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Politics 2: Electric Boogaloo — Page 390

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Yesterday…

…the POTUS, the leader of the free world, wink-wink inciting the Nazi fringe of his followers to commit religious murder… the week after they committed an act of terrorism on his own people and the day after an attack in Europe.

He brought up this Pershing myth when he was a candidate (which would have been bad enough)
but lots of crazy people run for office. When it’s the President doing it, it’s unbelievable.

VIZ TOP TIPS! - PARENTS. Impress your children by showing them a floppy disk and telling them it’s a 3D model of a save icon.

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https://www.quora.com/What-do-scientists-think-about-the-biological-claims-made-in-the-document-about-diversity-written-by-a-Google-employee-in-August-2017

To an evolutionary biologist, the idea that sex differences are purely socially constructed is simply implausible. And the necessity of facing up to this is something I’ve talked about as well.

That said, the argument in the document is, overall, despicable trash.

TL;DR: Yes, men and women are biologically different — which doesn’t mean what the author thinks it does. The article perniciously misrepresents the nature and significance of known sex differences to advance what appears to be a covert alt-right agenda. More specifically, it:

  • argues for biologically determined sex differences in personality based on extremely weak evidence
  • completely fails to understand the current state of research on sex differences, which is based in neuroscience, epigenetics and developmental biology
  • argues that cognitive sex differences influence performance in software engineering, but presents no supporting evidence. Available evidence does not support the claim.
  • fails to acknowledge ways in which sex differences violate the narrative of female inferiority; this shows intellectual dishonesty
  • assumes effective meritocracy in its argument, ignoring both a mountain of conflicting scientific literature and its own caveats (which I can only assume were introduced to placate readers, since their incompatibility with the core thesis is never resolved)
  • makes repugnant attacks on compassion and empathy
  • distorts and misuses moral foundations theory for rhetorical purposes
  • contains hints of racism
  • paradoxically insists that authoritarianism be treated as a valid moral dimension, whilst firmly rejecting any > - - diversity-motivated strategy that might remotely approach it.
  • ultimately advocates rejecting all morality insofar as it might compromise the interests of a group.

Sex differences in cognitive abilities have been well-studied, so it’s intriguing that Damore chooses to ignore this vast literature to focus on personality. The reason, however, quickly becomes clear when we look at the evidence: namely, there’s zero evidence that suggests women should make worse programmers. On average, women score slightly worse on certain spatial reasoning problems and better on verbal tests. Their overall problem-solving abilities are equal. Women used to score worse on math, but inclusive environments negate that difference. Even the (relatively robust) difference in spatial reasoning can vanish when women are asked to picture themselves as male. The only published study of coding competency by sex found that women were more likely than men to have their GitHub contributions accepted — but if they were project outsiders, this was true only if their gender was hidden.

As Yonatan Zunger explained, empathy and collaboration are also central to competency, especially at senior levels. Published results confirm this: in a study that attempted to identify the factors that influence software engineers’ success, the most important attribute was being “team oriented”. Neuroticism might hold women back from promotions, but there’s no evidence it makes them worse at their jobs.

Thus, to say there’s “significant overlap” in male/female abilities is a massive understatement. There’s no evidence that any known sex differences make women worse at software engineering.

How about preferences? It’s worth remembering that many of the first programmers were women, and that they made enormous contributions to developing the field of computer science. Female participation only declined when programming became a lucrative, gender-stereotyped career.

But suppose women were innately less likely to want to be software engineers. That would, in itself, tend to create a gender-biased environment in which women are unlikely to choose to become software engineers (no matter how innately suited they are individually). In other words, women’s lower average interest would act as an additional filter on both talent and motivation for the pool of available female software engineers. The result, all else being equal, would be that the average female software engineer, who powered through in defiance of gender norms, would be more innately motivated and/or talented than the average male engineer who faced no such barriers.

All in all, we have no reason to think female software engineers should perform worse at software engineering based on female trait distributions. And there’s a huge amount of evidence that promoting diversity improves the performance of teams and companies.

We know that negative stereotypes damage people’s performance. We know that unconscious bias influences our judgement of others’ competencies. Consequently, whenever there’s significant cultural prejudice against certain groups, as there is with female software engineers, we expect to see inequalities emerge. So it’s implausible to attribute these differences to biology alone. When we know that competent people are being held back by prejudice, it makes sense to compensate for that via strategies that enhance diversity.

Hinting at racism?

the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ[8] and sex differences).

The passing mention of IQ is interesting, since it has nothing to do with gender, which is the focus everywhere else. He’s presumably talking about race, but he doesn’t want to be branded a racist, so he keeps the reference subtle. So why risk doing it at all? It’s a dog-whistle to the alt-right.

While we’re here, let’s set the record straight. Racial differences in average IQ have been very widely discussed. Most researchers have concluded that these differences aren’t much attributable to any intrinsic characteristic of race, but are strongly related to differences in pre- and post- natal environment and nutrition. And we can alter racial differences in performance by manipulating the salience of stereotypes. So no, we don’t deny racial differences in IQ, we explain them in ways that upset racists because they want to believe there’s some sort of global conspiracy to hide their innate superiority. Nobody who isn’t racist has any reason to get huffy about this.

Talking about human males being biologically disposable is nonsense. The mean fitness of males and females is equal; every individual has a father and a mother, and fathers in most hunter-gatherer societies (which best represent the environment where we evolved) play a huge role in nurturing children.

https://www.recode.net/2017/8/11/16127992/google-engineer-memo-research-science-women-biology-tech-james-damore

Damore also claims that women experience more stress and anxiety than men, and that “This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high-stress jobs.”

He implies that stress and anxiety are personality traits inherent in females, but more likely they are due to the pressures and discrimination women face on the job that men do not. For example, a 2008 report sponsored by major companies, “The Athena Factor,” found that women in high positions in male-dominated fields, such as tech, suffer harsher penalties than men when they slip up. Women don’t get second chances. Men do.

https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/8/11/16130452/google-memo-women-tech-biology-sexism

I’m a lecturer in computer science at Stanford. I’ve taught at least four different programming languages, including assembly. I’ve had a single-digit employee number in a startup. Yes, I’m a woman in tech.

I have known, worked for, and taught countless men who could have written the now-infamous Google “manifesto” — or who are on some level persuaded by it. Given these facts, I’d like to treat it — and them — with some degree of charity and try to explain why it generated so much outrage.

At the outset, it must be conceded that, despite what some of the commentary has implied, the manifesto is not an unhinged rant. Its quasi-professional tone is a big part of what makes it so beguiling (to some) and also so dangerous. Many defenders seem genuinely baffled that a document that works so hard to appear dispassionate and reasonable could provoke such an emotional response. (Of course, some see that apparent disconnect not as baffling, but as a reason to have contempt for women, who in their eyes are confirming the charge that they are more emotional and less quantitative in their thinking.)

2) Women’s resistance to the “divide and conquer” strategy

The manifesto’s sleight-of-hand delineation between “women, on average” and the actual living, breathing women who have had to work alongside this guy failed to reassure many of those women — and failed to reassure me. That’s because the manifesto’s author overestimated the extent to which women are willing to be turned against their own gender.

Speaking for myself, it doesn’t matter to me how soothingly a man coos that I’m not like most women, when those coos are accompanied by misogyny against most women. I am a woman. I do not stop being one during the parts of the day when I am practicing my craft. There can be no realistic chance of individual comfort for me in an environment where others in my demographic categories (or, really, any protected demographic categories) are subjected to skepticism and condescension.

In the end, focusing the conversation on the minutiae of the scientific claims in the manifesto is a red herring. Regardless of whether biological differences exist, there is no shortage of glaring evidence, in individual stories and in scientific studies, that women in tech experience bias and a general lack of a welcoming environment, as do underrepresented minorities. Until these problems are resolved, our focus should be on remedying that injustice. After that work is complete, we can reassess whether small effect size biological components have anything to do with lingering imbalances.

For today — given what women in tech have had to deal with over the past week — try pouring a cup of coffee for a female coder in your office, and asking her about the most interesting bug she’s seen lately.

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yhwx said:

https://www.quora.com/What-do-scientists-think-about-the-biological-claims-made-in-the-document-about-diversity-written-by-a-Google-employee-in-August-2017

To an evolutionary biologist, the idea that sex differences are purely socially constructed is simply implausible. And the necessity of facing up to this is something I’ve talked about as well.

That said, the argument in the document is, overall, despicable trash.

TL;DR: Yes, men and women are biologically different — which doesn’t mean what the author thinks it does. The article perniciously misrepresents the nature and significance of known sex differences to advance what appears to be a covert alt-right agenda. More specifically, it:

  • argues for biologically determined sex differences in personality based on extremely weak evidence
  • completely fails to understand the current state of research on sex differences, which is based in neuroscience, epigenetics and developmental biology
  • argues that cognitive sex differences influence performance in software engineering, but presents no supporting evidence. Available evidence does not support the claim.
  • fails to acknowledge ways in which sex differences violate the narrative of female inferiority; this shows intellectual dishonesty
  • assumes effective meritocracy in its argument, ignoring both a mountain of conflicting scientific literature and its own caveats (which I can only assume were introduced to placate readers, since their incompatibility with the core thesis is never resolved)
  • makes repugnant attacks on compassion and empathy
  • distorts and misuses moral foundations theory for rhetorical purposes
  • contains hints of racism
  • paradoxically insists that authoritarianism be treated as a valid moral dimension, whilst firmly rejecting any > - - diversity-motivated strategy that might remotely approach it.
  • ultimately advocates rejecting all morality insofar as it might compromise the interests of a group.

Sex differences in cognitive abilities have been well-studied, so it’s intriguing that Damore chooses to ignore this vast literature to focus on personality. The reason, however, quickly becomes clear when we look at the evidence: namely, there’s zero evidence that suggests women should make worse programmers. On average, women score slightly worse on certain spatial reasoning problems and better on verbal tests. Their overall problem-solving abilities are equal. Women used to score worse on math, but inclusive environments negate that difference. Even the (relatively robust) difference in spatial reasoning can vanish when women are asked to picture themselves as male. The only published study of coding competency by sex found that women were more likely than men to have their GitHub contributions accepted — but if they were project outsiders, this was true only if their gender was hidden.

As Yonatan Zunger explained, empathy and collaboration are also central to competency, especially at senior levels. Published results confirm this: in a study that attempted to identify the factors that influence software engineers’ success, the most important attribute was being “team oriented”. Neuroticism might hold women back from promotions, but there’s no evidence it makes them worse at their jobs.

Thus, to say there’s “significant overlap” in male/female abilities is a massive understatement. There’s no evidence that any known sex differences make women worse at software engineering.

How about preferences? It’s worth remembering that many of the first programmers were women, and that they made enormous contributions to developing the field of computer science. Female participation only declined when programming became a lucrative, gender-stereotyped career.

But suppose women were innately less likely to want to be software engineers. That would, in itself, tend to create a gender-biased environment in which women are unlikely to choose to become software engineers (no matter how innately suited they are individually). In other words, women’s lower average interest would act as an additional filter on both talent and motivation for the pool of available female software engineers. The result, all else being equal, would be that the average female software engineer, who powered through in defiance of gender norms, would be more innately motivated and/or talented than the average male engineer who faced no such barriers.

All in all, we have no reason to think female software engineers should perform worse at software engineering based on female trait distributions. And there’s a huge amount of evidence that promoting diversity improves the performance of teams and companies.

We know that negative stereotypes damage people’s performance. We know that unconscious bias influences our judgement of others’ competencies. Consequently, whenever there’s significant cultural prejudice against certain groups, as there is with female software engineers, we expect to see inequalities emerge. So it’s implausible to attribute these differences to biology alone. When we know that competent people are being held back by prejudice, it makes sense to compensate for that via strategies that enhance diversity.

This is what I was getting at with the Slate Star Codex post. If there is a preference against computer science for women (similar to a preference against nursing or becoming veterinarians for men), there comes a point at which extra effort to attract women to the field becomes counterproductive. Whether or not that point has been reached is up for debate. I would like a world in which 48% of all programmers were women and 48% were men (leaving room for transgendered people), but we live in a world governed to a large degree by cultural preference:
Jobs by gender
This is from the western part of Ireland, and is the first thing I could find on the subject. Should more women enter construction, agriculture, transportation, and communications fields? Should men be more represented in education, food, and health? I think so, in both cases, but I’m not going to hold my breath or get bent out of shape about it.

Heck, if women made up 80, 90, or 100% of the programming workforce in the future I wouldn’t be surprised or concerned, simply because I think cultural preferences, and computer technology as a whole, can shift. But right now, perhaps we’re at the point of diminishing returns where a substantial overhaul of the field and cultural preference is needed to achieve gender parity, and absent that, it might be problematic to blame everything on the bigotry and intolerance of most workers in an entire field.

You probably don’t recognize me because of the red arm.
Episode 9 Rewrite, The Starlight Project (Workprint V4 Released!) and ANH Technicolor Project (Released!)

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How would you explain the presence of many women in the early years of computer science, then?

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I looked at several articles on the subject, and couldn’t find statistics on the percentages of women in computer science. The Wikipedia article is poorly sourced and lists only 3 women before 1940. After that, women were recruited to perform calculations since so many men were engaged on the front lines of the war effort, and women were of course just as good at math as men. If you can find some sort of percentage, that would be helpful. But even if women were more prevalent in the early years of computing, it wouldn’t be all that surprising since cultural preferences and technologies shift. I just know that right now computing is a mysteriously male dominated field, even as mathematics has achieved gender parity, and I suspect that it could have something to do with a strong cultural preference of men to be very system oriented, rather than people oriented. If you learn a foreign language, you can talk with many more people. Learn a computer language, and you’ll be able to talk with a lot more non-person systems. Of course, the rise of AI may change all of this 😉

You probably don’t recognize me because of the red arm.
Episode 9 Rewrite, The Starlight Project (Workprint V4 Released!) and ANH Technicolor Project (Released!)

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WHY IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT ME QUESTION MARK

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yhwx said:

How would you explain the presence of many women in the early years of computer science, then?

Many occupations have undergone complete reversals in gender preference, so any statement about a bias should probably be read as a “current bias”. For example, secretaries and schoolteachers used to be fairly exclusively male professions. Now (at least in the US), it’s almost entirely reversed. And completely coincidentally I’m sure the status and relative wages of those occupations have dropped.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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In China, women supposedly make up something like 40% of the engineering workforce. Yes, it’s a cultural issue, not a biological one. That’s the point – perhaps those cultural barriers needs to be tackled, instead of blaming the biology.

I taught a computer science college course for a week in China. A full half of the class of 75 students were women. Compare that with the U.S., where I consider myself lucky if I get two female students in a class of 40.

"Close the blast doors!"
Puggo’s website | Rescuing Star Wars

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Possessed said:

Well that’s poking enough don’t you think Duracell?

Oh me oh my, YES.

But damn, so many posts. Better get started reporting. . . .

[JEDIT]

Well, not so many posts as I expected. Regardless, I meant what I said and I did what I said I’d do; I’ve reported the worst of frevious’ recent posts.

[RETURN OF THE JEDIT]

Missed the warning. Now I feel silly.

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I wanted to make a note of how tone-deaf it is for the left to call for the removal of Confederate monuments. They should come down, yes, but the reasons hinge on a nuanced understanding of both history and ingrained racism. The calls against such removal do not require nuance, fit perfectly into conservative talking points, and can be seen as a vindication of their suspicions: the Left is acting like violent totalitarians and destroying history. The Confederate monument debate also feeds into racial insecurities of white people, who already tend to feel threatened by the shifting demographics in the US. Playing into such tensions makes even liberal-minded people solidly conservative in their reactions. Of course, this goes to show just how much race really drives much of politics, and thus how important it is not to place racist secessionists on pedestals, but meanwhile the left will lose the electoral battle.

You probably don’t recognize me because of the red arm.
Episode 9 Rewrite, The Starlight Project (Workprint V4 Released!) and ANH Technicolor Project (Released!)

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Maybe, but honestly, fuck white people with racial insecurities who can’t handle being 69% of the population instead of 75% of the population. And fuck statues celebrating people who took arms up against this country in order to keep their slaves. And fuck people who still support the most tone-deaf president of all time. And fuck nuance. 😉

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Sometimes you have to do the right thing even if it’s suicide politically.

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It’s kind of like saying we shouldn’t have supported gay marriage because we might lose the next election. Or desegregation. Or suffrage. Or any number of divisive issues.

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I suppose the point I was trying to make is that the optics are terrible, even if the reasons are good. There must be a way to take down the monuments in a way that doesn’t result in this extreme backlash.

We’re members of a forum about preserving art, why not make the argument that for their preservation for future generations, our Confederate monuments are being placed in museums where they will be safe from the destructive forces of nature?
😉

You probably don’t recognize me because of the red arm.
Episode 9 Rewrite, The Starlight Project (Workprint V4 Released!) and ANH Technicolor Project (Released!)

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TV’s Frink said:

Maybe, but honestly, fuck white people with racial insecurities who can’t handle being 69% of the population instead of 75% of the population. And fuck statues celebrating people who took arms up against this country in order to keep their slaves. And fuck people who still support the most tone-deaf president of all time. And fuck nuance. 😉

I said the same thing yesterday and I almost got banned. What the hell’s going on?!?

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TV’s Frink said:

It’s kind of like saying we shouldn’t have supported gay marriage because we might lose the next election.

I am reminded of the 2008 debates, when both Biden and Palin were strongly against the idea. That issue changed fast after 2012.

After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true. ~ Spock

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NeverarGreat said:

We’re members of a forum about preserving art, why not make the argument that for their preservation for future generations, our Confederate monuments are being placed in museums where they will be safe from the destructive forces of nature?

That’s exactly what being proposed in many of the “removal” scenarios. Although I suspect they’ll be “placed in museums” where they can be looked after by top men. Top. Men. But still, only some are being destroyed. The rest are headed for the crate beyond.

The best way to demonstrate we’re not ignoring the lessons of history is to replace these statues with statues of MLK or Gandhi or some such figure. To the contrary, it would show we’re finally starting to learn the lessons of history.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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CatBus said:

NeverarGreat said:

We’re members of a forum about preserving art, why not make the argument that for their preservation for future generations, our Confederate monuments are being placed in museums where they will be safe from the destructive forces of nature?

That’s exactly what being proposed in many of the “removal” scenarios. Although I suspect they’ll be “placed in museums” where they can be worked on by top men. Top. Men. But still, only some are being destroyed.

The best way to demonstrate we’re not ignoring the lessons of history is to replace these statues with statues of MLK or Gandhi or some such figure. To the contrary, it would show we’re finally starting to learn the lessons of history.

Apparently not:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/18/us/new-confederate-monuments/index.html

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Removing the statues is more of a long term play. In the short term you’ll get a lot of people angry, but now that they’ll be gone, future generations won’t have slave owning secessionists to look up to. Without the glorification, hopefully the hate that has stayed with the shadow of the confederacy will eventually subside.

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generalfrevious said:

TV’s Frink said:

Maybe, but honestly, fuck white people with racial insecurities who can’t handle being 69% of the population instead of 75% of the population. And fuck statues celebrating people who took arms up against this country in order to keep their slaves. And fuck people who still support the most tone-deaf president of all time. And fuck nuance. 😉

I said the same thing yesterday and I almost got banned. What the hell’s going on?!?

Oh yeah, I read lots o’ stuff about America being the most fundamentally evil country since the beginning of time in that post. Most certainly.