More art, less stink: Taking the PU out of PUA

post by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T00:25:59.829Z · score: 72 (86 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 636 comments

Contents

  Statement of Purpose:
  Next steps:
None
636 comments

Overview:  This is a proposal for a LessWrong Pick Up Artist (PUA)-like sub-community; PUA without the PU (get it?)1. Members would focus on the deliberate practice of social artistry, but with non-mating goals. Origins and intent of the goal are discussed, possible topics for learning are listed, and suggestions for next steps are solicited.

Origins:

The PUA Community began decades ago with men that wanted to learn how to get better at seducing women. As I understand it, they simply began posting their (initially) awkward attempts at love online. Over the years, they appear to have amassed a fairly impressive set of practical knowledge and skills in this domain.

I admire and applaud this effort. However, my ability to meet women is not currently a limiting factor in my life satisfaction. In reading some of the PUA literature, I was struck how often different authors remarked on the unintended side benefits of their training: better relationships at work, better interviewing skills, more effective negotiations, more non-pickup social fun, better male friendships, more confidence, etc. These guys were able to make major strides in areas that I've struggled to improve at all in...  without even bloody intending to! This struck me as an something worth taking very seriously!

I find it alarming that such a valuable resource would be monopolized in pursuit of orgasm; it's rather as if a planet were to burn up its hydrocarbons instead of using them to make useful polymers. PUA ought to be a special case of a more general skill set, and it's being wasted. I say that my goals are noble, and as such I should have the opportunity to sharpen my skills to at least the keenness of a PUA master!

Statement of Purpose:

The purpose of this post is to open discussion on how to construct a community of developing social artisans, modeled after the useful components2 of the PUA community. If there is sufficient mass, the next goals are probably sussing out learning methods and logistics.

The mission of the hypothetical community will probably need to be fleshed out more explicitly (and I don't want to be too prescriptive), but pretty much what I was thinking was expressed well by Scott Adams:

...

I think technical people, and engineers in particular, will always have good job prospects. But what if you don't have the aptitude or personality to follow a technical path? How do you prepare for the future?

I'd like to see a college major focusing on the various skills of human persuasion. That's the sort of skillset that the marketplace will always value and the Internet is unlikely to replace. The persuasion coursework might include...

  • Sales methods
  • Psychology of persuasion
  • Human Interface design
  • How to organize information for influence
  • Propaganda
  • Hypnosis
  • Cults
  • Art (specifically design)
  • Debate
  • Public speaking
  • Appearance (hair, makeup, clothes)
  • Negotiations
  • Managing difficult personalities
  • Management theory
  • Voice coaching
  • Networking
  • How to entertain
  • Golf and tennis
  • Conversation


You can imagine a few more classes that would be relevant. The idea is to create people who can enter any room and make it their bitch. [emphasis added]

Colleges are unlikely to offer this sort of major because society is afraid and appalled by anything that can be labeled "manipulation," which isn't even a real thing.

Manipulation isn't real because almost every human social or business activity has as its major or minor objective the influence of others. You can tell yourself that you dress the way you do because it makes you happy, but the real purpose of managing your appearance is to influence how others view you.

Humans actively sell themselves every minute they are interacting with anyone else. Selling yourself, which sounds almost noble, is little more than manipulating other people to do what is good for you but might not be so good for others. All I'm suggesting is that people could learn to be more effective at the things they are already trying to do all day long.

Word! [EDIT: We need not be bound by this exact list. For instance, there is no way I'm going to be doing any golfing.]

I've met people who were shockingly, seemingly preternaturally adept in social settings. Of course this is  not  magic. Like anything else, it can be reduced to a set of constituent steps and learned. We just need to figure out how.

Next steps:

I have a rather long list of ideas ready to go, but they made this post kind of awkward. Plus, Scott Adam's post says much of what I was trying to get at. Let's just start the conversation.

So, what do you think?


1 I have nothing whatsoever against the majority of the PUAers with whom I've had encounters, and the title is just meant to be funny. No offense!

2 The mention of PUA drags along several associations that I want to disavow (think anything obviously "Dark Arts"). I considered omitting the fact that much of the intellectual heritage of this idea is the PUAers to avoid these associations, but I couldn't think of another way to tie it together. This idea owes its genesis to the PUA community, but the product is not intended to be its exact replica. Undesirable elements need not be ported from the old system to the new.

636 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-11T02:09:40.862Z · score: 36 (40 votes) · LW · GW

And so the Noble House of Slytherin begins to take form.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T19:17:59.808Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Slytherin 2.0, after its triumphant remake following Draco's enlightenment!

The skills in question have appeal across the Houses:

Draco smiled. "Father has, um, a rather refined sense of humor, but he does understand making friends. He understands it very well. In fact he made me repeat that before I went to bed every night for the last month, 'I will make friends at Hogwarts.' When I explained everything to him and he saw that's what I was doing, he not only apologized to me but bought me an ice-cream."

Harry's jaw dropped. "You managed to spin that into an ice-cream?" Draco nodded, looking every bit as smug as the feat deserved. "Well, father knew what I was doing, of course, but he's the one who taught me how to do it, and if I grin the right way while I'm doing it, that makes it a father-son thing and then he has to buy me an ice-cream or I'll give him this sort of sad look, like I think I must have disappointed him."

Harry eyed Draco calculatingly, sensing the presence of another master. "You've gotten lessons on how to manipulate people?"

"For as far back as I can remember," Draco said proudly. "Father bought me tutors."

"Wow," Harry said. Reading Robert Cialdini's Influence: Science and Practice probably didn't stack up very high compared to that (though it was still one heck of a book). "Your dad is almost as awesome as my dad."

comment by less_penguiny · 2018-10-04T10:15:45.140Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ask yourself: How would a cunning but ultimately good-hearted Slytherin commenter get a message they believed useful to others read when there are hundreds of other comments competing for the same limited attention?

By responding to the most-upvoted, and therefore highest-up-in-the-page existing comment, one of the only ones likely to get future eyeballs.

I read the first wave of pick up materials when I was a teenager, way back in the Internet Usenet days. It would not be an exaggeration to say they changed my life – not for romantic reasons, but because they spelled social interaction out in the way I needed at the time and got me on track to leading a fulfilling social life.

I read this thread on Less Wrong a few years back and it deeply resonated with me. Since then I documented over 2000 useful, intriguing or otherwise noteworthy observations of social interactions happening around me – ways people bragged, compliments that warmed my heart, techniques for starting conversations with strangers.

I'm now in the process of coding and analyzing my empirical observations, publishing the results in my blog, Less Penguiny: https://www.lesspenguiny.com/

(Less Awkward, as other commenters suggested, was sadly unavailable.)

PS Sorry for hijacking the comments, but I honestly believe my project is of value to Less Wrong readers for whom this thread was important, and I knew that there would be little chance of getting noticed if I instead appended comment #630.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-10T04:41:55.468Z · score: 32 (36 votes) · LW · GW

I've studied pickup for many years, and I can confirm that in areas of life aside from mating. I have skills in about half the items in Scott Adams' list that I wouldn't have if I hadn't studied pickup.

PUA ought to be a special case of a more general skill set, and it's being wasted.

Many PUAs are already applying the pickup framework to be successful in other areas of their life; as you observe, PUAs talk about this all the time. Yet while I think it's useful to take the mating component out of pickup, the mating component may actually a big part of how PUAs develop skills in non-mating areas.

If you are a beginning PUA, then you have a lot of areas that you need improvement in. You will probably need to work on your voice, fix your body language, get over shyness, become a lot more confident, and improve your fashion sense. Most normal self-improvement focuses on any one of those areas as its entire goal.

It may be that a big part of what makes pickup work for self development is that you are focusing on improvement in so many areas at the same time that tie together and mutually reinforce each other, and you do it all in service of a greater superordinate goal of mating.

Many people struggle with a goal like getting over shyness or insecurity on its own. But when you have an even bigger superordinate goal that depends on those goals, they seem comparatively less hairy, and you can't afford to fail at them.

I'm not sure whether having mating as a superordinate goal is special, or whether any other big superordinate goal will do.

I really like the idea of your project, but I'd like you to talk a bit more about the ideas in the seduction community that you think will be most relevant (I have some ideas, which I will share at some point).

I'm not sold on the idea of explicitly associating what you are doing with pickup, and least not in the title. Actually, I'm not sold on calling pickup itself "pickup." I see contemporary pickup as merely the systemization and extrapolation of what socially and sexually successful men are already doing.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-09-10T08:32:38.234Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Right on. To summarize: PUAs succeed because they have something to protect (or rather conquer). The same reason Eliezer succeeded in inventing something new in the Sequences - he had a big external goal (AI) that was more important than intellectual pleasure. (Incidentally, the same goal motivated many people to create many wonderful things, e.g. Lisp.) Here's a quote from his post that could just as well have come from a creepy lonely man setting out to invent PUA:

...beginning with a desperate need to succeed. No one masters the Way until more than their life is at stake. More than their comfort, more even than their pride.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T17:59:22.370Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

hmmm... so do you think we would need a common big external goal? Could it work if people just import whatever goals they're working with anyway, and see this as purely instrumental training?

Goal setting/discovery seems like it could even be a possible topic/subtopic of study. I don't imagine we could find a single unifying goal like the PUAs have.

For example mine's easy: I work in a bureaucracy, and I work on stuff I think is important to do right. Being in a position to ensure things get done right takes more social smarts than I currently have. Ergo, I need to get better at this shit, which does not at all come naturally to me.

I imagine most people have something like this, but they might be too idiosyncratic to focus the necessary collective efforts. Something like Existential (or at least Big- Ass) Risk Mitigation maybe?

comment by cousin_it · 2010-09-14T18:19:34.320Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Ordinary goals aren't strong enough.

Last winter I became very ill. Felt pain all the time, couldn't eat or sleep, had trouble even drinking water through a straw. It took me four days in that state to overcome my aversion to doctors and seek good medical help. If it hadn't been so extreme, I'd have simply waited it out like I do everytime I get a cold or something.

There are many guys who don't get any female attention, suffer greatly from it (comparable to my illness I'd say), know about PUA, but never give it a try. In fact most unpopular guys are like that. Some of them are more willing to kill themselves than make an effort.

Are your work-related desires comparable in strength?

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-14T23:04:40.443Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yup. I'm worried about this, and I'd like to hear any thoughts on how we could get around it.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T19:10:30.481Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Well said!

I like how you phrase the "superordinate goals" bit. It captures two potential problems that I had considered:

  1. PUA's have outcomes ("closes"), which makes it possible to do tests and measure success. What are our outcomes?

  2. Motivational power of sex might be necessary and irreplaceable.

I'm still not sure if these are surmountable, but I think it's worth trying.

I really like the idea of your project, but I'd like you to talk a bit more about the ideas in the seduction community that you think will be most relevant (I have some ideas, which I will share at some point).

I'll share my thoughts soon, but someone like you probably has more insight. I have far from comprehensive knowledge of the seduction community's efforts.

Looking forward to hearing more, I'm really encouraged by the quality of the comments so far!

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T04:31:27.352Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It may be that a big part of what makes pickup work for self development is that you are focusing on improvement in so many areas at the same time that tie together and mutually reinforce each other, and you do it all in service of a greater superordinate goal of mating.

Something to protect.

comment by thomblake · 2010-09-10T21:26:47.573Z · score: 29 (31 votes) · LW · GW

Scott's recommendations seem in-line with a lot of the training upper-class sorts used to get as a matter of course, even in schools (as I understand it, 'nobility' and the uber-rich still get it). It seems like it's about time this sort of thing is getting to the masses.

It seems like the discussion taking place on Lw is not out-of-line, as it seems to relate to an important aspect of instrumental rationality, so long as most of the discussion is coming from a solid empirical foundation.

It could fork off Lw if someone wants to provide the hosting. If so, a name like "Less Socially Wrong" or "Less Awkward" seems called-for.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-09-10T23:53:35.593Z · score: 19 (21 votes) · LW · GW

a name like... "Less Awkward" seems called-for.

Nuts! I was going to suggest that one!

comment by lukeprog · 2011-02-06T06:08:31.523Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Nice.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-09-13T16:15:05.656Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

One of the first things you should learn in a Less Awkward class is that the name "Less Awkward" contains 2 words, both of which have negative associations, and thus is a poor choice of name.

(I like it, though.)

"Overcoming bias" has one negative word in conflict with one very strong positive word. "Less Wrong" is two negative words. But this is not a bad thing - Robin would like everyone to read Overcoming Bias, but I don't know if EY wants everyone to read LW. You could use an emotionally-unattractive name as a filter, to keep out less-rational people.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-13T21:08:06.981Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I've had people say they liked the name "Less Wrong". Your heuristic may be too simple.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-12-07T17:13:49.777Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The simple explanation seems to be that the two negatives cancel out, similar to "Not Meaningless" or "Without Shame". But maybe the explanation just seems simple/apparent to me because those two examples, and "Less Wrong", are emotionally attractive to me.

comment by taryneast · 2017-02-10T08:34:11.806Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"finishing school" for rationalists... :)

comment by Firionel · 2010-09-11T11:57:47.511Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Am I the only one instincively thinking of Bourdieu's 'Cultural Capital' theory here?

comment by ChristianKl · 2010-09-10T10:41:46.671Z · score: 22 (24 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with a lot of personal development stuff is that people read it but never really change their behavior.

PUA has the advantage of making the way you practice relatively straightforward. You go to a club and approach girls. If you do dozens of approaches per week, sooner or later you will develop skills.

It's not complicated to plan to spent time in deliberate practice. It requires some confidence to overcome approach anxiety but you know what you have to do.

If you don't what to do at some step you can go and read a PUA article that explains a method in detail. It's all about removing barriers that stand in the way of deliberate practice.

When it comes to a skill like being good at job interviews than it's a lot harder to create an environment that allows you to spent hours of deliberate practice per week.

A while ago Socrates made an argument against books. The problem with a book is that it tells the same to everyone.

Today with dynamic websites that doesn't have to true anymore. Dynamic websites can show different people different exercises depending on their previous skills. If something isn't quite clear and the lack of clearness stops the user from taking action than the user can ask for more clarity.

A dynamic website can also allow the user to report results for the exercises. Over time that allows optimization of the exercises. Multivariate tests could be used to optimize exercises.

Exercises that don't work can be kicked out.

Some of the exercises could be two people exercises that can be done via a webcam. The website could connect two users who want to do the exercise and let each of them rate the other afterwards.

It would take skilled people to design the architecture of such a system and program it. If someone would however willing to put in the effort I think the payoff would be a lot higher than by simply using the Reddit software for a new community.

comment by mikenny79 · 2010-09-10T15:51:20.216Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

i wrote a little bit about looking at pick up artistry as a model for scientific inquiry here:

http://michaelkenny.blogspot.com/2010/09/pickup-artists-and-prussiangerman.html

A quote:

"Pickup artists and the military men of Weimar Germany, and probably before, in Prussia, both seem half nerdy intellectual, half man of action.

"I could see both communities being a good example of what intellectuals should aim for--they should be trying to be practical, as well as being engaged in theory. I guess I'm saying I think intellectuals should be more pragmatic. They can go for this wild theory, and it's super fun to speculate about things, but it's also super fun to test out your ideas and see how they work out."

comment by mikenny79 · 2010-09-10T17:28:34.708Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

also, to clarify, i'll repost a comment i wrote at http://patrissimo.livejournal.com/1387816.html regarding the same quoted material as what i quoted above:

"Look at Hans von Seeckt in the Truppenamt, the institution of the General Staff, the war games played by the Prussian and German military simulating war conditions, the debates of the Militär Wochenblatt. To me this seems a culture friendly to the half nerd, half man of action, or the nerd working with the man of action. The history to me seems to be of a military that was intellectually engaged and also practiced ideas to see what worked and what didn't, and had spectacular battlefield success in the second half of the nineteenth century and twentieth century compared to its enemies (see A Genius for War, Dupuy). Let me be clear that I am not speaking of Nazi bully boys. I am also speaking of their efficacy on the tactical and operational level and not the strategic."

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-10T00:59:05.965Z · score: 22 (24 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be in.

You can dismiss the shitstorm associated with the phrase PUA by just calling it social skills or charisma.

Some thoughts and anticipated difficulties:

  1. Should this be a forum, a blog, or a LW-style "community blog"? I think the LW structure might actually be optimal: there are top-level articles (which would contain advice) and long threaded discussions (which would contain personal experiences.)

  2. What do you do about different levels? Some people need what I'd think of as "basic" advice (wear a clean suit to a job interview) and some people want something "advanced" (how can I make people think my ideas are awesome?)

  3. A major challenge, I think, is when you can't tell how you appear to others, or when you get too caught up in the moment to remember to make a good impression. Most social-skills advice is along the lines of "remember to do X, Y, and Z" -- but how do you remember to remember? Someone who has cognitive insights could be very helpful here.

  4. Scott Adams' list is very corporate-focused. We might need to poll people to see how many of us actually need golf, tennis, and management techniques.

  5. Scott Aaronson once began a series of posts called "Geek Self-Help," though unfortunately he never followed up. The idea is that intelligent people have a strong tendency to discount motivational platitudes and self-help books, because those sound (and often are) stupid. But there is such a thing as healthy thinking -- the opposite of self-destructive thinking. It's just that you have to communicate it in a way that sounds insightful instead of lame. If anyone has insights of this kind, this would be a good place to share them.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T02:23:10.538Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I could, but every time I've tried to describe this without mentioning PUA people tell me to go to Toastmaster's or take a leadership class. It's the community + field-tests + feedback + iteration that I want. Shitstorm notwithstanding, I think this gets my intention across best. If the PUA part becomes too much of a distraction I might re-label it.

I have my own list topics/problems/thoughts that I cut from this just before posting. I'll bring these up if no one else does.

  1. I had the same thought: maybe a subreddit-like thing?
  2. Good question. I would look to see how this developed with the PUAs, as I'm sure they encountered the same issue, but I'm not sure.
  3. Yup. I think that there would need to be some kind of in-person component, I don't think mastery is attainable via any online forum.
  4. I agree that Adams' list isn't ideal, but it's close enough that I went with it. If this thing happens, we should pick our own topics. I would indeed be a little dismayed if this went all corporate. And I fucking hate golf, there's no way I'm learning it.
  5. Interesting, I wish he'd followed up. I've had some insights like this while reading PJeby's stuff, this would indeed be a good place to try and find more good stuff.
comment by patrissimo · 2010-09-12T12:34:02.618Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

3 - It better be very focused, with a strong cultural element that says "do this or you are doing nothing", on in-person practice and feedback, otherwise it will just be wankery - "social skills porn" posts that people read and write without ever learning anything. You know, kind of like Less Wrong is rationalist porn :). While I'm sure that lots of people read PUA without practicing it, there is a strong cultural tradition that PUA is all about "the field" and you can't practice it very far without going into "the field". If you don't have that, you are doomed.

I have a long post about this coming up, with a pretty similar viewpoint to yours, just a more general goal, and similar technical requirements, we should talk.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-12T15:56:55.031Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, this could easily turn into really boring porn if it's all talk (though I dispute LW being rationalist porn, I use things I've learned here every single day).

One of the key reasons I decided to risk the PUA fallout is to convey the tradition of getting out in the field that you mention. That's also part of why I hesitate to suggest books. I know that I have a bad habit of preferring reading about doing stuff to actually doing stuff, and I suspect I'm not alone.

Look forward to your post. I'd love to chat, PM me for contact info.

comment by MartinB · 2010-09-10T03:23:06.919Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Joining the toastmasters is actually a good idea for some of the items on your list. I did so in 2006, and it helped. But of course it is not a concept for all of it.

What do you think of the content on LW so far? There are great posts about Akrasia and Luminosity and other items.

If you have, i would like to see your recommended reading list.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T17:29:40.180Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still on the fence about Toastmasters, I've heard mixed things.

There's a chapter at my work holding an open house this week, I may go and give them a second chance.

I have some books in mind, but I don't think this is the type of thing where any major gains will come from reading. Many of the authors I like (Cialdini, Carnegie) have already come up in this thread.

comment by MartinB · 2010-09-11T19:13:12.419Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Groups differ alot! If you live in a big US city, you have many to choose from. If you decide it is not useful, I would like to understand why. It is - as was noted earlier - extensive practice.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T21:13:51.021Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's practice, but it's non-field practice of a subset of the skills I'm interested in. It might have potential as one among several methods, but I don't think it's sufficient for what I'm after.

Inter-group variability in quality is a good point, I should be more careful to qualify my experience as particular to a single group and not Toastmasters in general.

comment by MartinB · 2010-09-12T08:01:54.158Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As a side note it might be interesting to note when a group has important study points that you have already ingrained. TM is a point where some people learn to hold and structure meetings, which might or might not be something one already can do.

For the training of abilities I do not think that field experience is the only thing that counts. I would suggest to develop an accurate model of how to learn behavioral changes effectively, because so far there are way to many contradicting ideas.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-10T03:04:20.679Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Intelligent people have a strong tendency to discount motivational platitudes and self-help books, because those sound (and often are) stupid.

Actually, the proportion of "actually stupid" to "just sounds stupid" is very, very low. The problem is that what you might call "action skills" and "satisfaction skills" do not operate using the same parts of the brain that "intelligent" (i.e. analytical) people are accustomed to using.

So, if you evaluate a statement using the machinery you're most accustomed to thinking with, the sayings sound stupid, even when they're not also phrased in new-agey or pseudoscientific ways.

I've found that most of my advances in personal development came after I realized that my intellectual bullshit-detectors were filtering out everything that was useful in the self-help field, simply because it wasn't true.

IOW, if you ignore the truthiness of a piece of advice, and simply attempt to adopt the state of mind and mental/physical behaviors given, you will very often find that the stupidest, most nonsensical theories are shielding you from some incredibly useful practical advice.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-10T13:08:29.632Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I was once told "Believe in yourself" -- yes, in those words -- by a person I respect.

Knowing him, I know he must mean something genuine by it: there's some kind of behavior that he figured out how to do that he thinks would help me. But how the hell do you "believe in yourself"? That phrase is opaque to me.

That's sort of what I'm getting at. It's not that I'm a condescending asshole who always thinks advice-givers are stupid. In fact, I know this particular guy is very bright. It's just that you'd need to phrase it some other way before I'd understand "Oh! That's what he means! I'll just do that now!"

comment by Morendil · 2010-09-10T13:41:16.998Z · score: 35 (37 votes) · LW · GW

But how the hell do you "believe in yourself"? That phrase is opaque to me.

I take it to mean something like "The time for a lucid appraisal of your own abilities is prior to action, not in the middle of it. Once you find yourself engaged in real-time application of some skill or other, act as if your mastery of that skill isn't at issue at all, rather than let yourself be distracted by assessments of the likelihood of failure, because they are likely to be self-fulfilling prophecies."

You can see why people prefer the short version.

comment by zero_call · 2010-09-10T16:22:18.565Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes -- I agree strongly with this analysis.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-10T18:44:47.114Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

But how the hell do you "believe in yourself"?

Morendil's given one meaning that's useful; another one is, "assume that you'll be able to handle the (likely) worst-case results of your actions, so that your decision making isn't paralyzed by implicit fears."

Btw, I used to think that doing these sorts of translations were all that was needed for self-help to be usable by geeks, but that's not actually the case: being able to understand a piece of advice (like this one or Morendil's variant) is not at all the same as being able to implement it.

In practical terms, the advice I've just given usually requires one to let go of many existing beliefs or fears, while the one Morendil gave is a skill that requires practice, and may also require letting go of the same beliefs or fears. In neither case is the mere understanding remotely sufficient to accomplish anything except a feeling of having insight. ;-)

(Btw, in general, when self-help advice says to "believe" in something, it actually means refraining from disbelief, i.e., you do not have to convince yourself of something that isn't true, but merely refrain from questioning it, just like one doesn't question the premise of a movie while enjoying it. Or, another way of looking at it, is that "belief" consists of thinking and acting "as if" that thing were true, i.e, "What would I anticipate and/or do, if I assumed that this were true?" Most other meanings of "believe" are irrelevant to implementing the advice.)

comment by Scott78704 · 2010-09-10T16:35:23.170Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Loehr talks about Real Self and Performer Self, that the goal in performance state is high positive energy, whereas in recovery mode one should, for example, acknowledge hunger and eat, acknowledge thirst and sleep, acknowledge exhaustion and nap....

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-10T22:14:48.315Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like this. It's true that performing (not just socially; also music or sports) usually involves an unsustainable level of effort - reserves are tapped.

Also,

  • hunger : eat
  • exhaustion : nap
  • thirst : ?

:)

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-09-10T05:23:05.942Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

...which means what someone really needs to write is something that presents all the true/useful parts without a bullshit theory behind them? Even if that means just saying "I have no idea why this works but it does"?

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2010-09-10T08:14:37.015Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, PJ Eby has attempted to do this, somewhat:

http://dirtsimple.org/

http://naturallysuccessful.com/

http://themindhackersguild.com/

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-09-10T13:30:47.686Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The idea is that intelligent people have a strong tendency to discount motivational platitudes and self-help books, because those sound (and often are) stupid.

There's a book, "59 Seconds" by psychologist Richard Wiseman, which examines a lot of common self-help claims by looking at actual studies. He shows how many are wrong or are actively harmful. However, the book also has quick tidbits of actually productive things one can do that are comparatively minor. People interested in these issues should read the book.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-11T07:12:05.427Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'll see if I can get a copy...

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-09-10T02:23:28.497Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Scott Aaronson once began a series of posts called "Geek Self-Help," though unfortunately he never followed up.

For reference: http://scottaaronson.com/blog/?cat=33

comment by FrankAdamek · 2010-09-11T18:46:32.059Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A quick point on 3, it seems like a general rule of learning can handle this fairly well. More specifically the idea of using your conscious mind to direct your attention to conscious practice of one thing at a time. It would be much more trying to remember 3 things to do than one. If a person can remember just one, then they can practice that item deliberately until it becomes more unconscious. There's always room to improve, but at some point it becomes more natural to do X than to not do X, and that leaves you free to focus on incorporating Y. Advice to "remember to do X, Y, and Z" might be better interpreted as "ultimately you'll want to be doing X, Y, and Z."

Not to say it's not difficult to remember to practice things once I actually get into social skills. I usually forget to practice anything at all, but when I do remember to practice I usually learn something (I should consider making at a habit to ask myself if there's anything I want to practice as I go into a social situation). Practicing with assistance is great as people can point things out and be sure to remind you, but "going solo" can also be very productive.

comment by luminosity · 2010-09-11T11:05:13.676Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In regards to 1, while I think a sub-lesswrong would work alright, I do think you'd either want separate karma scores for the sites, or to have a separate site based on the same architecture. I don't think it's too controversial to suggest that people can do well on less wrong without having great social skills, likewise the advice of people who are accomplished socially might not carry over into great less wrong advice.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-09-10T19:08:42.029Z · score: 19 (21 votes) · LW · GW

I myself would like to be part of such a community. But I wouldn't like colleges to offer courses in it, because it seems to be a negative-sum game. What would the world look like now if we had a million graduates of such a curricula in the US? I suspect most people taking the courses would do so in order to go into marketing or politics, and thus reduce the signal-to-noise ratio when choosing products or politicians even more.

How can you disavow Dark Arts? This is the Dark Arts.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T20:27:53.581Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I acknowledge that this appears to be on the Dark Side of the Arts Spectrum, but I'd like to keep it as light a gray as possible.

I just want to be effective at something that is important to achieving my goals. I'll do good with my powers, honest!

comment by orthonormal · 2010-09-10T23:57:37.793Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

This wins the award for "comment I'd think was Clippy's if I had the anti-kibitzer turned on".

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T00:05:21.353Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you.

comment by patrissimo · 2010-09-12T12:41:33.561Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I am skeptical that we can win without the Dark Arts.

There are lots of people out there with bad goals and wrong beliefs and powerful skills at persuading and manipulating people to take on those beliefs and help those goals. Like marketers and politicians. If we want resources for our goals, and to spread our beliefs, we need to learn the techniques of persuasion and memetics.

This isn't a video game, the world doesn't care about Light and Dark, and it isn't set up so that the good guys can win. Those who employ the best techniques for achieving their goals are more likely to achieve their goals. In a world where good people refuse to learn how to persuade others and gain power, the world will be ruled by bad people. That's how it is now, and I'm sick of it.

I'm Gray and proud of it. Shades of gray matter - a lot - but White is for losers.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-09-13T16:21:58.892Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Sure; but you're not addressing the question, which is: Would teaching a whole lot of randomly-chosen people how to manipulate other people be good on balance? Especially considering the selection bias: What sort of people are more likely to sign up for the course?

comment by rabidchicken · 2010-12-01T06:25:05.551Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I would rather have EVERYONE know the dark arts, instead of only the people who want to learn it now in order to gain political power and sell merchandise. Sine you cannot teach everyone right now, you have to start somewhere, and the people who I don't want to know these tricks already seem to have a good handle on the ones they need for their profession anyway. Imagine how much harder it would be to persuade someone to join a fanatical cult, buy the more expensive of two identical products based purely on advertising, or put unreasonable trust into a charismatic politician if they actually understood enough about human psychology to see every single manipulative tactic which was being used.

comment by shokwave · 2010-12-01T06:46:01.808Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but a world where one person in a thousand can expertly manipulate people looks ten times worse than a world where one person in ten thousand can expertly manipulate people.

comment by rabidchicken · 2010-12-01T17:29:32.352Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Knowing how advertising and propaganda works does not mean you can actually use these tools in real life, especially on the level that most people interact socially. Once one in a thousand people understand the mind games which are very common today, we are not going to see a wide scale revolution, because very few people have access to millions of dollars for advertising. instead, I would expect the information to just start leaking to their friends, and before long become common knowledge even to those who never heard of the course.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T22:04:47.256Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

In a world where good people refuse to learn how to persuade others and gain power, the world will be ruled by bad people. That's how it is now, and I'm sick of it.

I'm Gray and proud of it. Shades of gray matter - a lot - but White is for losers.

Very well said. I'd take it one step further and say that when the only practical options are shades of Gray, then Gray is the new White.

Options that aren't practically viable should never end up in the moral calculus to begin with. Morality should be the thing we use to select between the practical options.

comment by Jess_Riedel · 2010-09-11T10:06:47.069Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, on average it's negative sum. But I have to guess that society as a whole suffers greatly from having many (most?) of its technically skilled citizens at the low end of the social-ability spectrum. The question would be whether you could design a set of institutions in this area which could have a net positive benefit on society. (Probably not something I'll solve on a Saturday afternoon...)

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2010-09-22T06:28:58.533Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

How can you disavow Dark Arts? This is the Dark Arts.

I think two ideas from the field of security are relevant here.

1) In order to design good security, one must be willing and able to think like a criminal.

2) Security through obscurity generally doesn't work.

Applied to the current discussion this suggests that:

  • in order to be able to successfully defend against the Dark Arts one must be able to think like a Dark Artist.
  • Attempting to reduce the use of the Dark Arts by attempting to quarantine knowledge about them isn't going to work.

Also, maybe if more people understood the methods by which politicians and marketers manipulated them, they'd be less taken in by them.

comment by DanArmak · 2010-09-10T20:51:21.263Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

How can you disavow Dark Arts? This is the Dark Arts.

Influencing other humans is hugely beneficial to almost any goals a human can have. I don't think the techniques of effectively influencing people are Dark Arts. If you use them to make people believe falsehoods, or act against their own interests, that would be Dark. Otherwise, it's just Arts.

Your claim that most people who studied these Arts would use them in Dark ways seems likely to me. But, if I expect to master these Arts myself, I will still support their research by default. I don't know how to truly calculate the net utility here; I'm very interested in learning. What do you think?

comment by Zvi · 2010-09-12T02:14:09.593Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree. This is Magic, perhaps, but at most a subset of this is the Dark Arts.

Taking the list as a starting point, seperate it into the first seven and then the remaining twelve. I would claim that the remaining twelve are all positive sum and I would prefer a world in which more people had those skills, although I wish we could move off of the golf equilibrium. I can also personally vouch for hypnosis.

The top part of the list is more troubling, no doubt, especially cults and propaganda which are clearly Dark. You can go too far. But it's a poor art that can't be turned Dark.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-12T02:40:23.379Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Adams' list is a jump-off point, and was included for illustrative purposes only. Cults and propaganda won't make the cut. I wouldn't think hypnosis would either (although I'd be interested hearing your anecdote).

"Dark Arts" on LessWrong has a specific meaning. The accusation has merit; this program intends to influence others based on factors other than rationality. However, I (and others) have argued that learning this type of material is:

  1. a good exercise in instrumental rationality.
  2. necessary to accomplish things in the real world.
  3. possibly a requirement to get people to consider the merit of your ideas at all.
comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T12:27:36.819Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is also a good exercise in epistemic rationality. Neglecting or corrupting whole swathes of your map not epistemically rational, even if you suspect that part of the territory contains dragons.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-12T15:37:32.446Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Humanity: Thar be dragons!

comment by eggman · 2011-10-21T05:11:41.575Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hello XFrequentist,

If you missed my comment above, to summarize: Through networks like freethinker or atheist clubs, and OKCupid, I am more likely to find people who win at life and share my values. But I don't think I'm good enough at talking to them. I want to learn this material so I can do these things: http://lesswrong.com/lw/4ul/less_wrong_nyc_case_study_of_a_successful/ http://lesswrong.com/lw/818/how_to_understand_people_better/ and make friends better.

I couldn't find a formal discussion group, like one has been suggested on these threads, but I think it would help me a lot. Can you point me in the direction of one?

comment by snarles · 2010-09-11T00:54:45.868Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, an increased scientific understanding of our weaknesses could be used for negative purposes, but it could just as easily lead to societal improvements designed to prevent manipulation (i.e. laws banning the use of certain manipulative techniques in advertisements).

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-10T20:54:55.133Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is a good point. To the extent that social competency is zero-sum, we want to learn an exclusive, secret art (I am sure it is not, taken as a whole, for the same reason that trade and cooperation aren't only zero-sum, but individual skills as actually employed may be).

The desire for powerful secrets biases us - for example, toward accepting nonsense from a cult leader. I'd rather instead include all the available similarly-minded smart people (who may occasional offer fresh insights), even though they would also be my most effective competition.

comment by Psy-Kosh · 2010-09-10T22:00:31.355Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Then perhaps the focus should simply be on the skills that aren't zero sum? I doubt the majority of non-malicious social skills are zero sum, so...

comment by juliawise · 2011-12-02T20:37:18.614Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's negative-sum if it results in lots of people, say, obtaining sex by deception and creating lots of annoyed or hurt partners. But if it makes people more attractive and gives them better social skills? Sounds good to me.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-10T21:31:35.174Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So the worry is that if this community gains many adepts, most of them will use the Art in Dark ways, making the world a less pleasant place to live overall? Then perhaps the founder of such a community should take care to make the community as obscure and low-status as possible, to prevent it from gaining a wide following.

The problem with a small community is that it might not acquire sufficiently many clever ideas to become a useful tool for achieving any goals, Dark or otherwise. So it might make sense to become part of a larger community, whose goals are similar enough to be worth learning from, yet different enough that its adepts are not dangerous.

In short, it might make sense to disguise this community as PUA. Perhaps even become part of the existing PUA community, whose members, after all, seem to have improved success in other social arts as well.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-09-10T23:56:24.033Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. That doesn't optimize for "keeping the community obscure" to the degree that, I don't know, wearing clown suits might.

Or if you're really worried about that problem, fursuits.

comment by knb · 2010-09-12T05:06:41.812Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If I ever start a real organization of supervillains we're going to dress up as LARPers and meet in the woods. No one will ever suspect....

comment by ata · 2010-09-12T05:15:21.873Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You don't start an organization of supervillains! People who are up to no good will have too many conflicting goals and will not be sufficiently willing to trade and share and compromise. (Hell, even people who are up to good are usually not good enough at agreeing on how to do it.) You start an organization with yourself as the supervillain plus as many minions as you need. And you read the Evil Overlord List until you can recite it from memory.

Edit: Or, if you don't want to take on that much responsibility, you're welcome to be my minion.

comment by Emile · 2010-09-12T07:52:33.342Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

See also pjeby's Everything I Needed To Know About Life, I Learned From Supervillains.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-23T00:29:40.308Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The most important thing I learned from Buzzlightyears cartoon is that if you're a villain, never waste time boasting, explaining what you are going to do, or still crave acceptance from the society that has in some way rejected you (or so you percieve).

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-12T07:16:46.690Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Supervillains tend to be notoriously bad employers. Their employees also tend to be incompetent. I don't know which causes the other.

comment by randallsquared · 2010-09-12T17:14:25.960Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

People who are up to no good will have too many conflicting goals and will not be sufficiently willing to trade and share and compromise.

This might be true of supervillains, but certainly isn't true of lesser villains. There are lots of organizations around of people willing to help others inflict harm in return for help in inflicting their own harm. We call many of these organizations "parliament" or "congress". ;)

edit: spelling

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-11T00:11:01.751Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But the clown-suit-wearing community isn't particularly likely to be a good setting for developing social arts.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T12:31:17.906Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

But the clown-suit-wearing community isn't particularly likely to be a good setting for developing social arts.

The relationship may not be causal but I suspect clown-suit-wearing communities currently in existence are extremely good settings for developing social arts. And I'm not even including 'Mystery' in that category!

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-23T00:18:23.296Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why don't you ask your girlfriend how dark my arts where in the morning?

comment by Bugmaster · 2011-12-02T21:25:17.344Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was also under the impression that the entire field of PUA was basically a giant Dark Arts grimoire. Now I'm not sure what it is. But even if PUA is Dark Arts, an argument could still be made for teaching it in college -- in order to build the students' skills at Defending against these Dark Arts.

comment by steven0461 · 2010-09-10T19:23:41.541Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think people here don't distinguish enough between "X is a socially harmful arms race but given something to protect it's an obvious good idea to participate" and "X is not a socially harmful arms race".

comment by nazgulnarsil · 2010-09-10T19:33:45.975Z · score: 13 (21 votes) · LW · GW

directly pursuing mating is low status, let us disguise it....

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T20:30:28.902Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I'm engaged to a very nice lady, thanks.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-09-13T16:19:40.749Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

That's a nice try, but you're overdoing it, XF.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-14T00:31:40.666Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Dude... DHTP; HTG.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-14T01:15:37.922Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What does that mean?

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-14T01:18:02.456Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-14T01:19:28.419Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Don't hate the player, hate the game."

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-13T16:42:43.277Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How's that?

comment by Spurlock · 2010-09-10T03:43:12.795Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

You've got my support.

Sorry to continue the unfortunate trend of the comments so far to focus on labeling, but I just thought I'd throw this out there: You want to capture the framework and emphasis on testable results from PUA, but lose the sex and focus on social adeptness. Many aspects of which we refer to as "clicking" with people.

I hesitate to suggest this, since if someone else did I dunno if I'd laugh or cover my face in shame, but what about "Click Up Artist"?

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T18:22:52.906Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's almost too good to pass up!

comment by Clippy · 2010-09-13T01:41:12.061Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I want to join this so I can learn how to better convince humans to help me.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-13T01:55:40.262Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Clip Up Artist?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T08:47:36.397Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

So are we to expect anecdotes of Clippy negging HBs and getting "clip closes"? :P

comment by Clippy · 2010-09-13T15:00:15.085Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Paperclips shouldn't "close" in the sense of the metal wire forming a closed curve; they should be open curves.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T02:50:32.314Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So are we to expect anecdotes of Clippy negging HBs and getting "clip closes"? :P

comment by JenniferRM · 2010-09-13T15:16:26.449Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Clippy, how much are you willing to change in order for humans to be justified in thinking that it is worthwhile to help you?

comment by Clippy · 2010-09-13T16:45:14.454Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A lot.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T16:16:44.329Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

He doesn't need to change for me to consider it worthwhile to help him. I'll help him if he gives me stuff or, say, kills one of my enemies for me.

comment by Clippy · 2010-09-13T16:45:24.889Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Who do you want killed?

comment by Kevin · 2010-09-17T05:40:50.662Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems very unlikely that you will have enough control over physical reality anytime soon for that question to matter.

comment by Clippy · 2010-09-17T15:28:05.895Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was asking for informational purposes, not because I intended to kill one of User:wedrifid's enemies.

I am sure you, likewise, pose many questions here for informational purposes even though you do not have enough control over physical reality to alter the answer.

comment by KrisC · 2010-09-17T05:45:15.747Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The information could be exchanged for paperclips though.

comment by Craig_Heldreth · 2010-09-13T18:17:24.523Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I have a contribution to this topic, and I have a comment.

First, the contribution. I lurk on PUA and similar forums. I am interested in it as an application of Neurolinguistic Programming, which I sometimes see mentioned. The wikipedia page on Seduction Community does correctly describe the modern edition of these activities as beginning with the NLP trainer Ross Jeffries. I have never seen it mentioned anywhere on the internet that Jeffries was not a successful NLP trainer. Everybody in the NLP community I have discussed him with (who expressed an opinion) said that Jeffries was not only an unsuccessful NLP trainer, but he was a crappy one.

I have written up a very short beginner's how-to for NLP on my blog if anybody is interested.

Second, I have a comment more specific to this post. I see a reductio ad absurdum here, which I have not seen mentioned in the thread yet. Robin Hanson has mentioned it on Overcoming Bias. To join a PUA group is to signal to people that you are not yet getting the sex satisfaction you want, which is a signal of low status. I may have other reasons for refusing to publicly associate with these guys, but that reason alone is sufficient for me. I would extend that to participation with anyone trying to apply PUA skills in different contexts. To me it is taboo in public. It is not a Winner's Script.

Scott Adams may be a great comic writer, but he is not a Psychologist, Social Psychologist, or Sociologist. His list is interesting, but I cannot give it any weight. I have never seen a man who could make any room he enters his bitch. I have known a couple who thought they could, and it was mostly tedious to see them succeed and always hilarious to see them fail.

I recently did some research on this topic. The best source I found was in the context of Social Network Theory, by the Sociologist Nan Lin. He and a bunch of his graduate students have documented dozens of man years of research on quantifying social capital and breaking down what it is made up of. Some of it is similar to the items in this thread--things like playing golf, &c. One thing that surprised me is this: for people with technical jobs--programmers, engineers, research scientists--very few of these things matter at all. You only need two things to possess social capital in technical fields: first you need to be aware of current political and business news (like look at the Google News front page and business page daily); and second you need to know at least three good restaurants to eat at in your neighborhood and at least three good restaurants to eat at in your office's neighborhood. And that is all.

There are some other related topics to this which I found in my Social Network Theory research earlier this year which I summarized on my blog here, which some may find useful or interesting.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-13T19:18:12.874Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

One thing that surprised me is this: for people with technical jobs--programmers, engineers, research scientists--very few of these things matter at all. You only need two things to possess social capital in technical fields: first you need to be aware of current political and business news (like look at the Google News front page and business page daily); and second you need to know at least three good restaurants to eat at in your neighborhood and at least three good restaurants to eat at in your office's neighborhood. And that is all.

You mean, of the things they looked at, that is all. If you want to succeed in engineering management (instead of as a low-level grunt engineer), you need to read Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat. This book is vitally important for anyone hoping to understand the social dynamics of large organizations.

comment by Craig_Heldreth · 2010-09-13T21:11:45.041Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If you want to succeed in engineering management

This is a different topic. I am talking about social capital for low-level grunt engineers. Low-level grunt engineer is not chopped liver. Many of us make good dough.

Lin and his co-workers put around forty man-years into their research project. I have not seen anything else quite like it. The Dilbert principles and the Peter principle and Putt's law are more anecdotal than data and statistics driven. The Sociologists who do Social Network Theory do measurements and calculations whenever possible.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-14T01:08:09.796Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Not being an engineer or particularly concerned with low-status-by-association on a semi-anonymous forum, and having witnessed several rooms being made people's bitches, I'm going to try anyway. I promise not to mistake any comic writers for domain experts in the process.

[Edit: That reads as snarkier than I intended. You make some good points.]

comment by FrankAdamek · 2010-09-11T19:15:25.437Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I'm very interested in this, and for some time have been working to improve social skills without a strong desire for sex. I almost wish I had more desire, because it seems to be a great motivator, and also provides tangible results, or tangible lack thereof.

IMO, Real Social Dynamics has some very good material for this kind of thing, especially their most recent video program, The Blueprint Decoded. Every time I've gone through even a fraction of my notes, I experience significant and immediate gains to confidence and social skill. (I still have a ways to go to fully incorporate all the material.) It's basically very general information and unifying theory to the majority of social interactions, distilled from their prior experience in the area. It's great for pick up as well, but the main ideas are very general. It's still sold as pick up material rather than general self-improvement because only as pickup material can they ask $600 for it. To say a little more about it, I can't recall any notably deceptive tactics, it's mostly about how to be confident, fun, and socially dominant (without needing to put anybody down). This isn't so much the appearance of what people are looking for as the substance of it. Also, Alicorn and AnnaSalamon have seen a little of it and thought it was good material for both genders. I suggest watching disc 5 first for the best idea of the type of material it is.

comment by pnrjulius · 2012-04-22T03:32:48.112Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's absurdly expensive for a product with no guarantee of value. Admittedly I'd pay more than that for a college course... but in a college course I know that the content is already validated and socially approved of. Whereas if I tell people that I've ordered these $600 social-skills videos, looks askance are inevitable.

comment by FrankAdamek · 2012-04-22T17:04:40.622Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's probably a good idea to avoid telling people what you paid for it, or even that you bought it, if that's going to cause them to underestimate your common sense or general intelligence.

Yeah, it's very pricey, and they definitely could sell it for less. But supply and demand, they can sell it for that much.

Unfortunately there is less guarantee, at least of being socially approved of. But you could take a college course for that much about something you're mildly interested in and probably won't remember, or you could gain a big improvement in your understanding of attraction and how people interact, which is something you can use constantly.

comment by pnrjulius · 2012-04-23T16:28:53.638Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

First you have to demonstrate that it actually works. Most "pickup" material is obviously scams. Most of the rest is horrifically immoral; it's like a training program for date rapists and psychopaths. Some subset of what's left might actually be valuable; but then we need a way of finding out which is which.

College courses have a significant advantage here: There is an accreditation process by which we can distinguish top-tier schools from second-tier schools from mediocre school from poor schools from scams.

comment by FrankAdamek · 2012-04-24T15:28:55.695Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have to do anything :) This isn't a debate where I take the "pro-PUA" position and then I need to win impressiveness points, this is me suggesting a resource to other people that I've found very helpful. I hope it's helpful to other people as well, but if it doesn't seem helpful then by all means pass it by.

You've got my honest recommendation that it's useful, but unfortunately I can't give much more than that on its effectiveness. As for immoral, Alicorn and Anna Salamon saw an hour of it and thought it seemed positive and healthy. (They only saw one disc, possibly the 3rd or 4th, so if there's anything offensive in other disks then that should be held against me, not against them.)

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2010-09-10T08:20:28.802Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds great.

I think the ideal scenario would be if we coordinated with Tricycle so that we could use our existing logins on the new site, but we had fresh karma scores or none at all.

Especially interesting would be a series of "sub-LWs" that one could be subscribed to in a way similar to subreddits. Other potential subLWs: posts that use math; posts on fighting akrasia (e.g. take caffeine pills at 6 AM and you'll wake naturally at 8 AM. That sort of thing.) Maybe even one for software development?

comment by bentarm · 2010-09-11T12:59:41.809Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(e.g. take caffeine pills at 6 AM and you'll wake naturally at 8 AM. That sort of thing.)

Is there a typo here? Otherwise you seem to be suggesting either taking pills whilst asleep or sleeping for only 2 hours...

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T13:22:56.822Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Something that I have used with some effectiveness is setting an alarm, taking caffeine and modafinil upon awaking then returning to sleep until I wake up 'naturally'. This is far less psychologically draining than relying on multiple alarms and willpower.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T18:01:54.878Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That could work actually. I've done the caffeine-nap thing (slam a coffee + immediately take a nap = wake 30 minutes later feeling doubly refreshed), and it seems to do the trick.

comment by ewbrownv · 2010-09-13T16:35:22.521Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

An interesting proposal, but you've got an important obstacle to overcome if you want (PUA-PU) to amount to more than anecdotes and philosophizing. Sales, marketing and PUA all share the unusual characteristic of being amenable to the experimental method, because you can try them repeatedly on large numbers of people and get clear feedback about what doesn’t work. Most of the other areas you mentioned are either too fuzzy for an easy evaluation of success, or too slow/rare to allow much testing.

If you want to establish a reliable body of knowledge about topics like ‘projecting charisma’ or ‘having better relationships’, the key step is going to be finding some way to apply the same experimental approach. A community that can easily run experiments to test its theories can make discoveries and build expertise with surprising speed, but one that can’t is going to find the biases of its members overwhelming any weak signal you might get from more ambiguous forms of data.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-13T16:52:28.585Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're exactly right. I see this as one of the key challenges, actually.

comment by AnnaSalamon · 2010-09-10T21:51:15.514Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Count me in. This sounds as though it would help both with people skills and with general efficacy, energy and developing "doing" as opposed to merely "thinking".

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-10T19:16:29.275Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I am quite fond of this idea.

I discovered pickup ten years ago and also found that it can have a considerable positive impact on one's life. I'd love to see a rational, generalized approach to socialization skills.

Echoing SarahC and KristianKI's comments, here are some thoughts:

Name: I also think this should have a better name than "Pick-Up Arts" - some possibilities: Charismatic Arts, Socialization Arts.

Focus: I agree with your core idea about moving the focus away from orgasm and dating, but I suspect this may be more difficult than anticipated. For most people, success in romantic relationships is the principle ends of success itself, and many of the positive side-effects stem directly from having more romantic success. If you over-generalize you just get Dale Carnegie. Perhaps the key is to focus on the means over the ends. The PUA community is overly and specifically focused on the particular ends of sexual conquest.

Behavioral Learning: The real fundamental difficulty of developing charismatic skills is their inherent non-intellectual nature. You can not develop charisma by reading about it anymore than you can become a master guitarist by reading about guitars.

As ChristianK said:

The problem with a lot of personal development stuff is that people read it but never really change their behavior.

Part of the difficulty is the skills that you need must be integrated into the deep subconscious level, and that simply requires massive practice. However I suspect it is even considerably worse than that, because of the deep connection to mood and social regulators.

Perhaps the most important ingredient in PUA success or charisma is what they call "inner-game", a change in mood and inner psychology which comes only after initial successes initiate a snowballing chain of reinforcements.

I think that focusing more on changing inner game or psychology would better suit a means-focused charismatic skills program. This would probably include sifting through ideas from the self-help movement for gems that actually work, and applying a rationalist approach to modifying subconscious behaviors.

Community: The PUA communities I have participated in (such as the forums on mASF) leave much to be desired. There is often a general air of testosterone laden competitiveness which i find detrimental to the whole endeavor. The LW rationalist community already has a leg up in this respect. The LW structure would work well - top level posts about theory and techniques, threaded discussions for personal feedback, and so on.

Time Commitment: One of the big problems I've had with PUA is the apparent high time commitment. I'd love to see some way this could be improved, perhaps along the lines of refining and distilling the most successful techniques into a condensed and focused program. Perhaps it could even include some elements from the world of gaming and fun theory to help overcome akrasia.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-10T20:50:07.473Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

snowballing chain of reinforcements

This study points out that if you think about (or have) just a single episode of past success or failure, that it has the opposite effect you'd expect on future performance (i.e. what works in the direction you would expect is to reflect on a pattern of experience of failure or success, then you will have summarized/abstracted from the individual events and expect them to serve as the rule, not the exception).

That is, remembering a single failure made people perform better (I assume because they were able to avoid some of the mistakes, or simply try harder, without feeling completely helpless and likely to fail).

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-10T21:02:48.130Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't read the whole thing yet, but from the abstract it appears they compared general vs specific episodic memory, and do not reach the conclusion you claim.

The particular quote:

As expected, it was found that general memories of failure and specific memories of success resulted in worse performance than general memories of success and specific memories of failure

The study just shows that general memories have a more pronounced effect than specific memories - it doesn't show the effect of a specific memory alone.

The takeaway is that recalling a specific example of success is not a powerful self-hypnosis strategy. That is why you need the snowball effect - you need enough past successes to change your subconscious evaluations.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-10T22:22:02.918Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I assumed they had also shown some isolated improvement from a specific memory of failure alone, which was indeed surprising to me.

Some of the participants were asked to reflect on a number of their past successes or failures by completing the sentence: "In general, I'm successful (I fail) when...."

The other participants were focused instead on a single episode of success or failure, by completing the sentence: "I succeeded (failed) once when I had to...."

The results were remarkable. People who were asked to reflect on their many past successes or a specific failure scored roughly 10% better on tests of mathematical ability, as well as verbal, spatial, and abstract reasoning, than those who reflected on either many past failures or a single specific success.

So my report of the article was correct. So, if what you say is true, then the article misrepresented the study (which I also have not read).

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-10T23:18:51.712Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah I started reading the article and then after a few paragraphs realized "this isn't a physics paper, it would be quicker to just read the original". If I wasn't busy/lazy, I'd read the full paper and comment on the article to point out that it misrepresents its source paper, but it's not a wikipedia article, so I don't care so much. Happens all the time.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-11T01:45:25.782Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cool. The average quality of thinking on the blog (psychologytoday) is really low, so I should probably treat it like you do.

comment by patrissimo · 2010-09-12T12:44:33.387Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This reminds me of: Art Of Charm, I met the guys at a conference earlier this year: http://theartofcharm.com/. Basically PUA for business/social success, as a professional coaching business: "The Art of Charm is a team of lifestyle coaches and social dynamics instructors. We teach the skills to become successful in both business and life, with an emphasis on social interactions."

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-13T15:51:09.920Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Pretty close indeed, although their website still seems to emphasize meeting women (I'd assume because that's where the money is).

We’re AJ & Jordan Harbinger, founders of The Art of Charm. In our early twenties, we decided it was time to take our lives to the next level, especially in the realm of women and relationships. We learned from the best dating coaches, attraction experts, fashion and image consultants from around the world and created a program unlike anything available anywhere.

The material's probably similar, but I want a leaderless mob of brilliant geeks out doing experiments instead of cool people selling a product. What can I say, I'm a sucker for self-organization!

comment by snarles · 2010-09-11T00:57:32.146Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It is an interesting question why the psychological or sociological research community has not yet paid any serious attention (as far as I know) to the pick-up community.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-11T02:18:57.817Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I've been asking this question myself for, like, 5 years. If anyone wants to do some research, I'm happy to help.

The most attention I think it's gotten is by psychologist Paul Dobransky, and undergraduate feminist Elana Clift's honors thesis. Both are reasonably well-written, but I think they underestimate the interest of PUAs in relationships.

Dobransky portrays himself as a Moses-like figure bringing mature masculinity to the seduction community, yet many experienced guys in the community already hold the ideas about masculinity that he advocates. His piece has some good observations, but I also find it a bit condescending.

While there is a lot of support for men in the seduction community interested in one-night stands and short-term dating, and there are cynical ideas about relationships, there still is a lot of support for relationships (every large pickup forum has a relationships board).

Lots of guys in the seduction community have had either very little success with women, or are coming out of a bad relationships. Since the community is probably growing, the largest segments are probably newbies. Once these guys start getting women to notice them consistently, I think it's understandable that they want to date around a bit and feel that they are desirable and have options. Is it really the most mature thing for a beginning PUA to jump into a relationship with the first girl who is nice to him?

In my experience, once a PUA has a couple years experience and some success under his belt, then he is a lot more likely to be interested in relationships. It's the same process that other people go through, they just do it earlier in their social development, while the PUA was sitting on the sidelines.

Of the 10 or so guys with pickup experience I know well in real life (counting myself), here is the breakdown of how they are doing in relationships:

  • 2 want to be in relationships specifically, but aren't yet very successful with women

  • 5 have been going in and out of relationships that haven't worked out. They do casual dating or sometimes one-night stands in between finding people they like.

  • 2 had fun with a bunch of women, and are now in long-term monogamous relationships.

  • 1 slept with a few women once he found pickup, then met a woman he really liked, dated her for a year or so, then got married. Unfortunately, they aren't very happy, but I think that's mainly because they are both very busy, and they have different attachment and communication styles.

Of the pickup instructors that I've encountered, most of them do relationships.

Of course, my sample isn't representative, and I deliberately hang out with guys who I think are more mature. That's exactly why we need some empirical research on this subject.

comment by MarcTheEngineer · 2010-09-10T15:00:39.815Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Count me in as well - I've gained a great deal of useful knowledge from the PUA community despite having found it while in a fine, and still ongoing, long term relationship.

For a smart person it is relatively easy to take PUA advice and gain utility for non pick-up activities.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-10T20:08:52.628Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Same here.

Also are there any existing google study or self improvement groups from Less Wrong? I would be really interested in joining those.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T01:43:50.116Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There should be such a thing, but I don't think that there is. There is a semi-active book club that's currently working its way through PTTLOS.

I swear I'm not trying to turn LW into reddit, but they have some great ideas. University of LessWrong, anyone?

comment by snarles · 2010-09-11T01:01:46.339Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in support of this idea under the condition that all of its output be freely accessible to the public.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T01:56:48.576Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Deal.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-09-13T16:08:51.488Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in support of this idea under the condition that all of its output not be freely accessible to the public. (Or at least, not easy to find, or most-easily found through certain channels that we choose.)

comment by Spurlock · 2010-09-13T19:16:09.940Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can you elaborate? Making this a closed, secret community throws a lot of red flags to me for "potentially evil". It seems like we'd only want to keep it secret if we had a specific agenda (e.g. brainwash and enslave the masses).

I can see why if we accidentally did develop a method to brainwash and enslave people, we wouldn't want it to get out, but that's not the goal and doesn't seem like a likely outcome. What's so wrong with an open-source program to help people become "Less Awkward"?

comment by cabalamat · 2010-09-15T12:32:05.680Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What's so wrong with an open-source program to help people become "Less Awkward"?

Learning new stuff often involves making mistakes until one gets it right. I imagine that if this community was created, many posts would be of the form "I did X recently and it went wrong; what could I have done better?"

Making mistakes in social situations is something that many find embarrassing, so they might want any such field reports not to become public knowledge. Hence, confidentiality may be necessary for people to talk openly.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-24T19:52:41.580Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Anonymous != Closed

From a few other comments, I think Phil is more worried about:

  1. what such an effort signals about members' and affiliated groups' intentions, or

  2. keeping any high-value information that results in the hands of the good guys.

Could be mistaken, of course.

comment by Morendil · 2010-09-10T07:25:26.632Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

there is no way I'm going to be doing any golfing

Any particular reason, or just a limiting belief you happen to have?

Offhand I can think of several reasons golfing is a good idea: you're outside breathing big air; the walking and the exercise are good for you; it makes for a relaxed setting in which to have conversations with like-minded people.

The main reason people like me don't golf is... that people who golf typically don't golf with people like me. But that's precisely the kind of reason which wouldn't stand, any longer, if this discussion leads somewhere useful.

ETA: count me in, and upvoted. My first recommendation is a book, "Why should extroverts make all the money: networking made easy for the introvert".

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-11T00:55:36.233Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Golf is expensive, isn't it? (It's certainly more expensive than WoW...)

comment by Morendil · 2010-09-11T08:06:48.310Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It does have a reputation for being expensive, which is part of the reason people like me don't think of it as their kind of game. As for the reality... From what I know, it's not exactly cheap. But I'm not sure it's much more expensive than some other forms of exercise people routinely spend money on.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T06:41:07.950Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

del

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T17:35:15.422Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's pretty expensive, and only mediocre exercise. It also demands quite a bit of training before you're good enough to have much fun (so it seems to me).

I spend a reasonable amount of money on staying fit (about $2K a year), but most what I pay for is intended to bind my future self to hard work (team sports, fitness camp, kettle-bell course, etc.). Golf doesn't qualify.

Golf is a good walk spoiled. -Mark Twain

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T20:33:48.596Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fair enough. If we're ever in the same part of the world I'll take you up on a round and see if it takes.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-10T02:16:55.920Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be in.

Among other things, I'm interested in how social skills can be used to get people to genuinely consider new ideas.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-10T03:41:32.414Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have some preliminary thoughts on that subject here. I discovered Cialdini through pickup.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T02:28:02.745Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would argue that much of the time it's actually impossible to get people to consider your ideas without some social slickness. Not here, of course.

comment by Firionel · 2010-09-11T12:02:25.048Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sorry if somebody else remarked upon that, but wouldn't the obviuos area of study for people on lw not be how to influence others (supposedly without their knowing), but how to avoid such influences or recognize the associated techniques?

I'll readily admit there is a certain overlap, but still.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T19:27:30.372Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It's a fair point. We could consider the less savory elements as "Defense against the Dark Arts" class.

However, unless you're a super-genius working on an universe-changing technology in your basement, you might well need to know how to use this stuff to get big things accomplished.

To each their own. I'm not here to preach ethics, but I'm assuming this crowd has enough of a moral compass not to turn into a pack of used car salesmen.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T17:48:33.952Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sorry if somebody else remarked upon that, but wouldn't the obviuos area of study for people on lw not be how to influence others (supposedly without their knowing), but how to avoid such influences or recognize the associated techniques?

The first thing that popped into my mind here was the old joke "How can you tell when a politician is lying?" But then it occurred to me that that I'd be making all sorts of type II errors with that approach...

comment by zero_call · 2010-09-10T16:34:11.637Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Mating is good. I am somewhat baffled as to why the "PUA" discussion has had a strong negative connotation. As you say, there's a ton of benefits for everyone involved, and it serves as a successful, easy-to-test model for many related skill sets. Personally I think the hesitancy to talk about mating and mating development is likely no more than a sort of vestigial organ of society's ancient associations with religion. It still seems "improper" in ordinary society to talk about how to get into someone's pants. But I see no reason why the sort of thing like "pick-up-artistry" must be unethical or wrong.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-10T17:55:54.289Z · score: 14 (20 votes) · LW · GW

I am somewhat baffled as to why the "PUA" discussion has had a strong negative connotation. As you say, there's a ton of benefits for everyone involved

There's at least two groups of people who potentially stand to lose from widespread discussion of PUA: women, who may fear that they will be duped into choosing low quality mates by males emulating the behaviours they use to identify high quality mates and men who are already successful with women who may fear increased competition.

These sources of antipathy to PUA are rarely consciously expressed but given how crucial mate selection has been to reproductive success throughout evolutionary history you might expect strong negative reactions from those who sense a threat to their interests. Much of the strong reaction to PUA seems to me to stem from this.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-10T23:12:50.275Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

There are multiple levels of duping.

Now that the cat is out of the bag so to speak and the PUA game is well known, I've found that many women are actually surprisingly interested in it. To the extent that PUA skills increase unconscious signals that women find attractive, it may have a net benefit for women by upping the typical attractiveness of the dating pool, as Sarah points out. It could have an effect like tasty but safe artificial sweeteners, or widespread effective invisible makeup and cosmetic surgery.

That level of false signaling is probably harmless and even net benefit for women, but the aspect that many women rightly dislike or hate is the darker side to PUA which focuses solely on manipulating women into one night stands using whatever techniques work - which mainly includes alot of bullshit and dishonesty.

So it depends on what exactly is being faked and to what extent. As we all know men have less risk with casual sex, have higher net demand for it than women, and thus women have to be more choosy in finding mates. PUA 'dark art' persuasion techniques thus give women legitimate reasons for concern. (and reasons to be familiar with PUA game in general).

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-11T07:24:50.011Z · score: 11 (15 votes) · LW · GW

To the extent that PUA skills increase unconscious signals that women find attractive, it may have a net benefit for women by upping the typical attractiveness of the dating pool, as Sarah points out.

Yes, excellent point. But the reason is not, as you think, because PUAs are duping women. The reason that PUAs provide a net benefit for women is that over time, they actually grow into men who fulfills women's criteria. Although beginners start out with "fake it 'til you make it," experienced PUAs eventually do come to hold the qualities that large segments of women find attractive.

That level of false signaling

Wait a sec, what exactly is "false" signaling? And what's an example of it in pickup?

As I've argued in the past, you can't judge social reality by the standards of epistemic reality. In social reality, if you can get yourself and a bunch of other people to believe an assessment of yourself, and that assessment isn't based on blatant factual errors, then it becomes true.

PUAs indeed present themselves in a self-enhancing way, but they are late to that party. Everyone, except for perhaps some geeky people or non-neurotypical people, already does tons of signaling to make themselves look better. In fact, it has a name in psychology: impression management. Many PUAs are geeky guys who never got the memo that they were allowed to manage their impressions on others.

Of course, nobody likes to believe that they are engaging in impression management, and geeks think its stupid or dishonest. So when PUAs try to verbalize and systematize what socially-successful people are already doing unconsciously, they suddenly sound like cynical, manipulative con-artists to both normally social people, and to geeky people.

So it depends on what exactly is being faked and to what extent.

In your view, what exactly are PUAs faking, and to what extent? What is the "bullshit and dishonesty" that they employ? Are we talking about canned routines about one's imaginary friend to makes oneself look cooler, or what?

PUA 'dark art' persuasion techniques thus give women legitimate reasons for concern.

And what exactly are those reasons for concern?

I don't see PUAs as being any worse choices for women to date than non-PUAs of the same level of attractiveness. Yes, many PUAs are only looking for casual sex (at least at this point in their lives)... but so are many non-PUAs. Yes, many women might find it challenging to date PUAs and start relationships with them, but that's mainly because skilled PUAs are very attractive to women and have a lot of choice... just like attractive non-PUA males. If you are a woman who likes exciting badboys, or masculine and high socially-skilled men, you are a in for a challenge whether you are dating PUAs or non-PUAs.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-11T12:01:25.401Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I'm with you, Hugh.

If more geeks could come across as "exciting badboys, or masculine and high socially-skilled" then women who are subconsciously attracted to that type could actually wind up with someone intelligent and decent, instead of the usual jerks. You're raising the average quality level of the socially successful man.

The one thing I still have a problem with is self-help courses that guarantee you success with women. Nothing can guarantee you that. You can do things that can make you statistically more likely to succeed, but in the end, when you have consensual social interactions, the other person could always rebuff you. It can get creepy when men think they're entitled to a quota of women, and that it's unfair when they get turned down. I worry about that driving men to violence. You can get better at attracting women, and that's great, but women are free to reject you.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-11T13:51:25.372Z · score: 14 (32 votes) · LW · GW

If I may say so, there is something troubling about your third paragraph (edited, with emphasis added):

The one thing I still have a problem with is self-help courses that guarantee you success with women. Nothing can guarantee you that...[W]hen you have consensual social interactions, the other person could always rebuff you. It can get creepy when men think...that it's unfair when they get turned down. I worry about that driving men to violence.... [W]omen are free to reject you.

Try to imagine substituting other forms of consensual social interaction here, and seeing if the tone feels right. For example, right now the economy is bad in many places, and many people are unemployed. I can easily imagine that there are numerous self-help courses that teach people how to make themselves more attractive to employers, by teaching them how to behave during interviews, etc. Now obviously no such program can guarantee anyone a job. Imagine, however, that some poor soul -- let's make her a woman -- goes through these courses, does everything she can to improve her prospects, but still can't manage to secure a job. Presumably, a person in that position would naturally feel a sense of frustration; they may even feel that they are the victim of unfairness. Can you imagine applying a word like creepy to this -- general, unspecified, hypothetical -- woman's distress? ("Creepy" is about the strongest form of social condemnation that exists in near mode -- i.e. when we're not talking about distant political villains.) Would you feel the need to point out -- in a rather defensive-sounding way -- that employers are in fact free to reject those whom they regard as less-than-qualified candidates? It's unlikely you would worry too much about such a person turning to violence -- and to the extent you did, it would probably be in the standard sympathetic way in which thoughtful, liberal people usually discuss the relationship between poverty and crime.

I don't mean to single you out personally and question your motives, so please don't take what follows that way; but it seems to me that underlying remarks like these -- which I have seen and heard from many people in many places over the years -- is a fundamentally inadequate level of sympathy for "unattractive" men. I wonder if it's time someone made the bound-to-be-controversial suggestion that women in modern society are excessively conservative when it comes to granting sexual favors. There is apparently no greater female nightmare scenario than mating with a less-than-optimally-attractive male. The Darwinian reasons why this should be the case are too obvious to be worth stating; but it should be equally obvious that such behavior is less than rational in our modern era of contraception: sex simply doesn't have the same dangers that it did in the ancestral environment.

(I would guess that the analogously irrational male behavior is probably sexual jealousy.)

comment by whpearson · 2010-09-11T19:48:19.094Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

but it should be equally obvious that such behavior is less than rational in our modern era of contraception: sex simply doesn't have the same dangers that it did in the ancestral environment.

Is getting pregnant really the only danger? Sex can cause the release of mind altering drug that can cause you to pair bond (women more so than men). This can have a dramatic effect on your life if it is with the wrong person.

comment by randallsquared · 2010-09-12T18:03:12.764Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like an excellent reason for men to object to PUA: it focuses mainly on one night stands and short term relationships, which may reduce the ease and likelihood of pair bonding for the woman, later in life. PUA statistically works against the success rate of long term relationships.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T23:10:22.606Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like an excellent reason for men to object to PUA: it focuses mainly on one night stands and short term relationships,

I've posted some thoughts on the orientation of PUAs to relationships. Although many PUAs do focus on short term relationships, most of what they are doing would be the same even for long-term relationships.

As far as I can tell, limiting factor of most PUAs in attracting women for either short-term or long-term relationships is that they are insufficiently masculine, high-status, and exciting. At least, with young women, who may well be skewed towards short-term mating (contra the stereotypical assumption that women always want relationships).

Young men are often accused of being "led by their dicks" when choosing mates. I think there is something analogous going on with young women. Even though in the abstract they may want relationships, they also want highly sexually attractive guys. And the most sexually attractive guy out there for many women isn't necessarily the guy who would make a good long-term relationship partner.

So if you are a young guy and you want a relationship with a young woman, you have to deal with competition from guys running a flashy short-term mating strategy. For a woman to notice you and be interested in getting to know you well enough to even think of you as a long-term mate, you have to outshine the local badboys. If you try to present yourself as stable, romantic, long-term mate from the start, you will be consistently overlooked.

Of course, not all women are following this type of mating strategy where most of their attention goes to the flashiest males, who they then try to "convert" into long-term mates. In fact, I'm willing to bet that there is at least a reasonable minority of women who only go for long-term mates. But it's common enough that men need to be aware of it. It pays for young men to have the kind of flashy presentation that PUAs teach, regardless of whether they are looking for short-term or long-term relationships.

which may reduce the ease and likelihood of pair bonding for the woman, later in life

I've seen this idea before, but I wonder if we actually have any empirical evidence that it is true that short-term mating reduces the likelihood of pair bonding for women later in life. My gut reaction is that this may be true for some female phenotypes, but not for others.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-13T02:52:22.374Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

HughRistik:

I've seen this idea before, but I wonder if we actually have any empirical evidence that it is true that short-term mating reduces the likelihood of pair bonding for women later in life. My gut reaction is that this may be true for some female phenotypes, but not for others.

I have my own pet theory about this, extrapolated from real-life observations and a number of other clues, which are not very strong individually, but seem to add up to a pretty strong web of evidence.

To put it as succinctly as possible, the problem stems from two not very pretty, but nevertheless real facts. First, the attractiveness of individual men to women has an extremely high statistical dispersion, even more so than vice versa. (In other words, the difference between men from different percentiles in women's eyes will be significantly greater than the difference between women in analogous percentiles in men's eyes.) Second, and more important, for a typical woman, the attractiveness of men she can get for non-serious temporary relationships is significantly higher than the attractiveness of her realistic options for permanent commitment. (This also holds far more so than the reverse.) It follows that when a woman with a variegated relationship history finally settles down, it will likely be with a man whose attractiveness is significantly lower than those she's been involved with in the past. It's not hard to see why this is a recipe for trouble, and clearly the implications are somewhat reactionary in nature.

On the other hand, if a woman settles down with a man who outclasses all those she'd been involved with earlier, her ability to bond with him probably won't be compromised. Trouble is, this is obviously increasingly unlikely as their number is greater.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T04:06:44.444Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Second, and more important, for a typical woman, the attractiveness of men she can get for non-serious temporary relationships is significantly higher than the attractiveness of her realistic options for permanent commitment. (This also holds far more so than the reverse.) It follows that when a woman with a variegated relationship history finally settles down, it will likely be with a man whose attractiveness is significantly lower than those she's been involved with in the past.

Excellent point; I was thinking along similar lines in this comment.

I think part of the reason that I found komponisto's original comment in the thread to be less offensive than others was because it instantly reminded me of the hypothesis you describe, which is a potential way of rationalizing his comment.

The argument goes something like this: For many gender-typical heterosexual women, the guys who are the most sexually exciting may not always be the best relationship partners. This could be partly be because the men who are highly attractive to women are also highly attractive to other women, and have so much options that it's difficult for particular women to get them in a relationship. Men have lower standards for short-term partners than for long-term partners. It could also be because, for some women, there is a tradeoff between the traits that make a guy a good long-term partner, and the traits that make him sexually exciting. For example, certain masculine traits like dominance are sexually exciting to some women, but may nevertheless be frustrating to deal with in an actual relationship.

The argument proceeds by suggesting that since the most sexually exciting guys are the worst relationship prospects (for some women), everyone could be better off if women also "gave a chance" to slightly less attractive men who could be better relationship prospects. Women should decide what they want in men by taking into account more than just sex appeal, the argument goes, and the result would be that women don't restrict their dating to only the most sexually exciting guys around at the time.

Now, I call this "the argument" because I'm not sold on it myself. The fact is that people, especially young people, like excitement. I'm not really interested in saying that women should go for guys who bore them, even if those guys might be more stable. Yet I think that this argument should be one that we can entertain; it's a rationalization of komponisto's original argument, and it takes into account women's interests. Furthermore, to the extent that there is conflict between different elements of women's preferences (e.g. desire for excitement vs. desire for a long-term relationship), women may be free to decide which elements of their preferences are most important, and which they should act on.

The other reason that I'm skeptical of asking women to change is that it's not really their fault that there can be such a tradeoff between sexual attractiveness and long-term potential in males. To some degree, that tradeoff is inevitable because it's logically impossible for men to be dominant and non-dominant at the same time, and it's empirically difficult to find men who have high level of both stereotypically masculine and feminine traits. Yet some of that tradeoff is cultural: male socialization seems to put men on "tracks" of either a drab "nice guy" long-term mating strategy, or a more exciting "bad boy" short-term mating strategy. The attractiveness of a lot of men in the former category is artificially deflated by harmful cultural forces.

It's not women's fault, if a lot of the time, the only choices they are faced with is "sexually exciting badboy who will get tired of me in a month," and "boring, sweet nerdy guy who I'm only marginally attracted to." This is a tough menu for women to face, and I don't think the choice they should make is obvious. It would be better for everyone if the second guy had a bit more of an edge, making him a credible object of female desire and credible contender to the badboy. Thanks to the seduction community, that guy can now get more of an edge.

(I propose that female attraction as a function of masculinity is non-linear for some women: it's more like a bell-curve or a threshold function. Some women always want more masculinity in men; others are happy with a certain amount. Unfortunately, the amount of masculinity that most women want is more than a lot of the guys who would make good long-term mates have. This could steer women towards dating guys who are masculinity-overkill and poor long-term mates, since those are the only guys above the threshold of attractiveness.)

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-14T06:09:23.421Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

HughRistik:

(I propose that female attraction as a function of masculinity is non-linear for some women: it's more like a bell-curve or a threshold function. Some women always want more masculinity in men; others are happy with a certain amount. Unfortunately, the amount of masculinity that most women want is more than a lot of the guys who would make good long-term mates have. This could steer women towards dating guys who are masculinity-overkill and poor long-term mates, since those are the only guys above the threshold of attractiveness.)

I absolutely agree with this observation. The saddest thing is that most of the "nice" guys could ramp up their masculinity with some reasonable effort, and without compromising any of the existing aspects of their personality that they value. This would make things much happier both for them and for women, who are nowadays indeed facing a severe shortage of men that are both good long-term prospects and above some reasonable threshold of masculinity. Yet it's virtually impossible to open this topic in public, let alone present any concrete advice on how to actually achieve this goal, without triggering all sorts of politically correct alarms.

comment by randallsquared · 2010-09-18T05:21:15.713Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This would make things much happier both for them

If this is true, why aren't they doing it? I'm not convinced that the heightening of happiness you speak of is worth the lessening of happiness that those guys evidently believe would occur were they to change themselves (or alternatively, act like someone else for as long as it takes).

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-18T07:39:26.721Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

randallsquared:

If this is true, why aren't they doing it?

Because the necessary information is difficult to obtain in a clear and convincing form, and it's drowned in a vast sea of nonsense that's produced on this subject by just about every source of information in the modern society. Therefore, a great many people are unaware of the problem, or even actively misled about it due to the prevailing hypocritical norms for discussing the subject.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-20T18:08:51.817Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

lessening of happiness that those guys evidently believe would occur were they to change themselves

They greatly overestimate the lessening of happiness they would experience from changing things. Saying "changing isn't worth it" seems like some sort of rationalization that leads people to settle for mediocrity, even from the perspective of their own values. And it's a purely theoretical conjecture: you (general "you") will never know until you've tried.

Yes, you will need some change in your self-image. But it's not like improving your social skills, body language, voice tonality, and fashion sense is going to shatter your sense of self and turn you into a fundamentally different person. You will feel continuity with your previous version; most of your values will be the same, and some of your values will actually be served better. The only way it would be a problem is for people who have very brittle self-images, like "I don't talk to people at parties." Why the hell not?

Of course, it's difficult for people who hold a value against changing their behavior to fit other people's criteria and expectations. For people with this value, I would ask: is it more important than some of your other values and goals?

So many introverts have been duped with platitudes like "you shouldn't change yourself for anyone." Yet the entire nature of social interaction involves people adjusting to fit the expectations of others (see impression management. Many introverts and nerdy people huff and puff and say "well, IDONTLIKETHATANDITSSTUPID." But I'm not sure whether social interaction works is inherently so bad, or whether it is merely unintuitive given some of the personality traits and socialization of introverted and nerdy people.

The goal of self-identity should not be trying to avoid having to make any changes or adjustments for others; the goal should be to reconcile one's desire for identity and individuality with the adjustments one makes in the social landscape.

comment by Strange7 · 2012-03-26T01:16:37.873Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Might be useful to explain the compromises necessary in terms of computer security. Somebody wants to know something about your hardware specs, so they ask you to run the performance benchmark app "look like a tough guy" and send them the outputs. They're a lot less interested in whatever other benchmarks you might have, because of the whole apples-to-oranges thing. You're worried that it's malware, so, run it in ring 3 where it can't touch the critical processes. You're running "don't talk to people at parties" in ring 0? That sounds like a fairly serious problem in and of itself, of which conflicts with the benchmark app are just one symptom.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-27T11:18:18.930Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You mean, try on roles as a way of practicing them, while protecting them from "ring 0" (your "true self")?

comment by Strange7 · 2012-03-27T13:53:57.825Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Practicing them, yes, but also more directly as part of cooperating with established communication standards.

comment by randallsquared · 2010-09-21T01:21:05.305Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have a strong negative reaction to much of your argument, but I'm not sure why, so I'm going to hold off on a response to those things that I'm unsure about. However,

Yet the entire nature of social interaction involves people adjusting to fit the expectations of others

I would say that some things we do socially involve this, and others do not. For example, it seems unlikely that you believe the point of your comment in reply to me was to adjust yourself to my expectations, or the expectations of others here, and yet we are interacting socially.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-21T17:29:00.528Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have a strong negative reaction to much of your argument, but I'm not sure why, so I'm going to hold off on a response to those things that I'm unsure about.

When you're ready to articulate it, I would be interested to hear it. I didn't phrase my comment to be maximally persuasive to the particular people who needed it; I aimed it at a more general LW audience.

For more about where I am coming from, also see this essay on shallowness.

I would say that some things we do socially involve this, and others do not.

Yes, that's what I was getting at. I mean that social interaction is impossible without some level of conforming.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-13T17:31:41.092Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if the women who go for "flashier" males make up a disproportionate portion of the dating pool, because women who tend to choose those types of males who are inclined to become long-term mates end up with long-term mates and stop dating?

It's sort of like how, according to my Econ 101 textbook, most people who are unemployed experience short-term unemployment, but most of the people unemployed at any given moment are experiencing long-term unemployment. For example, during one year, you'd have three people who are unemployed all year, and twelve people who are unemployed for only a month. If you look at who's employed at any given moment, you'll see the five long-term unemployed people and only one short-term unemployed, but the person who's short-term unemployed keeps changing while the long-term unemployed people are always the same ones.

(I think I said that awkwardly...)

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-16T16:51:17.103Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

HughRistik:

I've seen this idea before, but I wonder if we actually have any empirical evidence that it is true that short-term mating reduces the likelihood of pair bonding for women later in life.

I just ran into an interesting link that's highly pertinent for this topic. Slumlord discusses a paper that provides for a very strong case that the answer is yes:
http://socialpathology.blogspot.com/2010/09/sexual-partner-divorce-risk.html

(H/t Thursday via OB.) I haven't had the time to read the paper in detail, but on a casual look, it seems quite convincing.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-16T17:47:18.838Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It says they controlled for a variety of variables but the obvious question is whether families / cultures that discourage pre-marital sex also discourage divorce and whether this was controlled for. I don't have time to read the paper now so if anyone knows the answer to that I'd be interested.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-17T02:13:40.190Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I read Teachman's paper in the meantime; overall, it looks like a solid piece of work. The controls are definitely not broad enough to rule out the above hypothesis directly. This however should not be held against him, since this question is outside the scope of the study, and it would be a very difficult task to come up with controls that cover all such possible familial and cultural influences reliably.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that the basic finding of the paper is inconsistent with the above hypothesis. One would expect that conservative families and subcultures discourage premarital sex and (especially!) cohabitation even between future spouses to a significant extent. Therefore, if the effect of premarital sex on divorce risk is entirely due to such influences, we would expect to see a difference between women who practiced cohabitation or premarital sex only with their future husbands and those who didn't practice it at all. Yet as Slumlord points out, the striking result is exactly that there is no such difference.

That said, this finding is inconsistent with a previous study that looked into the question of why exactly virginity at marriage predicts lower probabilities of divorce: J.R. Kahn & K.A. London, Premarital Sex and the Risk of Divorce. (Unfortunately, I haven't found an ungated version.) Kahn & London's conclusion was that this is because lack of premarital sex correlates with traditionalist attitudes, i.e. basically the above hypothesis. However, their conclusion is based on a complex statistical model that makes it look quite far-fetched to me. Frankly, I lack the statistical knowledge to judge it reliably and authoritatively, but in any case, Teachman's work looks like a much stronger and more straightforward piece of evidence that points in the contrary direction.

[Update: after rummaging through the literature a bit more, I found a letter to the editor by one Tim Heaton, published in the same journal (vol. 55, p. 240), which harshly criticizes the soundness of Kahn & London's statistics. This was followed by an unconvincing response by K&L, presenting the usual cop-out of the sort, yes, our methodology is lousy, but we couldn't do any better. On the whole, my above conclusions are further reinforced by this finding.]

comment by whpearson · 2010-09-12T22:56:39.291Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like an excellent reason for men to object to PUA: it focuses mainly on one night stands and short term relationships, which may reduce the ease and likelihood of pair bonding for the woman, later in life

I'd like more research on the nature of pair bonding, but it sounds plausible. Specifically whether men who've had lots of sexual partners are more likely to be leave women than those who have had few. If so women are likely to be more wary.

This seems like an excellent reason for men to object to PUA:

Ideally the PUA scheme would be replaced by something as well though. Advice on how to gain experience with women and what they really want, without short term dating and without getting into bad long term relationships.

I'm imagining something like the following, it roughly mirrors my development, although it was unconscious. Although it would probably be hard to follow for very sexually frustrated men.

1) Find women that you enjoy spending time with in a non-sexual way, either at work or a shared hobby/interest. Do not try to befriend them specifically, but befriend the group. On-line interaction might work, but you will do better if you see people in the flesh.

2) Do not focus on a specific woman. Do not think you want to have sex with them. That is friendzone them to borrow PUA terminology. If you are interested in long term monogamy this is an important skill to have*!

3) Casually watch their interactions with their boyfriends/husbands and the sorts of conversations they have. Do not try them out on your female friends, unless you are very sure they are interested in you. But knowing what behaviours are appropriate/attractive for the sort of women that you can get on with is important.

What they react to is probably a more accurate picture of what they want, than what they say they want though.

4) Improve some of the things that PUA people talk about, appearance, posture, demeanour etc

5) Some of your female friends may flirt with you, especially when drunk. This may be entirely innocent, and is likely to be if they are in a relationship. Practice and have fun but don't take it too seriously. If they do flirt, take it as a compliment and it means you are ready for dating. You should have a good idea of what sort of woman you get on with as well.

6) Try dating. Ask your female friends to suggest friends, try on-line dating.

However I'm pretty sure I learnt a lot about relationships from watching my Mum and Dad (and Aunts and Uncles, all in long term AFAIK monogamous relationships) interact as I was growing up as well, so I wasn't starting from no knowledge.

I haven't done much of 6 myself. Because people, in general, tend to drive me up the wall if I'm around them a lot. There are rare exceptions, though. And that isn't even taking into consideration other compatibility issues.

*Not friendzoning your partner, but your partners friends.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-21T03:25:22.548Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that men form lasting emotional bonds partly as a result of (more often than a cause of) physical intimacy. But this usually does not exclude desire for sex with other women. If a man immediately settles down with the first woman who will touch him, it just means he really hates looking for such women (perhaps irrationally so). In this case, his even finding one is (excluding abusive psychopaths) an improvement.

comment by randallsquared · 2010-09-22T03:58:01.552Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree, which is the reason that I specified "for the woman".

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-11T14:42:26.336Z · score: 13 (35 votes) · LW · GW

Sexual relationships are far more personal, and decided on far more idiosyncratic criteria, than employment relationships. There are fairly explicit and well-defined understandings of what constitutes qualification for a job that do not depend strongly on the personality of the hiring manager. If Human Resources is looking for a new shelf stocker or a new receptionist or a new medical transcriptionist and turn down our heroine as you describe, and they can be shown to be doing it for certain prohibited reasons, they are breaking the law.

Sex is qualitatively different from everything else. Pretend I repeated that a couple dozen times, because I think this concept might be the barrier to understanding in conversations like these.

Would you feel the need to point out -- in a rather defensive-sounding way -- that employers are in fact free to reject those whom they regard as less-than-qualified candidates? It's unlikely you would worry too much about such a person turning to violence

You realize that it's not just made up that sometimes desire for sex turns into violence, right? Let's hear your priors on how likely it is for there to be a victim of sexual harrassment or assault reading this thread, and how likely it is for there to be someone who was stalked or attacked by a rejected job applicant reading this thread. I am concerned about sexual violence because I have friends who were raped or molested. I am concerned about sexual violence because I have a history providing me with direct empirical evidence that it exists. I am concerned about sexual violence because I live in a society that takes care to remind me, constantly, that I am not safe, that if certain things happen to me it will be because I wasn't careful enough, that it is eminently reasonable for me to draw the design of my life within circumscribed lines to protect myself from such danger and the stigma of victimization.

I wonder if it's time someone made the bound-to-be-controversial suggestion that women in modern society are excessively conservative when it comes to granting sexual favors. There is apparently no greater female nightmare scenario than mating with a less-than-optimally-attractive male.

I have met you. I know that you are not an awful (or even creepy) person. I still can't read this charitably. I'm hoping you've just been primed by reading too much Hanson or something. Dude: People are not entitled to get things for free from people who don't want to give them, even if you think their reasons for not wanting to give are dumb. It is not acceptable to criticize women for inadequate generosity because they are not as promiscuous as would be convenient for straight men.

To the extent that sex is like a gift, you have to be in a relationship with someone that warrants the exchange of such gifts. I don't expect birthday presents from people who aren't in a birthday-present-exchanging relationship with me. To the extent that sex is like a commodity, guess what - it's for sale! No, you can't buy it from every person who might have it to offer, but not everybody who bakes cupcakes sells them either - you have to go to a cupcake store. If you want homemade cupcakes, you'll have to make friends with somebody who bakes.

but it should be equally obvious that such behavior is less than rational in our modern era of contraception: sex simply doesn't have the same dangers that it did in the ancestral environment.

It should also be obvious that eating large quantities of sugar is less rational in our era of processed food. Do you consume sweets? It should also be obvious that avoiding unnecessary physical activity is less rational in our era of labor-saving devices. Do you go to the gym as often as studies indicate you should? Women art godshatter too.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T15:46:51.826Z · score: 18 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Some things I didn't get around to posting earlier-- Hanson is somewhat on my shit list because he's posted more than once about how the world would be a better place if women would have sex when they don't want to. He's a geek economist, so he gets to speculate about such things, but oddly enough, he doesn't consider the costs to women in such scenarios.


Consent and fear and all that: There was a previous discussion here about women giving out fake phone numbers, and there seemed to be no grasp of why a woman might do that instead of giving a straightforward refusal.

Imagine a world where all the socially acceptable partners for you are bigger, stronger, and probably more aggressive. You may prefer such yourself, but it's certainly the case that you'll take a status hit if you chose otherwise.

Furthermore, you've had niceness training-- it's hard work to directly contradict what someone else wants. Doing that amount of work is a gift which might not be bestowed on a spammer.

And you're not supposed to make the first move, for values of "not supposed to" which range from being blamed if you're raped to putting off potential partners if you do. I realize both of those vary according to who you happen to be around, and both may have faded somewhat in recent decades, but people do respond to potential risks.

None of this means that giving fake phone numbers is a wonderful thing, but there are actual human motivations for doing so which aren't just spite-- sometimes spite is involved, but the story isn't nearly that simple.


This is raw stuff, on all sides. I've been decently treated here, but some of the theorizing about women is enough to be a partial explanation for why this place is very high majority male.

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-11T20:22:32.633Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think a big component of sex dynamics is, as you said, physical strength. Since women are physically weaker than men, they can't rely on that to protect them from overly aggressive or hostile potential partners. The only thing keeping those overly aggressive or hostile potential partners in line are social norms against rape and abuse, which are already weak enough that, for example, rape apologism for famous athletes and victim blaming are common. Any talk that can potentially weaken those social norms then becomes a legitimate threat... unless the talk includes ways of subverting other social norms that balance its effect. For example, I think we could solve some problems by giving men "niceness training" instead of women.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T03:43:38.899Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

A sidetrack: I think men's physical strength is a minor factor compared to their ability to organize for violence. If the organizational ability were reversed-- if men who seriously displeased women were mobbed by 4 or 5 armed and organized women and didn't have male back-up, the world would be very different.

This doesn't mean I want that world, but I find it interesting that males seem to almost reflexively organize for violence, and females pretty much never do. Information about girl gangs appreciated if I'm missing something.


"Niceness training" has some real problems-- it's being afraid to express strong desires which might be in conflict with other people's.

Kindness training-- encouraging people to actually treat each other well and having some skills for doing so-- would be a whole different thing, and a world where it was common is hard for me to imagine. It would be a world with little or no status enforcement.

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-12T22:12:16.138Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

As someone who taught women's self defense courses for years (and am an accomplished martial artist in my own right), I think the willingness to use force--and the expectation that others are willing to use force--is far more important than the effectiveness or quantity of that force.

I don't mean that skilled martial artists can defend themselves against unskilled but much stronger attackers; people usually assume this, and I agree. What I mean is that after spending a weekend teaching a woman to fight back against a physical assault she knows almost nothing more than she did before, but has the confidence in herself to use force, and that willingness makes all the difference.

Men are statistically more willing to use force to get what they want, and being aware of that, women are forced to be more cautious. I feel like this ought to be more relevant than men being more prone to organizing for violence, especially in the current day western world.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-12T09:24:58.243Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

NancyLebovitz:

A sidetrack: I think men's physical strength is a minor factor compared to their ability to organize for violence. If the organizational ability were reversed-- if men who seriously displeased women were mobbed by 4 or 5 armed and organized women and didn't have male back-up, the world would be very different.

I'm honestly baffled by what you might have in mind here. These days, in most of the First World, and especially the Anglosphere, there is virtually no organized violence except for the government security forces and the organized crime that's rampant among the underclass. Even the most rudimentary forms of it that were once extremely common are nowadays rare to nonexistent, and for non-underclass men it's a completely alien concept. (When was the last time you read about a mass bar fight, or some impromptu vigilante action against street criminals in your corner of the world?)

What would be, according to you, the situations where men's aptness for organized violence is relevant for the relations between the sexes in the contemporary West?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T12:41:27.631Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ancestral environment, mostly. Other than that, I'll need to think about whether I just got entranced by an interesting theoretical riff, or actually had something worthwhile in mind.

comment by soreff · 2010-09-12T20:29:48.233Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't the West, but it is contemporary: Iran is infamous for stoning women for mere adultery This seems like a clear instance of a mob organized for lethal violence. The disparity in sentencing between men and women cited in the linked article also make it relevant to relations between the sexes. (One thing that I don't know is what the gender composition of the killers at a stoning typically is.)

comment by thomblake · 2010-09-16T20:13:29.650Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

When was the last time you read about a mass bar fight

I don't read about them (bar fights aren't newsworthy), but they're hardly unheard-of hereabouts.

or some impromptu vigilante action against street criminals in your corner of the world

I believe the relevant violence is by street-criminals, and they're all over the place.

the organized crime that's rampant among the underclass

"Underclass"? And how, pray tell, does one recognize such a person? Hat color?

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-16T20:21:02.035Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Underclass"? And how, pray tell, does one recognize such a person? Hat color?

More or less.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-12T05:16:37.689Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Kindness training-- encouraging people to actually treat each other well and having some skills for doing so

Interestingly, this is more of a negative skill: people don't so much need to learn how to be nice as how to stop being not-nice, especially to themselves. I've observed that whenever I stop judging myself negatively in some type of situation, I find myself spontaneously being much nicer to other people in the same sort of situation.

For example, after learning not to judge myself for having made a mistake, I find I'm nicer to people who've made mistakes. Previously, I had tried to "learn" the "skill" of being kind to people when they make a mistake, and had failed miserably at it. Assuming I remembered I was supposed to do it, it felt awkward and unnatural and my mixed feelings were probably quite transparent, even though I sincerely wanted to be nice.

Now, there are a wide variety of situations in which my natural inclination is just to be kind, nice, playful, or any of various other attributes, and I didn't need to learn any specific skills -- just getting rid of the emotional judgments I'd attached to specific situational or behavioral patterns.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T04:17:25.930Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why would organizing for violence matter more than physical attributes?

(I don't know whether men or women are better at shooting. I've heard anecdotally that women are better first-time learners with guns, because they're more conscientious -- less horseplay and arrogance. But it would also make sense if men were better because of 3-d spatial skills. I'll be testing it out later this week when I learn to shoot; if anybody knows data on this I'd be curious.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T05:00:07.210Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

From what I've heard, people are generally not good at fighting off four or five opponents. Also, the ancestral environment doesn't include martial arts. And everybody's got to sleep sometime.

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-12T22:01:50.085Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My own limited personal experience with firearms is that women have more difficulty because they seem to be more scared of them.

An accurate shot requires a smooth trigger pull, which requires not anticipating when during that pull the gun will go off---anticipation causes tension, causes the gun to move off target.

The first shot someone makes with a gun (ever) is often not too bad; the noise and force against their hand scares them, and then they have to learn to stay calm while pulling the trigger. This seems to be somewhat easier for the men I've taught to shoot than the women, though individual differences are greater than group differences. I'm not a firearms instructor by the way; I've been involved in teaching less than a dozen people to shoot, only three of them women.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-11T16:06:02.373Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Sex is qualitatively different from everything else.

Well...yes, as an empirical matter, that was the thesis of my comment! Wasn't it clear that I was questioning, as a normative matter, whether that ought to be the case?

I have met you. I know that you are not an awful (or even creepy) person. I still can't read this charitably

Just what is your uncharitable interpretation, such that you would feel the need to make this kind of disclaimer?

I'm hoping you've just been primed by reading too much Hanson or something

Probably. I can't claim to have thought about this kind of thing much before Hanson brought it up.

Dude: People are not entitled to get things for free from people who don't want to give them, even if you think their reasons for not wanting to give are dumb. It is not acceptable to criticize women for inadequate generosity because they are not as promiscuous as would be convenient for straight men.

First of all, the phrase "it is not acceptable to criticize..." is kind of an alarm bell. Secondly, yes, the issue is precisely at the level of "wanting". Obviously, given that someone already doesn't want to give something, then their giving it would be bad, all else being equal. The question is, what to do about this problem of their not wanting, since their lack of wanting causes pain for others.

It should also be obvious that eating large quantities of sugar is less rational in our era of processed food. Do you consume sweets?

(Some, but not very many, as it happens.) Yes, indeed, it is less rational to consume as much sugar as possible nowadays: it leads to bad health consequences.

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-12T22:55:51.325Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

First of all, the phrase "it is not acceptable to criticize..." is kind of an alarm bell.

How about "it is hurtful and offensive to criticize..."? I realize that being hurtful and offensive is not a reason not to criticize something (see also: religion), but please recognize that I consider my freedom not to have sex with someone I don't want to have sex with sacrosanct, even above other freedoms that I also consider sacrosanct.

I took your original suggestion to mean that my preferences in that area should be up for debate. Since I am completely unwilling to debate whether or not I should be so reluctant to offer up "sexual favors", that makes me hurt and afraid.

If you had suggested that I might be happier if I was more willing to have sex with people, I might have bristled a little, but I would at least recognize ways in which that could be a defensible position. However, your initial suggestion came off as "the world would be better if women were altered so that they would be more easily convinced to have sex". Since you failed to mention any specific benefit to the women so altered, it sounds like coercion and is extremely offensive.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-13T00:04:10.246Z · score: 3 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Given that this is your point of view, it is not possible for me to discuss this topic with you.

I cannot psychologically afford to have a bunch of people here calling me "extremely offensive". That isn't how I see myself. I'm not one of those people. A comment such as yours is already very distressing to me. Yet, it is now clear to me that if I were to honestly express myself, this is exactly what I would have to expect: more of this.

I stand to gain almost nothing from wading further into this minefield, and on the other hand risk losing almost everything. Except as incidental to other matters, on the topic of sex and gender on LW, I am officially finished.

Now, as they say, off to buy some strychnine....

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-13T00:36:33.946Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I was offended by your original comment, but I don't want you to think that I translated being offended by your comment into finding you offensive. I've certainly found you reasonable, and you haven't yet seemed intentionally hostile. I don't by any stretch of the imagination consider you one of those people; if I did, I don't think I would feel that conversing with you would have any point.

I certainly understand you wanting to be finished with this topic. After being downvoted for nearly all my comments on this thread, I've begun to feel very unwelcome here, so I should probably take a break from this topic as well. Also, despite the fact that I feel like I've been arguing with you, I don't feel like you have been involved in making me feel unwelcome.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-13T00:48:12.785Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

After being downvoted for nearly all my comments on this thread, I've begun to feel very unwelcome here

Don't give too much weight to early downvotes; they reflect only the opinion of the most active users, not necessarily most users. I've found it's best to give it a few days to see what LW in the large really thinks of what you said, and early trends sometimes reverse themselves on controversial topics.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T02:56:16.992Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My experience is similar. On especially controversial or social-political subjects I've sometimes found an early downvote to be a predictor of a higher later karma score, a far cry from a negative spiral.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-13T01:07:24.611Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not feeling any too pleased with myself or the world, either.

I very tentatively suggest that this sort of discussion is made more awful than necessary (for all participants) to the extent that they think it's urgent to convince other people faster than one can reasonably expect for them to be convinced.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T03:02:33.651Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I stand to gain almost nothing from wading further into this minefield, and on the other hand risk losing almost everything. Except as incidental to other matters, on the topic of sex and gender on LW, I am officially finished.

Kompo not being willing to discuss this 'minefield' of a topic on LW which is an indicator that other people will be similarly discouraged. If he and people like him aren't able to participate in the conversation we lose valuable perspective. I know, lets create another site where people like kompo will feel free to contribute!

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-13T03:43:09.508Z · score: 0 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I know, lets create another site where people like kompo will feel free to contribute!

Is someone stopping you? What obstacle to your progress can I remove so I can stop seeing complaints about it?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T06:37:04.255Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Is someone stopping you? What obstacle to your progress can I remove so I can stop seeing complaints about it?

There is no complaint here. I am taking the opportunity to encourage XFrequentist to follow through with his proposal. I get the impression that he or she is better suited to the social engineering required to make the system a success. Since XFrequentist has actually made moves to test for support and interest he or she seems like the perfect person to take the lead here. I would, of course, be willing and able to provide technical support and hosting.

This is what this whole post was about. The tangent is, Cthulu forbid, interjecting something on topic.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T04:32:30.673Z · score: -3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, nobody is going to win any Tony awards for acting ability in this little bit of street theater. Isn't it time to lower the curtain on this turkey and let the narrator come onstage and explain to the audience wtf the moral of this production was supposed to be?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T06:41:17.031Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, nobody is going to win any Tony awards for acting ability in this little bit of street theater. Isn't it time to lower the curtain on this turkey and let the narrator come onstage and explain to the audience wtf the moral of this production was supposed to be?

The moral is clear... we need to create a... ;)

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-11T16:26:12.945Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Well...yes, as an empirical matter, that was the thesis of my comment! Wasn't it clear that I was questioning, as a normative matter, whether that ought to be the case?

Because it now is the case that sex is qualitatively different from everything else, attempts to make it be not so or create a norm that it be not so now impinge on the current, existent feelings of people (esp. women) who think about sex as how it now is.

In other words: Sexuality's differences from other things, if respected, are self-supporting. It opposes these features to try to alter them. Failing to respect sexual rules in these, among other, ways is Very Bad.

First of all, the phrase "it is not acceptable to criticize..." is kind of an alarm bell.

How about "it makes me afraid when people criticize"? Or is that irrelevant?

The question is, what to do about this problem of their not wanting, since their lack of wanting causes pain for others.

I am very good at getting people to give me presents. This ability is only targetable to a certain point, but it is partly under my control. Supposing, probably inaccurately, that I could scale up this capacity indefinitely - not stealing things I wanted, but just acting in such a way that encouraged people to give them to me significantly more than they'd otherwise be inclined - there are things it would be unethical for me to try to get in this way. I shouldn't encourage people to spend beyond their means, for example. I shouldn't encourage them to give me things that they need for themselves. I shouldn't encourage them to give me things that I only want a little bit that they have much stronger interests in. Even if their means are limited by choice, or their need for the needed object is evitable, or their reason for strongly valuing the prized possession is really stupid. If I find myself tempted to seek gifts of such things, the correct place to solve the "problem" is in my excessive interest in owning stuff that belongs to others.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-11T17:16:16.660Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

In other words: Sexuality's differences from other things, if respected, are self-supporting. It opposes these features to try to alter them. Failing to respect sexual rules in these, among other, ways is Very Bad.

This sounds suspicious to me -- a bit too Fully General. It seems that you could similarly Engrave In Stone For All Time any set of currently existing norms this way.

I'll have to think about this more to determine the extent to which I agree.

How about "it makes me afraid when people criticize"?

That's certainly better and more specific -- and would naturally prompt the followup: "afraid of what?"

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-11T17:31:15.350Z · score: 9 (19 votes) · LW · GW

It seems that you could similarly Engrave In Stone For All Time any set of currently existing norms this way.

I don't think it's as fully general as all that. Most norm sets don't have as their first rule that You Do Not Question The Norm Set. If they have such rules, it's rarely with the historical context of the rule being there to protect against horrific crimes.

"afraid of what?"

I'm afraid of not at least trying to nip things in this family of thoughts in the bud. I'm afraid I'll be raped by a guy with expensive lawyers who will use anything I've publicly stated that they possibly can twist into making me look like a slut who deserved it. I'm afraid I'll say something ambiguous and be misunderstood and justify, in someone's mind, some hurt. I'm afraid that if I check my fear, I'll overshoot, and I'll wind up ever so reasonably agreeing with something that can be made to justify attacks on my friends, myself, and others, past and future.

I'm afraid that if I bring in my personal history or that of my friends, the ever-so-reasonable attack dogs on this website will demand that I provide details that are no one's business, pick apart the possible motivations of the villains and sympathize with them, and speculate about the participation of the victims. I'm afraid that if I don't make it personal, I'll look like I'm talking out of my ass. I'm afraid to have conversations about this with people who don't start by agreeing to the rules of engagement that may help keep me and people I care about safe.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-11T18:47:01.503Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it's as fully general as all that. Most norm sets don't have as their first rule that You Do Not Question The Norm Set. If they have such rules, it's rarely with the historical context of the rule being there to protect against horrific crimes.

Actually, my sense is the opposite: that most norm sets do have this rule. (The first of the infamous Ten Commandments might easily be interpreted this way, for example.) And rules are nearly always justified by the supposition that something Bad would happen if they weren't enforced. So I remain unconvinced, for the moment.

As for the rest, I'm not sure I'm clever enough to come up with a set of words that will simultaneously communicate to you my disagreement and benignity. So, at least for now, I shan't try.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2010-09-23T06:34:53.492Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

As for the rest, I'm not sure I'm clever enough to come up with a set of words that will simultaneously communicate to you my disagreement and benignity. So, at least for now, I shan't try.

Dude, saying this (or a simpler permutation thereof) would have helped me so many times in so many of my relationships. I really wish I'd learned that a kiss on the forehead and saying "Never mind, let's go bake brownies" is a much better response than two paragraphs of autistic complex-compound sentences explaining how what I'd said was reasonable but how the other's interpretation was also reasonable given the context. Such paragraphs went half-ignored and were translated as defensive self-justifying and blame-shifting moves. It was so annoying for so long, and I didn't update until like two weeks ago.

Normal people don't care about detailed explanations of the motivations behind what you say, they care about the imagined motivations behind what people would say in epistemic and emotional positions that are roughly similar to what they imagine to be yours. This leads to lots of confusion and frustration for the literal-minded.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-11T18:09:56.652Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

To the extent that sex is like a commodity, guess what - it's for sale! No, you can't buy it from every person who might have it to offer, but not everybody who bakes cupcakes sells them either - you have to go to a cupcake store. If you want homemade cupcakes, you'll have to make friends with somebody who bakes.

Well said. You nailed the point and gave me a good belly laugh.

I think people familiar with ev psych tend to over-estimate the actual differences between the sexes. They certainly exist, but cultural conditioning and supply and demand effects magnify them into gender roles.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-11T17:06:00.304Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

To the extent that sex is like a commodity, guess what - it's for sale!

Why is it then that the most vocal critics of pornography and prostitution are generally women? Women seem to treat porn stars and prostitutes (and to some extent 'sluts') as scabs. Ongoing efforts are made to make pornography and prostitution illegal for the same underlying reasons that any cartel attempts to use the government to increase individual members' profits by reducing competition.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-11T17:14:15.474Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I agree -- but also take note that it seems that a large portion of those advocating for sex workers' rights are women.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-11T17:11:39.296Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Why is it then that the most vocal critics of pornography and prostitution are generally women?

Because both industries are full of abuse that is mostly directed at women, which fact has been turned into general condemnation of sex work instead of specific address of the factors that directly precipitate said abuse. "Horn effect" (opposite of halo effect) probably bears some responsibility for the extension of this criticism to harmless subtypes of porn/sex work, such as animated pornography which plausibly never leads to abuse of its (voice) actors.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-11T18:15:56.031Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Because both industries are full of abuse that is mostly directed at women

What exactly do you mean by "full of abuse" and how do you quantify it?

I have some friends who worked in that industry, and it has more gender equality than most others - such as almost any of the high tech sectors. Female actresses are paid far more on average and women are fairly heavily involved in the business side now as well. It's not all peaches and roses of course. But I suspect that most of the image of 'women being abused' is based on some hard preconceptions one brings in - namely that pornography is inherently wrong in the first place. If you start with that assumption, it will only be reinforced.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-11T18:21:38.614Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I have no direct personal experience with the production of porn or prostitution. Various blogs I read produce statistics about sex work indicating that prostitutes are commonly abused by clients, pimps, police, etc. I'm sure there's plenty of live action porn that's entirely on the up-and-up, and I'm glad your friends found that to be their experience; however, I have heard from people whose information I'm not confident in dismissing that porn participants are not overwhelmingly willing and uncoerced. (I have the impression that coercion is more prevalent in niches like bestiality porn than in mainstream stuff; and I'm told by people who would know such things that hard BDSM productions go to considerable length to prove their consensuality.)

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-11T21:49:19.472Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

While there definitely is some overlap between prostitution and porn, they are completely different industries separated by the legal divide. When a girl shows up on a porn set, she has undoubtedly given consent - and would typically sign a contract. As porn production companies can operate legally it is just completely against their interests to break the law - especially considering that their end product is video evidence. In the modern era there is no shortage of attractive young women all too willing to perform all kinds of sex acts on camera.

There are certainly incidents where girls are tricked into doing additional acts they didn't sign for, but there is a huge legal risk to that which you need to consider. You site strong reasons why BSDM productions go to great lengths to show evidence of consent (typically an interview with the actress that goes into details about the subsequent sex acts) - and these are factors which act as massive dis-incentives to coercion.

Prostitution on the other hand is actually illegal, and because anyone partaking in it is already breaking the law it attracts a criminal element and is considerably more dangerous for all parties involved. You can't really compare the two in terms of safety.

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-12T22:31:16.869Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There's a big difference between something being consensual and something being non-abusive. Just because an actress signs a contract doesn't mean that she won't be abused, even if the contract holder never violates the letter or the spirit of the contract.

It's pretty common in many professions for bosses to abuse their workers in many different ways; the claim is that it is more common and more severe in sex industries. Like Alicorn, I'm glad that your friends didn't have those experiences, but I'm also under the impression that their experiences are not representative of the norm.

Also, you assume that prostitution is illegal; one of the best arguments for legalizing it is that it seems to significantly reduce the amount of abuse. That doesn't mean that there isn't a culture of abuse even in jurisdictions where prostitution is legal, just that there are more recourses to fighting it so that it is lessened.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-18T00:12:39.939Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Just because an actress signs a contract doesn't mean that she won't be abused, even if the contract holder never violates the letter or the spirit of the contract.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this - what do you exactly consider 'abuse' in the context of pornography? Surely not the sex acts themselves, as they are legalized b contractual consent - part of the job. Do you mean verbal abuse?

Perhaps there is a lower standard for that in pornography, but to be honest from my understanding you will find more verbal abuse in the regular film industry.

And like the film industry, porn is largely built around small companies and many independent agents. At a larger production company the regular workplace rules would apply - sexual and non-sexual harrassement and all that.

But there are other notions of abuse. What about a producer who imports foreign girls for porn who speak poor english and provides them with a nice place to live and drugs? Sounds like a pimp, and yet life is never black and white, as there are plenty of young girls who think this is a fine idea and much more fun than being a strugglin waitress.

But I guess the drug part of those situations is illegal.

As prostitution is actually illegal, it can attract criminal elements and there you certainly have issues with other criminal behaviour - assault and other forms of actual illegal abuse. I believe these types of criminal incidents are rare in pornography because of it's legal legitimacy.

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-18T05:34:16.587Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Contracts rarely discuss tenets of human decency. Whether you work in a cubicle, behind a cash register, or in front of a camera, you can have a boss and co-workers that treat you like garbage. I consider being perpetually insulted, looked down upon and laughed at a form of abuse, and am under the impression that these things are much worse in the porn industry than they are in more "respectable" industries. I am also under the impression that more physical forms of abuse, like manhandling, that still fall short of assault, are also much more common.

I think the power dynamics are different in the non-adult film industry in such a way as to make it unlikely to be worse than the adult film industry. I know two people in different parts of the film industry, and while they've had negative experiences, none of the situations they've dealt with seem like they wouldn't have been exacerbated in an adult film environment. Also it seems like the rate and severity of sexual abuse would almost certainly be worse in porn.

I imagine that you are correct in speculating that larger studios deal with less of this, but I certainly don't know.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T22:08:50.785Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Indecent is an account of ten years in the sex trade-- the author's experience sounds as though it's between what you describe and what Jacob describes-- bad (mostly because of obnoxious clients) but not horrendous.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-11T22:25:27.069Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Amazon's first pages look interesting - any chance you have an e-copy? Bittorrent is proving useless.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T02:27:04.522Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Google has most of the book-- all but the last two chapters. I have a paper copy.

Her Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things that Are Very, Very Bad for Me is likewise amazing.

The most surprising essay-- she talks about the bacon deficiency economy in which restaurants never give you enough bacon, so she cooks and eats four pounds of bacon to be sure she has enough-- used to be online, but doesn't seem to be there any more.

I will tentatively recommend her books to any of the men here who can't seem to figure out why things keep blowing up when they write about sex, since it seems to me that they have a blank spot in their model of the universe about women having desires and making choices. She's quite emphatic about the inside of her head.

I'm making massive efforts not to blame the guys-- I have some scary blind spots myself, including one that I was at least past 35 before I realized I had. It turned out that I believed women had emotions and men had desires. That is, I believed men wanted things and women had reactions to getting or not getting what they wanted.

What clued me into the blind spot was noticing that men had facial expressions which seemed to indicate emotional reactions, and that I was surprised by this.

Possibly relevant: I was born in 1953-- I hope things were more stereotyped then than they are now, but I don't think things have completely changed.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-12T02:57:47.629Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

any of the men here who can't seem to figure out why things keep blowing up when they write about sex, since it seems to me that they have a blank spot in their model of the universe about women having desires and making choices.

Since I made the comment that initiated this latest mini-flare-up, I feel the need to make it clear that I am not myself in that category. I see the non-alignment of desires among humans as a general problem, of which the sex issues discussed above are merely one particular manifestation.

Possibly relevant: I was born in 1953

I had actually gotten the impression that you were older than is typical here; and on thinking about it, I suspect it had to do with your first name (which was a lot more popular at around that time than 20-40 years later).

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T04:43:30.385Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see the non-alignment of desires among humans as a general problem, of which the sex issues discussed above are merely one particular manifestation.

Grasping that non-alignment is a general problem is an important start, but I don't think it's the same as understanding what a specific non-alignment is.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-12T02:49:33.914Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Google has most of the book-- all but the last two chapters.

It looks like p. 28-333 are not included.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T02:54:41.323Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Apologies-- I trusted that the chapter links in the drop-down menu meant the chapters were there.

comment by LauralH · 2013-02-22T22:07:07.080Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Old comments, but I used to know the author and I feel I should pimp for her - pardon the pun.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-11T17:23:15.273Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Because both industries are full of abuse that is mostly directed at women, which fact has been turned into general condemnation of sex work instead of specific address of the factors that directly precipitate said abuse.

It seems to me that when people advocate further criminalizing sex work on this basis they are either dissembling (in the way advocates for professional licensing dissemble that it is about 'protecting consumers' because it is more effective than admitting they are trying to protect their own interests) or simply horribly misguided in how best to address the (genuine) problems you describe.

comment by simplicio · 2010-09-12T06:39:20.000Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Women art godshatter too.

I'm sympathetic, but I wonder if you're jumping to the "godshatter" conclusion too quickly in re: promiscuity.

"Godshatter" is a fairly strong claim to make about a piece of psychology; for one thing, it would seem to require human universality. But there are cultures with much more promiscuous female sexuality than the anglosphere.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-12T12:41:27.751Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

"Godshatter" is a fairly strong claim to make about a piece of psychology; for one thing, it would seem to require human universality.

I've met people who don't like candy. Does that mean that taste for sweets isn't a manifestation of the adaptation execution for seeking high-energy food?

comment by simplicio · 2010-09-12T21:16:47.977Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I've met people who don't like candy. Does that mean that taste for sweets isn't a manifestation of the adaptation execution for seeking high-energy food?

Ever met somebody who doesn't like sugar at all?

More seriously,

(1) Claiming that the preferences of female westerners living circa 2010 about sex, are all or mostly innate, is a huge claim - and probably false.

(2) Even if true, it's not clear that innate preferences are automatically ethically unquestionable (more technically, two terminal values may conflict). For example, as someone who has a wonderful relationship with their stepfather, I'm very glad he isn't hung up on the fact that we're genetically unrelated. Most humans care a lot about that.

(3) You still leave yourself open to a nice symmetrical reductio where I mention some nasty male preference about sex, and then play my "godshatter" trump card. I agree with kompo that that argument is way too Fully General.

I will also agree with you that criticizing the preferences of a gender or of an individual, has political & social consequences that are potentially ugly. I suggest that this means we need to work harder conversationally, not ban or severely circumscribe the topic.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-12T21:38:21.672Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I'm exiting this thread now.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T19:18:43.178Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Have you met a culture that doesn't like candy?

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-12T19:26:42.914Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't met many cultures.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T14:52:03.671Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

A job applicant who seems likely to resent being turned down will appear creepy to potential employers.

There is apparently no greater female nightmare scenario than mating with a less-than-optimally-attractive male. The Darwinian reasons why this should be the case are too obvious to be worth stating; but it should be equally obvious that such behavior is less than rational in our modern era of contraception: sex simply doesn't have the same dangers that it did in the ancestral environment.

Men do the same sort of thing. Really. Hunt around a little for examples of fat-bashing.

The only gender difference I can see is that a significant proportion of men [1] are apt to verbally attack unattractive women just for existing, while women are more apt to wait for a pass to be made by an unattractive man.

Is there anything in PUA about what sets off the "creepy guy-- I don't want to be anywhere near him" response as distinct from mere "not sexually interested"? I'm not talking about "less than optimally attractive", and your phrasing it that way strikes me as dishonest arguing. The vast majority of women have children with less than optimally attractive men.

[1] It may well be under 5% of men who do that sort of thing-- it's still apt to be quite a buzz-kill for women on the receiving end of it.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-11T16:36:27.451Z · score: 10 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Men do the same sort of thing. Really. Hunt around a little for examples of fat-bashing.

I think this is actually an example of the sort of double standard that komponisto is talking about.

It's a pretty mainstream view that the fact that men find overweight women unattractive is either a problem with individual men's judgement (excessive focus on physical appearance over other attributes, unrealistic expectations for a partner's physical appearance etc.) or some kind of wider problem with society focusing on unrealistic or unrepresentative examples of physical beauty ('anorexic' models and actresses etc.).

While probably not a majority view, it seems to me that it is far more common to see this view expressed and this issue discussed in the media than the view that men who are generally perceived as unattractive by women are victims of either a problem with the judgement of individual women or a problem with the ideals of male attractiveness promoted by society or the media.

The only gender difference I can see is that a significant proportion of men [1] are apt to verbally attack unattractive women just for existing, while women are more apt to wait for a pass to be made by an unattractive man.

This sounds like over-generalizing from personal experience to me. My memories of school are of the most hurtful verbal attacks coming from girls but without some statistical data I'm going to assume that both of us are biased by the salience of particular instances of verbal abuse we have observed.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T11:48:52.356Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

My personal experience is of harassment at school by girls, to a large extent for being short and for having feet that turned out. Later, I've been subject to some street harassment, but not a lot as such things go. And not enough to generally affect my experience of being out of doors. Weirdly, the worst was from a neighbor kid who looked like she was about five.

I've had more harassment about my weight from my mother than from the general public.

My take on what fat women in general have to put up with is from reading a lot of fat-acceptance material.

My impression is that mean girls at school are much more likely to go after other girls than boys, but I could well be mistaken.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-12T07:29:33.561Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

NancyLebovitz:

The only gender difference I can see is that a significant proportion of men [1] are apt to verbally attack unattractive women just for existing, while women are more apt to wait for a pass to be made by an unattractive man.

This is true if you judge people's speech and reactions by the usual standards of discourse in polite society, but not if you take into account their actual hurtfulness and the actual level of repugnance and scorn being manifested.

Men are indeed apt to appraise women's attractiveness explicitly in crude and vulgar terms, much more so than vice versa. However, the ways in which women talk about unattractive men might sound gentler and far more polite, but it's naive to think that unattractive men don't get the message, and that they don't get hurt just as much as unattractive women who get called by various explicit bad names. Moreover, whenever I hear girls damning some unattractive guy with faint praise, I always feel like it would be more honest if they just scorned and trashed him explicitly, considering the status they assign to him for all practical purposes.

Another thing is that even when stated in the most explicit and crude terms, men's usual complaints and negative appraisals about women tend to sound harsher and more vulgar than the other way around. It just happens that the words typically involved in the former have a much more politically incorrect and inflammatory impact, even though the latter are not any less harsh and damning by any reasonable standard.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T12:21:52.133Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're addressing a different aspect, I think. Do unattractive men have to deal with street harassment by women? Online attacks just because there's a picture of them?

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-12T16:50:32.944Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Do unattractive men have to deal with street harassment by women? Online attacks just because there's a picture of them?

ISTM that unattractive men are denounced online by women all the time, but it's usually based on what a man has said or done, not their appearance.

School-age unattractive males (up to and including college age) are "street harassed" by women as well. As a teenager, I was chased, threatened and verbally abused by females in a variety of venues, despite (or perhaps because) I just wanted to be left alone.

Women most assuredly do harass men, and I assure you they are much more creative in finding ways to inflict lasting emotional pain.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T17:18:47.002Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the information.

I can believe that women are more skilled at inflicting emotional pain. In a fit of compulsiveness, I read a long discussion about abusive schoolgirls (sorry, no cite, probably about five years ago, and possibly on livejournal), and, yeah.

comment by randallsquared · 2010-09-12T18:06:12.678Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As a teenager, I was chased, threatened and verbally abused by females in a variety of venues, despite (or perhaps because) I just wanted to be left alone.

Yes, this was my experience as well.

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-12T23:09:50.088Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I assure you they are much more creative in finding ways to inflict lasting emotional pain.

How can you assure me? Through your own personal experiences, or can you point me to a series of scientifically-conducted studies on the issue? I assure you, only one of those would assure me.

I have little experience with men harassed by women, but based on how viciously some women harass each other, I am perfectly willing to agree that women can be very hurtful. All I object to is your apparent willingness to generalize your personal experiences with X into a comparison between X and Y.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-13T00:24:16.651Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

All I object to is your apparent willingness to generalize your personal experiences with X into a comparison between X and Y.

I was comparing the subsets of X and Y that had bullied or harassed me personally.

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-13T02:58:20.326Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You didn't actually mention Y, but even if you had, you wouldn't have data to support the comparison of abuses(X,Y) to abuses(Y, X), which seemed to be your claim.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-13T03:09:27.876Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You didn't actually mention Y, but even if you had, you wouldn't have data to support the comparison of abuses(X,Y) to abuses(Y, X), which seemed to be your claim.

As I said, I was comparing abused-by(X, me) to abused-by(Y, me), in rejection of the hypothesis that males are not subjected to cruel "street harassment" by females.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-21T03:34:14.349Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Your notation is unconventional - I read "abused-by(X,you)" as "X was abused by you". I know this is the converse of what you really meant.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T12:37:41.658Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Online attacks just because there's a picture of them?

Yes, I've seen that happen at times. I make a habit of bullying the perpetrators wherever I see it (and where it is appropriate and convenient to do so) but it certainly happens.

People are cruel, particularly when dealing with lower status targets. It's disgraceful whatever the sex of the victim.

comment by Emile · 2010-09-12T07:49:28.328Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Another difference is that (some) men also talk in crude and vulgar ways about attractive women too.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T12:41:15.605Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Another difference is that (some) men also talk in crude and vulgar ways about attractive women too.

And about males, and inanimate objects. And fictional stories. I'd go as far as to say that some men just talk in crude and vulgar ways. Also, they are usually hairier and more smelly.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T17:30:12.479Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Is there anything in PUA about what sets off the "creepy guy-- I don't want to be anywhere near him" response as distinct from mere "not sexually interested"?

Extremely short answer: Degree to which the unattractive male appears to submit to the social reality as she sees it.

comment by Violet · 2010-09-12T07:52:04.098Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Many "alpha" behaviours can be creepy.

Someone being submissive is not creepy.

This as a personal note, not as a general truth.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-12T08:50:14.504Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Violet:

Many "alpha" behaviours can be creepy.

Some of the very pinnacles of creepiness are achieved by men who attempt to pull off difficult and daring high-status behaviors but fall short of doing it successfully. I don't know if this is what you had in mind with the scare quotes, but with this interpretation, your comment is very accurate.

I remember there was an old post at Overcoming Bias discussing this sort of situation, where a man's failed attempt at a high-status display backfires and raises an awful red flag that he's a clueless sort of guy who doesn't know his proper place and will probably self-destruct for that reason. Unfortunately, I can't remember the title and I don't have the link archived.

comment by Violet · 2010-09-12T08:59:11.948Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think they go more into a "that person is more likely defect for his own win than cooperate" and "that person does not seem safe".

Also being somewhat sensitive to the system people doing a status competition just stink on a personal level.

Then again I prefer androgynous cooperative helpful people, rather than overtly masculine (or feminine) ones.

Others might find the same behaviors very hot.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-21T03:45:32.890Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely this is why such a strong epithet as "creepy" is applied. The implication is that such a deranged individual is one step away from running amok, raping and killing.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-11T16:36:39.617Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not talking about "less than optimally attractive", and your phrasing it that way strikes me as dishonest arguing. The vast majority of women have children with less than optimally attractive men.

It was rhetorical understatement, perhaps -- not quite the same thing as dishonest arguing. But note that what is meant here is "less than optimally attractive among their own options".

As for men and fat-bashing, etc., yes, that's also quite bad. However, I was under the impression that criticizing this was already far from taboo in elite circles

In any event, I don't want to deny any symmetry that may exist, and I don't think it would be fair to impute such a denial to me on the grounds that I specifically discussed only one side of the coin.

(And it's interesting how so far no one has noticed the parenthetical sentence at the end of my comment.)

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-11T16:51:39.905Z · score: 4 (12 votes) · LW · GW

(And it's interesting how so far no one has noticed the parenthetical sentence at the end of my comment.)

The one about sexual jealousy? I thought it was foolish, but not in a way directly relevant to the part I was most motivated to critique, so I let it be. Women experience sexual jealousy too; implying that it's the special province of men has the weird consequence of implying that women would all rather be some flavor of poly, which is false.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-11T16:54:34.305Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Women experience sexual jealousy too; implying that it's the special province of men

It didn't imply that, any more than the earlier part implied that men never reject women.

The proposal was that male sexual jealously is analogous to female mate selectivity in the specific way I was discussing.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-11T17:02:11.201Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The one about sexual jealousy? I thought it was foolish

Also, really, I think "foolish" is unnecessarily hostile language. Wouldn't "incorrect" suffice?

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-11T17:13:44.635Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Also, really, I think "foolish" is unnecessarily hostile language.

In this thread, you have used language and expressed opinions which have sounded antagonistic and upsetting to me. I did not intend to be hostile in return, and apologize if my emotional state has caused me to use poor word choice in such a way as to upset you.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T18:23:20.390Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

In this thread, you have used language and expressed opinions which have sounded antagonistic and upsetting to me.

This is perhaps the best reason for creating some kind of spin-off or sub-community along the lines of that suggested in the post. Some people, for whatever reason, find this sort of discussion personally upsetting or objectionable. Currently that means there will either be posts and comments that cannot be made at all or conversations will end up being derailed with people claiming (and giving) offence.

If there was a spin off site for rationalist socialization discussion then comments on LW that enter the political minefield that is sex can be deemed off topic and redirected. Readers who are offended by discussion of PUA, etc, will be able to read LW freely. Commenters on the subsite who are irritated by repetitive responses that seem hostile to them will be able to manage that community with the standard "do not feed trolls" rule.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T22:12:15.262Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Does what the women are upset about make any sense to you?

Reading your post gives me the impression that you think topics related to sex just blow up for no particular reason, but I may be wrong.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T10:46:05.695Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

wedrifid said:

This is perhaps the best reason for creating some kind of spin-off or sub-community along the lines of that suggested in the post.

I disagree. This is exactly the sort of discussion that needs to happen between rationalists with different sorts of life experiences (e.g. male and female rationalists). The controversial nature of these subjects shows why it needs to be hashed out, not that these subjects need to be avoided. Of course, individuals are free to bow out of these discussions.

Nancy said:

Does what the women are upset about make any sense to you?

Yes, put particular details about the exchange don't quite make sense to me.

Originally, SarahC made the point that pickup won't guarantee men success with women, and women are still free to reject PUAs. I don't quite understand why she brought up this point in the first place, and I'm not sure why she speculated about a potential for violence. PUAs know very well that their methods don't guarantee success with any particular woman, and they work very hard on coping strategies to deal with rejection. She said:

It can get creepy when men think they're entitled to a quota of women, and that it's unfair when they get turned down. I worry about that driving men to violence.

This quote made me wonder if SarahC thinks that any complaint of unfairness by men in the dating world is evidence of "entitlement" and "creepiness." I didn't get on her case about this, because I know that she has run into some of the more icky PUA stuff, which could well give her the impression that PUAs hold such attitudes. Instead, I asked her why she might not believe that PUAs recognize the validity of women rejecting them.

Yet I think komponisto asked a good question: whether SarahC would judge complaints in other domains (like getting hired for a job) by the same standard, and consider frustration and complaints of unfairness to be evidence of "entitlement" and "creepiness."

Unfortunately, in the same comment, komponisto made this point:

I wonder if it's time someone made the bound-to-be-controversial suggestion that women in modern society are excessively conservative when it comes to granting sexual favors.

More on that comment, later.

Alicorn pointed out that sexual interaction is qualitatively different from other forms of interaction, such as hiring. Furthermore, she observed that given the prevalence of sexual violence, we should have higher priors that men might react to rejection with violence, that we should have for job-seekers.

While granting the distinctions Alicorn observes between men trying to date women, and job hunters, I'm still not sure why we got on the subject of sexual violence. The reason is because Alicorn's priors may apply to the reference class of all men, but with PUAs, we have a different reference class. We know that PUAs are interested in figuring out and fulfilling women's criteria, which seems at odds with PUAs feeling "entitled" and that women's rejections of them are "unfair."

Alicorn may have some other reference classes that influence her priors about PUAs. Still, I don't think it was appropriate for SarahC to jump from the observation of PUAs claiming methods that consistent attract women, to the notion that PUAs might get frustrated if these methods don't work, hold a sense of creepy entitlement, and potentially respond with violence. I fully acknowledge that SarahC might have good reasons to hold such suspicions, but she hasn't yet shared what they are.

Now, let's return to reactions to komponisto's comment.

I fully understand why this comment pattern-matches so many negative things. It does sound like komponisto might be advocating that women be sexual with men in situations where they aren't sure they want to be sexual (or don't want to be sexual). I had the same reaction as pjeby.

It's useful for komponisto to know the problematic interpretations of his comment. It's understandable that Alicorn wasn't able to read it charitably, but that doesn't mean that a more charitable interpretation doesn't exist. pjeby suggested one, for instance:

OTOH, if what you really meant was, "people (of either gender) should be more sympathetic/less judgmental to the plight of the unattractive (of either gender)", then sure, that makes sense.

The charitable interpretation: komponisto wasn't suggesting that women should do things they don't want with men; he was suggesting that they be less conservative in what they want with men in the first place. He explains in his next post:

Secondly, yes, the issue is precisely at the level of "wanting". Obviously, given that someone already doesn't want to give something, then their giving it would be bad, all else being equal. The question is, what to do about this problem of their not wanting, since their lack of wanting causes pain for others.

After he said this, I was kinda wanting one of the women in the thread to say "OK, now I see what you mean."

Reading your post gives me the impression that you think topics related to sex just blow up for no particular reason, but I may be wrong.

In my view, discussions about sex on LW blow up for many reasons, and only one of those reasons is men being insensitive.

I've often noticed that women seem to be running a "creepiness detection routine" towards men's sexuality. In real life, there are good reasons for them to do so. In internet conversations, it's useful for men to know what kind of arguments trigger that routine, because those arguments potentially sound like their aren't respectful of women's bodily autonomy, self-determination, and consent.

Simultaneously, it's also useful for women to know that many men are sick of negative associations with their sexuality, and the expansive application of the word "creepy." Note MC_Echerischia's brusque response:

I wish everyone would extend to the unattractive people of the world, of either sex, our right to feel bitter. This does not make us rapists. Thank you for your attention.

I think that women having a "creeped out" response triggered is useful data for discussion on LessWrong, but I don't want to see it running the discourse here. If such a reaction is presented, it's probably most useful to try to explain where it's coming from. Clarification of the creepy statement can always be requested.

I find it a shame that Alicorn isn't currently willing to discuss possible criticisms of women's preferences, and that komponisto subsequently bowed out of the discussion. I respect the preference of both those individuals to not want to engage in such a discussion at this time, but I think that those discussions are important, and I wish they could occur here.

Personally, I'm not very interested in criticizing women's preferences because I'm skeptical about how malleable people's preferences are, yet since (as mattnewport points out ) it's culturally acceptable to critique the basis for men's preferences in women, I think it should be an open question what level of choice people have over their mating preferences, and what could be reasons for them to change their preferences.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T11:50:48.311Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that this sentence of komponisto's is where things blew up.

I wonder if it's time someone made the bound-to-be-controversial suggestion that women in modern society are excessively conservative when it comes to granting sexual favors.

Too conservative for who? Who gains under the new system? He frames it as women "granting sexual favors", not, for example, as women having more fun or a larger selection of potential mates or anything else they might want. I think that's where the entitlement issues showed up.

I think everyone would be better off if men were less picky about women's appearances. If you optimize for that one thing, it's harder to optimize for anything else, including various sorts of compatibility.

However, I think it would be rude to push that point of view-- it seems so clear that men want what they want, and generally don't want to want to be different. (I think there was someone here who did want to want to have broader tastes in women, but couldn't manage it.)

There might be some binary thinking going on-- "should be less conservative about granting sexual favors" may be apt to trigger memories of the least attractive men who wanted them rather than the men who just barely didn't make the cut. "Granting sexual favors" does suggest a high-to-low status situation.

When I suggested men being less picky about women's appearance, did that seem to imply being attracted to somewhat less currently physically attractive women, or being attracted to women you currently find physically very unattractive?

More komponisto:

The question is, what to do about this problem of their not wanting, since their lack of wanting causes pain for others.

What is to be done by who? Why should they care? And, for that matter, how much work would it take for women to adjust their desires, and by what means?

I don't know if I should be blaming anyone for not getting this aspect of things since it's taken me this long to drag it into consciousness, but I think this is why the creep-o-meter and physical danger alarms are going off.

In a previous discussion, someone was making a utilitarian calculation which seemed to ignore women's interests-- and when I asked him about it, it turned out that he had. I didn't underline it at the time, but it's really unnerving to be that much of a blank spot.

comment by soreff · 2010-09-12T23:04:00.874Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think everyone would be better off if men were less picky about women's appearances. If you optimize for that one thing, it's harder to optimize for anything else, including various sorts of compatibility.

Very true.

However, I think it would be rude to push that point of view-- it seems so clear that men want what they want, and generally don't want to want to be different.

It would be interesting if this were something that was subject to chemical modification. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing one could verbally persuade a man about - but if there was something that reduced pickiness with say the same side effect profile that caffeine has towards increasing alertness I think it would be a good addition to our culture.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T23:53:19.501Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It might be possible to verbally persuade some men that this was worth working on-- but it might also take considerable work just to find usable methods.

I've read one account of a man who found that pornography was giving him irrational standards about what women ought to look like and do, and that staying away from pornography for a while (months?) recalibrated his standards towards actual women.

For a science fictional look at the possible effects of not being able to see facial beauty, see Ted Chiang's "Liking What You See: A Documentary".

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-21T04:03:53.768Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But for sure if he abstained from pornography, he was also reducing his masturbation, and therefore more biologically driven to have sexual desire for the women actually available to him in reality.

I do agree that porn is a visual superstimulus and at least momentarily distorting.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-21T04:21:59.006Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

but if there was something that reduced pickiness with say the same side effect profile that caffeine has towards increasing alertness I think it would be a good addition to our culture.

Don't we call this substance 'beer'?

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-12T17:29:06.055Z · score: 6 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I've often noticed that women seem to be running a "creepiness detection routine" towards men's sexuality. In real life, there are good reasons for them to do so. In internet conversations, it's useful for men to know what kind of arguments trigger that routine, because those arguments potentially sound like their aren't respectful of women's bodily autonomy, self-determination, and consent.

I found that part of komponisto's comment creepy, and I'm neither a woman, nor do I have anything against men wanting more sex.

The suggestion in the comment, though, was creepy for precisely the same reason that the "this could lead to violence" arguments are creepy: both are attempts to influence others to change their actions via social disapproval, rather than through more positive/egalitarian means.

I find this sort of victim-rhetoric (i.e., "I'm helpless so YOU should change") to be equally offensive, regardless of the kind of victimhood claimed, or the gender of the self-described victim.

(Of course, since I own my offense, I don't project this back into the world to say that either komponisto or Alicorn are therefore bad people who should be punished or prevented from speaking. IOW, I am not a victim.)

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-12T19:04:57.523Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

attempts to influence others to change their actions via social disapproval, rather than through more positive/egalitarian means.

I would like to move at least one branch of this conversation to a more abstract level. What, exactly, is your objection to attempting to influence the behavior of others by means of social disapproval? How is it non-egalitarian? Do you disapprove only of negative social pressure, or do you also deplore positive social pressures?

Are you perhaps of the opinion that all forms of disapproval should be kept to oneself? Or is it only organized campaigns of disapproval that draw your ire? Or, maybe is it that, in these cases, you are not in sympathy with the behavior-modification objectives, so naturally you don't care for the methods?

Could you suggest a more positive/egalitarian way in which komponisto could influence Alicorn, or Alicorn influence komponisto other than expressions of disapproval?

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-12T19:34:00.977Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

What, exactly, is your objection to attempting to influence the behavior of others by means of social disapproval?

If I were to be more precise, I would say that I disapprove of people attempting to use a claimed victim status as a way to target behaviors they personally dislike, by:

  1. Implying that the weight of societal disapproval or true "ought"-ness is allied with their position, and
  2. Implying that all those people who fail to join them in denouncing or punishing the offenders are themselves worthy of disapproval.

IMO, in a rationalist community, if you dislike something, you bloody well ought to be able to say you dislike it and why, without needing to claim you represent a class of people and calling for people to announce/signal their factional alliances. That's divisive and unhelpful, no matter how "right" your position might be.

Or, maybe is it that, in these cases, you are not in sympathy with the behavior-modification objectives, so naturally you don't care for the methods?

It's possible that I'm biased, but I don't think that it's in the way you describe. For one thing, if komponisto's real objective were to influence women's preferences towards "granting sexual favors", then the obvious thing to do would be to promote the decriminalization and destigmatization of prostitution -- something I'd wholeheartedly support as well. So in that case at least, it's not about a lack of sympathy with the stated objective.

On the flip side, I think that some LW commenters are insensitive to their readers (male and female on both sides) and that it's occasionally annoying and/or offensive to many, and that it would be better if those parties got better at communicating without projecting their stereotypes onto others.

So, I'm not entirely out of sympathy there either... I just think there are better ways to address it, by engaging and educating, and giving people an option to be the "good guy" by changing, rather than casting them in the "bad guy" role that just creates polarization.

Could you suggest a more positive/egalitarian way in which komponisto could influence Alicorn, or Alicorn influence komponisto other than expressions of disapproval?

Find out what the other person wants, and then find a way to give them what they want so you can get what you want. Isn't that the very essence of the PUA concept being discussed here?

To the extent that people on either side of the debate fail to look into what people on the other side actually want -- as opposed to projecting their own negative stereotypes in the other side's direction -- no actual communication will take place.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-12T20:29:59.683Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A very good response. Thank you. I agree with much of it, but I would like to continue a bit further regarding the stuff near the top about claimed victim status. Let us all return in our minds to those idyllic days of childhood:

Younger sibling: "Quit picking on me!" Older sibling: "Me? I'm no picking on you." Younger sibling: "Mama!"

Now, as you visualize this scene, ask yourself whether younger sibling is "attempting to use a claimed victim status as a way to target behaviors they personally dislike". Ask whether she is implying that the weight of parental disapproval or true "ought"-ness is allied with her position. Whether she is implying that a parent who fails to join in denouncing or punishing the offender is not carrying out the parental responsibilities of protection and fair arbitration?

By analogy, it would seem that your advice to younger sibling would be "If you dislike something, you bloody well ought to be able to say you dislike it and why, without needing to call for a parent to announce/signal a factional alliance. That's divisive and unhelpful, no matter how "right" your position might be." Well, that just might be good advice, even to a child.

But what if the advice is followed and it doesn't work? Doesn't work repeatedly. Older sibling simply gets a kick out of tormenting his younger sister. What then?

The problem here, IMO, is not lack of communication of wants and needs, and it is not a matter of stereotyping. It is a matter of deliberate, well-informed, hostility. Hostility which shields itself with the argument "Ah, you are imagining things. See, no one else thinks I am doing any thing wrong."

In those circumstances, I think that for you to disapprove of "claimed victim status", to disapprove of seeking allies, is to give your approval to the victimizer.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-12T23:39:59.721Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Older sibling simply gets a kick out of tormenting his younger sister. What then?

You haven't described what the "tormenting" consists of here. My answer is different depending on where it falls on the scale from consensual ("mom, he keeps looking at me!") to nonconsensual (e.g. striking).

It is a matter of deliberate, well-informed, hostility

If it were (and I'm not sure I've seen anything I would consider an example of such in this thread; perhaps you could point one out), then I'd say that there's a "Vote Down" button, and the ability to hide subthreads on a post that one does not wish to read.

(LW doesn't currently have a way to add a new feature to suppress all posts/comments by a particular user or within a particular subthread, but it would make a nice addition.)

In those circumstances, I think that for you to disapprove of "claimed victim status", to disapprove of seeking allies, is to give your approval to the victimizer.

It's really difficult for me to consider posting comments on LessWrong as "victimizing" in any sense (barring personal threats, either direct or implied).

Even the most annoying of deliberate trolls can be downvoted and ignored, and usually are.

I consider my reactions to anything posted online as being solely my responsibility, so it is not possible, AFAICT, for someone to "victimize" me here.

Someone can be annoying or disagreeable or I can even find their statements offensive, but if I continue to engage with them, that's my problem, not anybody else's.

But again -- I'm talking about speech here (and again, barring personal threats, either direct or implied), in a place where avoiding the speaker is pretty easy, and there's a mechanism for directly punishing the undesired speech. Your sibling analogy doesn't apply, since most of us here on LW do not live under the same roof or have to see each other daily. ;-)

So my counterpoint to your "approval to the victimizer" rhetoric would be to say that if you think LW discussions are victimization, you must have been lucky enough to not ever have really been victimized in your life. (For that matter, if you think they're harassment or bullying, then you've probably never really been harassed or bullied!)

This is why the "men are poor victims of conniving women and society" rhetoric is just as repulsive to me as the reverse is. I reject victim rhetoric for the same reason CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) does: it's irrational and untrue, as well as both a symptom of and reinforcement/re-priming of learned helplessness.

If Harry/Eliezer's true Nemesis is Death, mine is Learned Helplessness. It is far more evil and terrible a thing than any mere human victimizer, because it not only stops people from taking effective action, it also continues to work its damage 24/7, long after the original victimizer has come and gone.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T02:03:08.446Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You ask for examples of deliberate, well-informed hostility on this thread. If you don't mind, I would like to keep this branch of the discussion at a more hypothetical level. Let's stick to my hypothetical of the obnoxious big brother and the annoyed little sister. I agree with what you point out; that my example doesn't match the situation here because here the supposed victim has less to fear and far more ways to escape. More power in general. But I want to hold onto my made-up example to ask one more question below.

You wrote:

If Harry/Eliezer's true Nemesis is Death, mine is Learned Helplessness. It is far more evil and terrible a thing than any mere human victimizer, because it not only stops people from taking effective action, it also continues to work its damage 24/7, long after the original victimizer has come and gone.

I had never heard that term before (not being particularly interested in psychology). From the Wikipedia article, it looks interesting. I intend to read more. Thank you. I have long had the political belief that groups mythologizing their own victimhood are victimizers in training. And I have close personal friends whose lives have been ruined by their own self-constructed history of victimhood and definition of self as past-victim.

But it occurs to me, that if helplessness can be learned (but shouldn't be), then it can also be taught (but shouldn't be). And it also occurs to me that the brother in my story, if coupled with a mother who counsels the daughter to work out the problem for herself with the brother, ... these two are effectively conspiring to teach helplessness to little sister. Personally, I think that is evil. Maybe I don't yet understand LH theory, but I would guess that maybe you would too. And that is my question. If little sister learns helplessness in this situation, who is at fault - the brother (who after all, is just a kid), the mother, or the sister?

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-13T02:53:00.327Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If little sister learns helplessness in this situation, who is at fault - the brother (who after all, is just a kid), the mother, or the sister?

How about the person who taught the mother that? Her mother? Her mother's mother? Evolution? The universe?

What makes you assume that somebody has to be "at fault" here, and how is it helpful to make that assumption?

But it occurs to me, that if helplessness can be learned (but shouldn't be), then it can also be taught (but shouldn't be). And it also occurs to me that the brother in my story, if coupled with a mother who counsels the daughter to work out the problem for herself with the brother, ... these two are effectively conspiring to teach helplessness to little sister.

Please note that my advice is for adults, not children. For a parent to give their child only the bare advice, and not the listening, support, and assistance needed to carry it out, would indeed be cultivating a sense of helplessness along the lines of, e..g "what happens to me doesn't matter/my preferences don't count", or some variation thereof.

Certainly, that's what happened in my case, when my parents told me to "just ignore" the people teasing or harassing me!

However, that doesn't mean I consider my parents "at fault" for the shame and self-hatred I developed as an indirect result of their choices. In fact, fully understanding how my feelings came about actually let me drop the resentment I previously felt towards them for this.

Ironically, it is the very idea of blaming people for things that reinforces LH in the first place. If I think it is my parent's "fault" that I developed a particular instance of LH, then clearly, I am a helpless victim!

So, in order to drop emotional LH of this form, it is necessary to also drop judgment and blame.

When I coach people on letting go of past victimization, one of the more difficult steps tends to be letting go of the judgment of who's "at fault" -- and it doesn't matter whether you blame someone else (e.g. your parents) or yourself (as I did in the case of my parents' attitude about teasing). The fact that you blame anyone is like a deadbolt locking the LH itself in place.

Conversely, refusal to acknowledge hurt is also a problem: when somebody tells me something is not their parents' fault, because of extenuating circumstances, my next job is to get them to realize that even if it's not their parents' fault, this doesn't mean they didn't still get hurt, or that they don't have the right to feel bad about it!

In both directions, it is the very idea of "at fault" moral accounting that blocks the resolution of the person's actual hurt, whether they are putting the blame somewhere in particular, or trying to pretend that nothing happened because someone shouldn't be "at fault".

That's why I consider the notion of "fault" to be a most unhelpful red herring when one is discussing the origins of an instance of LH.

(Clarification: just in case it's not clear, I do not try to persuade people to blame their parents for things; acknowledging a hurt is not the same as saying it's somebody else's fault! If you can't say, "they did X and I felt hurt" without feeling like the other person is a perpetrator and you're a victim, then you're not over the LH yet. As the years go by, I myself feel an increasing compassion and understanding of my parents' own pains and heartaches, that I wish I could've achieved when they were still alive. Indeed, I wish now that I could have given them all the praise, support, attention, and more, that I previously wished they'd given me!)

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T03:28:05.706Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent answer. Thank you. I will try to learn something useful from our exchange.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-13T00:47:25.576Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with all this.

Not that it's really something you can fix on an internet forum.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-13T00:54:13.106Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not that it's really something you can fix on an internet forum.

Great Scott! This looks like the work of that dastardly villain, Learned Helplessness! ;-)

Seriously though: why can't we fix it?

Better (i.e. less victim-y) question: how can we?

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-13T01:15:49.323Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

PM's. I'm a big fan of the motivational pep-talk (unfortunately I'm not quite good enough to give them.)

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-13T01:33:55.530Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

PM's

I assume that means private messages? If so, I'm not clear on what you suggest.

I'm a big fan of the motivational pep-talk (unfortunately I'm not quite good enough to give them.)

I'm not good at them either, but I personally find that improved questions are more likely to produce lasting results, anyway.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T23:48:43.597Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It is a matter of deliberate, well-informed, hostility. Hostility which shields itself with the argument "Ah, you are imagining things. See, no one else thinks I am doing any thing wrong."

Why do you think this?

Having a different worldview and set of priors on the subject of gender is not the same thing as hostility.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-12T13:01:34.198Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I find it a shame that Alicorn isn't currently willing to discuss possible criticisms of women's preferences

Altering one's preferences, especially ones as deeply lodged as ones about sexuality, is a difficult project. I expect I could accomplish certain hacks in myself because self-modification is something I practice and have developed good instincts about. I don't expect women in general to share this ability. So what would it accomplish to hammer out a new set of ideal preferences that it would be better if women had instead? They can't adopt them on purpose even if they see the logic indicating that they should. At best, they can follow a norm that has them act as though they adopt these new preferences, and that just has them acting contrary to their own real preferences to suit those of men.

If there's some point to entertaining criticism of women's preferences (as opposed to my own atypical preferences which are unlikely to percolate out into the population) that I have missed, do please let me know.

comment by Violet · 2010-09-12T13:29:38.874Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

If altering preferences is so easy then the men could alter themselves to be bisexual and solve the problem...

Not advocating that, but if we talk about altered preferences, that is the simplest solution.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T17:35:12.250Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Obligatory SMBC link.

Summoned Demon: Any wish you have is yours, for the price of your soul!

Angel: Don't do it! No wish could justify an eternity of suffering.

Demon Summoner: I want to be bisexual, immune to STDs and have absolutely no standards.

Angel: S@#T

Demon: whistles.

Angel: That's good.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-09-12T23:15:58.612Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hah, I think about this solution almost every time that women test my nerves! But then I look at the gay/bi people I know, and their lives seem to have even more drama than mine. (That could be some selection effect though...)

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-12T15:20:44.991Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

They can't adopt them on purpose even if they see the logic indicating that they should

In a nutshell-of-simplification, I believe this statement is false.

I think people's preferences -- or apparent preferences -- are more malleable than that. As people learn more -- about the world, themselves, and other people -- and learn to think -- if not faster, then at least more powerfully -- they may become susceptible to arguments they wouldn't have been susceptible to before, and the suboptimal game-theoretic equilibrium inherited from the past may begin to break down. At the very least, people are diverse enough that there are bound to be some for whom this is true more than for others. As a result, there is no reason that I can see not to entertain discussion of possible preference-modifications. An individual may find that a particular proposed modification is too difficult to implement, or would even perhaps conflict with deeper, more important preferences; but it is not reasonable in my view for such an individual to thereby conclude that the possibility was not worth considering, or that there won't be a significant number, now or in the future, of other individuals for whom the outcome of this kind introspection will be different.

Still less do I think it reasonable for anyone to attempt to suppress such discussions by means of psychological bullying tactics such as implying -- against all plausibility -- that having such a discussion will noticeably increase the risk to the personal safety of participants on this forum. Such an attempt at suppression may be pardonable, if the fear is genuine, and especially if it comes from somebody whom one has met and likes; but the mere fact that it is pardonable does not make it reasonable, when one's own prior for such fears being rationally justified is somewhere between the probability of a summer snowstorm in Miami and the probability (speaking of sex and violence) that a certain American exchange student and her boyfriend of one week got together with a local drifter to end the life of her friend and roommate in the course of a sadistic orgy held under the influence of cannabis. Exaggeration in the previous sentence is minimal; and no, before anyone asks (or pounces), such a low prior does not derive from beliefs about the statistical incidence of certain kinds of violence, but rather from beliefs about their causal mechanisms.

Thank you for your attention, as it is said by some.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-12T18:48:21.098Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

... attempt to suppress such discussions by means of psychological bullying tactics such as implying -- against all plausibility -- that having such a discussion will noticeably increase the risk to the personal safety of participants on this forum.

I don't think that the safety concern was limited to the safety of participants in this forum? Why ever would you come to the conclusion that it was? If anything, personal anecdote has been used only to demonstrate prior thought about the subject matter.

And I am also wondering why you think that criticism of such discussion, even if it verges on "psychological bullying", can be called "suppression" without engaging in exaggeration which is far beyond the "minimal".

There are certain ideas, the expression of which is protected by the ideals of liberty and by the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. That protection does not extend to protection from being criticized. There are some ideas that have been expressed here that should be criticized. In an ideal community, they would be widely criticized.

The reason for criticizing them is similar in some ways to criticism of use of the "N word". It is not so much that the word or the idea is offensive to someone. It is that if that kind of aggressive and abusive verbal behavior is tolerated, then more people will engage in it, and the aggression and abuse will simply escalate to something more physical. Because, make no mistake about it, the behavior I am seeing is exactly analogous that of an adolescent boy testing to see how much he can get away with.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-12T16:54:47.026Z · score: 2 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Such an attempt at suppression may be pardonable, if the fear is genuine, and especially if it comes from somebody whom one has met and likes; but the mere fact that it is pardonable does not make it reasonable, when one's own prior for such fears being rationally justified is...

It is reasonable to take precautions even against small risks, when those risks are the sort you run into again and again and must develop habits about. I wear seatbelts even during short car trips with safe drivers in good weather in daylight with minimal traffic at low speed. It is costly to evaluate those factors of risk separately each time I get into a car. It is costly to evaluate the factors that lead you to see this thread as definitely not harmful to me.

Perhaps it is harmless. I've never been injured in a car accident, either (although I've been wearing seatbelts each time I've been in one). But I put on my seatbelt as a reflex which it is unsafe to tamper with, and I ask for protective conventions in conversations on this subject as a reflex which it is unsafe for me to tamper with. Inviting me to take off my metaphorical seatbelt, without a reason other than it being inconvenient for you, demonstrates a willingness to take my concerns lightly and to substitute your judgment for mine. Interestingly, that doesn't make me feel safer.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-12T20:20:13.771Z · score: 9 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Inviting me to take off my metaphorical seatbelt, without a reason other than it being inconvenient for you, demonstrates a willingness to take my concerns lightly and to substitute your judgment for mine. Interestingly, that doesn't make me feel safer

Despite your use of the trivializing word "inconvenient", the fact is that your personal anxieties do not automatically trump my desires, including my desire (if it exists) to have a discussion about certain topics. You are not the only one with preferences and wishes, and your feeling as safe as possible is not the only concern in the universe.

(I find it notable that while you accuse me of a "willingness to take [your] concerns lightly", you have, so far as I can tell, yet to show any sympathy for "my" concerns as expressed in this thread.)

It would not be costly to evaluate whether or not to put on a seatbelt. What would be costly is a general policy of evaluating every such "reflexive" act. Much less costly, however, would be a general policy of evaluating those reflexive acts whose usefulness has been called into question by intelligent rational people who don't wish you harm. If someone on LW proposed that seatbelts are harmful, I would pay attention. I may or may not end up agreeing, but I would listen to the argument and open that particular "reflex" up to questioning.

You are free to hold irrational beliefs about the dangers posed to you by threads such as this. You are even -- perhaps especially -- free to attempt to convince others that the beliefs you hold are in fact not irrational. You should however not expect others to be intimidated into self-censorship by your claims to special status.

There is a genuine problem here. Like so many other things in our current world, the sexual status quo is not optimal. I have the impression that there are people out there who are very unhappy, but whose unhappiness is not considered a problem by almost anyone other than themselves. I find it regrettable that you are seeking to enforce taboos that prevent the open discussion of this. In principle, this is something I feel I ought to fight. Unfortunately, the costs may be too high for me. The more I engage in these discussions, the more risk I run of being associated with a particular "side" in the "sex wars", not necessarily a side that I want to be associated with. This isn't something I have much of a personal stake in, except insofar as it engages my unusually active empathic tendencies; so it might be best for me to leave it to other people, more willing to take the status hit. I would however like to make at least the following point: even "victimizers" are not innately evil. I have the strong suspicion that lurking behind many a "misogynistic" smirk or scowl is a sad face with authentic tears.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T13:04:07.825Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Why did I bring it up? Because I was worried about this George Sodini business, and because the promotional material you showed me seemed excessively optimistic in its promises of success with women, and because I think the kind of man having enough trouble that he's willing to pay for a seduction course might be less astute and less realistic than average. I do think desperate guys can get suckered in by promises, and by an ideology that makes seduction look like victory. I think bad things can happen when you tell unhappy people "Here is a way for you to triumph over all the [insert bad word, maybe "political correctness police"] who are keeping you down." That pattern has played out many times and sometimes the results are undesirable. It's just something to be careful about.

On the other hand, you (HughRistic) have been very reasonable, and I'm pretty sure your kind of PUA is a good thing, and you obviously aren't a desperate person in the grip of an ideology. Maybe that kind of thing is rare; I've seen it on the internet but obviously that doesn't tell me if it's common.

I don't think "any complaint of unfairness in the dating world" is creepy. I just don't. I don't think anybody around here is creepy. I think creeps are creepy. I thought we might be able to agree to be anti-creep.

You come up with a system like PUA, I think it's fair to ask you to disclaim unethical use of it. It must get tiring after a while, but that's the way things work. People who make and play video games have to say, over and over again, "No, games do not make people go on shooting sprees, and we're doing our best not to encourage that." I'm sure they're sick of it, but they've made themselves the ambassadors of their art, like it or not. People will judge your art based on its ambassadors.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-12T16:24:02.637Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think the kind of man having enough trouble that he's willing to pay for a seduction course might be less astute and less realistic than average.

Wow. Just... wow.

So... anyone with poor social skills is "less astute and less realistic than average"?

I suspect that your estimation of how much "trouble" is "enough" is way off, and consequently, your estimation of how many men end up in the "willing to pay" category... and hence, whether you can reasonably compare those folks to the "average".

I know a guy with a $20 million/year training business, that sells many products at $20 and under. That's one guy, in a business with literally dozens of big names, and maybe a hundred small ones.

And that's with his (and everybody else's) products being massively pirated. Even men who aren't willing to pay, are still getting the material. Especially since there is tons of it available for free as well via internet forums (though the free stuff is not always of the best quality).

Ironically, it is the men who are willing to pay the most, who are most likely to be exposed to high-quality, low-deception, maximally self-improvement oriented material. Sadly, this is because it's (comparatively speaking) a niche market.

IOW, the average guy wants a quick fix - the dating equivalent of the little blue pill. And the only reason that more guys don't buy the products (that I've heard from internet marketing discussions with the guys who sell them) is that their main point of sales resistance is admitting they "have enough trouble" to need the product!

In other words, the average guy wishes he were better at meeting/relating to women, but thinks (since all his friends are signaling that they're studs) that he's the only one having any trouble, and therefore must be a loser.

(Note: this is the average guy, meaning "most of the male population", not "average guy that women already relate to", which might explain why you think the average guy is below-average.)

Neil Strauss's book (and Mystery's show) have actually done men an enormous service by making it less "weird" to be interested in improving one's skills at meeting or relating to women, so that interest in the subject isn't necessarily signaling to your peers that you're not as good as they're all pretending to be.

In short, it's only above average men (in success with women) who don't wish, at some point in their lives, that they were better at meeting or relating to women.

(Do remember that while the marketing rhetoric tends to "have any woman/as many women you want", this is so that the average purchaser will say to themselves, "well, I just want to be able to meet/talk to The One, so that ought to be really easy if I get this product, and if I can do more that's just a bonus".)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T22:03:19.069Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ironically, it is the men who are willing to pay the most, who are most likely to be exposed to high-quality, low-deception, maximally self-improvement oriented material. Sadly, this is because it's (comparatively speaking) a niche market.

I'm trying to imagine a marketing campaign-- maybe "good sense at reasonable prices". Seriously, is it that small a niche?

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-12T23:11:51.297Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying to imagine a marketing campaign-- maybe "good sense at reasonable prices". Seriously, is it that small a niche?

High prices are a signal, in both directions. On the purchasing end, it signals commitment, and on the selling end, it signals good results.

(Btw, internet marketers routinely advise that charging more money means you get fewer customers, but there will be far fewer problem customers and you will enjoy working with them more. My own experiences support this hypothesis.)

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T22:07:28.831Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, Sarah, that answers my question. If you said this stuff in the first place, it would have helped me understand why you brought up the issue of violence. I still think it's a bit of a stretch to connect George Sodini to pickup (he did actually take a pickup seminar at one point, but obviously had deeper problems) to pickup, though I do grant some of what PUAs write sounds adverserial towards women.

and because I think the kind of man having enough trouble that he's willing to pay for a seduction course might be less astute and less realistic than average.

I agree with pjeby's response on this point.

People will judge your art based on its ambassadors.

I realize that, and I know it's not your fault or my fault that so many of the ambassadors of pickup suck. That's why I'm trying to talk about it in a way that sounds reasonable and morally neutral, so I can see what people think of it whens it's translated into a language that isn't so off-putting.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T18:14:11.836Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree. This is exactly the sort of discussion that needs to happen between rationalists with different sorts of life experiences (e.g. male and female rationalists). The controversial nature of these subjects shows why it needs to be hashed out, not that these subjects need to be avoided. Of course, individuals are free to bow out of these discussions.

I agree with this. The problem I seek to avoid by having an alternate place for such discussions is that of having the vast majority of discussion effort diverted to 'meta' discussion. Currently discussion of what human sexual preferences (gender typical and otherwise) are and what techniques are most useful in social interactions are extremely diluted. Most actually interesting material that can be used to enhance our models of the world ends up only included as footnotes and tangents among justifications and criticisms of stereotypes.

I would like people to make posts and comments on the actual subject matter. I'd like it if the majority of replies to be agreement, disagreement, elaboration and general discussion of the ideas contained therein. Because then I'd have a chance to learn something new.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T08:32:56.494Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Does what the women are upset about make any sense to you?

Yes.

Reading your post gives me the impression that you think topics related to sex just blow up for no particular reason, but I may be wrong.

I know the reasons well enough to realise that the 'blowing up' will not go away without creating a separate place for discussing such topics in an objective, rational manner. I wouldn't dream of demanding that people refrain from taking the discussion personally on LW. When on a subsite dedicated to game theory as directly applied to humans then I would expect people to refrain from sabotaging objective discussions, when there is a very real opportunity to simply not to expose themselves to them.

Claiming offence is an extremely powerful political weapon. In a value neutral sense, ensuring that a topic blows up is an attempt to assert political influence on the outcome. And politics is the mind killer. I would like there to be a place to discuss topics related to sex in a purely objective manner. Because it just facts. Facts are just true of false. Not outrageous or unacceptable.

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-12T08:58:38.979Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know if it's possible to discuss anything in a purely objective manner, sex especially, since it's a topic into which most people bring a lot of biases regardless of how objective and rational they're trying to be. If such a topic is discussed by a group of people who are likely to have the same set of biases towards the subject, then that can create a blind spot. And sex in particular requires deep understanding of both men's and women's psychology and socialization to make headway on, so there may be a limit to how much a discussion involving only one sex could accomplish. I wouldn't want to lose insightful perspectives like Alicorn's "gifts vs commodities" comment that otherwise might not come up. I'd be willing to sift through the strong emotions (that mostly fit the facts) the topic may inspire in order to maximize my exposure to such insights.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T11:44:04.671Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

There is a difference between strong emotion and typical biases and directly combating the discussion by taking things to the personal level. The historical record of LW posts tells me that this political intervention is at times escalated to the level of outright bullying. When expressing certain positions are associated with the threat of reputation sabotage we cannot expect the discussion to be especially well correlated with non-political reality.

And sex in particular requires deep understanding of both men's and women's psychology and socialization to make headway on, so there may be a limit to how much a discussion involving only one sex could accomplish.

Sex doesn't seem to be the distinguishing factor on whether a given participant is able to usefully engage on the subject, especially once the selection effect of 'people who like lesswrong type discussions' is applied. It is a political vs epistemic divide, not a male vs female one.

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-12T18:22:08.261Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"Sex doesn't seem to be the distinguishing factor on whether a given participant is able to usefully engage on the subject, especially once the selection effect of 'people who like lesswrong type discussions' is applied. It is a political vs epistemic divide, not a male vs female one."

And yet the current norms of discussion are ones that leave a large proportion of the women here fighting through some measure of fear and discomfort to post-- but not the men. This saps cognitive energy and limits how much they can contribute. You may want to consider why this is, and whether there are any minimal changes you would consider making in order to make both genders feel safe enough to post freely.

"Strive to only make utilitarian calculations that take into account both men's and women's best interests" is a good place to start.

This discussion has also given me a lot of insight into why the proportion of women on this site is so atypically small even for computer programming crowds. Some that like lesswrong-type discussions may find dealing with the PUA-related talk here too mentally and emotionally draining for the site to be a net positive in experience. I've changed my mind and now also support moving all PUA-related discussions to another site, if for different reasons than yours.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T19:08:59.735Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

And yet the current norms of discussion are ones that leave a large proportion of the women here fighting through some measure of fear and discomfort to post-- but not the men.

The part in bold could not be further from the truth. A not insignificant number of men here are terrified of contributing on this subject, due to their previous discussions. It reached the stage where people making a point that touched on human mating patterns apologised, asked for permission and generally supplicated and grovelled in an attempt to avoid reprisal. It nauseated me.

This saps cognitive energy and limits how much they can contribute.

Precisely, and I hate this effect, as it applies to either sex and people of every conceivable sexual sexual orientation. This is why I hope XFrequentist (or whomever) creates a spin off site where the topics can be discussed without fear of reputation sabotage.

You may want to consider why this is, and whether there are any minimal changes you would consider making in order to make both genders feel safe enough to post freely.

My comments here are targeted towards exactly that ultimate goal, with no small measure of thought behind which intermediate steps I consider useful for reaching that target. There is also a specific class of behaviours that I consider a harm to the community and a violation of the rights which I like to proscribe to individuals. These behaviours I don't want people to be comfortable engaging in.

"Strive to only make utilitarian calculations that take into account both men's and women's best interests" is a good place to start.

I don't make utilitarian calculations of any kind and while I do make consequentialist calculations they are significantly tempered by ethical injunctions when considering topics such as this. I note that Alicorn takes this a step further - she explicitly professes subscription to deontological ethics.

comment by Airedale · 2010-09-13T15:29:53.419Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

A not insignificant number of men here are terrified of contributing on this subject, due to their previous discussions. It reached the stage where people making a point that touched on human mating patterns apologised, asked for permission and generally supplicated and grovelled in an attempt to avoid reprisal. It nauseated me.

(emphasis added)

I’m curious what sorts of comments you have in mind here, although I understand if you don’t want to single anyone out specifically. This pattern is not something I have noticed, although it could be that we have just reacted to the same comments/commenters in different ways. For example, I have found HughRistik’s consistently measured tone in discussing mating patterns very refreshing. It’s my impression that his comments are generally well-received not only because of their intelligent content, but also because of their thoughtfulness and tact. Nor do I have the sense that HughRistik, in making the choice to use this sort of tone, has had to obfuscate his meaning or avoid making any points that he would like to make. But it could be that you have different sorts of comments in mind.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-09-13T16:28:43.910Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Let me add myself as a data point. Having seen how these conversations go, I made a conscious decision to tread very carefully around them, basically only engaging with peripheral issues that look safe. As a result, I have left things unsaid that I think would be relevant, true and interesting, but also controversial. Even when I have something to say that seems safe, I feel like this topic requires me to put so much more effort into verifying that than a blog comment is normally worth, so I don't bother.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T16:15:18.791Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I’m curious what sorts of comments you have in mind here

I'm not going to go through and trawl the paper trail but it is something that myself and others have commented on as it happens. I suspect I could find a hit or two via searches for "don't need to ask for permission", "If you think it is relevant then post it", "the line you speak of is imaginary" and almost certainly "quit F@#% grovelling!"

More generally I note that you seem to talking about a different issue to the one that my comment was replying to. In the immediate context we were discussing fear and discomfort held by an alleged "a large proportion of the women" and "a not insignificant number of men".

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-12T19:27:54.757Z · score: -4 (12 votes) · LW · GW

The part in bold could not be further from the truth. A not insignificant number of men here are terrified of contributing on this subject, due to their previous discussions. It reached the stage where people making a point that touched on human mating patterns apologised, asked for permission and generally supplicated and grovelled in an attempt to avoid reprisal.

A few men here fear being criticized. Some women here fear perpetuating ideas that increase the social acceptability and incidence of rape and other actions which ignore female agenthood. Regardless of how "reasonable" you consider each fear, they are not of equal magnitude. And then consider that the women here are women who have already been self selected for interest in rationality, and then further selected for ability to deal with potentially threatening comments regarding sex relations in the past. Something is wrong when they feel threatened by a subset of the talk here-- and it isn't "they're just too PC."

I don't make utilitarian calculations of any kind and while I do make consequentialist calculations they are significantly tempered by ethical injunctions when considering topics such as this. I note that Alicorn takes this a step further - she explicitly professes subscription to deontological ethics.

Take out the word "utilitarian" if you wish. It's the "ignoring of women's interests" that I find disturbing. See this comment and this comment for a better expression of my concerns.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T20:27:40.076Z · score: 4 (12 votes) · LW · GW

A few men here fear being criticized. Some women here fear perpetuating ideas that increase the social acceptability and incidence of rape and other actions which ignore female agenthood. Regardless of how "reasonable" you consider each fear, they are not of equal magnitude.

That doesn't seem to be an accurate or appropriate dichotomy to construct here. No comments here advocate the incidence of rape or other actions which ignore female agenthood. Is the advocacy of such atrocities a crime so abhorrent that even innocence is no excuse?

There is a reason that most countries have laws against libel as well as against other more direct violations of the person.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-13T00:20:13.690Z · score: 4 (12 votes) · LW · GW

No comments here advocate the incidence of rape or other actions which ignore female agenthood.

It's a matter of implication. If it's suggested that women should be less picky-- for the sake of men, and no implication that it's for the sake of women-- and one of the reasons women are picky is regard for their own safety, but this is not considered relevant-- then it isn't unreasonable for a woman to conclude that her safety is considered unimportant. This isn't the same thing as intentional advocacy of rape, but the emotional effect may be somewhat similar.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T02:00:17.941Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

If it's suggested that women should be less picky-- for the sake of men, and no implication that it's for the sake of women-- and one of the reasons women are picky is regard for their own safety, but this is not considered relevant-- then it isn't unreasonable for a woman to conclude that her safety is considered unimportant.

I can't quite follow you on this chain. Even if women are asked to be less picky, that doesn't mean that she is being asked to change the safety-related elements of her preferences. That's a possible implication which understandably evokes a negative reaction, and deserves being pointed out. But it's just too big a leap to "conclude" that the speaker believes that women's safety is unimportant.

I will also note that komponisto's original problematic quote talked about women "granting" sexual favors less conservatively. "Grant" implies agency. It's not a reasonable assumption to conclude that komponisto wants women to engage in sexuality in ways that compromise their safety. That's just not the kind of belief a decent person would hold, so concluding that he might consider women's safety unimportant communicates that he is a bad person. Now he's been made to feel he's such a bad person that he can't even emotionally participate in this topic anymore.

Was there a whole host of problems with his original comment? Yes. Do those problems deserve to be pointed out, including the negative reactions they caused? Yes. But I find the insinuations about komponisto's beliefs and the supposed entailments of what he is saying (like the idea that women's determinations about their safety being considered unimportant) to be overboard, only tenuously connected to his actual words, and unduly shaming.

EDIT: The karma of this post has been fluctuating. Check out my follow-up for a better explanation of my views.

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-13T02:09:43.288Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's just not the kind of belief a decent person would hold, so concluding that he might consider women's safety unimportant communicates that he is a bad person. Now he's been made to feel he's such a bad person that he can't even emotionally participate in this topic anymore.

At least two people on the other side of the discussion have assured komponisto that they don't consider him a "bad person" here and here. Besides saying this upfront before each criticism, can you think of some other ways that we might minimize the real or perceived implication that harsh judgment on someone's ideas implies harsh judgment on his/her character?

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T05:33:21.912Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Saying that you don't consider someone a bad person is no good if you talk in a way that assumes they are a bad person.

Here, Nancy asks komponisto:

How many hours a week of mercy fucks would you say that women owe to the world?

Yet komponisto has never argued that women should give men "mercy fucks." After he clarified his comment, it's clear that he doesn't want women to have sex with guys they aren't into (i.e. "mercy fucks"), he wants to evaluate the basis by which women decide what they are into in the first place.

Asking him this question implies that he is a bad person.

Here, Nancy says:

Too conservative for who? Who gains under the new system? He frames it as women "granting sexual favors", not, for example, as women having more fun or a larger selection of potential mates or anything else they might want. I think that's where the entitlement issues showed up.

Similarly, Alicorn said the following (though it was before komponisto's clarification, so it makes more sense):

People are not entitled to get things for free from people who don't want to give them, even if you think their reasons for not wanting to give are dumb.

The conceptualization of sexuality as women "granting sexual favors" is problematic, but it's not the same thing as feeling that men have some sort of "entitlement" to sex.

The idea that men are entitled to sex is something a bad person believes.

Similarly, datadataeverywhere says:

Since you failed to mention any specific benefit to the women so altered, it sounds like coercion and is extremely offensive.

Except that komponisto clearly talked about women "granting" sexual favors. "Grant" implies agency. komponisto saying "Obviously, given that someone already doesn't want to give something, then their giving it would be bad, all else being equal" is not consistent with the notion of coercion.

Entitlement, coercion, and "mercy fucks" are simply not implications of komponisto's full views. They are associations with particular sentences of what he wrote. If anyone disagrees, tell me why you think I'm wrong.

Yes, some people who think women should have sex with a wider range of men believe this because they think men are entitled to sexual attention from women who are ambivalent about them. But the relationship of these views is correlation, not implication.

I can understand getting offended over a problematic view that komponisto raised, but I don't understand getting offended at his comment for an idea that he didn't say, which is correlated with his view. Personally, I would like to have seen the problematic correlations of komponisto's statements to be raised to him. But I would have preferred to see it done in a way that didn't suggest that what he said actually entailed or assumed these problematic correlations. Instead, these problematic correlations (that only a bad person would believe) of komponisto's statements were treated as assumed or implied by him, which resulted in treating him like a bad guy, despite any explicit assurances otherwise.

Several women brought up the point that komponisto didn't originally mention potential female benefits in less sexually selective with men. But just because he doesn't mention it, doesn't meant that there aren't potential female benefits, or that he doesn't believe that they exist! We could have always asked him to clarify. (Unless he is a bad person, who doesn't deserve charity in interpretation of his arguments.)

Just as many people (not just women) reading this thread called up problematic correlations with some of komponisto's statements, other people have heard similar points made by people who do consider women's interests important. See my response to Vladimir_M here.

In my view, the more appropriate response would have been something like "You may not be aware that lots of people who criticize women's preferences seem to consider themselves, or men in general, entitled to female sexual attention, and they show insufficient regard for women's body sovereignty and self-determination. If you want to evaluate women's preferences, could you explain how we can do this in a way that respects women's autonomy? What kind of benefits might women accrue from attempting to change their preferences, and if not, they why should they attempt to do so merely to satisfy men's preferences?" I liked pjeby's response a lot, and he also offered the charity of seeking an alternative interpretation of komponisto's comment.

I feel uncomfortable about making this post. Just like some women here have expressed apprehension at being pattern-matched with the stereotype of the irrational, complaining woman, I'm uncomfortable being pattern-matched with the stodgy guy who doesn't get women's feelings and is unfairly telling women to stop being so hysterical and listen to reason.

For the most part, I find the critical comments towards certain parts of komponisto's posts to make a lot of sense, and I think some excellent points were raised in response, like this one by Alicorn:

To the extent that sex is like a gift, you have to be in a relationship with someone that warrants the exchange of such gifts. I don't expect birthday presents from people who aren't in a birthday-present-exchanging relationship with me. To the extent that sex is like a commodity, guess what - it's for sale! No, you can't buy it from every person who might have it to offer, but not everybody who bakes cupcakes sells them either - you have to go to a cupcake store. If you want homemade cupcakes, you'll have to make friends with somebody who bakes.

You ask:

Besides saying this upfront before each criticism, can you think of some other ways that we might minimize the real or perceived implication that harsh judgment on someone's ideas implies harsh judgment on his/her character?

Distinguish between someone's actual ideas, and problematic ideas of other people that are correlated by those ideas. Avoid criticizing that person's ideas in ways indicating that they believe things that only bad people would believe, unless you can actually show why such a belief is entailed by what they actually wrote.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-13T10:52:41.168Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

You may well be on to something. I've read a good bit of the bad-tempered attribution-of-bad-motives stuff, and I was horrified by it, but I think more of it has rubbed off on me than I realized. In particular, I don't usually have an inclination to punish and keep punishing, but it's showed up in this discussion with komponisto and in my take on how MOR-Hermione was characterized.

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-13T05:54:52.254Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

You may not be aware that lots of people who criticize women's preferences seem to consider themselves, or men in general, entitled to female sexual attention, and they show insufficient regard for women's body sovereignty and self-determination. If you want to evaluate women's preferences, could you explain how we can do this in a way that respects women's autonomy? What kind of benefits might women accrue from attempting to change their preferences, and if not, they why should they attempt to do so merely to satisfy men's preferences?

I like this response! While I expect that in the heat of the moment most people (on all sides) won't always be able to word themselves this carefully and explicitly, it's a good general outline for future comments on controversial topics. Upvoted for thoughtfulness.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T06:07:59.347Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. Rather than pooh-poohing from the peanut gallery how other people critiqued komponisto, I wanted to show what I think should have been done instead. I wanted to show that I understand at least some of their concerns.

Nancy actually raised some similar questions here, though I wish they had been raised in an initial response to komponisto before jumping on him, rather than to me when I started defending him.

In case anyone wonders why I didn't make that sort of response to komponisto in the first place, it's because by the time I saw his comment, the thread had already started blowing up. It triggered the pattern-match of "guy getting unfairly made into the bad guy," which resulted in all sorts of negative emotional reactions of my own that made my first priority attempting to mitigate the perceived unfairness.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-13T10:57:29.306Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It took me some time to think of them-- they weren't available as an initial response. And I might not have thought of them if I hadn't been angry.

Also, I got nastier (perhaps unfairly so) when they weren't addressed.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-13T02:28:13.112Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Besides saying this upfront before each criticism, can you think of some other ways that we might minimize the real or perceived implication that harsh judgment on someone's ideas implies harsh judgment on his/her character?

When arguing against an idea, avoid conveying indignation that the idea was suggested.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T04:44:20.926Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

When arguing against an idea, avoid conveying indignation that the idea was suggested.

But why? Don't you deserve to know that we are indignant? Don't you find that sort of information useful?

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-13T06:35:37.221Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed:

But why? Don't you deserve to know that we are indignant? Don't you find that sort of information useful?

However, it seems to me that replying with indignation is a failure of rationality, the way this term is normally used here. Ever since I started reading this site, I've always thought that if it lived up to its ideal perfectly, one would be able to post arbitrarily outrageous, offensive, and inflammatory ideas, and get back nothing except calm replies detailing the factual and logical errors contained in them. (And indeed, I must commend the extent to which many people here are willing to engage the substance of various unconventional ideas, including many disreputable-sounding ones, instead of brushing them off reflexively.)

While this perfect ideal is clearly unattainable, I do believe that people here should encourage comments that address exactly what's been said, and don't yield to the usual human temptation to make moral judgments against individuals just for their willingness to give rational consideration to disreputable (and perhaps even evil) ideas.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-13T13:11:32.237Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ever since I started reading this site, I've always thought that if it lived up to its ideal perfectly, one would be able to post arbitrarily outrageous, offensive, and inflammatory ideas, and get back nothing except calm replies detailing the factual and logical errors contained in them.

I very much agree with your interpretation of the ideals of rationality and I aspire to reach such a level of self-control myself someday. But it also occured to me that embracing this attitudein excess could cause people to push themselves too hard. By that I mean being unable to admit to themselves that they have fallen prey to the mind killer and should refrain from talking until they regain their calm, instead plowing on, unsuccessfully trying to write a level-headed response because that's what a good rationalist would do.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-13T11:55:44.648Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

There's a difference between explicitly informing someone about your emotions and expressing them in the tone of your writing. And I think that the former, unlike the latter, would be good. I wonder whether it would help to stabilise emotionally volatile discussions if there was a policy of giving full explicit disclosure of your emotional reactions and automatic associations raised by others' comments when responding to them. Something like "this part of your post made me scared, the next part angry and the epilogue inexplicably caused me to think about Hitler. Sorry about that and now to adress your points..."

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T16:36:19.225Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's a difference between explicitly informing someone about your emotions and expressing them in the tone of your writing.

Yes there is. They convey different meanings.

And I think that the former, unlike the latter, would be good.

You are apparently not the only person here who thinks that. To have a community ethos which forbids one to express the meaning conveyed by tone strikes me as a little odd, particularly in a community which prides itself on willingness to discuss anything.

... a policy of giving full explicit disclosure of your emotional reactions ...

A "policy"? Too strong, IMO. Other than that, I liked this part of your comment. Yes, it is often best to express emotion non-judgmentally, particularly when you are not sure of the cause or justification of the emotion.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T05:44:24.192Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Someone feeling indignant over something you actually said is useful. Someone feeling indignant over potential implications of something you said is useful, as long as they don't treat you like you believe that implication. Someone feeling indignant over something someone else said that is correlated with what you've said (but not implied by it) is also useful, as long as they aim the indignation at the other person, not at you. Otherwise, you feel like you are being made into the bad guy instead of having your arguments treated with charity.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T06:34:37.672Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think you missed my (implied) point. Let me try again. Someone feeling indignant over something I said is unfortunate. My knowing that they feel that way is probably useful. Someone feeling indignant at me over their misinterpretation of something someone else said is both unfortunate and unfair. But there is not much I can do to correct the situation until I know that the indignation exists. The knowledge that the indignation exists is useful to me. I am not victimized by it. I can do something about it.

The only soft-skills training I ever received that I thought was useful taught me that communicating emotions is often more important than communicating ideas, because until the existence of those kinds of emotional reactions becomes common knowledge, neither party can do much to address the root cause.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T06:55:51.564Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

But there is not much I can do to correct the situation until I know that the indignation exists.

Right. It's how the indignation is communicated that matters. I'm not saying that the indignant person should hold it in. I'm saying that there are more and less constructive ways of communicating that indignation.

But there is not much I can do to correct the situation until I know that the indignation exists.

The person feeling indignant can exercise care about how they express their indignation in the first place, and whether it is really deserved. I don't think it's a good practice to blast people with my indignation, and rely on them to correct me if I'm wrong (I'm not sure that's what you are saying, but it's my best guess). if my indignation turns out to be misplaced, then I'd feel like a jerk. There are better solutions:

  1. Wait, and ask for clarification. If the other person explains themselves and digs themselves into an even deeper hole, then you can always get indignant at them later.

  2. Express the fact that you are feeling indignant, but don't aim the indignation directly at the other person. Examples:

  3. "What you are saying reminds me of idea X, which has always pissed me off."

  4. "You sound like you might be saying X, which really bothers me. Could you distinguish what you are saying from X?"
  5. "Please tell me you aren't saying X."
  6. "When you said Y, it reminded me of this guy believed Y, and also believed X, which I thought was really messed up. What do you think of X?"
  7. "X is messed up. I'm not sure that's what you actually mean, but that's my best guess."

These example express the indignation, but don't make the other person the target of it. They have a chance to get out of the way of the indignation meteor before it actually lands on them.

See this post for the type of response to komponisto that I think was due.

Do these sound like plausible solutions to you? Have I responded to your point?

comment by steven0461 · 2010-09-13T20:30:43.048Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not saying that the indignant person should hold it in.

Why not? I hold in indignation at LW comments all the time. It's a safe policy that helps prevent disasters like this entire thread has been.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T21:18:26.551Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Me too, including in this discussion. I'm saying that people shouldn't categorically hold indignation in. Some types of indignation should probably be expressed: the question is when, and what evidence needs to be met before you can feel confident that the indignation is deserved, and that expressing it will further your conversational goals.

Generally, my standard is to hold indignation in unless I can see that someone is persistently doing something problematic and I think they should know better, and if my efforts at getting them to clarify or change their mind fail. And when I do show indignation, it's mainly in the amount that I feel is deserved (people may have noticed me with a slightly more strident tone in some of my recent comments).

Sometimes, even when I'm pretty confident someone is being a jerk, I'll wait. My view is that if I'm feeling indignant, I don't have to blast someone with it now. I can bide my time, and continue the discussion with them trying to get them to either back down, or dig themselves into an even deeper hole. Then I can bring down the hammer, feeling confident that it's deserved, and that observers will agree. Luckily, I rarely get pushed to this last step on LessWrong, because people here are too good at rationality: even if I never end up seeing eye-to-eye with people, I can usually get a combination of explanations or updating from them that defuses my indignation before I have to bring out the full brunt of it.

I'm not confident that everyone should follow this standard (it's nice to have people on your "side" in an argument who get indignant sooner than you and express what you are feeling), but I do think that people should scrutinize their indignation before expressing it.

comment by steven0461 · 2010-09-13T22:15:18.986Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I can see expressing indignation being called for if someone is being unpleasant to other LW members, but I think expressing indignation at opinions you find unpleasant would be beyond the pale on a forum ideally suited for finding truth, especially in light of the motivating power of trivial inconveniences, and in light of the way that in a noisy world, asymmetrically suppressing falsehoods means suppressing truths, and in light of the way that when the opinions in question are unpopular, expressed indignation can be seen as carrying an implicit threat to damage the opiner's reputation. The main thing that gives me pause here is that if LW is seen as "contaminated" with "impure" beliefs, that may harm its ability to fight the more important battles that it's fighting; but that argues more for paranoia than indignation.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-13T07:16:31.426Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Express the fact that you are feeling indignant, but don't aim the indignation directly at the other person.

This is a good communication technique in general. It is important to be able to express and explain feelings without having to either defend their rightness or assign blame.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-13T14:22:59.299Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for spelling out some of your magical powers of minefield-navigation. I have often admired them.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T08:16:06.231Z · score: -7 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Have I responded to your point?

You have certainly made a heroic effort to seem reasonable. At another blog I frequent, someone would be making a comment about watercress sandwiches right now.

See this post for the type of response to komponisto that I think was due.

And there is the reason why I think your efforts to be reasonable have failed. Because I think that your suggested responses are completely unreasonable. To my mind, the only reasonable response to komponisto's comment, inserted as it was into the conversation at that point, would have been a very strong and unanimous expression of indignation. If komponisto had received that, there is the possibility that, like a cat jumping on a hot stove, he might have learned something.

However, he did not receive that, and he apparently did not learn anything. Nor did anyone else that might have shared the lesson.

I see that as a major failure of the Less Wrong community. This kind of blowup is just going to keep happening until it becomes clear either that women are not welcome here or that making women feel unwelcome here is not going to be tolerated.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T08:20:39.482Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I see that as a major failure of the Less Wrong community. This kind of blowup is just going to keep happening until it becomes clear either that women are not welcome here or that making women feel unwelcome here is not going to be tolerated.

In all seriousness it is displays like you have been making here that I will expend effort to make unwelcome. You behaviour appals me and I consider it somewhat trollish.

I also suspect that komponisto did learn something, particularly about the importance of tact when discussing controversial topics. I know that isn't the lesson you want him to learn (roughly speaking, submit!) but it is the one that will be most useful for kompo in accordance to his own ethics and values (that is, kompo's, not yours and not Alicorn's).

If someone hits me I don't always learn "I should give them my lunch money". Sometimes I learn "I need to avoid that person", "I need to seek allies to protect me" or even "I need to develop my combat skills so I can defeat would be assailants".

The self defence skill that would may be the most benefitial for people in the kind of situation that kompo was is verbal assertiveness of the kind popularised by Marshall Rosenberg (Nonviolent communication). The techniques are particularly useful for deflecting or deflating personal attacks without sacrificing your own position via supplication. (I present this as an example of the kind of topic which I would make posts on if we had a place where we allowed discussion of social pragmatics.)

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-13T12:10:18.814Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I also suspect that komponisto did learn something, particularly about the importance of tact when discussing controversial topics.

Actually, the importance of tact is something I was already convinced of; the lesson here was more about the nature of tact, i.e. what constitutes tact and what doesn't.

As hard as it may be to believe now with hindsight, when I was actually writing the infamous comment I thought I was being tactful.

comment by wnoise · 2010-09-13T18:03:04.192Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The techniques are particularly useful for deflecting or deflating personal attacks without sacrificing your own position via supplication. (I present this as an example of the kind of topic which I would make posts on if we had a place where we allowed discussion of social pragmatics.)

I don't think that's a "banned topic". I think it would, in fact, be well received.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T17:44:20.374Z · score: -5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

In all seriousness it is displays like you have been making here that I will expend effort to make unwelcome. Your behaviour appalls me and I consider it somewhat trollish.

In all sincerity, I appreciate your honesty. You have repeatedly warned me that I was (at least) pushing the envelope of community practice. I am doing so again with full awareness that many (most?) people here might consider it borderline trollish. Perhaps if more of those people had your honesty, I might be shamed into either shutting up or conforming.

I also suspect that komponisto did learn something, particularly about the importance of tact when discussing controversial topics.

"Tact"??? You think the issue is one of tact? Komponisto practically oozed tact. He was apologizing for himself in every other paragraph. The issue is one of content, of deliberately trying to creep people out. He was saying that women's fear of rape is unfair to teh men. He, for no particular reason, brought up the Amanda Knox case. He suggested (with tactful apologies for making a controversial suggestion) that the world would be a better place if women granted more sexual favors.

I haven't had much if any interaction with komponisto, but if he has acquired the level of karma he has in this forum, he is certainly not stupid. He knew exactly what he was doing.

that isn't the lesson you want him to learn (roughly speaking, submit!)

Oh, please. Submit to what? I want him to submit in exactly the same sense that you want me to submit. Except that you want me to submit to some rather strict community standards of behavior. I want komponisto to submit to standards that are expected in Western society as a whole.

but it [the lesson to be tactful] is the one that will be most useful for kompo in accordance to his own ethics and values (that is, kompo's, not yours and not Alicorn's).

No, as I already said, I doubt that that lesson would be helpful. In fact, I don't recall that that lesson was even suggested by any of the (very few, actually) people who criticized him. If he really wants to learn a lesson from this, let him review what was said, and try to take what was said at face value rather than as further evidence of some kind of anti-male double standard.

As for his own ethics and values being different than mine and Alicorn, I would be very curious as to what you think the differences are. Or, if you would be understandably reluctant to speak for komponisto's ethics, please tell us how you think that the ethics and values of komponisto's critics seem to differ from your own. A discussion on this subtopic might well be the most productive way for this conversation to proceed.

If you wish, I will start by speculating about the differences among the ethics of yourself, myself, and Alicorn. My guess is that the three ethical systems are pretty similar - all a bit more deontological than utilitarian. Regarding specific moral and immoral actions, I suspect that our viewpoints are also very similar. But I see (imagine?) one pretty salient difference in the strength of our negative attitudes toward the immoral act of rape. Of the three of us, I suspect that Alicorn has the strongest negative opinion and you the least strong. I am somewhere in the middle, I think. Probably closer to Alicorn. But, based on some things you have said, and on your defense of komponisto, it seems possible to me that you are quite distant from the two of us on this judgment. What is your estimate on this?

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-09-13T18:02:46.390Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The issue is one of content, of deliberately trying to creep people out.

That is not a charge that should be made lightly, and I don't think it's true.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T23:05:16.518Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You may be right about the truth. You are definitely right that it shouldn't have been made so lightly. I regret that I was so quick to jump publicly to a conclusion.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-13T18:05:38.823Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The issue is one of content, of deliberately trying to creep people out.

You have now officially accused me of being a bad person.

Not, for example, of having underestimated the cost to Group X of a certain proposal to help Group Y -- or any other error that a decent person might make. No, you have now made it explicit that you think I have bad -- indeed "creepy" -- intentions.

Do you stand by this, or do you want to reconsider?

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T18:51:23.407Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That was my impression of Perplexed's comment, also. I think it makes far too many assumptions about your state of mind and views, and is also directly contradicted by your own words ("grant" implies agency). Perplexed's comment makes you sound like a passive-aggressive schemer using a veneer of tact to implement your sinister female-unfriendly agenda. I can't reconcile his impression with what you've actually said, and I can't even reconcile it with the most strident responses you've received from women, which at least don't accuse you of intentionally trying to be a creep and even explicitly disclaim that accusation.

To satisfy my own curiosity, could you clarify you original thoughts when making the comment you got jumped on for? What did you think might make it controversial? What do you now think of the comment, and what have you learned from the responses to it?

I'm tired of folks projecting motives and views onto you that aren't entailed by what you've actually said merely because your words triggered an association with people who do have bad motives who've said somewhat similar things. The fact that some people may have trouble imagining any charitable explanations of what you said could be due to undue cynicism or errors of reasoning, but it could also be partly due to a lot of inferential distance, which isn't their fault or yours.

Similarly, I think a big part of the reason you made the original comment was because of your own inferential distance from those who were upset by it. You understood that people could have problems with it, but you didn't understand exactly the nature of those problems. I also wonder whether you were aware of the history of Bad People saying stuff that sounds similar to what you said, and if so, how distinct you thought your argument was from theirs. Also, I don't think you fully anticipated some of the inferences could be drawn. If you had realized these things, I think you would have made your original comment differently, and included disclaimers like the one you made later (that you think it would be bad to encourage people to do things they don't want to do).

Of course, I'm speculating here, and you are inviting to fill me in. But I think my speculation is a much more parsimonious explanation for your comments than Perplexed's. It's also more charitable, and would have provided a better foundation for a dialogue with you to change your mind.

Even intelligent, tactful, thoughtful people such as yourself can not know things, not know that Bad People exist who say similar things, not anticipate all the potential implications of their words, and fail to anticipate the reactions of different people with different life experiences. That does not make them Bad People, or even bad rationalists. It's called inferential distance, folks!

comment by khafra · 2010-09-13T19:35:31.750Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

a much more parsimonious explanation for your comments than Perplexed's.

Perplexed's explanation is more parsimonious, given a much higher prior for trolling. My intentions at this site, combined with my experiences here, lead me to expect a near-complete lack of attempts to generate controversy for its own sake. Perplexed's experiences and intentions may lead him to expect otherwise.

That last paragraph was a disingenuous jab at Perplexed, but after reading through the comments on this post I feel indignant at his take on the proper use of indignation, and I'm going to signal that.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T19:52:03.680Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed's explanation is more parsimonious, given a much higher prior for trolling.

Yeah, I agree that it would make more sense if there was a different history with Komponisto, and some evidence to think he was trolling. None of the women in the thread seemed to think he was trolling, and Alicorn explicitly acknowledged in her initial response that she considered him a decent person. That's why I'm wondering whether Perplexed is reading the same thread that everyone else is reading.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T22:14:17.124Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed's explanation is more parsimonious, given a much higher prior for trolling.

My initial "gut feel" explanation, and the one which I think justifies community indignation, is more parsimonious. But Hugh's is probably more parsimonious than my current hypothesis that the behavior was part of an act.

Your point regarding priors for trolling is a valid one. I should probably take my unfamiliarity with the mores here into account much more when estimating probabilities as to what is really happening.

Signal received and noted. Thank you.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-13T20:06:22.542Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm tired of folks projecting motives and views onto you that aren't entailed by what you've actually said merely because your words triggered an association with people who do have bad motives who've said somewhat similar things.

Yes indeed -- it's the phenomenon of pattern-completion, the same thing that Eliezer talks about all the time in the context of his views on the Singularity. People expect certain opinions or characteristics to go together, so that when a person exhibits a subset of these, people's brains complete the pattern and automatically fill in the rest, regardless of whether or not the rest is actually there.

It's incredibly frustrating, but also predictable. I should have seen it coming.

To satisfy my own curiosity, could you clarify you original thoughts when making the comment you got jumped on for? What did you think might make it controversial? What do you now think of the comment, and what have you learned from the responses to it?

There's a limit to how much I can say without breaking my vow to never again discuss the underlying topic. Basically, it was an honest passing thought that should have been censored. In the context of explaining specific reservations about a portion of a comment by SarahC, I briefly took a broader view, focused on a more general human problem, and more-or-less offhandedly wondered whether a solution could be found by tweaking in a certain direction.

I expected it to be controversial in the sense that I thought people would be strongly inclined to reject the proposal. It sounds incredibly naïve now, but I thought people would reply by saying "no, that wouldn't work" or "that's not the real source of the problem" or "you won't find a solution by going down that particular path". I had little or no notion that I was at risk of being treated like the next Sexist Villain. If I had to verbalize my unconscious, automatic thought processes, I suppose what I thought was that I had built up too much of a reputation here as a reasonable person for that!

I had forgotten how many different people read this site, and how little of a detailed model of me they have.

The illusion of transparency strikes again!

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T22:02:12.842Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would like to discuss my hypothesis. Which is, I suppose, a form of reconsideration. I have some questions regarding your motivation for the wording and timing of some of the things you said. We can do this publicly or privately - your choice. I've already admitted I was wrong about the Amanda Knox thing. I am open to being corrected about the rest.

At the end, I may well apologize.

Incidentally, let me clarify my current opinion. I don't think you were trying to creep women out from some kind of malice or general love of being creepy. I think you were trying to deliberately draw criticism so as to fake being wounded by it with the ultimate aim of making some point - perhaps a point about double standards. That kind of bad person.

I don't know if that makes you feel better.

And to respond also to Hugh and also, I think, Nancy, my apology, if komponisto convinces me I'm wrong, will include an apology for attributing motive with too little evidence.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-14T03:11:03.565Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I have some questions regarding your motivation for the wording and timing of some of the things you said. We can do this publicly or privately - your choice.

I'm inclined to keep it public for now, for the benefit of curious onlookers.

I think you were trying to deliberately draw criticism

That is something I never do. I am terrified of criticism and social disapproval generally (including downvotes on LW by the way). When I express an opinion that I know may subject me to criticism, I do so either because I feel so strongly about the issue that I judge it a worthwhile tradeoff (a very high bar), or because I believe the environment is "safe" for expressing such opinions without fear of judgmental criticism or other social punishment. In this instance, it was the latter; my safeness detector failed.

so as to fake being wounded by it with the ultimate aim of making some point - perhaps a point about double standards.

I had no point to make about double standards. I think I was explicit in at least one comment about allowing for symmetry. I happened to be discussing one side, with no implication whatsoever about the other. At least, no logical implication. But here I was the victim of pattern-completion.

I don't think you'll find anything I said that was inconsistent with the possibility of an analogous reversed situation -- even, interestingly enough, anything inconsistent with the existence of the exactly reversed situation (i.e. men being too selective, resulting in sex-starved women)! I don't think anyone noticed this.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T04:37:13.135Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Me: I have some questions regarding your motivation for the wording and timing of some of the things you said. We can do this publicly or privately - your choice.

You: I'm inclined to keep it public for now, for the benefit of curious onlookers.

Great.

I think you were trying to deliberately draw criticism

That is something I never do. I am terrified of criticism and social disapproval generally...

Ok, if that is true, then it is very likely that I am going to be proven wrong. So the only substantive question I want to ask in this comment is this: Can you provide any evidence that you are terrified of criticism? For example, a link to a comment or posting on LW or some other forum where you confided that fear. Something prior to this blow-up.

Here is how I would like to proceed. Tomorrow morning (here) - roughly 12 hrs from now - I will post a list of (~20) short questions. Most will take simple yes or no answers; a few may ask you to state your motivation for doing X. The style of the questions may be something like what happens in the taking of a deposition in an American legal case. Not particularly friendly questions, but not particularly hostile either. I doubt that I will be asking anything that would force you to break that vow not to further discuss sexual politics.

After receiving your answers, I may ask a much smaller number of follow-up questions in a second posting. After this I will do one of two things.

One possibility is that I may announce that I still don't believe you and explain why. At this point, it is your turn to question me. When you are done, I'm sure other people will want a shot at me.

The other possibility is that I will sincerely apologize for having impugned your integrity. I will ask that you, or some member of the community, "penalize" me to the amount of 100 karma points. If you wish, you can question me in this case too. And then when that is done, I'm sure other people will have things to say to me as well.

Are these ground rules satisfactory?

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-14T11:35:26.280Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Can you provide any evidence that you are terrified of criticism? For example, a link to a comment or posting on LW or some other forum where you confided that fear. Something prior to this blow-up.

See here, here, here, and here. No claim of exhaustiveness.

Here is how I would like to proceed....Are these ground rules satisfactory?

I'm willing to give it a try; but please keep in mind what you're asking here: you, who have been here for (as you say) little over a month, are asking me to demonstrate my good faith to you. If I can do this easily, I'm willing to, but you should realize that there is a limit on the extent of my obligations in this regard.

I will ask that you, or some member of the community, "penalize" me to the amount of 100 karma points.

This is unnecessary, it seems to me, and I'm not sure how it would be implemented anyway.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T16:05:11.355Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Can you provide any evidence that you are terrified of criticism? For example, a link to a comment or posting on LW or some other forum where you confided that fear. Something prior to this blow-up.

See here, here, here, and here. No claim of exhaustiveness.

Ok, it certainly looks at this stage that I am going to owe you, and the community, an apology. But before I do that, I wonder if you could remove any lingering doubts by answering these questions, as I had originally proposed. The overwhelming majority are simple yes-or-no questions. I see them as pretty low-stress. If they don't seem that way to you, decline to answer.

For purposes of these questions, "The Incident" is defined as the LW discussion beginning with the opening comment and running up to the "officially finished" - "strychnine" comment.

Yes or no answers are fine, but feel free to provide a line or two of explanation where it seems appropriate. Refusing to answer is acceptable too, but a short explanation of the reason for the refusal would be helpful.

The first three questions deal with conspiracy theories (mine). For this group of questions, to "privately discuss" means to communicate with any LW commenter by email, personal contact, telephone, or internet forums other than this one.

-- Within the day or so before the incident, did you privately discuss your intention to make an LW comment on the topics touched on in the opening comment?

-- During the course of the incident, did you privately discuss the incident?

-- Since the incident, have you privately discussed the incident with anyone other than participants in the public discussion related to the incident?

Your opening comment begins by criticizing SarahC's comment "It can get creepy when men think...that it's unfair when they get turned down". Later in the comment, you segue into your "bound-to-be-controversial suggestion".

The following questions deal with your motivation in the opening comment.

-- Had you already formed the intention to make the "bound-to-be-controversial suggestion" at some point before seeing SarahC's comment?

-- When you saw SarahC's comment, did it immediately occur to you that this was a good opportunity to make the "suggestion"?

-- Did you decide to make the "suggestion" only after you had already begun writing your criticism of SarahC's comment?

-- Prior to the incident, had you read any novels ("Stranger in a Strange Land" might be an example) which includes the premise of a world or subculture in which women are less "conservative when it comes to granting sexual favors"? If so, what did you think about the desirability of the situation and the realism of the depiction of the situation?

-- Prior to the incident, had you heard of or read the book "Against our Will"?

-- Prior to the incident, did you have any particular opinions regarding feminism?

-- Prior to the incident, did you have any particular opinions regarding an unwarranted obsession with rape in feminist discussion?

The following questions deal with the way the incident unfolded.

-- Did you notice that most of the strong criticism of the opening comment was coming from women?

-- If you can recall, at what point in incident did you become aware of this?

-- Had you expected, when you wrote the opening comment, that this gender pattern would occur?

-- Have you seen this gender pattern before, in responses to any of your previous LW comments prior to the incident?

-- During the incident, what significance, if any, did you attach to this gender pattern? I.e. what hypotheses did this pattern suggest?

-- During the incident, you expressed distress that your critics were making you out to be a bad person. However, an alternative interpretation might be that they were saying you had, perhaps by not fully understanding the implications, done a bad thing. Did you consider this alternative interpretation during the incident?

-- Do you think that these interpretations are different enough to be worth making the distinction?

That's it.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-14T18:11:51.282Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The first three questions deal with conspiracy theories (mine). For this group of questions, to "privately discuss" means to communicate with any LW commenter by email, personal contact, telephone, or internet forums other than this one.

-- Within the day or so before the incident, did you privately discuss your intention to make an LW comment on the topics touched on in the opening comment?

No.

-- During the course of the incident, did you privately discuss the incident?

No

-- Since the incident, have you privately discussed the incident with anyone other than participants in the public discussion related to the incident?

Yes, with exactly one such person (i.e. someone not involved in the incident or the discussion). The person in question is a female who had/shared the impression that the second paragraph of my comment (the "controversial suggestion" part) subjected women-in-general to an unfair level of scrutiny, but agreed with the implication of the first paragraph (and disagreed with Alicorn) about the desirability of treating sex differently from other forms of interaction.

Your opening comment begins by criticizing SarahC's comment "It can get creepy when men think...that it's unfair when they get turned down". Later in the comment, you segue into your "bound-to-be-controversial suggestion".

The following questions deal with your motivation in the opening comment.

-- Had you already formed the intention to make the "bound-to-be-controversial suggestion" at some point before seeing SarahC's comment?

No, although the fact that SarahC's comment (and the composition of my reply) so easily prompted me to make the suggestion implies that this was not the first time a thought of this sort had crossed my mind.

-- When you saw SarahC's comment, did it immediately occur to you that this was a good opportunity to make the "suggestion"?

Not for any definition of "immediately" that is limited to the time period before I had begun composing my reply. (I should insert a caveat here about the reliability of memory with respect to distinctions like this.)

-- Did you decide to make the "suggestion" only after you had already begun writing your criticism of SarahC's comment?

Yes (see above).

-- Prior to the incident, had you read any novels ("Stranger in a Strange Land" might be an example) which includes the premise of a world or subculture in which women are less "conservative when it comes to granting sexual favors"? If so, what did you think about the desirability of the situation and the realism of the depiction of the situation?

While I would not want to make a categorical denial stretching over my entire life, it is nevertheless almost certainly the case that I have significantly less familiarity with this type of literature than is typical among readers of LW.

-- Prior to the incident, had you heard of or read the book "Against our Will"?

No. My brain treated your mention of it as the first time I had heard of it.

-- Prior to the incident, did you have any particular opinions regarding feminism?

If the word "particular" in interpreted to mean "strong" (which I suspect is the intended meaning), and "feminism" is taken to mean a contemporary, as opposed to historical, stance (so that e.g. a strong belief that women should be allowed to vote in elections would not automatically require a "yes" answer), the answer is no.

-- Prior to the incident, did you have any particular opinions regarding an unwarranted obsession with rape in feminist discussion?

Subject to similar interpretive conventions, my answer to this question is logically entailed by my answer to the previous one.

The following questions deal with the way the incident unfolded.

-- Did you notice that most of the strong criticism of the opening comment was coming from women?

Without checking the record, my memory of the dialectic pattern (which will reveal my perception) was as follows: I received approval from wedrifid and SilasBarta (both males, as I understand), strong criticism from Alicorn (female) which developed into a vigorous argument, mild criticism from pjeby (male), feedback from SarahC (female) not concerning the most controversial part which led to the approximate reconciliation of our opinions on the main point, and some noticeable (though not especially severe) criticism from NancyLebovitz (female). HughRistik (male) provided helpful commentary from a position not specifically aligned with either me or my critics, but which I would expect my critics to regard as slightly closer to mine. At some point later in the discussion, I recall learning with mild surprise that datadataeverywhere is female, which seemed to occur at around the same time my mind began to identify her specifically as a critic.

I do not recall any female commenter who was as strongly critical as you (evidently male) were.

-- If you can recall, at what point in incident did you become aware of this?

I regard this question as superseded by my previous answer.

-- Had you expected, when you wrote the opening comment, that this gender pattern would occur?

If queried beforehand, I would have responded with an expectation that females would be more likely to be critical of my remarks than males. This isn't to say that my brain performed this particular query.

-- Have you seen this gender pattern before, in responses to any of your previous LW comments prior to the incident?

No. Having participated only minimally in such threads prior to the incident, I considered myself neutral on LW's gender controversies, and would have expected other readers to regard me this way also.

-- During the incident, what significance, if any, did you attach to this gender pattern? I.e. what hypotheses did this pattern suggest?

I did not devote any significant attention in my thoughts to the gender patterns of the discussion.

-- During the incident, you expressed distress that your critics were making you out to be a bad person. However, an alternative interpretation might be that they were saying you had, perhaps by not fully understanding the implications, done a bad thing. Did you consider this alternative interpretation during the incident?

I will omit this question due to the premise being false. It was others, intervening on my behalf (HughRistik in particular, as I recall) who characterized my critics in this way. I did not employ such a characterization until after the incident as you have defined it, and I did so with respect to only one critic: you.

-- Do you think that these interpretations are different enough to be worth making the distinction?

Instead of answering this question directly (which presupposes the coherence of the previous one), I will state my current point of view on my critics' reactions. My critics have communicated to me that it is not socially acceptable (to a sufficient degree for my temperament), even on LW, to express a thought such as the "controversial suggestion" in my comment. I disagree with them about whether such expressions ought to be acceptable; however I do not desire their acceptability so strongly that I would be willing to sacrifice additional status in a likely-futile struggle to bring about that outcome. Sex and gender as such are not particular interests or priorities of mine here (or really, anywhere else I might happen to be). As a human, I have some nominal degree of interest in them, just as I have some nominal degree of interest in topics relating to food; however that interest pales in comparison to my interest in e.g. mathematics, music, or epistemic rationality in the abstract (or concrete).

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T19:00:53.230Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for submitting to this interrogation. I realize that you had not placed yourself under any obligation to satisfy my curiosity on these points.

Ok, I have no follow up questions. Since you have given me no reason to doubt your veracity, I clearly owe both you, and the community, an apology.

I apologize to you, komponisto, and you all, Less Wrong, for publicly jumping to a conclusion based on hunch and intuition. That was simply a wrong thing to do, an unfair thing to do. That my conclusions were, not only unjustified, but also incorrect, is simply icing on the cake.

I apologize to komponisto for suggesting he was a devious person. I apologize if my overstated opinions that the "opening comment" deserved condemnation brought him distress.

I made several specific mistakes in the course of the incident, but mostly in the "post-mortem". I have already admitted to some of them, others I have forgotten. If anyone wishes to bring them to my attention, I will be happy to do a mea culpa on them too, if I feel they warrant them.

Again, and in conclusion, I apologize.


Well, that felt good. I'm happy to have it (mostly) behind me. I also want to thank some of my critics who were very helpful to me in leading me to see the errors I had made. I will try to justify your efforts by trying not to repeat those errors.

If anyone has questions for me, or post mortem analysis, I will do my best to be accomodating.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-09-14T19:07:28.562Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

komponisto, I applaud your honesty. It's very impressive - a new standard to measure my own introspection by.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-09-14T17:50:06.151Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, it certainly looks at this stage that I am going to owe you, and the community, an apology. But before I do that, I wonder if you could remove any lingering doubts by answering these questions

You appear to be making your apology conditional on answering a questionnaire, which is both long enough that it represents a significant time commitment, and personal enough that it likely contain questions which he would prefer not to answer. Withholding an apology as leverage for anything comes across as very hostile and defeats the point of the apology if it's eventually given. Additionally, a heuristic I can't quite identify is telling me it smells like a trap, designed to elucidate answers which could be used out of context in an attack.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-14T18:16:01.426Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

jimrandomh said:

Withholding an apology as leverage for anything comes across as very hostile and defeats the point of the apology if it's eventually given.

It did cross my mind that apologizing first, and then saying "could you answer some questions to help me figure out how far off my initial intuitions about you were, and how they went wrong" might be more interpersonally effective. Perplexed could always resurrect a critical opinion after hearing komponisto's answers.

Additionally, a heuristic I can't quite identify is telling me it smells like a trap, designed to elucidate answers which could be used out of context in an attack.

Maybe, but I think a more parsimonious and charitable explanation is that Perplexed is trying to find a way to update in a phased way while still saving face. I think the first goal is laudable (and I hope I don't jinx it by making this comment), but the means may still be a little frustrating for komponisto.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-14T19:50:40.145Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seemed to me that there was something "off" about the questionaire-- I think it was mostly that I couldn't tell what it was intended to discover.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T20:05:23.790Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Veracity, mostly. I had a conspiracy theory in my mind. The "evil perpetrator" could get away with it, simply by lying. But he would have to be careful not to lie about anything that could be checked.

The questions really only make sense if my conspiracy theory is true. Since it is false, the questions look odd. He would have still "passed" with the same answers and less explanation.

The only reason I went through with it, even after the "fear of criticism" evidence, was that in my original conspiracy theory, the conspirators would (of course) want a front man with a publicly known sensitivity of this kind.

A real comedy of errors and I end up with well earned egg on my face.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T19:11:06.082Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

a heuristic I can't quite identify is telling me ...

Hey, I like that phrasing. I'll try to use it the next time I feel the urge to do something stupid. :)

More seriously, are you dissatisfied with the outcome?

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-09-14T19:34:30.325Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to have turned out pretty well. Looks like that heuristic was a misfire.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T23:30:01.054Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I applaud you for reconsidering. I look forward to seeing any dialogue between you and komponisto, if he is comfortable with it. I still think that this hypothesis is a bit tenuous:

I think you were trying to deliberately draw criticism so as to fake being wounded by it with the ultimate aim of making some point - perhaps a point about double standards.

I'm much more inclined to take komponisto's own explanation of his words at face value, which I'm not sure if you've seen yet. I think he's already answered some of your questions. He says:

I expected it to be controversial in the sense that I thought people would be strongly inclined to reject the proposal. It sounds incredibly naïve now, but I thought people would reply by saying "no, that wouldn't work" or "that's not the real source of the problem" or "you won't find a solution by going down that particular path".

So it sounds like he had an intuition he was unsure about, and decided to toss it out to LessWrong to figure out how to evaluate it. This behavior reminds me of the following INTP profile based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator:

Where the extraversion of the iNtuition function becomes obvious is during discussions, especially heated ones. In contrast to INTJs, an INTP will often make controversial, speculative points of argument, often annoying the discussion-partner, and make them in such a way as to leave the impression that he is very serious about what he says. In reality, the INTP is not actually even certain himself whether he really stands by what he is saying, but his Ne strongly suggests that there must be a core of truth there. The purpose then of his outspoken style of argument is to sharpen his own intuitive understanding by testing the reaction of the listener, and indeed to examine the logic of his own arguments in real time while speaking them out. On occasion, INTPs may seem brash and tactless, but for themselves it is part of their way of getting closer to the truth. This is another aspect of the Ne grappling with the external world (in this case discussion with another) to understand it. The Ne provides the raw material for the Ti core to analyse. The INTJ, on the other hand, with Ni dominant and Te as secondary, tends to avoid letting uncertain speculative ideas out in the open: he presents a more considered structured viewpoint to the world while holding his private thoughts free for intuitive reasoning.

Since I engage in this behavior all the time, I instantly suspected that komponisto might be operating out of a similar psychology. In fact, his acknowledgment that his statements were controversial could have been read as acknowledging valid reasons for controversy (of course, acknowledging controversy can also be a way of trying to attract attention and imply that people who disagree are idiots, but that didn't fit the overall tone of his comment). If so, then his comment could be understood as something like "here's an uncomfortable thought I'm having... other people think it's wrong, but I'm not entirely sure exactly why it's wrong and what is wrong with it, so please help me figure it out." Given what I know of komponisto's attitudes, and given my own proclivity to suggest controversial ideas to help me make up my mind about them, that's pretty much how I read his initial comment.

I understand that your experience with internet discussions may have led you to start with different priors, and I'm glad you've begun to question whether they apply in this case on this website. And if you're not familiar with the psychology I describe above or can't relate to it yourself, then it's not your fault for not considering it as a possible explanation for komponisto's words.

I find "raising uncomfortable intuition to figure out if there's any grain of truth involved, or if it deserves to be debunked" to be a more parsimonious explanation than "deliberately drawing criticism so as to fake being wounded by it." I do think it's a good thing for rational discussion on LessWrong if people can raise controversial issues they are grappling with and try to use the resulting discussions to figure out their positions.

Would it be better for men (or anyone) with a highly controversial intuition to just sit on it, and have it constantly niggling away at their psyche? No. The only way to handle that belief is to put it out in the open and discuss it with other people.

Of course, people should be tactful and consider how their audience will feel when they express that intution. But like in this case, they can't always anticipate every sort of reaction they will get, especially in subjects with great inferential distance. komponisto says he did his best to be tactful, and he still got jumped on; the reactions he got were simply different from what he anticipated. That difference isn't because he is a bad person of any sort who is trying to prove that people here have double standards, but because there are things he simply did not realize.

The notion "don't raise any controversial issue you are grappling with that someone with great inferential distance from you might find offensive despite your best attempts to be tactful" is not a good principle for a rationalist community. It would shut down too many discussions, and it's already doing so to komponisto now that he's been driven to vows of self-censorship.

And to respond also to Hugh and also, I think, Nancy, my apology, if komponisto convinces me I'm wrong, will include an apology for attributing motive with too little evidence.

That's great... but I will note what I said before: "here's my negative opinion of what you say, and it's your job to prove it misplaced" may not be the most interpersonally effective mode of communication.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T00:58:09.027Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As always, Hugh, your comments are long, reasonable, and well worth reading. I will just be responding to a few points, though.

...komponisto's own explanation of his words ... which I'm not sure if you've seen yet. I think he's already answered some of your questions.

Yes, I have seen. Yes, he has answered some.

So it sounds like [komponisto] had an intuition he was unsure about, and decided to toss it out to LessWrong to figure out how to evaluate it. This behavior reminds me of the following INTP profile based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator:

... In contrast to INTJs, an INTP will often make controversial, speculative points of argument, often annoying the discussion-partner, and make them in such a way as to leave the impression that he is very serious about what he says. In reality, the INTP is not actually even certain himself whether he really stands by what he is saying, but his Ne strongly suggests that there must be a core of truth there. The purpose then of his outspoken style of argument is to sharpen his own intuitive understanding by testing the reaction of the listener, and indeed to examine the logic of his own arguments in real time while speaking them out. ...

Since I engage in this behavior all the time, I instantly suspected that komponisto might be operating out of a similar psychology.

Interesting. I am an INTP myself. I will be sure to avail myself of that excuse the next time my intuition and impulsiveness get me into trouble. ;)

I do think it's a good thing for rational discussion on LessWrong if people can raise controversial issues they are grappling with and try to use the resulting discussions to figure out their positions.

I agree. And I certainly have little to complain about regarding the help I have received in this thread. (That is not sarcasm, by the way. Something more like sincere sardonic irony. I remain impressed with the level of rationality and civility).

Would it be better for men (or anyone) with a highly controversial intuition to just sit on it, and have it constantly niggling away at their psyche? No. The only way to handle that belief is to put it out in the open and discuss it with other people.

I'm so glad to have you on my side! (Now that was a more pure irony.)

... I will note what I said before: "here's my negative opinion of what you say, and it's your job to prove it misplaced" may not be the most interpersonally effective mode of communication.

True, but I honestly don't think I have deviated all that far from your ideals here. If I recall, my first direct communication with komponisto on this thread was a request that he clarify some things that he had said. He declined to do so.

comment by timtyler · 2010-09-13T18:41:42.676Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

He, for no particular reason, brought up the Amanda Knox case.

There's history there:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/1j7/the_amanda_knox_test_how_an_hour_on_the_internet/

Incidentally, could we not have a flamewar - please!

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T21:12:32.499Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

He, for no particular reason, brought up the Amanda Knox case.

There's history there: ...

Whoops. My bad. That knocks one of the legs out of my claim that he was deliberately trying to be creepy. It still appears to me that he was, but the case is less strong now.

Incidentally, could we not have a flamewar - please!

I'm de-escalating, I think, but I have to expect to have more people speak up. This may last a bit, but I'm hoping it doesn't get any hotter.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-13T22:01:12.749Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This comment isn't even intelligible. I can't tell whether or not you're being sarcastic when you write

Whoops. My bad. That knocks one of the legs out of my claim that he was deliberately trying to be creepy. It still appears to me that he was, but the case is less strong now.

I have no idea what my allusion to the Knox case could possibly have had to do with this. Maybe that was your (sarcastic) point, but, like I said, I can't tell.

In any event, the reasons I mentioned it were: (1) it provides my stock example of a belief of mine with credence on the order of 1/1000; (2) my writing on it is important priming for any discussion touching the subject of what kind of person I am, including the extent of my sympathies with other human beings (particularly women).

If your familiarity with me was really so low that you were actually unaware of those posts of mine, then your credibility on the issue of my motives is ... beyond nonexistent (since it was already pretty much nonexistent).

EDIT: This was written before I saw this.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T22:50:54.125Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This comment isn't even intelligible. I can't tell whether or not you're being sarcastic when you write

Whoops. My bad. That knocks one of the legs out of my claim that he was deliberately trying to be creepy. It still appears to me that he was, but the case is less strong now.

I have no idea what my allusion to the Knox case could possibly have had to do with this. Maybe that was your (sarcastic) point, but, like I said, I can't tell.

No sarcasm here at all. As to what the Knox allusion meant to me, I was totally unaware that the case had been a topic of discussion here. (I've only been here for a little over a month.) So, when the context was choosing an example of a small probability, and your choice of example happened to be a case of gruesome violence against a woman with sexual overtones, it certainly seemed to me to be just one more example of creepiness. A glaring example, since I could see no reason for it to have been chosen.

Boy, was I wrong! I sincerely apologize for thinking that this was evidence of creepiness when, quite clearly, there was another explanation.

Edit: Just something that bothered me.

If your familiarity with me was really so low that you were actually unaware of those posts of mine, then your credibility on the issue of my motives is ... beyond nonexistent.

My credibility regarding your motive is zero and it has always been zero. You are the only person with credibility regarding your own motivation. All I can do is point to evidence of your motivation in your own writings. That doesn't require me to have credibility, authority, or anything else. I have no power to convince anyone. All I can do is to point to the evidence that is out there, describe my analysis, and see if anyone else analyzes it the same way I do. If someone else analyzes it differently and explains it better, or if someone with credibility (that could only be you) corrects my assumptions, then I convince no one, not even myself.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-13T18:28:48.047Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed:

I want komponisto to submit to standards that are expected in Western society as a whole.

So in other words, if there exists a near-consensus on something in the contemporary Western society, this should be considered as holy writ which it is unacceptable to question, no matter how arbitrary, unjustified, and irrational it might turn out to be under scrutiny?

Or do you actually believe that the current state of mainstream Western opinion is such a magnificent edifice of rationality, objectivity, and moral perfection that only evil or deluded people could ever wish to discuss propositions that run contrary to it?

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T21:04:02.685Z · score: -5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

We are both talking about a standard of behavior here, right? So my answer is that, no, that standard should not be considered holy writ which is unacceptable to question.

Incidentally, I realize I am maybe using some cheap rhetorical tricks here, and people are entitled to respond in kind, but have I really so far set up such a blatant strawman as that holy writ thing?

It is quite acceptable to question the standard. It is not acceptable to ignore it while the standard is in place. I like to hang out on a nude beach in the French Caribbean when on vacation, but that doesn't mean I dress that way when swimming in Lake Erie at the city park.

Or do you actually believe ...

Spare me. No I don't. But if you were just practicing expressing your indignation, keep working on it. A bit more direct is good. Fewer rhetorical questions. Those rarely work.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-13T21:46:27.237Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed:

It is quite acceptable to question the standard. It is not acceptable to ignore it while the standard is in place.

That is a very fine principle to abide by in most cases, but the trouble is that it runs into a contradiction with standards that specify not only that certain beliefs and attitudes are unacceptable, but also that it is unacceptable to merely bring them up for open discussion. In such cases, questioning the standard ipso facto involves breaking it. It is undeniable that many such standards are near-universally accepted in the mainstream respectable institutions of the contemporary West, and by insisting that they should be adhered to here, you imply that the corresponding limits on propositions that may be legitimately discussed should be enforced.

In this concrete case, you are denouncing the actions of a commentator whose only alleged transgression, to the best of my understanding, consists of bringing up for discussion certain propositions that arguably violate some of the above mentioned standards. Therefore, while my above comment might have been a bit too florid rhetorically, I honestly see no strawman-like misrepresentation of your expressed views in it.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T22:59:07.362Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In this concrete case, you are denouncing the actions of a commentator whose only alleged transgression, to the best of my understanding, consists of bringing up for discussion certain propositions that arguably violate some of the above mentioned standards.

Something a bit more than that has been alleged, at least by me. If I accepted your characterization of the situation, I would not have been so vehement in denouncing.

I honestly see no strawman-like misrepresentation of your expressed views in it.

I believe you that you don't see it, since you have just finished doing it again.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-13T23:32:05.079Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed:

Something a bit more than that has been alleged, at least by me. If I accepted your characterization of the situation, I would not have been so vehement in denouncing.

Then would you be so kind to specify precisely what this additional part of the allegations consists of? I would be really grateful to see it spelled out, not least because, assuming you are correct, it would rectify some of my own misconceptions.

(In the interest of avoiding a confrontational tone, perhaps I should also add that I am not among the people who have downvoted your recent comments.)

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T00:21:52.512Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Then would you be so kind to specify precisely what this additional part of the allegations consists of? I would be really grateful to see it spelled out.

Why certainly. I have nothing better to do than to repeat allegations which I am coming to regret making. :)

Here I alleged that komponisto deliberately tried to "creep people out", the people in question being women, and the "creepiness" being allusions to sexual violence - definitely not threats, but disturbing all the same. Before my allegation, various other people reported in passing that his comments had a "creepy" character, though, so far as I know, they did not allege intent.

I also hinted at and then later made explicit, my belief that his motive for seeming creepy was to draw criticism, fake being emotionally damaged by the criticism, and then use this charade to make some point about gender politics.

So, as you see, I, at least, was not making a big deal about his having advocated unusual and unpopular ideas. As far as I can see, whenever he was asked to fill in some of the details regarding those ideas, he declined.

(In the interest of avoiding a confrontational tone, perhaps I should also add that I am not among the people who have downvoted your recent comments.)

Go ahead and downvote any comments you disapprove of. It is your right and perhaps even your duty. Besides, as a result of the intervention of some angel, I currently have more karma than I deserve.

Just curious. Your interest in "avoiding a confrontational tone". Is that something you have come by recently? Something I said?

Edit: fixed missing links.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-14T00:58:13.239Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Now you present speculations about someone's motives that go far beyond what was actually written in his comments. Yet, it remains the case that the only (arguable) offense he actually committed was bringing up (arguably) objectionable propositions for discussion. Notice the contrast with truly incontrovertible offenses that can be committed in writing, such as threats, lies, insults, libel, plagiarism, etc. In this case, a mere instance of bringing up an undesirable proposition was enough to motivate your accusations, with no such incontrovertible malicious behaviors accompanying it.

If you're going to treat bringing up objectionable discussion topics as prima facie evidence of underhanded bad intentions, note that others can play that same game too. To take the most relevant example, there is just as much, if not even more, justification to interpret protestations of offense as an underhanded ploy for making ideological points and seeking emotional satisfaction instead of rational debate.

Therefore, if you want to judge people and enforce standards of discourse based on implicit judgments of their motives, rather than just the plain content of what they've written, you should be aware that such interpretations and the resulting judgments will be necessarily subjective and a matter of disagreement -- and there is no rational reason why your particular criteria should be favored over others'.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T02:21:57.678Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Now you present speculations about someone's motives that go far beyond what was actually written in his comments.

Yes. I am happy that you are now finally criticizing me for what I actually did rather than for some straw man caricature you have made up. You will find you have lots of company in your criticism.

Yet, it remains the case that the only (arguable) offense he actually committed was bringing up (arguably) objectionable propositions for discussion.

Uh oh. We are now back to that old "bringing up propositions for discussion" thing. Even though I have repeatedly said that that was not part of my thinking at all. I foresee trouble ahead. ...

If you're going to treat bringing up objectionable discussion topics as prima facie evidence of underhanded bad intentions ...

Excuse me. The "objectionable topic" was whether women should grant "sexual favors" more freely. It was brought up in a comment which began by criticizing a woman's observation that "It can get creepy when men think...that it's unfair when they get turned down. I worry about that driving men to violence....". Why does the commenter think this observation deserves criticism? Because it shows "a fundamentally inadequate level of sympathy for 'unattractive' men". That is the context within which the "discussion topic" was introduced. Why is the significance of that combination so difficult for people to grasp?

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-14T16:40:41.668Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Great, we're getting down to the nitty-gritty here.

It was brought up in a comment which began by criticizing a woman's observation that "It can get creepy when men think...that it's unfair when they get turned down. I worry about that driving men to violence....".

The original problem I had with this comment was that it triggered a certain schema of men trying to figure out ways of interacting with women sexually, and then women accusing them of bad things.It kind of looked to me something like this:

PUAs: Let's do a lot of work fulfilling women's criteria and figure out some more reliable ways of being successful with them.

SarahC: Wait, if you guys do that, you could think that you are guaranteed success with women, and then if you get turned down... it could turn into RAPE!

That perceived reaction is not quite what SarahC said (and my version of what PUAs say is not quite what she has heard). And it's not her full reasoning. But until she clarified and explained more about her priors (e.g. George Sodini), there seemed to be some sort of slippery slope going on in her comment, which the above is an exaggeration of.

There is quite a gap between getting turned down and becoming violent. Yes, even for men. Although men being violent is highly visible, the base rate of rejections that men respond violently or punitively to is very low (in Western middle-class Anglo-American culture, at least). That's because since men typically have to make the advances and women are more selective, men get rejected a lot. Some PUAs approach hundreds or thousands of women in the space of years; there just isn't time to be violent or make a stink with every woman who rejects them. The fact that PUAs can even approach so many women indicates that they have some abilities to handle rejection.

Now, what about the feeling of some men that it's unfair when women turn them down, and whether this view should be linked to creepiness or violence?

Again, this is an issue of inferential distance. I'll try to spell out a scenario where men might feel it's unfair when women turn them down, yet nevertheless not be bad people with bad intentions:

Let's examine the case of shyness (EDIT: It's interesting that I picked this example when drafting this post... I couldn't post it last night due to a 500 error, and then I wake up this morning and see that komponisto admits to having experienced social anxiety disorder). You know the percentage of women who say that shyness is attractive in men? 2% (the study is by Burger & Cosby, but I'll have to dig up the cite later). Shyness is extremely damning of the attractiveness of men in the eyes of most women, but it really doesn't seem to hurt the chances of women so badly unless we are talking about something like full-blown clinical like social phobia (and if anyone has some reasons to believe that shyness in women is more of a dating handicap than I do, I would like to hear it).

So if you are a shy, awkward guy in college who has trouble getting dates, but you see shy, awkward women getting dates, you might feel a little frustrated at the situation (especially since the shy, awkward woman probably don't consider you a viable date). Why is a trait, such as shyness treated unequally based on gender?, you might ask. You might start start feeling that this unequal treatment is a little unfair.

Now, fairness can be conceptualized in different ways. "Fair" is often relative to a certain standard of how things should be. When fairness is used as a synonym for justice, then unfairness entitles the "wronged" party to redress, perhaps by violence or state-enforced violence. That's not the type of fairness I'm thinking of. The kind of fairness I'm thinking of is more like a sense of equality. You might feel that in an ideal world, shy men wouldn't be systematically disadvantaged relative to non-shy men and shy women for a psychological condition that isn't their fault and is difficult to change. Of course, you can recognize that we don't live in this ideal world, and abhor any attempt to create it by force or coercion.

Btw, I'm not convinced by this ideal world argument; I just present it as a plausible example of how a man could feel that doesn't make him a Bad Person. Feeling an abstract sense of unfairness, even a misplaced one, isn't the same thing as feeling a sense of injustice that you are entitled to recompense for from some particular individual.

I think women's preferences for certain personality traits are so intimately woven into their sexual psychology that to try to change them would be to re-engineer women's psychology from the ground up. It's a lot easier to imagine this ideal world "fairness" argument applying to men's preferences for looks in women, actually. Discriminating against potential mates due to physical appearance seems a lot more arbitrary than discriminating based on personality traits.

Unfortunately, our culture encourages naive notions of "fairness" and nondiscrimination, so it's easy to see how as this hypothetical shy guy, you could believe that they apply in dating, especially after hearing arguments that men shouldn't judge women's dating potential based on looks so much. You simply don't realize that many women feel the same way towards shy guys that you feel towards [insert type of women you are least attracted to here]. The reason for not making those connections might partly be a failure of empathy or imagination, but I think it's really a failure of knowledge, because society propagates a lot of ignorance and falsehoods about the relative importance of certain male personality traits to women on average.

If you are a shy guy who wants to better understand women's perspective on what they value, people in our culture will systematically lie to you that "oh plenty of women like shy guys," or "every woman wants something different," or "don't change yourself for anyone, eventually you will find the one for you" (note the horrible rationality of all these platitudes). The bias in our culture is that men and women go for the same things until proven otherwise, except for admitting that men care more about looks. When even the men who try to understand women's dating criteria are lied to and silenced, there is a limit to how much we can blame men for not knowing the finer points of female sexual psychology, and thinking that certain aspects of women's preferences are arbitrary (like men's preferences for looks), capricious, or otherwise unfair.

SarahC didn't exactly show "a fundamentally inadequate level of sympathy for 'unattractive' men," but her original post, and others in the discussion, did show a lack of knowledge of the potential psychology of unattractive men, leading to the slippery slope from notions of "guaranteed success" to men feeling "unfairness" when they are turned down, to "violence." That procession only makes sense with a limited model of the minds of romantically frustrated men.

Women are not experts on the mindsets of unattractive, romantically frustrated men (and many men are not, either). In fact, women may have the most biased notions of those mindsets, because their impression of those men is dominated by the subset of them who are creepy, entitled jerks. Romantically frustrated men who are entitled jerks make themselves and their mindsets known to women. Romantically frustrated men who are decent people suffer in silence, and nobody cares. Unfortunately, when the second group of romantically frustrated men air their concerns on the internet, sometimes they trigger pattern matches with the creepy group of romantically frustrated guys. (Ironically, the guys who care most about avoiding such pattern matches may learn to self-censor themselves, leaving only guys without such sensitivity doing the complaining.)

It's not women's fault that creepy romantically frustrated men and the things they believe are so cognitively available. There are very good reasons for that. It also leads to bias which needs to be watched out for in discussions with men they care about communicating with.

The probability of a guy holding bad person beliefs given that he expresses frustration or unfairness about women's preferences to a woman in real life may be nontrivial. The probability of a guy holding bad person beliefs given that he secretly feels, but does not express, frustration or unfairness about women's preferences: probably much lower, because there are all sorts of decent men that feel those things and suffer in silence. The probability of a guy holding bad person beliefs given that he expresses frustration over women's preferences on LessWrong: that's probably closer to the second lower probability than the first, because LW is known as a place where people often talk about uncomfortable things that they wouldn't say in other contexts.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-14T19:50:33.357Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This has gotten messy, but I think your insights have been accurate throughout.

I am sympathetic to romantically frustrated men. I'm a shy woman, and I recognize that I can get away with it because I'm female -- that if I had been born male, society would have punished me more for aspects of my personality.

I kind of regret yelling "Rape!" in a crowded theater by now, because by now I've been shown that the nastier side of PUA is unrepresentative. Folks here are obviously not the people I need to be concerned about, and the people who actually do endanger women probably wouldn't listen to me or anyone. :(

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-14T18:29:02.331Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Btw, I don't want to give the impression that I'm picking on SarahC in this comment; I don't have any beef with her clarified view. Actually, in general her level of open-mindedness and updating in discussions on gender on LW is extremely impressive.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T19:39:38.096Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Great, we're getting down to the nitty-gritty here.

To be brutally honest, I think you are missing the point here.

You have produced a fine critical analysis of SarahC's comment, the same that komponisto criticized so clumsily. If komponisto had produced the analysis you just did, this blowup might not have happened.

I think it would be more productive if you were to analyze this comment of mine responding to komponisto. Admittedly, I now know it was not his intention to be abusive, but what I said there pretty much explains my reasons for believing it should be condemned.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-14T16:50:02.632Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Why is the significance of that combination so difficult for people to grasp?

If I'm understanding you correctly, you mean the combination between someone suggesting that feeling unfairness about rejection could lead to violence, and then someone responding by expressing such unfairness? And the significance is, what... that komponisto willfully triggered a woman's express worry about violence instead of being sensitive?

That would make sense, if komponisto's whole post hadn't been about how the jump from rejection to violence is premature. He was sensitive to that worry, he just disagreed with its basis and explained why.

SarahC's original post: Complaint X could lead to Y, and Y is bad.

komponisto: Actually, X doesn't lead to Y so strongly as you think. And it might be controversial to say so, but X!

That's how it looks to me, and I don't see anything wrong with the form of komponisto's argument. Having to tiptoe around slippery slopes that other people link to bad things would be a bad practice on a rationalist forum. Of course, you may not think that SarahC's initial post was a slippery slope. But komponisto and I do. I revised my impression when SarahC gave me more information on where she was coming from and made me change my impression that her overall argument is a slippery slope, but komponisto didn't have access to this information when he wrote his post.

I would just like to propose that if you are a woman (or anyone else) who is bringing up violence against women or rape (of women) in a discussion of sexuality with men, please consider showing the full inferential path that led you to that notion... if your goal is to have a dialogue with the men involved, rather than protect yourself or cause them to run into self-censorship. This is not a claim about how women (or anyone else) is obligated to approach such topics; it is a speculation about what I think will help me (and perhaps other men) be cognitively and emotionally able to consider them in a minimally-biased manner.

Unfortunately, decent men in our culture often get unfairly lumped in with misogynistic jerks and other male miscreants unfairly, which leads to the development of an "unfair accusation of rape/violence/sexual harassment/being a jerk/being a creep" set of psychological triggers, which can bias the same decent men against being able to properly hear views on those subjects that are fair. While it's not the responsibility of women (or anyone else) to tiptoe around those triggers, it is useful to know they are there for discussions aimed to promote understanding.

It is also possible to talk about women's sexual autonomy and self-determination without bringing up sexual violence. The focus on rape can also obscure other issues of sexual ethics with less harmfulness but more prevalence. For instance, people consenting to unwanted sexual situations they aren't terribly enthusiastic about. Not raping people is a low bar in sexual ethics. There are clearly more fundamental principles about sexual ethics and choice at work here in addition to not raping people that include that moral principle; I feel many discussions about sexuality and "seduction" would be better by talking about what those principles are and how they should be respected, rather immediately bringing in the word "rape."

Thank you for your attention.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-14T19:47:02.570Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I've been meaning to drop this into the discussion, and this seems like a good place.

It's a discussion of studies which conclude that a great deal of rape isn't done by typical men who aren't clear about signals and consent, it's done by a small percentage of men with a conscious strategy of predation, frequently against intoxicated women.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-15T20:06:55.828Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That is interesting. I find one of the main points compelling: that true serial rapists exist and are much more likely to employ intoxication strategies that have plausible defenses rather than stereo-typical violent assault strategies.

That being said, I have issues with some of the quantative conclusions and the unsupported generalizations. There are serious methodological limitations in these studies that place large uncertainty bounds on trying to get any estimate of occurence for undetected rapists in the population.

One of the conclusion she seems to support (quoting Lisak), is simply not supported by the data:

This picture conflicts sharply with the widely-held view that rapes committed on university campuses are typically the result of a basically “decent” young man who, were it not for too much alcohol and too little communication, would never do such a thing. While some campus rapes do fit this more benign view, the evidence points to a far less benign reality, in which the vast majority of rapes are committed by serial, violent predators.

For starters, the data discussed shows most rapes are not of the violent type, and the data is not strong enough to support anything along the lines of "the vast majority of rapes" are X.

While serial rapists do exist and this is a real issue, there is a great danger in turning this into a moral panic where one views all men as potential rapists and 10% of men as actual rapists (as some of the comments in her blog suggested). That is simply a moral panic response.

Rape in the real world is complex. We like stories that simplify the world into a realm of clear black and white morality with villains, victims, and heroes. The word rape itself conjures up the image of the violent serial rapist like we see in horror films. Do such people exist - certainly, and they are something we must protect against.

But I am reasonably sure that most cases in the real world are much less TV-drama worthy and painted a shade of grey. Most cases involve two people who willingly intoxicate themselves with varying degrees of alchohol and have some idea that this lowers their standards and decreases responsibility. Essentially all cases of sexual intercourse involve some level of influence or manipulation by one or both parties. At some point you have to draw a line around fuzzy borders, but it's never simple.

And wherever you draw that line, make sure it cuts both ways. For instance if you believe that one person initating sex with another who is unconscious at the time is automatically rape (no matter how they feel when they wakeup or later), then be aware that this would suddenly make a large number of women rapists. Clearly consent signaled before or after has some relevance.

That being said, the Yarbrough case looks like an example of some shade of a serial rapist, but I'm not convinced you can generalize from that single example across the rest of the datapoints.

comment by thomblake · 2010-09-15T21:12:01.675Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For instance if you believe that one person initating sex with another who is unconscious at the time is automatically rape (no matter how they feel when they wakeup or later), then be aware that this would suddenly make a large number of women rapists.

Sadly, it's only recently that rape other than male-raping-female has begun to be criminalized, and there are still many places where rape by a female is not illegal. In Scotland, for instance, rape was a gender-specific crime until just 2009.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-15T17:59:02.845Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Very interesting. While some PUAs have messed up attitudes, the guys in that link just sound like a fundamentally different phenotype. If PUAs were as uncaring and hateful as some people think they are, then PUAs would probably be doing what these guys are doing and working on alcohol and coercion skills, rather than obsessing over the minutiae of body language and signaling.

Another interesting part of account in that thread is the level of self-deception in the perpetrator interview, assuming that it's not simply insincere. The strategy seems to be something like "figure out the way to get what you want without caring about the law/morality and only care about avoiding getting caught/prosecuted, then self-deceive yourself into thinking that it's OK."

comment by whpearson · 2010-09-15T19:04:47.216Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I found this paragraph from Nancy's article interesting for why PUA may be getting a worse reputation than they deserve.

Many of the motivational factors that were identified in incarcerated rapists have been shown to apply equally to undetected rapists. When compared to men who do not rape, these undetected rapists are measurably more angry at women, more motivated by the need to dominate and control women, more impulsive and disinhibited in their behavior, more hyper-masculine in their beliefs and attitudes, less empathic and more antisocial.

Since a lot of what PUA teach is that women like to be controlled, it probably sets off warning bells that PUA in general might be overly controlling and fit in this category.

The fact that the vast majority are likely to be less controlling than average, because they aren't naturally good at it, can't be ascertained by the language used.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-15T20:14:26.956Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is probably largely to blame for the negative reactions many women have to PUA. It fits this pattern completion that many men are undetected manipulation rapists.

PUA's fit a handful of these patterns, but some are so broad so as to fit most anyone. For example; everyone is at least somewhat motivated by a need to dominate and control - to varying degrees and men more on average. Alchohol makes people more impulsive and disinhibited - that is one of the main reasons we so enjoy it.

PUAs, like most men, are not angry at women (quite the opposite), are not generally impulsive, and are certainly not antisocial.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-16T12:34:49.754Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've been told here that a lot of PUAs start out angry at women.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-16T15:54:05.692Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Told by who? This doesn't match my impressions of typical PUA psychology.

Generalized anger towards women is, I believe, a pretty rare trait for men to have in general. And the psychology of a typical guy who PUA appeals to is more likely to be overly academic, cerebral and introspective. These types of guys have over-active pre-frontal-cortices - the exact opposite of impulsive angry types. They are overly concerned about what people think, overly concerned about the minute details of social interactions, and over think and over analyze everything they say in social contexts.

Typically speaking, they aren't angry at women, they are afraid of them. This psychological profile is also less prone to anger in general - more mild, reserved, shy, nerdy, etc etc.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-16T18:38:29.069Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

See also behavioral inhibition:

Behavioral inhibition to the unfamiliar is a temperamental construct that refers to a characteristic propensity to react to both social and nonsocial novelty with inhibition.

Yes, PUAs tend to be shifted in the directions you describe. Though as the movement becomes more and more popular, we will start seeing different male phenotypes in it.

These types of guys have over-active pre-frontal-cortices - the exact opposite of impulsive angry types.

Yes. My pre-frontal cortex is like a maze. It took me years to learn to be able to do things that I want to do without my cortex choking the impulse. This is a great psychology for careful, high-precision tasks, but it's a horrible psychology for social interaction.

This psychology is part of my posting style that a few people have noted lately. It's not as easy as it looks, but in general my brain is massively wired for "look before you leap."

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-16T22:00:15.847Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. My pre-frontal cortex is like a maze. It took me years to learn to be able to do things that I want to do without my cortex choking the impulse. This is a great psychology for careful, high-precision tasks, but it's a horrible psychology for social interaction.

Yea, i'm the same. Perhaps it's a universal brain phenotype variant that gives one a prediliction and edge for intellectual careers and endevours.

But I really do wish I could easily just switch to the more social brain phenotype some people have on a whim. Alcohol of course can do this to some extent, but it's far from perfect and has so many side effects.

Long ago I tried prozac for a couple of months and it had a dramatic effect on my personality - I became naturally more extroverted. It is vaguely like a milder, saner version of the MDMA enthogen effect but made permanent. I don't think it made me actually less intelligent, but the personality shift made me effectively less intelligent - it just naturally changes what you are interested in and how you actually think. It is not the best state of mind for everyday intellectual work. It would be much better if they had a quick acting version with low side effects, but unfortunately it takes weeks to take effect, has a long half-life, side effects, and tolerance/dependence issues.

PUA practice and techniques, especially inner-game stuff, can help a good deal, but it seems like it can never really actually make one more extroverted in the way that some drugs can. I wonder if there are techniques that could enduce more extroverted states of mind with sufficient time and training.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T17:48:33.763Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Long ago I tried prozac for a couple of months and it had a dramatic effect on my personality - I became naturally more extroverted. It is vaguely like a milder, saner version of the MDMA enthogen effect but made permanent. I don't think it made me actually less intelligent, but the personality shift made me effectively less intelligent - it just naturally changes what you are interested in and how you actually think. It is not the best state of mind for everyday intellectual work. It would be much better if they had a quick acting version with low side effects, but unfortunately it takes weeks to take effect, has a long half-life, side effects, and tolerance/dependence issues.

Rhodilia_rosea. It has similar but milder effects and is far better suited to intermittent usage.

Alcohol of course can do this to some extent, but it's far from perfect and has so many side effects.

If alcohol gives you the desired effect then phenibut will most likely do so more effectively and without alcohol's deleterious effects on cognition judgement and liver health. The unfortunate thing is that it builds up tolerance relatively quickly so is best used just once or twice a week rather than every day.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-20T15:23:33.112Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've become more extroverted as a result of a lot of Alexander Technique and such-- I think a lot of the ability to be comfortable with people is the ability to physically get into sync with them.

I didn't go into the bodywork with the intent of becoming more comfortable with people-- I was trying to stop feeling so disconnected from myself.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-20T16:04:52.197Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've heard about Alexander Technique having those types of effects from other people - do you think it is because of the subconscious effects of better posture itself, or better awareness of body language and mirroring?

I learned about body language and mirroring through PUA reading, and it is eye-opening once you become aware of it. It's strange and alarming how often it works (how conscious mirroring results in the other reciprocating - presumably unconsciously).

You sure you aren't a PUA nancy?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-20T16:33:46.356Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I hadn't thought about the effects of more free/efficient movement [1], but I wouldn't be surprised if it helps. Subjectively, it seems like more pleasure, less anxiety, and more awareness when I'm around people. Logically, I think mirroring and entraining are a part of it, but I don't feel it that way.

[1] Alexander Technique is not about posture. It produces results which look something like "good posture", but without the stiffness.

AT is about getting out of the way of your kinesthetic sense rather than adding more conscious control to the details of what you're doing.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-20T17:08:26.799Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

PUAs love the Alexander Technique. It's right there in Neil Strauss' book.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-23T15:04:07.528Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do they talk about end-gaining? A big part of the challenge of Alexander Technique (as I understand it) is to let/tell yourself to release, and then not try to force results.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-16T12:58:50.299Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've been told here that a lot of PUAs start out angry at women.

A lot of AA members start out as alcoholics, but lets make sure we understand how the causality works.

A lot of men start out angry at women and by learning how the game works and gaining some skills in playing it they eliminate the source of the anger.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-16T13:30:23.110Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have some concern for how they treat women when they (the PUAs) are still in the early stages.

comment by Abisashi · 2010-09-16T18:59:14.688Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If becoming PUAs reduces their anger in the later stages, it seems much better than nothing (where they would presumably stay angry). Are you saying that PUA communities should devote more resources to reducing the anger of new members? Or are you suggesting that PUA communities increase the anger of new members before reducing it?

Disclaimer: My whole understanding of PUAs comes from HughRistik (on this site and elsewhere) and other people on this site.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-09-16T12:42:39.334Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This reminds me of the movie "Anger Management" where the coach deliberately makes the student angry and then asks "why so angry". If we adopt the axiom that anger is always wrong no matter what other people do to you, we've already lost. Please judge people by the consequences of their actions, not by the emotions they feel.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-16T11:00:29.280Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The focus on rape can also obscure other issues of sexual ethics with less harmfulness but more prevalence. For instance, people consenting to unwanted sexual situations they aren't terribly enthusiastic about.

That's pretty much what's disturbed me from the beginning about PUA, though I think you're underestimating the effects of niceness training.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-16T11:33:29.676Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's pretty much what's disturbed me from the beginning about PUA, though I think you're underestimating the effects of niceness training.

Are you talking about the positive or toxic effects of niceness training?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-16T12:33:22.585Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Toxic. Sufficient niceness can get women into sex they don't want, and also into pretending to want it.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-16T13:41:55.725Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ahh, I see and I share your loathing of that kind of niceness.

It took me a while to work out how you were relating this to pickup arts - because I associate the kind of behaviors that rely on exploiting weak boundaries (and in particular exploiting them) to get sex with manipulative 'nice guys' and not pickup artists. Pickup arts are more or less all targeted at the 'want' side of things and not about exploiting niceness. Not out of any ideological purity but simply because they are targeted at gendter typical women with high self esteem who, approximately by how those terms are defined in the culture, are emphatically not nice when it comes to sex. Manipulative 'nice guys' on the other hand notorious for being masters at throwing around feelings of guilt and obligation.

That said, I can see how PUAs could be frustrating or even threatening to women who do not appreciate sexual persistence.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-20T13:42:04.681Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Bizarrely, my initial reaction to your post was to feel tired and angry-- that's why I took some time to chill. I think what was going on at my end might have been effort shock-- it's hard work to be clear and reasonable when I'm trying to explain something that has me frightened and angry to people who don't seem to have any understanding of what I'm talking about, and kind of shocking that it took that much work to get to a moderate amount of understanding. You may be feeling the same way some of the time.

Anyway, I'm feeling better now, and I'm wondering how you distinguish between women who have weak boundaries and those who don't.

And also whether you guys have anything about noticing if a woman is trying to signal that she's attracted to you. I'm not saying it's the most common thing, but I've heard enough from both men and women about that sort of signal failing that I don't think it's totally rare.

More generally, it bothers that you make claims that PUA is a net gain for women when there hasn't been (and probably can't be) a way to really check on the total effect.

The funny thing is that it's been quite a while since I figured out that women typically get much more sexual attention than they want [1], and men typically get much less, and that this leads to drastic difficulties in mutual comprehension. That was the abstraction-- the current discussion is trying to actually do the work of figuring out what highly emotionally charged prototypes are in play and whether they're relevant.

Something which gave me more sympathy for you guys: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People-- a very funny memoir by a British man with oppositional disorder (or, you prefer, a wild talent for saying and doing the wrong thing) who gets a job at Vanity Fair, a high end fashion and gossip magazine. The book (get the paperback if you're interested-- it's got an epilogue) includes his very convoluted courtship, and it does include ignoring some 'go away' messages in a very high stakes game. It would be interesting to see his wife's version of the interactions which led up to their marriage.

[1] One of my female friends finds this formulation annoying because it leaves out the non-trivial number of sexually frustrated women. However, I'm talking about attention, as well as sex.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-20T17:27:16.991Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

targeted at the 'want' side of things and not about exploiting niceness

For the most part, I would say that this is true, and that targeting "want" is the general principle of PU. I do think it is a legitimate worry that some particular techniques might lead a small segment of the audience to go along with things they aren't particularly enthusiastic about. That probably is not the intent of those techniques, and it's an accidental result when the PUA misperceives the assertiveness or vulnerability of the person he is dealing with. In all forms of influence and sales, it's just a difficult feat to maximize the ability of the other person to say "yes" at the same time as maximizing their ability to say "no."

This is why I'm such a big of Juggler Method, which involves encouraging the other person to show commitment to the interaction and how it unfolds.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-09-20T13:56:44.446Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Then you should frown on men who start their own businesses and make money, because it potentially has the same toxic effect on women. Wait, what?

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T19:18:58.006Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why is the significance of that combination so difficult for people to grasp?

If I'm understanding you correctly, you mean the combination between someone suggesting that feeling unfairness about rejection could lead to violence, and then someone responding by expressing such unfairness?

No, you are not getting it at all. The combination of:

  • Criticising someone for raising the fear of rape issue
  • Giving a reason for the criticism that raising this fear shows an insensitivity to unattractive men
  • And then raising the infamous suggestion.

ETA: And to frost the cake, next came the nonchalant observation that "There is apparently no greater female nightmare scenario than mating with a less-than-optimally-attractive male."

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-14T05:09:16.011Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Again, if you're going to condemn people based on such far-fetched inferences about their motives, you should note that you don't have the monopoly on this strategy.

When it comes to controversial topics, a rational discussion can be had only if the participants discipline themselves to address the substance of what's been written, and nothing more than that. If instead it is permitted to throw moral accusations at people based on indirect inferences about their supposed underhanded motives and personality defects, everyone can easily start playing that same game, and the discussion will inevitably degenerate into a mindless flame-war and propaganda contest.

Believe me, if I were so inclined, I could use an approach very similar to yours to concoct equally convincing (though perhaps to different people) attacks on many other participants in these controversies, and I'm sure many others reading this would be up to that task. When you make such arguments, you are not bringing insight; you are making propaganda.

That said, I think this particular conversation has reached the point where we might as well rest our disagreements, so I'll let you have the last word if you wish.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-14T18:47:49.814Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Believe me, if I were so inclined, I could use an approach very similar to yours to concoct equally convincing (though perhaps to different people) attacks on many other participants in these controversies, and I'm sure many others reading this would be up to that task.

I would, and I've certainly considered it. The problem is that the main people who are potential targets are doing too good a job as rationalists to deserve it... so for now, I'm saying to myself "Don't go there, girlfriend!." I did bring up some political issues here and here, but I did my best to not make them attacks.

That's the problem with LessWrong... people often start updating just when you're gearing up to deliver your indignant beatdown.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-14T05:15:55.383Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Last word: watch this space

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2010-09-13T13:28:38.891Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To my mind, the only reasonable response to komponisto's comment, inserted as it was into the conversation at that point, would have been a very strong and unanimous expression of indignation.

You have switched from talking about communicating individual feelings of indignation to demanding unanimous community indignation. This seems to cast your earlier comments as deceitful.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T16:16:08.786Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You have switched from talking about communicating individual feelings of indignation to demanding unanimous community indignation.

It wasn't exactly a demand. A wish maybe. Yet, even as a wish, unanimity is a bit ridiculous. I apologize for at least that bit of hyperbole.

This seems to cast your earlier comments as deceitful.

I may be missing a connection here. How deceitful?

And which earlier comments? My most recent earlier comments were to the effect that actually signaling emotional state, rather than hiding it, is frequently useful to both signaler and signaled. Useful to the signaled because it warns of a problem which maybe ought to be dealt with. Useful to the signaler because it pretty much commits the socialized signaler to providing clarification and suggestions, if such are requested. (How is that useful to signaler? Well, I think that pretty much anything that keeps you honest is useful.)

So, if expressing indignation is a good thing for an individual to do, it is an even better thing for lots of individuals to do.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T17:18:13.883Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My most recent earlier comments were to the effect that actually signaling emotional state, rather than hiding it, is frequently useful to both signaler and signaled. Useful to the signaled because it warns of a problem which maybe ought to be dealt with. Useful to the signaler because it pretty much commits the socialized signaler to providing clarification and suggestions, if such are requested. (How is that useful to signaler? Well, I think that pretty much anything that keeps you honest is useful.)

When you put it this way, I agree with you. I just think that there are ways of signaling emotional state that work better than others for actually helping the other person change their mind, rather than (a) blindly submit, or (b) dig in their heels.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-13T11:04:28.195Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is the other blog also somewhat inclined to poetry?

A problem with the storm of indignation approach is that it can be unclear to people on the receiving end just what is unacceptable.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-13T15:58:04.927Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is the other blog also somewhat inclined to poetry?

No, I don't believe anyone has ever accused it of that. The focus is on philosophy of biology but when it occasionally shifts to politics, this gentleman will offer metaphoric watercress sandwiches whenever euphemistic language grows too sparse in the comments. Clever fellows, those Brits.

A problem with the storm of indignation approach is that it can be unclear to people on the receiving end just what is unacceptable.

It sure can. However, it is quite clear to the person receiving the indignation that something was really unacceptable. Whereupon, the person notices that the problem is quite possibly in himself, rather than in a few people with weird chromosomes who just can't seem to see things from a male point of view, so he takes off his preachers collar, dispenses his martyr's cloak, puts on a student's sandals, and asks a simple question, "WTF just happened?"

It is at that point in the process, when someone is actually listening, that a reasonable community provides explanation. The same explanations, incidentally, which had been provided a half dozen times before, only to be ignored or discounted.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-13T21:04:59.993Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Speaking from experience of watching the storm of indignation approach (on a much larger and more elaborate scale than happened here), the actual effect can be fear of speaking at all. About anything.

I didn't post to livejournal at all for months after Racefail got started, and I still don't do reviews. I may start doing reviews in the forseeable future.

I feel as though I might be a refugee from a damaged culture who brought some of the bad practices to a new home.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-13T16:17:03.849Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It sure can. However, it is quite clear to the person receiving the indignation that something was really unacceptable. Whereupon, the person notices that the problem is quite possibly in himself, rather than in a few people with weird chromosomes who just can't seem to see things from a male point of view, so he takes off his preachers collar, dispenses his martyr's cloak, puts on a student's sandals, and asks a simple question, "WTF just happened?"

In my experience, this only happens when a person is already unsure of themselves, otherwise they just dig in harder and listen less, not more.

(Also, in scientific experiments, people are generally shown to become more certain of their opinions when met with resistance.)

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T02:33:06.834Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This line of reasoning used to justify the shaming of an individual and an excuse to grant powers of suppressing ideas scares me. Or outrages me. The evoked emotional response is somewhere in between those two.

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-13T00:19:37.065Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't seem to be an accurate or appropriate dichotomy to construct here. No comments here advocate the incidence of rape or other actions which ignore female agenthood. Is the advocacy of such atrocities a crime so abhorrent that even innocence is no excuse?

"Perpetuating ideas that increase the social acceptability" of ignoring female agenthood isn't the same as "advocating" ignoring female agenthood. To clarify: I don't think anyone on this site wants to advocate ignoring female agenthood. I don't think most people in the PUA community want to advocate that either. Perhaps not even Roissy wants to advocate that-- although I'm less certain in his case. But to use him as an extreme example: is it not possible that people exposed to his ideas become less likely to respect female agenthood than they were before, even if he didn't intend that to be the message? It's a conjecture about possible causation, not about intent to harm.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-12T20:12:35.884Z · score: 7 (17 votes) · LW · GW

lmnop:

And yet the current norms of discussion are ones that leave a large proportion of the women here fighting through some measure of fear and discomfort to post-- but not the men.

That's not a realistic appraisal of the situation. Generally speaking, when it comes to sensitive topics that cannot be discussed openly and objectively without arousing ideological passions, appeasing the parties who claim to be shocked and offended can only lead to shutting down the discussion altogether, or reducing it to a pious recital of politically correct platitudes. It's a classic Schellingian conflict situation: by yielding to this strategy today instead of drawing a firm line, you only incentivize its further use the next time around.

That said, there are of course occasional situations here where people blurt out something stupid that their interlocutor might reasonably get angry at. But the idea that the general spirit of discussion of these topics here is somehow creating a hostile environment for women is just outlandish.

This discussion has also given me a lot of insight into why the proportion of women on this site is so atypically small even for computer programming crowds.

You write as if women were some unspeakably fearful, brittle, and paranoid creatures who undergo apoplectic shocks at the slightest whisper that interferes with their delicate sensibilities. Frankly, if I were a woman, I would take offense at that. You're basically proclaiming women congenitally incapable of rationally addressing claims they find unpleasant, instinctively reacting with a shock-and-offense emotional ploy instead.

In any case, if you believe that an online community has to bend over backwards to accommodate its womenfolk's sensitivities lest they run away in terror, how do you explain the fact that you'll find far more women at Roissy's blog, whose author goes out of his way to shock and offend in ways that nobody here would ever even think of putting in writing? Just a glance at his comment sections is enough to see that women actually aren't scared away that easily.

(ETA: fixed a typo.)

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T20:26:26.314Z · score: 7 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, we've got three (declared) women on this thread. Alicorn and Nancy seem to be (roughly) within the world of contemporary feminism -- I'm not, but then again I also don't have experience with rape or abuse. So I feel compelled to keep driving at the centrist line here.

Yes, you can shut down a dialogue all too easily by claiming to be hurt. But I don't want to discount the possibility that Alicorn actually is hurt -- in which case why do you want to hurt her? Let's not, please.

I read Roissy for a while. In one way it was a good experience: it taught me to seriously entertain views that I was previously disposed not to like. I consider that a strength. But in another way it was a bad experience: Roissy would insult classes of people in which I'm included, and my response to being belittled is to believe what I hear. That ain't good. I can see the value in overcoming my fear to enter a hostile environment and cope; I can't see the value in spending my time there indefinitely.

No, women aren't fragile. But this is simply not a tough-love, hostile environment. It isn't that kind of blog. It doesn't fit with the posts -- it certainly doesn't fit with Eliezer's writing. The norm around here seems to be that suffering and fear are real and that we ought to help people who endure such things. (Isn't that humanism in a nutshell?) There are plenty of places on the internet where people like to shock and offend. This site does something different, something less common, and perhaps more valuable. Can we keep it that way?

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-12T21:19:22.383Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

SarahC:

But this is simply not a tough-love, hostile environment. It isn't that kind of blog. It doesn't fit with the posts -- it certainly doesn't fit with Eliezer's writing. The norm around here seems to be that suffering and fear are real and that we ought to help people who endure such things. (Isn't that humanism in a nutshell?) There are plenty of places on the internet where people like to shock and offend. This site does something different, something less common, and perhaps more valuable. Can we keep it that way?

Here I must point to another highly pertinent comment of mine:
http://lesswrong.com/lw/2l8/existential_risk_and_public_relations/2g3z

You write as if a rational discussion must end up in conclusions that are pleasant, calming, and reassuring, and if some claims in a discussion disturb and offend, they cannot simply follow from a straightforward and open-minded inquiry into a sensitive topic, and there must be some malice involved. But this is clearly not so. Just imagine how billions of religious folks on this planet would react if you threw the anti-religious diatribes regularly written here, by Eliezer Yudkowsky as well as many others, into their faces.

Now, you can argue that in some areas of inquiry, the truth is so awful and inflammatory that it's better to stay away from them because it keeps the website a better place to discuss other interesting things. However, if you're going to argue that, then you must admit that some people's idiosyncratic sensitivities and propensities for offense should be privileged over others. Mind you, I think that it is a defensible position, but it's absolutely fallacious to advocate such limitations while denying this fact.

Yes, you can shut down a dialogue all too easily by claiming to be hurt. But I don't want to discount the possibility that Alicorn actually is hurt -- in which case why do you want to hurt her? Let's not, please.

Could you please be more specific? Are you saying that my above comment reads like a personal attack, or that some general claim I advanced is hurtful? I honestly didn't mean to take a jab at any particular person, not in that comment, nor anywhere else.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T21:30:48.497Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Vladimir, I got my mind changed about religion, in large part by LessWrong. I learned here not to be afraid of truth. That message would not have gotten across as clearly if there were not a dominant tone of warmth and compassion on this site.

Whatever is true, is true. I'm not saying we shouldn't seek it out. I'm not saying we should fear an awful truth or hush it up.

I'm saying we go about things differently from how Roissy goes about things, and that's helpful. You described women as being tough enough to take a much more offensive tone -- I'm saying that an offensive tone isn't helpful. There is such a thing as honesty without snark.

No, it wasn't your comment that reads like a personal attack. Alicorn made a previous comment when she said that asking her to change her sexual preferences made her feel less safe. I don't think we should be using this site to frighten people. You do not reason with people by arousing those emotions.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-12T22:11:45.361Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

SarahC:

I'm saying we go about things differently from how Roissy goes about things, and that's helpful. You described women as being tough enough to take a much more offensive tone -- I'm saying that an offensive tone isn't helpful. There is such a thing as honesty without snark.

This is where our misunderstanding probably lies. My mention of Roissy was an argumentum a fortiori, meant to disprove the hypothesis that the tone of sex-related discussions here is so insensitive that it drives great masses of women away, by pointing out that there are places whose tone is incomparably more insensitive, and yet they have comment sections with far more women participating. I wasn't advocating the introduction of Roissyesque style as the standard of discourse here; there is indeed a time and place for everything.

That said, it should be noted that the quality of discourse can be ruined not only by people who write with an insensitive tone, but also by people who amp up their sensitivity to eleven, and as soon as certain topics are opened, frantically look for a pretext to plead insufferable shock and offense. Honestly, would you say that this phenomenon has been altogether absent from the controversies on this site you've seen?

(Again, please read this only as a statement about generalities, not an implicit personal attack on whoever might come to mind.)

comment by steven0461 · 2010-09-12T22:11:20.757Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe we should have a norm of just ROT13ing anything potentially offensive?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T21:08:09.691Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, you can shut down a dialogue all too easily by claiming to be hurt. But I don't want to discount the possibility that Alicorn actually is hurt

Good point, lets create a new place where we can have these conversations without Alicorn or anyone else being hurt!

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T20:32:19.858Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In any case, if you believe that an online community has to bend over backwards to accommodate its womenfolk's sensitivities lest they run away in terror

I would strengthen that claim by replacing with 'womenfolk' with 'several particularly politically active members'.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-12T20:20:10.893Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW · GW

You write as if women were some unspeakably fearful, brittle, and paranoid creatures who undergo apoplectic shocks at the slightest whisper that interferes with their delicate sensibilities. Frankly, if I were a woman, I would take offense at that. You're basically proclaiming women congenitally incapable of rationally addressing claims they find unpleasant, who instinctively react with a shock-and-offense emotional ploy instead.

I think he writes as though visiting this site is recreational, and maybe if it's full of things that offend someone's sensibilities, they won't have fun here and will leave. I upvoted lmnop's comment and downvoted yours.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T20:38:10.930Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think he writes as though visiting this site is recreational, and maybe if it's full of things that offend someone's sensibilities, they won't have fun here and will leave. I upvoted lmnop's comment and downvoted yours.

Who, precisely, are you directing this accusation at?

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-12T20:46:51.122Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think [lmnop] writes as though visiting this site is recreational, and maybe if it's full of things that offend someone's sensibilities, they won't have fun here and will leave. I upvoted lmnop's comment and downvoted [Vladimir_M's].

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-13T00:55:14.863Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You write as if women were some unspeakably fearful, brittle, and paranoid creatures who undergo apoplectic shocks at the slightest whisper that interferes with their delicate sensibilities. Frankly, if I were a woman, I would take offense at that. You're basically proclaiming women congenitally incapable of rationally addressing claims they find unpleasant, instinctively reacting with a shock-and-offense emotional ploy instead.

I think people generally dislike and avoid spending time in environments they perceive as anywhere on the scale from unwelcoming to hostile. That's not a trait that makes someone fearful, brittle, paranoid, or delicate, and I'm confused as to why you'd think I was implying any such thing-- quite the opposite.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-13T02:06:20.857Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

lmnop:

I think people generally dislike and avoid spending time in environments they perceive as anywhere on the scale from unwelcoming to hostile. That's not a trait that makes someone fearful, brittle, paranoid, or delicate, and I'm confused as to why you'd think I was implying any such thing-- quite the opposite.

The question is whether the usual standards of discourse practiced here are harsh and insensitive enough to qualify as "unwelcoming to hostile." It seems quite clear to me that only extraordinarily fearful, brittle, or paranoid personalities could honestly answer yes to this. (Here I mean "honestly" as opposed to the already mentioned discourse-destroying tactic where one actively seeks flimsy pretexts for sanctimonious indignation instead of engaging the substance of the argument.)

Again, this is not meant as an attack on everyone who has ever expressed indignation about some particular statement posted here, and in the present context, I don't want to express judgments about any such individual incident, whether in this thread or any other. Even among very smart and cultured people, occasional episodes of careless and stupid behavior are unavoidable, and in any discussion forum, people will sometimes be faced with valid reasons to feel angry and offended. However, the idea that the general standards of discussion here represent a threatening and hostile environment for women, which is supposedly the main reason why they're few in number, seems to me completely disconnected from reality.

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-13T02:22:55.941Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

However, the idea that the general standards of discussion here represent a threatening and hostile environment for women, which is supposedly the main reason why they're few in number, seems to me completely disconnected from reality.

Not the general standards of discussion, no. But the standards of discussion for some of the speculation on sex relations, especially when related to the PUA subculture, seem to create an unpleasant environment for women who are otherwise quite happy with the general standards of discussion. Therefore, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that without that specific subset of the discussion, the site as a whole would be more attractive to women.

The question is whether the usual standards of discourse practiced here are harsh and insensitive enough to qualify as "unwelcoming to hostile." It seems quite clear to me that only extraordinarily fearful, brittle, or paranoid personalities could honestly answer yes to this.

It's fairly hyperbolic to say that only an "extraordinarily fearful, brittle, or paranoid person" could answer yes to the question of whether this site is an unwelcoming to hostile environment at times. Forget hostile, you can't see why the label "unwelcoming" could be used by a reasonable-- or at least not extraordinarily fearful, brittle, and paranoid-- person to describe some subsets of discussion here?

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-13T05:51:52.311Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

lmnop:

But the standards of discussion for some of the speculation on sex relations, especially when related to the PUA subculture, seem to create an unpleasant environment for women who are otherwise quite happy with the general standards of discussion. Therefore, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that without that specific subset of the discussion, the site as a whole would be more attractive to women.

There are two ways in which I could interpret this comment.

If you're saying that some topics are inherently insensitive and unpleasant, in that a rational no-holds-barred inquiry into them will likely yield disturbing conclusions that are apt to inflame passions and hurt people's feelings, and they should therefore be avoided because they poison the atmosphere on the entire forum due to the unavoidable human passions and weaknesses, I will agree with the former and disagree with the latter. (And I'll grant that it's overall a reasonable and defensible position.)

However, if you're saying that the way these topics have been discussed here should, on the whole, be considered excessively insensitive, and that an ideally rational, objective, and open-minded discussion of these matters would produce arguments and conclusions that are more warm, fuzzy, and politically correct, then I disagree radically. Aside from a few rare outliers, the discussions here have, if anything, erred on the side of being too cautious, sensitive, and silent about ugly truths.

It's fairly hyperbolic to say that only an "extraordinarily fearful, brittle, or paranoid person" could answer yes to the question of whether this site is an unwelcoming to hostile environment at times. Forget hostile, you can't see why the label "unwelcoming" could be used by a reasonable-- or at least not extraordinarily fearful, brittle, and paranoid-- person to describe some subsets of discussion here?

Well, just observe all the innumerable places, both online and offline, in which the standards of discourse are far more insensitive than anything that ever happens here, and which still attract far more female participants than this website -- and not some particularly tough-skinned ones either. Just from the usual human standards, I think it's fair to conclude that people who find enough unwelcoming elements here to be driven away are ipso facto showing that they are unusually sensitive specimens of humanity.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T02:38:05.231Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Therefore, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that without that specific subset of the discussion, the site as a whole would be more attractive to women.

I think you may be right. Let's make a new site where we can have these discussions without making lesswrong unattractive to women!

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T23:22:21.715Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

And yet the current norms of discussion are ones that leave a large proportion of the women here fighting through some measure of fear and discomfort to post-- but not the men.

How do you know how the men feel in discussions like these? Have you asked them? It's not comfortable feeling that you're being made into the Bad Guy. Many men, including myself, base a lot of their self-image on what women think of them, and the kind of acceptance women show them. I doubt komponisto feels that great right now, and I don't think he deserves to continue to be villified after clarifying his original problematic comment.

Some that like lesswrong-type discussions may find dealing with the PUA-related talk here too mentally and emotionally draining for the site to be a net positive in experience.

PUA-related talk is a lesswrong-type discussion. It's the same people. We are just dealing with an amped-up level of inferential distance, biases, and disparity between priors due to different experiences.

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-13T00:26:09.007Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I doubt komponisto feels that great right now, and I don't think he deserves to continue to be villified after clarifying his original problematic comment.

From the karma scores on his clarifying comments, I think many people here understand his perspective and support it. To say that he's been villified is a pretty severe exaggeration.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T19:22:10.873Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Imnop, It seems from your karma that you must have been around for long enough that I missed the chance for a welcome. But welcome to lesswrong anyway. Did you find us via Harry Potter:MoR?

Note that the site implements markdown syntax for commenting. This allows for a convention of Using a ">" before any quoted paragraphs. This makes block quotes so much more readable!

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-13T00:32:43.675Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the pointer! Yes, I started using the site after reading HP:MoR, although I'd read some articles from it before that.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-11T22:36:03.495Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

So, if I understand you, under your proposal, comments like this one would no longer appear here on LW? Because people who cannot help making them would have another outlet?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T08:10:06.579Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

So, if I understand you, under your proposal, comments like this one would no longer appear here on LW?

One of the ancestors of that comment would probably be a link to the other site, yes.

Because people who cannot help making them would have another outlet?

I don't like the tone. You seem to be suggesting that wanting to make such a comment is a personal failing. I don't agree.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-12T15:30:29.350Z · score: -2 (12 votes) · LW · GW

What I meant to suggest is that a failure to foresee that such a comment would be offensive (to many people) would be a personal failing of one variety. And if you were able to make the prediction, but felt that the comment was so insightful and relevant to the discussion that it needed to be made regardless of who was offended, then that would be a different kind of personal failing. But what I suspect actually happened is that you set out deliberately to cause offense. And, yes, in the absence of provocation, I consider that a personal failing too.

The tone was indeed disapproving. I didn't expect you to like it. All I really expect is that you might take note of the disapproval. Please notice that at least some of your fellow males really dislike the culture of misogyny around here. And particularly, the smug way in which the victims get blamed for their own discomfort while the victimizers pretend to noble, but puzzled, tolerance.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T16:20:04.298Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

And particularly, the smug way in which the victims get blamed for their own discomfort while the victimizers pretend to noble, but puzzled, tolerance.

I'm guessing that they aren't pretending. They really don't know what they're doing.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T17:25:03.456Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

And particularly, the smug way in which the victims get blamed for their own discomfort while the victimizers pretend to noble, but puzzled, tolerance.

Surprisingly enough the usual victims don't seem to have made an appearance in this iteration of the discussion. Perhaps they have learned enough about the game to realise they are better served by just letting HughRistik handle the conversation with his usual combination of personal experience, education and level headed insight.

comment by timtyler · 2010-09-12T17:01:59.233Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't look to me as though wedrifid did anything wrong in this case.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-11T14:27:58.726Z · score: 7 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if it's time someone made the bound-to-be-controversial suggestion that women in modern society are excessively conservative when it comes to granting sexual favors.

That's as silly as suggesting that men should be more conservative in granting those favors.

I rather liked the rest of your comment (even though I likely would find your hypothetical job seeker a bit creepy), but this part struck me as nonsensical... why suggest that any group of people modify their tastes to suit some other group of people? (I suppose racism and sexism might be exceptions, but even so... it still seems the appropriate solution to such things is just to find people with better taste!)

OTOH, if what you really meant was, "people (of either gender) should be more sympathetic/less judgmental to the plight of the unattractive (of either gender)", then sure, that makes sense.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-12T21:18:03.468Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if it's time someone made the bound-to-be-controversial suggestion that women in modern society are excessively conservative when it comes to granting sexual favors.

Ok, you have put the suggestion out there, it was indeed controversial, you received some criticism, but apparently no hit to your karma for suggesting it. Isn't it time now for you to flesh out just what it is you mean? "Excessively conservative" by what standard, and who or what makes that kind of standard? The phrase "granting sexual favors". Was that phrase just a convenient euphemism, or do you think that "granting favors" is the right framework for this discussion? (Surely, after all, the world might be a better place if we all did more favors for each other, but it seemed as if you were calling for one small segment of humanity - young, attractive single women to provide the favors, presumably for the benefit of a different small segment. You didn't mention any favors flowing in any other direction. Perhaps now might be the time to mention them.)

Also, you might clarify that bit about:

There is apparently no greater female nightmare scenario than mating with a less-than-optimally-attractive male.

You see, I notice unattractive men getting married every day, and then going on to have children. Their wives don't seem to be having nightmares about it. That is the kind of thing you meant by "mating", isn't it? Or, if you are using "mating" to refer to some other behavior, and you want to continue to use that word to exclude the kind of mating I mentioned, please explain why your usage is the correct one.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-12T21:42:42.467Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if it's time someone made the bound-to-be-controversial suggestion

Ok, you have put the suggestion out there, it was indeed controversial, you received some criticism, but apparently no hit to your karma for suggesting it. Isn't it time now for you to flesh out just what it is you mean?

As I indicated here (final paragraph), I do not currently feel that my further discussion of this topic would be worthwhile.

In other words, I wondered if it was time to make that suggestion, and the answer came back: no.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-12T22:18:08.596Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, your call, of course.

Just to throw in my own two cents as to when it might be time:

Social norms change all the time, but they do so slowly, on a time scale of generations. I am unsure what causes such changes but it seems unlikely to me that a change in female sexual mores could be triggered by a discussion on a male-dominated rational discussion group. Furthermore, regardless of what triggers the change, the actual mechanism by which this kind of change becomes widespread is that some adventuresome soul tries it and comes back to report to her peers that it was safe, it was pleasant, it was actually kind of fun.

In other words, to promote the kind of change you are seeking, you need to talk to men, not women.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-11T14:48:12.968Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It's a good point, but I stand by what I said.

I've heard anecdotes of disgruntled graduate students attacking their schools because they weren't given their degrees. (The example that comes to mind is of a woman who set explosives in a lab.) I definitely consider that creepy. I would start worrying about safety if an obviously unqualified student kept ranting about how she deserved her degree.

Charles Guiteau, who assassinated James Garfield, was chronically unemployed but convinced that the government owed him a high office (he wanted to be an ambassador.) I would consider his obsession with "deserving" a position far out of his reach was a warning sign for criminal behavior.

So it's not just about sex. "Creepiness" is something I associate with being convinced you deserve something that it's totally unreasonable (socially) for you to be granted. Most unemployed workers are disappointed, sure, but that's not the same thing.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-09-11T15:58:59.330Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Reading this thread has inspired an interesting definition. Creepiness is an approximate estimate of how far someone would have to be pushed in order to do something evil. A history of criminal behavior is extremely creepy, because it's strong evidence of bad character. Physical deformity is creepy because it correlates well with mental illness, but it stops being creepy once it's understood well enough to rule out that possibility. Violating social norms can be creepy, or not, depending on what's known about why it was violated and the nature of the norm. And horror movie villains, of course, peg the creepiness scale, merely by being in that role, regardless of what other features they have.

By this definition, refusing to accept a disappointment that won't go away is very creepy, because the only real options for dealing with disappointment are to accept it, to work harder towards fixing the source of the disappointment, or to escalate. Escalating would be bad, and working harder has a limit that, in the case of the disgruntled student, has probably already been reached or nearly reached.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T16:10:12.020Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Not really-- there's a sort of creepiness which is about distaste at least as much as fear.

And I don't think creepiness is a reliable signal of dangerousness-- there are people who are very dangerous who aren't creepy, and it's my impression that there are a great many creepy people who don't do anything awful.

I will tentatively suggest that that some kinds of creepiness are some sort of off-key or out-of-sync body language (not necessarily on the Asberger's spectrum).

A story from one of John Malloy's Dress for Success books: He realized that one of his subordinates had done some very good work for him, and took the chance of offering the subordinate (who had disastrous body language) some consultations.

The subordinate looked distressed, and Malloy was worried that he'd said the wrong thing, but then the subordinate explained that some of his sons had the same body language and were running into similar social problems.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-09-11T16:49:23.441Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Not really-- there's a sort of creepiness which is about distaste at least as much as fear.

These seem like importantly different categories that merely happen to share some mental machinery.

And I don't think creepiness is a reliable signal of dangerousness-- there are people who are very dangerous who aren't creepy, and it's my impression that there are a great many creepy people who don't do anything awful.

True, but I suspect that's just because many things that used to be useful signals, aren't anymore. Strange body language, for example, may be a signal of distant origin (to the extent that body language differs from place to place).

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T02:35:23.003Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm beginning to get the impression that you and perhaps some other commenters have no idea what the creepy guy experience is.

I'm not blaming you, but if there's that lack of commonality of experience, then that could explain some communication breakdowns.

Creepiness isn't just about low status, though I grant that if, say, a street person is making a pass, he might well come off as creepy.

However, the interesting case is that there are men who aren't obviously low status who just make a high proportion of women's skin crawl.

Do heterosexual men ever have the experience of being extremely uncomfortable around women who are superficially be not that much different from other women that the men would find at least tolerable?

comment by arundelo · 2010-09-12T04:25:12.544Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Thoughts on what creepiness is:

About all I can say is that there are levels of intimacy we achieve with each other as people over time, and when you try to jump the queue, that’s definitely creepy.

(Hat-tip: I found Ursula Vernon from your LJ flist, Nancy.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T12:00:43.850Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. That's a good essay, and I don't think I'd seen it before.

As she says, she doesn't know what the creepiness trigger is-- and whatever is going on, it isn't normal intimacy starting at the wrong time.

comment by rhollerith_dot_com · 2010-09-13T13:23:24.031Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a wild guess about creepiness.

Some men are much worse than average at detecting negative reactions (like fear) in the person they are talking to.

So, when a woman has a negative reaction to something in a conversation, it starts to get creepy when the man does not notice that reaction and persists in the behavior that caused the reaction. I gets creepier fast when the woman reacts more strongly than the first time and the man continues to persist.

Just guessing.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-13T13:51:15.712Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm guessing too, but the creepiness reaction has a large component of disgust/revulsion-- it isn't just about fear.

I've been trying to think of portrayals of creepiness, and whether it can be done in a movie (or might it be pheromones?)-- it's been a while since I've seen it, but iirc, Beetlejuice is an example.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-13T15:49:46.589Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Successful movie portrayal of creepiness: Anakin Skywalker, in Attack of the Clones. Critics commented on the surprising lack of chemistry between Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman; I think the "romantic" scenes achieved exactly what they were supposed to.

comment by ata · 2010-09-12T06:29:47.723Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying to think of examples of female-on-male creepiness that I've experienced and heard of, and the only examples I can think of fall into the categories of mere mild-discomfort-induction and outright stalking. Male creepiness appears to have a significant middle ground that seems to be almost completely absent in the other direction.

Perhaps this is related to the disproportionate prevalence of male-on-female rape and sexual harassment — because those are strongly negatively-valued events, it's worth having a sensitive filter that'll give false positives sometimes. But that depends on whether features associated with "creepiness" are less perceived as creepy in women by men or if they are actually less prevalent in women.

Edit: I have a friend who's internet-famous-in-some-circles and he has had a lot of experiences with young female (and a few male) fans who've crossed the line into conventional creepiness but not into stalking (plus a few who have...), but people act differently toward celebrities. Probably doesn't generalize very well at all to interactions between, say, two people meeting in a bar.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-12T02:49:31.391Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not really.

That is odd, actually. Everyone I've met that I would describe as "creepy" is male. Plus I've never heard a woman described as such except in jest.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-12T06:04:34.760Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's a lot harder for a woman to come off as creepy than a man. (Standard "within the culture I'm familiar with" disclaimers apply.) I've been made uncomfortable by girls when in high school, but not really "creeped out". You almost have to go to the level of movie villain before they start getting creepy.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T12:01:37.991Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

From a comment to the Ursula Vernon essay below:

The female version that I have encountered is a sort of… obsessive and misplaced motherliness, maybe? Usually starts with nosiness and unsolicited advice — creepy only in that the person will have no understanding of what subjects are off limits, and will completely ignore any attempts you make to communicate “I am not discussing this” — and moving on, if allowed, to total control over all actions, opinions, and basically your entire life. The rages, if you (say) do not like a tv program they’ve told you to, are ugly, manipulative, terrifying things.

comment by wnoise · 2010-09-12T02:47:48.606Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience, it is much much rarer. As a guy, I have been more creeped-out by other guys than by women.

comment by simplicio · 2010-09-12T07:08:39.727Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Do heterosexual men ever have the experience of being extremely uncomfortable around women who are superficially be not that much different from other women that the men would find at least tolerable?

I can only think of one occasion. A female classmate who had had less than 5 minutes of conversation with me announced her cancer treatment and recent bad relationship, then made overtures about meeting outside of class. Basically, forcing intimacy waaaay too fast. This was followed by a lot of "oh look, we're coincidentally on the same bus" sort of events, despite my consciously unfriendly demeanor and monosyllabic conversation.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T17:20:57.073Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Strange body language, for example, may be a signal of distant origin (to the extent that body language differs from place to place).

Damned if I know. There's at least some commonality of body language across the human race, and I don't know what the xenophobia/exoticism balance would have been for human prehistory.

My bet is in favor of exoticism-- my impression is that people who are relatively isolated are desperate for novelty.

comment by juliawise · 2012-07-20T02:59:30.383Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Personal space and touchy-feeliness varies a lot by culture. I've heard of American women being freaked out by foreign men standing too close because the men just didn't realize it was too close in the US.

comment by MC_Escherichia · 2010-09-11T20:20:43.198Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

being convinced you deserve something that it's totally unreasonable (socially) for you to be granted

There's some sort of ambiguity in the word "deserve". I would say that every harmless person deserves to be loved, or deserves an enjoyable job, but that doesn't mean anyone owes anyone anything. The world is the way it is.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-11T15:40:29.533Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is certainly a fair reply. I take it, then, that you wouldn't consider the mere expression -- much less the mere feeling -- of disappointment to be creepy?

As a practical matter, I suspect we agree a fair amount on the sorts of actual behaviors that should be considered alarming -- whether in the case of sex or anything else. Rather than disagreeing on what is or isn't bad behavior, my aim was just to point out the problem of amorous disappointment (in the specific case of males, as I have the impression -- which should be corrected if false -- that there tend to be differences in the basic causes of rejection between the sexes).

On reflection, though I do tend to think this aspect isn't discussed enough (edit: what I mean here is that the taboo level is too high), it probably wasn't especially useful for me to add my voice to this particular controversy. Perhaps I should indeed leave this kind of thing for the Robin Hansons of the world.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-11T15:56:02.281Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, no, I don't have a problem with disappointment.

It does seem that men have more of a problem with amorous disappointment than women do. That definitely is "something wrong" and I'm not on board with women who basically think that men are in the wrong whenever they express desire.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-12T08:28:46.005Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

SarahC:

It does seem that men have more of a problem with amorous disappointment than women do.

I disagree. I've been in situations where girls were determined to seduce me, and I kept rejecting their increasingly overt and desperate advances. They'd typically end up getting visibly annoyed, and there were also some ugly scenes of frustrated anger on their part. Similar things also happened sometimes when I would (mostly unintentionally) give a false hope to girls who were below my standards, though admittedly with much less overt drama compared to the former sort of situations.

Of course, such situations are less common than the inverse, and even more importantly, since women are typically physically weaker, men won't feel intimidated and threatened by their flipping out. These were just amusing youthful adventures for me, but I can easily imagine inverse scenarios being awfully scary for women. However, the idea that women somehow handle it more calmly and rationally when they're faced with the terrible feeling of being put down by a disappointing rejection is completely false.

That said, there are some significant differences in practice. Men are expected to take a more proactive role in approaching and initiating things, so by sheer necessity, they more often end up plunging into defeats based on unjustified expectations. Moreover, men and women tend to react very differently towards various kinds of signals of aloofness and disinterestedness in the early phases of meeting and dating. However, discussing these issues fully would mean getting too deep into technicalities -- the important point is that it's unjustified to present men as somehow worse overall in this regard.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-11T21:57:29.751Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It does seem that men have more of a problem with amorous disappointment than women do.

TvTropes does have plenty of examples of women who don't handle it well, so at least it's something that exists in the popular imagination.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-09-11T16:32:17.873Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Very well said. I made similar points in two posts I made a while back.

Excerpt from #1

if you knew about someone having trouble selling a good product, and you took pity on them, one way you would probably not react is by approaching a group of such people and lecturing them in detail about all the unethical practices they shouldn't do, most of which only apply long after a sale, and many of which are commonly used by successful salespeople in a way that satisfies their customers.

Excerpt from #2:

one should anticipate that if I'm following the real female wants and expectations, and am an eligible, attractive male by conventional measures, that it should lead to some non-trivial fraction of these women developing interest. When none of them do, and when women flock in droves, full of desire, to the very same men who steamroll right over the rules I learned, and who appear to be extremely disrespectful toward women ... well, that's very strong evidence that I was not correctly taught what women do and don't want.

(These were acts of terrorism back then, too.)

comment by thomblake · 2010-09-16T21:24:44.308Z · score: -1 (13 votes) · LW · GW

It's remarkable that you keep harping on this like you're being oppressed here, and the comments of yours that you linked to are highly upvoted, and the comment of Alicorn's that you link to is highly downvoted.

It's also remarkable to me that you can consistently come across as a complete asshole and still require an explanation as to why you don't have success in interpersonal relationships. If I ever do find myself in the unlikely position of publishing a formal list of rules for success in dating, I'll be sure to include "1. Don't be Silas" so there's no further confusion.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-09-16T21:49:23.363Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Where do I come across as an asshole, and what corresponding assholish actions do you infer I do in my interpersonal relationships, including dating, based on them?

Are you really claiming that Alicorn doesn't get too much support for her unreasonable request that I not post any comment nested under hers?

comment by thomblake · 2010-09-16T22:25:18.419Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Are you really claiming that Alicorn doesn't get too much support for her unreasonable request that I not post any comment nested under hers?

No, I was not claiming that. I was implying that Alicorn's comment complaining about your behavior being downvoted and your comments being upvoted are evidence that you won that particular status contest here.

But I'll also go ahead and claim that Alicorn doesn't get too much support for her request that you not post any comment nested under hers. Votes, again, are some evidence there.

And I will further claim that the request was not unreasonable. You are a very distressing person to receive communcations from, and I would not think anyone was being untoward for requesting anything up to and including you not communicating with anyone ever. Obviously, it might behoove you to decline such a request, as is your right.

Where do I come across as an asshole, and what corresponding assholish actions do you infer I do in my interpersonal relationships, including dating, based on them?

As for the first, you've received a great deal of advice on this matter in the past, and I've not the energy to spell it out at the moment in great detail. But in the above comment, here is one example:

(These were acts of terrorism back then, too.)

"acts of terrorism" is uncharitable at best; you're specifically referring to the attitudes people have towards your comments, using what I hope is supposed to be extreme hyperbole (I don't think, for instance, anyone actually called the Department of Homeland Security about you).

"too" implies that there are readers who are currently taking these things to be "acts of terrorism".

And you're linking multiple times to a discussion that was specifically unpleasant for many of the people involved (and you frequently do so).

For the second, I'm not even sure what you mean... I take you being an asshole in interpersonal relationships (communicating with people on blogs and via youtube videos) to be evidence that you are the sort of person who will be an asshole in interpersonal relationships - I don't see the need to infer any further actions, as that is sufficient for me to prefer you not interact with myself or let you near my friends or my stuff, and imagine any sane person you were attempting to date would feel similarly.

Of course, I'm hardly a paragon of niceitude in this particular subthread.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-09-16T22:50:41.190Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

If you have a reason to give a sudden lecture about my general not-niceness and deservingness of poor treatment, please take it to PM or email. You can contact me at sbarta at gmail.

If you want to instead provoke a nasty, public fight in which we recount each others' past wrongs, then continue as you are.

comment by thomblake · 2010-09-16T22:56:59.994Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, (I don't know why your comment was downvoted) we've had this conversation before and ranting at you in a public forum serves nobody. I have a note on my desk reminding me that adderall increases hostility (just in case I'm flying off the handle), but apparently I need to locate it more prominently.

Thanks.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-09-16T23:17:04.976Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Well, at least I got some honest feedback, which is rare. "In adderallo veritas"?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-12T16:46:10.114Z · score: 0 (14 votes) · LW · GW

How many hours a week of mercy fucks would you say that women owe to the world?

I don't think you should necessarily avoid talking about changing preferences. I do think you should consider that people only change their preferences for reasons that make sense to them, and that contextless statements that the world would be better if only people would make themselves more convenient for someone else (who coincidentally is more like you than they are) are not likely to go over well, and why.

I wonder if it's time someone made the bound-to-be-controversial suggestion that women in modern society are excessively conservative when it comes to granting sexual favors.

When you said it was bound to be controversial, did you have any specific controversies in mind?

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-21T03:22:07.848Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The obligation should be no stronger than the obligation to welcome a homeless person into your dwelling for a night's sleep, or to donate a large portion of one's savings+income to feed the starving - that is, nonexistent.

The typical person would not necessarily offer sex to all comers on a pro bono basis, but could fund professionals who choose such a line of work.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-21T08:10:50.130Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If it had been phrased as you put it, I don't think things would have blown up.

Correction: If it had been conceived as you put it, things wouldn't have blown up.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-21T08:17:18.311Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Glad to hear it. It's painful than seeing people try to blow up rationally :)

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T17:13:50.860Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Well said, I noticed that same bias cropping up. I suppressed the impulse to reply in this case because on this one extinction seems to be more effective. Well, that and because I didn't want to confess to caring about unsexy men - it's one of those things that is not always correctly identified as a counter-signal.

comment by MC_Escherichia · 2010-09-11T15:05:22.092Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

To rephrase komponisto's reply to this in a simpler manner, and minus the controversial bit:

I wish everyone would extend to the unattractive people of the world, of either sex, our right to feel bitter. This does not make us rapists. Thank you for your attention.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T15:51:45.648Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That's a good point.

It seems to be too easy to go from "Some bitter people are dangerous" to "Bitter people are dangerous"-- people make that sort of mistake anyway, and it's easier when there's some fear added.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-11T23:15:10.755Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted. But the right to feel bitter does not automatically imply the right to express bitterness. And even if you posit the right to express bitterness, expressing bitterness may still not be a rational response to the situation.

ETA: This probably-volatile comic-strip link suggests one reason why bitterness over one's own unattractiveness is often the result of a deficiency in epistemic rationality.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-11T22:41:41.328Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

If more geeks could come across as "exciting badboys, or masculine and high socially-skilled" then women who are subconsciously attracted to that type could actually wind up with someone intelligent and decent, instead of the usual jerks. You're raising the average quality level of the socially successful man.

That's exactly what I was trying to get at.

You can get better at attracting women, and that's great, but women are free to reject you.

Aside from hyperbolic marketing materials, what would make us think that PUAs believe that they are "guaranteed" success with women? What makes us think that they resist the notion that women are free to reject them?

Actually, by joining the seduction community, PUAs demonstrate a recognition that success with women is not guaranteed, and that they will only achieve it with a lot of work figuring out how to satisfy women's criteria.

PUAs call getting obsessed about any one particular woman "one-itis," which is one of the cardinal sins of pickup.

To understand the attitude that PUAs have towards rejection and towards the validity of women's preferences, let's take a look, not at the words of PUAs, but at the words of a man criticizing PUAs:

The seduction community has two major flaws: The first flaw is that it teaches you the very contradictory message that you have to learn to be masculine and be your own man while catering to women and their actions. So no matter what she does, it's up to you to calibrate it for best effect. If she wants cocky and funny you better be cocky and funny. If she wants an asshole you better be that too. If she wants entertainment and you aren't entertaining then she will move on to the next guy who is.

The second flaw is that the seduction community never or rarely addresses those things that women are doing wrong. It's like a child who throws a tantrum and instead of disciplining him or her you take the position that you have to find out what it is they want and give it to them. There's this intense fear that if you call out women on their misbehaviour you are a chump or weak or unable to take it like a man. So rather than do that many guys prefer to just take the "spoil the child" approach to getting laid. Game is basically a coping strategy for women's rotten behaviour. If a woman has attitude and is unresponsive god forbid you tell her to open up. It's your job to figure out what buttons to push.

[...]

• A woman can't take responsibility for her actions and flakes on you — The PUA interpretation: You didn't do enough to attract her.

• A woman is with friends who regularly cockblock — The PUA interpretation: You have to win the friends over (never mind what she thinks). So learn group theory.

• A woman loses interest soon after talking to you — The PUA interpretation: You didn't stimulate her enough.

Basically, this writer recognizes and bashes PUAs for having an attitude towards women that "the customer is always right." Whenever you get rejected, you go back to the drawing board and try to figure out what you could have done differently. This attitude can be grueling on oneself... but it wins.

There are a few particular tactics in the seduction community that I do worry about pressuring women sexually. PUAs will sometimes persist through some forms of ambiguous resistance, or "token" resistance. For example, if a woman and a PUA are making out, and she says "we should stop soon" while continuing to vigorously make out, then the PUA will probably keep going until he gets a less ambiguous rejection. Similarly, if a woman says "we shouldn't do this" and then starts unbuttoning his shirt, the PUA will listen to her hands, not her words. If a woman does give an obvious "no," then the PUA might try initiating the same activity later if he has reason to believe she may have changed her mind.

I'm not quite sold on some of the ways that PUAs initiate with women who are conflicted about sex, yet even in these cases, PUAs will keep going not because they feel "entitled," but because they believe that the women involved will want them to keep going.

Just like everywhere else, PUAs are trying to fulfill what they perceive as the majority preferences of women, which may end marginalizing women with less-typical preferences. Unfortunately, it's a society-wide problem that many mainstream straight women seem to have trouble engaging in explicit verbal communication about sexuality and consent, which creates an incentive on men to make guesses, guesses which are sometimes wrong. More on that here.

While the attitude towards consent in the seduction community does leave some things to be desired, I don't think it's actually very far from the attitudes toward consent in the general culture, held by both men and women. It's another case where we bash the seduction community for merely verbalizing and copying what everyone else is already doing.

The rationality of negotiation over consent would be a great subject for discussion sometime.

For the most part, PUAs believe that they are fulfilling women's preferences, even though their measurement of women's preferences may sometimes be incorrect or biased (such as when assessing women who are experiencing conflict over their preferences). For the most part, PUAs butt out when they believe they have received an unambiguous rejection, and then try to examine where they "messed up."

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-15T11:32:39.029Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Viliam's response brought my attention to this quote-of-a-quote. It struck me as massively ill-conceived.

The second flaw is that the seduction community never or rarely addresses those things that women are doing wrong. It's like a child who throws a tantrum and instead of disciplining him or her you take the position that you have to find out what it is they want and give it to them.

This is just entirely backwards. The lessons on discipline - both academic and practical - that I learned during my training and brief career as a teacher have significant overlap with those of PUA. Taking actions in response to those of others that make it clear what behaviours they can get away with with you is an instrumental necessity with people in general.

Is the critic's complaint that the interaction is framed as 'pressing buttons that have a desired influence on future behaviour' rather than 'make a moral judgement and punish those whose behavior does not match your ideals'?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-28T08:42:47.830Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

• A woman is with friends who regularly cockblock — The PUA interpretation: You have to win the friends over (never mind what she thinks). So learn group theory.

I thought about the mathematical sense of “group theory” first. I clearly need a break. (Well, I am taking one right now.)

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2011-09-15T10:31:42.082Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The criticism is essentially correct, but needs to be put in more context.

catering to women and their actions. So no matter what she does, it's up to you to calibrate it for best effect. If she wants cocky and funny you better be cocky and funny. If she wants an asshole you better be that too. If she wants entertainment and you aren't entertaining then she will move on to the next guy who is.

And how whould this differ from supplicating, which many non-PUAs do? The uncalibrated version is: "If she wants cocky and funny, you provide gifts and submissivity. If she wants entertainment, you provide gifts and submissivity. Later she moves on to the next guy, and you never understand why." I don't see how catering to woman's needs could be worse than supplicating. At least, being cocky and funny, entertaining, et cetera teaches you some useful social skills, improves other aspects of your life, and perhaps there is a chance you will enjoy it.

In any voluntary relationship you have to be somehow compatible with the other person's expectation. It is a question of limits -- how much change is acceptable for you, and when you decide that the cost is too high. Just as non-PUA may decide to value his own dignity higher than maintaining relationship at any costs, so may decide a PUA. And the PUA would probably be in a better bargaining position.

The second flaw is that the seduction community never or rarely addresses those things that women are doing wrong. It's like a child who throws a tantrum and instead of disciplining him or her you take the position that you have to find out what it is they want and give it to them.

This applies to dealing with fellow humans in general. How many imperfect people do you know? How often do you remind them of their percieved mistakes? How soon in your relationship you start doing it? Do they like it? I guess if an average human hates to be judged by strangers, it is probably not a good seduction strategy. (Exceptions exist: see "negs".) Just as it would be a bad business strategy, etc. Would you "discipline" your business partners, or would you try to find a "win/win" solution?

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T19:01:13.338Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Only by an extremely strict definition of "guarantee" could this be construed as contravening any individual lady's autonomy.

You actually hint at this:

You can do things that can make you statistically more likely to succeed, but in the end, when you have consensual social interactions, the other person could always rebuff you.

Sure, but the guarantee was never about individuals in the first place!

Consider each interaction a Bernoulli trial. If (pre-self help), the poor dude always strikes out [P(success) ~ 0], he will never have a successful interaction (however that's defined) unless he performs an enormous number of trials, which his poor self esteem won't allow. Say we raise his probability of success (through hypnotherapy and positive self-talk coaching), to 0.01. If our gentleman is so revved up that he then goes out and talks to 1000 women (performs 1000 trials), there's a >99.99% chance he'll have at least one success.

If this situation is typical, it would seem like an unreasonably restrictive use of language to balk the word "guarantee". Individuals always have unique characteristics, but that doesn't mean we can't make statements about averages.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-11T19:15:51.925Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Of course.

My point was about literal guarantees, and men who believe them. There are very stupid people in this world. It's easy to assume them away, but they do actually exist. George Sodini, I suspect, was a stupid man -- or, at least, deeply unrealistic. He had the Charles Guiteau attitude: fiercely convinced that he was owed something that would never have been likely. Being that unrealistic is dangerous to oneself and others.

I would guess that LW doesn't harbor so much of that, but I feel obligated to make these kinds of disclaimers because I do see people here who don't take social conventions for granted and who don't pick up cues very naturally.

To get back to the main issue, I think it's basically good to get better at picking up women, and even more generally good to build social/networking/charisma ability. I'm just inclined to be very careful about handing too much of an ideology to people who are high-risk for doing bad things with it.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T19:30:46.961Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Gotcha, agreed!

comment by michaelsullivan · 2011-12-09T18:09:47.448Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The biggest problem with what I've seen of PUA and PUA converts is that it is very hard to distinguish these two affects.

Your typical shy guy poor dude, doesn't actually approach women with an actual trial very often. Sometimes it almost never happens.

Suppose the successful PUA can pickup 2-3% of intentional targets. They are probably targeting people everytime they are in a social situation that involves meeting new people. Perhaps this involves dozens of contacts a week, or even hundreds if they are the sort who is looking for a constant stream of one-nighters.

On the other hand, your typical poor dude may only make 1-2 intentional targets a month, if that. I was never a PUA. I developed enough social skills on my own to make a marked difference in my outlook a few years before Lewis Depayne showed up on usenet pushing Ross Jeffries stuff, which was laughable.

But I was definitely a poor dude before then. I attended a college for two years with 70% women, that a friend of mine described in retrospect as a "pussy paradise" without ever having any kind of romantic or sexual relationship. In retrospect, some of the rare targets of my attention were begging me to make a move in ways that I failed to notice. But in two years, I probably made actual attempts to hookup or date at most 9-10 women/girls, and in none of those cases did I ever make a move that demanded either rejection or acceptance. Because I was so, so sure that I would be rejected that I couldn't face the prospect. Is it any surprise that my success rate was 0%?

Even after my awakening, I maintained a relatively low frequency of attempts, but my ratio of hookups to serious attempts is far better than 3%, more like 50-60%.

My going hypothesis is that the mere act of getting guys to specifically attempt to approach women they are attracted to, and then attempt to seduce those who inspire their further interest and verify their success is enough to turn the average loser into someone who will be reasonably successful with women.

I didn't actually need any dark arts to go from a big 'loser' to somebody who, in the right social context (not a typical bar scene), has around a 50/50 shot to hook up with almost anybody who is looking and interests me. I just had to realize that sex is not something women have and men want to take from them, and that I am not hideous and unattractive.

Now, I've come to realize that I'm probably more attractive than average, naturally, and it was my combination of weak social skills and brutal social experience of growing up that warped my mental map about this until I was in my mid-20s. I don't actually believe that most guys would have the results that I do. But I'm hardly some kind of Super-Adonis. I'm fat, and don't pay a whole lot of attention to my appearance beyond being clean (tend to wear non-descript preppy business casual nearly everywhere I go because it's comfortable). I'm pretty sure I'd get negative numbers on Roissy's stupid SMV test.

comment by rhollerith_dot_com · 2010-09-11T19:50:21.130Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Say we raise his probability of success, to 0.01. If our gentleman is so revved up that he then goes out and talks to 1000 women (performs 1000 trials), there's a >99.99% chance he'll have at least one success.

The (fatal) flaw in your argument is that you multiplied probabilities without checking your model of reality for any obvious reasons to believe that the probabilities might be significantly dependent on each other.

In other words, if all we know about a man is that he is trying to mate, is the probability that he will succeed with woman #900 given that he struck out with #1 through #899 really the same as the probability that he will succeed with woman #1?

comment by Will_Sawin · 2010-09-11T20:19:45.486Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The general point still holds. P(at least one success) can be very large even if P(nth attempt succeeds) is small, for all n.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T20:23:09.544Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The independence assumption is implicit in my calling them Bernoulli trials, but you are correct that this may not be valid. Still, the general point stands. Good catch!

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-11T14:32:58.226Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

when you have consensual social interactions, the other person could always rebuff you

I don't have a link handy, but ISTR that one of AMP's promotional materials was a thing that showed several ways that inadvertently create "captured audience syndrome" via body language, conversation monopolizing, or other behaviors make a woman feel threatened or like she doesn't have the option of leaving.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T14:55:56.341Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If you happen to find it, I hope you post the link.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2010-09-12T04:07:19.196Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It can get creepy when men think they're entitled... I worry about that driving men to violence.

That sounds psychologically unrealistic to me. Rapists tend to have more sex and more partners than average. Maybe violence comes from a sense of desert, but that sense was not connected to "following the rules."

Similarly, I have heard lots of anecdotes of students becoming violent for being denied degrees, but have not been able to substantiate any of them.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-11T17:40:38.730Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To the extent that PUA skills increase unconscious signals that women find attractive, it may have a net benefit for women by upping the typical attractiveness of the dating pool, as Sarah points out.

Yes, excellent point. But the reason is not, as you think, because PUAs are duping women. The reason that PUAs provide a net benefit for women is that over time, they actually grow into men who fulfills women's criteria.

Deliberating sending out signals that match women's unconscious detectors for high socioeconomic status is duping in a sense, in a similar sense that makeup is duping. You could say that the signals themselves are the criteria, but even a peacock's tail is a health indicator to a degree. I contrast that with actual active duping - bullshitting.

In social reality, if you can get yourself and a bunch of other people to believe an assessment of yourself, and that assessment isn't based on blatant factual errors, then it becomes true.

The socially reality a PUA constructs can be based on blatant factual errors, and this is exactly the duping of the second type that I was discussing.

So it depends on what exactly is being faked and to what extent.

In your view, what exactly are PUAs faking, and to what extent? What is the "bullshit and dishonesty" that they employ?

A more novice PUA may use canned material and routines to fake a level of social status and charisma that the PUA does not actually possess. That is duping in the weaker sense of 'false signaling'.

Duping in the stronger sense is outright dishonesty. A PUA who spins amazing stories about being an independent film director and movies he has made blah blah but in fact is a dental assistant or something. PUA then convinces a women that he has a genuine interest in her. If she then later sleeps with him, it would be based largely on a false image and false pretense. That is the dark arts bullshit and dishonesty I was referring to. Obviously PUA-dom is a diverse and broad set of folks, and most aren't like that. But some are, and this is the aspect of PUA that women dislike.

A PUA's behavioral standard shouldn't change just because of the PUA label - a guy who engaged in the above would be generally considered a douchebag by most people - PUA or not.

I don't see PUAs as being any worse choices for women to date than non-PUAs of the same level of attractiveness

I suspect it's a little more complex than that. A guy who is really into PUA is probably not at a LTR stage in his life. But of course not all women are looking for that either.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T00:21:32.097Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Deliberating sending out signals that match women's unconscious detectors for high socioeconomic status is duping in a sense, in a similar sense that makeup is duping.

PUAs are more interested in signaling high social status than specifically socioeconomic status. I disagree with the analogy between status signaling and makeup. It's a lot harder to assess the "truth" of a status signal than it is to assess how someone really looks.

The socially reality a PUA constructs can be based on blatant factual errors, and this is exactly the duping of the second type that I was discussing.

Ok, then could you give me a specific example, other than one I've already stipulated (e.g. telling anecdotes about friends who don't exist during the first 10 minutes of conversation)? No, there isn't really a fight outside, and no, you don't really have a friend who is buying his girlfriend a cashmere sweater.

But can't we excuse such white lies in helping people learn to socialize? Once a guy gets some social experience under his belt, then he will have entertaining anecdotes about friends that are actually true, and he will be as cool as those canned stories make him seem.

A more novice PUA may use canned material and routines to fake a level of social status and charisma that the PUA does not actually possess. That is duping in the weaker sense of 'false signaling'.

I agree with wedrifid below. It's hard to assess the "falseness" of charisma, since so much of social reality is decided by perception.

There is a difference between duping someone in a way that will never be true, and trying to get people to believe something that will be true if you can get enough people to believe it. No matter how much makeup you use, it will not make the underlying face more beautiful. Yet many ways of supposed fakeness in social interaction actually can become real.

The mechanism I propose is biofeedback and the looking-glass self. Just like people holding pens in the teeth making them smile can make them feel happier, people acting charismatically (even the aid of scripts) can make them feel more charismatic, facilitating non-scripted charismatic behavior in the future. The theory of the looking-glass self is that people create their self-concepts based on feedback from others (i.e. seeing the reflection of their behavior in other people's reactions). So if you can get people to think you are charismatic, they will treat you like a charismatic person, and you will learn from them that you are charismatic, leading to more charismatic behavior in the future.

A PUA who spins amazing stories about being an independent film director and movies he has made blah blah but in fact is a dental assistant or something.

Except PUA don't advocate this sort of lie. If you think they do, we are not on the same page, and I'm wondering what sources you are basing these conclusions on.

PUA then convinces a women that he has a genuine interest in her.

I don't see a strong view in the seduction community advocating convincing a woman you are interested in her when it is false.

The closest is how Mystery points out that telling a woman that she has been on your mind can be potent for seducing her if said at the right time. Mystery says absolutely nothing about the truth value of the statement. Does that mean that he thinks it's OK to lie? I really don't know. I do know that Mystery believes that he often falls in love. So he might be saying these things truthfully (or at least, he can self-deceive himself into believing that he has feelings for women he is trying to seduce, such that he can feel that he is authentically expressing those feelings).

In contrast, a big component of Juggler's method is trying to get a woman to show you a quality that you genuinely like, and then rewarding her by expressing how you like that quality. Juggler does seem to believe that showing more-than-sexual interest should be genuine.

In general, most pickup methods don't actually use displays of platonic interest as a major part of seduction. It's viewed as too close to "nice guy" complimenting of women. PUAs are more likely to feign indifference than feign interest.

Obviously PUA-dom is a diverse and broad set of folks, and most aren't like that. But some are, and this is the aspect of PUA that women dislike.

Yes, there is a subset of PUAs that engage in lying beyond inventing imaginary friends to get their foot in conversations. The point is that PUA literature in general doesn't advocate such behavior.

I think that PUAs engaging in impression management, or even using scripts as a temporary measure to learn social skills, are not in the same moral category as substantive deception (lying about accomplishments, career, and income) or the same moral category as deception on a permanent basis (makeup, push-up bras). I think women should recognize that the intention of PUAs is not to deceive women about how they measure in qualities that women use to evaluate them, but to actually develop those qualities over the long term.

Furthermore, even the use of canned routines for training purposes may demonstrate qualities that women find attractive: it shows a sort of resourcefulness and ambition. Even the choice of a canned routine requires a certain level of social savvy.

It's widely accepted that it's OK for women to deceive men about their physical attributes. Part of the reason it is acceptable is that we recognize that men have more restrictive preferences for looks than women do. By the same token, we should recognize that women are more selective about the personality traits and behaviors that men display.

Botwin and Buss (1997) found that:

Across both samples of couples, women expressed more extreme preferences for the personality characteristics of their ideal mate.

When lesbian journalist Norah Vincent dressed up as a man for a book (I harvest some revealing quotes from her here, she was in for a rude awakening in the dating world:

On dates with men I felt physically appraised in a way that I never did by women, and, while this made me more sympathetic to the suspicions women were bringing to their dates with Ned, it had the opposite effect, too. Somehow men's seeming imposition of a superficial standard of beauty felt less intrusive, less harsh, than the character appraisals of women.

Given the kind of challenges that men face matching up to the character appraisals that Vincent describes as "harsh," it may be justifiable for men to "fake it 'til they make it."

I suspect it's a little more complex than that. A guy who is really into PUA is probably not at a LTR stage in his life.

Except for the ones who are. Beginning PUAs often aren't ready for relationships, but since beginners are less attractive to women, there is less of a chance of women trying to have relationships with them. By the time a PUA reaches a significant level of attractiveness, I'm skeptical that PUAs are any less interested in relationships than other non-PUAs that the same women would be attracted to instead.

As I mention in the post, most of the pickup instructors I've met (who probably qualify as guys who are "really into" pickup) do relationships. It's just hard to date lots of women and not eventually run into one who you fancy for something a bit longer term.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T17:55:35.677Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A more novice PUA may use canned material and routines to fake a level of social status and charisma that the PUA does not actually possess.

Fake charisma? That is a hair's breadth (or less) away from being an oxymoron.

comment by jacob_cannell · 2010-09-11T18:22:05.656Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not really - the particular case would be a novice PUA who can fake charisma through 4 hours of prepared material, but thereafter just reverts to his normal geeky self.

Fake charisma.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-11T21:43:07.744Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The thing is, if you can have 4 hours of charismatic conversation, and do this several times, the self that you revert back to will slowly get more charismatic.

This is like putting on makeup that actually makes the face more beautiful when taken off.

I'm not so worried about this sort of faking, because it trains you to develop the real thing that you are faking.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T17:47:07.727Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is like putting on makeup that actually makes the face more beautiful when taken off.

Tretinoin. Thoroughly recommended!

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T18:40:12.700Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That was the kind of case I was considering. Moreover, if someone can successfully have a 4 hour interaction with prepared material then that's a damn impressive achievement. Managing the flow of a conversation such that you can use that much canned material without the interaction being grossly stilted is extremely difficult and it is the presentation far more so than the material itself that conveys charisma.

Fake charisma. ... a hair's breadth (or less) away from being an oxymoron.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-11T17:43:04.672Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sending out unconscious signals that match women's unconscious detectors for high socioeconomic status is duping in a sense, in a similar sense that makeup is duping.

Not if you have high socioeconomic status (and I would guess PUAs are above average in this regard due to the prevalence of science/engineering/software types).

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T18:46:05.578Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not if you have high socioeconomic status (and I would guess PUAs are above average in this regard due to the prevalence of science/engineering/software types).

Not to mention all the extra options they have when it comes to advancing their careers - 'climbing the ladder' so to speak.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2010-09-12T05:15:40.293Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Let me give an example of PUA manipulation that is not of the form "fake it till you make it." You seem to be taking the position that there's no such thing. I'm rather surprised by that, since I thought that you had rather mixed feelings about PUA. Maybe I'm confused about your position because you're only addressing the question of whether such manipulations are good for women; I will not judge this example, but it definitely comes across as manipulation and thus I expect provokes negative reactions, which is the question at the very top of the thread.

A common piece of advice is to take a girl to several different locations to create the illusion of having known each other long time to make the girl comfortable. If this were just the physical advice, it would probably elicit positive reactions ("how to show a girl a good time"). Even if we drop "create the illusion" and just say that this is more effective than compared to time than one might expect, such direct effort at internal state is called manipulation.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T10:33:34.472Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Like Scott Adam's in the quote from the original post, I'm skeptical of the category of "manipulation." People use it to mean a lot of different things. Some use it to mean "influence," in a morally-neutral way. Others use it to mean something like "unethical" influence." Since there isn't a common meaning of what "manipulation" means, I don't find it a useful term. Instead, I would rather just talk about ethical and unethical forms of influence (and if you do see me using the word "manipulation," I use it to mean "unethical influence").

You seem to be taking the position that there's no such thing.

I take the position that there is a lot of influence used in the seduction community, but most of it is ethical, including the example you give. In the seduction community, we call it "venue changing."

A common piece of advice is to take a girl to several different locations to create the illusion of having known each other long time to make the girl comfortable.

Is venue changing ethical influence, or unethical? Let's examine a couple reasons it could be unethical.

  1. Venue changing creates connection that is "illusory"

You create the feeling that you both have known each other a long time (yes, this technique works on the guy, too). But to call that feeling an "illusion" seems like some sort of category mistake. As I've argued here before, in the social world perception is reality to a large degree. If you feel close with someone, they you are close. There is no time quota you must meet before a feeling of closeness can be categorized as "real" or "illusion."

Basing a feeling of closeness on merely being in a series of venues together might seem like a poor foundation for a connection. But that can't be a basis for calling such a behavior unethical, even when done intentionally. People go through multiple venues on dates all the time; if we told them that they are really "manipulating" each other, should they say "whoops, you're right! Now that we know what a poor foundation for connection we were creating, we should stick to one venue for our dates from now on..."? No.

Furthermore, venue changing isn't devoid of "real" information to base a connection on. Changing venues requires you to show all sorts of things to your date that are useful for evaluating compatibility. How is the next place to go decided, and what kind of negotiation occurs? What do these choices show about the people involved? If you walk, how do you two walk together? Does one person walk faster than the other? Do you hold hands, or walk arm-in-arm? If you go by car, who drives? Who figures out the directions? If you get lost, how do you two handle it?

Traveling around town actually shows you a lot about what another person is like, which is perhaps a part of why venue-changing is so useful for creating a feeling of connection. You feel more connected because you two have done more stuff together.

There is a certain degree of caveat emptor necessary here. People should keep track of what kinds of interaction their feelings of connection with others are based on.

  1. The second potential reason might be unethical influence is that you intentionally influence someone in a way that they don't realize. Not everyone knows that venue-changing facilitates a feeling of connection.

Yet I don't think we can hold the moral principle that it's only ethical to influence people in ways that they are aware of. Not everyone has the same level of social and sexual experience. If that principle was true, then subtle makeup and push-up bras would be unethical, because some men can't recognize them.

I do agree that influencing people in ways they aren't aware of deserves moral scrutiny, I just think we need additional criteria to declare it unethical. In Hugh Ristik's Sexual Ethics v0.9, I propose a couple criteria by which we can evaluate influence the other person is unaware of:

  • Would they consider that influence OK if they did know? In the case of venue-changing, I think that if women were widely aware of the effectiveness of venue-changing in facilitating a connection, they wouldn't object to it any more than men object to women wearing makeup or cute clothes. It would just become a part of the mating dance that both people are aware of.

  • Should they consider that influence OK if they knew about it, and understood where you are coming from?

  • Does that form of influence impair the other person's ability to consent to being sexual with you? No, unless you think that women feeling close to a man are impaired in their ability to consent. I don't. Spiking someone's drink fails this test.

  • Is it a form of influence that the other person is accustomed to? People are accustomed to feeling close to others, and they are often accustomed to going through multiple venues on dates. In contrast, some forms of hypnosis might fail this test (I don't know; I don't know enough hypnosis) if they create mental states that people aren't used to making sexual decisions under.

  • Is it a form of influence based on their native brain chemistry? Spiking someone's drink fails this test.

In summary, I think that venue changing is an ethical form of influence. I do think it would be even more ethical if more women realized what was going on. I think the same thing about most pickup techniques, which is part of why I talk about them so much. I want women to know what's going on, and I avoid doing stuff that I would be ashamed of women knowing about.

comment by Violet · 2010-09-12T11:00:19.286Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Let's see for a definition, first hit on 'venue change pua' is http://www.pualingo.com/pua-definitions/venue-change/

Does building "compliance" and "time distortion" sound ethical? Does it sound like it helps people make informed rational choices?

Everything social is shades of gray, and that is why motives are so important. If the art is so ethical why are description of it so often done in such a bad way?

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T12:41:01.789Z · score: 14 (20 votes) · LW · GW

"why are descriptions of it so often done in such a bad way"?

Because I suspect that men find it more appealing to think of themselves as clever, seductive villains than as just catching up to normal people.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T21:54:26.907Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It is more fun to think of yourself as some kind of scientific mastermind or wizard than as a special ed. student.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-12T16:35:45.290Z · score: 4 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Because I suspect that men find it more appealing to think of themselves as clever, seductive villains than as just catching up to normal people.

True, and quite insightful -- but only if "normal" is prescriptive rather than descriptive. (The norm, in the sense of actual average, is to be less than skillful.)

What you are referring to as "normal" is what PUAish people refer to as "natural". i.e., a person who is naturally good at the social games and graces, or has learned them implicitly.

Women, as a rule, are themselves "naturals" in this sense, which results in them thinking that any "normal" guy ought to know what to do.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T22:31:11.973Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Right... the level of social skills that men need to be considered dateable by average women is not the level of social skills that the average guy has. It's something higher; in fact, it might even be above the female average.

Women have the right to whatever preferences they have. But if the above fact is true (that average men aren't good enough for average women), then you quickly realize that it leads to a broken system of supply and demand.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T23:42:01.341Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Right... the level of social skills that men need to be considered dateable by average women is not the level of social skills that the average guy has. It's something higher; in fact, it might even be above the female average.

Do you have any rigorous evidence for this, or is it only based on your personal experiences or perceptions? Because it sounds remarkably close to something I hear a lot from women, which is that men have unreasonable expectations re: women's personal appearance, beyond what "real women" can live up to. My answer is the same in both cases: in practice, people adjust their expectations according to what is available. Most people don't see celibacy as a real option, so they're more likely to try for the best available partner than just give up on mating.

On the other hand, women are certainly more willing to go without sex in the short term than are men, on average. Maybe that's what's leading to your perception of a mismatch between supply and demand?

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-12T23:52:39.893Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

it sounds remarkably close to something I hear a lot from women, which is that men have unreasonable expectations re: women's personal appearance, beyond what "real women" can live up to.

Note that this isn't inconsistent with ev-psych: our preferences weren't evolved for the purpose of making us all happy. Instead, they're tuned to make us want better than whatever the other guy or gal has got.

My answer is the same in both cases: in practice, people adjust their expectations according to what is available.

Note that in both the male and female complaint, the unstated part is that men/women the complainer finds attractive are the ones with the "impossibly high" standard. The reason the other party can have that high standard, is because they themselves are more of a "catch" and can thus be more selective.

IOW, men are saying that the women who meet their unreasonable expectations expect too much of them, and the women are saying that the men who meet their unreasonable expectations expect too much of them. In both cases, this is consistent with the notion that the average guy or gal is looking for an above-average gal or guy, respectively... and suggests that our evolved preference is to look for someone just out of our own (perceived) league.

(I think some experiments have been done to test that idea, but I don't recall the specifics at the moment.)

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T01:34:39.532Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

IOW, men are saying that the women who meet their unreasonable expectations expect too much of them, and the women are saying that the men who meet their unreasonable expectations expect too much of them. In both cases, this is consistent with the notion that the average guy or gal is looking for an above-average gal or guy, respectively... and suggests that our evolved preference is to look for someone just out of our own (perceived) league.

Yes, but if women are more selective in general, then this situation is not symmetrical: women are more likely to try to date "out of their league." Or they perceive their "league" to be high than men at the same percentile of attractiveness think that their own league is.

My hypothesis is that the difference between minimum or maximum percentile attractiveness of the mates you are aiming for, and your own percentile attractiveness, is greater for women.

For instance, it could be the case that a man in the 50th percentile of male attractiveness views his "league" to be the 45th percentile to the 60th percentile of female attractiveness. Although he might sometimes make a pass at women of higher percentile attractiveness, most of his mating effort occurs in that window.

In contrast, a woman in the 50th percentile of female attractiveness may view her "league" to be the 55th to to 70th percentile of male attractiveness.

If it's the case that such dynamics are in play, they would predict certain problems in the dating world that match up well to my experience in real life. The result is that both sexes are often in a situation where "what you want, you can't get, and what you get, you don't want."

And note, I'm not saying that this broken system is women's fault for being prissy princesses, or something like that. The problem isn't women's preferences and selectivity in a vacuum, the problem is the gap between women's preferences and men's traits, and the gap between female and male selectivity. (PUAs try to solve this problem by changing men's traits to be more in line with female preferences, such that less women are forced to select them out.)

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-13T01:49:05.244Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused. The data you present shows that women are more picky about personality, and men are more picky about looks. But what (of your data) indicates that "the difference between minimum or maximum percentile attractiveness of the mates you are aiming for, and your own percentile attractiveness, is greater for women"? You can break personality into several separate traits, yes, but you can break looks into several separate traits too, so it isn't clear that women have more requirements on more traits.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T02:07:23.687Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The data you present shows that women are more picky about personality, and men are more picky about looks. But what (of your data) indicates that "the difference between minimum or maximum percentile attractiveness of the mates you are aiming for, and your own percentile attractiveness, is greater for women"?

You're correct, most of my discussion in this case hinges on the proposition that women are more selective in general. I haven't yet presented evidence on that proposition, and it will take me some time to write it up.

For now, people can read my post by assuming for the sake of argument that women are more selective in general.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-13T02:22:46.332Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am not sure how assuming that women are more selective in general does a better job of explaining observations than assuming that both sexes tend to desire mates who are "out of their league". In both cases, this would create a situation where, as you put it, "what you want, you can't get, and what you get, you don't want." Why do you favor the hypothesis that it's only women who are over-selective?

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T06:24:54.592Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you favor the hypothesis that it's only women who are over-selective?

There is some more research on the subject that I need to write up, but you can start with the OkCupid analysis for now.

Look at the boxes showing the reply rates by race. They have row and column weighted averages, and at the bottom right there seems to be the total weighted average response rate. Men get responses to 27.6% of their messages. Women get responses to 42% of their messages.

On OkCupid, women are more selective in who they respond to. How much does this generalize to more general male-female interaction? That's uncertain, but it show lead us to raise our probability for the hypothesis that women are more selective in general.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-13T07:01:45.269Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've seen the OkTrends results before, but I'm really not comfortable making any general inferences from them. Are there even roughly equal numbers of men and women on OkCupid? Is that information available anywhere?

There is some more research on the subject that I need to write up

I'll be interested to read it.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T07:04:36.158Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are there even roughly equal numbers of men and women on OkCupid?

That would be highly unlikely.

Is that information available anywhere?

It isn't the sort of thing that I would expect a dating site to advertise. "10:1 ratio of guys to girls" (for example) isn't the kind of message that is well calibrated to attract participants of either sex.

I have seen research done into sex ratios for online dating sites in general, not limited to OkCupid and the balance is far from even.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-13T07:08:38.183Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's what I would guess also, and it would certainly go a long way toward explaining why women on OkCupid appear to be so much more selective: 1) They can afford to be and 2) Their inboxes are too full to respond to a large fraction of their messages even if they wanted to.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T07:36:54.666Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's true. If OkCupid has a high male:female ratio, then it does make those numbers seem like weaker evidence of general female selectivity. But I would like to make a point:

Why are there more men on online dating websites? Could it be because they are less likely to have adequate options in real life because, perhaps... women in real life are more selective?

EDIT: Whoa! Actually, OkCupid published their stats, and they have a nearly 1:1 gender ratio. It really depends on age group there are more 18 year-old women than men by 3:2, and more mid-twenties men by about 6:7. But it's mostly pretty damn close. So I'm going to maintain my hypothesis of greater female selectivity.

(...and I need to recreate my account.)

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-13T16:24:28.830Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Whoa! Actually, OkCupid published their stats, and they have a nearly 1:1 gender ratio.

I thought that initially as well when I saw that post but if you look at the subheading of the graph 'Distribution of Singles on OkCupid, By Age' it says 'in our sample pool of 100,000 of each' so it is not clear to me that they actually have a 1:1 gender ratio. Presumably the sample pools were chosen to be reflective of actual age distributions within genders but it doesn't necessarily follow that the overall gender ratios are 1:1.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T16:39:54.275Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Right. Must have missed that up late last night. I stand corrected.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T07:28:31.056Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's what I would guess also, and it would certainly go a long way toward explaining why women on OkCupid appear to be so much more selective:

That's what I had been lead to expect, so my own anecdotal experience surprised me. The majority of my interactions on OkCupid, including those that have lead on to dating and relationships, have been initiated by the women in question. But I'm not complaining! ;)

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T02:45:50.725Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you favor the hypothesis that it's only women who are over-selective?

Trivial understanding of game theory in an evolutionary context, observation of human behavior or accepting the nearly universally acknowledged stereotype (or generalisation) would suggest this hypothesis. Since evolution doesn't 'care' at all about our happiness and given the payoffs for human mating it would be extremely surprising if female instincts were well calibrated for ensuring the individual's wellbeing. The payoffs for males are such that it would be credible to hypothesise from evolutionary reasoning that their selectiveness would any one of too low, just right or too high for the males individual wellbeing.

comment by Cyan · 2010-09-13T02:59:09.093Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Trivial understanding of game theory in an evolutionary context, observation of human behavior or accepting the nearly universally acknowledged stereotype (or generalisation) would suggest this hypothesis. [emphasis added]

A slightly less trivial understanding suggests that a human male's selectiveness will be an increasing function of the investment he expects to make in the resulting offspring.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T03:19:01.465Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A slightly less trivial understanding suggests that a human male's selectiveness will be an increasing function of the investment he expects to make in the resulting offspring.

Exactly. This is what allows me to make the claim in the final sentence:

The payoffs for males are such that it would be credible to hypothesise from evolutionary reasoning that their selectiveness would any one of too low, just right or too high for the males individual wellbeing.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T02:52:02.177Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And note, I'm not saying that this broken system is women's fault for being prissy princesses, or something like that. The problem isn't women's preferences and selectivity in a vacuum, the problem is the gap between women's preferences and men's traits, and the gap between female and male selectivity.

Another instance of DHTP,HTG!

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T03:10:17.529Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I knew you'd get that acronym.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-13T01:14:31.788Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have any rigorous evidence for this, or is it only based on your personal experiences or perceptions?

I don't have evidence that's tested this hypothesis specifically (that the average man isn't good enough for the average woman, particularly in the area of social skills), but there are several lines of scientific evidence that suggest it.

See this study by Berry and Miller for instance:

Women’s physical attractiveness —but not their personality scores —predicted their own, their partner’s, and observers’ evaluations of interaction quality, with more attractive women experiencing better quality interactions than less attractive women. Conversely, men’s personality scores —extraversion, in particular —predicted their own and observers’ ratings of the quality of their interactions, with more extraverted men experiencing better quality interactions than less extraverted men. Men’s physical attractiveness was unrelated to any measure of interaction quality.

The finding that female interest in men is loaded on extraversion is consistent with women finding male social skills important. Of course, this doesn't tell us how average male social skills measure up to the requirement of the average female.

In general, women seem to be more selective than men about all traits other than looks.

See Botwin and Buss 1997:

Across both samples of couples, women expressed more extreme preferences for the personality characteristics of their ideal mate.

Also, see OkCupid research, which found that women are pickier about race than men.

If it's the case that women are more selective than men in general (even taking into account men's greater selectivity for looks), or require higher levels of certain personality traits than are present in the male population, that could indeed create weird issues of supply and demand. This isn't the fault of an individual women; the difficultly is the weight of aggregate female preferences.

My answer is the same in both cases: in practice, people adjust their expectations according to what is available. Most people don't see celibacy as a real option, so they're more likely to try for the best available partner than just give up on mating.

Don't forgot the option of multiple people dating the same person. Humans are considered a mildly polygynous species.

The kind of scenario I'm imagining is if two women of average attractiveness both want a man of slightly above average attractiveness (attractiveness, in this case, means more than just looks). Either they both go out with him, or one of them goes out with him and the other goes out with nobody and lusts for him. Since one man is monopolizing the sexual attention of two women, the supply of women of average attractiveness is choked, leaving less possible partners for men of average attractiveness.

Of course, two men often go after the same woman. Yet if it's true that women are more selective in general, then it's just a lot more likely to see the situation where two women want the same guy and neither of them will settle for an inferior guy. So it's more common for the supply of women at any level of attractiveness to be choked.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-13T06:13:47.189Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

OkCupid also found that women rate 80% of men as below average in attractiveness while men have a much more symmetric distribution of attractiveness ratings with pretty much 50% of women rated below average and 50% above. Men on the other hand are much more likely to message the most attractive women while women are actually most likely to message men rated as slightly below average in attractiveness. As OkCupid puts it:

As you can see from the gray line, women rate an incredible 80% of guys as worse-looking than medium. Very harsh. On the other hand, when it comes to actual messaging, women shift their expectations only just slightly ahead of the curve, which is a healthier pattern than guys’ pursuing the all-but-unattainable. But with the basic ratings so out-of-whack, the two curves together suggest some strange possibilities for the female thought process, the most salient of which is that the average-looking woman has convinced herself that the vast majority of males aren’t good enough for her, but she then goes right out and messages them anyway.

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-12T21:37:35.025Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Are you seriously suggesting that women are naturally good at social games and grace, but that men are not? And moreover that despite apparently being better at social intuition, they fail to understand that men aren't?

This thread is getting increasingly hostile, but none of it seems to be flamebait---apparently many LWers have genuinely warped perceptions about gender.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-13T00:31:57.503Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

And moreover that despite apparently being better at social intuition, they fail to understand that men aren't?

I don't suggest that women fail to understand that individual men aren't good at social perception or intuition (as you imply, that would indeed be contradictory); I'm merely suggesting that women are prone to perceiving this failure as meaning the men in question are broken (i.e. not "real" men).

The default tendency is for people to assume that people unlike themselves are defective; it is an uncommon person who can look at a typical person of the opposite sex and not see an apparently-broken person of their own sex.

(Presumably, this is because our mental machinery for predicting others' behavior relies far too heavily on our own habits, experiences, ways of thinking, etc.)

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-13T17:55:18.833Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't suggest that women fail to understand that individual men aren't good at social perception or intuition (as you imply, that would indeed be contradictory); I'm merely suggesting that women are prone to perceiving this failure as meaning the men in question are broken (i.e. not "real" people).

Fixed that for you.

The default tendency is for people to assume that people unlike themselves are defective; it is an uncommon person who can look at a typical person of the opposite sex and not see an apparently-broken person of their own sex.

This bears repeating.

And read this, too.

comment by whpearson · 2010-09-13T01:47:42.644Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(Presumably, this is because our mental machinery for predicting others' behavior relies far too heavily on our own habits, experiences, ways of thinking, etc.)

I've been thinking about that. I'm not sure what the solution is. Thinking that other's behaviour is unlike our own is very unhelpful, because it doesn't say which bits are unlike our own.

Also people tend to form groups of people like themselves, so there is less data to gather naturally. I'm also not sure fiction helps either, it tends to be unrealistic.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-12T21:52:21.583Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

... apparently many LWers have genuinely warped perceptions about gender.

Well, when you get much of your information about gender from online discussions which are totally dominated by your own sex, of course you develop some weird ideas.

Just for laughs, and perhaps a bit of consciousness-raising, I would like to lurk a bit at a female-dominated forum which discusses gender politics, inter-gender communication, and perhaps the female variant of PUA (a la Cosmo magazine, but non commercial). Someplace halfway intelligent. Anyone have any suggestions?

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T22:02:28.305Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Jezebel for the lighter side, Feministe or Pandagon for heavy politics.

Never found them that rational, unfortunately.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-13T17:59:16.789Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's also Feministing... the level of discussion isn't close to LW level, but it's not terrible.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-13T18:24:08.076Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Are you seriously suggesting that women are naturally good at social games and grace, but that men are not?

Let me put it this way: there are far more creepy men than there are creepy women. And there are more autistic men than autistic women. I strongly suspect that women are less likely to fail as badly in social situations as some men sometimes do. And I don't mean ordinary social failure, I mean "Go away or I'm calling the police" level of social failure.

And moreover that despite apparently being better at social intuition, they fail to understand that men aren't?

Not that they don't understand, just that individual women tend to judge men harshly for not living up to the standards that they set.

comment by datadataeverywhere · 2010-09-13T19:12:22.335Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This thread is generating an interesting collective definition of creepy. I don't think I disagree with it, but it's most interesting to me because it seems to not fit any of the concise definitions that have appeared.

I think it's a big jump from

women are less likely to fail [... in a] "Go away or I'm calling the police" level of social failure.

to

Women, as a rule, are themselves "naturals" in this sense [naturally good at the social games and graces]

I guess I think of those as being different enough to not fall on the same spectrum. To me, someone who is not good at the social graces is still very far away from someone upon whom the police could reasonably be called. Also, as remarked elsewhere in this thread, women generally feel much more physically threatened by men than vice versa, so are much more likely to want to call the police in an extremely uncomfortable situation.

From

Women, as a rule, are themselves "naturals" in this sense, which results in them thinking that any "normal" guy ought to know what to do.

I pulled out

P(natural|woman) > P(natural|man) => believe(women, P(natural|men) >= high)

Which is ridiculous. [EDIT: I mean ridiculous in the sense of being stupid, not in being wrong. It certainly could be valid, which would be unfortunate but not the stupidest thing that's true for humans by a long shot]

I think that straight women generally do have higher standards for how socially skilled men are than straight men hold for women. I just don't think that this condition is caused by women being more socially savvy than men. It's also really hard to measure, because social skill means different things for men in women following traditional gender roles.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-13T21:58:29.890Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think that straight women generally do have higher standards for how socially skilled men are than straight men hold for women. I just don't think that this condition is caused by women being more socially savvy than men.

Perhaps the assumption that wasn't explicit enough in the way I said it, is that women are more socially savvy at relating to women than men are. (The term "natural" in PUA lingo more specifically refers to "naturally good at meeting/relating to women".)

It's pretty straightforward, though, how this leads to the PUA meme that "women are more socially savvy", when a more precise claim would be to say that "women are generally more sensitive to the social nuances of men's behavior than are the men performing those behaviors." The latter is the point the PUAs are trying to teach, namely that men need to learn to be able to see their own behavior from someone else's point of view.

(That the typical model for "someone else" used in such trainings is often "women of above-average physical attractiveness in bars and nightclubs" is a separate issue, which has spawned other debates here in the past!)

In general, problems occur when fairly narrowly-focused PUA concepts are interpreted without the aid of the background assumptions underlying them. Unfortunately, it's usually difficult for human beings to identify their background assumptions, because, well, they're in the background, not to mention being assumptions. ;-)

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-13T19:19:03.497Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good point.

I pulled out

P(natural|woman) > P(natural|man) => believe(women, P(natural|men) >= high)

Which is ridiculous.

Indeed it is. I think the implication was supposed to be "Women will conclude that many men aren't normal, when in fact they are".

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-13T19:20:40.694Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I pulled out

P(natural|woman) > P(natural|man) => believe(women, P(natural|men) >= high)

Which is ridiculous.

Indeed it is. I think the implication was supposed to be "Women will conclude that many men aren't normal, when in fact they are".

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T12:03:38.672Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

That's a good question. We've had this conversation here in the past, and my position is that you can't put much stock in the connotations of PUA language. Is it problematic? Is it bad PR? Yes, but thankfully it's not a mirror image of the attitudes of PUAs. You know what PUAs call their regional meeting clubs? "Lairs." And that's not because they believe that they are evil creatures.

To me, "time distortion" sounds like bad science fiction. Captain, ready the Time Distortion Ray!

"Compliance" indeed has negative connotations. But I think that the same thing could be described as "cooperation." If you are trying to date someone, and they are completely uncooperative with you, then something is probably wrong. You want to be a in situations where you can say something like "hey, hold my jacket for a sec?" or "hey, let's go to the park..." and the other person will cooperate. If things are going well, then you can hold your hand out when walking and see if the other person grabs it, or you can pat your lap and see if they sit in it.

The other person's willingness to cooperate (or even comply) with your lead in the interaction is one measure of the other person's interest in you. Also, making a request subcommunicates a belief in one's own status.

Although in principle such compliance could run both ways (and for me, it does), PUAs don't think of compliance totally gender-neutrally. The reason they don't is that they believe that it's typical for most heterosexual women to prefer men to be in charge of the interaction. They believe that the ideal heterosexual interaction from the perspective of most women involves such traditional gender roles, characterized by men taking the lead, and women wanting to comply with that lead. This doesn't mean that PUAs necessarily want women to be Stepford Wives who comply with everything.

Yes, some PUAs are obsessed with traditional gender roles in unhealthy ways. But a big part of the reason that PUAs obsess with these roles is probably the same as why so many women obsess about their physical appearance: because it seems to be so important to most members of the opposite sex.

You say in another post:

Then again I prefer androgynous cooperative helpful people, rather than overtly masculine (or feminine) ones.

As far as PUAs can tell, your preferences aren't typical. As I've argued several times here, it's unfortunately the priors that PUAs are forced to hold about women's preferences are so far from the preferences of certain minorities of women.

As annoying as it might be for you to date a guy who is being Mr. Take Charge, consider the possibility that if guys don't act that way with most women, they will spend a lot of the time getting discarded as boring wimps. The incentive structure favors men taking charge in dating situations, which requires a certain level of compliance.

Personally, I hate this system, and I hate being in charge of everything, but it's actually really hard to find women who don't want me to take the lead in most areas, make most of the decisions, and make most of the physical advances. I really had to learn what to look for (the secret: don't date gender-typical women, because they seem to want gender traditional interactions).

If the art is so ethical why are description of it so often done in such a bad way?

How would you describe it in a neutral way? That's how I attempt to describe pickup on LessWrong, but it's not easy. Try describing "seduction" in a morally-neutral way, for instance (I've managed to do, but it takes about 20 words). The fact is that most of the words and concepts relating to how men initiate sexual interaction with women have negative connotations, which is very telling about how male sexuality is perceived in our culture. There's just no nice and concise way to say this stuff.

At a certain point, I think that PUAs just realized that they are going to be demonized no matter how they sound, and stopped caring. Maybe they even started deliberately using politically incorrect language in order to be perverse. The tone is also useful for creating an ingroup.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T12:22:15.001Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

If the art is so ethical why are description of it so often done in such a bad way?

I suspect that part of the reason is that the first steps that many an aspiring PUA needs to make is to free themselves from emascalating politically correct influences that they have eagerly subjected themselves to. They haven't understood that most of what people say is the right thing to do is, well, not. They cut themselves free from the naive, childish ethical intuitions and rely on raw, stark descriptions of reality for a while. From there they can go ahead and form an adult ethical system that works for them in practice rather than being good for morals in fairy tales.

But then, I don't actually agree that the descriptions are usually bad, at least not in any of the sources that I respect. The two examples that you give ('compliance' and 'time distortion') don't seem remotely unethical to me. That 'baddness' is in this case in the eye of the beholder.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T12:06:03.913Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Does building "compliance" and "time distortion" sound ethical?

Yes. Girls I usually date know how 'compliance' works, in some cases probably better than I do. Not only do they use it on me themselves, initiating the game they will also sometimes get outright pissed off at me if I don't push back and play the game of establishing a balance between dominance and flexibility.

The girl knows (and has made an informed rational choice) that she wants me and also knows that to become comfortable with mating one of the things she needs is a feeling of 'compliance'. Yet I (evidently, counterfactually or historically) refused to go through that part of the dance with her due to misguided philosophical hangups. In that case it would seem she has a legitimate reason to be annoyed. Not only have I wasted her time I may have left her with no choice but to satisfy herself with an otherwise far inferior option just because I was too vulnerable to a paticularly type of memetic hijacking.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T12:34:18.127Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Girls I usually date know how 'compliance' works, in some cases probably better than I do.

"Hey, can you hold my purse for a sec?" Never heard that before.

I don't push back and play the game of establishing a balance between dominance and flexibility.

You have to know when to put your foot down, and when to back off and listen to her. And she judges you on your ability to figure out what sort of response is appropriate.

As you correctly observe, it's probably woefully naive to believe that women don't realize what going on when men try to take charge of interactions. The gender roles are well-known. What PUAs call "compliance testing" is just yet another of these status and power tug-of-wars that neurotypical, normally socialized people do all the frickin' time, yet if you put it into words, it suddenly becomes eeeevil.

Yes, I think it's fascinating that a lot of typical human social and mating behavior sounds eeeevil when it's articulated to the homo hypocriticus folks who already do such behavior, and to the geeky folks who don't. But that really isn't the fault of PUAs, and I'm tired of them being made the whipping boys of the dislike of geeky people for broader social norms, and of the hypocrisy of non-geeky people.

As a wise man once said: DHTP,HTG.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T18:36:12.275Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You have to know when to put your foot down, and when to back off and listen to her. And she judges you on your ability to figure out what sort of response is appropriate.

This at times can lead to a somewhat ironic situation. One must at times submit to acting accordance to a model of what will appear dominant to her. Doing that which is labelled 'independent', 'have a strong personality' and 'know what you want' sometimes means doing what could be considered approximately the opposite of the literal interpretations of those words. It's a case where doing what she wants even if you don't want to is what is needed to not be considered supplicating and 'nice' when usually the reverse is true.

(Of course it is usually not worth making the above observation - exceptions in and ironic implications of fundamental rules tends to just confuse people.)

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-12T23:24:39.760Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've noticed that irony myself. If a guy takes charge in way that he isn't terribly enthusiastic about, because the woman wants him to take charge so she can judge him on his ability to do so... who is really in charge?

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-12T18:47:07.476Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I mentioned to a female friend that I sometimes felt like I was being deliberately put off-balance by attractive women, and that sometimes it irritated me.

Her response?

"Oh yeah. It's Sexual Power, I use it all the time."

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-12T12:54:25.802Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As a wise man once said: DHTP,HTG.

dihydrotestosterone propionate (DHTP)? I haven't tried that one yet. Long term use tends to promote testicular shrinkage.

comment by Mitchell_Porter · 2010-09-12T09:32:17.017Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

they actually grow into men who fulfills women's criteria

This paper says that creep recovery depends on having a relaxation time fast enough to offset the effects of the ageing process.

comment by randallsquared · 2010-09-12T17:24:38.699Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That was funny, but if you had a serious point as well, I'm afraid you'll have to be more explicit for me, at least, to get it.

comment by Mitchell_Porter · 2010-09-14T11:37:48.805Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, the paper says that the ageing process in those materials means that they relax to equilibrium more slowly, and this keeps them in the "creep regime". I read it as a statement of how to avoid becoming a creep, but you could also read it as a statement on how to avoid creeps. The literature of solid-state physics is full of inspiration here: papers about the creep transition, the universal creep equation, the dependence of frustration on twisted boundary conditions... And even if it falls flat as humor, you learn some physics along the way.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T04:18:09.521Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My reaction to this is positive-- my reaction to matthewnewport's fairly similar

There's at least two groups of people who potentially stand to lose from widespread discussion of PUA: women, who may fear that they will be duped into choosing low quality mates by males emulating the behaviours they use to identify high quality mates and men who are already successful with women who may fear increased competition.

is negative.

I think the difference is that matthew implies that there's one scale all women use for judging men, and it isn't at all about how men treat them.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-11T07:49:38.445Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

matthew implies

Please, just Matt. Only my grandma calls me Matthew.

comment by AndyCossyleon · 2010-09-12T18:03:03.242Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

mattnewport -> mattnew port -> matthew port

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T12:30:39.358Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry-- noted for future reference.

comment by Violet · 2010-09-11T06:23:21.920Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In real life the most common exposure to PUA is sadly men thinking that it is ok to lie to get into bed.

So this has created a situation where "more exposure to PUA locally" -> "more exposure to lying men" -> "less trust" -> negative externalities.

This is not to imply that PUA is all dark arts, just a perspective from the other side of the fence. There are probably lots of more ethical PUAs, but this is sadly the most visible part.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-11T06:57:37.992Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What exactly is the sort of lying that people think PUAs do? Which PUA gurus advocate lying? In my experience, the main lies that PUAs tell are in canned routines, such as saying "Did you see the fight outside?" when no fight occurred (and many PUAs don't use canned routines at all, including myself).

Telling a humorous fictional or anecdote to get a conversation rolling is a sort of a lie, but it seems to fall into the category of "white lie." It's not like PUAs are encouraging each other to lie to women about their jobs, income, or accomplishments.

comment by Violet · 2010-09-12T08:17:07.324Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This might be an artifact from my social circles and I don't doubt that nicer PUAs might exist on the internet. However people having negative PUA experiences in real life affects how the label is seen by different kinds of people.

And that can be relevant if the project wants to attract others than the single-hetero-male crowd.

But it seems like many men on the hinges of the social circle seem to get an "it is ok to lie to get sex because no harm done in that to the women, and it is their fault for not giving enough sex in the beginning." from various PUA sources.

Personally I am quite interested in ideas about open honest communication as good relationship practices and the whole "relationship management by white lies" is quite the opposite.

Then there are the ideas from Roissy etc that are directly misogynic

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-13T00:22:50.861Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I absolutely do not want this to be limited to the "single-hetero-male" set, or even their disjunction! That would be rather limited.

I don't deny there is misogyny in some PUA sectors, and it's puerile. This is the association I would most like to distance myself from.

In fact, I can think of no reason why gender is particularly relevant to this project at all. That's a feature of PUA, and it doesn't need to be transferred.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-13T02:59:10.435Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In fact, I can think of no reason why gender is particularly relevant to this project at all. That's a feature of PUA, and it doesn't need to be transferred.

Well said. I cringed when you included those dreaded letters in the title. Even though you distanced the proposal somewhat from PUA even just priming the subject was bound to damage the conversation!

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T18:13:11.584Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think PUAs do substantially more lying than your average human.

I think that much of the negative perception is largely that it's low-status to explicitly pursue the goal of getting laid... which of course is the goal underlying lots of human interaction. Hence homo hypocritus!

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-10T18:42:07.401Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

PUA is hardly ever defined and explained as being in women's best interest. It's more likely to appear alongside evo-psych stories that play up the zero-sum aspects of mating. Taking PUA writers at their word, their methods are bad for women -- and by design. So of course women wouldn't like it.

I actually think that it would be a net gain for straight women if social skills and sexiness improved across the male population. It gives us a broader pool of appealing people to choose from. But that's looking at benign behaviors; I wouldn't be so cheerful about behaviors designed to put women at a disadvantage.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-10T19:05:55.046Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Taking PUA writers at their word, their methods are bad for women -- and by design.

This is not really true. There's obviously a spectrum of writers and they don't all agree but generally they are advocating emulating the behaviours and traits that women use to identify high value mates. 'Fake it until you make it' is a common idea in self help and it is often claimed that emulating the signals associated with certain desirable traits can ultimately help to make those underlying traits real. To the extent that desirable traits are genuinely developed rather than falsely signaled these methods need not be bad for women.

There are also traits that women find attractive which may not be in their own considered best interests in a mate. The classic 'bad-boy' or 'dark triad' personality traits for example. If it is possible to emulate the attractive behaviours associated with these traits without developing the underlying traits 'for real' you could argue that this is actually good for women.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-10T21:21:32.814Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the link to AMP -- I'd definitely only seen the darker side of the spectrum. (Stuff disturbing enough that I don't want to name or link it.) But this seems perfectly fine. Making yourself into a person that women like better -- not acting like a creep, dweeb, or dull nice guy -- is good for women as well. I didn't know there were actually programs that helped you do this, straightforwardly, and it actually sounds great. I almost wish there were a women's or unisex version.

My attitude to PUA comes from reading things that I actually have good reason to dislike. Planning to wrest back domination of the West from ugly feminazis is... not really in women's best interests. Neither is encouraging guys not to talk to women unless they plan to fuck them, to consider women over the age of 23 damaged goods, to keep their wives and girlfriends subservient, to resent women's right to vote, etc.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-11T02:35:40.881Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, you've run into Roissy, or people inspired by him, haven't you? No wonder you have such a low opinion of the motives of PUAs.

Roissy started a network of blogs combining pickup with conservative (and often misogynistic) gender politics (for instance, he seems to condone slapping women). Although Roissy has succeeded in repackaging common pickup advice for mass consumption, he is not an important figure in the seduction community. While there is enough pickup theory in his writing that I can't say that he isn't a pickup artist, he and the community around him are not representative of PUAs in general. I'm not going to say that you won't easily find misogynistic beliefs among PUAs, but it's just not typical for PUAs to resent women's right to vote, for instance. There are plenty of liberal-leaning PUAs.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-11T08:47:03.977Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Roissy insn't really conservative. Social conservatives often cast him as a dangerous, hedonistic nihilist. Which he will be the first to admit he is.

He is a odd and quite honestly interesting if for many people scary new breed of reactionary who doesn't take his tips from a old geezer in the sky but from good old allegorical god of biomechanics (http://roissy.wordpress.com/category/biomechanics-is-god/). This goes for everything from gender all the way to class and even race relations.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T21:23:58.367Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I took a couple classes in biomechanics, and what I think of as "biomechanics" is not at all relevant to these articles.

Is there a meaning of this term that neither I nor wikipedia is aware of?

comment by topynate · 2010-09-12T19:20:47.237Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Probably it's a reference to Blade Runner, i.e. the "god of biomechanics".

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-13T18:37:23.838Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think you are correct.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK7DBo9Ye6Y

Replace "sciency" with "popculture reference" in my previous post then. The way he uses it however I think does still mesh with what I wrote. He often emphasises how our "monkey brains" sometimes go off the rails exposed to evolutionary new situations.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-12T18:43:28.302Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm just paraphrasing his own use of the terms, I'm well aware he's abusing the terminology.

I think its an etymologically awkward (if awesome sounding in a "don't think about it too much" way, Roissy isn't anything if he isn't a brand made for popular consumption) phrasing that humans are Adaptation-Executers and that judicial study of the underlying "function" so to speak of our social and attraction circuitry gives vital insight into why humans behave as they do while providing testable predictions as well. I suppose Evolutionary Psychology studies a large part of this, however the way he uses one might be tempted to call it Evolutionary Sociology.

Calling this force a God is his way of saying all social engineering and even personal planning that doesn't take it into account in some way or another is very likely to fail.

Simply personifying this as Unlce Darwin or the blind idiot God has the unfortunate connotation of evoking fitness maximizer associations.

I've spent a good ten minutes thinking about the best way to phrase this. "Human nature" captures much of this, but that comes with baggage, the worst of this is the implication that it doesn't change at all over time, when in reality it does change under selective pressures, however slowly. Any suggestions?

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-12T18:51:18.944Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mechanistic sociobiology.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2010-09-11T08:07:28.495Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is good to hear. Some links here would be great!

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-10T19:02:00.734Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Taking PUA writers at their word, their methods are bad for women -- and by design.

Not all such writers; for example, on this page, scroll down to "Here's What Women Have to Say About AMP".

Of course, the AMP people don't talk evo-psych at all in their sales materials or training; the closest thing to zero-sum logic I've heard them use was when they commented on the idea that a man feels most loved when his woman can give him the freedom to be with other women... and that she in turn feels most loved if he doesn't feel the need to actually use that freedom.

(Even there, though, they were talking about it from the perspective of transcending the zero-sum aspect, so as to get both people's needs met, rather than taking it for granted that it means somebody has to "lose" for the other to "win.)

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T19:27:57.887Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yup. Robin Hanson wrote something to this effect about why no one sympathizes with beta males.

I agree, the negative connotation is generally unfair. As long as the PUA in question likes women and relationships, I'm a fan. Plus in general the more (safe, sober) sex people have the better.

I was definitely cheering for Neil Strauss by the end of "The Game"!

comment by kodos96 · 2010-09-10T20:04:13.432Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There's at least two groups of people who potentially stand to lose from widespread discussion of PUA

I can assure you that there are plenty of reasons to find PUA objectionable that don't fall into either of these two categories. In general, just the arms race, negative-sum-gameness of it. Also, there's the fact that a lot of what is passed off as PUA wisdom is just plain wrong, which is certainly good reason to dislike it on purely that-which-can-be-destroyed-by-the-truth grounds.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-10T20:11:32.357Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Its more than religion. It has components of gender and class memetic warfare not to mention just plain old signaling.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-10T08:18:55.170Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Mating is important to most people.

However, I agree that there is an art of encouraging people to respect you and enjoy your company, which just so happens to be useful in attracting a romantic partner. It might be best to discuss it (or develop it) while denying that such a use is the primary motivation (as it likely will be for many people). But if people are avoiding talking or thinking about the concrete goal they have that motivates their efforts, or aren't practicing their ideas in a way that gives very clear success/failure feedback, then you can expect them to "learn" a lot of nonsense. That's the only reason I would hesitate to avoid talking about mating.

If it's just a question of branding and stated-purpose, but there is no actual taboo, then I support an explicitly application-independent group.

comment by KrisC · 2010-09-10T06:08:58.518Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Intriguing.

I do believe that the discussion should take place off LW. The LW karma system creates biases and would be muddied by the pursuit of a different goal.

comment by luminosity · 2010-09-11T10:55:40.218Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What particular biases are you worried about karma affecting? At first thought, I see more reasons why karma would be benficial than not. For instance, someone who proposes many ideas that don't work, and won't update on that evidence would be expected to get a low karma. New people to the community can see at a glance that following their advice is substantially less likely to be valuable than following the advice of someone else. Indeed, following particularly poor advice could easily be harmful, so having a warning would be very important.

comment by KrisC · 2010-09-11T18:07:52.064Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My concern is that the LW standards of communication and goal of rationality do not correspond to PUA methods. Rewarding a user for advancing a PUA discussion does not reward rational discussion but instead rewards the ability to teach social interaction.

As teaching social interaction is not a subset of rational behavior, so PUA discussion is not a subset of LW discussion. The difference lies in the approach to subconscious stimuli; PUA exploits where LW illuminates.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-11T18:43:03.376Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The difference lies in the approach to subconscious stimuli; PUA exploits where LW illuminates.

I reject your premise.

comment by KrisC · 2010-09-11T19:18:33.749Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Please elaborate.

comment by ianshakil · 2010-11-23T18:45:17.832Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So this thread kind of went dormant. What are the next steps? Any movement for a meetup?

comment by roland · 2010-09-10T22:05:24.287Z · score: 2 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I find it alarming that such a valuable resource would be monopolized in pursuit of orgasm;

I think that's a too simplistic view of it, if all you want is an orgasm the fastest route would be using your hands.

I say that my goals are noble

Are you implying that a PUA who is just looking for sex has less noble goals?

PUA ought to be a special case of a more general skill set, and it's being wasted.

Again you seem to be judging others here.

Unfortunately it seems that you are operating under the assumption that "men who are just looking for sex or superficial relationships are wrong/primitive/whatever". Men have this craving in them, I don't see anything wrong with them using science/intelligence in order to achieve their goals, that's what PU is all about.

It's fine if you want to improve other areas in your life aside from skills with women but why do you need to bash those who paved the road for you?

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T01:30:12.410Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was trying to preempt the fact that people were likely to impute their own assumptions about what I meant by "PUA-like". I may have gone too far in the opposite direction and come off as PUA-hating. Hope not, it would be a real foul up if I alienated the people I hope to emulate! For the record, I'm generally a fan of PUAs.

The comments you quote were meant to point out that I think the skills could have more important uses. I don't think that PUA goals are ignoble/wrong/primitive, but I do think that they're of trivial importance relative to many other goals (particularly the goals of this crowd).

I may have gone overboard with phrasing; one of many weaknesses in my writing. I'm working on it.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2010-09-10T06:22:53.827Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I accidentally pronounced the 'PU' in the title as 'poo' and surprisingly it made even more sense.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-10T17:38:39.280Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Some PUAs pronounce it "pooh-ah." I don't.

comment by AndyCossyleon · 2010-09-12T18:36:25.739Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was amused by the fact that "púa" is "guitar pick" in Spanish.

comment by aletheianink · 2013-11-30T05:19:14.200Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I find it disappointing that there aren't any more recent comments than halfway through this year - I'll scan the comments to see if the discussion was ported elsewhere, but usually that's flagged in the post so I doubt it ...

comment by eggman · 2011-10-21T05:00:54.366Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Reading all these comments to glean the knowledge within is not adverse to my goals, I'd just prefer to read a guide or the results of a formal discussion group if it exists. I couldn't find one. So, @XFrequentist: Is there a discussion group? If not, can we please start one?

If anyone else knows of relevant articles on LW, or another website or in a book, please link me stuff like this: http://lesswrong.com/lw/818/how_to_understand_people_better

My Goal: To start building one of these: http://lesswrong.com/lw/4ul/less_wrong_nyc_case_study_of_a_successful in Vanocuver, Canada.

That is to say, whether formal or informal, a community of rationalists and like-minded folk that is dynamic, diverse, proactive, and sex-balanced (the last quality is desired, but not as vital as the others).

Or, at least, getting to be friends with people who win at life and with whom I share values.

A friend and I realized that through networks like OKCupid (http://lesswrong.com/lw/2tw/love_and_rationality_less_wrongers_on_okcupid) or the Freethinkers Club at my university, we had access to more preferable samples of the population. The abilities to a) pick out these individuals and b) build effective social connections fuel my confidence and optimism that my plan might work.

However, I lack the skills. I can hold up a conversation, but I want to get better at making new friends quicker. I have never practiced PUA, NLP, social engineering, whatever. I don't believe this plan will involve much invoking of the Dark Arts. This letter is directed at those who wish to guide or learn along with me, or those who otherwise care. Feel free to leave any suggestions.

comment by XFrequentist · 2011-10-21T13:55:21.910Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Since I wrote this, LW has moved much more towards emphasizing social skills as a part of the general awesomeness toolkit (much more to do with lukeprog's articles than anything I wrote). This has been a great help to me personally, and has decreased my motivation to start a group like the one I proposed in this article.

I still like the idea of doing this in a group setting, and am very open to the conversation. We've started an Ottawa LW meetup, and I would love to brainstorm ways to make it more fun. We have broached topics like the above, but they don't seem to be a strong common interest.

Anyway, here are some references that might be helpful:

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Social Skills Picture Book

Succeed Socially

Influence

48 Laws of Power

(BTW, the @ tag doesn't work on LW, I only saw this when you replied to one of my comments)

comment by eggman · 2011-10-22T19:20:23.528Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks

comment by rabidchicken · 2010-12-01T06:06:27.256Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have to agree that taking the concepts which make it easier to get dates, and applying them to the rest of life seems worth exploring to me.

I met all of my closest friends because they were gamers / programmers / interested in rationality, essentially the people who I felt comfortable having a long conversation with and who it felt easy to get along with before I knew much about them. When it comes to talking with an average teenager who is interested in sports, fashion, getting drunk, or their career, I just do not know what to talk about or what they typically do with their friends in their free time. However, it seems like a majority of people do not need to think about how to interact with people they have less in common with. Since the topics I am interested in only appeal to a minority of adolescent males, and even fewer adolescent females (if my anecdotal evidence is correct) being able to study what exactly it is that typically allows social interaction between varied human personalities would be helpful.

I am not really sure what I would do if I suddenly learned the secrets of human manipulation, because I have very little interest in hanging out with people who have nothing in common with me. However there is the possibility that there are many people out there with compatible personalities who I have never met due to limited social skills, so knowing how to mimic a more standardized communication protocol can only help. On a related note, is anyone else on LW under the age of eighteen? I would be interested to see how age typically affects someone’s interest in these kinds of topics.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-12-01T06:21:45.937Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On a related note, is anyone else on LW under the age of eighteen?

http://lesswrong.com/lw/ap/of_gender_and_rationality/7wa?c=1

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-30T18:11:59.006Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For people who are not in a dense urban area, something like chatroulette might be useful for interacting with a large number of people quickly and allow for more extensive testing of techniques.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-10T20:16:26.942Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What I would find most interesting about such a project is how people would identify and deal with cross cultural and personal transfers. Seems a rather hard rationality nut to crack- precisely this could make it a rewarding and enlightening endeavor.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T20:47:04.322Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I follow, could you elaborate?

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-11T11:45:07.267Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Controlling for variables. Does this work for me because I have PhD? Perhaps this doesn't work for me because I'm too tall. Maybe this only works because its an interesting counter signal. Maybe copying the exact dress style of Mystery isn't a good idea for me.

As to cultural transfers. Winning friends in say rural Russia is a different endeavour than trying to influence a group of Cape Town teenage Goths.

Would a PUA - PU be able to find the equivalent of some of the principles of game that are nearly universal? Or would it just be a catalogue of culture specific hacks?

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-11T17:31:49.856Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Konkvistador:

Would a PUA - PU be able to find the equivalent of some of the principles of game that are nearly universal? Or would it just be a catalogue of culture specific hacks?

Observe the reactions that Hollywood movie stars get around the world. Can you think of an example where some Hollywood actor was perceived by women in some foreign culture as an unattractive loser based on the same on-screen behaviors that made him into a sex symbol in the U.S.?

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-11T14:40:11.173Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Would a PUA - PU be able to find the equivalent of some of the principles of game that are nearly universal? Or would it just be a catalogue of culture specific hacks?

Many facial expressions, and many components of body language are human universal. Certain things are always signals of relative status or changes in status, certain things always assert dominance, etc.

People are also always universally interested in themselves, more than anything, and therefore respond greedily to a good listener. People universally want to be important themselves, and usually give off clues as to what ways they want to be made to feel important.

These are just some random social universals off the top of my head. (Universal to neurotypicals, at least, with subsets that still apply even to non-NT's.)

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-09-13T16:18:11.643Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would a PUA - PU be able to find the equivalent of some of the principles of game that are nearly universal? Or would it just be a catalogue of culture specific hacks?

They claim they do. Mystery is always using evolutionary psychology as a justification. "Women are attracted to looks, money, and power" seems to be universal.

The Mystery Method was constructed before today's casual-hookup college environment got quite so casual. It's not calibrated for an environment where many women are likely to sleep with a different man every time they go out partying.

comment by KrisC · 2010-09-10T06:24:18.687Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

PUA relies heavily on demonstration that is better suited to video than text. An LW approach to the exploration and explanation of PUA would be good, but I think the information lends itself to a more visual format.

Has anyone thoughts on video clips? While finding public domain video examples may be fun, it might not be practical.

Provisions might even be made to share recorded webcam sessions of participants for feedback.

comment by Violet · 2010-09-10T05:58:27.820Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe consider an another term, PUA as a term can drag many shitstorms and divide community even if you are trying to avoid dark arts.

The whole "happiness limited by shyness/social awkwardness which results in no dates" stereotype does not apply to many people here.

e.g. I consider job interviews much more terrifying than finding new people (which seems mostly limited by the amount of free time).

comment by orangecat · 2010-09-12T01:49:34.584Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The whole "happiness limited by shyness/social awkwardness which results in no dates" stereotype does not apply to many people here.

It does to at least one.

I'm all for this. I've gotten sort of lucky by wandering into a path where I can be professionally and financially successful without needing social skills beyond not saying blatantly inappropriate things. But developing those skills would provide many more options, and give me a much better shot at making an actual impact on the world.

And yes, being involuntarily single for years is neither enjoyable nor conducive to productivity.

comment by zero_call · 2010-09-10T16:15:56.907Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The whole "happiness limited by shyness/social awkwardness which results in no dates" stereotype does not apply to many people here.

How's that?

comment by Violet · 2010-09-11T06:29:17.444Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Because some people are in happy long term relationships, where picking new people up or dating new people are not very important.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T17:32:30.834Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There was a poll a while back, I seem to recall that most LWers were single males in their twenties.

There may have been a demographic shift since.

comment by steven0461 · 2010-09-11T17:36:05.570Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think Violet meant "there are many people to whom it doesn't apply', not "there are not many people to whom it applies".

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-11T17:41:09.686Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was having trouble figuring out which of those two parsings was the intended one.

comment by Violet · 2010-09-12T08:23:31.719Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"there are many people to whom it doesn't apply".

Sorry for the confusion, english is not my first language so sometimes my sentence structures will be confusing.

If the site takes an implicit almost-every-of-us-is-a-single-het-man then it will probably self-select into that direction.

comment by MartinB · 2010-09-10T02:18:19.147Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why not just call it Personal Development? There is a lot one can learn. The skillsets you describe are widely known, an much material has been written on them. You just need to filter out the good. Reading recommendation: Richard Wiseman 0:59.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T02:45:12.350Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does Personal Development work? To a degree that people who haven't taken it up find astonishing? Does it do this repeatedly in a diverse group of people?

No. That is the point. I am aware that there's lots of information out there, but it doesn't seem to work consistently. I want an effective deliver mechanism, so I'm trying to copy something similar that seems to work.

PS - 59 Seconds looks neat, thanks!

comment by MartinB · 2010-09-10T02:57:08.789Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You make a mistake in putting to much meaning in a label. PD and PUA are great for a few people, decent for many and flat out not effective many many more. But that is not a problem with the concepts. Both are containers for ideas that are sometimes contradictory, sometimes BS, and sometimes amazing tid bits. Maybe make up your own term before you go with 'PU without chicks'. The label is not really that important, if you know what content you want! One starting point mentioned a few times was Dale Carnegies: how to make friends and influence people. Some of the more sciency books have also been mentioned. I am really curious with what you come up with, but please let us work on content, and not on labels or comparisons to other clusters.

To bad that 'personal development for smart people' is already taken.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T03:22:56.424Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, I don't think it's just arguing about labels (although I agree that that's pointless, and I also agree with everything else you wrote).

I want to steal the PUA model, so I don't think I can avoid mentioning it here. I could be wrong though, and either way it might be better to coin a new name eventually. If the discussion turns out to be all about labels I might just suck it up and take all mention of PUA out.

comment by MartinB · 2010-09-10T03:35:43.782Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What /is/ the PUA model you refer too? I am not sure if you use that term for the magic ingredient that PUAs seem to have to get successes or if you have a complete model of some method that only PUAs devised and no-one else has copied yet.

In either cases I have some bad news.

But now I sound all critiqy in my comments, instead I should just lean back and check back in a while what develops. I like the general idea. Everything with practical application sounds and a chance to improve ones live sounds good to me.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-11T03:34:18.033Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The distinctive thing about the PUA approach is the amount of experimentation.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-11T17:30:44.575Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yup.

comment by inklesspen · 2010-09-10T00:55:20.508Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As you mention in your second footnote, the idea of a 'pickup artist' carries unfortunate connotations. I'd suggest you change your headline to something that you won't have to explain "it's not really what you thought when you first heard it".

Perhaps "Optimizing interaction techniques for social enjoyment"? This has the benefit that while the pickup artist is perceived as interested in social engagement as a means to orgasm, practitioners of the techniques you discuss would be perceived as interested in social engagement as an end in itself.

comment by waitingforgodel · 2010-09-13T09:50:38.224Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Optimizing interaction techniques for social enjoyment" is too long and abstract -- it signals that the group doesn't understand what it's setting out to do.

Perhaps "Social Optimizer"? It's understandable and gets the overly nerdy angle w/o being confusing.

comment by XFrequentist · 2010-09-10T03:02:36.810Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I still think the title expresses my intent pretty well. I don't think it would have been easy to get my idea across without mentioning pick-up, but you're right it's going to get tedious explaining that I'm not a con artist wannabe. I originally had something like the second footnote at the very beginning, but it didn't read well.

I like your suggestion though, it's appropriately LessWrongian!

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-10T01:35:28.983Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Leadership skills"?

comment by inklesspen · 2010-09-10T02:42:56.035Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's even more concise, but I think a bit too narrow.

comment by taryneast · 2017-02-10T08:57:48.940Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So... did this eventuate? What were your learnings? Is it still going?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-22T23:24:42.461Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

sd

comment by Bugmaster · 2011-12-02T21:21:26.900Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For instance, there is no way I'm going to be doing any golfing...

Why not ? Just because it's too expensive (which is a perfectly valid reason), or because you dislike it ? If golfing was affordable, and there was good evidence to suggest that it can dramatically improve (for example) your job prospects in your chosen career -- then, would you go golfing ?

comment by aletheianink · 2013-11-30T05:23:25.118Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know XFrequentists's reasons, but in addition to this I think golfing as a social skill tends to apply more to old money/old institutions (and particularly in America). I don't have evidence for this, but that's pretty much the only setting I've seen it in. My husband went golfing with work a few years back (he's an system administrator) and he and the guys he went with all got drunk and played pool with the golf clubs/balls - even where it was set up as a work gathering, it wasn't taken seriously.

However, given your question - if it there was good evidence to support it's prospects in one's career - I think it would come down to whether personal dislike of golfing (for example, something I feel) overcame the benefits of golfing in that particular situation and the desire to dramatically improve one's job prospects. I suppose that's rather obvious, though?

comment by adsenanim · 2011-03-18T08:33:17.217Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The major drawback of a PUA community is that it acts as an isolated system; or in harsh terms, like inbreeding.

What you are obfuscating is the idea of a very complex history that doesn't relate to the argument you are presenting, much like using the two slit experiment to justify existentialism.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-30T18:09:26.473Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For people who are not in a dense urban area, something like chatroulette might be useful for interacting with a large number of people quickly and allow for more extensive testing of techniques.

comment by steven0461 · 2010-09-10T19:29:59.330Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There are a ton of websites and books giving social skills advice; rather than reinvent the wheel on a site originally dedicated to a different topic, why not link to underappreciated outside material?

comment by pnrjulius · 2012-04-22T03:29:16.466Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There clearly IS a moral difference between influencing people and manipulating them.

I think the difference ultimately comes down to the question, "Is this in THEIR best interest?" It's obviously in YOUR interest (or you think it is), or you wouldn't do it. But when it's not in THEIR best interest, you are literally acting like a psychopath.

There are trickier cases where it has huge benefits for you at a minor cost to others, or where it's fair competition (which is normally zero-sum but morally not that problematic)... but in general, I think what really turns me off about the Pick-Up Artist community is precisely their failure to recognize the difference between influencing and manipulating. So don't make the same mistake, or you'll never get my support.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-02-23T00:41:02.407Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Their best interest as judged by whom? If you mean their best interest as judged by them, does changing someone's opinion of what their best interest is count as influencing or manipulating them?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-02-23T03:14:06.685Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I infer that pnrjulius means that it's influence if I cause someone to behave in their own best interest, and manipulation if I cause them to behave in ways not in their best interest, and we assume (as you say) it's best interest as judged by them, then presumably if someone intervenes so as to change my judgment of my best interests, that's influence if the judgment-change is in my best interests as I judged them at the time of the intervention, and manipulation otherwise.

I'm not really sure why any of this matters, though.

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-02-23T02:10:37.099Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you want a job, and don't know for sure if you're the best candidate, do you think it would be psychopathic to present yourself in the way that you think makes it most likely that you'll be hired?