Rational approach to finding life partners

post by c_edwards · 2015-08-16T17:07:42.140Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 128 comments

Speaking from personal experience, finding the right relationship can be HARD. I recently came across a rational take on finding relationship partners, much of which really resonated with my experiences:

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/02/pick-life-partner.html

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/02/pick-life-partner-part-2.html

 

(I'm still working my way through the Sequences, and lw has more than eight thousand articles with "relationship" in them. I'm not promising the linked articles include unique information)

128 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-08-18T00:14:27.994Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's straightforward to make a list of how to be poor and then by not doing those things to possibly not be poor. But it's hard to make a list of how to be rich and do those things and be rich. Similarly, it's easy to make a list of how to be alone and then by not doing those things possibly not be alone. But it's hard to make a list of how to be with someone and then do those things and be with someone. So - eliminate all the negatives first. If wearing clothes that don't fit, ignoring cleanliness and avoiding people makes for being alone, don't do those things. Don't do those negative things first and always, then keep an eye open for chances for the positive things. The negative things ruin the positive things you have going on. Eliminate the negatives first.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-03T15:33:23.101Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Negative things are (mostly) universal, positive things are (mostly) extremely specific to the individual.

comment by c_edwards · 2015-08-18T19:11:49.841Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's really two independent things, though.

a) How to not be single/how to get someone to date you. b) How to find the person(s) and build/maintain the kind of relationship(s) that you want for the rest of your life (/the forseeable future).

In my experience, (a) is much easier than (b). The articles address (b), not (a).

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-10T15:15:33.711Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Correct Rational Approach to Finding Life Partners:

Start with two facts: First, the vast majority of women are not, in fact, suitable life partners for you. Second, you are not a suitable life partner for the vast majority of women.

These imply a course of action which starts with elimination. If building an online dating profile? Your goal is not to attract as many suitable people as possible. Your goal is to -reject- as many unsuitable people as possible; this is the entry point for people looking for you, and there are far, far more unsuitable people than suitable people. The same is true in real life, which can be as simple as avoiding locations which are primarily populated by unsuitable people. (Bars, as a rule, for pretty much anybody who would be reading this.)

Likewise, when searching for people, your goal is -rejection-. If you're looking for the hottest girl in the bar - you've already failed, because you're not looking to reject people. Also, you're in a bar. Reject the locations, first. "Is this somewhere I'm likely to meet somebody who fits my interests, who who would be interested in me?" Maximize the ratio of acceptable to unacceptable people.

This is Less Wrong - go to Lindy Hop or otherwise swing dance classes. It's the nerdiest dance community you'll find, and the gender proportions, depending on where you are, will probably favor you if you're male. Also, it will help with your proprioception, which, given that you're on Less Wrong, could probably use some help anyways.

Once you've eliminated the unsuitable, do -not- pick the "best". You're probably pretty good at identifying what won't work, but you're probably pretty terrible at identifying what will.

So be open to short-term flings. These can turn into long-term relationships - although you shouldn't expect them to.

Hell, be open to casual sex. These encounters can -also- turn into long-term relationships - although, again, you shouldn't expect them to.

Be open to friendships. Once again, expect nothing.

In general - once you've eliminated the unsuitable, be open. You're looking for pearls; once you've sorted them out, don't toss the oysters overboard before you've checked. They may surprise you.

Don't seduce people into long-term relationships in any terms, let long-term relationships happen on their own. If it takes a special effort to make somebody fall in love with you, it will take a special effort, constantly, forever, for them to stay in love with you.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-10T19:34:04.964Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

These imply a course of action which starts with elimination. If building an online dating profile? Your goal is not to attract as many suitable people as possible. Your goal is to -reject- as many unsuitable people as possible; this is the entry point for people looking for you, and there are far, far more unsuitable people than suitable people.

So, I agree with the premises behind this prediction, but:

I know someone who scraped okCupid for information which he used to eliminate women he wouldn't want to date from the pool. I read an article about someone else who scraped okCupid for information which he used to appear as acceptable as possible to women, and then would go on dates to find out if they were acceptable to him. The second person was considerably more effective, both at figuring out what actually led to a good date and getting good dates.

Consider this like prices. If you are having too many dates, your prices are too low, and you should raise them (i.e. exclude more people / look less presentable and more authentic). If you are having too few dates, your prices are too high, and you should lower them (i.e. appear more presentable so you don't get excluded as much).

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-10T19:44:11.059Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think of it more as a Type 1 versus Type 2 error tradeoff; there's a point at which you are excluding too many people, true, but I'd treat it less a function of raw dates, and more a function of the number of obviously unacceptable dates you have. You can relax exclusion criteria if you're not getting enough dates, but if in relaxing it, the number of unacceptable people rises without a commensurate rise in acceptable people, you went too far.

(The criteria will differ wildly according to the population you're searching. The style of profile I had living in the Northeast was -much- more exclusionary than the style of profile I used in the Midwest or South, both because the pool of potential people was much larger, and the percentage of them I would consider dating was much smaller.)

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-10T20:23:37.614Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think of it more as a Type 1 versus Type 2 error tradeoff

I agree that this is a big issue. My point there is more that you need to look at that curve, figure out your tangent line, figure out your value tangent line, and then move so that the two are identical, and this requires both advice on what to do if you are going on too many dates and advice on what to do if you are going on too few dates.

The secondary issue is that presenting as exclusionary typically is discussed in terms of relative turn-offs; if it turns off 5% of the people you would want to date and 50% of the people you wouldn't want to date, your pool's average has increased. (Ideally, someone decreases the turn-off chance in people you'd like to date and increases it in people you wouldn't like to date, but I think people are overly sanguine about what strategies have that effect.)

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-10T20:37:49.224Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

you need to look at that curve, figure out your tangent line, figure out your value tangent line, and then move so that the two are identical

...dating advice on LW ... even mentions looking at curves ...

:-D

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-14T15:04:45.790Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think of it more as a Type 1 versus Type 2 error tradeoff

I realized earlier this morning that I had forgotten my main point, and so the sibling comment only hints at it instead of making it explicit: many people talk about plans with the assumption that all of them are on the possibilities frontier, and so the relevant thing is moving along the possibilities frontier until they're at the right tradeoff.

But being optimal is surprising--one should assume that there is lots of room for growth, and should try to get more of everything (i.e. move perpendicular to the perceived frontier) until it's clear that they are actually on the frontier. (In the stats case, getting more data means both less Type 1 and Type 2 error.)

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-10T15:25:30.710Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The same principle ("reject the middle, explicitly look at the tail of the distribution") as The Verjus Manifesto:

(talking about how to make good-for-you metaphorical vegetables palatable)

Vegetables can be cooked poorly. But they can also be roasted to perfection with a drizzle of olive oil and hint of sea salt.

This is certainly one approach to the preparation of otherwise unpalatable but virtuous fact-nutrition. However, here’s an alternative:

  • Take the same original plate of metaphorical vegetables
  • Chuck all the popular and/or fashionable ones away, like parsnips and kale.
  • Replace them with more bitter chard, brussels sprouts and celeriac, and other stuff that people chuck out of their vegetable boxes
  • Add some kohl-rabi and other weird rubbish. Sprinkle it with habanero peppers
  • Don’t roast it at all. Lightly dress it with unsweetened verjus and Fernet-Branca.

I think we can agree two things about this hypothetical vegetable offering:

  1. Almost nobody would look twice at it on a menu

  2. But of the half dozen people who did order it, you would want all of them to be your mates.

:-)

comment by roland · 2015-09-10T17:13:18.092Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Once you've eliminated the unsuitable, do -not- pick the "best". You're probably pretty good at identifying what won't work, but you're probably pretty terrible at identifying what will.

I didn't quite understand this, could you please elaborate?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-10T17:46:33.803Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your ability to judge both yourself, and another person, and how your personalities will interact, is limited. It's sufficient to identify people with whom you absolutely will not get along, with reasonable accuracy; this is low-hanging fruit. So let's say you've eliminated 95% of the candidate pool by this point.

The remaining 5%? You're now considering a pool of candidate partners who you can't immediately eliminate (assuming you have more than one person remaining, after all probably-unsuitable people are eliminated). At this point your list of candidates are people about whom you are uncertain. -Remember- that you're uncertain.

Or, from a different angle: If you are absolutely certain that a relationship with somebody will work out, that sense of certainty should, due to the Dunning-Kruger effect, be taken as evidence that you should be less certain.

comment by roland · 2015-09-10T18:07:33.102Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok, so why not pick the "best"? This sounds like defeatist to me. You are assuming that the best is probably to good for me, over my league and instead of wasting time and energy on that I should rather focus on more realistic options. Is that it?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-10T18:21:10.850Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. It's that you're probably overestimating your ability to judge which relationship will be the "best" for you. The Halo Effect means, for example, you'll probably overestimate all the positive qualities of a person, based on one quality that is exceptional (say, physical attractiveness).

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-08-23T17:00:51.028Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find that the Orthodox Jewish system seems to work quite well, at least for religious most people I know. I grew up and married in that system, and I've never "dated" in the normal Western sense, so I have no idea how the system compares or might be applicable in the "normal" world.

[Note: There isn't really one Orthodox Judaism system. Different communities have very different systems, ranging from basically arranged marriages in many Hassidic communities, to almost-normal Western dating in Modern Orthodox communities. I grew up in what's called the "yeshivish" or Lithuanian community, and that's the system about which I said it seems to work pretty well. Even in the yeshivish community there are different ways of doing it, but this is the way they usually do it where I come from.]

Basically, the most important parts of the system the way I see it are:

  • Before the first date there's a lot of research done by both parties. Usually someone who knows both sides recommends the match, and then there are a lot of phone calls made to "references" provided by both sides. At this stage both sides are usually looking for a basic personality match as well as compatible goals and world outlook.
  • Both sides usually have a checklist (sometimes just in their minds, but often on paper) of what they're looking for, and dating is primarily geared towards (a) making sure there's a good personality match, and (b) checking things off on the checklist.
  • Ideally both sides have someone older and more experienced they can discuss their concerns with.
  • If any concerns are raised during the dating process, then yet more research is called for.
  • A romantic feeling is great, and if it's not there after a few dates then that's a warning sign (but not fatal - powerful love often develops later), but it's actually not necessary for the first few dates.
  • Scheduling dates very close together is often not advised, since it doesn't allow enough time for both parties to reflect on what they learned and what they should be looking for next.

Basically, the process of looking for a life partner becomes comparable to the process of taking on a business partner. References need to be called and background checks need to be made. You need to establish a level of trust, shared goals, shared basic approach, etc. You need to make sure there's a good personality match.

No idea if that'll help anybody, but for the religious people I know it seems to usually lead to stable, happy marriages. And when it doesn't it's often because not enough research was done initially, or they didn't date long enough to really be certain that they got what they wanted.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-08-21T15:05:48.538Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see the point of getting married at all, especially when you're royally screwed once you're divorced.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-08-22T01:55:13.727Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm very happy about being married. It allows us to plan knowing we can count on the other one to be there, and embark on large joint projects like childraising.

Divorce would suck, but we both know that and would try very hard to avoid it. Talking a lot seems important here, prioritizing the relationship, and valuing the other person's happiness as your own. I only have six years of practice though, so I could be wrong.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-08-22T10:02:41.030Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It doesn't seem to be worth the effort.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-21T15:18:21.603Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What is your estimate of the probability that you'll change your mind about that at some point during your lifetime? :-D

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-25T02:02:37.518Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That presumably depends on how the relevant laws change (or not).

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-25T02:22:53.408Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think this probability is driven by laws.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-25T07:32:55.177Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The grand-parent's complaint was about being screwed by divorce, which is driven by divorce laws.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-25T14:43:36.575Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Being unhappy about divorce laws post- or during divorce is a very different thing from having one's decision to marry being strongly influenced by divorce laws.

In fact, if you are researching divorce laws before your wedding, you probably should call that wedding off -- regardless of whether you'll find these laws reasonable or not.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-09-17T12:10:14.012Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Isn't what you're saying completely contradictory to basic decision theory? A possibility of a personal catastrophe in the future should not be ignored. Marriage introduces that possibility and non-marriage doesn't have it.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-17T15:22:13.412Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You are privileging a particular viewpoint. Both paths have risks, costs and benefits.

Note that researching divorce laws before the wedding has a strong self-fulfilling prophecy flavour.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-09-17T17:10:36.599Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You are privileging a particular viewpoint.

Explain this.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-17T17:19:39.089Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You are assuming that being not married is the default state of being and any deviations from it must be justified.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-09-17T17:22:50.081Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What? How?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-17T17:25:47.548Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Marriage introduces that possibility and non-marriage doesn't have it

You are assuming that marriage just adds risks ("possibility of a personal catastrophe") without eliminating other risks.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-09-21T10:46:22.344Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the risk is indeed not worth it. And as far as practical things go, marriage is just a simple contract; I'd guess that you can live happily without it, too

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-21T18:47:07.298Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Define practical things.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-21T15:14:25.324Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the risk is indeed not worth it.

Sure, but is that anything more than your personal opinion?

marriage is just a simple contract

That is very clearly false.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-26T04:24:17.805Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't tell me you're one of those hopeless "love conquers all and isn't subject to rational laws" romantics.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-26T05:49:19.957Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do I detect a subtle hint of disapproval in that sneering?

I expect much more from a spouse than just being a business partner bound by a long contract.

As to divorce laws, my suggestion would be to marry good people. That makes divorce laws irrelevant.

comment by gjm · 2015-08-26T09:54:29.983Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not believe that marrying good people is sufficient to make divorce laws irrelevant, unless you define "good" so strongly that it's basically impossible to be justifiably confident that one is marrying a good person.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-26T14:24:03.073Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not believe that marrying good people is sufficient to make divorce laws irrelevant

I'm talking on a personal level, not social. In the same way I would suggest that you not rob anyone and if you follow that suggestion, laws about robbery will be irrelevant to you (insert the usual disclaimers).

comment by gjm · 2015-08-26T20:56:02.655Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, I understood that you meant individuals rather than society as a whole. And I am suggesting that a policy of only marrying good people is not sufficient to keep a person from having to care about divorce laws. Unless e.g. you define "good" in such a way as to imply "would never get divorced" or "would, if getting divorced, never have interests that sharply diverge from their ex-spouse's" or something, which I would think highly unreasonable and which would make it even more impossible to be sure of not marrying someone not-good.

... Oh, wait. Is what you're really suggesting a policy of never marrying at all? Because that (1) is probably the only way to be sure of not marrying anyone who isn't "good" and (2) would indeed make it very unlikely that one would need to care about divorce laws.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-26T21:07:04.323Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

in such a way as to imply

In such a way as to imply that two civilized people -- even with different interests -- can negotiate and come to an agreement without engaging in lawyer warfare and without getting the justice system involved (other than putting an official stamp on the agreement).

Besides, what both you and VoiceOfRa (heh) care about is probably not so much divorce laws, but rather prevalent practices in the Family Courts which typically have very wide latitude in deciding on the post-(antagonistic)divorce arrangements.

comment by gjm · 2015-08-26T23:19:56.135Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If A and B get married -- even if they are both good people and know one another to be good people -- then there is a non-negligible chance that at some point their marriage will break down. In that case -- even if they are both good people -- there is a non-negligible chance that it will do so acrimoniously and some variety of hostilities will ensue. There is a further non-negligible chance that their marriage will end on reasonably friendly terms but then, in the course of tidying up the legal loose ends, one of them will engage a lawyer who notices that they could do "better" and who strongly encourages them to do so. There is a further non-negligible chance (I think) that when they divorce there will be children involved and it will be necessary to involve the legal system.

In any of those cases, what happens will be influenced by the divorce laws. Or, at the very least, I don't see how A and B can know that it won't without being familiar with the divorce laws.

Furthermore, A may be sure when A and B get married that B is a good person, but s/he may turn out not to be so good after all. Or one or both may become less good over time, which is a thing that sometimes happens to people who are unhappily married and even to people who aren't.

Now, for the sake of good relations at the start of A and B's marriage, it may be best if A doesn't think B is looking up divorce laws just in case and vice versa. The best way to avoid that may be for A and B genuinely not to look up divorce laws before they are married. And the best way to avoid that may be for A and B genuinely not to care about divorce laws, even though aside from the effect on each of thinking that the other anticipates possible divorce they'd be better off knowing. But that isn't the same as saying that if you take care to marry a good person then you will never be affected by divorce laws.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-26T07:31:19.525Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As to divorce laws, my suggestion would be to marry good people.

Ok, taboo "good person". What kind of evidence do you expect to see to be sure that the person you're planning to marry is "good"? With what probability? What if you're wrong?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-26T14:26:29.315Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok, taboo "good person".

I mean entirely traditional old-fashioned virtues like honesty, fairness, and kindness.

What if you're wrong?

LOL. I wonder how you cross streets. Are you quite sure no one will run you down? With what probability? What if you're wrong?

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-27T02:41:26.774Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I mean entirely traditional old-fashioned virtues like honesty, fairness, and kindness.

There's a rather acute shortage of people with old-fashioned virtues these days.

LOL. I wonder how you cross streets. Are you quite sure no one will run you down? With what probability?

A lot less then winding up in a divorce.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-27T04:17:20.267Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a rather acute shortage of people with old-fashioned virtues these days.

Thankfully, I don't need many :-)

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-08-21T15:28:30.190Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know. I don't think I'll ever get married or that there is even hope for me to get married.

comment by chaosmage · 2015-08-16T18:07:40.444Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Many articles at that blog are worth reading, not just this one.

comment by Error · 2015-08-17T13:29:15.943Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This. Wait but Why is excellent.

I'd also recommend his three-part series on procrastination that starts here. There are links to the next post in the series at the bottom.

comment by c_edwards · 2015-08-18T19:08:02.608Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just pulled myself away from some of his other stuff. So much good stuff. At some point I need to compare his take on AI with the lw articles. So much to read, so little time.

comment by Elo · 2015-08-16T21:33:01.812Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The best advice I have in the area is to consider what you want before you go out and get it. Where many people do not; you have the opportunity to chose something more specific before hitting the marketplace. (I can say more on this topic if there is interest)

comment by zedzed · 2015-08-16T23:28:24.845Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please do.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-08-22T07:10:39.770Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

To date no one has has met my minimum long term relationship criteria.

I'll date ANYONE who is physically and sexually available, has a greater predicted lifespan, baggage free (not specifically the target of powerful law enforcement agencies or organised criminals), communicable disease free, not unattractive (sight smell touch sound taste) and proficient in the communication (vocabulary, philosophy of language, english), psychology (incl. psychometric, assessment and classification of mental disorders, psychotherapy, memory and learning, performance psychology, positive psychology) and economics (incl. game theory, decision theory, health economics, behavioural economics).

Checkmate.

comment by LizzardWizzard · 2015-08-18T11:34:22.723Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it is a very bad idea. Can't imagine how rational sex would looks like. After all looking back at your life you will be asking a question I lived a life or I had existed

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-18T15:24:56.738Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can't imagine how rational sex would looks like.

That's because you're thinking of Straw Vulcans.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-08-17T04:52:06.371Z · score: -8 (20 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Somewhat related:

Marriage Won't Make Sense When Humans Live for 1,000 Years, by Zoltan Istvan

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/marriage-will-make-less-sense-when-humans-live-for-1000-years

I have to take a hard exception to some transhumanists' advocacy of "sex robots," "marrying robots" and similar abominations. Istvan does that in this piece.

Young men need to get into sexual relationships with women "organically," by which I mean that the women feel attracted to them, as a necessary part of men's healthy personal development. Which goes to show why having alienated sexual experiences with prostitutes don't get the job done. A prostitute can teach a man the mechanics of sex - or so I've gathered - but she can't teach him how to have these experiences with regular women. Having these organic experiences lead to the development of skills which don't exist in isolation, but instead play a role in knowing how to deal with women successfully in the rest of life.

Yet the introduction of passable sex robots would sabotage this process, and it would leave a whole generation of young men psychologically stunted. This seems obvious to me, but apparently not to the people who publish propaganda about the wonders of giving men artificial ways to jerk off, as if we have just undergone a cultural transformation which holds that most men don't deserve sexual relationships with women any more, so they should just abandon that aspiration as an unattainable fantasy, plug into these machines and leave women alone.

I can understand the appeal of this scenario to, say, some of the incels and MGTOW's. But Istvan has a wife and two daughters, so he clearly has the experiences and skills to know the difference. Why would he therefore advocate something so preposterous and so disrespectful of a lot of men, other than the fact that he wants to keep his name in circulation, so he keeps publishing these trolls as "transhumanist" proposals?

comment by Viliam · 2015-08-17T16:24:25.612Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I could easily argue the opposite way: Once perfect sex becomes something you can easily buy in a form of sex robots, and the practice becomes so widespread that it will be socially accepted by the mainstream... maybe the partner relationships will become better, because people would use them to optimize for other values -- such as being nice to each other, being a good conversational partner, etc.

And those people who can't provide any other value, they will stay at home with their sexbots, and won't pass their genes to another generation. Genetic pool improved and overpopulation solved using this one simple trick!

(I am not suggesting this as a serious prediction, just as an example that you can easily verbally argue towards almost any bottom line.)

Why would he therefore advocate something so preposterous and so disrespectful

I use ad-blocking software, so the most obvious hypothesis is a bit difficult to verify, but the prior probability is so high I would still bet on it.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-18T01:30:31.665Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I could easily argue the opposite way: Once perfect sex becomes something you can easily buy in a form of sex robots, and the practice becomes so widespread that it will be socially accepted by the mainstream... maybe the partner relationships will become better, because people would use them to optimize for other values -- such as being nice to each other, being a good conversational partner, etc.

Has this happened with any other technologically supplied superstimulus?

comment by gjm · 2015-09-08T10:25:47.491Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Technologically applied superstimulus" is a pretty narrow category, but here are a couple of things that come close enough that I think they're relevant.

My impression is that gourmet food has become more interesting as the need for it also to be filling has decreased (because industrial-scale food production has made adequate food really cheap, much as sexbots might hypothetically make adequate sex really easy to get; "perfect" seems too much to hope for).

There is some evidence that violent video games reduce their users' tendency to engage in actual physical violence.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-09T01:22:40.945Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My impression is that gourmet food has become more interesting as the need for it also to be filling has decreased

Um, gourmet food is almost by definition food that is skilled labor-intensive to produce. For an example of technological superstimulus applied to food think mass-produced food that is sweeter/more satisfying then anything in the ancestral environment, a.k.a., fast/junk food.

See here for the standard examples of superstimuli as applied to food and video games.

comment by gjm · 2015-09-09T08:05:32.916Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not suggesting that gourmet food is a technologically applied superstimulus, I'm suggesting that cheap mass-produced food is a bit like one and that maybe its availability has enabled the flourishing of cuisine-as-quasi-artform.

This is not exactly what you asked for but I think it's still relevant -- it's not so very different from what Viliam suggested could conceivably happen with sexbots. Hence my first paragraph.

[EDITED to fix a ridiculous typo.]

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-09T02:38:53.001Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Um, gourmet food is almost by definition food that is skilled labor-intensive to produce.

I don't think so. Gourmet food nowadays is:

  • tasty in a complex way
  • unusual

That requires creativity and a sense of style much more than it requires a lot of skilled labour. In a way it's like fashion -- fashionable clothes could require complex production, but they don't have to. Neither fashion nor gourmet cooking is about being "skilled-labour intensive".

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-09T02:47:17.852Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That requires creativity and a sense of style much more than it requires a lot of skilled labour.

In other words it requires skilled labor where the relevant skills are creativity and a sense of style.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-09T02:50:49.458Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Skilled labour, yes. Labour-intensive, no.

comment by c_edwards · 2015-08-18T19:22:09.923Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems like the relevance would be if the technologically supplied superstimulus replaced a function previously supplied solely through partner relationships. The following chain of examples involving video games doesn't seem directly relevant, unless before the advent of video games, people played board games exclusively with their romantic partners.

comment by Elo · 2015-08-18T04:54:10.002Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

technology stimulus examples:

  • Video Games
  • Facebook
  • Microwaves (There was a fear that microwaves would destroy the nature of decency of food culture, I for one use both an oven and a microwave and a stove for different purposes)
  • fast food
  • TV to newspapers
  • Computers to TV
  • Texting to writing a letter

In all of these cases, technology has found its place among the various options to fulfilling the need. Yes some people get addicted to videogames; but people also get addicted to alcohol.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-18T05:30:20.366Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes some people get addicted to videogames; but people also get addicted to alcohol.

So? Alcohol is (or was) also a superstimulus. It's just that some human populations have been exposed to it long enough to become adapted to it. Specifically adapting to it by finding it less stimulating.

comment by Elo · 2015-08-18T05:52:43.357Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

alcohol

An example of something not a technology that people get addicted to.

Alcohol is not inherently bad - like say cyanide (or a bomb) might be considered bad because it's primary purpose causes death; it's the nature of people to use it badly. And principally - many people use alcohol (and videogames) without getting addicted to it, and lead a fully functional life while partaking in a bit of alcohol (or videogames).

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-18T06:04:38.221Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

An example of something not a technology that people get addicted to.

You have a very weird definition of "technology" if alcohol is not a technology.

Alcohol is not inherently bad

Only because (Western) humans have had several millennia to develop adaptations to it. Go to, say, an Indian (Native American) reservation to see what affect alcohol has on humans not adapted to it. It's not pretty.

many people use videogames without getting addicted

Wait until the market for videogame addictiveness saturates.

But more to the point, are you going to argue that video games have actually improved social iterations?

comment by Elo · 2015-08-18T06:09:41.235Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

video games have actually improved social iterations?

I was going to start with - they didn't destroy the world. (because they didn't)

And advance into; some video games have been beneficial.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-18T06:24:38.727Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And advance into; some video games have been beneficial.

That's not what I asked.

I asked whether they in general have been beneficial.

comment by Elo · 2015-08-18T07:03:13.404Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Videogames are hard to say. There is a net complex situation.

Take the food example. Technology has enabled food to improve. Easy to say.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-19T04:55:29.260Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Take the food example. Technology has enabled food to improve.

And has the presence of food based superstimuli, a.k.a., junk food, improved to worsened our diets?

comment by Elo · 2015-08-19T07:16:10.293Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Technology has improved our food and our diets.

Thanks to advancements we now have sustainable food, security of food availability. Heck! People have enough substitutes to meat to not need to eat it ever!

Yes the availability of junk food has caused some people to eat unhealthily; but the availability of vegetables has helped many more people to eat healthily and have fulfilling eating lives.

comment by David_Bolin · 2015-08-19T13:34:39.030Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Technology frequently improves some things while making other things worse. But sooner or later people find a way to improve both the some things and the other things. In this particular case, maybe they haven't found it yet.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-08-17T16:18:19.842Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why would he ... other than the fact that he wants to keep his name in circulation

That is the key to Zoltan Istvan.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-09-03T13:13:35.286Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

most men don't deserve sexual relationships with women any more

No woman owes sex to no man. If you think that women have any kind of duty to sexually satisfy men, you are deluded and have very unhealthy and dangerous attitudes.

After reading your other comments it becomes clear, that your belief that women as a group should be encouraged to have sex with men against their will stems from your own insecurities. I know how it feels from the inside. It feels like “wrong” men unfairly get more sex than me, like I'm broken or worthless because women specifically choose other men or celibacy, like there is some worldwide women conspiracy to make my life miserable.

The problem is, I felt this way when I was, like, 16, and I don't feel that way anymore. It frightens me that there are men, who are no longer teenagers, who still live in a constant state of anxiety, that women are there to “get you” by refusing to have sex with you.

But you can be happy without sex, and sex is not a need. Of course sex is a good thing, and it's great, when there's more of it (consensual, obviously). But so can be said of video games, or action films, or hiking, or chess playing. People can be happy without them, and these are not needs, and so is true of sex.

The only problem I see with young male virgins in today's world is not lack of sex, but terrible self-esteem, depression and anxiety around the belief that they ought to have sex, but because there's something wrong either with them, or the world, they don't have it. Get rid of that crap from their minds, and you'll make young men happy, confident, self-respecting, motivated and self-reliant. And maybe, just maybe, this might even make them more attractive in eyes of women.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-07T18:54:12.359Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No woman owes sex to no man. If you think that women have any kind of duty to sexually satisfy men, you are deluded and have very unhealthy and dangerous attitudes.

Contrast this with:

No boss owes a job to no potential employee. If you think that bosses have any kind of duty to employ you, you are deluded and have very unhealthy and dangerous attitudes.

Compare your reaction to the first and second sentiment. What accounts for the difference?

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-09-08T10:21:26.015Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In principle "no woman owes sex to no man" and "no boss owes a job to no potential employee" are indeed closely analogous (I myself lean libertarian-ish so I agree with both), but empirically the kind of people who "think that women have any kind of duty to sexually satisfy men" and the kind of people who "think that bosses have any kind of duty to employ you" seem demographically and culturally different to me -- if anything, I'd expect those two sentiments to anti-correlate for hysterical raisins (e.g. the former is more common among Red Tribers, the latter is more common among Blue Tribers, etc.). People are often bad at or uninterested in thinking about those kind of things at the meta level.

Also, empirically the former people do seem more dangerous to me (at least nowadays; probably not in e.g. 1917 Russia), e.g. applicants/former employees becoming violent toward bosses after being turned down/fired (or vice versa) don't seem particularly common to me.

comment by Jiro · 2015-09-08T15:26:50.760Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note that "duty to do X" isn't necessarily the same as "if they don't do X, someone has a right to force them to".

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-09-09T10:34:13.693Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How would "I have a duty to hire you, but even if I don't, nobody has a right to force me to (or, at least, to punish me)" be worth the paper it's written on? How would a world where that's the case differ from one where "I have no duty to hire you, and therefore if I don't, nobody has a right to force me to", how can I tell the difference, and why should I care?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-09-09T11:16:27.811Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The question you are asking is, "what is morality?"

comment by gjm · 2015-09-08T10:15:25.914Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not Mirzhan_Irkegulov, but my reaction to the two is very similar: both are correct, and in general no one has an obligation to have sex with anyone else and no one has an obligation to employ anyone else.

I'll guess that you're thinking about anti-discrimination laws, according to which in some circumstances an employer can get into trouble for not employing someone. But those are quite special circumstances that very rarely apply to sex (it might apply to prostitution, and I can kinda see a case for forbidding prostitutes to refuse clients on the basis of race etc., but also prostitution can be really dangerous and it's therefore probably better to say that prostitutes should have absolute discretion to refuse clients).

(The other obvious kind of case in which such obligations might exist is where a relationship is already in existence. You might reasonably be aggrieved if your spouse suddenly starts refusing to have sex, or if your employer fires you. But I don't think either side of this comparison is what anyone in the thread had in mind.)

Anyway. Apparently you consider that there should be harmony between one's answers to those questions. I'm pretty sure you don't think that employers should ever be obliged to employ particular employees. Do you think that women commonly have a duty to provide sex to men? In contexts other than existing long-term sexual relationships?

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-09T00:51:34.182Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'll guess that you're thinking about anti-discrimination laws, according to which in some circumstances an employer can get into trouble for not employing someone.

No, I'm thinking about the fact that politicians and pundits routinely talk about lowering unemployment, and this is universally agreed to be a desirable goal and not something creepy for implying that every worker 'deserves' a job, heck the "right to a job" is frequently listed in lists of "second generation human rights". Contrast this with the reaction advancedatheist got for suggesting men deserve a sexual relationship with women.

comment by gjm · 2015-09-09T01:12:04.350Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh, OK. So in that case, again, I think I think more or less the same in the two cases.

  • For any given potential worker, it is good if they are able to have a job if they want one.
    • But no one in particular is obliged to give them a job.
    • (And I think at some point we will need a transition to a different way of organizing production that drops the idea that everyone should be working. But that's another matter.)
  • For any given potential sexually active person, it is good if they are able to have plenty of satisfying sex if they want to.
    • But no one in particular is obliged to have sex with them.

I don't know to what extent this resembles the opinions of the politicians and pundits you have in mind. I would expect that most agree about jobs but many disagree about sex (on account of not thinking as I do that in general more sex is a good thing).

One way in which I would expect politicians and pundits to treat those two cases differently: if we think it good for more people to have jobs, it's socially and politically acceptable to suggest that incentives be put in place to encourage people to employ them; but if we think it good for more people to have sex, it's not so acceptable to suggest incentives for that. I think that shows that sex is a sensitive topic; I'm not sure it indicates anything worse.

The reaction advancedatheist got, so far as I can tell, was founded on the idea that he thinks women have an obligation to have sex with men. I don't know whether he actually does think that, but it's explicitly what Mirzhan_Irkegulov says he thinks advancedatheist thinks: "your belief that women as a group should be encouraged to have sex with men against their will".

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-09T01:44:02.271Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • For any given potential worker, it is good if they are able to have a job if they want one.

    • But no one in particular is obliged to give them a job.

However, it is generally understood that society as a whole is obliged to arrange things so that everyone who wants a job can find one. Furthermore, a lot of people don't seem to agree with your claim that "no one in particular is obliged to give them a job", at the every least they seem to think this is someone's duty even if they're not clear on whose.

One way in which I would expect politicians and pundits to treat those two cases differently: if we think it good for more people to have jobs, it's socially and politically acceptable to suggest that incentives be put in place to encourage people to employ them; but if we think it good for more people to have sex, it's not so acceptable to suggest incentives for that. I think that shows that sex is a sensitive topic; I'm not sure it indicates anything worse.

Except sex used to be an even more sensitive topic in the past, and it was taken for granted the society had a duty to arrange for people to have the opportunity to get married.

The reaction advancedatheist got, so far as I can tell, was founded on the idea that he thinks women have an obligation to have sex with men.

The statement "women have an obligation to have sex with men" is ambiguous. However, Mirzhan_Irkegulov presumed that it was meant in a creepy way and is thus unacceptable. By contrast consider Part III, Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

(1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.

(2) The steps to be taken by a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.

Notice that it is also vague on just who is obliged to provide the employment but carries no such presumption of creepiness.

comment by gjm · 2015-09-09T11:59:54.609Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

society as a whole is obliged to arrange things so that everyone who wants a job can find one

No society on earth that I know of has ever achieved this, and I'm pretty sure it's usually felt that one can't have an obligation to do something impossible. I think the actual sentiment is the one I already expressed: if someone wants to have a job, it is better if they can get one.

(On the face of it, the International Covenant thing you linked to contradicts that, but I'm pretty sure it's (1) intended aspirationally, as if it were proclaiming a right to happiness or a right to good health rather than a right to work, and (2) primarily aimed at measures whereby people try to stop one another working -- e.g., discrimination where some racial or cultural group is systematically unable to find jobs.)

Anyway, it's not clear to me what your actual argument is. Do you think that someone in this discussion (Mirzhan_Irkegulov, me, the United Nations General Assembly, I dunno) holds inconsistent opinions? If so, what inconsistent positions? Because all I'm seeing so far is that sex and jobs are kinda-sorta a bit similar but not the same, and my opinions on them are kinda-sorta a bit similar but not the same, and I don't see what the problem's meant to be.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-09T15:41:45.475Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No society on earth that I know of has ever achieved this, and I'm pretty sure it's usually felt that one can't have an obligation to do something impossible.

Ok, now you're not even trying to argue in good faith. In fact I'm pretty sure that if the sexual analogy had never been brought up, you'd be arguing some variant of "just because things will never be perfect doesn't mean we shouldn't try to make them as good as possible".

On the face of it, the International Covenant thing you linked to contradicts that, but I'm pretty sure it's (1) intended aspirationally, as if it were proclaiming a right to happiness or a right to good health rather than a right to work,

So how is this relevant to the argument at hand? I'm sure advencedatheist's comments were also aspirational in this sense.

(2) primarily aimed at measures whereby people try to stop one another working -- e.g., discrimination where some racial or cultural group is systematically unable to find jobs.

Sort of like how low status nerds are systematically unable to find sexual relationships?

comment by gjm · 2015-09-09T16:29:12.830Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

now you're not even trying to argue in good faith

This is at least the second time you have thrown such an accusation at me [EDITED to clarify: the other time was in a different discussion; I'm not saying you've done it twice in this thread]. I promise it's wrong, at least as far as my conscious purposes go (who knows what might be going on underneath?). It would be good to debug what's going wrong here -- am I missing something that's so obvious to you that you can't imagine someone could honestly miss it? are you completely misinterpreting me? etc. so could you please explain in more detail how you get from what I wrote to "you're not even trying to argue in good faith"? Thanks.

(My best guess is that we have divergent understandings of what we are arguing about. I think we are arguing about whether it's a bad thing to say that women have an obligation to provide men with sex. Perhaps you think we are arguing about whether Mirzhan_Irkegulov was correct to accuse advancedatheist of thinking that women should be coerced into providing men with sex, or something like that. Or perhaps you think I am offering some kind of justification of everything said by Mirzhan_Irkegulov, which I am not.)

just because things will never be perfect doesn't mean we shouldn't try to make them as good as possible

Yes, I endorse that principle. You obviously think I've been saying something inconsistent with it here, but I'm not sure what.

(The greater the extent to which people who want satisfying sexual relationships have such relationships, the better. The greater the extent to which people who want jobs have jobs, the better. Neither of those implies that anyone should be forced to provide sexual relationships or jobs. Encouraging or, worse, forcing people to have sexual relationships is creepier than encouraging or, worse, forcing people to give other jobs, and not being in a sexual relationship is generally less devastating than not having a job; these are important disanalogies between the two cases. I do not know whether advancedatheist is, as Mirzhan_Irkegulov claims, actually arguing for women to be somehow required to have sex with people they don't want to have sex with. If he is then he is saying something horrible. If he isn't then Mirzhan_Irkegulov is making a nasty incorrect accusation. Does any of that help to clarify anything?)

how is this relevant to the argument at hand?

I honestly don't know what your argument is; see my last paragraph above. If you would care to answer the questions I ask there, we may be able to have a more fruitful discussion. But: it's relevant because I made a claim (no one thinks there's an obligation to provide everyone with a job) that on the face of it is inconsistent with something you cited (the International Covenant) and it seemed worth explaining why I don't think there is such an inconsistency.

Sort of like how low status nerds are systematically unable to find sexual relationships

Yes, sort of. Again: if you think you have found an inconsistency between my opinions about sex and my opinions about jobs, please tell me what inconsistency you think you have found so that I can actually address it, rather than just insinuating that there is one.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-09-09T14:02:07.430Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay, it seems to me that people use the word "right" with at least different meanings, and misunderstand each other as a result.

As a EU citizen, I have a right to travel to other EU countries in the sense that, if by mutual consent between me and an airline I buy a plane ticket and take a plane to Poland, I must not be stopped by the police or anybody else. (By comparison, I don't have a right to travel to Pakistan unless I get a visa first.) But it sounds like there are people using the word "right" with a narrower sense, according to whom I have no right to go to Poland because if I can't afford a plane ticket there's nobody who must take me there anyway.

Do we all agree that people should have a right to have a job in the former sense but not in the latter sense, and that people should have a right to have sex in the former sense but not in the latter sense?

(Well, maybe there is an intermediate sense whereby I have a right to fly to Poland iff there are no market failures preventing me from flying to Poland a non-negligible fraction of the times I would be able to do so in a perfectly efficient market. But I hope we all agree that 1. EU citizens probably don't all have a right to fly to Poland in this sense, but 2. it would be a good thing if they did, so long as the cost of correcting said market failures aren't excessive, though 3. requiring airlines to take EU citizens to Poland whenever the latter want whether the former want it or not wouldn't be anywhere remotely near a good way of achieving that; and 4. the same things applies to employment and to sex, except that the kinds of market failures that there exist are different in each case.)

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-09T15:49:52.229Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. EU citizens probably don't all have a right to fly to Poland in this sense, but 2. it would be a good thing if they did, so long as the cost of correcting said market failures aren't excessive,

So would you agree to the analogous thing for relationships, because advancedatheist's point is that there is a huge 'market failure' there right now?

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-09-09T19:06:18.192Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, though I disagree that the availability of inferior substitutes (buses to Poland in my analogy? flights to Moldova?) would make the market failure worse, and possibly (I'm not sure what exactly advancedatheist is thinking) also about how much of a market failure there actually is vs how much certain men are just actually less sexually attractive to women than others (much like I guess you'd agree certain workers are just actually less productive than others) and would stay so even in a hypothetical perfect efficient market.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-09T22:24:24.307Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, though I disagree that the availability of inferior substitutes (buses to Poland in my analogy? flights to Moldova?) would make the market failure worse, and possibly (I'm not sure what exactly advancedatheist is thinking)

More like, the 'powers that be' doesn't actually want to fix the market failure, and thinks offering inferior substitutes will at least cause the poeple complaning about it to shut up.

also about how much of a market failure there actually is vs how much certain men are just actually less sexually attractive to women than others

Well, the market failure was a lot less in the recent past.

(much like I guess you'd agree certain workers are just actually less productive than others)

I wouldn't agree that this is an explanation for a rise in unemployment.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-10T14:51:56.435Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Remind me, why are you calling the inability of some to find sex a "market failure"? It might well be that the "market" does not think the package they are offering in exchange is good enough.

The fact that I can't acquire a superyacht is not a market failure.

Instead, the basic complaint looks much more like the classic entitlement narrative of "I have a right, I couldn't exercise this right, so I'm a victim, somebody make sure I can exercise my rights!"

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-11T01:34:20.281Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Remind me, why are you calling the inability of some to find sex a "market failure"? It might well be that the "market" does not think the package they are offering in exchange is good enough.

Let, me translate that into the unemployment analogy for you:

Remind me, why are [we] calling the inability of some to find a job a "market failure"? It might well be that the "market" does not think the package they are offering in exchange is good enough.

Consider what the reaction would be to someone who made the above statement. Heck, I'm not even sure Donald Trump could survive making it.

Instead, the basic complaint looks much more like the classic entitlement narrative

Except have you seen any other instance of the entitlement narrative get the same kind of reaction.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-11T01:55:53.157Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Consider what the reaction would be to someone who made the above statement.

Mild. There has been a mostly polite discussion of the so-called zero marginal product workers, that is, people who are of no use (and, actually, often bring negative utility) to an employer. More generally, the idea that some people can't hold (and eventually can't find) a job is not particularly controversial.

get the same kind of reaction

I don't know what reaction are you talking about.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-11T02:35:07.238Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Consider what the reaction would be to someone who made the above statement. Heck, I'm not even sure Donald Trump could survive making it.

Mild. There has been a mostly polite discussion of the so-called zero marginal product workers, that is, people who are of no use (and, actually, often bring negative utility) to an employer.

That's not what I said. I said, consider what the reaction would be if someone made the above statement (in those words).

Also, most of the discussion of zero marginal product workers is along the lines of, "it is the fault of government regulation that these workers are zmp, hence said regulations should be repealed".

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-11T03:05:01.743Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

consider what the reaction would be if someone made the above statement (in those words).

Depending on the audience, of course. Among smart people, mild. Could it create a Twitter shitstorm? Probably could. So what?

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-09-11T08:08:30.664Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(in those words)

Yeah, even statements with uncontroversial factual accuracy can be offensive when worded in a sufficiently disingenuous way. That's a quite general phenomenon, with hardly anything specific to your example. So what's your point?

comment by Jiro · 2015-09-11T15:57:29.827Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But it isn't worded in a "sufficiently disingenuous way", it's worded in a way similar to Lumifer's sex statement. If it isn't acceptable because of the offensive wording, why is the sex statement acceptable?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-10T15:31:21.667Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the implication is that the sexual marketplace is inefficient (with an implied dig at the idea that employment is a right in the sense that you describe). Given roughly equal numbers of men and women who want sex and/or relationships, and treating men and women as fungible, there is an inefficiency if everybody isn't satisfied, as partners can be rearranged to produce a greater number of satisfied people.

On the down side for this view, people aren't in fact fungible. On the up side for this view, there are some obvious inefficiencies in the sexual marketplace, such as the distribution of genders across cities. On the "whatever" side for this view, I'm inclined to say that the root of the problem is that value on the sexual marketplace has greater variance for men than women, so the tails on both ends are dominated by men whose preferences cannot be satisfied, and the middle of the distribution has more women than there are men available to satisfy their preferences.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-10T16:08:41.024Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are, of course, complications :-)

First, people are not fungible at all (outside of the fairly rare "any hole will do" approach and no, I don't mean bisexuals).

Second, there is a lot of fuzziness about what's actually being traded because under consideration is the whole spectrum from casual one-night stands to till death do us part. Notably when talking about the sex marketplace, what many people want is actually a relationship and that's a bit different.

Third, there are difficulties because what you offer to exchange is not well-defined, partially hidden, and, to top it off, the participants have an incentive to lie about it.

Fourth, as you note, the market isn't quite symmetric in that men and women have different needs, expectations, approaches, and techniques.

All in all, the market certainly isn't perfect, but I don't know if I would characterize the situation as a "market failure". It's just the usual human mess that most manage to muddle through.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-09-10T07:31:18.495Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, the market failure was a lot less in the recent past.

How do you know it's not the past which had a market failure making women have more sex with unattractive men than they would have had ideally?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-10T14:57:32.443Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Plus one point for treating women as consumers, rather than products, in the sexual marketplace. Minus one point for treating men as inferior products, rather than unsatisfied consumers, in the sexual marketplace.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-09-09T12:50:20.619Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's not what "right" means. As a EU citizen, I have the right to travel to other EU countries, but this doesn't mean that if I want to go to Poland there's someone who must take me there.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-08T17:05:50.445Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not Mirzhan_Irkegulov, but my reaction to the two is very similar: both are correct, and in general no one has an obligation to have sex with anyone else and no one has an obligation to employ anyone else

I'm not VoiceOfRa, but I'd like to throw a little twist into this comparison. Let's change from "no woman owes sex" : "no boss owes a job" to "a women has the right to withdraw consent to sex at any time" : "a boss has the right to fire anyone at any time". Still very similar?

comment by gjm · 2015-09-08T20:20:47.595Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As I said in my third paragraph, I think that particular question is some way removed from the points originally at issue in this discussion. But to both of those my reaction is "well, kinda". In more detail (reluctantly because I think it's a big digression):

  • If two people are in a longstanding sexual relationship and one suddenly withdraws consent, clearly something has gone badly wrong. The same is true if one has been working for the other for some time and suddenly gets fired.
  • Having sex when you really, really don't want to is much worse than missing out on sex when you want it. Having no job is much worse than having one employee who isn't performing well. This is an important respect in which the analogy breaks down.
  • People should be able to fire employees and to refuse consent to sex.
  • They have a moral obligation to do so in as reasonable a fashion as they can.
  • In some cases that may still mean doing it suddenly (e.g., you find that your partner is violent and dangerous; you find that your employee has been embezzling; you contract a medical condition that makes sex agonizingly painful; your company loses a contract and suddenly has no money).
  • Because losing all of your income is generally a big disaster, much worse than having to pay one employee's salary, it is reasonable to require employers not to leave their employees completely screwed if they get fired unless it's because of the employee's serious misconduct.
  • Because being forced to have sex on one occasion is so much worse than being denied sex on one occasion, it is reasonable to say that if one partner says no then the other is obliged not to force sex on them. (But because being denied sex on all occasions is bad, it is also reasonable to say that if one partner is consistently refusing consent then the other is entitled to look elsewhere, even if their relationship is notionally monogamous.)

I don't see any inconsistency in the above; my positions on the two questions aren't identical, for reasons tightly bound up with the ways in which the two questions themselves aren't identical.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-08T20:30:27.097Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see any inconsistency in the above

I'm not attacking your position :-) It's just that I expect that my reformulation will bring a different set of responses from some people than the original one.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-09-09T12:29:46.465Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"a boss has the right to fire anyone at any time"

In the US that's already the case and even the people who don't think that wives should be allowed to refuse sex from husbands seem to see nothing wrong with that. Well, except when someone is fired is for saying something factually correct but offensive.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-09T13:50:08.822Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the US that's already the case

No it isn't. You can fire unprotected classes of people, for unprotected reasons.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-09T16:48:04.404Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the US that's already the case

As OrphanWilde already pointed out, no, it's not. Even other than protected classes of people and protected reasons, trade union jobs and many public sector jobs are not employment at-will.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-09-08T10:23:40.789Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You might reasonably be aggrieved if your spouse suddenly starts refusing to have sex, or if your employer fires you. But I don't think either side of this comparison is what anyone in the thread had in mind.

Interestingly, the likes of James A. Donald lament that wives are now allowed to deny consent to sex or to divorce while apparently seeing nothing wrong with at-will employment.

comment by gjm · 2015-09-08T10:28:09.641Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fortunately, the likes of James A Donald are not participating in this thread.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-03T14:25:13.821Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The problem is, I felt this way when I was, like, 16, and I don't feel that way anymore. It frightens me that there are men, who are no longer teenagers, who still live in a constant state of anxiety, that women are there to “get you” by refusing to have sex with you.

Should others have been frightened of you at 16?

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-09-03T14:46:21.086Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wasn't dangerous at 16, nor do I don't think advancedatheist is, not for women, not for anyone else. I don't even think advancedatheist is a bad person or deserve our hatred or anything else. I don't even believe it's appropriate to think there exist bad people or there is someone who “deserves” anything bad. I think it contradicts with consequentialism, and I agree with Yudkowsky, when he said that “Hitler doesn't deserve a stubbed toe” (but it still might've been a very good idea to kill him early, because again consequentialism).

I just find it very sad that there are so many men, young and old, who have low self-esteem, bitterness, depression, anxiety, sense of loneliness and many other mental issues and destructive behavior patterns, simply because they have irrational beliefs about women, relationship and sex.

For the record, I don't want to diagnose advancedatheist with any mental issues, it's just he repeats the same trope about women not giving to men what they owe, from comment to comment, and I believe he happens to be wrong.

I am no men-hating feminist lickspittle and I don't want to win brownie points from feminists by saying stuff they want to hear. I view this strictly from male perspective: believing certain things about women, relationship and sex makes you unhappy, bitter, unproductive and sometimes harmful for women. That's stupid and gotta go.

Scott Alexander in his blogpost Untitled called a feminist Amanda Marcotte a “Vogon spy in a skin suit” for lacking any empathy for male nerds who had problems with relationship. I'm not like that, I have empathy, because I was just like that at some point. Maybe, most men, who are happy to describe themselves as feminists, were just like that at some point.

I have empathy for women too. Many of them get crap on a daily basis from some subset of these bitter, insecure men, and I'm not even talking about rape. These beliefs that sex is a need for men, that you can't be happy and self-confident without sex, that women must satisfy men sexually, that men have a say in women sexual behavior, are destructive for both men and women. And even if in some parallel reality, where all women suddenly decided to “altruistically” satisfy all men's sexual desires, I don't believe it would solve any problems.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-09-03T15:28:19.933Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This actually isn't a gendered issue. "Fat acceptance" and "Nerd acceptance" are two sides of the same coin, but both sides insist it is gendered.

Sexual deprivation has real psychological effects. Shit, we should -expect- it to have real psychological effects; you're failing to function as the wind-up toy evolution designed you as. Why do people deny the psychological effects? Why do -you- deny the psychological effects, and insist they can just be overcome?

Because, by the standard morality of our society, problems must be solved. Admitting that it's a genuine issue for these people implies some obligation to do something about it, which implies some obligation by some people to have sex with other people, and that's just wrong.

Personally? I think it's fine to say that it's sad that some people lack what is probably the most fundamental kind of affirmation. And I think it's fine to say that it's sad, and I think it's fine to say that, y'know, the situation sucks for them, and they shouldn't just pretend otherwise. And I can think it's sad, and the situation sucks, without thinking that implies some kind of sexual obligation.

When you can't say there is a problem without also believing the problem can, and should, be solved, the problem to be solved often becomes the problem itself. And either the problem to be solved is that these individuals don't get sex - but the solution to that is both immediately obvious and immediately unacceptable - or the problem is the way these individuals -feel-, as a result of not getting sex. And because they can't acknowledge a problem without believing it can and should be solved, they choose the problem whose solution is acceptable to them: The problem is with the people who are suffering, rather than the suffering itself.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-09-03T16:41:36.144Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok, the idea, that the existing problem doesn't imply the existence of an immediate solution, is very insightful. Thank you for writing all this.

Too bad I don't know much modern cognitive and social psychology to confidently state why I believe that sexual deprivation might not have real psychological effects (under certain conditions) or that these effects may be overcome. So let's have this conversation again in a year or two. :)

What I base my current beliefs about “sex is not a need” is mostly CBT. CBT's core idea is the “cognitive model”, the statement that many of our moods and behaviors are influenced by the beliefs we have. For example, you believe that you're a horrible person, a loser, therefore you feel depressed and unmotivated. You believe that you were responsible for some bad event, therefore you feel guilty and ashamed. You believe that somebody or the world itself was unfair to you, therefore you feel angry and betrayed.

Moreover, the beliefs that cause destructive feelings and behaviors happen to be irrational in one way or another. They may be positivistically meaningless, overgeneralizing, vague, emotionally loaded, arbitrarily judgemental, black-and-white, not supported by evidence and so on. So what CBT researchers found out is that most of the time when people are depressed, anxious, insecure, compulsive and so on, they have corresponding irrational beliefs. But when they are productive and have healthy joy, sadness or remorse, their beliefs happen to be rather rational and grounded in reality.

And CBT works, it treats depression, anxiety, marital problems, drug addiction and many other things. Yes, it doesn't treat them well enough, otherwise we would make people superhuman on a daily basis. And I don't know why it doesn't work fanstastically yet, although I have some hypotheses. But it works somewhat well for some people.

What I hate is that we still treat human psyche as a black box, as magic. Why lack of sex causes psychological problems? Nobody knows, but people treat it as a simple one-step causation: less sex -> more problems. But “lack of sex causes psychological problems” becomes a sort of mysterious answer to mysterious question. Therefore instead of trying to reduce human psyche into smaller blocks and finding the root cause of psychological problem, we just conclude that people must have more sex.

CBT is an attempt at reducing human moods and behaviors. It lays out a causal network. It explains which beliefs cause which moods and actions, what is wrong with these beliefs, how to change them. And suddenly it works, to some extent, in some people.

Allen Carr's quitting smoking method is a good example: it's pure CBT and it demonstrably effective. When you read academic literature on smoking, there's lots of mysterious answers, high-level observations with no causality. Stuff like “when people quit smoking, they experience anxiety, agitation, heartbeat, digestive problems, nausea, etc”. Yes, they do, I don't argue with that. But the same people, who quit smoking using Carr's method, don't experience this. Not all, but many. So there are more factors at work that previously weren't understood. People do feel certain way under certain conditions, but don't under others.

So let me make myself clear. I don't necessarily know the perfect way to make a sexually deprived person fully psychologically healthy, nor do I think that if this way exist it's easy. Except, I can point to a CBT book and promise a significant probability of it helping.

But due to CBT I strongly believe that for people, who hold certain beliefs about women or sex, the best step is to rationally combat their beliefs, not to have more sex. It has much better chance of working, because it already has precedents.

How is this relevant to sexual deprivation? Because CBT works for it too. It worked for me, some people I know, and its underlying mechanism makes sense. It's convincing. Can I point to an authoritative peer-reviewed study that confirms my point? Not yet. Can I at least provide a more complex causal explanation, as to convince you as I am convinced? Probably not until I understand CBT and psychology in general better. So yeah, we can all just agree that we can admit it's all sad without implying any sexual obligation. And hope that science would solve this problem one day.

But yeah, sexual obligation is just wrong, and this idea should be explicit.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-07T19:01:43.930Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not like that, I have empathy, because I was just like that at some point.

The former doesn't follow from the latter. Rather, it seems more like you have disavowed empathy with your past self so that you can feel superior to people like your past self. Given that you appear to have very little otherwise to feel superior about, e.g., you apparently still can't actually get sex, this is of course an understandable reaction.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-09-07T21:41:03.565Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

you apparently still can't actually get sex

FYI, I'm 7 years in a relationship. Not that would matter, 'cause your comment is a terrible ad hominem.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-07T21:52:22.307Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not that would matter, 'cause your comment is a terrible ad hominem.

Sorry, when you argue based on an appeal to your life experience, ad hominem is no longer a fallacy.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-07T19:03:16.750Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But you can be happy without sex, and sex is not a need. Of course sex is a good thing, and it's great, when there's more of it (consensual, obviously). But so can be said of video games, or action films, or hiking, or chess playing. People can be happy without them, and these are not needs, and so is true of sex.

The only problem I see with young male virgins in today's world is not lack of sex, but terrible self-esteem, depression and anxiety around the belief that they ought to have sex, but because there's something wrong either with them, or the world, they don't have it. Get rid of that crap from their minds, and you'll make young men happy, confident, self-respecting, motivated and self-reliant.

Replace "sex" with "not dying" and you have the standard deathist position.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-09-07T21:58:17.369Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just replacing words and saying “see what this reminds you now of!” doesn't work, because the words might not type-match. Otherwise you could replace some words in any atheist speech and say “now that looks like a religion!”

Moreover, you miss the point. It's not that sex is bad or non-important or should be discouraged or whatever.

  • Not having sex and feeling unhappy about it is strictly worse than not having sex and being ok with it.
  • Believing that men deserve sex (whatever that means), women owe men sex, it's women's duty to satisfy men's want for sex, it's women's fault that men have less sex and so on is irrational, as in it's meaningless epistemologically and consequentially.
  • If we accept CBT, these beliefs are actually what cause depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems.
  • Sex is not a need, as in people don't die without it, and it's questionable if lack of sex causes any irreparable psychological damage.
  • Even if it causes certain psychological damage, it most likely happens under certain conditions, which might be easy to avoid.
  • Having low self-esteem about lack of sex doesn't necessarily increase sex.
  • Having sex doesn't necessarily solve insecurities and anxieties concerning sex.
comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-07T22:21:52.535Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not having sex and feeling unhappy about it is strictly worse than not having sex and being ok with it.

Except that feeling unhappy about it makes one more likely to fix the situation. Seriously, this is the exact same argument made by deathists, and generally a universal argument against caring about anything.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-09-07T22:48:40.665Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Except that in most men it doesn't, it just makes them more depressed, more self-hating, more bitter, more hateful towards women, more insecure. What a typical young man with no popularity among women believes is not “sex is good, therefore I should try to have more sex”. Instead, what goes through their mind is thoughts like:

  • I'm a loser
  • I should have more sex
  • If I don't lose virginity, people would laugh at me or treat me with disrespect
  • Life would be worthless, if I don't seduce [this girl]
  • I deserve to have [this sex act] at least once
  • Why life is so unfair to me

...and all kinds of stressful, self-beating, epistemologically meaningless crap. Young men routinely create arbitrarily difficult challenges and end up in terrible emotional state and empathy-less relationships. Examples are having first sex at a certain age, or seducing that particular woman, or persuading a woman into a certain sex act, or having sex with certain amount of women, and so on.

You know how I know this? Go to 4chan, or any subreddit that has an angsty young male lamenting virginity. It has nothing to do with utility maximization, but all kinds of arbitrary internal demands or social pressure. The machismo culture doesn't make it better. The social expectations about how and when and whom with and how much sex should a young man have are constantly reinforced. I mean, seriously, the only argument you came up with in the other thread was about me not having sex. Suppose that I don't have sex. And that makes me wrong... how exactly?

Of course sex is good, and pleasurable, and helps bonding, and desirable. And of course, consequently, the more people have sex, the better. If you decide that sex is good and therefore you should strive to have more sex, then go for it. But the way most angsty young virgins strive for sex, the incentives they have, the beliefs they hold about themselves and other people, are dangerous for them and sometimes other people.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-09-08T07:25:44.608Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've read parts of what is commonly called the "manosphere" and I can safely say, you have no idea what the f* you're talking about.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-09-08T08:10:47.915Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe, maybe not. Can you give an example, a summary of what manosphere is all about, anything? So far you were unable to contribute to the discussion at all.

comment by Dagon · 2015-08-17T14:44:13.863Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you're mistaken about how important sex is to relationships, This varies pretty wildly by individual, but I find it easy to believe that a good portion of the populace would be better off if there were many uncomplicated orgasm sources, rather than requiring a deep committed exclusivity.

That bundled commitment is valuable, and I'm quite happy in it. And, over time, as technology improves and my wife and I age and change, I can easily believe we'll add robots to our marriage. We have some now, but they're mostly there for mechanical assistance, and we don't have much of a deep bond with them.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-08-17T15:51:35.708Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

if there were many uncomplicated orgasm sources

What's the advantage of many sources? As to uncomplicated, well, your own hand is about as uncomplicated as it gets...

comment by Username · 2015-08-18T07:50:30.049Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Having these organic experiences lead to the development of skills which don't exist in isolation, but instead play a role in knowing how to deal with women successfully in the rest of life.

I often hear claims like that here on LW, but they sound very implausible to me. I never had a girlfriend until I was 26 but I'm not under the impression that before then I was deficient in otherwise dealing with female friends/professors/etc. in a way that I no longer am, or in a way that I was not with male friends/professors/etc. (In particular, in most of my late teens and early twenties I had many more female friends than male friends.) Do you (or anybody else who's been making such claims) have any evidence (that could be easily shared on a Web forum) of that?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-08-17T15:37:58.112Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why would he therefore advocate something so preposterous and so disrespectful of a lot of men

What kind of question is this? There a lot of rubbish posted on the internet. Despite the stuff about sex bots, writing like: "In 15 to 20 years time, cranial implant technology will enable humans to overcome many of their idiosyncrasies and bad behaviors—making a new generation of very wholesome and exemplary children. In fact, going to college may be replaced by downloading higher educations into our brains." doesn't look like a serious analysis.

Learning is an active process. It's a process of engaging in critical thinking. It's not simply replaced by a download into the brain.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-08-25T23:04:09.849Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This seems obvious to me, but apparently not to the people who publish propaganda about the wonders of giving men artificial ways to jerk off, as if we have just undergone a cultural transformation which holds that most men don't deserve sexual relationships with women any more

They don't, at least not simply by virtue of being men.