James Damore, the Google engineer who was fired this week over a memo on its “ideological echo chamber,” sat down with another man who also ran afoul of the company — clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan B. Peterson.
The University of Toronto professor who nearly lost his job over charges of being “transphobic” in 2016 — and whose Google account was briefly locked on Aug. 1 without explanation — helped shape the opinions of Mr. Damore. The two sat down for a YouTube interview on Wednesday when it was revealed that Mr. Damore is a “huge” fan of the professor.
“Why did you agree to talk to me?” Dr. Peterson asked toward the end of the interview, which tallied nearly 200,000 YouTube views in less than 24 hours.
“I’m a huge fan. I know you went through similar [circumstances],” Mr. Damore said before trailing off.
The engineer’s admission adds another level of intrigue to the story of his now-famous 10-page memo titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” Many of Dr. Peterson’s popular lectures delve into diversity politics and the biological differences between men and women.
“I’d like to say that I was sorry [for influencing you], but I’m not,” Dr. Peterson said. “I’m actually really pleased. I do think that you’re going to pay a big price for this, but the net consequence will be very positive. I think you did an excellent job on this document. I think you were very careful. I think the fact you are being labeled with epithets and that you were fired is absolutely reprehensible. It’s clear to me that you’re just trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and that you’re not any of the things that people would like to think you are so that they don’t have to bloody well think about what you said and did.”
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The psychologist called Mr. Damore a “courageous” man for voicing his concerns and gave the memo his backing as a trained scientist.
“It’s a pretty straight forward document as far as I’m concerned. I’ve gone through it with a fairly fine-tooth comb as a behavioral scientist,” Dr. Peterson said. “I would like to state for the record that I believe that what you said in there, if not accurate, was at least representative of the current state of art among well-trained psycho-metrically informed psychologists who are trained in the field of individual difference. So congratulations. Too bad you had to pay such a price for it.”
Dr. Peterson added that Google’s decision to mull mandatory “unconscious bias training” should be dropped because there is “no scientific basis whatsoever for proceeding with that operation.”