Sunday, August 13, 2017

How To: Women in Science

Hi! Happy Sunday!

Okay, I'd like to provide a handy reference for discussing human nature and public policy.

Yesterday the white nationalists were protesting the removal of Confederate statues in Charlottesville, North Carolina. Then there is the internal Google memo about the human nature differences between women and men when it comes to science.

How does one think about these things? I want to compare these two events for a specific reason: in one case differences in human nature are considered, in the other they are not. Most of us find the moral arguments of white nationalists morally repugnant without any need for a scientific debate on the superiority of white people. Even if white people are naturally superior that fact is irrelevant morally. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is human nature blind, everyone should treated as equals independent of human nature advantages.

And yet with the internal Google memo the biological differences between men and women are deemed a worthy topic for moral policy? What?

On one hand a discussion of the scientific analysis of human nature and white nationalism is not relevant and yet on the other hand a discussion on scientific analysis of human nature for affirmative action is?

I find the public commentary to be quite confusing.  How should we think about this?

So I've taken it upon myself to provide an easy quick reference of four guidelines for you to use. After the guidelines I'm going to apply the guidelines to analyze four scientists who wrote about the internal Google memo. We  will  apply the guidelines as a tool to analyze people with PhDs, two of which we'll find are scientifically pedalling snake oil.

Quick Reference:

  1. Nature is not a standard for morality.

    The argument is more-or-less self evident. I'm going to quickly argue by example if you need motivation. For example, there is a nature argument against homosexual behavior being moral. The argument goes that homosexuality is not natural and therefore is immoral. Additionally the argument goes that since homosexuals cannot reproduce then they shouldn't be allowed to marry. Both of these natural arguments have been claimed by the religious to be planned by God. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. However, the very people arguing for using nature as a moral standard designed by God themselves argue against it when it comes to monogamy within marriage. It is human nature for men to commit adultery and to seek out multiple mates. One could argue the heart of any religion is to support the family and that one of the fundamental functions is to keep men monogamous.  Men are told to resist natural urges and religious texts are replete with commandments requiring men to go against their nature. Fast forward to today and in 2017 our common morality is that if a man touches a women because she is dressed provocatively then he is being immoral, although there are still hold-outs in the religious communities that still blame the woman.  These simple examples illustrate that a big responsibility of society is to train humans to not act like animals, but instead that to act morally is to act counter to our nature. To always act solely on animal impulses that go against society's moral standards is immoral. So the Google internal memo arguing taking into account human nature to determine moral policy is immoral.
  2. We do not have free-will, but limited will. 

    In the nature versus nurture wars of parenting then a nurture parenting program treats children as blank slates. If parents do the nurturing correctly then children will come out as designed. Nurture at its core treats humans as computers and nurturing parenting as the software needed to bring about the expected result when raising kids. The reality is children cannot accept training the same way, children react differently given the same programming and clearly we are not blank slates and do not have free will, but limited will. We are not blank slate computers, but instead limited in our choices given our specific nature. We all commonly accept this with drug addicts and alcoholics having a nature problem, not a free will problem. Still though, we are just now coming to terms with obese people having an nature problem and not a free will problem, although there are many who still believe that eating is strictly free will and therefore shaming fat people for making bad choices is okay. 
  3. Deviations within a group are larger than between groups.

    We've all heard ye ole addage that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Whenever scientists are making claims about women and men they are using statistics. What's really sad though is not a single person on this planet believes for a single second that the human nature of women and men are the same. We are faced with the difference everyday in our lives. What gets lost in the shuffle is that our deviations as individuals are far greater than our deviations based upon gender. Let us take, for example,  the science reporting men have better spatial reckoning capabilities. Statistically it is insignificant regrading computer science jobs because the spatial reckoning capabilities across the set of all men is much greater than the deviation between women and men.
  4. Social science confidence is low.

    The most disingenuous scientific analysis of the internal Google memo is that today's scientific confidence in  social science is high. While there may be very strong confidence in biological science that indicates men have better spatial reasoning capabilities than women, there is no such scientific confidence about the social science. There is no social science correlating someone's spatial reasoning capabilities with the gestalt of the millions of women and men writing software today as being statistically relevant. None. Life is a feedback loop socially with hundreds of thousands of variables going into why we make social decisions. In fact to this day we have very little confidence in any well studied social science such as whether capital punishment deters crime. Anyone claiming high confidence with respect to social science is lying. The current state of social science is weak tea and most of what we use for public policy is based on trial-and-error and experiments.

Using the Guidelines By Debunking the Scientists

Now let's take the four guidelines and debunk scientific arguments by people who should know better.

I'm going to refer to an article on Quillete that sites four scientists, two that claim the science of the internal Google memo was 100% or mostly correct and therefore they support the memo writer.

The scientific correctness

  • Lee Jussim, "The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right."
  • David P Schmitt, "Alongside other evidence, the employee argued, in part, that this research indicates affirmative action policies based on biological sex are misguided. Maybe, maybe not."
  • Geoffrey Miller, "For what it’s worth, I think that almost all of the Google memo’s empirical claims are scientifically accurate."
  • Debra Soh, "I found it to be a well thought out document, asking for greater tolerance for differences in opinion, and treating people as individuals instead of based on group membership. I believe it’s important to speak out, because if we can’t discuss scientific truths, where does that leave us?" 
Let us apply our guideline principles.  The principle that separates the wheat from the chaff the most  is principle 4.) social science confidence is low.

David Schmitt is the only scientist getting that right with "maybe, maybe not".  I would continue reading what he has to say.

Debra Soh's argument denies our confidence in social science correlation to biological science being low. Debra promotes an air of social scientific certitude that does not exist. Social science truths are anything but black and white and on this topic I would dismiss her outright for portraying social truth as certain.

Lee and Geoffrey are both confidently asserting not just the biological science  but also the social science. Avoid these two scientists like the plague on any topic, they are selling snake oil. Social science is never high confidence.

The science perspective 

Science supports morality, it does not define it. Why? Because science is about modeling human nature. Given human nature is no standard for morality then neither is the the science about human nature.

Every scientist should espouse this as easily as every doctor can espouse the Hippocratic oath.

David Schmitt's perspective on this is about right:
"Within this sea of gender bias, should Google use various practices (affirmative action is not just one thing) to especially encourage capable women of joining (and enjoying) the Google workplace? I vote yes."
The reason I say about right is that David does not clearly state for the reader moral imperative is not derived from natural behavior. If we morally decide that in fact gender affirmative actions is what we want then the proper role for science is to support the outcome using biological science. 

I think advocating morality using science is best illustrated by the original affirmative action case.

The original affirmative action case took place in California. A man applied to medical school at a public university in California. He sued because he claimed he was being discriminated against due to affirmative action and that this was in violation of the equal opportunity clause of the 14th amendment.

The judge's ruling in favor of affirmative action, I think, reflects the proper role of using social science for public policy. In summary the judge stated that the systemic discrimination of the black community had taken place over the course of 400 years. Further that since cultures change slowly then he didn't think it was fair to the black community that they should have to wait yet another 400 years for fair treatment while culture slowly changes without affirmative action.

I like this argument because it clearly demonstrates a low confidence in the social science. We know that cultures change slowly over time, but we don't know in any way precisely how slowly. So, he declares it a moral imperative to work against the slow change and affirmative action was born on a threadbare understanding of social science: cultures are naturally slow to change.

And it is a proper moral burden.

Thomas Jefferson was once asked if the Federal Government should engage in public charity, spend people's taxes on charity, and if so how much?  Jefferson's reply was, "yes, and as much as the public can stomach".

Shame on the people who are against affirmative action albeit the black community or with women. The western patriarchy culture oppressing women has been around thousands of years longer than than the centuries of slavery and in both cases neither group deserves to wait as cultures slowly reverse entrenched systemic prejudices and so affirmative action should be our moral imperative.

There is a scientific argument, just to be clear. Affirmative action is an experiment of trial-and-error. No clear science exists today for modeling culture and reversing a culture's bigotry and prejudice with certainty. It is an experiment. Knowing this then we should not put all out eggs in one basket and limit the experimenting to just one kind of affirmative action. New affirmative action  experiments that are informed by biology should be tried. However,  treating people as individuals is not an affirmative action experiment. That's like saying bald is a hair color or turning the TV off is a TV channel. 

Separating the players: the moral advocates,  the scientific advocates and the outliers. 

Geoffery Miller writes:

"Weirdly, the same people who advocate for equality of outcome in every aspect of corporate life, also tend to advocate for diversity in every aspect of corporate life. They don’t even see the fundamentally irreconcilable assumptions behind this ‘equality and diversity’ dogma."
Morals are not assumptions or dogma. Morals are wilful social policies advocated by a people in a society so as to promote a society desired.  Ultimately I believe fundamentally this is why Google fired the memo writer. Sadly, Google lacked the public relations to make the argument clear.

Feminism is a social movement that is misunderstood due to confusion about the moral advocates, the scientific advocates and the outliers:
  • Feminists that argue men and women are naturally the same are outliers just as scientists like Geoffrey who argue against people who believe women are men are same are outliers. No one in life or the scientific community argues women and men are biologically the same.  Geoffrey's argument hints at scientists who do argue they are the same by stating, "Its key claims about sex differences are especially well-supported by large volumes of research across species, cultures, and history." This kind of scientific argument is like lies, damn lies and statistics. No one, no one, with any credible scientific background claims the sexes are the same. The argument is not necessary.  The only reason to state it this way is to imply there might be such credible scientists. How this should have been stated is like this, "while the scientific community has long accepted the biological differences between men and women , how these biological differences play out in society is scientifically poorly understood, if at all." To whit, Geoffrey is an outlier arguing a straw man that people exist who believe the sexes are the same. The same is true with the internal Google memo writer.
  • Feminists conflate moral arguments as being scientific arguments. The Disabilities act passed in the 1960s and it was not passed using scientific argument's about human nature that corporations will have better or equal outcomes providing handicapped services. Further, environmental and safety regulations are also not put in place as scientific arguments for equal and profitable outcomes for corporations. Quite the opposite, corporations that cannot meet handicapped and environmental standards may very well go out of business, too bad. As a society we have decided the moral imperative is to provide handicap services, safe work environments, and clean air. The same applies to any moral argument, about affirmative action. The moral argument  is not about equal pay for women providing equal profits for corporations. The moral argument is based on conducting an experiment to reverse the patriarchal cultural biases due to millennia of patriarchy in western civilization. When they say Democracy is messy this is one of the fundamental reasons why, social experiments of dubious outcome. 
  • Feminists assert polices as being effective and do not acknowledge that social experiments are risky and fail. The outcome of an experiment is not scientifically known. That's why it is an experiment. Experiments fail. Failures are part of science when we lack proven models because if  we are scientifically adept we can use failed experiments to better inform the next round of trail-and-error. Because our confidence in social science is so low then the reliance on social experiments of dubious risk are high. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take those risks. At the end of the day I think this is why I personally agree with Google's firing of the engineer. Risky social experiments are rife with peril, and even more so when nay sayers add nothing but state the obvious that the experiment is dubious, risky and rife with peril. Predicting failure is a self-fulfilling prophecy when the prophecy requires everyone be invested. And treating individuals as individuals is a diversity experiment the same way bald is a hair color. Feminism sold programs and policies as assured outcomes and when experiments failed people have been turned off. The better approach is to acknowledge that affirmative action plans like those implemented at Google are high risk experiments but are still worth trying.

Voluntarily Reject Demagoguery!

Politics as Science!

Demand Irreni World Scale!

Anti-theism is feminism!  

Think disruption!

Empathy for all!

Moral relativity: think it, breath it!

Prove it or lose it!

Conversations equal consensus! 

Welcome to the 21st century!

Scale your empathy, scale the world! 

Find your tribe!

Be sexy people!

The future is coming! 

Innovate at a rapid pace!

Slow speed ahead!

Well come! and well met!


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