Pick Up Artists(PUAs) my view

post by roland · 2013-04-11T02:15:38.954Z · score: -28 (42 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 95 comments

Contents

  2. PUAs depiction of women
  3. PU as a skillset and activity
  4. Presented reasons against PU
None
95 comments

The issue of PU(pick up) or PUAs(Pick up artists) has been discussed several times here and I often see objections against it. So I would like to present my view on it which is rather positive.

Disclaimer: I'm a male.

1. Why is PU hated so much?

 

It are usually women(correct me if I'm wrong) who object against PU and present a variety of reasons. As often when it concerns humans the presented reasons are rationalizations and the real causes of the antagonism is some deeper feeling that originates for entirely different reasons than the ones presented. I suspect this is also the case with PU. For the moment I will ignore the presented reasons some of which I will address later and instead focus on what I think is the real underlying cause.

The real reason that women have a problem with PU is that it empowers men and dis-empowers women. Allow me to explain.

Good looking women will have no problem attracting lots of interested males. Usually women do the choosing, while males compete for the attention. A big part of the power a woman has over her mate is the threat of withdrawing from him sexually and/or emotionally. It usually involves great effort for a man to find another woman, this was especially true in past times when people lived in small villages with very few unmarried attractive women. A woman on the other hand will not have much problems finding another male if she is good looking.

Even in modern society women usually still have more power in relationships because even though there is nowadays an abundance of women(if you live in a big city there are literally thousands of them available) most men are still limited in that they meet women mostly through their social circle.

 

What changed with PU?

Picture this, a PUA(call him P) is in a relationship with women W. Say he has enough skills that he will be able to get laid or start a relationship with 1 in 50 women he approaches. Now there is some kind of tension in his current relationship, W threatens to withdraw or W has done something that upset him and he is considering finishing the relationship on his part. Since he is a PUA he knows that if he goes out 3 nights a week approaching 10 women each night he will meet 60 women in two weeks and will get laid once or be able to start a new relationship for sure. If W knows her partner well enough she will know it too. Suddenly the power balance has shifted. I still believe that women in general tend to have more power but PU shifted this towards men. W will have to consider "If I withdraw he can find another woman in two weeks.", she clearly has lost bargaining power. P knows it too and will weigh if it is worth the hassle to remain in the relationship if he can find another woman very quickly. P has more power for being a PUA than he would have if he weren't.

 

If you followed this reasoning, can we expect women to like PU? Of course not, it is clear that woman have to dislike PU.

 

Yet the thing is I never see this argument presented when PU is criticized. Why not? Because it is a power struggle and in such every gain in power by one side is a loss of power on the other side. To bring up this point women would have to admit that what they really dislike is the loss of power.

 

2. PUAs depiction of women

 

One of the presented arguments against PU is that the depiction of women is often perceived as demeaning.

 

Quoting from  one comment:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/fmv/lw_women_submissions_on_misogyny/8qnn

> I think PUA memes are especially dangerous because they are half-truths, which makes them compelling and "sticky" - but that is an opinion, and I admit only passing familiarity with PUA memes which I've picked up from visiting their forums

 

I agree that a lot of those memes are half-truths or plain wrong, but some are correct. You also have to be careful with the source of the memes, there is a lot of nonsense written in forums. Yet if you look at the presentation of PU as done by Mystery in his writings and presented to an audience in shows like "The PU artist" I don't think there is anything there that really could be considered offensive.

Also, some depictions may be offensive, yet still true, consider:

>Humans are greedy.

 

Some people will consider this offensive.

 

Another quote from:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/fmv/lw_women_submissions_on_misogyny/8qnn

> You've got to show that you are assertive- even if it means being an asshole and playing on people's insecurities sometimes."...etc

I agree this is extremely offensive. Yet at the same time I suspect there is a grain of truth to it. The quote can equally be applied to women asking for a refund in a shop and it could be good advice depending on the context. How bad is that? We can't change the way the world works. Is it wrong to be an asshole if that will enable you to get a refund? Should we judge someone for being an asshole if it works for him?

 

3. PU as a skillset and activity

At the end it doesn't matter what PUAs write in forums but how they actually engage and interact with women in real life. And  most guys who write in forums don't actually practice PU. Any PUA who is disrespectful will not get very far in conquering a woman's heart, on the contrary the art of PU is in making the woman feel good, why would she stay with a man who doesn't make her feel good?

A point never mentioned much by criticizers is that actually PUAs are the ones who are often disrespected. Some have been killed for talking to the wrong woman, I've personally heard insults, was threatened by boyfriends(the women were alone, I didn't know they had a boyfriend until he showed up) and have to put up will all kind of rude behavior(hearing stuff like "I don't give a fuck about you", etc...)


4. Presented reasons against PU

 

PU is manipulation as exemplified in this quote:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/fmv/lw_women_submissions_on_misogyny/8qnn

> The above aside...I dunno. This statement feels like manipulation via false signalling, and I find that distasteful. I think that's mostly in the phrasing though, since there is nothing intrinsically wrong in wanting to be attractive.

 

There is a lot of truth to that, but isn't it also manipulation for women to wear make-up, high heels, fake breasts, painted hair, plastic surgery? Yet I seldom see the latter criticized. It is simply accepted, even encouraged.

Consider a webpage titled "10 good ways for charming a woman" and you can imagine comments(mostly from women) along the lines of: "Guys, stop the bullshit just be yourselves and let the woman like you for who you are."

Yet if it is about "10 good ways to prepare for the job interview" I usually don't read this kind of objections. On the contrary it is assumed that when going for an interview candidates will dress as well as they can, have polished their CVs and often waded through lists of common questions/problems and their solutions(speaking as a computer programmer here). Not doing so would be considered sloppy. It is rare to hear: "People, just go to the interview and present yourself as you are, if the company likes you it will take you."

 

EDIT: I'm still being throttled even when commenting on my own post. So I won't be able to address all the comments. Sorry, this is not something I can fix.

95 comments

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comment by Xachariah · 2013-04-11T18:21:11.691Z · score: 17 (23 votes) · LW · GW

My view of PUA is distinctly different from yours. It is a much less happy view. Disclaimer: I'm an ex-PUA; I spent a few years in the game and quit after finding my current 4 year LTR. (nb I use PUA as a catchall abbreviation for both PUA and PU.)

1. Their objections are legitimate
PUA at it's core is a training regime to learn the martial art of social interaction backed up by 10,000 hours of practice. Just like in martial arts, a guy who's studied for a couple years will beat the shit out of someone who's never practiced. You might not win every argument / get every girl / impress every person, but you'll do way better than you should for your weight class.

The people I've talked to re: PUA don't have this nebulous fear of loss of power. They're afraid of you personally having a metaphorical loaded gun with you at all times, that you're free to use whenever you want, and there's no consequence when you use it. That's scary.

They also don't want other people going out and getting these social guns, even if it's a dominant strategy, because a future where everyone employs them is not a future they want to live in. I don't think their objections are disingenuous at all.

2. PUAs have a demeaning as hell view of women
We do. Women are just female apes who respond to super-stimulus that PUAs learn to generate. To be fair, this is literally no different than saying that men are just male apes who respond to super-stimulus that women wear/use. Or that consumers are just apes-with-paper who respond to properly designed pitches. I should note that it's culturally acceptable to demean against men (or consumers in general) and not women, so that's why people are surprised by it.

Make no mistake though, it is a demeaning viewpoint. Just because it's 'equal' or 'correct' doesn't mean it can't be demeaning too.

3. PUA isn't just a skillset or activity.
From HPMOR:

Father had warned Draco over and over that what you sacrificed to Dark rituals couldn't be regained. But Father hadn't known that the accursed Muggles had invented rituals that didn't need wands, rituals you could be tricked into doing without knowing it...

PUA changes you permanently, and not in a way that everyone is comfortable with. I've been four years out of the game and I still walk into a room and identify every group, every alpha, every girl that's DTF, and all the social bonds between them. I may get rustier and rustier with time in identifying IOIs, or how to push-pull, or neg, or any of those mechanical tricks, but I will never forget the models of human interaction that I learned. I will never look at any conversation between two people simply as 'a conversation', probably ever again for the rest of my life. I'll also probably never be completely content or complacent in a relationship again either.

I'm comfortable with that. I'm a rationalist. I'm here because I care more about knowing the truth of things than being happy. Not everyone is like that... heck, most people aren't like that. It does them (and PUA) a disservice to imply that PUA is simply a tool that you pick up and use.

It changes you and not everyone is ready or okay with that change. Worst of all, most guys don't know that there will be a sacrifice, and some are unaware of their sacrifice even after it's been made. (And hell, KJ's partially make that sacrifice and they don't even get anything out of it.)

4. As for my view on PUA...
PUA is the dark arts. It's literally everything LessWrong users refer to when we use the term dark arts. It's all the worst parts of marketing, high pressure sales, magic tricks, and scams rolled into one very potent ball, and perpetually refined by extremely motivated men. There are professional athletes who don't practice their sport as much as some PUAs practice their own 'sport'. They don't do it out of altruism; they do it because it's thrilling to hunt.

Yeah, you can just use it to be an awesome attractive guy, and I did do that too. But I also did a lot of things I'm not proud of. Scratch that, I did a lot of things I'm totally proud of but I shouldn't be. PUA is everything that detractors say it is. It is evil, misogynistic, dirty, skeezy, insulting, etc., etc., etc..

On the other hand, Paul Graham has a quote:

If a statement is false, that's the worst thing you can say about it.

It doesn't matter if PUA is evil. Or if PUA is insulting. Or if PUA is misogynistic. Or if PUA is dangerous. Because the only thing that matters is that PUA is true. It works. It exists.

I'm going to employ the most effective strategies I can, and when I have kids I'll teach them too. I will use whatever wins, but I'm under no illusion about the morality of my tactics.

There is no need to sugar coat it so others will find it acceptable.
PUA is what it is.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-12T18:00:15.140Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

PUA is true. It works.

"PU technique works" does not imply "PU theory is true". (That statement should not be construed as an argument for PU theory not being true either, by the way)

The people I've talked to re: PUA don't have this nebulous fear of loss of power. They're afraid of you personally having a metaphorical loaded gun with you at all times, that you're free to use whenever you want, and there's no consequence when you use it. That's scary.

I think that's really close but not quite on the mark

It's a memetic hazard of sorts. It presents a set of ideas which are true and encourage one set of behavior, while ignoring a second set of ideas which are also true and, if known, would modulate the first set of behaviors.

By analogy - "The Bell Curve" shows the reader (presumably) true data about population level differences in intelligence. It doesn't discuss the biological factors that go into creating intelligence. It doesn't show you the studies which more or less prove that the intelligence differences aren't genetic (no fault to the author - those studies were published several years later). It presents half the truth, and human biases fill in the blank spaces to conclude that some races are genetically superior.

Racialists took the book and other studies like it, and have decided that obviously racial differences in intelligence exist, and everyone else is deluding themselves.

Technically, they are right - racial differences in intelligence do exist - but we now have good evidence that the differences are not genetic in nature, which really undermines the flavor of "The Bell Curve" even while not proving it "wrong" per se. This is a scenario where a little knowledge was harmful, and the grain of truth it contained made it all the more seductive.

Similarly - PU theory is "true" in the sense that it captures some useful truths about human behavior, and those grains of truth make it seductive. But it's dangerous because it doesn't tell the full story and it encourages human biases to fill in the blank spaces in a bad way.

The cynicism that many PUA's express is a symptom of the incomplete knowledge. Assuming your relationship goals are at least somewhat aligned to mine (creating mutually fulfilling interactions), if you knew the full story, you wouldn't even want to use the "dark" techniques within PUA.

Although really, my main objection is that "dark" techniques can cause direct harm to the target. The above concerns about indirect hazards to the user is just a secondary objection.

EDIT: retraction on the race statements. Gwern has convinced me that it is still an open question. The analogy I intended still stands.

comment by Xachariah · 2013-04-12T20:41:59.172Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

We may be talking across from each other by using different terms.

To me PUA is one very simply algorithm: attempt pickup -> analyze if it worked -> improve pickup routine -> goto start. PUA is the treating of relationships and dating as if it was a science or skillset instead of an interaction with individual human being. That's all there is to PUA. It's nothing but a learning algorithm used by a human and backed up by the data you collect.

The statement that "PUA is true" means that humans can be modeled in relationships the same way that humans can be modeled economically for economics to be true. The statment "PUA works" means that this algorithm will get you success and it will give you increasing probabilities of success per attempt.

There are some universally adopted techniques and a couple of common models, but that's to be expected when you've got thousands of people all doing the exact same thing repeatedly. In general, I'd say the vast majority of those models and techniques are accurate and efficacious. If you have specific objections to PUA half truths, feel free to throw them out. Saying that PUA is nothing but half truths feels as general as saying that economics is nothing but half truths because it can't model economic agents perfectly. I need specifics.

As for "dark" techniques, I have no idea to what you refer. The darkness I was talking about in PUA is the the danger of dehumanizing others and treating women as commodities. You stop looking at women as a person and start looking at them as potential lay #32. There are no dark techniques that cause harm to the target; they're harmed because you have a one night stand and then never call them again (as their best case scenario). The darkness isn't a side effect; it's the direct effect. Achieving your goal by any other technique wouldn't spare them the pain.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-13T04:40:35.801Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

We may be talking across from each other by using different terms.

To me PUA is one very simply algorithm: attempt pickup -> analyze if it worked -> improve pickup routine -> goto start.

You're right. I'm referring to PUA as in this memeplex

comment by Xachariah · 2013-04-13T11:54:24.178Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's a list of lingo the people who do that use. I'm missing your objections, unless you just hate lingo.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-13T18:34:56.511Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's the conclusions that people draw,as opposed to the general experimental method that you outlined

comment by gwern · 2013-04-12T18:19:30.733Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't show you the studies which more or less prove that the intelligence differences aren't genetic (no fault to the author - those studies were published several years later).

What studies are those?

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-12T19:46:13.302Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

African Americans are almost all mixed race, so it is possible to look at black IQ as a function of European heritage rather than social white-black categorization. There have been several such studies done, and most of them are finding no significant correlation. Percent of European heritage can be measured via direct genetic methods, via a proxy such as blood groups, or via a family history questionnaire.

What does make a difference in intelligence in socially biracial children is the social racial category of the mother - indicating to me that after you correct for socioeconomic factors much the difference is mostly due to maternal factors in the womb. Unhealthy mothers give birth to low-IQ babies, and this can carry over generations.

Their is also a weak correlation with skin color. I think the fact that outward indicators of ancestry like skin color seem to matter, whereas invisible indicators like alleles and blood type do not matter much clearly points to the "racism" hypothesis.

Here is a review of literature book to get you started if you want to research this yoruself. The preview is free. Begin on page 89, under "Studies that directly Assess Heritability"

I'm going to start a blog this summer and go over this in more detail later. I'll send a link your way when I do.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-12T20:33:53.257Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There have been several such studies done, and most of them are finding no significant correlation. Percent of European heritage can be measured via direct genetic methods, via a proxy such as blood groups, or via a family history questionnaire.

I was under the impression that no direct genetic measures had been done and that Murray's attempt to organize such a study had failed to find any support.

Here is a review of literature book to get you started if you want to research this yoruself. The preview is free. Begin on page 89, under "Studies that directly Assess Heritability"

I'm troubled that this is from 1998, drawing on even earlier research; this is prehistoric in terms of direct genetic work. I'm also troubled that the relevant chapter is written by Nisbett, who lost a great deal of credibility with me by endorsing a flagrantly misleading summary of dual n-back research (which of course fit his environmentalist meliorist leanings...). Regardless, in Nisbett's summary they all sound quite questionable (and elsewhere too), not all positive for the pure environmentalist position, and nothing like what a modern study using sequencing or at least SNPs ought to be able to do.

So to go back to your original comment:

It doesn't show you the studies which more or less prove that the intelligence differences aren't genetic (no fault to the author - those studies were published several years later).

I don't think those studies come anywhere near 'proving' anything; and almost everything cited was published before 1994, as a read through your specified chapter and its bibliography shows, so your claim about timing doesn't seem to be true either.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-13T03:09:35.607Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To be honest I just linked the first review of lit I found, since he mentioned many of the experiments I had on mind. Most of what I said was cached from research I did back in high school, when I took an interest in this question. I was having trouble locating the original articles - I know they are out there because I read them several years ago - so I had to link the review.

Still... You aren't convinced by the finding that black GIs and white GIs children with white British women had no significant iq gap? It seems you've read everything I have on the topic, and the fact that you aren't convinced by that is making me wonder if I'm missing something...what's the alternative explanation?

If memory serves, that's really the one that first convinced me of the environmental conclusion - prior to reading that I was actually slowly edging towards the genetic conclusion, but after reading that I settled on mostly maternal factors in the womb. The only caveat to the GI study is that GI's need to be above a certain IQ to serve - but unless that threshold was set rather high, I don't think it would have eliminated the gap.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T03:27:23.530Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Still... You aren't convinced by the finding that black GIs and white GIs children with white British women had no significant iq gap?

You mean the much-debated Eyferth German study?

Well, I'll put it this way: I'll agree to believe that that finding proves that the black-white IQ gap has nothing to do with genetics, if you'll agree to believe that it proves women are genetically inferior to men.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-13T04:20:06.644Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I see... I've retracted my statement, then - i was too confident, now I'm unsure again.

This article played a role in convincing me as well -

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ339204&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ339204

It's an adoption study, but that wasn't what mattered - what mattered was that the mixed race children and the black children raised in white families didn't show a significant difference.

Also, this - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289602000806 They found no black-white verbal differences for completely novel words, but significant differences for tasks which require prior word knowledge. Prior knowledge did, however, predict performance within racial groups.

comments?

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T04:52:43.788Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

comments?

I don't know about that last one, so I'll just make a general comment here since you seem to be planning to spend more time on this:

The IQ wars are a rabbit hole you can easily dive down. The literature is vast, spans all sorts of groups, all sorts of designs, from test validities to sampling to statistical regression vs causal inference to forms of bias; every point is hotly debated, the ways in which studies can be validly critiqued are an education in how to read papers and look for how they are weak or make jumps or some of the data just looks wrong, and you'll learn every technical requirement and premise and methodological limitation because the opponents of that particular result will be sure to bring them up if it'll at all help their case.

In this respect, it's a lot like the feuds in biblical criticism over issues like whether Jesus existed, or the long philosophical debate over whether God exists. Similarly there's an incredible amount of material to cover, by some really smart people (what did geeks do before science and modernity? well, for the most part, they seem to have done theology; consider how much time and effort Newton reportedly spent on alchemy and his own Biblical studies, or the sheer brainpower that must've been spent over the centuries in rabbinical studies). You could learn a lot about the ancient world or the incredibly complex chain of transmission of the Bible's constituents in their endless varieties and how they are put together into a single canonical modern text, or the other countless issues of textual criticism. An awful lot indeed. One could, and people as smart or smarter than you have, lose one's life in exploring little back-alleys and details.

In other words, these can become forms of nerd sniping.

But having said that, and admiring things like Plantinga's free will defense, and the subtle logical issues in formulating it and the lack of any really concrete evidence for or against Jesus's existence, do I take the basic question of God seriously? No. The theists' rearguard attempts and ever more ingenious explanations and indirect pathways of reasons and touted miracles fundamentally do not add up to an existing whole. The universe does not look anything like a omni- god was involved, a great deal of determined effort has failed to provide any convincing proof, there not being a god is consistent with all the observed processes and animal kingdom and natural events and material world we see, and so on. The persistence of the debate reflects more what motivated cognition can accomplish and the weakness of existing epistemology and debate. No matter how tempting it is to think that you may be able to finally put together the compelling refutation of God's existence or to demonstrate that Jesus's divinity was a late addition to his gospel, you won't make a dent in the debate.

So you should know in advance whether you want to take the red pill and see how far down the rabbit hole you go before you finally give up, or you take the blue pill and be an onlooker as you settle for a high-level overview of the more interesting papers and issues and accept that you will only have that and a general indefensible assessment of the state of play.

My own belief is that as interesting as it is, you should take the blue pill and not adopt any strong position but perhaps (if it doesn't take too much time) point out the holes of any particularly bad or naive person, the kind who are simply wrong or don't realize how little they know or how slanted a view they have received from the material they've read.

The reason is this: yes, Murray failed to organize the admixture genetic study. It hasn't happened yet even though it's far more important than most of the stuff that gets studied in population genetics. I don't need to explain why this would be the case even if people on the environmentalist side of the IQ wars were confident they were right. But at some point, some researcher will manage it, some group inside or outside the USA will fund it, at some point a large enough genetic database will be cross-referenced against IQ tests and existing racial markers. I don't know if it'll be this year, or by 2020, although I would be surprised if there was still nothing by 2030, but it will happen and it will happen relatively soon (for a debate going on for the past century or more). Genome sequencing is simply going to be too cheap for it to not happen. Given this, there's no reason to invest your life in the topic. It has no practical ramifications for you, and on the intellectual level, no matter how much you read, you'll always have nagging doubts, so you might as well just wait patiently for the inevitable final word.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-13T05:07:01.819Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The principle in this comment (How to look for things that really are not worth thinking about too much because it is just not worth it) seems universal enough, to be worth a discussion post on its own.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T19:17:41.719Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's probably too obvious to anyone who has read other posts like on value of information.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-13T05:20:15.727Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I currently believe that "there is insufficient evidence to show that the differences are genetic" but as you can probably tell from my unintentional misuse of the word "prove", I also currently "alieve" the positive claim that "the differences aren't genetic". Said alief has decreased, since you just falsified some of the studies on which it was pinned and have clearly gone further down this rabbit hole than I.

If you remove the word "prove" from the original statement though - I still do think that people who make the positive claim that the differences are genetic with high confidence are overlooking a lot of important findings.

Given this, there's no reason to invest your life in the topic.

Well, I want to start a blog which talks about philosophy and science-y stuff that I happen to know in a fun, informative, and well cited way - more or less similar to the kind of thing you've got going. I already spend a lot of time researching things that have no impact on my life because it's fun, and I might as well find a way to make something productive out of it.

This topic is one of the topics i know more than the average person about, and my plan was to collate the stuff I'd already read in high school and make a summary of it. Relatively speaking, I'm not really that interested in this topic anymore, although people on lw expressing strong opinions on the matter has made me ponder it again.

I first took an interest in this topic in high school because I used to enjoy knocking down people's arguments using evidence, and this happened to be one of my targets (not to worry - I don't do that anymore. I'm three whole years wiser now and my prefrontal cortex is growing as we speak!). Also, I am a racial minority, which added to the intrigue slightly - not that the data have any effect on me personally, but when I was younger I felt a bit more group affiliation than I do now.

Edit: By the way, you probably know this, but the asian model minority effects apply to african immigrants too. Just thought I'd mention that because you mention asian model minorities influencing you on your link. (Sociology was my larger interest - the interest in racial differences appeared as a smaller subcomponent, as a possible explanatory factor for sociological trends. I've since concluded that even if racial differences exist, they aren't necessary to explain the trends.)

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T23:02:59.109Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I want to start a blog which talks about philosophy and science-y stuff that I happen to know in a fun, informative, and well cited way - more or less similar to the kind of thing you've got going. I already spend a lot of time researching things that have no impact on my life because it's fun, and I might as well find a way to make something productive out of it. This topic is one of the topics i know more than the average person about, and my plan was to collate the stuff I'd already read in high school and make a summary of it. Relatively speaking, I'm not really that interested in this topic anymore, although people on lw expressing strong opinions on the matter has made me ponder it again.

Yes, but are you sure you really want to discuss it in any detail? I hope you don't take this as too insulting, but I think my comments have pointed out that you don't have a great command of the IQ literature; if you try to discuss it, you may embarrass yourself when someone refutes you - or much worse, leave your readers with the impression they understand the subject better than they do. (Think of all the people who read Gould's Mismeasure of Man or Shalizi's "g, a Statistical Myth" and went away convinced that now they understand the topic, g has been debunked by an expert, and probably anyone who brings it up is either sadly ignorant or some sort of a racist/fascist/eugenicist.)

Edit: By the way, you probably know this, but the asian model minority effects apply to african immigrants too. Just thought I'd mention that because you mention asian model minorities influencing you on your link.

I knew that African immigrants had high IQs but as far as I had read that was a selection effect; I hadn't heard anything about their subsequent success or failure (either in the rest of their lives or of their descendants). It would be interesting if they did as well as East Asian immigrants.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-14T04:16:22.461Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not insulted because I do see that the concern is coming from a good place, but I don't think it's a good idea to let fear of embarrassment be a factor in my behavior. There is nothing embarrassing about having been wrong about a complex topic - If someone refutes me I can just retract my statements, and I would have learned something in the process, which would be a gain. If I was concerned about the social costs of being wrong, I'd never say anything...plus, being concerned about the social consts of being wrong tends to make a person unwilling to admit when it has happened, which is yet worse.

As for the second concern...that's a valid one. However, I wouldn't generalize too much from offhand comments I've made in an online forum on a thread discussing a completely tangential topic (PUA). On a forum, I feel relatively free to make uncited claims and to write things without putting too much thought into them - it's just a fun activity, and something I have to actively avoid sinking time into. If this thread was specifically about race and IQ, or if I was making a new post, I might have been more careful, but with the setting as it is I considered this a casual side conversation between us rather than a platform in which I'm responsible for people's learning. If I was writing with the purpose of informing someone (rather than having an entertaining discussion, as we are now) I would be much more scrupulous about what I write. Of course, you have no reason to believe that this is true, so you are still correct to caution me about misleading people.

I knew that African immigrants had high IQs but as far as I had read that was a selection effect;

It is due to a selection effect. But the same applies to any group of immigrants, so there is no reason to be particularly impressed by asian "model minorities" - they are "model" because they are immigrants. I think the general trend for descendants is that the second generation is the most highly educated, and then there is a steady downwards trend for all immigrant groups except European immigrants.

If you want to look at immigrants who have not undergone selection effects, look at refugees. Asian immigrants from Laos, Cambodia, etc... end up with an even worse socioeconomic lot than US-born African Americans.

This guy talks about stuff like this - http://www.asian-nation.org/immigrant-stats.shtml

comment by gwern · 2013-04-15T00:37:08.694Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is nothing embarrassing about having been wrong about a complex topic - If someone refutes me I can just retract my statements, and I would have learned something in the process, which would be a gain. If I was concerned about the social costs of being wrong, I'd never say anything...plus, being concerned about the social consts of being wrong tends to make a person unwilling to admit when it has happened, which is yet worse.

Right; there's issues of confirmation bias, justification bias, and so on. I'm also interested in the possible backfire effect in which weak contrary arguments 'backfire' as one then becomes even more convinced of one's position because one has knocked down the criticism (and what sort of comments would one get on inflammatory topics on one's blog? generally from uninformed people...)

But the same applies to any group of immigrants, so there is no reason to be particularly impressed by asian "model minorities" - they are "model" because they are immigrants.

I'm more impressed by their greater success in what is, as far as I know, later generations.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-13T16:34:52.056Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It has no practical ramifications for you,

Well, what about the choice of whom to have children with? :-)

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T16:43:16.219Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not really. The many positive correlations of IQ exist regardless of one's opinions on the exact causes of things like the black-white IQ gap, and those can justify the choice.

If it's heritable through non-genetic factors, like womb environment (or more unusual genetics like epigenetics), then you could still seek out an intelligent mate to have kids with under the logic that you'll then have more intelligent kids. Or if it was not heritable, you might do so anyway because you'll be more compatible with them, or they'll be more competent at raising kids, or they'll earn more in the long-run etc.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-13T16:51:41.155Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Or if it was not heritable, you might do so anyway because you'll be more compatible with them, or they'll be more competent at raising kids, or they'll earn more in the long-run etc.

Yes, but it would in principle be a less important factor than if it was heritable. (But the difference is likely so small as to be very unlikely to matter in practice, hence the smiley at the end of my comment.)

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T17:14:33.369Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but it would in principle be a less important factor than if it was heritable.

I'm not sure about that. We already observe the correlations and consequences of IQ. They need an explanation, but what needs an explanation is already known; a choice of explanation doesn't retroactively change the observations to be of a smaller or lesser magnitude, does it? (If Mercury is observed to be 1 degree off predicted by Newton, and we finally choose relativity's space warping as the explanation, we don't then go back and say 'we chose relativity therefore now we know the observations was actually 5 degrees off our predictions!' The fact remained the same, Mercury didn't move; it all adds up to normality.) We can say exactly that if your parents have IQ of X points the kid will average complicated-formula IQ points. If the causal factor runs through epigenetics rather than genetics, say, what does that actually change? Since we're not discussing an exotic intervention with tailored epigenetic viruses or trying out prototype artificial wombs which might affect the actual causal pathway, just picking a mate where whichever causal pathway it is, it is active.

(I spent yesterday watching PGM videos so I'm wondering how to formulate this as a Bayesian network and d-separation problem... Hm.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-13T18:07:01.433Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We can say exactly that if your parents have IQ of X points the kid will average complicated-formula IQ points.

Do we?

comment by gwern · 2013-04-14T17:59:12.660Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Pretty much. This falls out of the heritability research. One parent with IQ X, another with IQ Y, a known heritability of Z%, keep the environment constant, and some formulas later you have your probability distribution for the kid's IQ.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-14T19:33:30.559Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Okay -- in that case, I agree that if we already know the value of Z then why exactly it has that value isn't relevant.

comment by roland · 2013-04-11T18:49:25.075Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

PUA changes you permanently, and not in a way that everyone is comfortable with.

So does reading about evolutionary psychology. The same is true for certain history books.

comment by Xachariah · 2013-04-11T19:02:59.659Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

No doubt, and I wouldn't give up my knowledge of either one for the world.

Then again if I lived in a magical world, I'd probably be the guy to do half a dozen dark rituals as soon as I'm given a wand.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-07-24T12:42:24.797Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Everything you do changes who you are.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-07-25T08:18:22.650Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Corollary: Every decision you make is a decision about who you want to be.

comment by roland · 2013-07-25T05:44:43.108Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Added to my quotes file.

comment by zslastman · 2013-07-24T11:37:26.397Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're seriously going to just tease us and leave it at that? Which history books??

comment by wedrifid · 2013-04-11T04:22:32.585Z · score: 17 (21 votes) · LW · GW

It are usually women(correct me if I'm wrong) who object against PU and present a variety of reasons.

Oh come on. This is a ridiculously sensitive subject. That means it requires a lot of tact and even more carefulness. You aren't employing much of either. I could barely read past the first paragraphs because of the sloppy writing. This doesn't even make grammatical sense!

I also note that many males also object to PUA, citing many of the same slogans that females of similar social allegiance chant. This isn't a simple battle of the sexes, the signalling game has at least an extra layer of indirection established.

I generally encourage guys to study at least some PUA material. There are resources out there that can be used to add massive amounts of value to oneself and the people one interacts with. But I am opposed to any advocacy of PUA here that is not handled and presented at a level far above the standards required on most other subjects. Sloppy advocacy achieves nothing but creating more material for straw man construction by opponents.

comment by evand · 2013-04-11T04:41:11.710Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Strongly agreed.

I'm downvoting the post for poor writing and lack of citation for non-trivial, controversial, and centrally relevant claims.

(Also the fact that this topic seems highly unlikely to produce discussion of the sort I'd like to see more of, but I'd be willing to ignore that if the post seemed good enough otherwise and like it might have a significantly better than average chance.)

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-11T02:26:40.142Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe "Mystery" is different from what's in the forums - my first impression was from the forums. I can't generalize to everyone who uses the label PUA - it's possible that some sub-strains are decent.

Should we judge someone for being an asshole if it works for him?

Well, yes! Behaviors resulting from being an asshole are terminally bad. Let's take a step back - a set of ideas has led you to the conclusion that it is okay to be an asshole. Don't you think it is time to re-evaluate?

I'll make my point better, since we're doing a separate post. There is nothing wrong with the idea of optimizing attractiveness, the problem is the specific community of "PUA", which I'm assuming is well represented by the most popular forum, although I may be mistaken.

Check out the jargon on that forum.

AMOG— 1. noun [alpha male of the group or alpha male other guy]: a socially comfortable male who competes with a pickup artist for a woman or interferes with a pickup artist's game. Origin: 01d_Dog. 2. verb: to remove a potential male competitor—through physical, verbal, or psychological tactics—from a group of women. Also: outalpha. Origin: Tyler Durden.

I've seen that type of guy, who tries to subtly put me down in front of female friends - even though I've done nothing but extend friendship to him! If you are interested in my friends (and I'm honestly not trying to stop you or "competing"), why does that need to involve putting me down? Rather than passive-aggressively antagonizing me, shouldn't you be making friends with me so that you have a mutual acquaintance with the person you are interested in?

BF DESTROYER—noun [boyfriend destroyer]: a pattern, routine, or line a pickup artist uses with the intention of seducing a woman who has a boyfriend.

You might "succeed", if you call that succeeding....but it's obvious why you shouldn't rush people into decisions they might regret later.

BITCH SHIELD— noun: a woman's defensive response to deter unknown men who approach her. Though her reaction to an opening line may be rude, this does not necessarily mean the woman herself is rude, or even impossible to engage in a conversation.

In other words, bothering someone who doesn't want strangers to bother her right now.

A subculture's DNA is in its slang and jargon. Do you want these memes in your mind? Admittedly, there are some good things, like getting rid of

AA - Approach Anxiety: Fear of approaching a set or girl due to an already assumed rejection.

and I wholeheartedly approve of doing things like that to improve your attractiveness. But there is a lot of bad mixed in with the good, and it takes a discerning mind to separate them out. Overall it seems like a net loss.

comment by bogus · 2013-04-11T18:56:52.481Z · score: 8 (16 votes) · LW · GW

To be fair, this is mostly a problem with the jargon, which has mostly been chosen for effect. The jargon phrases actually give little or no indication of how these practices actually work in the field. They are far less nefarious than they appear at first glance:

AMOG ...

The preferred AMOG tactic for experienced PUAs is... you guessed it, to befriend the Other Guy since this helps you get an 'in' with the group! However, attempts at befriending are not always successful; sometimes the AMOG really is trying to block or compete with you. That's when something that could be described as "subtle status putdowns" might happen - but by that time, the situation has been antagonized already. Also, PUAs generally strive for effectiveness and do not like wasting effort on a bad "set" - but you can't eject without putting in some effort to show that you will stand up for yourself in a status contest.

BF DESTROYER

Here's how "BF destroyers" work: they are subtle ways of figuring out whether your "target" is reasonably happy in her relationship with her bf. If it turns out that she's not that happy, what's wrong with making an attempt at a relationship? As we often quote on this site: "That which can be destroyed by the truth should be." Or, if you like: "Now I am become Shiva, destroyer of worlds."

BITCH SHIELD

"Bitch shields" happen because women get approached over and over and over in thoroughly uninteresting and unappealing ways. ANY attempt at anything resembling PUA, however loosely, has to be keenly and acutely aware of this effect in order to avert it - mostly by trying to be more interesting and more appealing, and also making this clear upfront.

This is not to deny the problem of antagonizing language in the PUA community, which is a very real issue. But it's important to put this in perspective.

Edit: As of now, this comment has been downvoted to -3, for unclear reasons. My best guess for this is that the community broadly views discussion about pick-up arts (PUA) as unproductive or politically divisive, or more generally disapproves of it at some level. Nevertheless, it would be nice to have a proper explanation.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-11T21:57:45.941Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think the downvotes are just expressing disagreement - which is a bit unfortunate, since the entire point of this thread is to tackle the PUA / misogyny issues that have been circulating.

this is mostly a problem with the jargon, which has mostly been chosen for effect.

Maybe. Let's explore the non-jargon parts. This is first thing upon entering the forum:

How To Approach Any Woman With Zero Chance Of Rejection... This Works EVERY Time! How To Make Out With Any Woman You Want In 16 Minutes Or Less The Secret To Developing Emotional Addiction In Women (That Makes Them Loyal And Obedient)

So, all women are the same, you can pressure them to kiss you in <15min, and the goal is obedience? This looks like a scam preying upon the socially awkward. OK, maybe that's just the web admin, let's move on...

What's up in the pua lounge?

I can't help but feel too cynical now when it comes to relationships and women in general. After reading PUA material and from personal experience, i realise that if you treat a woman nice or show vulnerability then it will later stab you in the back, even with girls who have got their heads screwed on and come across as being generally compassionate.

Interesting...many people are expressing agreement. It sounds like the memeplex has actually damaged these folks.

"You're cherry picking"

Yes, I know. Look, I'm not saying every single person who does PUA is a misogynist, and I'm not saying that all PUA memes are bad. All I'm saying is that a large amount of it is bad, and there are certain extremely misguided ideas which are endemic in the community.

The preferred AMOG tactic for experienced PUAs is

Your essentially saying that the "real" PUA's aren't as bad as they seem on the internet, and I have no way of confirming or denying the truth of that statement. From where I'm standing, the website doesn't mention befriending.

I get it, there can be a good side. In fact, all communities almost always have a good side. Half truths can be refined into full truths. Bad ideas can be reinterpreted into good ideas. But this post and others like it come out acting like everything is fine with PUA, even though the post itself harbors harmful PUA memes. Many of the attitudes I've heard here today carry harmful memes.

Here's how "BF destroyers" work: they are subtle ways of figuring out whether your "target" is reasonably happy in her relationship with her bf. If it turns out that she's not that happy, what's wrong with making an attempt at a relationship?

You mean that you inform her that you are interested, wait for her to think it over and inform her boyfriend about the breakup, and then start a relationship? I guess I could get behind that...

First google search result - nope...it doesn't seem like that's how it usually goes...

Point being - yes, you can flip all of these around and turn them good. But the PUA community has to actually do that - as it stands right now, they haven't.

comment by bogus · 2013-04-12T19:14:39.040Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

So, all women are the same, you can pressure them to kiss you in <15min, and the goal is obedience? This looks like a scam preying upon the socially awkward. OK, maybe that's just the web admin, let's move on...

That's an ad banner. I don't think it makes much sense to treat these claims as coming from the seduction community, and most PUAs would not endorse them at all. What's actually striking here is that PUA is effective enough (especially for socially awkward users who manage to acquire some focused social skills) that a banner ad can make such outlandish claims and not look wildly out of place on the site.

Interesting...many people are expressing agreement.

Note that the forum poster is citing personal experience along with PUA theory as a reason for his cynicism. And there is a lot of similarly-flavored cynicism which does not reference PUA memes at all, and has an even bitterer outlook on women and relationships. Look into the so-called "Nice Guy" phenomenon (which PUAs strongly object to, by the way), the "Men's Rights" meme cluster and whatnot. PUA is a marked improvement on these meme clusters, while still being epistemically consistent with what we know about human social behavior.

The root problem here is that 'cynicism' is a problematic concept, since it conflates (1) epistemic beliefs and (2) markedly negative, scornful and complaining attitudes. It's not clear at all that most aspiring PUAs share such bad attitudes, and PUA 'inner game' practices would tend to avoid and discourage them, if only because they're markedly unattractive.

You mean that you inform her that you are interested, wait for her to think it over and inform her boyfriend about the breakup, and then start a relationship? I guess I could get behind that...

No, it's a bit messier than that. Anyway, it's a rare occurrence when one is actually able to "take over" from an existing relationship: the most common outcome is simply ejecting from the approach. Many posters make this abundantly clear in the linked forum thread. (In fact, I couldn't even find anything clearly wrong with that thread, although I only looked at the first page.)

A better reason for being familiar with "BF destroyers" is that, as it turns out, women sometimes blurt out the "boyfriend" word as a kind of silly "test" or hoop to jump through, regardless of their actual relationship status.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-11T08:43:18.526Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

First question - do the tactics work?

If no, that's a decent thing to point out to deter men from these tactics.

If the tactics work, men will use them. If you want to call winning (instrumental rationality) being an asshole, that's your prerogative. To a large extent, the fact that such tactics win offends my sensibilities, I find the tactics annoying, and I would encourage those in a position to change the outcome to make those tactics lose.

But as long as those choosing the winners choose "assholes", I find it hard to hold "being an asshole" against someone.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-04-11T15:51:49.818Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

First question - do the tactics work?

An at-least-equally-first question is whether the tactics leave everyone involved worse off (on net, aggregated over agents).

But as long as those choosing the winners choose "assholes", I find it hard to hold "being an asshole" against someone.

That a tactic benefits the user in the immediate interaction isn't the only relevant factor for an agent in a social network.

More specifically in this case: if agent A taking action X leaves my community worse off, then it's reasonable for me to object to A doing X, even if X leaves A better off. It's also reasonable for me to act so as to reduce the net benefit to A (e.g., by applying social sanctions), even if I'm not directly affected by X.

This is as true where X is a mating tactic as when X is a financial investment strategy or a waste disposal technique.

So for my part, I don't find it hard to hold "being an asshole" against people, even when "being an asshole" benefits them, even if I'm not directly affected by their "being an asshole". Indeed, I often consider holding "being an asshole" against people to be an important act of social hygiene, and resent members of my community who refuse to perform it themselves.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-11T22:22:58.121Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

An at-least-equally-first question is whether the tactics leave everyone involved worse off (on net, aggregated over agents).

Worse off, according to who?

I'll start with the assumption that the methods work to get and hold a woman's interest, otherwise there's nothing to discuss. If the methods only repel women, no one has an interest in them.

If women have a marginal preference for a man when he engages in PUA behavior over not, then according to them, the behaviors are better. Preference is revealed by choice, not rationalization and ideological piffle. And many women don't agree with the ideological piffle, and laugh it off with a snort.

Works the for woman and the man involved, doesn't work for you. Since it's their lives, and they're most affected by the choice, I calculate an overwhelming net gain.

Indeed, I often consider holding "being an asshole" against people to be an important act of social hygiene, and resent members of my community who refuse to perform it themselves.

A great many people resent others who don't share and enforce their values. That's one of the defining characteristics of the moral outlook.

Me, I resent buttinskis who harangue and berate others "for their own good", and presume that everyone shares their values, as if they're commandments from the Universe. We all have our crosses to bear.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-04-12T14:08:24.435Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Works the for woman and the man involved, doesn't work for you. Since it's their lives, and they're most affected by the choice, I calculate an overwhelming net gain.

In all cases where the knock-on affects of their interaction don't significantly affect anyone else, I agree completely. The same thing is true of people tossing their trash in the street, making investment strategies, grazing their sheep in the commons, etc.

In cases where the knock-on affects of their interaction significantly affect others, that's less clear. That's why I endorse starting from the question of whether the tactics leave everyone involved worse off. Sometimes other people matter.

A great many people resent others who don't share and enforce their values. That's one of the defining characteristics of the moral outlook.

Sure, that's true.

Also, a great many people resent others whose actions have negative externalities, and seek to minimize those actions, and resent others who don't seek to minimize those actions. That's one of the defining characteristics of social behavior.

Me, I resent buttinskis who harangue and berate others "for their own good", and presume that everyone shares their values, as if they're commandments from the Universe.

Is the implication that that noun phrase describes me intentional or accidental?
Either way, it's false.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-12T21:32:57.181Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Everything affects everything else. Butterfly wings, and all that.

Actions don't come with minus signs on them. A person may evaluate an action according to his values as negative. Negative, relative to what? Simply translating all values by a constant can change whether a particular value is negative or not. And if negative is relative to a maximal, as defined by the person, then everything deviating from his preferences is a negative externality. If he is committed to punishing those who deviate from his maximal, and punishing those who fail to likewise punish, he's committed to an endless war until he's converted the entire world to his ideology. Punish, punish, punish, until it's One Mind, One Will.

I find such people a social menace.

That's the implication of a punishing utilitarian, which you seemed to be from your earlier comments. Your comment below seems to imply otherwise.

Now you're ok with the PUA and his lady friend living their PUA lives, as long as they don't significantly affect other people's lives. So am I. Woman who aren't attracted to men who employ PUA tactics won't be. I presume the PUA folks at least attempt to avoid such women, and if they don't they should. Sounds about the best we can do - there is some necessary friction to the discovery process of who matches who.

But it's inconvenient for you as a third party to the mating dance? Maybe so. But most people put quite a high priority on finding a suitable mate. Do you find your inconvenience relatively "significant"?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-04-12T22:38:32.449Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Everything affects everything else. Butterfly wings, and all that.

I'm not sure I understood this.
You seem to be suggesting that the whole enterprise of taking action based on expected-value calculations is to be rejected because of the existence of chaotic uncertainty. If so, I simply disagree. Sure, butterfly wings might cause hurricanes, but that's not the way to bet.
If I've misunderstood you, I apologize. If you are willing to try to express yourself differently, I'll try again to understand

Actions don't come with minus signs on them.

That's true.

A person may evaluate an action according to his values as negative. Negative, relative to what? Simply translating all values by a constant can change whether a particular value is negative or not. And if negative is relative to a maximal, as defined by the person, then everything deviating from his preferences is a negative externality.

Here, again, I'm not sure I follow you.

I perform an expected value calculation on an act, and conclude the expected value of the act is negative based on my values. Another way of saying that is that the expected value of the world after that act is performed is lower than its expected value if that act is not performed.

If he is committed to punishing those who deviate from his maximal, and punishing those who fail to likewise punish, he's committed to an endless war until he's converted the entire world to his ideology

Sure. Punishing everyone who behaves imperfectly until I've converted the entire world is a really bad strategy; it just doesn't work, as has been demonstrated many many times. 100% agreed.

I find such people a social menace.

Sure, I agree.

That's the implication of a punishing utilitarian, which you seemed to be from your earlier comments.

Did I? My goodness. Well, I'm glad we cleared up that misunderstanding.

Now you're ok with the PUA and his lady friend living their PUA lives, as long as they don't significantly affect other people's lives.

Not only that, they can even significantly affect other people's lives, as long as they don't leave everyone involved worse off (on net, aggregated over agents). Which is why I started out by talking about checking for that condition in the first place. Which is why I disagree with the implications of "Now" in your sentence.

So am I.

Great. glad we agree.

But it's inconvenient for you as a third party to the mating dance? Maybe so. But most people put quite a high priority on finding a suitable mate. Do you find your inconvenience relatively "significant"?

Nope, not for any ordinary understanding of "inconvenient.". And, consequently, in cases where the expected value of the "mating dance" is that two people find suitable mates and I am inconvenienced, the result of asking whether the "mating dance" leaves everyone involved worse off (on net, aggregated over agents) is that I conclude that no, it doesn't.

I infer from your comments thus far that you've decided that I'm some kind of awful moralist buttinski who will only ever answer the question by concluding that yes, it does, and therefore all "mating dances" must be stopped, or at least pearl-clutched over. So, just to be very clear about this:

  • As I've said several times now, if the "mating dance" (or actions more generally) don't leave everyone involved worse off (on net, aggregated over agents), I don't have a problem with it.
  • If it does leave everyone involved worse off, I do have a problem with it.
  • If I observe a "mating dance" (or other action) that I expect to leave everyone involved worse off, I endorse acting so as to prevent that harm if I can do so.
  • If I observe a "mating dance" (or other action) that I expect not to leave everyone involved worse off, I endorse leaving it untouched.
  • If someone else observes a "mating dance" (or other action) that they expect to leave everyone involved worse off, I endorse them acting so as to prevent that harm if they can do so.
  • If they observe a "mating dance" (or other action) that they expect not to leave everyone involved worse off, I endorse them leaving it untouched.

If you object to any of the above, I'd like to hear your suggested alternative action, and whether you endorse that alternative for scenarios other than the "mating dance." For example, if I see someone engaging in the "driving in traffic dance" or the "putting their wallet in the washing machine dance" in ways I expect to leave everyone involved worse off, do you reach the same conclusions?

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-15T00:30:50.735Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not only that, they can even significantly affect other people's lives, as long as they don't leave everyone involved worse off (on net, aggregated over agents).

I think we can deal with the "net" business quickly.

Jack and Joe both desire Jill. Jack perceives that he can win Jill's affections in competition with Joe, Jill would be just as happy with Joe, but that Joe would be happier than himself (Jack) with Jill.

The "net maximum" would be Jill with Joe. Do you expect Jack to bow out and leave Jill to Jack? Will you punish him if he doesn't? Will you punish those who fail to punish Jack?

It seems from what you have said that your answers to this would be yes, yes, yes, and you're back to being a punishing utilitarian.

My answers are no, no, no. I don't expect Jack to sacrifice his happiness for Joe.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-04-15T03:17:26.005Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you positing a non-iterated affection competition, here? One-shot, there's one girl, two guys, end of story, no further interactions, nothing else of value to be exchanged?

If so, then I certainly agree with you. In such a constrained universe, social behavior is useless.

If not, then depending on the details of what further interactions are likely, a strategy with a higher expected value for Jack probably exists which would involve Jack bowing out.

Do I expect Jack to adopt that strategy spontaneously? I dunno, it depends on how smart Jack is, and what information he has. Most humans won't, though, so I don't expect it of Jack either. I expect humans to defect on the prisoner's dilemma, also.

Will I punish him if he doesn't? Will I punish those who fail to punish Jack? Almost undoubtedly not. Ordinarily, the opportunity costs Jack incurs by pursuing a suboptimal strategy will be far outweighed by the costs I incur by a strategy of punishing people for being suboptimal. You could probably construct a scenario in which I would, though I expect it would be contrived.

I don't expect Jack to sacrifice his happiness for Joe.

No, neither do I.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-04-12T13:59:44.918Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Worse off, according to who?

In practice, worse off according to the person answering the question, as is typically true when we ask questions of people, including ourselves.

But, OK, if it's important for some reason to be more rigorous here: consider the set A of agents (A1..An) who have perspectives I consider salient according to which people can be worse or better off due to the use of a particular tactic.

The expected net value difference, aggregated over the entire system, of using that tactic will be calculated differently by each agent in A, for many different reasons.
There are three possibilities, though:
(1) All agents in A agree that the expected net value difference is positive.
(2) All agents in A agree that the expected net value difference is negative.
(3) Agents in A disagree about the sign of the expected net value difference.

I agree that whether a tactic leaves everyone involved worse off is tricky to determine in case 3, and that more generally sometimes the answer to "do the tactics leave everyone involved worse off?" is "I don't know; it's complicated," especially if my set A has a lot of agents in it.

The existence of cases 1 and 2 can still make it worthwhile to ask the question.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-12T21:57:15.206Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The existence of cases 1 and 2 can still make it worthwhile to ask the question.

Given that this is a matter of competition for a scarce resource - the time, attention, and affection of a person - 1 and 2 are vanishingly small cases when dealing with generally desirable mates.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-04-12T23:04:12.335Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(blink)

The only way this seems plausible to me is if you're interpreting "expected net value difference, aggregated over the entire system, of using that tactic, as evaluated by agent A" as being roughly equivalent to "expected net value difference to A of that tactic being used, as evaluated by A."

That is, if you are assuming an evaluation something like "There's three of us, we all want the same girl, this tactic works, so either of you two losers using this tactic is BAD, but me using this tactic is GOOD." Which, I agree, if everyone's evaluating it that way, 1 and 2 are highly unlikely.

OTOH, if everyone is actually calculating the expected net value difference, aggregated over the entire system, of using that tactic, I would expect a very different result in most cases.... something more like "There's three of us, we all want the same girl, this tactic works, so one of us using this tactic is better than none of us doing so, and probably better than all three of us wasting resources using it at once if we can agree on some other way of deciding which of us gets to use it, like drawing straws, or letting Sam have her because past experience shows he's better at this than we are and will win anyway, or some other method."

But I would agree that most people don't actually do that in practice.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-11T09:36:31.279Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I honestly don't know whether or not they (as in AMOG, BF Destroyer, Bitch Shield, and other "immoral" tactics) work in general. I don't think they do...at least, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't work on the type of woman I'd be interested in, so they are useless to me anyway regardless of moral qualms. Perhaps, for someone with a different set of goals working with a different demographic, these things would work.

If I had to guess, I bet that a lot of the more morally acceptable tactics the PUA community teaches - appropriate eye contact, body language, "kino" (non-creepy use of touch), playful banter - do increase attractiveness, and that the immoral ones don't, but when you mix everything together you net a total gain in attractiveness.

But as long as those choosing the winners choose "assholes", I find it hard to hold "being an asshole" against someone.

I don't find it hard at all. Corrupt politicians and businessmen "win" all the time, but I find that it is shockingly easy to dislike them. But it doesn't really matter whether or not one "holds things" against anyone...all that matters in the end is the decision about whether the behavior should be encouraged, or not.

Also, it's a little odd to say that women are choosing the "winners". It doesn't have to be a competition, and being "chosen" by a women isn't necessarily "winning"...or at least, it certainly isn't one of my terminal goals.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-11T09:49:16.048Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure they wouldn't work on the type of woman I'd be interested in

I used to think things like that too. The older I got, the less I believed it. We grow up being taught certain idealizations about how people should be. They aren't like that.

Corrupt politicians and businessmen "win" all the time, but I still don't like them...

I don't like them either. But I blame the people who vote for them. They're the true problem.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-11T17:47:08.827Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I used to think things like that too. The older I got, the less I believed it. We grow up being taught certain idealizations about how people should be. They aren't like that.

If you are saying you know better because you are older, I can't argue with that because I am young. But as long as we are making arguments from experience, I've got to say, I think my girlfriend is like that. At the very least, I find that some of the population fit some of the idealizations of how people should be - although very few people fit them all.

And as long as we are speaking from experience, plenty of women have been attracted to me, despite my never pulling any of the subset of PUA behaviors which I've described as immoral. I'm not saying that being "nice" is all it takes - a lot of it is about being attractive, tall, well dressed and socially adept - and two of those things are trainable. I am just saying that being "bad" is not necessary...and I'd maintain that in the long run it's not even helpful, since the type of people you attract is partly a reflection of your behavior.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-11T22:07:07.043Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

plenty of women have been attracted to me, despite my never pulling any of the subset of PUA behaviors which I've described as immoral.

But that's not really the test. The controlled test would be whether you had more success or less using the PUA behaviors or not.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-12T09:54:00.073Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If you are saying you know better because you are older,

I think I know better than I used to. Generalization increasingly made based on observations that cut across my natural preferences - not wishful thinking.

I think my girlfriend is like that.

Your girlfriend prefers a diffident man over a confident man? It's always possible. We don't all come from the same cookie cutter.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-12T16:33:17.714Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Your girlfriend prefers a diffident man over a confident man?

No, that's really not what I said.

You said

To a large extent, the fact that such tactics win offends my sensibilities, I find the tactics annoying, and I would encourage those in a position to change the outcome to make those tactics lose.

I said in response

I'm pretty sure they [aforementioned PUA tactics] wouldn't work on the type of woman I'd be interested in

You said in response

We grow up being taught certain idealizations about how people should be. They aren't like that.

and that's why I said

my girlfriend isn't like that

"Like that" here means: not attracted to people who display "confidence" via aforementioned PUA tactics - by putting others down (AMOG), being overly persistent after being told off (bitch shield destroying) and pressuring people to make decisions they might regret later (bf destroyer).

So when I say my girlfriend is "like that" I mean she is someone who is not attracted to irresponsible, morally questionable displays of dominance which involve being presumptuous and putting other people down. As in, the tactics which you said would offend your sensibilities.

It is important to disassociate confidence (a positive trait) from a cluster of tactics which you just said offend your sensibilities (negative traits). Why did you just now treat "confidence" and "sensibility offending tactics" as synonymous? If the two are conflated in your mind and your model of confidence necessarily includes sensibility offending behavior, you're going to end up either instinctively avoiding confidence or instinctively engaging in behavior that offends yourself...

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-12T21:10:21.936Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I was discussing the basic premise that women prefer confident, dominating men. If they're correct on the premise, then it's just an argument over what techniques are effective to counterfeit that signal, if any.

You say the PUA tactics don't work on your girlfriend. Maybe. I'd note that even if someone says they don't like a particular tactic, that doesn't mean that the tactic didn't have the desired effect - "I really hate it when my confident, dominant man does X". Yeah. But would you find him confident and dominant if he didn't? Would he be "your man" if he didn't?

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-13T04:35:50.815Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think I've misrepresented my position

women prefer confident, dominating men

I agree, that's the trend. More the confident than the dominating though.

an argument over what techniques are effective to counterfeit that signal, if any.

Agreed on that too.

Here are signals which work, and I like- smiling, eye contact, casual touch, joking, interesting conversation...

Here are signals which work, and I don't like that they work, but I do not morally object - demonstrating that other women are interested, being well dressed, displaying wealth, being in a position of authority....

These are signals which I morally object to, and I also express skepticism as to whether you get good results in the long run if you use these: subtle insults targeting insecurities (neg), antagonistic stance to other males (amog), ignoring "leave me alone" cues (bitch shield breaking), pressurizing in the face of significant resistance (bf destroyer and others)...

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-13T05:47:49.992Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

More the confident than the dominating though.

More universally, but dominating is probably more effective when it does work. And actual dominance over others - demonstrable power - is a huge plus.

Here are signals which work, and I don't like that they work, but I do not morally object - demonstrating that other women are interested, being well dressed, displaying wealth, being in a position of authority....

I've been getting over the don't like it part. Women are what they are.

[1] subtle insults targeting insecurities (neg), [2] antagonistic stance to other males (amog), [3] ignoring "leave me alone" cues (bitch shield breaking), [4] pressurizing in the face of significant resistance (bf destroyer and others)...

[1] Didn't people used to just call this banter? Challenging back and forth remarks? Is Cary Grant "negging" in His Girl Friday? It doesn't work universally - I find some women are just annoyed by banter and refuse to hit the ball back - but it's a lot of fun when it does.

[2] Signals dominance. If it succeeds in driving other male off, so much the better. I'd wonder if the better strategy is alliance with the resident alpha male if he is on the hunt.

[3] Do the game theory. Bitch shield breaking more likely for desirable outcome for the PUA than scurrying off. You can't win if you don't play. They seem big on making it a numbers game.

[4] Significant resistance would imply to me at least a relatively bad hand. Play the bad hand, or fold. Similar to [3] in taking advantage of all opportunities.

For 2,3,4, there must be some point at which the opportunity costs make them a bad bet, though it seems something of a game of discovery where finding what works is a terminal good for them. But the strategies do seem to improve the odds of less than optimal situations to me. They don't always work, but they do seem like good plays of bad hands.

comment by Xachariah · 2013-04-11T18:58:01.542Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There is almost zero doubt that those strategies work, and work extremely well. Every successful PUA I know keeps detailed logs of their interactions (or kept them at one point), and measures the effectiveness of their pitches.

Many guys do it just like telemarketing. They throw out their routines and track how many hang ups (well, walk aways) they get, how many conversions they get (and to what extent), and how each line impacts their numbers relative to the demographic they're approaching. Other guys will adopt a tactic and use nothing-but-it for a week. You get very good data on it's strengths and weaknesses. Again, good/bad tactics are discerned quickly and everything is very grounded in reality.

Your talk about 'immoral' and 'acceptable' tactics generally mirrors something called 'inner game' and 'outer game' in the PUA community. Inner game is general 'being more attractive' advice and is always applied. Outer game is a toolbox of very specific tools that you pull out for a purpose. Because most outer game is very specific, it is incredibly easy to get succes rates, and as a result these strategies have the most thorough numbers on success rates. I assure you, they are very effective.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-04-11T10:55:28.637Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I honestly don't know whether or not they (as in AMOG, BF Destroyer, Bitch Shield, and other "immoral" tactics) work in general. I don't think they do...at least, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't work on the type of woman I'd be interested in, so they are useless to me anyway regardless of moral qualms.

Since one of those is actually a tactic used by females and one is tautologically a male tactic (the other being technically sex neutral but practically male) I'm also pretty sure that you couldn't use at least one of them, regardless of your moral qualms and sexual identity.

"Bitch Shield" is a tactic for quickly filtering potential mates via subjecting them to stimulus that quickly discourages socially weak candidates. One could call it an immoral tactic, but there doesn't seem like much point to such labeling.

Much of dealing with "AMOGs" is also about influences on other males and on the social group. Unless "the type of woman you'd be interested in" outright rejects any male she sees competing socially with other males then "wouldn't work on her" just doesn't make any sense.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-11T17:31:49.837Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"Bitch Shield" is a tactic for quickly filtering potential mates via subjecting them to stimulus that quickly discourages socially weak candidates. One could call it an immoral tactic, but there doesn't seem like much point to such labeling.

I was referring to the idea that one should try to "get past" the "bitch shield" as immoral, because it is essentially an excuse for bothering people who don't want to be bothered. I wasn't referring to the "bitch shield" itself.

"the type of woman you'd be interested in" outright rejects any male she sees competing socially with other males then "wouldn't work on her" just doesn't make any sense

Why not? It's really not fun to be around people who view social interactions as a competition.

Also, "competing socially" really softens the antagonistic behavior advocated in the forum.

to remove a potential male competitor—through physical, verbal, or psychological tactics

What, you wouldn't reject someone who tried to pull that?

comment by Xachariah · 2013-04-11T17:25:29.862Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Bitch shields are employed by both genders. It's just a term that is used because +90% of PUAs are straight men looking for women. Gay guys deploy them against other guys (and girls), and straight guys deploy them against women they aren't interested in.

The terminology is decidedly female, but it's an equal opportunity tactic. Although admittedly, used far more often by women.

Ditto with AMOG'ing. I've seen alpha females of combined groups go at it like it's Game of Thrones. It's the same methods and goals, just with a gender swap.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-04-11T17:37:10.468Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is true that many social dominance strategies relating to courtship are either applicable for either sex or have loosely comparable cross-sex analogues.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-11T03:15:14.254Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

So those were the objections against PUA. Now the post itself...

A big part of the power a woman has over her mate is the threat of withdrawing from him sexually and/or emotionally....I still believe that women in general tend to have more power but PU shifted this towards men. W will have to consider "If I withdraw he can find another woman in two weeks.", she clearly has lost bargaining power. P knows it too and will weigh if it is worth the hassle to remain in the relationship if he can find another woman very quickly. P has more power for being a PUA than he would have if he weren't.

This is called an unhealthy relationship. Using the threat of leaving a relationship as a bargaining chip, to blackmail people, is emotional abuse. It's far better to be alone than to have a relationship like this, in my opinion.

But back to the premise. If it's all about supply and demand and power equilibrium, wouldn't men object to fashion and beauty products by the same logic? Wouldn't women object to men working out?

Good looking women will have no problem attracting lots of interested males. Usually women do the choosing, while males compete for the attention.

Warning: Anecdotal evidence - "Easier for women" only applies to casual sex. It is more or less equally hard for both genders to enter a long term relationship, and varies from social circle to circle as a function of gender ratio.

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-04-11T04:33:33.095Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is called an unhealthy relationship. Using the threat of leaving a relationship as a bargaining chip, to blackmail people, is emotional abuse. It's far better to be alone than to have a relationship like this, in my opinion.

It certainly can be, particularly when when one partner is dependent on the other for more than physical and emotional rapport (ex. finances, living space, etc.) But a person's willingness to remain in a relationship with someone else certainly depends on that person's behavior. If whether it's worthwhile for a person to remain with a particular partner hinges upon the partner's willingness to enact a certain behavior, is it really never acceptable for the person to offer their partner that information and give them the choice of whether to enact the behavior or have the relationship end?

Sticking with a relationship with which one is unhappy out of refusal to hurt one's partner by leaving is also an unhealthy relationship.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-11T09:22:46.077Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

is it really never acceptable for the person to offer their partner that information and give them the choice of whether to enact the behavior or have the relationship end?

That's an edge case, but I admit I had not considered it.

You might be right. I'm going to go think about that for a while.

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-04-11T02:55:17.947Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

It are usually women(correct me if I'm wrong) who object against PU and present a variety of reasons. As often when it concerns humans the presented reasons are rationalizations and the real causes of the antagonism is some deeper feeling that originates for entirely different reasons than the ones presented. I suspect this is also the case with PU. For the moment I will ignore the presented reasons some of which I will address later and instead focus on what I think is the real underlying cause.

This makes me feel very tempted to downvote before I've even had a chance to read the rest of the rest of the post. Please, introduce the presented objections to start with. This will help readers assess how fair your extrapolations of the real underlying cause are. To do otherwise will leave you looking dismissive of their position, and you cannot take it for granted that your audience will accept that such a level of dismissiveness is warranted.

comment by roland · 2013-04-11T03:38:58.366Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Please, introduce the presented objections to start with.

There are countless of them, I chose only a few examples later on.

To do otherwise will leave you looking dismissive of their position, and you cannot take it for granted that your audience will accept that such a level of dismissiveness is warranted.

Are you reading a tone into my post that is not actually there? I didn't want to sound dismissive, my whole point is that there is a real reason for not liking PU and this is the most important one, therefore I present it at the beginning. Feel free to skip this part and read the rest first.

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-04-11T04:12:16.295Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I have read the rest of the post, but while I accept that it's a good-faith attempt to explain the reason many people have distaste for the PUA movement, I think it comes off as rather presumptuous to skip what other people have said about their reasons for having poor regard for the movement when you're asserting that the real reason is something else.

I'm also not convinced that what the post describes is indeed for most objectors the primary reason for not liking PUA.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-11T02:54:50.932Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I have opinions on PUA that are positive (I see nothing wrong with it, except that it is correllated with other problems), but whenever I look at these discussions and try to comment, I notice that my comments are probably less rational than usual, and wouldn't really solve anything, because no one else would be convinced by argument anyways (being a political topic), so I don't comment.

I thought you ought to know that there may be other people like me who are reasonable and supportive of PUA, but avoid these discussions.

See also, this smbc

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-04-11T02:59:44.016Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I see nothing wrong with it, except that it is correllated with other problems

Well, I suppose that's my position too. It's not that improving attractiveness is intrinsically bad...I'm just not sure I like the larger community and the methods they suggest.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-12T22:47:27.303Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Same here, except that sometimes I do comment, and often end up regretting that. (And I wish I could upvote your comment twice, one for the first two paragraphs and one for the SMBC link.)

comment by Kindly · 2013-04-11T03:01:58.339Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It usually involves great effort for a man to find another woman, this was especially true in past times when people lived in small villages with very few unmarried attractive women. A woman on the other hand will not have much problems finding another male if she is good looking.

You're not pointing out a symmetric situation here. You're saying "Most men find it hard to attract good-looking women. However, good-looking women find it easy to attract men." That is quite likely true; however, I suspect that the reverse is also true: "Most women find it hard to attract good-looking men. However, good-looking men find it easy to attract women."

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-04-11T03:26:48.151Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're right when you say that roland isn't pointing out a symmetrical situation, but I also don't think it's quite accurate to say that good-looking men will find it easy to attract women, to the same extent that good looking women find it easy to attract men. Since men are more often expected to be the initiator in mating/dating contact, a good looking man who does not initiate or initiates ineptly will have less success than a good looking woman who does not attempt to or is inept at initiating.

comment by Kindly · 2013-04-11T03:32:57.345Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that there are other factors which break symmetry. Another potential factor is one I am well familiar with: in certain environments (such as math graduate school) there are a lot more men than women, so it is harder for a man to find women sharing the same interests than vice versa.

(This does not, incidentally, cause any of the men involved to lower their standards appreciably: the socially awkward and/or unattractive women are still single.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-12T23:26:13.776Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. On the other hand, a greater fraction of women than of men are good-looking. (See this.)

comment by Kindly · 2013-04-13T01:49:15.703Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Being good-looking is an absolute thing? I always assumed it meant something like "top 20%".

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-13T09:00:49.430Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, it is the example of two-place word EY used, but I do think that there's a non-totally-arbitrary way to normalize it that makes it make sense to compare Sexiness(Admirer1, Entity1) with Sexiness(Admirer2, Entity2) even when Admirer1 != Admirer2. Think about how many straight men would be motivated to pursue the 70th-percentile straight woman, and how many straight women would be motivated to pursue the 70th-percentile straight man, for any given value of “motivated”.

Even by asking Admirer1 and Admirer2 to rate Entity1 and Entity2's attractiveness respectively on a 0-to-5 scale you get the results mentioned in the article I've edited my comment to link to.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-04-14T01:53:40.401Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would argue your statement in the grandparent was misleading since it made it seem like this was a property of the Entities and not the Admirers.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-14T08:30:41.296Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is “gold is expensive” a property of gold, or of the market? If the latter, is “gold is expensive” misleading because it sounds like the former?

comment by Kindly · 2013-04-17T15:09:26.751Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That is actually a popular way to be confused about economics: thinking "gold is expensive" is a property of gold.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-04-13T00:03:16.922Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(You should probably link the OkCupid study, or whatever you're using as the basis of this statement, which otherwise comes off as... contentious, to those who aren't familiar with the research.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-13T09:02:53.280Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's not the only piece of evidence I was thinking about, but it's the only one that is neither just anecdotal nor likely to completely mind-kill the discussion, so... Edited it in.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-04-11T06:11:03.947Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

You're saying "Most men find it hard to attract good-looking women. However, good-looking women find it easy to attract men." That is quite likely true; however, I suspect that the reverse is also true: "Most women find it hard to attract good-looking men. However, good-looking men find it easy to attract women."

This is still not quite right since the most important think men look for in women is looks, whereas the most important thing women look for in men is status. Then said, women do find it hard to attract high status men.

comment by V_V · 2013-04-12T16:13:43.310Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's seems to be an oversimplification: Both genders consider status more important than looks for long-term relationships and looks more important than status for casual intercourse. Heterosexual men consider looks relatively more important than heterosexual women do.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-04-11T04:30:47.291Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

PUA and Last Minute Resistance: I have no idea why PUA gets its bad reputation from negging when something like this was easy to find "Distract her thoughts with banter: It’s very simple to distract her logical mind… just don’t answer questions, deflect them. If she says “Where do you live” say “Oh, it’s like 5 minutes away”. Keep the conversation flowing and she will be fine."

This one has an explicit "no means no", but a strong recommendation to distract her from anything short of an emphatic no.

This one is interesting-- it puts seduction in the category of salesmanship, and has some clue about why being manipulated isn't fun.

I recommend Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser to give some idea of the range of thought and technique in the PUA communities. Chapter 3 covers PUA and Last Minute Resistance, and is an excellent description of how to not pressure people into behavior they don't want. Key points: withdrawing from connection counts as pressure. If you respect the person and they need time to process what's going on, give them that time.

comment by lyghtcrye · 2013-04-11T08:41:49.635Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yet if it is about "10 good ways to prepare for the job interview" I usually don't read this kind of objections. On the contrary it is assumed that when going for an interview candidates will dress as well as they can, have polished their CVs and often waded through lists of common questions/problems and their solutions(speaking as a computer programmer here). Not doing so would be considered sloppy. It is rare to hear: "People, just go to the interview and present yourself as you are, if the company likes you it will take you."

While most of this post seems weakly designed and poorly edited (I will assume due purely to excessive haste), this statement brings up a point worth discussing. In truth, misrepresenting oneself in a job interview is a poor choice for one who desires stable and fruitful employment. Certainly one should strive to display their positive qualities while minimizing their negative qualities, but such a tactic is certainly not deceitful, as it is assumed by your interviewer that you will be performing such an optimization of your facade and will adjust their expectations accordingly. Likewise I believe that a critical difference between the "PUA" culture that is being discussed here and the central essence of optimizing one's ability to attract a mate is in the level of misrepresentation applied to an altered goal set.

A person not interested in keeping a job for any significant duration would have no motivation to be honest during an interview, as actually being effective is no longer a concern. A person attempting to attract a mate with no intention of producing offspring or maintaining a relationship that includes emotional investment is also lacking the motivation for honesty. One need not be in any way sexist for such a duplicitous mode of operation to be effective, it is merely the circumstance that our current culture expects male initiation of courtship rituals toward females. Refining the technique of initiating and succeeding in such social interactions is in and of itself a neutral goal, like any tool or technique, but when applying such an "art", there can certainly exist distasteful methods. The difference between a shrewd businessman and a con-man often lies primarily in the level of respect for the other member of their transactions, and the same can be said of this mating technique.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-04-11T04:40:14.191Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It are usually women(correct me if I'm wrong) who object against PU

I'm not sure how one would correct you in any useful statistical way, but as purely anecdotal matter, there are a lot of men who object to PU and PUAs. I'm an example. The reasons for those objections have been mainly already outlined by others in this thread.

comment by crazy88 · 2013-04-11T02:24:17.749Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Roland,

I replied to you in the other thread and I'd be interested to know what you think about my comment (I'm not really making the sort of claim you dismiss in this post so I'm curious as to whether you agree with what I'm saying or whether my comments are problematic for other reasons). Comments quoted below for ease of access:

If the sole determining factor of whether an interaction with a women is desirable is whether they end up attracted to you then, yes, even the most extreme sort of pick up artistry would be unproblematic.

However, if you think that there are other factors that determine whether such an interaction is desirable (such as whether the woman is treated with respect, is not made to feel unpleasant etc) then certain sorts of pick up artistry are extremely distasteful.

For example, let's hypothetically imagine that women are more attracted to people who make them feel insecure (I take no position on the accuracy of this claim). Sure, it would just be "understanding how women work and adjusting your behaviour to be more attractive to them" if you deliberately made them feel insecure. And sure, this would be no problem if being attractive was the sole determining factor of whether the interaction was desirable. However, if you think women deserve to be treated with respect and not made to feel horrible (presuming not because they are women but just because all humans deserve this) then this interaction is extremely undesirable.

Some discussions of pick up artistry don't just blur this line but fail to even realise there is a line. To those who think women should be treated with respect, this is extremely concerning.

And also:

We can think of it another way: what do we think constitutes the welfare of a woman? Presumably we don't think that it is just that she is attracted to the person she is currently conversing with.

However, if this is the case and if we care about how our interaction with people effect their welfare then the fact that a person's interaction with a woman makes the woman attracted to them doesn't entail that the interaction was desirable (because we care about their welfare which is more than just their extent of current attraction).

Note that this need not be a condescending attempt to institute an objective conception of welfare on an unwilling recipient. For example, we might think that a person's welfare is determined by their own subjective, personally decided upon preferences. Now perhaps a woman has preferences to be attracted to the person they're talking to (or perhaps not) but presumably they also have preferences to feel good about themselves and a number of other things. Again, then, even taking their self-identified welfare, we can't presume that an interaction is benefiting a woman's welfare just because they are attracted to their current conversation partner.

To put it another other way: just because a woman finds herself attracted to a person following an interaction, it doesn't mean she doesn't wish that the interaction had been different. So the conversation may fulfill the man's interests in being attractive but it doesn't follow from the fact that the woman is attracted to him that it fulfulls the woman's interests.

Of course, if you think a woman's welfare is her own problem and an interested man's only responsibility is to be attractive to the woman then you won't find this compelling but that attitude is precisely what the problem is (many people think that one should be concerned about the effects of one's interactions on others' welfare).

ETA: So to clarify: the claim was not that some women's tastes are distasteful but rather that a woman's tastes don't entirely determine her welfare so we can't move from a claim that something is in accordance with her tastes to a claim that something is in accordance with her welfare (or, for that matter, her desires, because her tastes in men don't fully define her desires either)

So I don't say that the problem is manipulation: I say the problem is a lack of concern about the welfare of women. Wearing a nice shirt doesn't show that lack of concern, deliberately demeaning them does. The dividing line isn't trying to influence women vs not doing so but the way this manipulation is carried out. Similarly, my claim is not about the accuracy or pleasantness of a view of women, it's about the desirability of a way of treating women even if that view is correct. So your comments above don't seem to respond to these issues. What do you think about these issues then?

comment by roland · 2013-04-11T03:27:20.913Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This is one example of countless other objections that are leveled against PU that fall into the same pattern: an elaborate argument is presented that illustrates a problem with PU and yet at the same time it is overlooked that the same argument could be applied(yet rarely or never is) against women or against dating/mating in general. Specifically:

Of course, if you think a woman's welfare is her own problem and an interested man's only responsibility is to be attractive to the woman then you won't find this compelling but that attitude is precisely what the problem is (many people think that one should be concerned about the effects of one's interactions on others' welfare).

and:

I say the problem is a lack of concern about the welfare of women.

The name of the game is mating, not altruism! In mating we are generally not concerned primarily about the welfare of the object of our desire. It doesn't matter if you are human, non-human, male, female, homosexual, heterosexual, PUA or not PUA. Is a woman who expects the man to pay for her drinks, or the boyfriend to help her pay the rent really concerned about the welfare of the other?

Doesn't sound nice, does it? But I didn't write the rules of the game. Actually it should be a big surprise if the mating game that came about through evolution conformed to our expectations of fairness or niceness. PUAs didn't invent the game, they analyzed it and figured out what the winning moves are. Don't blame them. This is actually what all the PUA hate is about: rationalized or cleverly packaged envy. Those guys who figured out how to hack the system imposed onto them and gain an "unfair" advantage, we can't let them get away with it, can we?

comment by DanielLC · 2013-04-11T04:40:17.940Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

But I didn't write the rules of the game.

Yes you did. You choose your desires. Evolution built you while optimizing inclusive genetic fitness, but it didn't build you in such a way that that's what you optimize. You are quite capable of caring for others.

Of course, if you're just concerned about the welfare of women in general, it's probably best to focus on donating to good charities, since as long as it's consensual sex isn't going to make a noticeable effect on the net good you do.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-13T06:39:06.273Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've adopted the School of Life's doctrine of relationships having disavowed pickup and all but a couple RSDmotivation videos

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-12T23:08:36.250Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Disclaimer: this comment may be affected by a higher-than-usual level of cognitive biases. Take it with a grain of salt.

There is a lot of truth to that, but isn't it also manipulation for women to wear make-up, high heels, fake breasts, painted hair, plastic surgery? Yet I seldom see the latter criticized. It is simply accepted, even encouraged.

See also this about how men in modern western societies generally spend much less effort than women on being attractive. To the extent that a world full of attractive people is better than a world full of unattractive people, that's essentially women cooperating and men defecting in a prisoner's dilemma. When one takes into account the fact that attractiveness in men doesn't depend just on appearance but also on behaviour, then the general idea behind PUA (but not necessarily any specific implementation of it) looks to me a lot like men starting to cooperate as well.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-04-12T23:29:58.461Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

If you regard only women, or only men, the cooperate-defect criteria switches; if no woman wears makeup, the one who does gets an advantage over the others. In terms of relative advantage, these behaviors are defection.

I'd suggest this is a more natural perspective, since the group perspective requires unified decision-making. An individual male or female isn't making a decision "for men" or "for women."

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-13T09:24:35.900Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, I used to suspect that opposition to PUA by men was due to essentially a (possibly implicit) cartel.

An individual male or female isn't making a decision "for men" or "for women."

Except insofar as if a woman wears makeup, other women will wear makeup too to keep up.