At page 6 of his well-known memo, James Damore talks about the harm of Google's biases:

Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for "diversity" candidates by decreasing the false negative rate.

My understanding is that a false negative in hiring is when you pass on a candidate that would have been a good employee. It follows that a lower false negative rate = you pass on good candidates less frequently.

Yet, James definitely didn't mean that - he was against the then prevailing diversity programs (which were discriminatory). Is there a typo in his memo?

He might have meant this:

... by increasing the false negative rate.

Since higher false negative rate = you pass on good candidates more frequently.

Or this:

... by increasing the false positive rate.

Since higher false positive rate = you hire unsuited employees more frequently.

Side note: James' memo triggered an ideological war, but I'd prefer to keep politics outside of this post. I'm only interested in the logical soundness of his statement, based upon his implicit position on Google's hiring practices.


Lowering the bar both decreases the false negative rate and increases the false positive rate. It is correct as written; the justification for the policy at Google is to decrease the false negative rate.

  • It decreases the FNR because fewer candidates are screened? Jan 25 at 0:13
  • 1
    A false negative arises when the candidate is good, but was rejected. By lowering the bar for acceptance, the hiring process rejects fewer candidates, which can only result in fewer false negatives.
    – causative
    Jan 25 at 4:14

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