Fired Google engineer James Damore says he’s autistic, ‘sees things differently’

James Damore, the former Google engineer who published a screed against Google’s diversity initiatives, wants you to know he isn’t using autism as an excuse.

But he says being on the spectrum means he “sees things differently.” And yet another interview with the 28-year-old shows he still doesn’t fully understand why everyone got so upset that he attributed the lack of diversity at Google and in the tech industry to biological differences between men and women.

For example, he’s sorry/not sorry. “My biggest flaw and strength may be that I see things very differently than normal,” Damore tells the Guardian. “I’m not necessarily the best at predicting what would be controversial.”

Get tech news in your inbox weekday mornings. Sign up for the free Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter.

Cases in point: One of Damore’s first moves after being fired by Google in August after his publication of “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” was to grant an interview to a Canadian psychology professor who rails against political correctness (and gender-neutral pronouns).

Then he met up with a photographer who’s known as “the Annie Leibovitz of the alt-right” and donned a not-Google but “Goolag” shirt. Damore claims he didn’t do enough research before he did the photo shoot. I can definitely see how it was damaging, but it was a free professional photo shoot and I wasn’t really familiar with politics then,” he tells the Guardian. “I was pretty busy and ignorant.”

This is curious, because he also told the Guardian that before he published the memo — which also criticized Google’s political biases — that he had been doing a lot of research into politics. This includes reading what’s known as the bible of the men’s rights movement, “The Myth of Male Power,” and other works.

Also, a freshly fired Damore sat down with Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart News tech editor who Twitter-trolled his way to infamy.

In addition, Damore tweeted in September: “The KKK is horrible and I don’t support them in any way, but can we admit that their internal title names are cool, e.g. ‘Grand Wizard’?”

After all that, Damore is frustrated he is being associated with the “alt-right” — white nationalists and supremacists — when he really thinks of himself as “centrist,” he tells the Guardian.

The Guardian piece also introduces a feminist writer who feels “pretty sorry” for Damore, an unnamed Google engineer says he is also autistic and was fired after sparring with a female colleague, and a psychiatrist who says employers need to be “more understanding” of people on the autism spectrum.

But hey, the piece says Damore — who is suing Google over his firing — “is fiercely resistant to portraying himself as any kind of victim.”

And Damore himself said: “Journalists and commentators were incentivized to distort facts to generate outrage.”

But here’s a fact. Damore wrote this in the memo: “Women, on average, have more neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance). 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 also pushed back against actual facts — that women get paid less than men; in fact, Google is being investigated for related allegations — by including this in his memo: “Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.”

And the outrage wasn’t just directed at Damore. Google and its CEO, Sundar Pichai, were dragged right into the raging cultural wars of our times. There were even calls for Pichai — who at the time said “to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK” — to be fired.

Meanwhile, Google — like many other companies in tech and elsewhere — continues to be largely white and male both in the overall composition of its workforce and in its leadership.

 

Photo by Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

 

Tags: , , , ,

 

Share this Post



 
 
 
  • aaacccc

    He never said anything about biological differences. This is another of hundreds of Orwellian narratives created by our loony media.

    • NC

      Did you read it? A whole section starts out with “On average men and women biologically differ in many ways”–which, btw, is correct, but then he goes off to use biological differences justify the underrepresentation of women in tech. So, in sum, aaaccc, you are either ignorant or lying.

      • optinion

        aaacccc may have meant as opposed to psychological differences, but the absolute least charitable interpretation possible (such as “he said he looked into politics but then said he wasn’t that into politics so I can’t imagine how he meant that he wasn’t into it enough to know some 4chan photographer”) seems to be the order of the day, so f*** it.

        And they certainly do justify women’s underrepresentation in anything if they correctly predict a biochemically relevant increased likelihood of women not wanting to do it.

      • Clare Anderson

        Of course there are many biological differences between men and women. But WHAT SPECIFIC BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES did he actually demonstrate in figures and numbers that are RELEVANT IN STEM? Surely one can say “men are in general taller and heavier hence the gender gap in tech” > this is not what he said, right? Among those many biological differences, what differences count? He should name a few and show us the actual evidence. That step was missing. Please don’t point me to the distribution lines. That wasn’t an actual, real chart. It’s a rendering of a chart. Charts are data visualized. That graph wasn’t based on real data.

  • charlie hustle

    “He also pushed back against actual facts — that women get paid less than men”

    FAKE NEWS

    This myth has been busted so many times over it feels ridiculous to still have to call you out on it.

    • lorrwill
      • Phil Wilson

        Thanks for providing the links. Very helpful for providing meaningful dialogue. It was this paragraph in the Pew report which is key (also their side infographic):

        “Why does a gender pay gap still persist? In our 2013 survey, women were more likely to say they had taken breaks from their careers to care for their family. These types of interruptions can have an impact on long-term earnings. Roughly four-in-ten mothers said that at some point in their work life they had taken a significant amount of time off (39%) or reduced their work hours (42%) to care for a child or other family member. Roughly a quarter (27%) said they had quit work altogether to take care of these familial responsibilities. Fewer men said the same. For example, just 24% of fathers said they had taken a significant amount of time off to care for a child or other family member.”

        One could say that men generally are more career focused and women are more family focused and that on average, brings down women’s pay.

        I once read that 70% of “high earning women” had a spouse who stayed at home. I’m guessing that for those women pay equity is not an issue. Domestic tasks are being taken care of by others and focus can be on a career path.

        Also, it shocks me that the Mercury News feels it’s fair to characterize Damore’s post as a “screed”. This is the second time in two days that they’ve used that term. It also mischaracterizes his interview with a “Canadian college professor”, who is actually Jordon Peterson and objects to using gender neutral pronouns due to a change in Canadian law. His objection is not the pronouns but his view of the Stalinist implications of the law change that will force him to modify his language.

      • CriticalThinker

        That’s the earnings gap.
        Women earn less in total because they find other things than money more important.
        But they get paid the same or more for doing the same job.

  • EllaFino

    Why does this sound like the recent Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, where Larry David tried to blame his behavior on being on the spectrum.

  • ChunkyMonkey

    According to ancient astronaut experts, autism is actually the expression of a latent alien super-race gene!

    http://www.openminds.tv/wp-content/uploads/I-am-not-saying.jpg

  • NC

    Funny how for him “see things differently” means from the POV of deeply entrenched patriarchal bullshit.

  • CriticalThinker

    Your introduction is misleading Damore was never against diversity. He opposed Google’s programs because he understands science and therefore why those programs aren’t working. He explained this in detail and how the programs could be changed to achieve the stated goals. He also made a clear distinction between preferences and capabilities. But you’re mind is too clouded by ideology to care about facts.

    Damore gave his honest opinion, so he has nothing to be sorry for. And he’s totally accurate on the science, according to the scientists who wrote the papers. That you characterize honesty as an attack says a lot about you.

    You never mentioned that Damore has a formal education in biology. Clearly you are an enemy to the truth and only interested in demonizing those who speak it.

    Whether autism leads to not being able to detect what will be controversial should be irrelevant to those who care about science.

    “My biggest flaw and strength may be that I see things very differently than normal”
    How is this an apology? He’s just saying that if he’d be more political he’d been able to keep his job. That’s not an apology for speaking his mind.

    It’s sad to see civilization destroyed by the religion of feminism:
    http://www.sciencevsfeminism.com/

 
 
css.php