larger, effects on measured attainment.)

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11211-014-0228-0

https://books.google.fr/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Uc2-AAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&ots=f5LmkuVkDG&sig=eXKuGA-JOiTIqTmoP9sxTMDk-LM#v=onepage&q&f=false

https://academic.oup.com/esr/article-abstract/17/2/81/517646

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/318961

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/588738

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2189/asqu.2010.55.4.543

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2410911

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ageing-and-society/article/in-the-name-of-meritocracy-managers-perceptions-of-policies-and-practices-for-training-older-workers/BCB6C3BDC01364D549ED631B58D899BF

http://csus-dspace.calstate.edu/handle/10211.3/158507

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-4446.1999.00001.x/full

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289606001127

https://books.google.fr/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LcAQvt2bXtoC&oi=fnd&pg=PA232&ots=WxgHeS92GM&sig=J_3MvUTrrKQOoXiiJYofmKHGHs4#v=onepage&q&f=false

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-985X.2007.00516.x/full

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9558.2009.01339.x/full

And, not an academic publication, but probably more readable, and cites much of the relevant research:

https://shaunterrywriter.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/a-land-of-false-promises-deconstructing-the-mythology-of-meritocracy-and-equal-opportunity/

P.S. Yes, I have a Ph.D. in social science. Business Administration, in fact (IS specialty), and teach and do research in a business school. This is relevant because, if we do in fact live in a meritocracy, then I must be an expert in the field, with a better understanding than that of the layman. My pronouncement that there is no meritocracy thus has a higher confidence value. If, on the other hand, you feel that my opinion is of less value, then you implicitly deny that we live in a meritocracy. I.e., the conclusion inescapably falls to "there is no meritocracy". And, in fact, I am white anglo-saxon recovered protestant first-born male from an upper-middle class family, whose father was a sociologist. Which probably provides significant explanation for my having my Ph.D. beyond my innate ability.

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Mushroom

And by the way, those links (not proper cites, but I felt links would be more appropriate in an online forum) were just a quick check. There were a few that claimed merit was stronger than socioeconomic, gender, or race, markers, but they were all rebutted, and the cite count was considerably higher for those latter indicating merit was a poor determinant, which indicates consensus in the field that merit is largely a myth which supports the status quo.

Reading later comments, I see that the value of diversity is also questioned. I could provide a list of cites that argue against that, mostly in the business literature, but I won't bother, since I've probably bored you enough already. TL;DR: yes, diversity is good, no matter how diversity is measured. More diversity is better. While diversity of town, etc. is certainly good, it is typically not as different (at least in the US), and thus less valuable, as sociecomic, race, gender, or cultural markers.

And no, firing an employee for sharing screeds detrimental to company performance and morale using company resources on company time is not "reducing diversity". Free speech doesn't mean I have to provide you the resources, nor does it mean that I can't say that "you are an asshole" and firing your lily-white entitled ass.

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Coat

So, you went in the family business, thereby demonstrating that your own social mobility is rather low?

BTW, upvote for your second post.

(Mine's the one with the printout of the famly tree in the pocket.)

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@hnwombat.

"And no, firing an employee for sharing screeds detrimental to company performance and morale using company resources on company time is not "reducing diversity". "

By definition, it is reducing the diversity of opinion within the company. Given what's occurring round this, it could be argued that firing himis doing more to affect morale and company performance than just ignoring it. If ignored, it would have just disappeared with little fuss. Now, it's being heavily commented on, with a pretty large amount against Google. Also, what do you think is happening to morale in Google for the people who have something to say? Will anybody say anything even vaguely different to company line now?

Googles actions have affected themselves and morale considerably more than the original text and the sensible debate that should have followed. If it had gone that way, perhaps employees morale would have gone up, as would different opinions and sensible discussion of them?

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Re: Diversity is good

Well the theory goes that if you have people with lots of different backgrounds, you'll get lots of different ideas. Obviously gender is correlated with your background.

(for ease of typing I'm abreviating "women and minorities" into minorities, I am fully aware that this is wrong)

How the problem is that, simply put, minorities often aren't interested in things like programming, so the rate of programmers is lower in many minorities than it is for "white men". However some "neo-left" people want more even distributions, and that's where some organisations start to hire people just because they are in a minority. And then it becomes a problem.

Now if those "neo-left" SJWs would actually want to do something against that, they'd start with things like demanding proper healthcare and a proper social system as well as tuition fees being paid by the public and not the individual. That way everyone choosing to do so can get any career they are physically and mentally able to pursue. Education wouldn't just belong to the rich.

Instead they argue that they must not be confronted with opposing views, which is dangerous. Opposing views are what make you refine your own views. Views are rarely 100% wrong, but rather are likely to have some good points. Simply copying your viewpoint from another will lead to a stagnation. Eventually a groups viewpoint will become simpler and simpler.

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@hnwombat

"P.S. Yes, I have a Ph.D. in social science. Business Administration, in fact (IS specialty), and teach and do research in a business school. This is relevant because, if we do in fact live in a meritocracy, then I must be an expert in the field, with a better understanding than that of the layman. My pronouncement that there is no meritocracy thus has a higher confidence value. If, on the other hand, you feel that my opinion is of less value, then you implicitly deny that we live in a meritocracy. I.e., the conclusion inescapably falls to "there is no meritocracy". And, in fact, I am white anglo-saxon recovered protestant first-born male from an upper-middle class family, whose father was a sociologist. Which probably provides significant explanation for my having my Ph.D. beyond my innate ability."

Unfortunately, it is becoming abundantly clear in todays world that qualifications do not equal merit in any meaningful way. I've met a lot of people who are qualified to the heavens in an area, but they knew almost nothing (these are technical fact based areas). So, whilst I may agree with your proposition that a true and pure meritocracy doesn't and probably can't exist, I think the idea that qualifications and education equal merit is somewhat wide of the mark.

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Generally, positive discrimination is introduced to combat the fact that discrimination is already happening, in the opposite direction. Ideally, it would not be needed, but there seems little evidence of that in various aspects of society.

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Re: The World Athletics men's 100m final

@sad_loser

"The World Athletics men's 100m final

Wasn't very diverse.

Where do I register my protest"

Sport always amuses me as the desire to be all hip and PC actually results in the very reverse. Why should there be mens and womens teams? Why not mixed teams, with the best and most able playing in them? Why should women have a 100m and men a 100m race? If we're really equal, everybody should compete on a level playing field, so they should all race together.

Also, there was that furore over the winners money at Wimbledon. It forced them to pay the mens and womens the same, even though the women spend less time on court, play less tennis (3 v 5 sets) etc. So, they're doing less 'work'. So, why should they get the same? Again, level playing field. Men and women all play 3 or all play 5 sets.

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@Rob Gr.

It is a sad truth that people, whether deliberately or not, do discriminate. I guess it's built into us. However, swinging from one extreme to another (what seems to happen with positive discrimination) is not really any answer.

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@Anonymous Coward: "Start over with a quote to show which post you are replying to."

"if..." only would have been my choice, had I not thought that the use of the word "premise" in my post -- made fairly early in the comments thread -- would have been sufficient information to contextualize it.

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Re: Diversity is good

Now if those "neo-left" SJWs would actually want to do something against that, they'd start with things like demanding proper healthcare …

I'm sure they demand lots of things from other people. A lot of this touchy-feely "we care more than you…" bullshit is mainly about salving consciences and usually more than a little hypocritical. Providing real equality of opportunity by improving education for everyone would automatically increase competition for lucrative jobs. And, once our own livelihood is threatened, we tend to become a lot less big-hearted. Much easier to make it somebody else's problem.

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Anonymous Coward

"P.S. Yes, I have a Ph.D. in social science. Business Administration, in fact (IS specialty), and teach and do research in a business school. This is relevant because, if we do in fact live in a meritocracy, then I must be an expert in the field, with a better understanding than that of the layman."

And the guy that got fired has a Ph.D. in biology so he must have a better grasp of biological differences between the genders. Or you both could just be pompous asses.

I'll just leave this here.

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This is not about diversity and positive discrimination

This is about a sexist arsehole full of shit sucking shit out of his fingers and talking out its arse uncorroborated conservative bullshit that has no grounds in scientific fact.

"Women are more susceptible to stress". Utter bullshit proven very well during WW2. No male allied pilot has ever managed to get anywhere near the number of combat sorties the night witches have clocked. The difference is > 4 times. No army has managed to replicate the success of the night witches bomber squadrons too - because they tried with males. Sure, macho, short term gorilla chest beating - that is what we do well. Now, flying every f*** night without a parachute, with a death sentence if caught in an antiquated crop duster and putting a 100 pounder from point blank range in-between Horst eyeballs. Night after night after night - to a total of 960!!! sorties. You call that "susceptible to stress"? F*** that. I can continue - snipers, radar operators, etc. Till this day Russian missile command employs > 50% women sitting in front of the radar screen and this is for a the same reason - they take long term repeated stress much better and there is no higher stress than being the person who assesses if this is a fluke or the beginning of WW3 3 times a week.

Coming back to our own turf - the best sysadmin and QA I have worked with were ladies (including some I have hired). That one is for the same reason - better long term stress endurance. Some of the best software developers I know are also ladies. Some of the best pen testers, debuggers, security analysis are ladies too. Some of the best scrum masters and engineering managers. And so on.

So frankly, applause to Google for firing him. Encore (desperately needed in the valley in many places).

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"The central paradox about political correctness is that it demands diversity in everything except thought." -- Richard Dooling

I'm sorry he was fired. To be honest, Google just scored a massive own-goal by proving the exact point he was trying to make.

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Re: Feel Good

I went to the post, and read it. It was sober and cautious, and far from stereotyping. He merely said that men and women are, on the average, different; so it's only reasonable they're not all interested in the same things.

But then, everybody knows: men and women are exactly and totally the same, except men are bastards.

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Celebrate Diversity!

Just don't say someone is different.

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Re: sabroni

"So, if you don't have any diversity, and you know it's good, how do you get some without positive discrimination?" Instead of dropping your standards to a select group, you could instead ask that group why they are not applying for the jobs. It might expose some facts about your company that would help you make it a more attractive place to work without you having to potentially reduce the effectiveness of your workforce. Of course, that takes actual work, when it is so much easier just to do a bit of virtue-signaling with some fluffy HR statements about equality, etc.

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Re: KeepCalm Re: Feel Good

".... without addressing any of the points he raised...." EACTLY THAT! If his ideas are so loopy and easy to debunk, why is the emphasis on attacking him and suppressing his statements rather than publically examining them?

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Re: hnwombat

"....And no, firing an employee for sharing screeds detrimental to company performance and morale using company resources on company time is not "reducing diversity"...." But the company had supposedly provided the forum expressly for staff to put forward their thoughts on company policies and processes, it was others that took the memo and out it out on the Web. As far as I can see, he did not trash the company, he was suggesting what he saw as reasons why the policy was wrong. As such, it looks very much as though Google likes debate and ideas as long as they are Google's approved debate and ideas, i.e., it is censorship at best, and discrimination against the writer because he didn't swallow their approved "group-think".

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Re: This is not about diversity and positive discrimination

Arguing from specific cases to general statements about the population as a whole is not valid reasoning. In particular, it is entirely possible that the particular female persons mentioned were at the extreme of both male and female groups with respect to stress endurance, and at the same time, that the trait is less common among women than men.

It is, of course, equally invalid to argue from the proposition that because a desired trait is less common in a subpopulation, say of women in comparison to men, that a particular woman lacks it, or even is less likely to possess it than men.

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Re: Diversity is good

General diversity is VERY advantageous. Think of the consequences of inbreeding. It doesn't just apply to genes, either. Incestuous hiring practices (think "the boss's kids") are also usually damaging. Or entertainment - do you really want them to make only Rocky sequels? Operating systems, programming languages, news sources, elected officials (look where our current monoculture has got us), food, medicines (think antibiotics as one example), clothes (do you really want to follow Chairman Mao's dress code?), religion or the lack of, courses of study, jobs, pets, vehicles, tools (think screwdrivers) ... diversity is essential for life as we know it to exist.

We've seen what happens when disease or pestilence attacks monocultures - they die. A good example is the banana. Today's banana is a sterile plant that cannot reproduce sexually, so the Cavendish bananas in the store all share pretty much all their genes, and are in danger of being wiped out by Panama disease, same as their predecessor Gros Michel bananas.

Panama disease

Similarly, any business that is not sufficiently diverse can get killed off by a change in the business , consumer, or regulatory environment - just look at Blackberry, Enron, Eastern Airlines, Radio Shack, Circuit City, A&P, Blockbuster (and VCRs and VHS and Beta tapes), Webvan, pets.com, Flooz, beanie babies, Yahoo! and Geocities, Chrysler (twice bankrupt), Worldcom, Peurto Rico (currently in bankruptcy protection), Trump University ...

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.... and since right-wingers are notoriously stupid, this was a discrimination by ability.

Google doesn't want to be seen as a bunch of idiots.

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Re: Feel Good

It was a business decision. Right-wingers are notoriously stupid. They give the company a bad rep, which in turn affects share prices.

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Re: Diversity is good

General diversity is VERY advantageous.

No one's arguing against diversity per se simply per fiat. Your examples are all false equivalents if they are supposed to support the idea of enforcing some kind of diverse employment policy.

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Re: Feel Good

"I've read the full memo not just the synopsis"

Well that puts you in a tiny minority.

I read a couple critiques of this thing, then actual read the memo... and then went back to check I had read the correct memo because it did not have much in common with what the outraged protests were ascribing to it.

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*sigh* I should have put the PS into a different comment. I should have thought it was clear that my argument was the body of the reply-- which you ignored. The PS was not part of the argument, but was a completely separate and very subsidiary point. Let me spell it out for you:

1. The author of the post I replied to believes that people should be judged solely on ability.

2. This implies that either a. we live in a meritocratic world, in which his and others' judgment is completely unclouded by unconscious biases, or b. we do not but the author does not care (i.e., is an asshole).

3. If we live in a meritocratic world, this implies that the rewards that are obtained are obtained purely on merit.

4. I have attained one of those awards, which fewer than 1% of the people in the world (and less than 2% in the developed world) have been awarded, for my expertise in social psychology.

5. I stated that statement 1.a. is false. This is supported by two possible arguments:

5.a. Since we live in a meritcratic world, I got my award purely by merit, and thus have the necessary expertise to evaluate the truth value of statement 2.a., which I declare to be false (denying the premises of this specific argument).

5.b. If I did get my award solely on merit, then statement 3 is false. Since statement 3 is false, statement 2.a. is necessarily false, and statements 4 and 5 are irrelevant.

6. Thus, statement 2.a. is proven false. Therefore, we are left to conclude that statement 2.b. is true.

Is that clear enough? It is not argument from authority; while statement 5.a. does hinge on that, it is also required that the reader conclude that argument from authority is appropriate. Argument 5.b. shows that statement 2.a. is false regardless.

Since my comments were about a previous comment and the idea of meritocracy, I can only assume that you are using the usual tactic of the neo-fascists^Walt-right and trying to claim I said something I did not. Besides, my PhD in (effectively) applied social psychology is more relevant than a PhD in biology, even if the poster to whom I was responding had one.

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Anonymous Coward

"I can only assume that you are using the usual tactic of the neo-fascists^Walt-right and trying to claim I said something I did not."

Let me spell it out for you. Your elitist "I'm smarter than you therefore you're wrong" screed still sounds like you're a pompous arse.

P.S. "1. The author of the post I replied to believes that people should be judged solely on ability."

So what? Look at politicians and consider how many of them want mathematically impossibilities presumably because their ability to understand maths is simply that bad. You seem like a yank so see Senators Burr and Feinstein and their desire for TSA locks on data. It would be nice if they would keep their illogical requests out of legislation because they lack the ability to understand it and should rightly be eliminated as a choice for the position of cryptanalyst.

"2. This implies that either a. we live in a meritocratic world, in which his and others' judgment is completely unclouded by unconscious biases, or b. we do not but the author does not care (i.e., is an asshole)."

It does nothing of the sort, it could simply be a goal the author of the post believes we should strive for. Perhaps it is you who is using "the usual tactic of the neo-fascists^Walt-right". While we're discussing claims of saying things not said, I never said anything about the poster to whom you were responding. The person with the PhD in biology is the Google employee who authored the anti-diversity memo who got fired but don't let that cloud your Piled high and Deep vision of the world. You are clearly far too important to read what we little people actually write.

PPS. I'm done. <mic drop>

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Feel Good

Excellent Comments - One correction - "They THINK it improves their image." Their lack of Diverse Thinking and diverse opinions lowers their image dramatically. Therefore, since Google has offended me with their lack of diversity, should I fire them? Someone walk me through how to remove Google crome from my computer.

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Re: Barbara.hudson Re: Diversity is good

".....Today's banana is a sterile plant that cannot reproduce sexually, so the Cavendish bananas in the store all share pretty much all their genes......." Whilst a good biological example, it falls flat in the case of white employees as the genetic pool of Caucasians is actually quite broad and often includes genetic traits from other ethnic groups. Indeed, there is a 99.5% genetic commonality between all humans.

Monoculture, such as employing only white MIT grads, is arguably much more of a problem as it potentially limits their ability to reach conclusions or use processes not prevalent in their place of development (I have seen this when an MIT-trained manager refused to accept a report using CMMI because he didn't use Carnegie Mellon tools whilst at MIT). Google risks creating a less-diverse group of employees by making "unorthodox" thought perceived as unwelcome - for example, as a Google coder, would I now be less likely to recommend the benefits of a new programming language or technique if it's author has been branded "racist/sexist/un-PC"? Probably.

But ethnic monoculture is rarely an issue with coders as they are usually taught to code the same languages using the same techniques and are following a design doc. Pretending that some African-Amercan woman grad from North Carolina A&T is somehow going to write Java in a markedly different way than a white (or Asian) male MIT grad, simply because she is a black woman with a deprived upbringing in a ghetto (and please note the majority of NCA&T's black grads do not have "deprived" backgrounds) is simply preposterous. Whilst there may be many ways to skin a cat, 99% of Java coders will declare a variable the same way, especially if the design doc they are following already specifies the variable. She might write a cleverer complete piece of code, but my own experience is that has more to do with the individual ability of the coder rather than skin colour, upbringing or where they graduated from (one of the most consistently brilliant coders I have met was half-Indian and half-Portugese from Macau, and he actually had a BA degree in Literature!).

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The guy's a bigot

His arguments are weak and based on cherry picking the research that supports his bigotry.

And as for pretending this is because he's concerned about the users? Yeah, he cares like Google care about my privacy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The guy's a bigot

If he was a Google AI Bot he would have got away with it.

Gorillas. That is all.

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Re: The guy's a bigot

He said:

"Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies"

...and seems to have been proven correct.

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