Let them eat cake: Interpersonal Problems vs Tasks 2009-10-07T16:35:16.698Z
Heuristic is not a bad word 2009-04-06T06:55:10.539Z


Comment by HughRistik on Muehlhauser-Goertzel Dialogue, Part 1 · 2012-03-19T04:27:02.078Z · LW · GW

On the whole it seems that intelligent folk really are significantly more moral than the majority of humanity

That's been my observation, also. But if it's true, I wonder why?

It could be because intelligence is useful for moral reasoning. Or it could be because intelligence is correlated with some temperamental, neurological, or personality traits that influence moral behavior. In the latter case, moral behavior would be a characteristic of the substrate of intelligent human minds.

Comment by HughRistik on I'd like to talk to some LGBT LWers. · 2012-01-05T19:58:08.715Z · LW · GW

To a certain degree, different brands of feminism could function as different parties (certainly in academic feminism they do).

You are quite correct. There are large disagreements and fissures within feminism. These disagreements might not be obvious or cared about by non-feminists (similar to how many feminists don't recognize the differences within MRAs and PUAs). See out-group homogeneity bias.

As you also observe correctly, there are some common premises (and biases) even within these different groups of feminists. Although there are widely varying feminist opinions on porn, trans people, race issues, etc, there unfortunately seems to be a lot of homogeneity in how feminists view men's issues.

For example, the notion that "men are privileged over women" is very common, and I wish that there was more debate within feminism about whether that was an acceptable generalization, and what it means.

The acceptance of these concepts is merely a case of the availability heuristic. Women's oppression (and men's privilege) is more cognitively available to feminist women, so their theories often fail to account for oppression towards men and female privileges. This bias is not completely universal across feminist factions, but it's very broad.

I hope that if examples of male suffering, female perpetration, and female advantages were more cognitively available to feminists, then some of them would eventually update their theories into a form of feminism that is more inclusive.

I think you've been taking a step in that direction with your blogging, with your posts on undiagnosed brain injury in the military, how sexual violence, domestic violence, and abuse are much less gendered than the traditional feminist portrayal according to new surveying, and the underreporting and cover-up of sexual violence towards men in African conflict zones.

That said, I too would like more variation in the gender politics space; some groups (most notably, men) are distinctly underserved by the current gender discourse, and more competition in the marketplace of ideas can only be a good thing. :)

I couldn't agree more.

Comment by HughRistik on I'd like to talk to some LGBT LWers. · 2012-01-02T09:50:46.841Z · LW · GW

So, what would be an example of a "gender politics" that is "liberal" and "progressive", but not represented by any "party"?

The men's rights movement and pickup are both gender politics movements. Some segments of those movements are "progressive" (defined later), and some are not (just like feminism: some of it is progressive, some of it is not). These movements are not "parties" because they have very little political power. Feminism has quite a lot of political power.

First, some definitions.

In gender politics, a "traditionalist" is someone who believes that our ideas and cultural practices around gender are better the way they are, or were better in the past. A "progressive" is someone who believes that gender politics is flawed, and should be changed according to a set of values. These values might include equality, autonomy, bodily integrity, and more.

Feminists had a problem with gendered cultural practices, and they created a successful movement. By changing gender norms and fighting sexism against women, feminists managed to change society towards greater equality and autonomy for women. In these ways, feminism is a progressive gender political movement.

Unfortunately, feminism hasn't been a consistently progressive gender political movement. Thanks to bias in feminism (self-serving biases, typical mind fallacy, availability heuristic), there are many traditional ideas that are unchallenged by feminism. In some cases, feminist arguments or behaviors reinforce tradition.

Feminists don't believe that they are being traditional, because their typical idea of tradition is a "patriarchy" where men where unilaterally advantaged over women of similar class and race. Yet that portrayal is only sometimes accurate throughout history. Men have experienced disadvantages throughout history that feminists haven't fully recognized (see forced labor for instance). Yet since feminists haven't recognized them, feminists typically seem to think that to be "progressive," the only (or primary) thing activists need to do is to improve the situation of women.

As an abstract example, let's say that is a culture with 4 ideas or practices around gender:

A and B: disadvantage women C: disadvantages men and women D: disadvantages men

Here are how the arguments look to me:

Traditionalists: Pro-A, B, C, and D

Typical feminist: anti-A, anti-B, "C disadvantages women more than men, or women exclusively"

What feminism thinks tradition is: A, B, and C disadvantaging women only. D is not recognized as tradition, even though it is.

Progressive non-feminist: anti-C, anti-D, opposes how feminism misrepresents the effect of C on men

Right now, in the wider culture, there is a two party system in gender politics: feminism (a partially progressive movement) and conservatism (a mostly traditional movement). Yet this two-party system under-serves many people. Conservatism doesn't serve any progressives at all.

There are a lot of possible positions for people who want to change how cultures treat men and women, but neither towards the past, nor in the exact ways that feminists typically want to change things. There are lots of people like this, but they don't have an influential and high-status movement like feminism.

So for people who want change things, there is only one party in gender politics: feminism. The men's rights movement and the pickup community are growing into contenders in the gender politics space, but they lack influence and status in white middle/upper class liberal discourse.

Yet without status, organization, representation, or a political lobby, non-feminists who are progressive about gender politics just get stomped on by both feminists and conservatives. They remain isolated, or they get folded into feminism, the men's rights movement, pickup, or libertarianism. Furthermore, there are feminists who like to portray vocal non-feminists as wanting to put women back in the kitchen, when that's not true of progressive non-feminists.

Simultaneously, a lot of the people who criticize feminism have traditional views that will be unattractive to progressives, leaving feminism without any competition among progressives, even though competition should exist to either incentive feminism to evolve in a more consistently progressive direction, or replace it if it won't.

Comment by HughRistik on I'd like to talk to some LGBT LWers. · 2012-01-02T05:14:50.769Z · LW · GW

But is feminism unusually biased for the level of its status?

I'm not sure.

If feminism weren't occupying that position of status, some other ideology would be, and I wouldn't expect this other ideology to be less biased.

An alternative is that feminism would share space with other gender political ideologies in liberal political dialogue. Just like both liberalism and conservatism share status among different parts of the population, feminism would share status with other gender political movements.

Unfortunately, in white middle/upper class, educated liberal gender politics, feminism is the single party in a one-party system. I would like to see more forms of gender politics that are progressive, so there can be competition in the gender politics space.

Comment by HughRistik on I'd like to talk to some LGBT LWers. · 2012-01-01T23:22:22.500Z · LW · GW

It's true that there is a lot of painfully bad epistemology in feminist discourse. However, the proportion of bad epistemology is typical of most human discourse concerned with advocacy.

That's true. As far as ideologies go, feminism isn't that bad. It's really in a similar category to men's rights, and pickup. Mainstream politics (democrat vs. republican) are at least as ideological, and religion and multi-level marketing organizations are much worse.

What makes feminism special is that in white, middle / upper class society, people often don't look on feminism with the level of skepticism that they might apply in mainstream politics. Feminism has very high status relative to how ideologically biased it is. Pickup and men's rights are also ideologically biased, but they aren't high status, and pickup artists and MRAs don't have a powerful government lobby like feminists do.

Comment by HughRistik on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) · 2011-12-28T10:08:16.750Z · LW · GW

Hi Ozy!

Comment by HughRistik on Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism · 2011-12-07T10:56:10.516Z · LW · GW

Part of what's been going on is that your advocacy has left me feeling as though my fears about PUA were being completely dismissed. ... I don't know if it was unfair of me to assume that you hadn't performed a moral calculus--

On LW in general I've spilled gallons of ink engaging in moral analyses of pickup, and of potential objections to pickup techniques. In my PUA FAQ, I made a whole section on ethics. In general, I have trouble reconciling your above perceptions with my participation in pickup discussions on LW.

But my memory of those discussions isn't perfect, so it's possible that I've been lax in replying to you personally. If you raised an issue that I didn't satisfactorily respond to, that's probably because I missed it, or left the thread, or had already talked about it elsewhere on LW, not because I didn't think it was important.

On the other hand, when you've occasionally mentioned some doubts about aspects of PUA, I've felt better, but generally not posted anything about it.

I'm glad that you noticed, even if you didn't comment much. Perhaps I'll talk more about those doubts when people engage me more about them.

I'm pretty sure I didn't when someone (probably you) said something about some PUA techniques being unfair (certainly not the word used, but I don't have a better substitute handy) to women who aren't very self-assured, even though that's the sort of thing I'm concerned about.

Yes, I believe that pickup can be harsh towards women who aren't very self-assured, and who don't have good boundaries. Yet that fact has to be taken in context.

Particular sexual norms and sexual cultures (e.g. high status, extraverted, and/or gender-traditional cultures) are harsh towards people of both sexes who aren't very self-assured, and who don't have good boundaries. Pickup is merely one example.

I have a shortlist of particular behaviors and mindsets that I find especially objectionable about pickup. Yet when trying to assess PUAs, who is the control group? Who are we comparing them to? Over the years, my ethical opinion of PUAs (on average) has fallen, but my ethical opinion of non-PUAs has been falling perhaps even faster. Criticizing PUAs for doing what everyone else is doing turns PUAs into scapegoats, and lets the rest of the culture off the hook.

As for stigma, I actually think it's funny that both of us feel sufficiently like underdogs that we're defensive. From my point of view, posting against PUA here leads to stigma not just for being close-minded and opposed to rational efforts to improve one's life (rather heavier stigmas here than in most places), but also for unkindness to men who would otherwise be suffering because they don't know how to attract women.

Thanks for filling me in on some of the stigmas on your end... I hadn't thought of the "unkind to men" one. Still, do you think those stigma as symmetrical in impact to charges of misogyny and not caring about women?

I don't know if it was unfair of me to assume that you hadn't performed a moral calculus-- from my point of view, the interests of women were being pretty much dismissed, or being assumed (by much lower standards of proof) to be adequately served by what was more convenient for men.

I am skeptical that you have sufficient data about people's view of pickup on LW to be able to make those judgments. I don't think people's views have had a chance to unfold yet. Or maybe your perception of past discussions is different, or we are both talking about different discussions, or your priors are just very different from mine.

Ultimately, I do consider it premature to suspect that I, or anyone else posting about pickup on LW, is so morally illiterate that they haven't performed a moral calculus of some sort about pickup. If we were off LW, that might be a different story.

They can correct me if I'm wrong, but I find it unlikely that people interested in pickup on LW are so ethically naive that they support pickup out of some form of egoism, or have a utility function that categorically places men's preferences above women's.

It's much more likely that they consider pickup (or more, a subset of pickup that appeals to them) consistent with their own moral theories and intuitions. Likewise, I don't agree that men discussing pickup on LW are mainly just checking its effects on men, but not on women. Perhaps I'm biased by my own views, but it seems more likely that they have thought about the effects on women. LW is not privy to their thought process, because nobody has asked the right questions. Actually, it's quite possible that they don't use, or even forgot about, some of the very things that outsiders might find objectionable about pickup.

Likewise, while I have a lot of problems with feminism, I would expect that a feminist on LW would have come to feminism through a cognitively sophisticated route (unless they proved otherwise), and that there are enough good things in feminism for a rationalist to believe that there is some value in it. I'm sure that feminists on LW would find it off-putting to have to articulate their moral calculus about how their activism treats men as a precondition to being considered reasonable. That doesn't mean that I expect to fully agree with the moral calculus of LW feminists, but it does mean that I would assume a basic level of moral sophistication on their part.

Part of what squicks me about PUA is that it seems as though there's very careful checking about its effects (at least in the short term) on men, but, in the nature of things, much less information about its effects on women.

You talk about checking the effects of pickup as if it's some sort of novel drug, but I don't see it that way. Most pickup behaviors are isomorphic to what people are already doing.

So it's not necessarily that we are being lax about checking; I think a lot of this stuff is already checked. Pickup techniques are not not as unique and special as PUA marketers or PUA critics make them sound, so they deserve the same level of consideration that anyone should do in their dating behavior, but they aren't so powerful or novel that they require some special moral scrutiny... at least, not separate from a larger moral debate about consent and sexual ethics that should examine the culture in general.

It is frustrating that pickup practitioners are getting held to a much higher moral standard than anyone else in the population, when they are simply doing a more systematized version of what large segments of the population are already doing.

I'm all for engaging in moral calculus about dating behavior. I do it all the time with mine, and I don't agree with all of the conclusions of the calculus of some people who practice pickup. But outside of (some) feminists and people who practice BDSM, who exactly does a rigorous moral calculus about the effects of their dating and sexual behavior? Most people don't calculate their dating ethics, they operate on cached ideas.

While it's understandable that critics of pickup focus on the most worrying aspects, that focus may not leave pickup practitioners on LW feeling like they are being treated as complex human beings who at least might have coherent ethical views supporting the subset of pickup that they practice.

Comment by HughRistik on Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism · 2011-11-28T01:52:49.046Z · LW · GW

Hi daenerys! Welcome to the PUA Moderates club.

Comment by HughRistik on Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism · 2011-11-26T09:39:32.963Z · LW · GW

Nancy, I'm a bit confused by your comment.

From my point of view, the PUA believers have the advantage at LW

What does "PUA believer" mean? Out of the folks who discuss pickup positively on LessWrong, I doubt any of them "believe" in it uncritically. However, they may feel motivated to defend pickup from inaccurate characterizations.

I do not see people who want to discuss pickup in a not-completely-negative way on LW as having an obvious advantage. The debate is not symmetrical. Anyone who can be painted as a defender of pickup is vulnerable to all sorts of stigma. Yet the worst they can say in their defense is to call the attackers close-minded or uneducated about pickup.

and being gently told, no it's wonderful, and the non-wonderful bits (the worst of which I'd never heard of until you brought them up, something I'm never sure you quite believed) don't matter when so much of it is different

Yes, different parts of pickup are different. No, the good parts don't necessarily justify the bad parts, but the presence of good parts means that pickup shouldn't be unequivocally dismissed.

being in the brainfog business is best for everyone even though there's no careful way for you to check on the effects on people you're taking charge of for your own good

There are lots of assumptions here to unpack, but I would rather hold off until I understand your views better.

just leaves me feeling rather hopeless about that part of LW.

Me too, but for different reasons.

A specific example: I think you're one of the people who says that some men in PUA start out misogynistic, but become less so after they've had some success with attracting women. I wonder how they treat the women they're with before they've recovered from misogyny. Those women don't seem to be there in your calculus.

I'm hurt that you don't think I've run the most basic consequentialist analyses on these sorts of questions. I've never stated my full moral calculus on pickup, so I don't know how you can say that it has gaps. That would be a complex subject, contingent on a lot of empirical and moral-philosophical questions that I don't know the answer to.

Luckily, since I'm not defending pickup in general, I don't have to know how to perform the moral calculus evaluating pickup in general. But I can assure you that I've thought about it. Nobody has asked me the right questions to learn my thoughts on the subject (well, some people have elsewhere... just not here).

In these discussions, sometimes I feel like some people consider pickup to be evil until proven otherwise, based on their initial impression. And that anyone who speaks positively about pickup in any way (or refutes any criticism) is a "defender" (or as you put it, "believer")... unless they write a long explication of all the problems with pickup that convinces that critics that it's not all bad, and that these believers are not completely horrible people.

Dealing with a biased, inaccurate, and polarized assessment of pickup doesn't exactly put me (and other people discussing pickup in a not-completely-negative way) in the right mood to talk about the practical and ethical problems we have with pickup. Just because we don't nail 95 theses to the door criticizing pickup before discussing it doesn't mean that we don't have problem with it, and that we haven't considered the consequences for women.

I suspect that our feelings about pickup are a lot more ambivalent and complex than you realize, but the discussion has become so polarized that people seem to feel like they are forced to pick "sides," and people who actually have very ambivalent feelings about pickup get thrust into the role of defending it.

I'm tired of defending pickup. I want to have a turn criticizing it! But I can't take my turn yet, because so much of my energy discussing pickup is getting consumed by correcting all the biased and wrong stuff that is written about it. If I wrote critical stuff about pickup, then biased people would just use it selectively as part of their hatchet job, rather than promoting a complete understanding of the subject.

How can we reduce this polarization?

Comment by HughRistik on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2011-11-13T12:53:14.497Z · LW · GW

If "pussy" is a sexist slur, isn't "dick", also?

Comment by HughRistik on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2011-11-13T11:36:55.077Z · LW · GW

As a contrasting data point, my contrarian group blog started during that time, and we are still going, with more readers than ever. Apparently there is a niche for people who are interested in mostly dry, slightly polemical, relatively rigorous discussion of gender politics.

Comment by HughRistik on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2011-11-13T11:11:30.020Z · LW · GW

There are men who chose women who mistreat them, sometimes one such woman after another, but I've never heard anyone say "men prefer bitches".

I think the hypothesis would be that women choose men who are "jerks" partly because they are jerks, while men choose women who are "jerks" because they just don't care so much about personality traits, and/or despite those women being jerks.

Examining this hypothesis would require an operationalization of "jerk."

Comment by HughRistik on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2011-11-13T11:03:42.291Z · LW · GW

and then dividing them into several categories:

Traits that are indeed actively attractive to women, or some subset thereof.

Traits that are neutral per se, but have a positive correlation with others that are attractive, or negative correlation with others that are unattractive.

Traits that are unattractive, but easily overshadowed by other less obvious (or less mentionable) traits, which produces striking but misleading examples where it looks like the "jerk" traits are in fact the attractive ones.

Here's a couple more:

  • Traits that are neutral or unattractive, but help people in their mating interaction during one-on-one interaction with a potential partner (e.g. initiation or receptiveness).

  • Traits that are neutral or unattractive, but help people compete with others of their same gender

In sexual selection, there is a difference between intersexual choice, and intrasexual competition. "Women go for jerks" or "nice guys finish last" might not be a primarily a claim about the traits that women are attracted to; rather, it could be a claim about the traits necessary to initiate with women and compete with other men. All this stuff partially overlaps, but there are differences.

For example, pushing past competition on a crowded dance floor, dealing with competitors interrupting you, or making a physical advance on a potential mate may require a slightly different balance of traits (e.g. more assertiveness or even aggression) than what is necessary to attract mates.

Specifically, I would suggest that the male initiator script along with male-male competition jacks up the necessary amount of "jerk" traits beyond what women are actually attracted to. This hypothesis could help explain why people have trouble seeing eye-to-eye on this issue.

Comment by HughRistik on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2011-11-13T10:42:02.281Z · LW · GW

While mean sexual value is an important concept, as lukeprog points out with my graph, sometimes it is not relevant. The relevant metric of success in attracting people is something like "being over a cutoff of attractiveness for a subset of the population that you desire and that you can find, and where you don't face a punishing gender ratio in that niche."

For instance, regardless of your average attractiveness, you could be doing great even if 0.1% of the population is attracted to you, as long as (a) you know how to find them, (b) they fit your criteria, and (c) there isn't an oversaturation of people like you that you're competing with.

Comment by HughRistik on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2011-11-13T10:28:04.231Z · LW · GW

This is taking the unfortunate/entitled/nice/beta/shibboleth-of-your-choice males' complaint too far at face value - i.e., that they are sexually unsuccessful on account of being kind and prosocial.

I used to believe this, but after doing some research, and further experience, I changed my mind.

First, the available research doesn't show a disadvantage of altruism, agreeableness, and prosocial tendencies for men.

I used to experience agreeableness and altruism as disadvantages. Now I experience agreeableness as sometimes a big advantage, and sometimes a moderate disadvantage. Altruism is neutral, as long as I can suppress it to normal population levels (I have excessive altruistic tendencies).

Hypotheses that reconcile this data and anecdata:

  • Prosocial tendencies are orthogonal to attractiveness
  • Prosocial tendencies have a non-linear relationships to attractiveness (e.g. it's good to be average, or maybe even a bit above average, but any higher or lower is a disadvantage
  • The relationship between prosocial tendencies and attractiveness is moderated by another variable. For instance, perhaps prosocial tendencies are an advantage for extraverted men, but a disadvantage for introverts

What's creepy about this group is precisely the entitled attitude on display - that they deserve to enjoy sexual relations with those on whom they crush merely for being around them and not actively offending, or indeed in some cases for doing what in other contexts would be rightly considered kind and prosocial.

While some people who believe they are sexually unsuccessful on account of being kind and prosocial have this attitude of entitlement, ascribing an entitlement mentality to that entire class of people is a hasty generalization. It is likely that people who believe they are sexually unsuccessful on account of being kind and prosocial with a genuine entitlement attitude are very visible (far more visible than people in that class without that attitude), and this visibility may distort estimates of their prevalence due to the availability heuristic.

Furthermore, in this context perhaps you would agree that "entitlement" is political buzzword that has not been appropriately operationalized. In some hands, it is used as expansively and unrigorously as "nice" and "jerk."

Comment by HughRistik on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2011-11-13T09:56:31.028Z · LW · GW

I have appreciated your non-contentious handling of these subjects, both here and elsewhere.

Comment by HughRistik on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2011-11-10T01:41:19.638Z · LW · GW

Many people are in debt. If you are, then your net worth is less than $191.

Comment by HughRistik on Better Disagreement · 2011-10-24T23:00:55.347Z · LW · GW

DH7 should be kept internal, at least at first. Being misinterpreted as trying to construct a straw man when you've been trying to do the opposite can derail a conversation. To actually believe that you've made a steel man, not a straw man, the person you're arguing with would have to admit that you've created a stronger argument for their own position than they could.


DH7 is of limited use in an adversarial debate, unless your opponent is open-minded. It could convince fence-sitters, but only if they are open-minded.

The problem with DH7 is that it's too easy for your opponent to accuse you of a straw man. Even if that's not true, they may be able to delude some of the audience.

Analogies are another debate tactic in this category: they are only useful towards listeners with an open-mind, otherwise, they make you open to attack be the other person rejecting your analogy.

A great time to use DH7 or analogies is against the argument of someone who isn't present to convince a third-party. Since your opponent isn't there, they can't reject your attempts at charity or analogies as straw men, and you can use those tools to convince your audience that you are correct, and you've given those arguments the best consideration you can.

Of course, if you're going to do this, try to make sure you are right, because if you are wrong (e.g. you misunderstood what your original opponent was saying), then they won't be around to clarify.

EDIT: Actually, there is a way to do DH7 with your original interlocutor. You have to lead them to admitting that the steel version actually follows from their argument, and then you knock it down. E.g. you start by "are you suggesting Y?" which you think follows from their original position, X. This can make you look like you are genuinely working to understand them (which, of course, you are). Then when they take the bait, you knock it down, and they can't complain.

And you can't be too confrontational or accusatory, because that will tip them off that you are going to knock Y down. If they catch a hint of that, then they will never admit that Y follows from their original position X.

Comment by HughRistik on Calibrate your self-assessments · 2011-10-22T20:03:10.798Z · LW · GW

I think you were on the right track with the word "quirky." It was the OkCupid article's game theoretic hypothesis that I was objected (referenced by avoiding people "inundated with messages" in your comment).

Comment by HughRistik on Calibrate your self-assessments · 2011-10-22T07:03:35.741Z · LW · GW

Flirting. Through painful trial and error, I've found that my hunch that a woman likes me is almost always wrong. Someone will be flirting very heavily with me, and I'll think "there is no way in the world she's not into me", and then it will turn out she will not be into me.

Another possibilities behind this, in addition to Vladimir_M's excellent hypothesis:

There is a small percentage of women who look like they are flirting with everyone, even though they are merely being friendly.

If 5% of women are flirtatious with no attraction, they could still dominate Yvain's flirting experience if the base rate of attracted women flirting with him is low. Meanwhile, perhaps 100% of the women attracted to Yvain are a sort of serious or shy type who isn't into overt flirting. Then both P(attraction | flirting) and P(flirting | attraction) could be low.

In contrast, another man could experience that same 5% of merely friendly flirts, but also run into a greater number of attracted flirts, making most of his flirting experiences indicative of attraction.

Comment by HughRistik on Calibrate your self-assessments · 2011-10-22T06:43:32.864Z · LW · GW

and rather than a supermodel who must be inundated with messages, it's someone quirky whose average rating is only a 3 (and thus approachable)

That's the hypothesis that OkCupid advanced: game-theoretically, it makes sense to go for people you are strongly into who other people aren't into. But there's a problem with this hypothesis: it could turn out to be true, but right now, it's sort of silly.

  1. It's unnecessary. Look at some normal distributions, and it's easy to see that having a high variance of attractiveness is sufficient to explain high positive responses (that motivate 5-ratings and messaging) and highly negative responses (that motivate 1-ratings). Let's say you message a woman with high variance (lots of 5s, lots of 1s) who you consider a five. Maybe that's because for you, she isn't actually a 5, she's a 6! But the scale only goes to 5 inducing a ceiling effect. You are going for her because you are really, really into her (for the same reasons that other guys are really, really not into her), not because you anticipate less competition.
  1. There is no evidence that people are thinking of that sort of game theory. It's possible, but if men really cared so much about minimizing competition, you'd think they would message women they found 3s and 4s more often.

  2. If you think someone is a 5, even due to high variance traits that other guys hate, you don't necessarily realize that other guys hate those traits (typical mind fallacy). Instead, you may assume that other guys would be into her just as much as you, which undermines the notion that you are trying to get the women that other guys won't pursue. This hypothesis gives men too much credit predicting the psychology of other men, and calculating the average appeal of a woman across the whole male population. For instance, I can't figure out what the guys who give flower-hair-girl a 1-rating are smoking.

  3. Assortive mating. If you message a woman with tattoos and piercings (to use the example in the article), is that because you are thinking "aha! tats and piercings will turn off other guys, so I'll have her all to myself," or "wow, I really like that she has tattoos and piercings, and she is probably going to like my tattoos and piercings, too!" This hypothesis isn't really supported or necessary either, but it helps why men don't treat all 5s (from their perspective) equally. If someone has tribal markers, it explains why you might both find them a 5 a message them, while you are less likely to message another woman you rate a 5 without tribal markers, and why other guys from other tribes can't stand women with the affiliations you like.

Comment by HughRistik on Calibrate your self-assessments · 2011-10-22T06:12:32.400Z · LW · GW

I agree. Failing to recognize sex differences in attraction (particularly greater female selectiveness and preferences for behavior and personality traits) will sabotage males, and leave females turned off and creeped out.

Comment by HughRistik on On the Openness personality trait & 'rationality' · 2011-10-19T08:38:55.381Z · LW · GW

Like wedrifid, I test as an ENFP on online tests, but if I answer questions like I would have if I hadn't learned social skills, I come out as an INTP. The INTP profile I mentioned is freakily accurate, and not just in a horoscope type of way.

Comment by HughRistik on On the Openness personality trait & 'rationality' · 2011-10-19T03:51:11.511Z · LW · GW

I think you are laboring under a slight misapprehension about personality research. Myers-Briggs isn't solid science. The eneagram isn't solid science.

Your understanding is consistent with mine. Myers-Briggs is really frustrating, because some of its ideas are anecdotally compelling (Introversion vs. Extraversion, Thinking vs. Feeling), while others are esoteric (Judging vs. Perceiving and Sensing vs. Intuition). At least on the types, INTP probably refers to a real phenotype (which is common on LW), but I don't know if any of the other type combinations are real.

Interestingly, the MBTI seems to almost reduce down to the Big Five according to this study.

Big five personality traits are kind of like that. From what I've read, they're better understood as mostly-orthogonal surface regularities with causal explanations from many different levels and sources rather than as fundamental causally coherent essences. Lots of people seem to expect human traits to coherently cause human behaviors, so it is worth emphasizing how liable such thinking is to produce error.

The way I've heard it explained goes something like this: "you don't like art because you are high in Openness. You are high in Openness because you like art."

Of course, since the Openness scale has reliability, you can make predictions about how someone would respond to one question from the scale if you know what they would respond to another item. Whether that's because of one underlying trait, or because of a bunch of converging traits, is an empirical question.

Comment by HughRistik on How to understand people better · 2011-10-15T01:37:07.848Z · LW · GW

Very well, I concede that there could be more powerful self-aware plays.

Comment by HughRistik on Rationality Lessons Learned from Irrational Adventures in Romance · 2011-10-13T06:13:24.456Z · LW · GW

It might be possible that flirting is more useful for negotiating short term sexual encounters, but I think there are still applications for long term relationships. For example, flirting can help determine whether your senses of humor are compatible, which could important for a long-term relationship.

Although you might not care much about the information conveyed through flirting, your prospective partners very much might. Flirting will give them a lot of information about your character and social experiences, which they could find useful for determining their desire for a relationship of any length.

All long-term relationships start off being short-term.

Comment by HughRistik on Rationality Lessons Learned from Irrational Adventures in Romance · 2011-10-13T01:09:55.005Z · LW · GW

The way I experience a distaste in flirting is that it seems annoying and counterproductive to beat around the bush.

I see flirting somewhat differently. Flirting gives an opportunity for both partners to showcase their social skills and gain information about what they each respond to sexually, and what sort of relationship they might have if they were to embark on one. It's like a mutual interview. Flirting will help your potential female partners determine what kind of guy you are, and if they are into you.

Flirting can often be direct, even though it is implicit rather than explicit. Yet many people find beating around the bush to be useful, because they want more time to assess their potential partner before making a commitment of interest. Personally, I am totally fine with giving a potential partner social information to help her assess her interest in me, rather than trying to get her to make a snap decision before she has sufficient information.

You still might not find flirting enjoyable, but perhaps you can see that it does serve some useful purposes.

Comment by HughRistik on How to understand people better · 2011-10-12T09:02:51.736Z · LW · GW

And if she does understand then I will not judge her for being obnoxious, just for being obnoxious but ineffective.

Ah, but who says she is being ineffective? That depends on her goals (see my reply to the parent). If her goal is to piss off Bob, and/or make him feel guilty and/or make his start getting apologetic, then she is already doing well. She's already got him to admit that he has done something wrong without making any explicit accusations (assuming he is being sincere, not sarcastic). Who says her goal is relationship harmony? Some people prefer drama.

Humans were selected for having reproductively successful relationships, but not all successful mating strategies involve harmony.

Comment by HughRistik on How to understand people better · 2011-10-12T08:57:17.940Z · LW · GW

Why are you not equally cynical about Alice's motives?

That's a good question. Here is my cynical analysis of Alice's potential psychology. I think there is a lot of room to read a power-play on Alice's part (though that says nothing about whether it is justified or not).

Comment by HughRistik on How to understand people better · 2011-10-12T08:40:01.010Z · LW · GW

Unfortunately, Silas' original example is under-specified, so there are many different situations that could lead to it, or potential power plays on both sides. I'm going to make a guess that the scenario (in Silas' imagination) occurred because of something Bob did or didn't do that Alice didn't like.

Alice is fuming, and she very much wants Bob to know. She feels that Bob should know better. That's why she won't tell him what it is. She wants him to figure it out for himself, and apologize to her. If he asks what is wrong as if he doesn't know, and she has to tell him, then she admits that there was ambiguity in the original situation, or lack of knowledge on his part, that completely or partially exculpates him.

Alternatively, she might agree that there are exculpatory factors, but she still want to see if he will now realize what he did wrong and apologize without her having to spell it out for him. This approach might be especially important if he forgot something (maybe their anniversary), and she wants to see how long it will take him to remember.

Another possibility might be that she doesn't want to tell him what he did wrong because she doesn't want to look accusatory or nagging. So instead she just blast accusatory nonverbal communication at him until he understands that he is supposed to start admitting guilt.

If Silas is imagining the same scenario that is evoked in my mind, Alice is not trying to disengage from communicating with Bob all; she is trying to show her displeasure with him, and get him to (a) admit that he is at fault, and possibly also (b) apologize to what he is at fault for without her having to explain it, proving that he has either "learned his lesson" or that he isn't trying to "play innocent."

This interpretation leads me to agree with you that Alice is not lying, and that she is using implicit communication, but I think she may be doing it even more than you realize. Note that I take no position about who is in the right or in the wrong.

From Alice's perspective this is a bit smug. She is thinking "I fucking know it doesn't sound like that".


But he knows that something is wrong and that she is not saying what-- it is reasonable to expect a socially competent person to by now understand that what she really means is something like "I don't want to talk about it, at least not now.

If Bob has good reasons to expect that she is unhappy with him, then it's not clear at all that she really doesn't want to talk about it.

Alice: "NOTHING. EVERYTHING'S FINE." Bob has clearly figured out Alice is saying something like "I don't want to talk about it, at least not right now." He is now assuming he did something wrong and begging to be told what it was. But why is he persisting?

Under the scenario I'm imagining, it's obvious why he persists. He doesn't believe that Alice is serious about not wanting to talk, based on the context, body language, and tone of voice. He interprets her communication to mean "I don't want to talk about the thing you did wrong unless you stop playing innocent about it and start groveling." That's why he starts groveling by admitting that he did something wrong... That might satisfy Alice, or she might want him to guess or admit exactly what he did wrong without her having to explain it.

In heated arguments, people often say and do things that they don't mean, or to test the reaction of the other partner. Alice could be sincere that she doesn't want to talk, but she could also be testing to see if Bob cares enough to find out what she is unhappy about, or if he will admit full culpability and apologize.

And while communication is extremely important not everything needs to be turned into a huge, dramatic discussion or debate.

Some personality types feel differently.

Alice may know she'll be over it in a little while but starting a fight would lead to week-long estrangement.

Wait, what makes you think that Alice isn't trying to start a fight? She could be defending a Schelling Point.

Depending on the nonverbals, her behavior could be an excellent way to start a fight, while pretending that Bob is the one instigating it by pestering her. If she really didn't want to start a fight, she could either hide her displeasure better, or making it sound absolutely cold and serious that she doesn't want to talk. The fact that Bob is following up with questions suggests that he thinks she is trying to either start a fight, so he tries to roll over on his belly by asking what he did.

I am not in agreement with TimS that Bob is trying to dominate Alice... I just think he's being stupid.

This only way Bob is being dominating is if he knowingly did something majorly fucked up or abusive, and is pestering Alice and playing innocent while trying to cope with it. Short of that, there actually may be good contextual reasons for Bob to believe that Alice wants to continue communicating with him, but just wants him to take an apologetic role, or (if they both know she is upset by something other than him) a supportive role. If Alice is using passive-aggressiveness to try to put him into an apologetic and groveling role, then she is the dominating one (of course, whether this is justified depends on context). Unless Bob is obviously in the wrong, then he is being stupid by letting her get away with this power play, which gives her an incentive to get upset in the future any time she wants concessions from him.

Of course, this is only one possible reading of the situation; I just suspect that it's a bit closer to what Silas intended that most of the other readings.

Comment by HughRistik on Gender differences in spatial reasoning appear to be nurture · 2011-09-07T11:14:37.288Z · LW · GW

I think sam0345 may be exaggerating with a projection of -10, but I think he isn't exaggerating when he suspects that there are examples of academic unreliability that would be unfeasible to discuss on LW, even though I am a bit more optimistic about what LW can handle than Vladimir_M, for instance. It would be a bad mistake to even attempt to collect evidence on some topics.

I'm a psych junkie, and by following certain online debates and reading journals, I've run into several topics where peer-review studies that aren't publicized contradict the public story. With some of these topics, LW has proven itself to not be quite ready for them, though Vladimir_M sometimes dances around them, and I and others have discussed some of the lighter ones. Other topics are not discussable in public at all in any forum where a speaker wants to retain any reputation. In fact, it would be a hazard to others to even mention these topics on LW, given that many people comment here with their real names, and LW would be tarred by even tolerating serious discussion of those findings.

Comment by HughRistik on Science Doesn't Trust Your Rationality · 2011-09-04T10:28:24.819Z · LW · GW

When any group is being sufficiently totalitarian in the name of lofty ideals, I support comparisons to other totalitarian groups, which may include the Nazis and the Soviets (among others). I believe that such comparisons can help us learn from history. Of course, the subject of such comparisons will always be both quantitatively and qualitatively different, but the Nazis and the Soviets provide intersubjective references points for certain political ideas gone wrong.

Of course, it could be more rhetorically pragmatic to swallow these analogies even when accurate depending on the audience.

Comment by HughRistik on Science Doesn't Trust Your Rationality · 2011-09-04T07:43:08.466Z · LW · GW

This reminds me of the People's Republic of Tyranny Trope (TV Tropes warning).

All sorts of self-interest, repression, and tribalism gets justified by the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality. It seems that a large amount of aggression has been promoting by groups styling themselves as anti-oppression movements. I recently wrote an article about the modern notion of "social justice", which is beginning to show similar sorts of newspeak, in my view.

Comment by HughRistik on . · 2011-09-04T00:28:09.213Z · LW · GW

I think it's a matter of Schelling Points. For many people, their self-interest will gradually increase in an interaction with you in subtle ways (e.g. being late for things, being flaky on plans, being dramatic/insecure/tactless, etc...). They will slowly try to structure the interaction around their needs, until they run into a boundary set by you. I think this sort of behavior is totally normal for many personality types, male or female. I think the only types of people who don't do this kind of thing are some types of high-IQ nerds, introverts, and people with very high Agreeableness and/or low assertiveness.

The tough part is that all these boundary-pushing behaviors start off small, and are generally unintentional, so it can be hard to figure out the right time to put your foot down without feeling like a jerk.

Comment by HughRistik on . · 2011-09-03T23:54:25.586Z · LW · GW

I've seen some such discussions get quite bad but I've seen others where apparently calm rational discussion took place.

That's my experience, too. I have seen progress being made in some of the discussions about gender, even though they can be frustrating. But perhaps I'm focusing on the exchanges that I was involved in.

Comment by HughRistik on . · 2011-09-02T21:55:04.800Z · LW · GW

PUA/Feminism are inherently somewhat political, especially when they are viewed as opposites.

Arguably, they aren't opposites, because they have significant overlap on certain dimensions. I've argued that a lot of pickup techniques are actually compatible with feminist values.

Then there are folks who criticize both feminism and pickup for being overly pandering to women:

PUA theory takes the extreme position that men are usually to blame for lack of success with women. This of course complements the (radical) feminist view that men are inadequate. So PUAs are basically sympathizers with the feminist view that men are intrinsically lacking. And one side effect of this is that it translates into a somewhat hostile view that PUAs have towards "normal" guys, referring to them as "AFC" (Average Frustrated Chump).

Basically, game is all about YOU getting positive reinforcement from shitty women. Game is all about being an excellent dog, so that your master (bad women) throw you a bone for a well done job. You perform the trick, you get the cookie.

When I see gamers bragging about how they can trigger certain responses from women at will, I imagine dogs bragging that they can trigger sympathy from their master. I imagine a dog bragging to another dog “You know, I have this special expression I do, and the master always tears up when I do it and gives me a cookie! I control him, muahahah!”

Game teaches you how to overcome bad-women’s games and manipulations, instead of punishing them. Even if you do “succeed” in passing shitty behavior (assuming “game” is better than placebo) – what did you actually gain?! Didn’t you just positively reinforce that same shitty behavior in those types of women?

So what does game do? It just makes you a better pussy-beggar. It teaches you how to better do what shitty-women want you to do. It teaches you to reward bitchiness by dancing better to the song she sings.

Comment by HughRistik on Consequentialism Need Not Be Nearsighted · 2011-09-02T02:25:55.127Z · LW · GW

If I was reading the thought experiment correctly, the aliens are only allowed to let people die and then eat them. So the aliens wouldn't be causing any patients to die who wouldn't have died anyway. If the aliens were allowed to eat humans before they died, then that would change the whole example and make consequentialists even more pessimistic.

Comment by HughRistik on Consequentialism Need Not Be Nearsighted · 2011-09-02T02:11:37.374Z · LW · GW

Then I have an "easy" patch: let the entity that does the spotting and killing be incorruptible and infallible. Like, an AI, an army of robots, or something. With that, I don't see any obvious flaw beyond the fact that, with this level of technology, there are very probably better alternatives than transplantation. But the idea of creating a machine for the explicit purpose of killing people might be even more creepy than the police state we're vaguely familiar with.

I suspect that the space of killer organ-transplanting AIs programmed by humans has far many more negative outcomes than positive ones. Even if we stipulate that the AI is incorruptible and infallible, there are still potential negative consequences:

  • People still have an incentive to sabotage their own health and to not get tested (see wedrifid's argument)
  • People would live in fear of getting randomly killed, even if the chance was small
  • Allowing an AI to be built that can kill people might be a bad precedent
  • Allowing the practice of killing innocent people might be a bad precedent

You could get rid of the self-sabotage and fear if you make the AI a secret. But a world where people can make secret AIs to kill innocents without any kind of consent or vote still seems like a bad place.

But the idea of creating a machine for the explicit purpose of killing people might be even more creepy than the police state we're vaguely familiar with.

Part of the reason it's creepy is because, just like a police state, the outcome is probably going to be bad in the vast majority of cases.

(a) Let the aliens that happen to visit us cure cancer, except for 1 random patient out of 100, that they will let die, then eat.

This is an interesting case. My initial reaction was to let the aliens care cancer and eat 1/100 cancer patients (after they died). Yet as I thought about it more, and why people might find the scenario creepy, I became more and more worried.

In a one-shot negotiation, it would make sense on consequentialist grounds to accept their deal. The 1% of patients that the aliens eat won't have a change in outcome: they would have died of cancer anyway. Yet, as usual with these thought experiments designed to test consequentialism, the answer changes when you consider the full range of possible consequences.

This question hinges on why the aliens want to eat humans. If the aliens had some good reason why they need to eat humans to cure them, then that might be OK (like ingesting cancerous humans will let them figure out how to stop all the different types of cancer). Yet there are many ways that allowing aliens to get their hands on human specimens might be a bad idea. Maybe they could clone us, or engineer pathogens.

Then there is the aspect of aliens eating human bodies. That's creepy for a good reason. Letting aliens gain a taste for human flesh might be a bad idea. It might be a Schelling Point that we shouldn't let them cross.

For a consequentialist to accept the aliens deal, there must be strong evidence for most of the following:

  • This is a one-shot deal
  • The aliens will leave after and never be seen again
  • Letting aliens access human specimens won't have other negative consequences down the line
  • Letting aliens eat human bodies won't tempt them to want to eat more human bodies, which could lead to other negative consequences
  • The aliens will follow through on their side of the deal
  • The aliens aren't lying, wrong, or confused about anything, and we understand their psychology well enough to judge the above

The amount of evidence necessary to establish these conditions would be astronomical, and it would take probably decades of cooperation with these particular aliens.

Likewise, the burden of evidence for showing that killer doctors and killer doctorbot AIs provide a net benefit is also astronomically high. In the absence of that evidence being provided, it's hard for a consequentialist to not get creeped out by the plausibility of negative outcomes.

Comment by HughRistik on Consequentialism Need Not Be Nearsighted · 2011-08-31T21:08:56.468Z · LW · GW

This doesn't fix the problem; it only changes the location. Giving your national medical association the power of citizens' life and death is almost as bad as giving it to the government.

People won't be afraid in hospitals, instead they'll be afraid in their homes. They will have an incentive to try to hide from anyone who might be a doctor, or to kill them preemptively.

This policy would be a declaration of war between doctors and citizens. I can't see the consequences going well.

Comment by HughRistik on Consequentialism Need Not Be Nearsighted · 2011-08-31T20:57:12.795Z · LW · GW

As far as I can tell, this would have no bad effects beyond the obvious one of killing the people involved - it wouldn't make people less likely to go to hospitals or anything

No, but it would make them afraid to go outside, or at least within the vicinity of police. This law might encourage people to walk around with weapons to deter police from nabbing them, and/or to fight back. People would be afraid to get genetic screening lest they make their organs a target. They would be afraid to go to police stations to report crimes lest they come out minus a kidney.

People with good organs would start bribing the police to defer their harvesting, and corruption would become rampant. Law and order would break down.

This sounds like an excellent plot for a science fiction movie about a dystopia, which indicates that it fails on consequentialist grounds unless our utility function is so warped that we are willing to create a police state to give organ transplants.

Comment by HughRistik on Polyhacking · 2011-08-31T01:56:32.441Z · LW · GW

Check out Male, Female by David Geary. It's more rigorous than the Red Queen.

Comment by HughRistik on Polyhacking · 2011-08-29T09:12:47.750Z · LW · GW

Within the sort of of communities where polyamory is popular, I don't think it will be a big problem for the mating market. There is some evidence that highly intelligent people are more androgynous. If so, then sex differences may be less sharp between intelligent people, which anecdotally makes sense. If intelligent people are less gender-differentiated in general, then perhaps their sexual preferences are more similar, too. If there are less sex differences in mating preferences, then there is probably less sex differences in selectiveness and less hypergamy.

In poly nerd communities, I don't know if there is a winner-take all situation for men, but it's hard to tell, since the gender ratio is so skewed. Let's imagine a community with 10 men and 2 women. Under monogamy, woman #2 dates man #10, and woman #1 dates man #9. What happens under polyamory? Do both women date man #10? Or do they both date men #9 and #10? Or #8, #9, and #10? Those all seem like plausible scenarios, and in the last case, there are actually less male losers than under monogamy. With a high male:female ratio, the women have their pick of 80+ percentile men.

Of course, outside this particular androgynous phenotype, the differences between monogamy and polyamory are likely to be more stark. Average people are already doing plenty of non-monogamous mating, so we can consider how well it's going for them.

Comment by HughRistik on Polyhacking · 2011-08-29T08:45:39.262Z · LW · GW


Seems pretty obvious that hypergamy is what poor women do in societies that only let them gain control of resources through marriage. It's a rational adjustment to a sexist, unequal society, not some sort of instinct.

This is a hypothesis worth investigating, but how much data seems to support it? The research I've read supports the existence of hypergamy in both modern societies, and in pre-agricultural societies without high levels of gender inequality.

The Dalmia study cited on Wikipedia supposedly doesn't find women "marrying up," but since I can't read the full text I'm not sure how they were operationalizing "marries up." For instance, perhaps the study found that women don't marry up in wealth. But that doesn't mean they don't marry up in education, which is what this study found:

Contrary to popular beliefs, the increased concentration of women at the top of the education distribution has not resulted in a worsening of the marriage market prospects of more educated women. The “success gap” declined substantially in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The marriage market accommodated the shift through a decline in hypergamy at the upper end of the education distribution.

On the other hand, the declining economic prospects of men at the bottom of the education distribution have rendered many below the threshold of marriagiability. The likelihood of a 40-44 year old man with 11 years of education being married fell by over 20 percentage points over the 20-year period, a greater decline than that for women of the same education level. There was no decline in hypergamy at this end of the spectrum; in fact, some measures indicate an increase in hypergamy for this group, as women have increasingly been reaching upward in the education distribution for husbands.

In short, education hypergamy exists, but it’s getting weaker at the top (presumably because there is a shortage of higher-education men to date up to), and may be getting stronger at the bottom.

For women of high socioeconomic status, hypergamy does appear to decrease. For instance, women in some college samples tend to not care about men's wealth very much. Though this could also be partly because those women are more oriented towards short-term mating.

Even in a modern, short-term mating context, it's not clear that hypergamy disappears. In a speed dating study, Asendorpf & Penke found

The key finding for popularity was that both men and women’s popularity was largely based on easily perceivable physical attributes such as facial and vocal attractiveness, height and weight. This was already the full story for women’s popularity in speed-dating, that is, men used only physical cues for their choices. In contrast, women included more criteria, namely men’s sociosexuality and shyness as well as cues for current or future resource providing potential, such as education, income, and openness to experience (but not cues of steady resource striving like conscientiousness).

Note how eduction and income mattered to women, but not to men. Those are elements of hypergamy. Avoiding shy men is also hypergamy because shyness is low-status in Western men.

For another example of modern hypergamy, observe the attraction of women to rockstars and actors. Yet do women become groupies of rockstars merely in hope of gaining their resources through marriage, as a rational adjustment to a sexist society? I doubt it.

Is modern hypergamy merely a hold-over due to outdated norms? No. In pre-agricultural societies where women don't economically depend on men, hypergamy still exists. Anthropologists used to be bamboozled by the discovery that the lioness' share of calories in some cultures is supplied by the women. So why were the men hunting, if it was so inefficient? Anthroplogists eventually came up with the hypothesis that male hunting isn't (just) about providing meat.

Hawkes and Bird argue that a large function of men’s hunting isn’t putting food on the table for their families, but rather showing off to gain social status and mating success. The researchers observe that competent male Ache hunters have greater mating success:

The families of better hunters end up with no more meat than other families. Hill and Hurtado’s demographic data show little difference in survival risk for the children of better hunters. But men rated as better hunters had much higher fertility. In a smaller data set, better Ache hunters were more often named by women as lovers and as secondary fathers of more children. (Secondary fathers are men other than a mother’s husband who were sexually involved with her at the time of her pregnancy). Ache women did not nominate hunting skill as a criterion for choosing a mate, but men emphasized its importance for success with women.

Since the hunter's skill doesn't translate into more provisioning for his family, the it's difficult to explain women's preference for hunters as a response to economic deprivation. Women don't have to date good hunters to feed their children, but they do anyway.

In other ethnographic cases, hunting success is also associated with advantages in male competition. Hadza men foraging in northern Tanzania are big game specialists (Fig. 1). As among the Ache, hunters do not control the distribution of meat. In this case, the wives and children of better hunters do have more positive weight gains, and those wives have surviving children faster. But these differences are directly associated with the foraging effort of the women themselves. , As with the Ache, the wide sharing of meat means that Hadza women and children receive little of their meat from kills by their husband and father. Consistent with this, a father’s death or parental divorce has no effect on child survival. However, better Hadza hunters tend to be married to harder-working wives. Older men who are better hunters have younger wives, suggesting they are more likely to leave an older wife to raise a second family—another way they have increased success in competing for paternity. Meriam turtle hunters also have higher age-specific reproductive success than do nonhunters and, as with the Hadza, this seems due to assortative mating: hunters claim more fertile wives than do nonhunters.

Successful hunters gain high status, have more partners, and experience greater reproductive success. That's hypergamy.

The "economic inequality" hypothesis does not explain this pattern of women "dating up" in terms of . It does seem plausible that women start caring less about men's economic status in prosperous societies, but that doesn't mean that women have stopped being hypergamous.

Without the need to mate with good providers to put roofs over their heads, women are free to go after the men they are attracted to, which seems to mean dating up on other dimensions they care about such as personality traits, education, status, intelligence, and accomplishments (some of these traits have been discussed in this comment, and others will have to wait for another time). This appears to be a generalized phenomenon; for instance, women care more about humor in their partners than men do, another culturally-valued trait.

As far as I can tell, this pattern of evidence looks a lot more like some sort of instinct on the part of women than merely a response to economic inequality (those as I've mentioned above, economic inequality is a factor in how hypergamy is expressed). The other problem with the sociocultural inequality hypothesis is that it can't explain how gender inequality came about in the first place: clearly there are some pre-cultural forces in play. It's difficult to make any sense out of this data without invoking evolutionary theories like sexual selection.

Comment by HughRistik on Polyhacking · 2011-08-29T03:22:12.985Z · LW · GW

They don't care about status so much?

My previous flippant response misread Jack's comment

Comment by HughRistik on Polyhacking · 2011-08-28T09:32:37.957Z · LW · GW

Don't poly folks want to feel special to their partners?

Yes. Which is part of why I allow competition. Personally, I find it easier to feel special when I know that my partner has other options, but still chooses to spend most/all of her time with me. I want my partner to be spending time with the person (or people) she is best matched with, even if it's not me. But if it is me, then I feel great, especially when I see my partner dropping one of her other options in favor of spending more time with me, or telling me that she enjoys spending time with me more.

Comment by HughRistik on Help Fund Lukeprog at SIAI · 2011-08-25T04:24:26.210Z · LW · GW

lukeprog doesn't need food; he needs subscription access.

Comment by HughRistik on Rationality and Relationships · 2011-08-16T05:26:15.607Z · LW · GW

Certainly everyone could be pigs. But are they? Moral philosophy is heavily based on human intuitions. The fact that other people feel differently from oneself is (at least weak) evidence against one's own moral theories. There are many reasons to doubt moral prohibitions that are being slung around in public discourse about sexuality.

Declaration of morals is a social act. Isn't it a jolly coincidence how our promotion of certain morals just happens to make us look and feel better than other people? Isn't it convenient that morality gives us excuses to derogate our competitors? Perhaps even an excuse to go to war on them and take their land? While I believe that moral discourse is valuable and I engage in myself all the time, I do consider moral proposals to be suspect, because there is such a strong incentive for people to advocate morals for self-serving reasons without actually thinking them through in the context of moral theories that get fairly applied to everyone.

To a large degree, morality isn't about ethics, it's about status, signaling, tribalism, and policing others. There are many historical examples of over-reaching sexual morality such as religion, stigma against homosexuality, and suspicions about the sexuality of black men. Nowadays, there are other people who attempt moral prohibitions that are controversial, such as militant vegetarians, animal rights activists, environmentalists, and opponents of free speech on college campuses to name a few. Everyone political group wants to tell people what to do.

Since I'm a bit of a Hobbesian, I recognize that people will quickly violate any intersubjective forms of morality if they are left to their own nasty and brutish devices. Consequently, I would recognize that lots of moral prohibitions should be necessary. So, if I hear a moral prohibition articulated, shouldn't I find it credible? Not necessarily, because moral prohibitions have been appropriated by humans engaging in Hobbesian competition and weaponized. Well-founded moral prohibitions compete for our attention among a deluge of self-serving, incoherent, and hypocritical prohibitions.

Like White cards in Magic: The Gathering, moralists of every stripe think they stand on the side of goodness, law, and order, but that's hardly always the case.

In dating, there is also potential for bias proclamations about morality of how people of another gender should treat you. That's because people want to encourage behaviors that they personally find attractive, funnel the people they find attractive towards them, and avoid people they don't find attractive. If allowed to, they will stomp on the preferences of other people of their own gender, and on the preferences of the gender they are trying to date. Cross-gender claims about dating morality ("e.g. women shouldn't do this", "men shouldn't do that") are highly biased by the personal goals of the speaker, which doesn't always make them wrong, but does always make them suspect.

Now, what about moral prohibitions towards oneself? Those can still be self-serving, if you are using them to try to make yourself feel better or increase your status relative to others. See the story of the Fox and the Grapes. "I can't fulfill the desires of people I want to date? Well, I would've had to violate my lofty principles to do so anyway... what's more, the people who are doing better than me are pigs!"

Alternatively, even if your acceptance of restrictive moral principles is not self-serving, it still might show that one of your competitors has duped you and memetically neutered you for their own self-serving goals. Or perhaps you were influenced by someone else being the fox calling the grapes sour who wants you to be their partner in misery.

Moral prohibitions are important, and some of them are coherent and meaningful. Yet the above analysis gives us some priors about the sources of restrictive sexual and romantic morals which should cause us to think twice about moral proscriptions against personal development, including internalized ones.

Comment by HughRistik on Rationality and Relationships · 2011-08-11T09:37:50.810Z · LW · GW

Short version:

  • There are patterns in human sexual behavior and preferences that are perceivable anecdotally, or discoverable through research. These patterns can be used to make useful predictions.

  • In order to create a certain outcome, it helps to fulfill the criteria necessary to produce that outcome. There is a strong incentive to self-modify towards traits that are attractive to the people you want to date, unless such self-modification is sufficiently costly in terms of time, money, ethics, and sense of self.

  • Be as pragmatic as you can let yourself get away with, when needed. Don't be impragmatic unless you have a good reason!

  • There is an incentive to self-modify one's sense of self in order to satisfy the requirements for the type of sexual or romantic outcomes that you desire, and in order to allow pragmatic self-modification in other areas.

  • Learning how to date taught me more about my sense of self than my sense of self taught me about learning to date.

  • Notice instances where an attempt at self-modification fails, or feels overly strained. If you can't figure out a way to make that form of self-modification work, stop it, and try something else.

  • If you never strain your sense of self, you probably aren't being curious enough (or your current self is already sufficiently successful).

  • Try to cultivate a self that will be successful for your goals (up to limits of time, energy, ethics, and empirically-discovered traits) without feeling that you are trying hard. Instead of constantly trying to micromanage your behaviors and traits, create yourself an identity that manifests those behaviors and traits for you. (e.g. if you want to date people who like athletic partners, then, within the limits mentioned in previous points, try to cultivate an identity and sense of self that makes you want to engage in exercise and feel that exercise is an authentic expression of your values.)

  • The effectiveness of explicit verbal communication is limited, especially when not dating people who are nerdy with ridiculous IQ.

  • Examine your view of ethics for false-negatives (i.e. things that you don't currently consider unethical, but should). A useful sort of question might be "if I was to try behavior X with 100 people, how many times would they have a negative response, and am I comfortable with that?"

  • Examine your view of ethics for false-positives (i.e. things that you currently consider unethical, but shouldn't). A useful sort of question is "does this ethical principle literally ban a sexual or romantic behavior that the majority of the population currently engages in?" If you are holding yourself to a vastly more restrictive ethical standard than the vast majority of the population, then either everyone else are pigs, or you are being overly idealistic.

  • Consider the outcome of other ethical theories than your current one, and the views of people whose ethics differ from yours. (Both for enabling or prohibiting behaviors.)

  • The goal is not to maximize the average desire for you in the population, it's to exceed a threshold of people (with characteristics you want) who desire you strongly enough to actually date you.

  • Self-modify to temporally disable analytical thinking (such as throughout this post) to enjoy being in the moment.

  • Successful self-modification often involves forgetting what you were like before, and all these other bullet points.

Comment by HughRistik on New Post version 2 (please read this ONLY if your last name beings with l–z) · 2011-08-02T07:52:57.811Z · LW · GW

It seems like we do have some areas of agreement, and I'm going to focus on the areas where our perspectives are different.

I absolutely agree. But I don't think it was necessarily good for him or for the people he encountered...

He seems to think his exploration had positive consequences for himself and for others, given that he has written this post. His perceptions may not be correct, but they are all we have to go on.

I can't say what the effects of his behaviour were, are, or will be. But I can say that I would be very insulted if he had tried such tactics on me - it's a belittling of my intelligence to expect me to not notice such blatantly obvious ploys. And in the context of relationships, it comes across as, in my opinion, being womanizing and disrespectful towards women. And as I've pointed out elsewhere it seems inconsistent for him to not care about their rationality.

Which tactics would you find insulting? Not talking about politics or programming? Maintaining emotional momentum? Displaying confident behavior? Changing topics in conversation by free-associating? Asking for a number while in a rush?

lukeprog observes the preferences of (a subset of) women, and attempts to self-modify in order to fulfill their (perceived) criteria. I'm having trouble seeing what the problem is, and how such a practice would disrespect women's rationality.

And I think that's the large difference. I have done similar things as well, and, for me they were incredibly destructive, and set me back several years in development of my social skills. And it wasn't until I started analyzing the sources of my emotions that I became confident in myself and who I was. I discarded emotions that weren't based in rational thought, and I accepted and embraced those that were.

I seems like a more cognitive approach was most helpful for you. For other people, a highly behavioral approach might be useful. For me, both have been useful.

I spent many years faking confidence and tiptoeing around social protocol, and I was miserable and horribly insecure. I still can't imagine that ever being a positive experience, but I will accept the numerous people who have testified to it at their word that it was.

It's complicated. Not all of my efforts to expand my personality have succeeded. I eventually do hit a limit of extraversion, for example, beyond which I feel fake and drained. So I do relate to what you are saying. Luckily, some of my attempts at changing my behavior have stuck, and also succeeded in changing my attitudes and sense of self. It was only by pushing my personality to its limits that I gained a sense of what it could do.

Comment by HughRistik on New Post version 2 (please read this ONLY if your last name beings with l–z) · 2011-08-01T09:35:32.156Z · LW · GW

It sounds like you and lukeprog are doing a lot of the same things, and have the same skills... the difference is that you managed to attain these skills without needing to study them so much. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I'm sure there are people who might work as hard as lukeprog, and still not attain the results in dating that either you or him achieve, because they are starting off as more unattractive and socially impaired, or they don't learn quickly.

I know fashion well enough to turn heads when I walk down the street

If you're turning heads, then you are either great at fashion, or you are more attractive than a "7" (at least, to a sufficient proportion of women).

I can somehow build rapport with almost anyone I particularly care about building rapport with

For some people, it takes work to attain this skill.

my hair looks great when I bother to get it cut which is really a rather simple procedure

Not everyone has hair that looks great with minimal work, and some people have to spend time and effort learning how to maintain it.

Back when I was in the game I was banging cheerful sweet intelligent 17yo models like it was no big deal. I pulled that off despite the fact that I have a lot of weird psychological/neurological stuff going on that makes many people think I'm autistic or something, and I'm at only like 7 on the physical attractiveness scale.

Based on what I know of you so far, I suspect that you are substantially above the mean in attractiveness to women (or at least, to a certain subset of women). It sounds like you've developed a lot of the prerequisites without needing to try very hard. While I will congratulate you, I'm not sure that your experience suggests that lukeprog's skill development was not necessary. He just needed to work harder to put together a similar amount of skills and attractiveness. Due to a different biology and social experience, it takes different people different amounts of work to attain the same skills.