James Damore, the Google engineer that was recently fired for writing a memo criticizing the company’s diversity policies, says he “likely” has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), to at least some degree.
The former, temporary Harvard doctoral student revealed his personal inklings during an “ask me anything” (AMA) session on the social news platform Reddit, after a user expressed empathy.
“Hello James. I have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and I recognised a lot of myself in your interviews,” Reddit user “TheKingsRaven” said. “I was curious if you’ve ever been diagnosed with ASD/Autism/Aspbergers [sic] yourself? Sorry if this is too personal.”
Damore appeared to have no qualms with the question, answering in a straightforward, apparently honest way.
“I am likely on the spectrum,” Damore said, “because my thinking is very pattern oriented and I didn’t start talking until much later than normal.”
Another Redditer then asked if people with ASD innately have problems with leadership, drive for success, or ideas in general.
“I’m not sure, I haven’t read enough [on] autism and those on the spectrum can be very different than the most extreme,” Damore responded. “I personally have problems with leadership and don’t have as high a drive for success as others.”
People with ASD often exude personal characteristics such as “ongoing social problems,” like trouble “interacting with others,” and “repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
During a two-day retreat in 2012 that was part of the Harvard graduate program, Damore allegedly offended fellow students by participating in a skit in a very awkward fashion. The co-directors of the program at the time emailed the whole department to apologize for his purported inappropriateness, according to Gizmodo. (RELATED: ‘They Betrayed Me’: Google Engineer Who Wrote Anti-Diversity Memo Feels ‘Punished’)
Damore addressed a number of other topics aside from his natural mental and emotional state, including why he chose popular right-wing YouTube personalities for his first interviews.
“I felt like a lot of mainstream media was misrepresenting me at that point and I wasn’t mentally prepared to argue my points to hostile media (I don’t have experience talking to the press),” Damore explained after receiving a question about talking to “alternative media.” “I think Jordan Peterson, who I’m a fan of, lent credence to my scientific claims.”
He also said within the AMA that he continued going to work following the publication of his internal memo, but eventually left because he “felt awkward” and received “personal threats.”
Damore was fired Aug. 7 for the lengthy missive, which gradually spread throughout the company and confronted a number of issues he saw exhibited by the tech conglomerate. He suggested Google should: “stop alienating conservatives,” “stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or race,” “confront Google’s biases,” and “be open about the science of human nature,” among other recommendations. (RELATED: Ads Trashing Google For Firing Engineer Appear All Over Venice)
Despite saying “people must be free to express dissent,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai and the tech company let Damore go for expressing dissent, citing the contention that “portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
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