Breaking from tech giants, Democrats consider becoming an antimonopoly party

Barry Lynn, a monopoly critic and longtime scholar at the Google-funded New America Foundation, was leaving and taking his 10-person initiative with him.

.. Lynn, who has been critical of Google, had praised European regulators for hitting the company with a $2.7 billion antitrust fine. The foundation, which has received more than $21 million from Google, removed Lynn’s comments from its website.

.. Soon after, Lynn’s new project, Citizens Against Monopoly, launched with a website that asked people to protest “Google’s unethical behavior” and pledged that “Google’s attempt to shut us down will fail.” New America’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, pushed back, warning that Lynn was starting a family feud at a moment when Democrats could not afford it.

.. “Barry’s new organization and campaign against Google is the opening salvo of one group of Democrats versus another group of Democrats in the run-up to the 2020 election,” Slaughter wrote on Medium. “I personally think the country faces far greater challenges of racism, violence, a broken political system, and geographic and partisan divisions so great that we are losing any common sense of what we stand and strive for as a country.”

.. as Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, strongly supported the president, and the FTC abandoned an antitrust case against the company. Over the years, Schmidt gave $842,900 to Democrats

.. as Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, strongly supported the president, and the FTC abandoned an antitrust case against the company. Over the years, Schmidt gave $842,900 to Democrats

.. In April, Hart Associates conducted polling, circulated among Democrats and think tanks, that found an enormous opening for antimonopoly politics.

The polling, which surveyed 1,120 voters overall and 341 from the decisive Rust Belt states, found just a slim majority saying Democrats favored “average Americans” over “large corporations and banks.”

.. “There was a growing awareness that corporate monopolies were a big problem,” explained Zephyr Teachout

.. The Democrats’ long detente with monopolies was good for fundraising, especially as more money from energy and banking companies slid toward Republicans

.. “If you take a thoughtful position and are able to justify it intellectually you won’t lose support from tech leaders,” Khanna said. “My experience has been that the community is pretty open to robust debate.”

‘Get Tough or Shut Up’: The Malicious Spirit Loose in the Land

We’ve certainly seen it on the left. Google’s recent decision to fire an employee for wrongthink is all too indicative of a progressive political culture that’s not content merely to disagree with dissenters. People in error have to be called out, investigated, shamed, and punished. The deeper you move into the ideological cocoon, the less tolerance there is for debate.

.. Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle, a sharp thinker not prone to hyperbole, wrote yesterday decrying the rise of online mobs and Internet shaming. The goal of the mob isn’t to rebut bad arguments but to destroy careers and permanently ruin reputations. She said this:

I find myself in more and more conversations that sound as if we’re living in one of the later-stage Communist regimes. Not the ones that shot people, but the ones that discovered you didn’t need to shoot dissidents, as long as you could make them pariahs — no job, no apartment, no one willing to be seen talking to them in public.

.. And often the goal isn’t so much to win the argument as it is to hurt the other person, to deter them from ever speaking about politics again.

.. But I fear that our culture is less durable than our Constitution.

.. Indeed, our culture has failed our Constitution before, most recently through the malice and groupthink of the Jim Crow South. An entire region built a system from the ground up that stood in direct defiance of not just our nation’s Founding documents but also of the Civil War–era constitutional amendments that were designed to remake the land.

.. the law of group polarization applies. I’ve written about this concept before, but it can’t be emphasized enough. Essentially, the law holds that “in a striking empirical regularity, deliberation tends to move groups, and the individuals who compose them, toward a more extreme point in the direction indicated by their own predeliberation judgments.” Put more simply, when like-minded people gather, their views tend to grow more extreme. Absent moderating forces, they reinforce and amplify shared views.

.. Our nation thrives in the midst of disagreement. It withers, however, in the face of unrelenting cruelty, and I fear that for now, cruelty is winning the day.

The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond

The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right. Its main points are that:

  1. Neither the left nor the right gets diversity completely right;
  2. The social science evidence on implicit and explicit bias has been wildly oversold and is far weaker than most people seem to realize;
  3. Google has, perhaps unintentionally, created an authoritarian atmosphere that has stifled discussion of these issues by stigmatizing anyone who disagrees as a bigot and instituted authoritarian policies of reverse discrimination;
  4. The policies and atmosphere systematically ignore biological, cognitive, educational, and social science research on the nature and sources of individual and group differences.

I cannot speak to the atmosphere at Google, but: 1. Give that the author gets everything else right, I am pretty confident he is right about that too; 2. It is a painfully familiar atmosphere, one that is a lot like academia.

..  I mainly focus on the reactions to the essay on the Gizmodo site, which indirectly and ironically validate much of the author’s analysis. Very few of the comments actually engage the arguments; they just fling insults and slurs. Yes, slurs.

.. The arrogance of most of the comments reflects exactly the type of smug self-appointed superiority that has led to widespread resentment of the left among reasonable people.

.. Even the response by Google’s new VP in charge of diversity simply ignores all of the author’s arguments, and vacuously affirms Google’s commitment to diversity. The essay is vastly more thoughtful, linked to the science, and well-reasoned than nearly all of the comments.

.. But it is not clear to me how such sex differences are relevant to the Google workplace. And even if sex differences in negative emotionality were relevant to occupational performance (e.g., not being able to handle stressful assignments), the size of these negative emotion sex differences is not very large (typically, ranging between “small” to “moderate” in statistical effect size terminology; accounting for less than 10% of the variance). So, using someone’s biological sex to essentialize an entire group of people’s personality would be like operating with an axe. Not precise enough to do much good, probably will cause a lot of harm. Moreover, men are more emotional than women in certain ways, too. Sex differences in emotion depend on the type of emotion, how it is measured, where it is expressed, when it is expressed, and lots of other contextual factors.

.. Among commentators who claim the memo’s empirical facts are wrong, I haven’t read a single one who understand sexual selection theory, animal behavior, and sex differences research.

When the memo went viral, thousands of journalists and bloggers transformed themselves overnight from not understanding evolutionary psychology at all to claiming enough expertise to criticize the whole scientific literature on biological sex differences.

 .. Even Google’s new ‘VP of Diversity’, Danielle Brown, criticized the memo because it ‘advanced incorrect assumptions about gender’; I was impressed to see that her Michigan State B.A. in Business and her U. Michigan M.B.A. qualify her to judge the scientific research.
.. I think that almost all of the Google memo’s empirical claims are scientifically accurate. Moreover, they are stated quite carefully and dispassionately.
.. Whoever the memo’s author is, he has obviously read a fair amount about these topics. Graded fairly, his memo would get at least an A- in any masters’ level psychology course. It is consistent with the scientific state of the art on sex differences. (Blank slate gender feminism is advocacy rather than science: no gender feminist I’ve met has ever been able to give a coherent answer to the question ‘What empirical findings would convince you that psychological sex differences evolved?’
.. implicit in the author’s critique of Google’s diversity programs. This dogma relies on two core assumptions:
  • The human sexes and races have exactly the same minds, with precisely identical distributions of traits, aptitudes, interests, and motivations; therefore, any inequalities of outcome in hiring and promotion must be due to systemic sexism and racism;
  • The human sexes and races have such radically different minds, backgrounds, perspectives, and insights, that companies must increase their demographic diversity in order to be competitive; any lack of demographic diversity must be due to short-sighted management that favors groupthink.

The obvious problem is that these two core assumptions are diametrically opposed.

..  The usual rationale for gender diversity in corporate teams is that a balanced, 50/50 sex ratio will keep a team from being dominated by either masculine or feminine styles of thinking, feeling, and communicating. Each sex will counter-balance the other’s quirks. (That makes sense to me, by the way, and is one reason why evolutionary psychologists often value gender diversity in research teams.)

But if there are no sex differences in these psychological quirks, counter-balancing would be irrelevant. A 100% female team would function exactly the same as a 50/50 team, which would function the same as a 100% male team.

.. psychological interchangeability makes diversity meaningless. But psychological differences make equal outcomes impossible. Equality or diversity. You can’t have both.

.. His most important suggestion though is apparently the most contentious: ‘Be open about the science of human nature’. He writes ‘Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.’ This is also correct. If American businesses want to remain competitive in a global market, they must open their eyes to the research, and ground their policies in the known facts about the genetic evolution of sex differences, rather than blank slate delusions about the ‘social construction of gender’.

.. As a woman who’s worked in academia and within STEM, I didn’t find the memo offensive or sexist in the least. 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.