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| "Activism and intellectual dishonesty" ::              [2017-08-07 11:56PM] |
|                                                            mood: Frustrated |
|                                                        music: Beats Antique |
|                                                                             |
| I like to think I took a fairly balanced stance in the debate around James  |
| Damore's Google memo, at least in comparison to those who equated the memo  |
| to physical violence. I criticised Damore for lobbing the memo into         |
| Google's public sphere like a hand grenade, when he should have known what  |
| message it would send to female employees. If he thought that he had some   |
| good ideas about how to improve diversity management at Google, he should   |
| have communicated his suggestions privately to Google's HR department       |
| instead.                                                                    |
|                                                                             |
| At the same time, there is an overwhelming scientific consensus that        |
| biology is behind some of the psychological differences between the sexes,  |
| and many of Damore's critics have been intellectually dishonest in denying  |
| or minimising this (for example, citing as "definite proof" of its falsity  |
| a single study of one variable across two cultures, versus meta-studies of  |
| as many as 65 variables across 53 cultures).                                |
|                                                                             |
| Why does it matter? If there is a scientific fact that doesn't support a    |
| moral cause, isn't it right for us to cast it into doubt, for the greater   |
| good?  Well, some of my peers certainly seem to think so, but I have        |
| always felt differently. For example, when I was in the consumer movement,  |
| I always felt uneasy about how consumer advocates would intentionally or    |
| recklessly misrepresent or misuse science and statistical research on       |
| topics such as food safety to swing debates in their favour. Environmental  |
| campaigners, sex trafficking and child safety activists, and yes, also      |
| some Internet activists do the same (though thankfully this is rare at      |
| EFF).                                                                       |
|                                                                             |
| Speaking for myself, I am not willing to sacrifice scientific accuracy      |
| just to score a cheap point for my political side. For progressives like    |
| myself to do this when it comes to biology, even to further a good cause    |
| such as gender diversity, is just as bad as it is for conservatives to      |
| misrepresent or ignore climate science.                                     |
|                                                                             |
| The distribution of the Damore memo was hurtful, and some of the            |
| conclusions that he sought to draw from the scientific data that he cited   |
| were misguided (I agree with his critics who say that we shouldn't allow    |
| nature to determine just outcomes). But for me, science will always come    |
| before dogma, even when the science doesn't favour "my side".               |
|                                                                             |
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