The James Damore Google manifesto is a toxic exercise in generalization

James Damore, a Google engineer, published an internal manifesto about gender and discrimination at the company. He’s either a sexist tech bro or a First Amendment hero bravely proclaiming forbidden truths, depending on your perspective. His generalizations about how women think are the problem here — they’re what got him fired. A fresh look at the … Continued

“What’s really wrong with millennials?” asks Simon Sinek

“What’s wrong with millennials?” What’s really wrong is anyone who thinks they can characterize an entire generation. A video, which I’ve embedded below, purports to explain everything about millennials in the workplace. It’s from “Inside Quest” and has accumulated 61 million views. Tom Bilyeu, the interviewer, is cofounder of Quest Nutrition. Strangely, there is no … Continued

Clarity and murkiness from the the Panama Papers whistleblower

I’ve written about law firm Mossack Fonseca’s wimpy response to the Panama Papers leaks. But what about the anonymous whistleblower who leaked them, “John Doe”? His followup contains direct, clear, definitive statements, which are convincing, and vague, murky generalizations, which aren’t. There are lessons here for everyone who writes in business. Below are excerpts and commentary. (While I … Continued

Generalization Z: The Times reduces generation Z to a caricature

While generalization in writing is a sin, drawing broad conclusions about a whole generation is far worse. Alexandra Levit’s piece about Generation Z in the New York Times is a great — that is, awful — example. The sin of generalization has three basic flavors: generalizations hedged with weasel words; unsupported broad, sweeping statements; and generalization from one … Continued