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anecdotes, sample sizes of one, and speaking from authority

I’m relatively new to critiquing tech culture but I wanted to write something about the general level of mansplaining I’m seeing on Paul Graham’s recent misogynist comments1, whereby he ‘helpfully’ demonstrated how institutional misogyny/sexism works.2

His comments have been sufficiently addressed, so I’m not going to do so here. Instead, I want to focus on burdens of proof and some of the dynamics of the discourse around these issues.

Shanley Kane linked to this Hacker News thread, which among other things, is practically a field guide to Derailing for Dummies. I’m mostly interested in the comments surrounding proof and/or evidence:

Some brave soul asked her for proof on Twitter and got a healthy “fuck you” back after she told him to Google it. source


The criticisms that are levied, without proof, against white men in the tech industry, would be treated as evidence of terrible racism and/or sexism if they were levied at other groups. source

Particularly concerning the latter comment, it is particularly interesting and probaly demonstrates (more than anything) that this person never reads Shanley’s osts. I pulled up the first four posts on her blog.

Clearly there is no ‘proof’ and all of her claims are unfunded and harmful generalizations and stereotypes. Obviously.

This also ties into the first comment, wherein ‘a brave soul asked her for proof.’ I mean… it isn’t like there are a pile of links in either her twitter feed or any one of her given posts. Or, given that these are tech people, obviously have access to the internet and Google.