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    I don’t know whether it’s appropriate to make this meta point here, or if it should be a separate thread. Defaulting to here, feel free to tell me it should’ve been a meta post.

    This post is being down-voted as off-topic because it mentions race and gender, but that’s just people pushing a political viewpoint. Posts about hiring practices and salaries are considered on-topic, and so posts about who gets hired by tech companies are also on topic.

    To confirm this, I did searches on “hiring”, “salary”, “compensation”, “ageism”, “age discrimination”, and clicked a bunch of links. I generally avoided stories that had only 1-3 upvotes, though I wasn’t completely systematic (I looked at titles to guess whether they were relevant to the title, and clicked through to the articles to confirm relevance–a few had side-notes like “I won’t talk about sexism/ageism” which I treated as not being on topic). I did not find more than 1 off-topic vote on any story.

    My conclusion is that a significant subset of lobsters are happy to discuss how hiring should work, what effective hiring practices look like, how pay should be determined, etc, including age discrimination, but view any discussion of how race or gender affects that process as unacceptable. This is cowardly and intellectually dishonest.

    Recruiting/Hiring Compensation Ageism Misc
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      Thanks for doing this research to make your point, I think it’s the one of the best ways to advance meta conversations. (Also an excuse for me to remind that I’ll run queries so we can build these shared understandings.)

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        One thing to consider is that almost all of your examples have either the “culture” or “practices” tag. People who would have down-voted these stories as “Off-Topic” might have actually hidden these tags. I know I’m one of these people (I’ve only discovered the story we’re currently discussing because someone pointed me to it out of band).

        It would be interesting if @pushcx could run statistics on the most hidden tags. I wouldn’t be surprised if “culture” and “practices” are the most hidden ones.

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          I think that’s reading too much in to it. Something hiring practices is mostly just about hiring and doesn’t touch all that much on politics, whereas this is a broad political topic (which also affects hiring, among many other things). Something like compensation also touches on politics, but significantly less so.

          Additionally – and perhaps more importantly – this is also a topic that has been discussed … a lot, and that is also highly controversial. I think a lot of people are just tired of it, and even tired of the discussions which generally don’t really seem to go anywhere and pretty much always have the same arguments that we’ve all seem 20 times already.

          In all honesty, I think your reply is kind of an example of that: you’re trying to guess what people’s intentions are with their downvotes and sling out accusations and insults. It’s not really a very productive kind of discussion. Perhaps it’s correct for a few downvotes, but are you sure it’s for all of them (or even any of them?)

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            I think there’s a key point here - a topic being political doesn’t disqualify it from being also technical or relevant to professional practices like hiring. Is the bar for lobste.rs that content be technical, or that it be non-political?

            It seems like a misuse of the off-topic tag to flag discussions readers are tired of or which have been had often before. Requesting a politics tag so it can be filtered may be more appropriate.

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              a topic being political doesn’t disqualify it from being also technical or relevant to professional practices like hiring

              I agree, and I’m actually in favour of a broad and lax interpretation of the “no politics” rule (more so than the current interpretation). I don’t have a problem with this story (I even upvoted it), or a discussion about whether or not the off-topic flags are appropriate. It’s just the “you’re being cowardly”-stuff that I don’t like, as people may very well have valid other “non-coward” reasons to flag.

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                I’m personally against political content on lobste.rs because I think that, despite the undeniable importance of the discussions this article means to engender, politics overwhelms technical content and attracts people with nothing to say about technology but lots of awful opinions. A politics tag is not going to stem the cultural change that implies. I have an image of a eugenicist hellscape that used to be a tech news aggregator, and I’m scared of it.

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                  As someone engaging in both of these kinds of arguments, I cannot see this effect. I see people who don’t engage with topics they consider political for lack of interest (I’m fine with that), but I have a hard time coming up with a particular person that does the reverse.

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                    I see people who don’t engage with topics they consider political for lack of interest

                    How do you know it’s for lack of interest? That’s certainly not why I typically don’t engage in “political” topics. I mostly stopped, many many years ago, for a few reasons:

                    • It’s nearly impossible to have meaningful political discussions online because everyone is so embedded in their tribe.
                    • I have grown more and more fearful of expressing opinions against the zeitgeist. @friendlysock said it really well in this thread and I fully agree with him.
                    • I got frustrated because every time I had a political discussion, it just went in circles.
                    • Even people, like Scott Alexander, who dedicate their intellect (far superior to mine) and enormous portions of their time, have eventually succumbed to the Wrath of the Internet.

                    Overall, discussing politics had a dramatic impact on both my own personal well being and of the people around me.

                    In every forum the discusses “politics,” with perhaps maybe a couple exceptions, it’s been a complete and total shit show. And that includes forums that loosely match my own politics.

                    There are significant reasons for not discussing politics outside of a desire to maintain the status quo. I don’t like the status quo, even though I’ve benefited from it. I’d love to see oodles of things change. Making some forums have “no politics” rules seems perfectly in line with that. Political discussion doesn’t need to happen everywhere.

                    N.B. I use the word “politics” above in a narrow scope, and I do not mean “literally any action.”

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                      Making some forums have “no politics” rules seems perfectly in line with that. Political discussion doesn’t need to happen everywhere.

                      The difficulty here is that many forums with no politics rules find it hard to apply those rules evenly over the political spectrum: someone posts something with a political undertone or implication which is in line with the political preference on that forum. This post is left alone. When someone replies to the political aspects of the post in a way which does not align with the politics favoured on that forum the reply is ‘no politics’ and the post is moderated or voted down. I’ve seen this happen fairly often on the orange site.

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                        Yup. Enforcing it fairly and evenly is pretty difficult, if not impossible. I’ve moderated various things over the years, so I really understand how difficult it is. But the alternative is just so much worse IMO. You can’t escape the Overton window.

                        I’ve found that just being transparent, and at least making an effort to be even handed, goes a long way. But that doesn’t work every time either.

                        It’s a process.

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                        I was a little imprecise there (reminder in the future: don’t post with 2 hours of sleep in 36 hours). I’ll try to salvage that: first of all lets replace “lack of interest” with “lack of engagement for whatever reason”.

                        I don’t agree with your statements there.

                        It’s nearly impossible to have meaningful political discussions online because everyone is so embedded in their tribe.

                        I disagree there, strongly. The internet has challenges for debate, especially due to it’s nature of not being able to quit a debate. Still, it gives a wide variety of viewpoints.

                        I have an equal distaste for politics discussions as I have for many tech discussions. Arguments are often absolute and tribalism in tech is extremely strong. Naming dissenting opinions like “Rust could learn a bit from Java” easily gets you flamed down.

                        The lure of politics is that everyone feels entitled to speak of it, even if they are rarely practitioners or literally have no experience with the problem at hand. For example, I rarely talk about community management and running conferences with random people because they’ve grown very accustomed to ignoring the pragmatics. And not talking about structural problems makes it impossible for hackers to fix them.

                        I’ll give you an example of both: I had very good conversations with people questioning if projects like “Rails Girls” actually reach their goal of bringing more women into Rails development. This is a fair challenge and one I and other organisers can answer on many levels. I have terrible conversations with people who start by asking why CoderDojos (a project that offers hacking meetups for kids) is not open to adults. The absurdity knows no bounds.

                        The other problem is that people obviously flaming a debate with the very first post, which makes any start of a good debate impossible. I’m totally into the right of moderators to close bad discussions down, or calling people out for being obviously just in for the fist fight. I think it isn’t done often enough.

                        And yet, on this very platform, I had many pleasing conversations.

                        I regularly frequent non-tech venues (gaming and music boards) and similar issues exist, but boards are often more tightly and better moderated, with moderators having a much better lingo for that moderation.

                        I also believe that the discussion techniques we are tought are for person to person discussion and new ones should be derived for online debates (such as: checking for peoples locale before assuming they are in silicon valley, as a I frequently experience when people tell me that Germans wouldn’t hold that opinion…).

                        I have grown more and more fearful of expressing opinions against the zeitgeist. @friendlysock said it really well in this thread and I fully agree with him.

                        But this is commonplace and has always been the case in hacker communites. There’s a huge strive for consistency in them. I’ll give an example: I believe that the hacker communities are fighting a losing war on many fronts because there’s certain sacred opinions. I have a number of opinions I usually hold back (e.g. that E2E encryption is not always necessary or that the belief the hackers do not work for the military or the secret service is mistaken).

                        Also, all hacker circles often pose as having a unified ethos, a problem for example visible in the very common belief, that the military using open source is not its original intention. Nothing could be further from the truth and some of the important figures in the early times of our community are hardcore pro-military.

                        I got frustrated because every time I had a political discussion, it just went in circles.

                        I appreciate that you have this experience, though mine differs.

                        Even people, like Scott Alexander, who dedicate their intellect (far superior to mine) and enormous portions of their time, have eventually succumbed to the Wrath of the Internet.

                        Scott Alexander succumbed to the NY Times for wanting to publish his name. I don’t condone this practice, but I don’t feel like the relevance to this debate.

                        In my point of view, we are paying down the cost of trying to keep politics out of hacker discussion boards. Shielding it off leads to two problems: lack of ability to have productive discussions (no training) and lack of engagement rules for them. Also, it leads to a very biased decision on what is political or not. Even just presenting a statistic can be considered a political act, depending on the subject, even if its method and analysis are technically interesting.

                        I would even go as far and say that the FOSS and Open Source communities are inherently exploitable by avoiding or not having found a path for discussions and thinking about its politics - absurdly, by people who understand the mechanics of politics.

                        This is the reason why I have a very liberal view on this topic: I appreciate that some people don’t like politics posts here, but I still see no evidence that they in any way impact the viability or usefulness of a platform where it’s also easy to just click the link above or below it.

                        P.S.: I want to keep this out of the main post, but I can’t help that if I notice that when thinking of “Person I have dissenting opinions with but like to argue over the internet”, “burntsushi” is definitely a name that pops up.

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                          I was a little imprecise there (reminder in the future: don’t post with 2 hours of sleep in 36 hours). I’ll try to salvage that: first of all lets replace “lack of interest” with “lack of engagement for whatever reason”.

                          Ah I see. I guess my comment could then be re-interpreted as, “the reasons for my lack of engagement are pretty unfortunate and may provide some insight into why a ‘no politics’ rule is useful.”

                          There are some things you’re saying that I agree with, and some I disagree with. I think the biggest thing I disagree with in your comment is the—what appears to be—equivalency you’re drawing between “political” discussion and hacker culture. I think a number of statements in your comment seem to be implying that, with this one in particular:

                          But this is commonplace and has always been the case in hacker communites. There’s a huge strive for consistency in them. I’ll give an example: I believe that the hacker communities are fighting a losing war on many fronts because there’s certain sacred opinions. I have a number of opinions I usually hold back (e.g. that E2E encryption is not always necessary or that the belief the hackers do not work for the military or the secret service is mistaken).

                          Where “this” in “this is commonplace” is, I think, referring to my fear of expressing opinions against the zeitgeist. When it comes to hacker culture, I don’t really have the same kind of fear about expressing contrary technical opinions, despite the fact that hacker culture obviously has its religious zealots and things can get pretty heated.

                          Maybe me being more clear would be productive. I’m not too afraid of getting shouted down by hackers over differing technical opinions. Similarly, I’m also not too afraid of getting shouted down for having political opinions that differ from the zeitgeist. What I’m afraid of is getting doxxed, and that having real consequences on my life and ability to help support my family. This kind of thing happens pretty regularly in the realm of politics (I can think of several examples off the top of my head), but is comparatively more rare in hacker culture. I’m guessing here, but the disparity is likely rooted in the exact point that you brought up: “The lure of politics is that everyone feels entitled to speak of it.”

                          Maybe the underlying mechanisms of tribes themselves are similar when comparing hacker culture and political divisiveness, but the stakes and degree of severity are absolutely not. That changes things. It adds an intensity to the discussions, and that’s what fundamentally drives my fear.

                          Scott Alexander succumbed to the NY Times for wanting to publish his name. I don’t condone this practice, but I don’t feel like the relevance to this debate.

                          The act of publishing his name is not the Wrath I was alluding to. One needs only question why he doesn’t want his name published. Part of it is because it would be bad for his medical practice (and that’s not relevant to this discussion), but the other part of it is that he believes he would be doxxed. And that is relevant to this discussion, because it is deeply interwoven with the exact same reasons why I have largely stopped discussing politics on the Internet.

                          I used to discuss politics on the Internet many years ago. It sounds like you’ve found a way to do it that strikes a balance, but I couldn’t. And to be honest, I don’t really see how I could. (Please keep in mind that fear is not the only reason I stopped, but it is the one I’m focusing on in this comment, because I think it’s the best way to point out the difference between hacker culture and general politics.)

                          This is the reason why I have a very liberal view on this topic: I appreciate that some people don’t like politics posts here, but I still see no evidence that they in any way impact the viability or usefulness of a platform where it’s also easy to just click the link above or below it.

                          I’ve never really bought this sort of thinking to be honest. It just seems like it ignores the fact that it seeps into many conversations, and just flat out ignoring it is hard. I’ve thought about leaving lobsters, in part, at least a few times because of it. (To be clear, I’ve thought about leaving not just because of the politics that seeps into lobsters, but also because of the bad faith technical discussion that is tolerated here.)

                          P.S.: I want to keep this out of the main post, but I can’t help that if I notice that when thinking of “Person I have dissenting opinions with but like to argue over the internet”, “burntsushi” is definitely a name that pops up.

                          :-)

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                        What is the reverse, sorry?

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                  view any discussion of how race or gender affects that process as unacceptable. This is cowardly and intellectually dishonest.

                  There is no technical content in this post do I flagged it. I will continue to flag posts with no technical content.

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                    Most of your posts are technical, but I also see:

                    I do not believe there is any obvious definition of “technical” (certainly not any agreed upon one) that divides things this way.

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                      the author’s personal experience maintaining an open source project

                      Clearly had technical content.

                      comment thread

                      And thus not relevant at all to this discussion… Comment threads drift in how on topic they are and that’s accepted and normal on forums.

                      In comparison, spamming a technical forum with highly politicised and totally non-technical submissions isn’t acceptable at all

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                  There most certainly is discrimination, but the VC-types will put you through all kinds of mental gymnastics to convince you there isn’t. I’ve seen it first hand, several times over, and denying it is just part of the gaslighting that goes on to try and pretend it doesn’t exist.

                  I also don’t buy the “lying on the beach gasping because they can’t get enough talented people” narrative that Marc is pushing. In most cases companies are looking for people who are a) cheap and b) willing to put up with a lot of BS. They don’t actually want talented free thinkers. They want pod people who will hammer out the code in accordance with the party line. They don’t want innovators, they want button pushers and cogs in the wheel so they can build an assembly line.

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                    […] people who are a) cheap and b) willing to put up with a lot of BS. They don’t actually want talented free thinkers.

                    In my hiring experience, we were always looking for people who were a) cheap and b) talented free thinkers. “willing to put up with a lot of BS” is usually a part of any job description ;).

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                    This article was originally written in 2014, so it might be interesting to see how things have changed (not much has!) For instance here’s where you can get the most current data for % of women in cs majors:

                    https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_325.35.asp

                    and a quick graph:

                    https://breakingcsbarriers.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/1/0/131091036/published/womentrend.png

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                      Simply being a woman and having a tech opinion online subjects you to techbros who will willfully misinterpret your words because they assume that you don’t understand terminology, you haven’t tried the obvious in terms of troubleshooting, etc, etc. I get this constantly on the internet (my actual working environment is not as bad, thankfully).

                      Whenever there’s room to interpret, whenever there’s ambiguity, discrimination is what drives your decision in understanding, so we have to prove ourselves even more, constantly, for respect of basic technical knowledge.

                      Try to catch yourself doing this. In moments where something is ambiguous, ask yourself if this is something you would otherwise interpret more generously if you were talking to a cishet white man (one who you like, just based on assumptions).

                      Its get tiring, quick, and then you want to give up. That’s how it happens. I think many give up before even going to an interview, after years of schooling. There is so much lost talent. Talent will increase when the culture is ready to face the problem.

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                        For any men reading this who have doubts about how much worse of an experience the nerdy side of the Internet is for women, here’s an experiment you can try from the comfort of your own home: create a fake profile with an innocuous female name & an ML-generated photo of a woman (or an avatar that presents as feminine). Then use that instead of your normal one for a couple of weeks when posting stuff online & see what the experience is like.

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                          I actually did this a couple of years ago for.. less than honourable reasons honestly.

                          I was convinced that I would be treated better by the tech community on Twitter if I posted as a woman instead of a man, mostly because I was getting berated constantly for being a white guy. (yes, it’s a minority, not real feminists, probably alt-right bots, I didn’t think about that at the time).

                          My findings are actually very much in line with what I believed; my signal gets boosted more, people are less likely to pile on me and overall it’s a lot more pleasant to interact with people even when I reply contrary to the opinion, I’m much more likely to be treated with respect.

                          So I made the switch full time I’m now a woman on Twitter.

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                            I did this ~10 years ago. Back then, it was a disaster in most communities; most people were civil but there was hardly anywhere lacking shitlords who would be openly sexist.

                            Glad to hear that’s changing!

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                              This is actually very heartening to hear!

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                                It’s heartening to hear he has to pretend to be female so he isn’t getting berated for being a white male?

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                                  No, not that part. I mean it’s heartening that his experience wasn’t as bleak as it once would have been. Not being a white guy myself, I haven’t experienced what he describes either. I suppose I could do a similar experiment to find out…

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                                Lmao sick dude your experience proves that the tech community treats women better than men. That must be due to the same reason why women hold disproportionately fewer tech jobs in tech than men, and the trend is only worsening over time.

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                                  My anecdote is a single data point.

                                  I think what you’re trying to say is that despite (at least the western US tech segment of) twitter being openly hostile to men and very welcoming to women, the industry at large still has elements of sexism. Obviously I’d agree with that to some degree. There’s so many people out there that it’s impossible to claim that we’ve ever fixed male on female sexism for good. I would argue strongly that the “trend is getting worse” is incorrect though.

                                  But if my information offends you then I invite you to do the same, it’s not particularly hard. I fear we all have deeply held beliefs here and it’s not valuable to talk down to each other about it.

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                                    Your story is not a data point; it’s an anecdote. And to be clear, it doesn’t “offend” me at all. Rather, I think that the overwhelming, vastly documented, and ongoing evidence of the hostility of online tech communities towards women and other minorities renders one-off anecdotes such as these not all too interesting in the broader discussion.

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                                      It is indeed an anecdote, it’s not useful in isolation.

                                      anecdotes such as these not all too interesting in the broader discussion.

                                      I am responding directly to the suggestion presented as I have done this myself and it was enlightening and not in a good way for me; it nearly pushed me to the alt-right because I really felt like people were attacking me based on my skin colour and race and I can’t really control those things. However I fundamentally believe in equality so the alt-right is not appealing to me either. Thankfully on the internet nobody knows you’re a dog.

                                      I am not sure what cross you have to bear with my presented experience, I’m definitely not discounting anything regarding male-on-female discrimination.

                                      Actually, to be perfectly honest you’re proving my point slightly. The tech community that I follow is so focused on sexism towards women that they perceive all men, especially white men, as “out to get them” if they engage with them at all, and that pervades all future discussion.

                                      It doesn’t have to be political, even innocuous suggestions, improvements, more information etc; is taken as a hostile act when presented by a white man. in these circles. (“mansplaining” being the common retort when engaging people this way, but when given by a perceived woman are engaged with compassionately.)

                                      Obviously it’s an anecdote though, obviously it’s an anecdote, and your mileage will likely be very different from mine depending on the circles you’re in and how you approach people online.

                                      But, for sure there’s still a lot of horrible shit that people do to each other, I still see the “2 minute hate’ threads on twitter because some absolute twat decided that sending a picture of his dick to a girl or trying to flirt (badly) on linkedin is a good idea.

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                                      I don’t know what you mean when you describe Twitter in that way, but I can assure you, there are plenty of other data points that disagree with your perspective. Do you honestly believe that white men on Twitter (or anywhere, really) suffer from a worse experience?

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                                        I don’t think that someone’s experience of hostility in online communication has much to do with their ethnic background or gender. It’s fairly easy to find discourse on twitter that talks in disparaging terms about all sorts of demographic groups, including women as a class, men as a class, and white men specifically as a class. Different people will be bothered by the existence of people who vocally disparage their demographic group to different degrees.

                                        I do think that overtly anti-white-male rhetoric has a great deal more mainstream acceptance than anti-female rhetoric, and that this has to do with widespread social attitudes in English-speaking countries that only women can be legitimately harmed in a sexist way or only nonwhites can be legitimately harmed in a racist way. In practice, many of the ways that anti-white-male sentiment manifests itself is in malicious accusations of sexism or racism; that is, authority figures selectively characterizing behaviors as punishably racist (against nonwhites) or punishably sexist (against women) when the person doing that behavior is believed to be a white male, while simultaneously refusing to characterize similar behavior by nonwhites or women as punishably racist or sexist.

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                                          Oh, I’m not speaking about disparagement. I think we’re discussing different things.

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                                            I do think that overtly anti-white-male rhetoric has a great deal more mainstream acceptance than anti-female rhetoric, and that this has to do with widespread social attitudes in English-speaking countries that only women can be legitimately harmed in a sexist way or only nonwhites can be legitimately harmed in a racist way.

                                            Let’s be clear: this is not a widespread social attitude; english-speaking white majority countries tend to be, on the whole, still pretty racist and sexist. This social attitude you refer to is actually a fact. In societies with histories of racial and gender-based violence that overwhelmingly do harm to women and people of color, being “racist towards a white” and “racist towards a POC” are categorically not the same. I.e. in the US, slavery, redlining, jim crow, mass incarceration, disproportionate policing of communities of color lead to fundamentally unjust outcomes in the quality of life for someone born black as opposed to born white. So to a person of color in the US, racism means worse education, higher degree of poverty, a shorter life expectancy, a greater chance of being incarcerated, a lower chance of being able to vote, and the list goes on. And in terms of gender in the US, working women are still living with a significant pay gap, harassment in the workplace, and forms of cultural oppression. On the other hand, the magnitude of effect of “anti-white racism” and anti-men rhetoric generally boils down to hurt feelings (which I do not mean to downplay) and the occasional highly-publicized cancelling of high-profile white men which doesn’t come close to the magnitude of effect of centuries of discrimination in the other direction. It is dishonest and ahistorical to equate these forms of prejudice.

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                                              this is not a widespread social attitude; english-speaking white majority countries tend to be, on the whole, still pretty racist and sexist.

                                              I mean, a less charitable person would definitely say “compared to what”; because “on the whole” the west is a lot more amicable than other countries and cultures, but let’s not go there.

                                              On the other hand, the magnitude of effect of “anti-white racism” and anti-men rhetoric generally boils down to hurt feelings […] and the occasional highly-publicized cancelling of high-profile white men.

                                              Your entire argument boils down to this I feel, that inequity of men is justified because it’s not as bad. But consider for a moment the worst effects of what you’re implying.

                                              If as a sub-culture which is pushing for mainstream acceptance you are to engage in open misandry and racism, not only does that show a blinding hypocrisy, but it also pushes your majority of people (who feel attacked) towards extremism, even if many feel guilt and will take extra caution.

                                              Some of what you’re saying really feels to me like you’ve stopped thinking about society as “a bunch of people” and started thinking of it as a “system” which is made of demographics which can only act in a singular way. This is incredibly harmful because it’s engaging in exactly the kind of stereotyping that feminism is (and has been) trying to destroy for half a century.

                                              When I see things like conferences being shut down due to lack of diversity of speakers and there blind speaker selections which attempt to remove bias and then it “didn’t go the way they liked” I’m reminded of identity politics, again and again, when in reality we should be promoting those who do good and not tearing people down because they happened to be born a certain way.

                                              which doesn’t come close to the magnitude of effect of centuries of discrimination in the other direction. It is dishonest and ahistorical to equate these forms of prejudice.

                                              White guilt based on the sins of the father.

                                              You’ll have to forgive me for not feeling bad about being bad about being birthed with a skin colour. Since, you know, that’s kind of the point of being against racism.


                                              FD:

                                              I grew up, poor, the kind of poor that I don’t think you can actually imagine. The kind of poor where the idea of clothing is a birthday gift exclusively and sometimes you go to bed for dinner instead of eating.

                                              I grew up also, in central England, in a city in major decline, surrounded by people from Pakistan, Bangledesh, India and parts of Subsaharan Africa. Even they didn’t know poverty like mine because there were programs for them to prevent it (not that I’m salty, I’m glad for them). The notion that “I” am to blame for the historical transgressions of white people and men, with my life, of being chased, surrounded by pedophiles, stabbed on the street, mugged and beaten on average once a quarter and surrounded exclusively by crime knowing that if you just broke into someones house you’d eat that day- have it “better” than any other person is just fucking stupid, racist and disgusting and you should be ashamed.

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                                                Your entire argument boils down to this I feel, that inequity of men is justified because it’s not as bad.

                                                No, I’m sorry, this is not my argument. My argument is that no intellectually honest person willing to engage with history would conclude that “racism against whites” and “racism against people of color” are remotely comparable, nor could they conclude that “sexism towards men” and “sexism towards women” (and LGBTQ) are destructive on remotely the same plane. It simply denies both history and contemporary events. This point was directed at @Hail_Spacecake btw, not yourself.

                                                I grew up, poor

                                                I am genuinely sorry to hear this, and you truly have my sympathy. Poverty is a grotesque failure of wealthy societies, especially in countries such as yours and mine. Nobody should have to go to bed hungry. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

                                                The notion that “I” am to blame for the historical transgressions of white people and men, with my life, of being chased, surrounded by pedophiles, stabbed on the street, mugged and beaten on average once a quarter and surrounded exclusively by crime knowing that if you just broke into someones house you’d eat that day- have it “better” than any other person is just fucking stupid, racist and disgusting and you should be ashamed.

                                                I am not blaming “you” nor arguing that poor whites have it “better” than affluent people of color (they don’t! it’s complicated!). This is elucidated by intersectional theory beginning with the feminist movement. I don’t really have much to say here except to reiterate my point above – I am not attempting to engage in the question of whether anti-white prejudice is justified. I am trying to point out that “anti-black is just as bad as anti-white” is a naive and anti-intellectual reduction of a complicated subject made by folks who are not willing to read history books.

                                2. 2

                                  This is a good point, and something I’ve witnessed as well. But the solution can’t be to engage in more discrimination. The “men are bad, so let’s punish men” narrative is nonsense and just as bad as harassing women in the first place.

                                  Calling out discrimination, harassment, and so on when you see it something we can all do. I think public shaming and whistleblowing is an under-utilized tool. There’s also a lack of legal protections for whistleblowers.

                                  I worked at a startup where there was rampant sexual harassment all the way up into the C-level team, the head of HR knew all about it, and when I quit I was threatened by my former manager who called me to tell me I should keep quiet about it. They also tried to force me to sign a non-disparagement agreement but I refused to do so (they threatened to sue but never followed through because they had no case).

                                  1. -1

                                    Calling out discrimination, harassment, and so on when you see it something we can all do.

                                    I’ve spoken out in defense of RMS and James Damore when they were harassed and discriminated against by ideological feminists in the tech industry, to the point of being successfully driven out of their job in Damore’s case, and his position as head of the FSF in RMS’s.

                                3. 16

                                  I don’t quite agree with all of the analysis, but in the current political climate I don’t think the juice is worth the squeeze.

                                  1. 4

                                    What part of today’s political climate would prevent you from voicing a rational, erudite argument on why you disagree with some parts of the analysis?

                                    1. 25

                                      What would be the benefit, do you think? To me, to you, to Dan, or to the community?

                                      Dan presumably believes his (I think his, please correct me if the pronoun is incorrect) conclusions are correct, and additional argumentation on the point is unlikely to generate a retraction or a significant change.

                                      You might enjoy going over the argument with me and spotting issues, but you might not. I don’t know.

                                      The community doesn’t really gain anything if I point out some things I think Dan has missed.

                                      For me, there’s not really any benefit in pointing out issues with methodology or cited papers or maybe unreasonable comparisons. I’m not getting paid, it won’t get me more dates, it won’t win me more friends, and such points are unlikely important enough to win me the golden Rationalist of the Year fedora or whatever.

                                      And what of the costs?

                                      Dan doesn’t lose much, since his original article is completely reasonable, and it’s not like anybody is realistically going to hold him to the fire for making an incorrect or imperfect argument in support of the zeitgeist of the times.

                                      The community may in the ensuing discussion get really ugly. Gven the experience of past threads about Damore’s memo and other things suggests that the odds are high that we’ll just end up with unpleasantness if there is any genuine disagreement. Even assuming we can all have a polite and dispassionate reasoned discussion, it is quite a popular opinion these days that simply speaking of certain things constitutes violence–and I do not wish to accidentally commit violence against fellow Lobsters!

                                      To you, I’d imagine there’s no real cost beyond continuing to burn cycles reading a discussion back and forth. Then again, think of all the creative, productive, or cathartic things you could be doing instead of reading a thread of me trying to well-actually Dan without spawning a dumpsterfire.

                                      To me, it at the very least requires a time commitment in terms of research and writing. I need to go grab counterexamples or additional context for what he’s written about (say, additional statistics about how majors actually turn into careers, background research around why the mid 1980s has that change in CS, and so forth) and make that into a coherent argument. And that’s fine, and if that were all I stand to lose I chalk it up as the opportunity cost of performance art and the good fun of public debate.

                                      Alas, that’s not the potential full cost at all. Even assuming I could put together a critique that cleared some arbitrarily high bar of rationality and erudition, it is entirely probable that it’ll be held against me at some time or another–just look at what happened to RMS, an author who surpasses me in ideological consistency and rationality as much as he differs from me in viewpoint. I may well be held liable for (as @nebkor put it) “garbage opinions” that have no textual or factual basis. This could cost me career opportunities, this could cost me friendships, this could cost me any number of things–and that just isn’t outweighed by the minor joy I get from debating online with people.

                                      (And note: I bear this risk not only for taking a completely opposite position, but for taking a position probably in agreement but quibbling about the details and suggesting different arguments. My experience is that people get grumpier and more vicious over little differences than large ones.)

                                      That’s the sad state of things today. People have made the already-marginal benefits of reasoned and civil public debate much less than the potential costs, and there is almost no goodwill left that one can argue in good faith (or in bad faith but with rigor as polite arguendo). We have lost a great deal of intellectual curiosity, freedom, and frankly ludic capacity–things are too serious and the stakes too high for playing around with different ideas and viewpoints!

                                      Thus, I elect to politely protest.

                                      1. 3

                                        What would be the benefit, do you think? To me, to you, to Dan, or to the community?

                                        What was the benefit of your original reply, though?

                                        1. 7

                                          I don’t know what @friendlysock intended, but from my perspective, one benefit is that it draws attention to the fact that people disagree but for $reasons, don’t want to go into details.

                                          1. 0

                                            Or this 663 word treatise?

                                          2. 2

                                            Yet, still, it is better to react and run the risk of being ostracised and shunned than it is to remain quiet in fear of retribution. Once enough people start doing this those who want to silence any and all who dare to voice a differing opinion will no longer be able to do so. They will be exposed for what they are, they’ll lose their power over others and with a bit of luck end up as a side note in the history books, taught to children in the same lesson where they learn about book burnings and state propaganda drives. Let’s hope that that is where it ends and that freedom of expression remains the norm.

                                            I have voiced some differing opinions on this board and elsewhere yet I’m still here. For now the worst that will happen is a pink rectangle in the browser telling you that your posts have been flagged a lot recently and a reduction in whatever those karma points are called here. That pink rectangle is easily removed with a uBlock rule and those points don’t matter to begin with.

                                            1. 1

                                              For now the worst that will happen is a pink rectangle in the browser telling you that your posts have been flagged a lot recently

                                              I had to re-read that, because I thought surely you were referring figuratively to the pink triangle. Ironic.

                                            2. 2

                                              To me, it at the very least requires a time commitment in terms of research and writing. I need to go grab counterexamples or additional context for what he’s written about (say, additional statistics about how majors actually turn into careers, background research around why the mid 1980s has that change in CS, and so forth) and make that into a coherent argument. And that’s fine, and if that were all I stand to lose I chalk it up as the opportunity cost of performance art and the good fun of public debate.

                                              You opened up this thread by claiming that you don’t agree “with all of the analysis”. And yet you reveal here that you lack a “coherent argument”, and have neither counterexamples nor context to inspire your disagreement in the first place. This is one way of defining a bad faith argument. You can’t have it both ways. You either disagree because you’ve got a reasonable analysis yourself, or because you have an existing bias against what has been written. As you’ve expressed in many words, one of these is worth sharing and one is not.

                                              1. 6

                                                You either disagree because you’ve got a reasonable analysis yourself, or because you have an existing bias against what has been written.

                                                I hold that it is entirely possible to disagree based on a rough analysis or by applying heuristics (for example, asking “what is missing from this chart?” or “are there assumptions being made about which population we’re looking at?”) that are in good faith but which require additional cleanup work if you want to communicate effectively. This is a third option I don’t believe you have accounted for here.

                                                The nastiness in this thread somewhat underscores the importance of arguing coherently and choosing words carefully–I haven’t stated which points I disagree with Dan (nor how much!) and yet look at the remarks some users are making. With such understanding and charitable commentary, no argument that isn’t fully sourced and carefully honed can even be brought up with the hope of a productive outcome. That’s not a function of reasonable arguments not existing, but just being able to read the room and see that any blemish or misstatement is just going to result in more slapfighting.

                                                We don’t have discourse, because people aren’t interested in exploring ideas even if they’re not fully-formed. We don’t have debate, because people are uncivil. What’s left then is argument and bluster, and better to protest than to participate.

                                                1. 3

                                                  We don’t have discourse, because people aren’t interested in exploring ideas even if they’re not fully-formed.

                                                  No, we don’t have discourse because in most discussions that even remotely brush up against the intersection of tech with other currents in society, members such as yourself cry “politics” and immediately shut things down. And much more often than not these topics call us to engage in ethical problem solving i.e. what to do about toxic members of the tech community or how to address inequalities in open source. So by shutting down discussion, folks such as yourself – whether you mean to or not – send the message to those affected by these issues that not only are you not interested in solving these problems, but that you’re not even interested in discussing them at all. In this context, who do you think sticks around?

                                              2. 1

                                                Dan doesn’t lose much, since his original article is completely reasonable, and it’s not like anybody is realistically going to hold him to the fire for making an incorrect or imperfect argument in support of the zeitgeist of the times.

                                                He wrote it in 2014 and updated it recently. I don’t think it’s entirely fair to tag that as “in support of the zeitgeist of the times.” Your turn of phrase makes it sound much more fleeting. That is not to call into question the other reasons you don’t want to differ; but I think the way you stated this does not give the piece enough credit.

                                                1. 9

                                                  I don’t mean to make it sound fleeting–rather that things being what they are right now, I doubt that anybody is going to be terribly upset if there’s some flaw in his argument revealed through discussion at this time. I apologize for any confusion or disrespect that may have been parsed there.

                                                  1. 3

                                                    That’s fair. Thanks for clarifying.

                                                2. -10

                                                  It’s not polite protest; it’s lily-livered chicken shittery.

                                                  1. 10

                                                    You are making his point.

                                                    1. -6

                                                      He’s making mine.

                                                      He’s not an unknown quantity, with no record; he’s a consistent fount of hard-line whataboutism and trenchant, deliberate ignorance. His first comment was lazy cowardice, pure and simple.

                                                      It’s not nice. It’s not valuable. It’s fucking exhausting.

                                              3. -10

                                                This is passive aggressive horseshit, dogg. If you don’t want to subject your garbage opinions to the rigours of discourse, you don’t have to say anything.

                                              4. 3

                                                Since this discussion has kinda gone meta, I want to ask the community. Where should discussions at the intersection of technology and politics happen? I think this is a blindspot for many communities since we are happy enough to talk about net neutrality or encryption backdoors

                                                But when we are talking about gender or racial discrimination that discussion suddenly doesn’t belong here. Now, I think we should consider why it might be appropriate. If enough of us agree there is systemic discrimination in the software industry then isn’t it also on the software industry to decide what to do about it? Isn’t that better than asking than having the government step in and impose a solution from above?

                                                If lobste.rs is the wrong place to talk about the wrong kind of political discussion, where should technical people be having the sort of discussions that will have serious repercussions for what we as a community do?

                                                1. 6

                                                  Lobsters, please don’t become Hackernews. People who want to talk about polarizing political subjects can head off to Twitter. Meanwhile, the rest of us can bond over our excitement about how computers work.

                                                  1. 6

                                                    I came here because I wanted a place that isn’t HN to have interesting discussions with smart people. I wish lobesters would allow more non-programming content. On HN you’ll get banned for writing anything that makes YC, YC companies, or VCs in general look bad because they don’t want that showing up on their own website.

                                                    1. 2

                                                      Exactly! I couldn’t agree more.

                                                      1. 1

                                                        I don’t think they have to be exclusive; it’s not like you need to participate in this thread.

                                                        Technical discussion spilling over in to politics would be problematic, but that’s not what’s going on here. I don’t see how an occasional thread about tech intersecting with politic takes away anything from your preference for more technical content. It’s perfectly reasonable for not wanting to engage in that, in which case you can just ignore it.

                                                      2. 4

                                                        But if we actually read what economists have to say on how hiring markets work, they do not, in general, claim that markets are perfectly efficient or that discrimination does not occur in markets that might colloquially be called highly competitive.

                                                        If the bar is perfection, then there is no limit to the number of “fixes” that will be proposed.

                                                        We can fix this, if we stop assuming the market will fix it for us.

                                                        By enacting more laws, or how exactly?

                                                        1. 7

                                                          If the bar is perfection, then there is no limit to the number of “fixes” that will be proposed.

                                                          I guess that’s true, and I guess a good thing. Or should we not always seek to improve?

                                                          1. 2

                                                            I agree with this, but I don’t think our rhetoric is sustainable. It’s far too toxic and divisive and progress demands cooperation; I think this toxicity and steamrolling to create change is creating a debt of divisiveness that will prevent us from progressing in the future. We need to figure out how to advocate for progress without being utterly hateful–people need to stop using “fighting injustice” as a cover for their personal vendettas against individuals and groups (political parties, races, genders, etc).

                                                            1. 4

                                                              We need to figure out how to advocate for progress without being utterly hateful–people need to stop using “fighting injustice” as a cover for their personal vendettas against individuals and groups (political parties, races, genders, etc).

                                                              Taking your comment at face value, it is a distortion of a hallucinatory magnitude to characterize socially progressive movements – which I assume you are referring to through the fog of plausible deniability – as “divisive”, “hateful”, and having a “personal vendetta” against groups defined by “race” and “gender”. Taking for example the movement for racial justice in the US, compare a near half millennium of violent racial oppression to the overwhelmingly peaceful forms of protest across the US, and ask yourself whose toxicity, divisiveness, and vendettas against groups should be considered worthy of your critique.

                                                              1. 3

                                                                I can’t disagree more strongly. The canonized authors of the movement publicly write things like “White identity is inherently racist” (note that this is a quote from DiAngelo’s best selling book) and talk about racism incurable in white people (whites are irredeemable) and kafka trap people (“white fragility”–if you denounce the term you’re only doing so because of your own white fragility, same with “internalized racism” if the objector is a minority) and otherwise go to remarkable lengths to support the primacy of race. They redefine “racism” such that white people simply participating innocuously in their own culture is inherently racist and consequently evil and not only that but colorblindness–literally the opposite of ‘racism’ as the term has historically been defined–is also racist. I don’t see how this can be anything other than hateful and divisive and racist (per the traditional definition).

                                                                (And for the “So what? Words change meaning” crowd, the significance is that the term isn’t the thing that carries the moral weight; it’s the meaning–as a society we agreed that racial prejudice and hate were evil–they are evil whether “racism” as a term refers to those things or their opposites. If someone inverts the meaning of the term–and I think this is a fair characterization–and then calls themselves “antiracist”, they are necessarily opposed to justice).

                                                                Taking for example the movement for racial justice in the US, compare a near half millennium of violent racial oppression to the overwhelmingly peaceful forms of protest across the US, and ask yourself whose toxicity, divisiveness, and vendettas against groups should be considered worthy of your critique.

                                                                I’m concerned about the parallels between the former and this new ideology (which condemns the very liberalism that so significantly reduced racial oppression in so short a time). Notably the primacy of race over the individual, the eagerness to regulate speech and thought, the propensity to celebrate or rationalize political violence, the promotion of segregationist policies, the newspeak rhetorical devises, and so on. Liberalism condemns the far left and the far right at once.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  The canonized authors of the movement publicly write things like “White identity is inherently racist” (note that this is a quote from DiAngelo’s best selling book) and talk about racism incurable in white people (whites are irredeemable) and kafka trap people (“white fragility”–if you denounce the term you’re only doing so because of your own white fragility, same with “internalized racism” if the objector is a minority) and otherwise go to remarkable lengths to support the primacy of race. They redefine “racism” such that white people simply participating innocuously in their own culture is inherently racist and consequently evil and not only that but colorblindness–literally the opposite of ‘racism’ as the term has historically been defined–is also racist. I don’t see how this can be anything other than hateful and divisive and racist (per the traditional definition).

                                                                  You realize that works like these are written from a critical perspective, right? They’re intellectual and/or sociological analyses, not literal dictates.

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    They seem to be building a racial worldview that is seized upon en masse, so I take little comfort in their perspective or analytical nature.

                                                                  2. 2

                                                                    If you’re interested books on racial justice, Angela Davis and Michelle Alexander are good places to start. Verso books publishes a lot of on this subject too. I think you’ll find many thinkers who are less concerned with what you may perceive as a certain moralizing political correctness, but rather more interested in understanding and dismantling systems of violent injustice. Think policing, jailing, housing, education. This is what I’ve referred to above vaguely as “the movement for racial justice”. Not to be dismissive, but books like “white fragility” are IMO more like beach reading for guilty white folks. Serves a purpose and may be a nice book, but I don’t think anyone would refer to it as “canon”.

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      I think we’re exposed to different angles of this movement. I see a lot of people (white and black) boosting Kendi and DiAngelo and their ilk, but you’re the first who has recommended Davis or Alexander. I’ll have a look. I don’t think Kendi or DiAngelo are actually interested in “racial justice” in any meaningful way, but rather trying to advance an abstract theoretical framework (or perhaps an incoherent word salad that aspires to look like a framework) that indicts groups and individuals they don’t like irrespective of whether or not those people have anything to do with the disparate outcomes. I fully believe there are lots of genuine people involved in the movement, but the part of the movement that is being seized upon by the media and corporations seems to strictly be the critical race theory part (they recommend the same authors, use the same jargon, etc).

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        trying to advance an abstract theoretical framework . . . that indicts groups and individuals . . . irrespective of whether or not those people have anything to do with the disparate outcomes

                                                                        But, like, this is entirely correct! Structural racism means people don’t have to actively do racist (little-r, micro scale) things to be part of a racist (big-r, macro scale) group.

                                                                        The conversation is about understanding this distinction and it’s effects so they can be corrected, to reduce suffering — not about amplifying the distinction so it can be weaponized, to increase suffering. I understand why you might think otherwise, but that conclusion requires believing the entire conversation is happening in bad faith, and there’s just no justifiable way to reach that conclusion, the evidence and Occam’s Razor don’t support it.

                                                                        1. 0

                                                                          Structural racism means people don’t have to actively do racist (little-r, micro scale) things to be part of a racist (big-r, macro scale) group.

                                                                          Then this definition of “racist” can’t carry any moral value, and anyone who assigns moral value to this definition is by definition a bigot and if the group in “part of a racist group” refers to a race then the person who assigns moral value to the term is precisely a racist in the original sense of the term—one who believes a person is guilty for no reason other than the color of their skin. This is hateful.

                                                                          1. 3

                                                                            I can’t help but be left with the overall impression that you’re trying to win a game of 7-dimensional chess which is suspended above our planet. I enjoyed introducing you to Davis and Alexander, and at this point I’d suggest that you pick up some of those books because there aren’t many other ways I think I can re-state the same point, one that @peterbourgon has also expressed, and which is hammered home in those works. I don’t mean to tell you what to think, but history makes the fact of systemic injustice pretty uncontroversial. It seems that rather than confront these systems, you’d prefer think of racism as a personal choice made by context-free actors. I don’t mean to shut down discussion, but I have said what I could and the information is out there for you to engage with if you choose to.

                                                                2. 4

                                                                  There has been a lot of hate, frankly, disguised for decades as civil discourse and apparently ordinary polite society behaviour. While some of the apparent tone of recent movements is appreciably different, and approaches a fever pitch in cases where people are at the end of their rope due to continuing maltreatment, I think it is disingenuous to paint the pushing back as somehow more hateful than what’s being pushed back on.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    There has been a lot of hate, frankly, disguised for decades as civil discourse and apparently ordinary polite society behaviour.

                                                                    There’s also a lot of people who call civil discourse ‘hate’ as a way to shut down differing points of view.

                                                                    While some of the apparent tone of recent movements is appreciably different, and approaches a fever pitch in cases where people are at the end of their rope due to continuing maltreatment, I think it is disingenuous to paint the pushing back as somehow more hateful than what’s being pushed back on.

                                                                    From my vantage point, I see a lot of people being slandered, canceled, and even assaulted for living their ordinary lives and failing to toe a particular ideological line. These aren’t hateful people and many of them are themselves minorities; if they knew what policy would fix various racial disparities, they’d support it (e.g., IIRC a majority of even Republicans support police reform–there’s clearly more good will/faith out there than we’re lead to believe). They simply don’t buy the far-left newspeak rhetoric and extreme and frankly idiotic solutions (“tear down capitalism!”, “defund police!”, etc).

                                                                    Further, your characterization is that the bad actors are presumably minorities at the end of their ropes, but the people I see behaving the worst in this regard are very often white and almost uniformly privileged people, often with lofty positions in media or universities. Similarly there are many well-behaved people of all races and positions. There’s not a strong racial signal as far as I can tell (although you wouldn’t know it from the mainstream media).

                                                                    I think you and I have different positions, and that’s fine. I’m sure mine is skewed, and I’m always trying to understand better. Hopefully in time people with views similar to yours and people with views similar to mine will come to a more mutual understanding, but of course that’s dependent on a healthy debate.

                                                                    1. 4

                                                                      There’s also a lot of people who call civil discourse ‘hate’ as a way to shut down differing points of view. From my vantage point, I see a lot of people being slandered, canceled, and even assaulted for living their ordinary lives and failing to toe a particular ideological line.

                                                                      Something I have noticed from a lot of conservative-leaning Americans is the tendency to latch onto the idea that someone might address their behaviour as somehow being the gravest sin, far worse than the shitty behaviour itself. Free speech doesn’t mean free from consequences!

                                                                      Communication is certainly a two way street, but the “differing views” stuff is frankly pretty exhausting. The paradox of tolerance is a pretty tangible phenomenon, as it turns out. If you have a pattern of poor behaviour, other people are welcome to – and should! – point it out, especially when the transgressors are powerful people. The religious right have been doing this in their own way for years, harassing advertisers and TV networks, and politicians; organising boycotts and making a racket, to shut down TV shows or laws or organisations that they believe are offensive.

                                                                      In another thread, you said:

                                                                      They redefine “racism” such that white people simply participating innocuously in their own culture is inherently racist and consequently evil

                                                                      I am a white person from Australia, where we have our own unfortunate, regrettable history. There are aspects of what I imagine you’re defining as “white” culture (whatever that is) that are indeed quite horrid. By “simply participating” in modern US society you (and I) are utilising a pile of wealth that was created through colonialism, and slavery, and many other deeply awful, violent, destructive aspects of our shared societal history. On top of that, many societal institutions (like the police, or the fact that wage theft is not a crime) are structurally configured to protect certain groups of people at the often violent expense of other groups.

                                                                      By pretending it isn’t something we all need to deal with urgently, that we have the luxury of waiting for someone to come along and debate us in a tone of which you approve, you are taking a fundamentally regressive stance. There is no move on this chess board that isn’t inherently a political decision, even though it might feel like your doing nothing and staying out of the way is somehow balanced or apolitical.

                                                                      a majority of even Republicans support police reform–there’s clearly more good will/faith out there than we’re lead to believe

                                                                      I will believe it when I see it! Republicans have periodically had concurrent control of the House and the Senate and the Executive and a lot of the courts and statehouses in this country. They have had ample opportunity to drive forward any “reform” that they felt would mean less people are oppressed, harmed, killed. It isn’t at all surprising to me that people are deeply unhappy with the status quo.

                                                                      1. 0

                                                                        Something I have noticed from a lot of conservative-leaning Americans is the tendency to latch onto the idea that someone might address their behaviour as somehow being the gravest sin, far worse than the shitty behaviour itself. Free speech doesn’t mean free from consequences!

                                                                        Take comfort in that I’m not a conservative, but a moderate liberal. Your observation would indeed be frustrating, but that’s not what I’m doing here. My claim is that ordinary white folks and increasingly minority folks who are just going about their business are maligned by the progressive left. We’re not talking about “shitty behavior”, we’re talking about something much closer to “having white skin”. Note that this is not worse than what many minorities endure; however, it is unjust to slander, malign, and cancel people, and further it distracts from progress with respect to improving minority outcomes. There certainly is no dichotomy in which we much choose between anti-white racism and anti-minority racism; morally you can’t be opposed to racism with race-based caveats (e.g., “except against $race”) but practically you’ll very likely create a lot more anti-minority racists by perpetrating anti-white racism.

                                                                        Communication is certainly a two way street, but the “differing views” stuff is frankly pretty exhausting.

                                                                        Agreed; it is exhausting; however, to be clear, “differing views” means we need to work to understand each other. It’s not some morally relativistic argument that you must accept my viewpoint.

                                                                        The paradox of tolerance is a pretty tangible phenomenon, as it turns out. If you have a pattern of poor behaviour, other people are welcome to – and should! – point it out, especially when the transgressors are powerful people.

                                                                        It may be a tangible phenomenon, but without a criteria for what is “tolerant” and “intolerant” the principle is easily abused to give anyone license to abuse any other party simply by defining intolerance such that they are intolerant. This is exactly what we see with many progressives (especially intellectuals) who seek to change the definition of racism because it doesn’t target the right people (white folks, including “colorblind” white folks, mostly). So we’re not talking about “transgressors” except insofar as the transgression is having the wrong skin color.

                                                                        The religious right have been doing this in their own way for years, harassing advertisers and TV networks, and politicians; organising boycotts and making a racket, to shut down TV shows or laws or organisations that they believe are offensive.

                                                                        And we eventually collectively shut them down in the name of liberalism. The religious right lost every significant fight–abortion, sex and violence on TV, gay marriage, etc (and while it did get Hobby Lobby, it’s not a significant issue and it won it because of liberalism).

                                                                        I am a white person from Australia, where we have our own unfortunate, regrettable history. There are aspects of what I imagine you’re defining as “white” culture (whatever that is) that are indeed quite horrid.

                                                                        I don’t think there are, but we should talk in concrete detail about what they might be. I think there certainly were elements of “white culture” which were horrid, but I think we largely expunged them (or to be precise, there are still individual racists, but they aren’t allowed to express their views in society).

                                                                        By “simply participating” in modern US society you (and I) are utilising a pile of wealth that was created through colonialism, and slavery, and many other deeply awful, violent, destructive aspects of our shared societal history.

                                                                        Granted, but this is true of all Americans (including minorities) to widely varying degrees. This has left white people with more money on average than black people (whites are more likely to have wealth privilege), and I’m pretty open to reparations or some other ideas for addressing this. I genuinely don’t know what the right answer is, nor do the overwhelming majority of white folks; however, I don’t think that gives progressives (or leftists or whichever term you prefer) any license to abuse them for their race.

                                                                        On top of that, many societal institutions (like the police, or the fact that wage theft is not a crime) are structurally configured to protect certain groups of people at the often violent expense of other groups.

                                                                        Yeah, this is real white privilege. We need to understand the extent to which this is a problem and understand its dynamics in order to solve it properly. We need trustworthy academic and media apparatuses (even if they are on “the right side”, Americans need to be able to trust that these institutions are asking questions on their behalf)–which means we need to reform or retire our concept of activist journalists and academics.

                                                                        By pretending it isn’t something we all need to deal with urgently, that we have the luxury of waiting for someone to come along and debate us in a tone of which you approve, you are taking a fundamentally regressive stance.

                                                                        It’s precisely because the problem is urgent that we can’t afford to use the moment as an opportunity to exercise our personal hatred toward whites or conservatives or otherwise stroke our own enlightened egos. We need to build coalitions and simply wishing that people would take our abuse and still be on our side is naive at best (the less-than-charitable view is that those who heap the abuse don’t actually want circumstances to improve; they like the moral landscape because they feel it gives them moral license to heap their abuse without actually suffering social consequences for doing so). People who sabotage this coalition building are obstacles that we can’t afford to ignore.

                                                                        will believe it when I see it!

                                                                        Behold

                                                                        You can debate whether it will be effective or whatever, but they have a proposal and I can’t seem to find the poll, but an overwhelming majority of Republican voters support police reform (this being the motivating factor for the proposal).

                                                                        Republicans have periodically had concurrent control of the House and the Senate and the Executive and a lot of the courts and statehouses in this country. They have had ample opportunity to drive forward any “reform” that they felt would mean less people are oppressed, harmed, killed. It isn’t at all surprising to me that people are deeply unhappy with the status quo.

                                                                        As have Democrats. Biden’s ‘94 crime bill wasn’t exactly friendly toward black Americans, nor was Hillary’s famous thinly veiled “superpredator” remark. But we can’t let partisan bickering distract us.

                                                                      2. 2

                                                                        There’s also a lot of people who call civil discourse ‘hate’ as a way to shut down differing points of view.

                                                                        “Different points of view” is a phrase that can be weaponized to paper over categorically different things.

                                                                        Whether or not the Laffer Curve is an effective means to guide tax policy are different points of view, and we can have a civil discourse on the subject.

                                                                        Whether or not transsexual women are mentally sick men are not merely different points of view. One position is hateful; civil discourse is impossible because that position is in its nature un-civil.

                                                                        Bringing it back on-topic: whether fewer women exist in programming occupations because of hiring bias, or because of some innate, gender-based distaste for science or math or whatever, is a gray area. It’s possible to have this discussion in a civil way, but it requires considerable attention to context. For example, not every forum is appropriate for the discussion. It would be inappropriate to have this kind of debate on a mailing list of a technology company, where women engineers at the company would be justifiably aggrieved by colleagues arguing for the “innate” position. Insisting on having this discussion in that context is hateful, to some degree.

                                                                        (n.b. the correlation of “differing points of view” that are actually hateful to a specific American political stance/party isn’t evidence of political censorship, it’s evidence of regressive and hateful politics.)

                                                                        1. -1

                                                                          I strongly disagree. For instance, it’s not a gray area at all to debate the cause for why there are fewer women in programming—this is an empirical question, and moreover only a minority of women are offended by either position (indeed there’s no reasonable cause for offense). This doesn’t fit any reasonable definition of “hate”. I’m strongly of the opinion that “hate” is the weaponized term, used by a specific group of bad faith actors to suppress reasonable debate as previously discussed. I agree that this is evidence of regressive and hateful politics, but probably not in the way you mean. Anyway, I don’t really enjoy rehashing these same largely semantic debates over and over, so I’ll leave you to the last word.

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                                                                            there’s no reasonable cause for offense [for] women engineers [witnessing] colleagues arguing for the “innate” position [in a debate in the office on] whether fewer women exist in programming occupations because of hiring bias, or because of some innate, gender-based distaste for science or math

                                                                            Your claim kind of stands on its own here, I think.

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                                                                    Or should we not always seek to improve?

                                                                    Improving isn’t cost free. if the cost to implement a solution exceeds the fruit, it is not worth it.

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                                                                      if the cost to implement a solution exceeds the fruit, it is not worth it

                                                                      Well, that’s a truism, so I’m not sure how much insight it delivers. The issue tends to be an appropriate accounting of the benefit. For example, many of the advanced safety features on cars probably seemed “not worth it” by this formula at the time of their introduction or regulatory mandate, because it’s difficult to put an accurate value on future lives saved. Similarly, many of these discrimination-reducing measures could easily be seen as “not worth it” as it’s difficult to put an accurate value on the long-term benefits of more representative and diverse organizations.

                                                                    2. 1

                                                                      then there is no limit to the number of “fixes” that will be proposed.

                                                                      I guess that’s true, and I guess a good thing

                                                                      Depends on your appetite for another can’t-win, perpetual war. We are still fighting the wars on poverty, terrorism, and drugs.

                                                                      I see two independent ideas in your comment:

                                                                      1. seeking to improve oneself
                                                                      2. seeking to improve others

                                                                      1 is virtuous IMO. 2 leads to pesky authoritarian over-corrections.

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                                                                        As an aside, I always find it fascinating how readily tiny incremental changes that are light years short of perfection get called pesky authoritarian over-corrections.

                                                                        1. 0

                                                                          My comment was specifically about the risk of over-corrections, not tiny changes, that tends to follow from a zeal for improving other humans. Errors accumulate.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            Sure. When they’re errors. My point is that what you might call an over-correction someone else might call a tiny incremental change.

                                                                        2. 5

                                                                          “seeking to improve others” leads to pesky authoritarian over-corrections? Do you find this to be true when you think of anything else besides gender or racial equality?

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            I’m guessing you expect an answer other than “yes”, or perhaps you had hoped to enlighten a lower creature.

                                                                            Your reply (and others in this thread) quickly turned personal. Hmm.

                                                                          2. 2

                                                                            seeking to improve others . . . leads to pesky authoritarian over-corrections

                                                                            Well, that’s certainly one failure mode of any kind of policy of mandate from authority, and we should be careful to guard against it, but it’s hardly inevitable. More importantly, there is an upper bound to the amount of progress that can be achieved on a large scale via individual virtue and action alone.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Even for part 1 it is not clear that it is always good. Why would becoming the best programmer in the world good, when it would take so much effort and time, which can be spent on enjoying yourself, if you are already a pretty good programmer that can command a pretty good salary. Diminishing return is a thing and self-improvement is not without cost.

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                                                                            If the bar is perfection, then there is no limit to the number of “fixes” that will be proposed.

                                                                            Indeed, that’s exactly what a benefactor of a broken system would say. For excluded folks, there’s no cost in trying to change the system; they aren’t benefitting from it regardless.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              that’s exactly what a benefactor of a broken system would say.

                                                                              Okay, but is he wrong?

                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                About what? This?

                                                                                If the bar is perfection, then there is no limit to the number of “fixes” that will be proposed.

                                                                                Yes? No? I’m unfamiliar with any documented result that answers this question, so I’m going to go with maybe here. This is such a nebulously defined problem that I’m not really sure one can answer it. Fixes to what? Perfection where? How much effort does perfection take?

                                                                                My point was simple: it doesn’t matter what you think about perfection or fixes or the lack thereof. Disenfranchised people, throughout history, have agitated for franchisement. From the Roman Empire’s discrimination of Christians to the brutality of Belgian rule on the Congo. No matter the advantages of the system, the disenfranchised have sought to topple theirs. Advance a position with known disenfranchisement at your own peril.

                                                                              2. 0

                                                                                Indeed, that’s exactly what a benefactor of a broken system would say.

                                                                                While this is a fun argument, it’s not an actual one. Just because a bad entity would say something, does not make whatever is being said bad.

                                                                                For excluded folks, there’s no cost in trying to change the system; they aren’t benefitting from it regardless.

                                                                                They think they are benefitting from it. But predicting the future is hard, and regrets do happen.

                                                                                1. -1

                                                                                  Indeed, that’s exactly what a benefactor of a broken system would say.

                                                                                  If you have nothing to hide then you don’t need privacy, right?

                                                                                  This is Christianity’s “original sin” concept, a cudgel used against anyone who questions the priest class.

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                                                                                    If you have nothing to hide then you don’t need privacy, right?

                                                                                    I’m unclear what that has to do with my comment.

                                                                                    This is Christianity’s “original sin” concept, a cudgel used against anyone who questions the priest class.

                                                                                    I’m not sure what you’re talking about. What cudgel is this for what or for whom? I’m just trying to tell you that if you don’t find a solution acceptable by all parties, then disenfranchised people will understandably not care about your perspectives or your ideals. Telling them to be quiet in the name of a philosophical good is sophistry at best.

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                                                                                  By enacting more laws, or how exactly?

                                                                                  The legal industry has Diversity Lab.
                                                                                  They conduct policy hackathons, create policies to promote diversity, and report on the results.
                                                                                  The Mansfield Rule is an example of one of their policies.
                                                                                  Now in its third iteration, the Mansfield Rule Certification measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30 percent women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ+ and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.
                                                                                  102 large law firms have agreed to this rule and their compliance is assessed by third-party audits.

                                                                                  There’s nothing to stop the technology sector from taking similar actions.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    Thanks. But those efforts are part of the free market, they aren’t state mandates. So this is an example of the market voluntarily experimenting with solutions.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      It’s a combination of voluntary actions and state mandates.
                                                                                      The legal industry has been working on gender equity and diversity for decades.
                                                                                      Law schools used affirmative action to admit gender-balanced classes in the 60 and 70s.
                                                                                      Class-action lawsuits in the 1970s forced law firms to change their hiring practices.
                                                                                      Diversity is also important to clients for legal services; Diversity Lab’s initiatives are backed by Microsoft, Starbucks, Bloomberg LP, and 3M.

                                                                                      Edited to add the following text.
                                                                                      Law firm diversity metrics are public and widely shared.
                                                                                      The National Law Journal’s Women in Law Scorecard, for example, was released earlier this week.

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                                                                                    The majority of the article makes clear that perfection isn’t the bar. The point of using the word “perfectly” seems to be to address a specific disingenuous claim:

                                                                                    1. Markets are competitive
                                                                                    2. Unjustified discrimination is a competitive disadvantage
                                                                                    3. Market forces in a competitive market must tend toward a perfect balance that squeezes out disadvantageous behavior
                                                                                    4. Therefore, discrimination can’t be a significant factor in the market

                                                                                    I’d reckon laws aren’t likely the point. It’s already illegal (in the US at least) to discriminate on most of the bases talked about in the article; from a policy perspective, a change in enforcement might help. But most likely, the change is going to have to be a cultural one. The sort of thing where enough people talk about this, and enough people agree that it’s not okay, that it’s almost impossible to be a member of the computer science community and not find yourself actively checking for this bias in your decision-making.

                                                                                    1. 0

                                                                                      But most likely, the change is going to have to be a cultural one.

                                                                                      Culture, social change, blog posts, are all part of the free market. These discussions are poisoned with the common assumption that anything lacking a credit card transaction is somehow not part of economics.

                                                                                      Has anyone considered that anti-discrimination laws may contribute to the problem? Hiring a protected class carries the perception of increased liability in terms of lawsuits, whereas hiring a non-protected class may carry less liability.

                                                                                      Maybe the laws did their job and now it’s time to enter “phase 2”: remove special protections. That was the goal, wasn’t it? Note that discrimination on the basis of liability is different in origin though not effect. The laws never cared about origin, only effect.

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                                                                                        Conversely, I feel as if your claim is poisoned by the common assumption that anything lacking government intervention is somehow part of the free market. Maybe economics in general has broader applicability, but if we’re talking about market forces, the topics of our discussion are explicitly going to be things related to the accumulation of capital. Culture, social change, blog posts, and so on are only related insofar as they have value that can be expressed in monetary terms. Whatever the case may be, it’s empirically true that whatever value they currently have isn’t sufficient to change hiring behaviors. So either we need to change that value or we need to effect changes that cause people to act for reasons unrelated to satisfying market pressures.

                                                                                        Your second argument might be correct (I don’t know), but if it is, it’s a red herring. You can’t argue that discrimination doesn’t exist in the market because anti-discrimination laws are such a poor remedy that they create incentives to discriminate. The original article is addressing a single, specific claim - that it is economically impossible for discrimination to exist, because if it did companies would find competitive advantage by not discriminating until the market reached equilibrium. If you want to find a cause for why discrimination does exist, that’s a different thing.

                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                          Culture, social change, blog posts, and so on are only related insofar as they have value that can be expressed in monetary terms. Whatever the case may be, it’s empirically true that whatever value they currently have isn’t sufficient to change hiring behaviors. So either we need to change that value or we need to effect changes that cause people to act for reasons unrelated to satisfying market pressures.

                                                                                          This does not follow at all. Let’s say (although almost no one is explicitly calculating as follows) one is willing to hire men rather than women up to $1M of economic damage due to held value, and resulting inefficiency causes loss of $500K economic value. Also, social shaming (“culture”) causes $300K of economic damage. In this scenario, as you say, culture is empirically insufficient to change hiring. But it is simply incorrect to say the choice is either to change such held value, or to deploy non-monetary force. If social shaming intensifies 2x, the total damage reaches $1.1M and hiring changes.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            I might have miscommunicated - your example is exactly what I meant by changing the value of culture, etc.

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              That must be the case. From what I can read, you and jmk are in agreement: quotes giving me such impression include “By enacting more laws?” and “market forces (which includes culture)”.

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                                                                                            Culture, social change, blog posts, and so on are only related insofar as they have value that can be expressed in monetary terms

                                                                                            It’s really simple why these are part of the free market: These things influence the reader, the reader’s thinking, and therefore they influence the reader’s spending.

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              We agree. And since the existing influence on spending isn’t enough to force changes in hiring practices, then if different hiring practices are desired, the solution is either intensifying that influence, or relying on something other than economics, e.g. community norms.

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                                                                                                FYI, the entire point of contention is that community norms IS economics. That’s what jmk’s “common assumption that anything lacking a credit card transaction is somehow not part of economics” phrase is about.

                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                              The original article is addressing a single, specific claim - that it is economically impossible for discrimination to exist, because if it did companies would find competitive advantage by not discriminating until the market reached equilibrium.

                                                                                              Framing the question as a binary (“perfect or not perfect”) is not meaningful and thus disingenuous. “Economically impossible” (assuming anyone used those words) is obviously a theoretical upper bound, since economics is dynamic (changes with time and context).

                                                                                              The meaningful question is whether market forces (which includes culture) tend to improve the situation. Are we going in the right direction or not?

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                                                                                                The claim the article argues against is explicitly a binary one - that the economic disadvantage of discrimination proves that discrimination can’t explain observations about women and minorities in the tech industry. If you agree that the economic effects are anything less than perfect, then you agree that discrimination can explain some of the observations, and you may agree with the article.

                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                  I think dl and jmk are talking past each other, because dl’s article is mostly about diagnosis, and jmk is mostly concerned about solution. dl says observed disparity is not wholly explained by economics and it is likely explained by discrimination, and I think jmk agrees? (I agree.)

                                                                                                  But to jmk (and to me), the important part is what to do about it. Existence of discrimination does not support any governmental intervention, since it is possible all government interventions are harmful. The thing is, I think dl also agrees. The article merely says “We can fix this, if we stop assuming the market will fix it for us”, it does not suggest or support any specific governmental intervention, it doesn’t even suggest or support governmental intervention is necessary.

                                                                                                  To me, the whole debate is about what “market” means: which is boring terminological discussion. To dl, large scale social movement (aka jmk’s “culture”) is not part of the market, but to jmk, it is. So I think both agrees about the solution (mostly cultural, not legal), but disagree whether to call it market or not.

                                                                                        2. -2

                                                                                          By enacting more laws, or how exactly?

                                                                                          “muh free market” isn’t the perfect solution, but a pretty good solution that’s very easy to implement. Women and minorities can get what they can get, nothing is stopping them. If the boys are bad, then just make a women only corporation, crush the market with your 20% reduced salary expense, and counter-discriminate the boys. that will show them….

                                                                                          No it’s not perfectly workable. But it’s really good. Trying to ‘fix’ the ‘injustice’ is like balancing a ping-pong on a paddle while blind folded. There’s no guarantee that if we fix the 20% gap, we are not subsidising women for their choices that we simply didn’t know about.

                                                                                        3. 0

                                                                                          Doctors and lawyers are both licensed. Both require ongoing education to maintain that license. I think standardizing these practices in software engineering could aid hiring and retention of minorities for the following reasons:

                                                                                          1. There is a standardized competence based measurement to point to which says that yes, Mary is good enough to be in this field.
                                                                                          2. Specifically for women, requiring ongoing education to maintain a license means that there is social justification for spending time on it. As of 2019 https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/atus.pdf employed women spent more time on household activities and caring for/helping household members. Ideally ongoing education requirements would replace managers hiring for someone “passionate” about programming.