THE JOYFUL REDUCTION OF UNCERTAINTY

Open Thread 93.5

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. As the off-weekend thread, this is culture-war-free, so please try try to avoid overly controversial topics. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.

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551 Responses to Open Thread 93.5

  1. bean says:

    Naval Gazing: Basics of Naval Strategy. This will hopefully be helpful to understanding a bit of why navies are built the way they are, and how they can be operated to meet a nation’s goals.

    • cassander says:

      I don’t know how to say this without sounding condescending, so forgive me, I don’t mean it that way, but it’s nice to see someone who doesn’t fall into the lazy Mahan/corbett dichotomy that doesn’t really exist when you actually read corbett. I might make mention of A2/AD as a modern species/vocabulary of sea denial though.

      • bean says:

        I admit that I’ve read neither Mahan nor Corbett, although I know who both of them are. (Mention of Corbett was cut for length.) The post was about 90% from Seapower as Strategy, which is a fantastic book. So most of the credit belongs, as usual, to Norman Friedman. I’ve added a footnote about A2/AD. I cover most of the other efforts of the sea denial folks in an upcoming post.

        • cassander says:

          Mahan had important ideas, but he’s definitely not the best writer. Corbett is a lot punchier though, worth a read.

    • Protagoras says:

      You occasionally ask for topic requests; I’m curious about the First Sino-Japanese War. A story I’ve heard is that prior to that conflict, the Japanese naval leadership were big torpedo enthusiasts, sure that large numbers of small, cheap ships with torpedoes were the way of the future. And, though the Japanese navy did well in the war, of course, supposedly the performance of the Chinese battleships, which proved very difficult to sink, made the Japanese reconsider the value of battleships. Do you have any insight into the naval battles in that war and their consequences?

      • bean says:

        That’s actually on my list for the continuing saga of the ironclads. I have a column on Pungdo written up, but I haven’t found a spot for it, or time to analyze the rest of the war.
        Re your specific questions, Kaigun (the standard source on the matter) suggests that the war pretty much validated the IJN’s pre-war doctrines. They did increase the emphasis on armor, but I think it was at the expense of unarmored gun ships, not torpedo boats.

        • christhenottopher says:

          I have to imagine the increase in armored naval ships has to do with budgetary constraints more than tactical considerations correct? Or was it more that pre-Sino-Japanese war the IJN actually thought the speed/manoverability advantages of lack of armor beat the protection advantages?

          • bean says:

            Not really sure. The only navies of that era I have a good grasp on are the RN and USN, and to a lesser extent the Russians. I’d guess it was mostly budgetary, with some follow-on effects on their thinking. The Japanese were still relatively poor at the time. It’s also relatively common for poor nations to convince themselves that decisions forced by budgetary pressures are in fact good ones, and not the best of a bad situation.

  2. Synaspora says:

    Can someone here clearly explain the cause of lunar terminator illusion? I’ve seen many articles and videos on this topic (including VSAUCE’s) and I do have a general idea of the cause–it relates to the sun being much farther away from us than the moon. But my understanding is still not 100%. I’m just not seeing it.

    • Sidok says:

      Here’s a wildly-not-to-scale diagram that might help.

    • publiusvarinius says:

      Stand in the middle of your room with your camera in hand. I will call the wall in front of you Wall F. Turn your camera towards the upper left corner of your room and take a photo. Now turn your camera towards the upper right corner of your room and take a photo.

      You’ll notice that the edge of Wall F points towards the upper right on the left picture, and towards the upper left on the right picture. But that’s a straight edge and light will travel in a straight line between the two corners. This is the source of the lunar terminator illusion.

      Now imagine that the Sun sits in one corner, and the other corner has the Moon. Where would you see the lunar terminator?

      (here you can find a drawing I made)

    • 3rd says:

      I’m pretty sure I’ve noticed this illusion before and didn’t know how to talk about it.

      I searched and found http://chrisjones.id.au/MoonIllusion/ that gave me satisfactory intuition about it.

      The animated gif at the bottom (mouse over the blue) starts off how a person on earth looking at the moon plus sun, then slowly moves the sun back out to it’s proper isometric position.

  3. sty_silver says:

    What is the best post or article arguing that AI danger is not real?

    • fortaleza84 says:

      I’ve never seen anyone seriously arguing that There is Nothing to Worry About. I would guess that even the biggest optimists (Ray Kurzweil?) would concede that AI could cause a lot of problems If It Fell into the Wrong Hands.

      There was a pretty good article on lesswrong a couple years back which argued, among other things, that Yudkowsky’s concerns about AI safety are misplaced. I believe it was called “Thoughts About the Singularity Institute.”

      • sty_silver says:

        My question was somewhat poorly phrased, what I really meant was “the -existential- threat of AI”. More specific than self-driving cars, but less specific than just the intelligence explosion debate (otherwise I’d just point to Robin Hanson).

        I think if it was still the Singularity Institute, that’s too far back for my taste.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      Try Robin Hanson. There’s still no perfect summary of his position (dig around here for more, but it’s frustrating).

    • Came across this recently, but it’s not great…I count two good arguments, one mediocre, and one terrible.

  4. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Here’s another utilitarian thought experiment. If maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain is defined as good, then:

    Consensual sex usually gives much pleasure.
    Loneliness usually causes much pain.
    Ergo, parents should arrange marriages for their children before they move away to avoid the usual vast negative utility of living alone and sexless.

    (Could be considered CW rather than an innocent thought experiment like murdering men with trolleys, but I’d say not since its so far outside the West’ s Overton window.)

    • toastengineer says:

      I dunno, is arranged marriage that far outside the O window? Everything I’ve heard about it says arranged marriage is actually pretty okay, at least in the majority of cases. Arrange marriage with the marrier having ultimate veto power sounds A-OK with me.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I’ve known a few people my age whose parents offered them a spouse in their late teens, but they were all different sorts of Asian. It’s scarcely thinkable for people of Northern European or Afro-American descent.

        • Anonymous says:

          Used to be somewhat common two or three gernerations ago. The institution seemed to have just vanished into thin air.

        • I think still common among Ashkenazi immigrants less than a century ago.

          According to a female Saudi student of mine with whom I discussed the subject, her brother couldn’t find a wife for himself because he had no opportunities to meet women. So it was up to his mother, possibly assisted by his sisters, to check out potential brides.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Keywords being “century ago.”
            The Ashkenazi family I know is pretty Blue, wouldnt think of such a thing, and find the idea of marrying a cousin about as bad as the Church Fathers.

          • Brad says:

            I’m fairly certain none of my grand-grandparents that were married the US (3/4), which marriages all occured in the 1910s and 1920s, were arranged by a shadchan or similar. Not sure about the couple that was born, married, and died in Europe.

            I know for sure none of the marriages in the next generation were.

          • My parents were not, but that was later. I don’t know about their parents–married before they immigrated for at least one pair.

          • analytic_wheelbarrow says:

            @DavidFriedman

            My parents were not, but that was later.

            The world is very lucky that Friedman and Director were adjacent on the class attendance list and therefore had to sit next to each other!!

    • ajakaja says:

      The utility system which is reflected in the behavior of people I know definitely has other variables such as “freedom” and “agency” involved in nonlinear ways that would cancel out any benefits to arranged marriages.

      Also, the kind of pleasure that stands to be gained from a voluntary marriage is much more broad and important than the fleeting pleasure to be gained from being able to have sex whenever you want, and conflating the two is wrong.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        So you’re saying arranged marriages reflect Benthams swine morality and tlserious utilitarianism is the type with higher and lower pleasures?

    • Philosophisticat says:

      Actually, most people don’t live alone and sexless in the absence of arranged marriages, and enjoy the freedom to choose a mate.

      • Anonymous says:

        There’s at least one place where that is the case. In the west the problem isn’t quite as large, and I would very much like to see some stats on that; my eyeballing assessment is that there’s a reason why there’s a lot of whining from both male and female subpopulations about not being able to find a partner.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Yes, so doesn’t a utilitarian have to calculate the avoidable suffering of men & women who can’t find a mate against the pleasure people who find their mate by dating or hookups gain?

    • Baeraad says:

      My immediate reaction is, how much pain does enforced closeness with someone you’re incompatible with cause? Because I suffer plenty from loneliness, and did so even more acutely when I was younger, but I’ve also had a roommate I despised and I don’t think getting a sex life in the bargain would have made up for the misery of that living situation.

      I might consider whether arranged marriages make sense for people who are going to live in close-knit communities where everyone’s up in each other’s business anyway. If you’re still going to get no privacy, then sure, might as well be sleeping with one of those people who won’t leave you alone. But just grafting arranged marriages onto the current individualised Western culture and expecting it to work? No, I’m dubious.

      • Protagoras says:

        Many people seem to be fairly bad at judging compatibility. It is not clear that an arranged marriage (or even random assignment, for that matter) would produce that many more situations of people ending up stuck with those they are incompatible with than people’s own poor choices do now. But I realize most people think this applies to other people’s choices, not their own, so it’s unlikely to convince very many that this is a good idea.

        • Arranged marriages, at least in the case of the two cultures for which I have information from talking to someone from the culture, require the assent of the partners. The parents do the searching, the candidate partners then get to meet, and the marriage happens if the partners approve.

          I don’t know what the evidence is on whether this works better or worse than our system. The issue was brought to my attention by a long conversation, in a flight from Bombay to Sydney, with a woman from southern India who was flying out to join her husband. She was happily married, I was recently divorced, so on our very small sample their system worked better. It was fascinating to see such a system not as a historical relic by people obviously making a mistake but from the perspective of an intelligent modern person who saw our approach as odd just as I saw theirs.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’m willing to bet that a fairly high proportion of people are the descendants of arranged marriages. There might be some selective effect if there’s such a thing as a genetic basis for being skilled at negotiation.

          • Murphy says:

            Counter point: an indian postgrad I used to work with used to only visit home during a month when in the area/province he grew up there was some kind of tradition of no wedding taking place. his parents trying to force him into a union was part of the issue but apparently groom-napping was also an issue where particularly eligible young men (like a scrawny guy who’s soon to have the title “doctor”) were sometimes literally grabbed off the street and forced into a shotgun wedding.

            There was massive social stigma around divorce or leaving someone you’re married to so some of his neighbors growing up were guys who’d been married this way.

            One way to achieve low divorce rates even if everyone involved is miserable is to simply dial divroce/seperation stigma up to 11 which makes the stats look good but may not signal the individuals actually being happy.

        • Algirdas Vėlyvis says:

          Why, hello, Mrs. Collins. I trust Mr. Collins is well these days?

        • Baeraad says:

          But wasn’t the original question about arranged marriages vs being alone? If we’re talking about arranged marriages vs non-arranged marriages, it’s a whole other question.

          I’ll grant you, I immediately assumed that an arranged marriage would be involuntary and have a very limited right to divorce. If we’re talking about parents being responsible for presenting their children with a possible spouse, which they could then accept or decline, and who they could divorce at will if things didn’t go well, then I admit that the idea starts to sound more appealing…

    • John Schilling says:

      Marriage is about much more than just consensual sex, so if you approach it from that angle you’ll probably not be pleased with the results, Also, the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States and Western Europe I think serve as an existence proof that most of humanity can arrange their own marriages well enough. And if they can’t, why do you imagine it should be the parents who do it for them? That’s a big missing step in your reasoning. We’ve got eHarmony now, who needs parents?

      But, OK, there have always been some people who suck at doing their own matchmaking. It might be worth thinking about how to do matchmaking for them, but step one of doing that is going to be figuring out who those people are before it’s too late and step two is going to be figuring out how to take out the stigma and negative status from “couldn’t get a date on their own, the loser” that will likely have the people you are trying to help, flee from your help. Again, this may argue against using parents as matchmakers; dependency on one’s parents into adulthood is traditionally low-status.

      Also, it’s possible that the reason things worked as well as they did in the 19th/20th century West is that we told young women, who traditionally hold most of the power in the purely sexual marketplace, that they needed to use that power to land a Good Husband before they turned into an Old Maid, because we don’t let women hold Real Jobs and the social safety net really sucks. As that is no longer the case, whereas the folly of youth mostly still is, self-help matchmaking may become less reliable in the long run and we may want to look at alternatives. But if so, it will be to face an unprecedented new environment, so defaulting to the past solution of “obviously the parents should handle it” may not be the right answer.

      So, why parents?

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Doesn’t eHarmony charge money? So then a utilitarian has to calculate the opportunity cost of all those people using it to avoid matchmaking by their family, since it could be spent on, say, mosquito nets…

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      You can arrange marriage, but you can’t arrange consent.

    • keranih says:

      It is also my impression that there is a fair bit of coaching of the young people that goes on in cultures that use arranged marriages – how to make a good impression, how to not make your spouse unhappy, who to go to when there are Serious Issues.

      So some of the arranged marriage success might lie with the idea that – given marriage as inevitable, and *not* inevitably happily ever after – the young people will need and should get guidance on how to manage their lives together. It’s not my impression that Western society tolerates this sort of interference in ‘personal’ matters to the same degree.

      Of course, there are all sorts of horror stories that come from examples of incompatible spouses or deceit or abusive in-laws. I just don’t think in reality those were as common as fairy tales and myths of Prince Charming would have one think.

      • The Red Foliot says:

        I just don’t think in reality those were as common as fairy tales and myths of Prince Charming would have one think.

        The high mortality rate of the medieval age meant that children were often growing up under in-laws or step-parents who lacked the biologically endowed instinct for love that real parents have so that their numerous unfavorable representations in fairy tales could be seen as a social commentary on the fact.

  5. Levantine says:

    Alan Ryan, who was a nurse for 20 years, and knows a thing or two about training in the NHS, said something quite profound in Berlin recently. “All of our jobs (in NHS) are, in practice, apprenticehips, from consultants to cleaners”. His point was that healthcare is an eminently, practical affair. He supports alternative routes into healthcare professions.

    http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com/2018/01/nurses-why-degrees-are-not-answer-for.html

  6. Andrew Hunter says:

    Suppose a cryptocurrency–not necessarily Bitcoin, but something similar–succeeds in the long term and becomes the dominant medium of exchange: fiat currencies are obsolete and lose the vast majority of their value, governments have much harder time preventing money laundering or controlling the flow of money, whatever. (Yes, I know bitcoin is tracable, not the point.) Maybe this produces Snow Crash, who knows. Assume for the moment, though, I know that dollars are going to become mostly worthless in favor of BTC. Putting aside the large scale societal changes this produces, let’s further assume that society doesn’t fully collapse: not because that’s impossible, but because at that point I should be stockpiling food, antibiotics, and private security. (Or just partying my days away.) So we have a functional economy and society where all meaningful business is done in BTC (or ETH or whatever.)

    Many cryptocurrency backers say that if this scenario is likely, I should invest in cryptocurrencies. I suppose I could, but is that necessary? In this scenario, wouldn’t I do perfectly well by continuing to invest in index funds, and at some point they just stop quoting GOOG in USD and quote it in BTC? As Warren Buffett is fond of pointing out w/r/t Gold, however people pay for things of value, they’ll always want to pay for actual goods and services, right?

    • cassander says:

      I’m not sure I buy it, but I have seen it argued that most securities are bought today because, under an inflationary fiat currency regime, you have to put your money in something. That if we had a non-fiat currency regime, the value of the currency would rise more or less directly with total GDP, so holding currency would effectively be an investment in the whole economy, and we wouldn’t need the vast financial system we have today where everyone needs somewhere to park their money so the market gets bid up by people buying stocks because everyone knows that the market always goes up in the long term, because people need somewhere to park their money.

      If this theory is correct, and it seems sensible enough on its face, then presumably prices for most securities would fall once people no longer needed them as a store of value and only people who are actually trying to allocate capital had a reason to buy securities.

    • C_B says:

      If you keep investing in index funds etc., your return on investment will be approximately the rate of the economy’s growth (plus or minus luck, good stock selection, etc.). You won’t lose your shirt in the $$>BTC change, because exactly what you say will happen will happen, people will just slowly stop telling you how much your stocks are worth in $$ and start telling you how much they’re worth in BTC. But you also won’t get rich quick.

      Early BTC adopters WILL get rich quick, because current prices for BTC factor in the (generally thought to be fairly high) probability that the cryptocurrency takeover WON’T happen. So, if we take it as a given that it will happen, the people who invested in BTC before it was a sure thing will get rich (because its value will go up as adoption increases and perceived risk drops).

      So…pretty much like every other investment. If you buy a bunch of a thing that you think is going to become more valuable and you’re right, you get rich. If you’re wrong, you lose money. If you stick with index funds, you make money slowly (as long as the economy doesn’t crash) and insulate yourself from risk.

      • Chalid says:

        your return on investment will be approximately the rate of the economy’s growth (plus or minus luck, good stock selection, etc.).

        There’s no fundamental reason this has to be true; in the US, stock returns have been much higher than overall economic growth over very long time scales.

        (Anticipated question: wouldn’t this imply that the corporate sector’s faster growth would have led to it taking up the whole economy, at which point its growth is limited by overall economic growth? The answer is no, because profits leave the corporate sector, most obviously in the form of dividends, so corporate profitability does not necessarily lead to larger corporations.)

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Suppose everyone agrees that we should replace existing monetary systems with cryptocurrency.

        It seems like if we switch to Bitcoin, we have to pay a lot of money to the people who bought Bitcoin early, since they’re making a lot of money and surely that has to come to the rest of us.

        But if we all just agree to switch to Newcoin, a cryptocurrency I just invented which is exactly like Bitcoin but on a different blockchain and I’m giving it away randomly right now, this is much cheaper for everyone and better for everyone except Bitcoin early adapters, right?

        So what’s the argument, from society’s point of view, of switching to Bitcoin rather than Newcoin? Is it just that it would be too hard to coordinate?

        • John Schilling says:

          There is one Bitcoin, which was first and has the most users. There will be many different Newcoins. That makes Bitcoin the obvious schelling point for which digital currency to try and use, when the penalty for guessing wrong as to what digital currency everyone else will end up using is that your initial stake in the wrong currency is lost.

          Since the whole idea is that there is no central authority to coordinate the shift, yes, the coordination problem is a potential dealbreaker and “let’s all just use Bitcoin” is the obvious deal to fall back on.

          • rlms says:

            There’s also the possibility that one Newcoin is better than Bitcoin, so people switch to that instead.

          • John Schilling says:

            Why would there be only one? Whatever might make a Newcoin better than Bitcoin, it is likely that multiple Newcoins will offer it at about the same time. And there will be disagreements over what constitutes “better”, so probably multiple Newcoins offering various “better” packages, overlapping on the most common features. All of them are “better than Bitcoin” in most respects except the one critical respect of being first/most popular/the obvious schelling point.

          • It isn’t obvious that the equilibrium is a single dominant currency. The advantage of that in the past was the reduced transaction cost. But computers do currency conversion fast and cheap. You could have a system with ten different cryptocurrencies, each having features that made it preferred by some subset of users, and software such that I always saw prices in the currency I used, whatever currency the seller stated them in.

            To some extent we already have that with multiple national currencies. I can put my credit card into an ATM in London and draw pounds out of a dollar account. I can shop online and choose which of several currencies I see prices in.

          • rlms says:

            it is likely that multiple Newcoins will offer it at about the same time

            Sure, but if they are sufficiently better then people will switch to the Schellingest one of them rather than Bitcoin.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            While I agree that Bitcoin makes the best Schelling point, once someone has done the really hard work to accept the first crypto currency, accepting the second is very easy.

            And I mean “done the work to accept” both in terms of allowing people to spend it at your store, and also mentally being able to grok crypto as a store of value.

        • baconbits9 says:

          But if we all just agree to switch to Newcoin, a cryptocurrency I just invented which is exactly like Bitcoin but on a different blockchain and I’m giving it away randomly right now, this is much cheaper for everyone and better for everyone except Bitcoin early adapters, right?

          So you give away Newcoin randomly, so now there are all the people who lucked out and got more Newcoin. What is the benefit to staying with Newcoin, and not just starting up Newercoin? It seems like switching to Newercoin is a net benefit to everyone at a cost to those who landed a bunch of Newcoins. Where is the logical stopping point?

        • Andrew Cady says:

          If we all agree that newcoins are valuable and bitcoins are not valuable, then that will be the case basically by definition (“cryptocoins” have no inherent value just like “fiat currency,” literally all of their value is “coordination” in the shared idea that they have a value).

          But what we have is only that we all agree that we want to agree that newcoins are valuable. We want to convince ourselves that newcoins actually have value (and possibly also convince ourselves that bitcoins don’t).

          I don’t think it would be hard to coordinate such a change if there was public (or even just government-controlling) will to do so. The USA could require everyone buy the new cryptocoin with their physical cash dollars at a certain exchange rate (before a certain date at which the cash would become void), and then start collecting taxes in the cryptocoin, and that’d be enough, I think. (There would need to be an initial entry in the ledger giving the USA enough of the coin to buy all the USD.)

          Another interesting possibility is that the USA government requires all bitcoin software to hard fork into a version where the Federal Reserve’s private key can issue new bitcoin in arbitrary amounts, in order to implement monetary policy. Coins on the newly-forked blockchain are legal tender, can be used to settle debts with USA businesses, can be used to pay taxes, etc.. Selling coins on the unforked blockchain is classified as committing securities fraud. Which coin has the schelling point then?

    • Chalid says:

      your logic sounds obviously right; companies produce goods and services, and people will pay for them. If all fiat currencies vanished tomorrow, Exxon Mobil would still be fantastically valuable, because it produces oil that people will pay for.

    • albatross11 says:

      Just as a nitpick around the edges: I don’t think that society comes anywhere close to collapsing if money laundering and hiding of funds from governments till they’re spent becomes easy/unbreakable/ubiquitous. Drug dealing would become a little easier, but it’t not like the current war on drugs is actually keeping drugs out of all that many peoples’ hands. Probably the cost of illegal drugs goes down a little, and high-level drug dealers become slightly less likely to end up in prison. My understanding is that we’ve made money laundering much more difficult in the last 20-30 years. You may note that drug dealing didn’t stop being a viable profession, and that drugs did not become inaccessible, or really any harder to get hold of.

      Tax collection is harder when it’s easy to hide wealth, but when you spend the wealth, you are doing that in a country which can collect taxes on that wealth, and when you make money by doing business in some country, the country can collect taxes there. I’d expect tax collection to be disrupted but to be able to adapt okay.

      Even if a cryptocurrency is so widely used lots of people do business in it, most people are likely to be thinking in terms of local currency (dollars, euro, yuan, etc.) for quite awhile. And markets work very well at determining current exchange rates between those currencies—some cryptocurrency that becomes widespread will just be one more at first. For spending that’s mediated by a computer (most of it) a quick check of the current exchange rate and a price quote in local currency will just happen automatically. It’s quite possible that almost everyone could still be thinking in dollars after the actual transactions are mostly done in son-of-bitcoin. After all, a huge amount of stuff I buy now was produced by people thinking in terms of yen, euros, renminbi, pesos, etc.

      For the cryptocurrency to be useful as a store of value, it would need to become more stable than dollars/euros/whatever over time, in terms of actual purchasing power. (Maybe I can’t always buy the same number of dollars for a SOB, but I can always buy a pizza or a lightbulb or a laptop for about the same number of SOBs.).

      • I think the problem with anonymous digital currency isn’t that it makes collecting taxes harder or reduces the ability of the government to enforce drug laws, both of which strike me as benefits. It’s that it makes various forms of extortion, such as kidnapping and ransomware, harder to prevent. One of the weak points in kidnapping used to be the problem of collecting the payoff. With anonymous digital currency that vanishes.

    • vV_Vv says:

      Investing in cryptocoins is always purely speculative: you think that you are able to price the coin better than the other party does, they think the same, and only one of you can be right, therefore your gain is their loss and vice versa (assuming similar utility functions).

      Investing in stocks is usually also speculative. The only exception is during an IPO or recapitalization, when new stocks are created by fiat and the money you use to purchase them goes to the company, which presumably uses it to hire people, buy equipment, etc. But in the normal case of buying or selling an existing stock, you are speculating: you think that you are able to price the stock better than the other party does.

      Therefore index funds are speculative in approximately the same way that Bitcoin is. Of course, one may be a better investment than the other.

      • Aapje says:

        During an IPO or recapitalization you are also speculating that the price is set below the actual value, given the expected risk/reward.

      • Andrew Cady says:

        in the normal case of buying or selling an existing stock, you are speculating: you think that you are able to price the stock better than the other party does.

        Not at all. Both buyer and seller could believe that the stock is going to stay at exactly the same price for all time and continue to deliver the exact same real returns for all time.

        It’s just that one of them wants the stock, the other wants the cash.

  7. Egregious Philbin says:

    What would you recommend or say to a 22 year old male who has never kissed or had sex, and is resentful about such?

    • Anonymous says:

      Asking for a friend?

      I’d recommend some red pill intro material. And dig a bit into why it is so. I presume he’s not incel for want of desire. He may be utterly clueless, or cowardly, or damaged somehow. Specific advice needs specific causes.

    • skef says:

      It would really depend on the specific reasoning and past experiences behind the resentment.

      Absent that information, I would try to address the question “what would I say to a 22 year old male who [X], and is resentful about such?” So, general advice about dealing with resentment productively, particularly at that age. Something like: “Regardless of how things have gone so far, 22 is very early for there to be much evidence that things are going to continue to be this way.”

      Kissing and sex generally take place in the context of (sometimes quite short term) personal relationships, and the ways that people relate are highly idiosyncratic, and change with age. You might be surprised how many 22 year old males have not yet had non-regrettable kisses and/or sex.

      • Kevin C. says:

        “Regardless of how things have gone so far, 22 is very early for there to be much evidence that things are going to continue to be this way.”

        So at what age would you say it’s no longer “early”, but becomes reasonable to infer “that things are going to continue to be this way”?

        • skef says:

          There’s no sharp line, but in our culture I would say by one’s early thirties one should no longer anticipate things changing just due to one’s cohort getting older.

          I’m also not saying he should do nothing about his situation. I’m pointing out that 22 is early for warranted resentment (to the extent it can be warranted at all). Plenty of people get into relationships with coworkers, for example.

          • Matt M says:

            Plenty of people get into relationships with coworkers, for example.

            Yeah. And the vast majority of them are people who already have significant dating and relationship experience.

            22 is too early to give up, but it isn’t too early to start worrying. And the critical issue here is that the older you get, the harder it will be to overcome. The clock is ticking. Time is NOT on your side.

    • Figure out why. Other 22 year old males go on dates, kiss, possibly have intercourse.

      The obvious first step is to locate a woman he finds attractive who might find him attractive, fellow student, friend of a friend, whatever and ask her out. I think the old fashioned approach was to ask to kiss her good night at the end of the first date, which might be sensible under the circumstances, assuming she doesn’t make it obvious that she wants more than that. One useful feature of kissing is that it can be erotic or not erotic depending on how it is done, so, assuming she permits the kiss, you get to find out if she finds you of romantic interest by how she does it.

      If all goes well and you enjoyed the experience, ask for a second date. You have now kissed a girl. What happens next depends on two variables–how she feels about you and how she feels about sex. If she doesn’t like you at all she will find reasons not to accept a second date. If she likes you but has traditional ideas about sex–no intercourse until it is at least clear this will be a continuing relationship, possibly even no intercourse before marriage–you get to gradually become more intimate as your friendship develops. If she has modern ideas about sex, things may happen much faster. If nothing works out, try asking another woman for a date.

      • mobile says:

        I will add to this to not get surprised or too discouraged if this doesn’t work out the first time, or the second time,
        or the tenth time (well, maybe after the tenth time, reevaluate your approach).

      • fortaleza84 says:

        The obvious first step is to locate a woman he finds attractive who might find him attractive, fellow student, friend of a friend, whatever and ask her out

        I don’t think this is such a great idea. See, that whole process will take time, perhaps a few weeks and perhaps more. When the girl turns him down, it will be psychologically difficult and it will take time to pull himself back together for the next attempt. Asking out 5 or 10 girls a year is no way to lose your virginity if you low in desirability and experience, which this guy is.

        Also, the rejection is likely to lessen his standing in his circles, making it even more difficult to succeed with those women in those circles.

        I think your advice is fine for a guy who is 15 or 16 years old and average in attractiveness. But a 22-year-old kissless virgin is in a different situation.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Try not to be resentful about it because being resentful about it most likely makes it less likely to happen. Get in better shape, dress better, and do some sort of social activity that will increase one’s charm (public speaking, standup, something like that).

      • Well... says:

        do some sort of social activity that will increase one’s charm ([…] standup, something like that).

        Hah, yeah, you know women find Steven Wright and Larry the Cable Guy pretty charming.

        • dndnrsn says:

          I have no idea what their success with women is like. But this is a really lazy response – would either of those guys be more attractive were they not standup comedians? Learning something that will make a guy funny, give a bit of confidence, get him used to overcoming performance anxiety – it doesn’t translate over perfectly to one-on-one, of course, but these are useful things. I’m speaking from personal experience.

          EDIT: There are probably a non-negligible number of attractive women who would have sex with Danny DeVito; it is unlikely this would be the case were it not for his career, largely in comedy performance.

          • The Nybbler says:

            EDIT: There are probably a non-negligible number of attractive women who would have sex with Danny DeVito; it is unlikely this would be the case were it not for his career, largely in comedy performance.

            Probably. However, Danny DeVito’s longtime wife is Rhea Perlman. Who is not so far out of his league. Perhaps this is one reason his marriage has survived so long.

          • Well... says:

            This is true and kind but not necessary:

            Rhea Perlman has an unusual face, with features/structure that aren’t hyper-feminine, but she also isn’t horrible looking — I definitely wouldn’t call her “ugly” — and she has a pretty great body for a woman her age.

          • According to Wikipedia, DeVito and Perlman separated in 2012, reconciled in 2013, separated amicably in 2017.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @The Nybbler

            I feel like discussing the relative hotness of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman is a bridge too far, but will note that someone who’s sad they’re alone would undoubtedly be happy with someone who is roughly as attractive as they are, or roughly equivalent in whatever other qualities – unless the reason they’re alone is that their standards are unrealistic.

          • Wrong Species says:

            I wonder if people would be happier if they knew exactly what their “romantic value” was? Sure there are some indicators but it’s nothing like looking at your bank account. Our current system is like going to an auction with only a fuzzy idea of how much money actually had and you only knew if you could afford something at the end of the auction when you were rejected. Who would want to participate in that?

          • baconbits9 says:

            I wonder if people would be happier if they knew exactly what their “romantic value” was? Sure there are some indicators but it’s nothing like looking at your bank account

            It would be worse, probably way worse. Money works because it is fungible, attractiveness isn’t. My ‘net worth’ might be a 50 out of 100, but it could easily be almost 0 to some people and 80+ to my wife due to her particular tastes. Having me head out to an auction as if I had $50 is going to negate a lot of the parts of our relationship that are meaningful, and quite possible prevent us from getting together.

          • Well... says:

            It’s not much of a question because it’s one of those things that’s impossible to even define satisfactorily, let alone calculate.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Well

            Define, no. But it’s easy to calculate. You just see who gets messaged/looked at/whatever the most. Okcupid has data on the most desirable people on their site. And yes, people have their own subjective preferences on what is most attractive but people also have their own preferences on what various things are worth to them and yet it ends up working out.

            I think the biggest problem would be incorporating social status in to it. It’s different on dating apps where everyone’s status is reduced down to their profile page. But what about the guy who is a manager at his company and extremely confident there versus the same guy who struggles to talk to women at the bars? I don’t know how you would work that out.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @bacon

            You’re taking the analogy too literally. I’m not suggesting that we have people go out and literally bid on each other or anything like that. It was just a point about how lack of information could lead to fewer matches overall.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ Wrong Species,

            I’m saying a lot of the information is unreliable when it comes to personal tastes. In dating you are looking for the outlier, the person who does it for you that you also do it for. Your general attractiveness is only a good indicator of what percent of the population will find you attractive, not which specific subsets of the population will. You never know when a famous actress has a thing for funny, stocky, bald and quirky men.

          • Matt M says:

            I don’t use OKCupid, but I’ve definitely compared “Tinder conversion %” with some of my male friends. The results didn’t make me feel very good, but it was useful to confirm some of my long-standing suspicions.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @baconbits

            How many famous actress’s have a thing for funny, stocky, bald, and quirky men? Maybe one or two, but it’s not many. People like to think that there is just this one special person for everyone. But we generally have pretty similar views on what constitutes attractiveness and it’s not very egalitarian. The majority of people would agree that Ryan Gosling is more attractive than Steve Buscemi and if offered the choice, the vast, vast majority of women would prefer the former. That doesn’t mean that Buscemi is doomed but it would mean he should be setting his sights lower. Now maybe someone is initially attracted to a certain person but then doesn’t like their personality. That’s fine. At least, they got a chance to get to know each other instead of the little blip they learned from a profile, which is the biggest problem for men on dating sites.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ Wrong Species

            There are two parts, there are things that people find attractive and there is the weight that a person puts on each trait. Yes 99/100 women would rate Ryan Gosling over Steve Buscemi, but 99 out of 100 women would not stay in a long term relationship with a Ryan Gosling look alike if he had no other good qualities. How the average woman rates you is immaterial, how the average woman that you are interested in rates you is material.

            Should I set my sights lower than Ryan Gosling? Yes, but virtually everyone has that information already, and exactly where I should set my sights isn’t based on a single dimension, it isn’t even mostly based on my personal traits.

          • Well... says:

            @Wrong Species:

            But it’s easy to calculate. You just see who gets messaged/looked at/whatever the most.

            What that data shows you isn’t your actual romantic value, it’s how well you’ve gamed that system of data collection.

            For instance, imagine two women who are identical in every way except Woman A is very social media savvy and enjoys thinking about how to create the perfect profile on a dating site, while Woman B hates and avoids social media, dating sites most of all.

            Woman A sets up an OKCupid profile and Woman B’s friends badger and pester her until she begrudgingly takes 5 minutes and sets one up too.

            Woman A of course gets way more clicks or likes or swipes or whatever than Woman B, even though the two women’s romantic value is actually the same (in fact A’s might even be lower, since B has more sweet innocence in today’s hyper-virtualized world). Your data are only showing you who’s done a better job puffing themselves up on OKCupid. If you can somehow magically date both women without being a scumbag you’ll quickly realize your data were wrong, although maybe by now your own brain is so infected with OKCupid-o-metrics of romantic value that you’d be suffering from priming effects.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Well

            I understand your point but you couldn’t have chosen a worse example. All a woman needs to do is be attractive and she will get responses. An average looking woman who tries her hardest to make herself sound really interesting is not going to beat her lazy, extremely attractive friend. If you don’t believe me, set up a fake account on Tinder. Just post 4-5 pictures of some attractive looking girl, and make sure at least one shows her entire body(so that men knows she’s not overweight), and doesn’t have any kids, and that profile will be swarming with matches.

            @bacon

            I’m not trying to play match maker here, the whole point is just to get people to show up, which is a massive improvement over the current inefficiencies. If some guy is really that uninteresting, at least they know now after meeting him instead of ignoring his one message among an avalanche of messages. The point is not to find the one perfect person. It’s to narrow the possibilities so that someone can have a more realistic idea of who they could end up with and choose from that much smaller selection. Of course, it’s all probabilistic but you would have a better idea of the possibility of success.

            Should I set my sights lower than Ryan Gosling? Yes, but virtually everyone has that information already, and exactly where I should set my sights isn’t based on a single dimension, it isn’t even mostly based on my personal traits.

            When it comes to Ryan Gosling, yes. But around someone who isn’t such an incredibly high status, it’s hard to know where you stand relative to them.

          • baconbits9 says:

            When it comes to Ryan Gosling, yes. But around someone who isn’t such an incredibly high status, it’s hard to know where you stand relative to them.

            If you don’t know your relative status (or at least it isn’t obvious to a neuro typical if you happen to be bad at perceiving status), then you probably don’t have one. Complex hierarchies like humans have don’t work on strict ordinal rankings. Yes there is often a #1, and fairly regularly a #10 in a group of 10, but the other spots are fluid and highly dependent on what is needed. Humans have evolved a very broad range of personality traits to deal with a broad range of situations. IIRC my anthropology correctly even among chimpanzees you see this, and even with an established “Alpha”, if that alpha isn’t the best hunter then during and after a (successful) hunt then the best hunter functions as the alpha (dividing the meat) for a short period after.

            If you think a hierarchy is stricter than it is then you make a lot of mistakes, if you approach a women that you think is a 50 and get rejected and believe in a strict hierarchy then you have to reclassify yourself as sub 50 (or her as higher, or a combination). If you realize that ’50’ is really an 80 to some people and under some circumstances and a 20 in others then your approach and self evaluation changes, because that means you are an 80 sometimes and a 20 others (or in Gosling’s case a 99 sometimes and an 90 others).

          • Well... says:

            @Wrong Species:

            You are proving my point by specifying what the picture needs to show. Two equally attractive women post pictures. The first woman is savvy enough to know she needs to make sure some of her pictures show her whole body, the second one is not and all her pictures show her from the neck up. The first woman will score higher on your Tinder swipe contest because your Tinder swipe contest is actually measuring characteristics tailored for success on Tinder.

            You can’t actually measure romantic value unless you define it, and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would say “knowing which pictures of yourself to put on Tinder” ought to be part of that definition.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @baconbits

            Obviously I wouldn’t take one rejection as definite proof but if you are constantly rejected by 8’s and above then you are probably lower than an 8. You say that a 2 in one context could be an 8 in another. How often do you think that happens? Take a guy who is overweight, short, seriously socially awkward and jobless. How often do you think that he gets together with girls that could be models? I know that we want to believe that anything is possible and everyone can be happy but the world doesn’t work that way. Obviously there is some fluidity to attraction because people can “punch above their weight” but I just don’t think there is nearly as much as you do. I’ll just leave it at that because this isn’t something you can figure out without empirical evidence and we’ll just keep repeating ourselves.

            @Well

            If you consider doing the bare minimum to make yourself look more attractive as “socially media savvy” then I guess but most people don’t. It takes less than a minute to take of photo of yourself showing your whole body. Tinder is really easy to set up and doesn’t take any special know how and barely any effort. Take two girls who follow my basic minimum. One of them is obviously more attractive than the other. It does not matter what the less attractive girl puts in her bio, she is going to get less matches.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ Wrong Species

            You are reiterating the Gosling exception, if a guy is overweight, bald and jobless then the social gap between him and an 8 ought to be obvious.

          • Well... says:

            @Wrong Species:

            Take two girls who follow my basic minimum. One of them is obviously more attractive than the other. It does not matter what the less attractive girl puts in her bio, she is going to get less matches.

            Obviously how?

            Sure, if one of them looks like Honey Boo Boo’s mom (pre-weight-loss to boot) and the other one looks like [insert latest female celebrity unanimously considered hot], no amount of fancy camera angles or resume padding will save the first one. But there are so many girls whose hypothetical “romantic value quotients” are very different yet who are close enough to being in the same league that they can game various dating sites to generate equal numbers of clicks or swipes or whatever that using those clicks and swipes as a proxy for romantic value is useless.

            To make an analogy, I agree that I can’t market a sub-compact hatchback in a way that will fool would-be heavy duty pickup truck buyers into being interested in it, but I can market a Chevy Malibu in a way that will fool would-be Toyota Camry buyers into being interested in it. The Camry is almost certainly the better car, but you can’t really tell what is the best mid-size sedan based on responses to marketing.

        • Randy M says:

          dndrsn’s point is to develop an ease of speaking to people and reduce hypothetical guy’s fear of negative social reactions. Not quitting his day job.
          It’s definitely one of the more plausibly useful aspects of pua–overcome social anxiety through some placebo or just exposure.

        • bean says:

          I definitely think that being able to talk to people well (in the sense that you aren’t freaking out and mumbling) is a good skill to have. I wasn’t awful at talking to people a couple years ago, but I know I’m a lot better at public speaking and running meetings thanks to my tour guide work. Talking to large groups of people just doesn’t scare me any more, and because of that, I can focus on what I’m doing. This is not bad advice, although stand-up may not be the best way to go about it.

        • Well... says:

          I was joking, people.

          Obviously doing stand-up is going to develop your confidence, your elocution skills, your off-the-cuff thinking skills, etc. not to mention your ability to make people laugh and therefore to like you. I was just inserting the image of a few stand-up comedians who at first blush seem like they’d be really repulsive to most women, because I thought it was funny in the context of the conversation.

          My bad though, stand-up comedy takes place in a room with other people in meatspace for a reason.

          • dndnrsn says:

            It’s a good thing I learned this before I began my full-throated defence of Steve Buscemi’s looks.

    • Matt M says:

      Assuming losing his virginity would remedy much of the resentfulness (as it will prove to him personally that sex isn’t the be-all, end-all of life)

      1. Picking up women is a numbers game. It’s quite likely that the guys you are resentful of are simply approaching orders of magnitude more than you are. Get out there and ask out as many girls as possible. Online dating is good for this, given that it’s riskless (bad approaches at school or work carry potentially devastating consequences). Flirt with every woman you encounter anywhere else. If they flirt back, ask out. If they don’t, oh well, you got to practice flirting, which is a critical skill. Same thing with casual conversation. Talk to people a lot. Even men. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

      2. You’ve probably already been told to lower your standards, and you probably think you already have. Lower them further. It’s not polite to say this – but it’s just a fact: poor women, fat women, single moms, etc. are easier targets. You might not want to end up in a long-term relationship with any of these, but if we’re just looking to get you laid – I suggest you get over it. Stop holding out for “the one.” Forget everything you think you know about relationships if you learned it in a 90s TV show or any romantic comedy. Those are porn for women, and they portray relationships about as realistically as porn for men portrays sex.

      3. Get good at lying. At the very least, lies of omission. Never be honest about your situation with a woman you might want to sleep with. Status matters a lot, and “20+ and never been kissed” is about as low-status as it gets. They will not feel special that you waited just for them. They won’t find it cute or endearing. They will say to themselves “Something must be seriously wrong with this guy if all of my fellow women have decided he is bad. I trust them more than him, therefore I’ll pass.” Make up stories about your ex-girlfriends and start telling them. If you haven’t seen the episode of Seinfeld where George picks up beautiful women by showing him a nice picture of his dead fiance, go watch it. That’s the exact logic we’re talking about here.

      Seriously though, sex isn’t all that great. I mean, it’s pretty good, everyone should experience it at least once, yadda yadda yadda, but it won’t change your life as much as you think it will. I didn’t come to these realizations until I was 25, and didn’t succeed until I was 27. It gets harder the longer it takes, but it’s never “too late.” Good luck to you(r friend)

      • kokotajlod@gmail.com says:

        Strongly disagree. Your #2 and #3 are basically advising him to become a shitty person. That’s not a good idea. Best case scenario it’s achieving the goal at a too-high cost, and it could be much worse than that.

        To Egregious: I’d advise doing what dndnrsn said: Try not to be resentful as that will make it even harder. Instead focus on developing some sort of skill that makes you attractive, and then put yourself out there in lots of situations where you meet and interact with women. (And, of course, do online dating.) Yes, the situation is fucked up. There’s stuff to be resentful about. But you need to rise above that, instead of turning to the dark side.

        This more or less worked for me (when I was 21) and for a friend of mine (when he was 26!!!). It isn’t easy or guaranteed to work (I have another friend who is still lonely) but it’s possible. And it makes you a better person instead of a worse person along the way.

        Good luck.

        • Matt M says:

          White lies and exaggerations are ridiculously common in all forms of social interaction. Sticking to the “You must always be honest to yourself and others!” formula is exactly the sort of self-defeating romantic-comedy mindset that I’m talking about here.

          I don’t think it makes one a shitty person to tell a lie about yourself for the sole purpose of avoiding judgment in a shitty status battle. Personally, I’m pretty big on honesty when it comes to violating promises. I never go back on a promise. But “oh that reminds me of my ex-girlfriend” is, in my mind, no different than “no honey, those jeans don’t make you look fat.”

          Do I wish we lived in a society where I could get laid without lying? Yes. Am I willing to martyr myself to a life of loneliness and solitude just because “some things aren’t worth sacrificing?” No. Maybe others will decide differently, but it’s time to start thinking about these sorts of choices. Things don’t just magically work out. You have to know how much you want it, and what you’re willing to do to get it.

          • Well... says:

            Do I wish we lived in a society where I could get laid without lying? Yes. Am I willing to martyr myself to a life of loneliness and solitude just because “some things aren’t worth sacrificing?” No.

            But we do live in a society where you could get laid without lying. Millions of other men have and do get laid that way.

            [ETA] Although if your goal going into it is to get laid and then never see the woman again, and she is anything like typical, then I recommend you instead martyr yourself to a life of loneliness and solitude. Or else just go pay for a hooker, you cheapskate.

          • Matt M says:

            But we do live in a society where you could get laid without lying. Millions of other men have and do get laid that way.

            True. When I say you here, I am specifically saying the demographic of people who end up in their mid-20s, never been kissed, and very resentful of it. People like that don’t tend to suddenly see dramatically improved results without dramatic changes to their tactics.

            “Just be yourself and magic suddenly happens” isn’t necessarily a losing strategy, if yourself is handsome and extroverted and witty and rich and charismatic. But if you are one or two of those things, you probably aren’t a kissless 20-year-old. Being in a situation like this is prior evidence that you probably can’t do it without some very tactical changes in your approach, potentially the ones I outlined. Others may work too. I’m just giving an overview of what worked for me.

          • @Matt:

            At 21 I had been kissed but was still a virgin. I was not handsome or rich, witty might be a matter of opinion. I confess to being extroverted.

            I do not believe I have ever lied in a dating context and I ended up with a successful marriage. I can’t prove that your advice is bad but, if I was in the situation described, I would not take it.

          • Matt M says:

            David,

            At 22, I wouldn’t have taken it either. As I said, it wasn’t until I was still kissless/dateless at 25 that I decided something had to change, and started adopting these sort of tactics. And even then, it took me a couple years to achieve any results.

            I wish someone could have convinced me earlier though, as I feel like I wasted most of my youth on a losing strategy.

          • @ DavidFriedman

            At 21 I had been kissed but was still a virgin. I was not handsome or rich…

            Me, too. And unlike you, I was (and am) an introvert.

            I do not believe I have ever lied in a dating context and I ended up with a successful marriage. I can’t prove that your advice is bad but, if I was in the situation described, I would not take it.

            Agreed on all points.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @David @Larry

            Society has changed over the last few decades. Sure, maybe you could be a neurotic introverted man back then and still get married. But it’s much more difficult now than it was.

          • @Wrong:

            You could be correct. On what evidence do you base your view?

            There has been a good deal of talk about women facing the problem of being unable to find a husband as they approach the age at which they will no longer be reliably fertile. Wouldn’t that provide potential partners for the romantically unsuccessful men who want a wife and children?

            I can’t speak for Larry but I don’t think I am neurotic and I’m pretty sure I am not introverted. At least, I routinely get into conversations, sometimes interesting ones, with the people I am seated next to in airplanes.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I wish someone could have convinced me earlier though, as I feel like I wasted most of my youth on a losing strategy.

            @ Matt M

            What could they have said to you at 22 that would have made you take such a course and also felt decent about it?

          • Matt M says:

            My first post in this thread is pretty much what I would have told myself at 22.

            I didn’t feel terrible anything I eventually said or did. Certainly not any more terrible than how I felt from 22-25, which was basically “nobody will ever love me, I’m going to die a pathetic virgin, etc.”

            As I’ve said, in the instances when I’ve confessed to my “exaggerations” it hasn’t made anyone really upset or anything. I don’t have any regrets about my 25+ behavior, if that’s what you’re implying. My only regret is not trying it sooner.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @David

            First off, I wasn’t trying to say anything about you two in particular, it was just a stereotype so I hope you didn’t take it that way.

            I don’t know if there is any direct evidence of the easiness of dating for a man now compared to 50 years ago but there is some strong indirect evidence, dating apps. Internet dating has become much, much more prominent in the last 10 years and men get way fewer matches than woman do.

            There has been a good deal of talk about women facing the problem of being unable to find a husband as they approach the age at which they will no longer be reliably fertile. Wouldn’t that provide potential partners for the romantically unsuccessful men who want a wife and children?

            I doubt it. They usually aren’t single because they have scoured every inch of their city looking for any man and have nearly given up. Usually it’s because they have really high standards that many men don’t meet. Women rate 80% of men as below average. And a women will want a guy who makes at least as much he does, which will hurt her if she makes a lot. That’s why all those articles about “where have the men gone” are from those upper-middle class women.

            One thing I suspect but am not sure about is that the differences in our sociality has something to do with it. A woman on her own has to do very little to get the attention of a man. But a man with few social connection where he lives has to try way harder. He has to approach a random stranger and make good enough conversation and not mess up at any point to hopefully score a number which she may or not respond to. The woman literally just has to not act like a sociopath. It’s probably more balanced when dating people on the periphery of your friend group who you can see repeatedly without going out of your way, which I think was true more so 50 years ago than now.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ Matt M

            I’m more asking how your current acceptance from post 25 behavior is tied to actually having tried the honest route from 22-25.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Women rate 80% of men as below average.

            Not the correct interpretation of your link. Follow through to the “Message success by attractiveness” portion of the posts. Women rate men harshly but the bottom segment of male attractiveness still get a 10%+ response rate from the highest segment of female attractiveness, and a 45% response rate from the least attractive female recipients. For female senders its well under 10% and 40% respectively. Women might be harsher about relative rating, but they put far less weight on physical appearance*. In fact the most attractive male senders get the lowest response from unattractive females, with the 2nd most attractive doing barely better than the least attractive.

            *There is another interpretation that springs to mind as well, but I’ll leave that one as the simplest.

          • Matt M says:

            I’m more asking how your current acceptance from post 25 behavior is tied to actually having tried the honest route from 22-25.

            Oh, probably a bit. If I had a time machine, I’m not sure if I’d be successful in convincing 22-year old me to change course or not. I’d certainly try, but I’ve always been pretty stubborn. There’s something to be said for the idea that the increasing desperation of aging added to my sense of urgency, enabling me to consider tactics I otherwise might not have tried.

            “Whatever, future me. I know what I’m doing here!”

        • quanta413 says:

          Lowering standards does not make one a shitty person. If both parties consent without unethical deception (polite lies don’t count basically), nothing is wrong with that.

          Lying by omission and polite lies are a critical skill. People who say they aren’t and don’t fail socially usually already do those things automatically without realizing they are lying or rarely have some extraordinary trait that makes up for lacking in those normal social behaviors. Some of the most nerdy socially awkward people don’t realize that overly literal honesty is a huge mistake, and when people say you should be honest they don’t mean it literally. Direct people who have trouble with social things deserve to be told what is actually going on.

          • kokotajlod@gmail.com says:

            Lowering standards does not make one a shitty person. Thinking of people as targets does. I don’t think pretending to have an ex-girlfriend to get laid is a polite lie. If the person you lie to about their jeans later finds out you did think they made her look fat, she’ll understand. But if she finds out that you invented a fake ex-girlfriend to impress her into having sex with you, she will be shocked and betrayed.

            I agree that people deserve to be told what is actually going on and that what is actually going on is not honesty all the time. Like I said, the situation is fucked up and there’s a lot to be resentful about. But resist. Don’t become fucked up yourself.

            The thing I’m reacting to, in general, is the suggestion that he should manipulate people in ways they don’t like and wouldn’t consent to. I don’t object to having casual sex with people you don’t want long-term relationships with; I just think it should be consensual.

            Analogy: Suppose someone was writing about their struggling charity making bednets in Africa or something. And how it was hard to get people to donate. And you suggest: Just make up a bunch of fake stats and fake celebrity endorsements. After all, lots of charities say misleading things to get money all the time! This isn’t different in kind, only in degree!

            Another analogy: Even though lots of students cheat in college, I would not advise anyone to cheat even if I thought they could get away with it.

          • Matt M says:

            Another analogy: Even though lots of students cheat in college, I would not advise anyone to cheat even if I thought they could get away with it.

            If the test is graded on a curve and you know, for a fact, that most of the students are cheating – you have a simple choice. Cheat, or fail.

            The choice here isn’t much different. I won’t judge anyone who decides to fail. I won’t make fun of you and call you a pathetic virgin, because I’ve been there. I know that sucks. I know it’s a shitty choice you have to make. But you do have to make it.

            But if she finds out that you invented a fake ex-girlfriend to impress her into having sex with you, she will be shocked and betrayed.

            All I can tell you is that I’ve had the opposite experience. I’ve literally had girls say to me “If I would have known all these things about you, I never would have given you a chance, but now that I’ve gotten to know you, I actually kinda like how you really are.” Win them over first, be honest later.

          • Well... says:

            If the test is graded on a curve and you know, for a fact, that most of the students are cheating – you have a simple choice. Cheat, or fail.

            The choice here isn’t much different.

            But it is different, because you don’t know for a fact that most of the students are cheating. (Or, you don’t know for a fact that most guys successfully tell lies to get laid. At least a few of us here do/did not, and I am confident millions more would say the same.)

            Nor is the test graded on a curve: the fact that some sleazeball goes to bed with 50 different women in a two month period doesn’t diminish your accomplishment of getting laid once if getting laid once was your goal.

            I agree you should win a girl over before dumping all your flaws at her feet, but I think it’s both bad practical advice and plain unethical to advise someone to lie in order to win over the girl.

          • quanta413 says:

            @kokotajlod@gmail.com

            I disagree that thinking of people as targets makes one a shitty person. It depends what you’re targeting them for. And how to think about someone or something isn’t as important as outward behavior. Some people need to learn to think of other people as targets for various transactions sometimes; others can’t do anything but that or lack the ability to even engage in long-term selfishness and need to work on the opposite thing.

            I agree that leading with lies about an ex-girlfriend is bad although I don’t think it makes someone a terrible person. I’d say it’s about as bad as severely slacking at work. I was focused more on the thrust of “for the love of god don’t be yourself if that’s not working” and “don’t be afraid to twist things a little to make yourself look better”. I think outright lying is usually a mistake even if you don’t care about the ethics because it can be hard and can get you in trouble. Personally, I’m bad at dissembling and I suck at twisting stuff too, but they are socially useful and kind-of accepted behaviors not just in a lot of dating scenes but also in things like college applications and job interviews.

            The thing I’m reacting to, in general, is the suggestion that he should manipulate people in ways they don’t like and wouldn’t consent to. I don’t object to having casual sex with people you don’t want long-term relationships with; I just think it should be consensual.

            I didn’t read it as endorsing engaging in non-consensual behavior. It doesn’t seem particularly manipulative to me either compared to job interviews, college admissions, etc. Those systems are also ethically horrifying in normal operations, but people deserve advice both in those cases and in this that is more frank than “improve yourself, be honest, and it’ll work out eventually”. Some people need to buff their advertising skills; this will tend to involve deception.

            I agree that lying about made up ex-girlfriends is beyond the accepted bounds though. I wouldn’t give that particular advice, but too much of the advice in this thread isn’t touching upon the easiest things to fix (adjusting your standards for others; selling yourself, advertising, socially acceptable lies, whatever) so I think Matt M’s comment is a good counterbalance even if I think that particular detail is too far.

          • Matt M says:

            But it is different, because you don’t know for a fact that most of the students are cheating.

            Nor is the test graded on a curve: the fact that some sleazeball goes to bed with 50 different women in a two month period doesn’t diminish your accomplishment of getting laid once if getting laid once was your goal.

            I disagree. It is “graded on a curve” in the sense that this is a competitive arena. No matter how low your standards get, you will be dealing with women who have multiple options. You need to be a better option than the others she has. To the extent that other men around her are willing to present her with a better offer than you can, you are going to lose.

            And you’re right, not everyone is cheating. Some are just plain better. They have better natural gifts, and they’ve worked harder. So let’s modify the analogy. 45% of the class is cheating, 45% of the class is a lot smarter than you and has been studying faithfully for weeks, while you haven’t even opened the textbook yet. And the curve is such that on this particular test in this particular class on this particular day the best score passes, and everyone else fails. Like your odds?

            Of course, there are other tests in other classes on other days. Hence my comment about volume of approaches being my #1 advice. But sometime, at some point, you’re going to have to win.

          • Matt M says:

            I agree that lying about made up ex-girlfriends is beyond the accepted bounds though. I wouldn’t give that particular advice

            Just to clarify, I wouldn’t recommend leading with some long elaborate tale about three ex-girlfriend characters you just made up (conversations about exes in general can be a minefield and are best avoided to whatever extent possible).

            There’s a spectrum here. At one end there are detailed and elaborate lies, and at the other end is something like “never volunteer embarrassing information about yourself and hope they never ask for it directly.” Ideally, you never have to lie, because they never corner you under a spotlight and say “OMG YOU’RE A VIRGIN AREN’T YOU? ADMIT IT!!!”

            Find ways to exaggerate and massage the truth. My ex-girlfriend stories were not entirely fictional. They were based on experiences I had with online girlfriends I met in chat rooms. I didn’t volunteer the fact that these were online relationships, because online relationships are for low-status nerds and that would have almost certainly eliminated any chance I had. Is that horrible deception? Maybe. Is it better than dying a virgin? I thought so. Was there any particular reason to think that I might have been able to obtain sex without modifying my tactics in ways such as this? None whatsoever.

          • quanta413 says:

            @Matt M

            Ok, that’s less bad than what I was thinking. I haven’t seen that Seinfeld episode with George, maybe that’s why I misread what you were suggesting. It seems like as long as you don’t get cornered by prying, you technically won’t lie.

            That’s going from less like cheating on a test to more like handing a friend your iClicker for a lecture to randomly hit buttons so that you appear to have attended.

          • Well... says:

            @Matt M:

            First of all, the very conditions that make today’s dating market (apparently) so disgusting and messed up also mean that your argument about it being graded on a curve is false. A woman who is wooed by a so-called pickup artist is not therefore off-limits to you who lack “game”. She might sleep with the scPUA this week but by next week realize her mistake and give you a chance instead.

            If you are so undesirable that no woman will ever sleep with you so long as any of them have at least one other option, then maybe that’s to our collective benefit. Unhelpful, I know, but hey, the student who is stupid and didn’t study probably should fail, otherwise the whole education system breaks down. That’s not even Darwinism, it’s borderline morality.

          • Matt M says:

            A woman who is wooed by a so-called pickup artist is not therefore off-limits to you who lack “game”.

            I did not mean to imply otherwise. I am thinking in discrete units of evenings. You have to be her best particular option on any given evening. This is where the test analogy starts to break down, because you can’t take as many tests as you want, but you can approach as many women as you want on as many nights as you want.
            Catching the right girl on the right night is a huge part of this.

            If you are so undesirable that no woman will ever sleep with you so long as any of them have at least one other option, then maybe that’s to our collective benefit. Unhelpful, I know, but hey, the student who is stupid and didn’t study probably should fail, otherwise the whole education system breaks down.

            Indeed. I also do not mean to imply that “study harder” (in this case, work out, learn social skills, etc.) is bad advice. It’s definitely not. Working out will probably help. Effectively learning social skills will probably help. But I do think those both count as “unhelpful advice” in the sense that anyone who has ever asked this question has already been given that advice a million times. If someone posts that they’re struggling in school, “study harder” would not be considered a very charitable response.

          • Well... says:

            You have to be her best particular option on any given evening

            Only if your penis is going to fall off when the sun comes up tomorrow. Otherwise, you can always try and woo her again some other evening.

            But I do think those both count as “unhelpful advice” in the sense that anyone who has ever asked this question has already been given that advice a million times.

            “So why haven’t you taken the advice yet??” The honest answer to that might be enlightening.

            If someone posts that they’re struggling in school, “study harder” would not be considered a very charitable response.

            If what this person really wants is charity, then I think we’re poking at higher-voltage psychological wires than casual advice-givers probably ought to be tampering with, and this person ought to bring in a professional therapist instead.

            My basic point is, I can’t envision any situation in which it’s a good idea to trick women into having sex with you, or to teach others how to perform those tricks, even if it’s true that lots of other guys are already using those tricks successfully. Those guys are scumbags.

            If women are attracted to confidence and status, be confident about your relative high status at something, don’t fake confidence about something you know you are actually absolutely low-status in. If there’s nothing you have to be confident about, do the work to change that. If that is unhelpful because a million people have already told you but you still haven’t done it or can’t do it, then you are a pathetic excuse for a man but you can cut your losses by doing us all (men and women alike) a favor: take yourself out of the gene pool.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Well

            I’m sorry but you are ridiculously naive. If dating was as easy as “be higher status”, and then suddenly they were higher status, then they wouldn’t be suicidal over it. The problem is not telling men “try harder”, it’s not elaborating on what exactly they can do to improve. Lying to a woman is not the worst thing in the world and if someone has to choose between “lie and have sex” or “kill myself over my failure”, then don’t be surprised when men decide that the first option is more appealing. “Fake it til you make it” is a thing and it works, which means that a little deception goes a long way. Of course, like Matt said, I don’t think you should make up these ridiculously elaborate lies but at the same time, holding something back is common for both men and women. If you didn’t ever have to worry about that then you should thank god that you were so fortunate rather than condemning the rest of us to either a life of misery or death because we decided not to loudly proclaim our every flaw to any girl we’re remotely interested in.

          • Well... says:

            @Wrong Species:

            The problem is not telling men “try harder”, it’s not elaborating on what exactly they can do to improve.

            In my last comment I implied that the guy you’re giving advice to knows what exactly he can do to improve — and even how to do it — either because he knows himself or because you’ve told him.

            “If there’s nothing you have to be confident about, do the work to change that” implies “find something specific you can work to become better at.” If a million people have told him that and he still hasn’t done it, what does that say?

            Lying to a woman is not the worst thing in the world and if someone has to choose between “lie and have sex” or “kill myself over my failure”, then don’t be surprised when men decide that the first option is more appealing.

            But who is actually facing that choice? The choice faced by almost anybody asking for help with the ladies is “lie and have sex” or “avoid lying and have sex, just maybe not as soon”.

            I don’t think you should make up these ridiculously elaborate lies but at the same time, holding something back is common for both men and women.

            I agree you shouldn’t feel under any obligation to tell female strangers about your flaws, but if for example the woman you’re flirting with has made it clear that she’s looking for a long-term thing you should not lie and tell her that’s what you’re after too if you’re really just looking for a one night stand.

            PS.

            I’m sorry but you are ridiculously naive.

            I had girlfriends almost continuously from about 8th grade through age 21 when I started dating the woman who is now my wife. It’s true I don’t hang around in bars picking up trash, but I’ve been around the block a few times, and I don’t care to be called naive by someone advising other guys to frantically lie so they can get laid just once.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Well

            There’s a big difference between dating in high school and college and dating after that and your experience during that time doesn’t translate well, especially now with things like internet dating. It sounds like you are just picking stereotypes from sitcoms and believing that’s what real life is like. Girls don’t proclaim their desire to have a husband and kids in front of the random guy they met at a bar who will proclaim their love for them, have sex and then never call again. And Matt M and I aren’t saying lying frantically as a general strategy. It’s for a specific situation and it’s not even a lie that will hurt anyone.

          • Lying to a woman is not the worst thing in the world and if someone has to choose between “lie and have sex” or “kill myself over my failure”, then don’t be surprised when men decide that the first option is more appealing….

            rather than condemning the rest of us to either a life of misery or death because we decided not to loudly proclaim our every flaw to any girl we’re remotely interested in.

            There is a large difference between lying to someone and failing to proclaim your every flaw to someone.

          • Well... says:

            There’s a big difference between dating in high school and college and dating after that and your experience during that time doesn’t translate well, especially now with things like internet dating.

            I mostly wasn’t dating girls from my classes. These were mostly girls I was meeting in social settings who just happened to also be in high school or college, like I was, and not necessarily my age or younger either. In some cases we didn’t go to the same schools. If I were to try and meet girls now as an independent adult, the only major differences would be:

            – An actual house or apartment to take her back to
            – A reliable car to take her in
            – Actually having some money I could buy her a drink or a movie ticket or something with

            I will grant you that the last time I was single was before smartphones and dating apps, and it was also back when sex on the first date was mostly considered something only sluts and scumbags took part in.

            None of that seems to indicate that wooing girls back to your place was easier (per se) back then though, so I still don’t think you get to tell me I’m naive.

          • Matt M says:

            I had girlfriends almost continuously from about 8th grade through age 21 when I started dating the woman who is now my wife.

            This is going to seem a lot more harsh and personal than I intend it to be. For that I apologize. This isn’t directed solely at you, but at everyone in your situation who presumes to give advice to people like the OP.

            You don’t know what you’re talking about. You have absolutely no context for the problem this person is having. You cannot understand, you cannot relate, you cannot empathize. This guy is a blind man who wants advice for how to play basketball well enough that he can join a pick-up game at the YMCA and not suffer a serious injury, and you’re LeBron James trying to tell him what it takes to make the NBA all star team.

            This person is an a very abnormal situation. And I mean that quite literally. It is not normal to be in your mid-20s and have never kissed a girl. Not an insult, just a fact. He does not need advice relating to what works for normal people. Such advice is meaningless, as it does not even remotely apply to him or his situation. It is worthless, in the purest economic sense that the supply of it is near infinite and the demand for it near zero.

            He needs to know how he can solve his problem. You cannot help. In fact, your advice makes the situation worse. It is practically guaranteed to fail, because it already has. He has already heard what works for normal people every day in his life. He has seen it happen, as his friends and colleagues paired off and passed significant social and cultural milestones while he was left behind. He watches it as it’s shoved down his throat in 95% of popular media, shoe-horning sex and romance scenes into literally every story. He has tried his best to replicate those circumstances only to suffer failure after failure.

            And you want to come and tell him to do more of the same? Or to assume that he hasn’t tried? After all, if only he took your advice and worked out a little bit and combed his hair and went to a pottery class, surely he’d be swimming in p**** by now, right? After all, that worked for you.

            Leave this poor man alone. You are wasting his time in a situation where every day counts. Every single day his situation gets more embarrassing and harder to overcome. He needs real solutions, tailored to his situation, and he needs them now. He doesn’t need to know how to pick up a great and charming and intelligent girl who can someday be his wife. He needs to get laid and get the unbelievable societal pressure of being a virgin off his back. He needs to be able to go to sleep without fighting off thoughts of depression and feeling like he isn’t a real man, and never will be. He needs to be able to read authors and psychologists and social scientists talk about love and sex being “universal human experiences” without immediately questioning, “Well if I haven’t experienced that, am I less than human?”

            You cannot understand this situation, and you never will.

          • Well... says:

            @Matt M:

            I didn’t give any advice. I said the advice you and a few other people were giving is bad advice. And this is still true: telling someone to lie is bad advice. To make that argument I had to sometimes describe what good advice would look like, but I never directly gave advice.

            A lot of other people are telling him his situation is not abnormal. I don’t know if they are right or not. But it does mean you shouldn’t have as much confidence as you do.

            I think we fundamentally agree anyway: good advice is specific and actionable, and tailored to the person receiving it. But “lie to her” should not be part of that advice.

            [ETA] PS. Your analogy about a blind man trying to join a pickup game is flawed in many ways. I was going to just ignore that before but I’m editing my comment to address it because it might explain why you’re having this very strong reaction.

            A blind man will never learn to see by practicing eye exercises. His condition is permanent; he can only participate in basketball if he has some kind of advantage outside the normal rules. Somehow you’ve concluded the OP’s situation is like that. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it is statistically highly unlikely to be true. The vast majority of people will get better at something if they practice at it — if only they put in the work. Even after a small amount of practice, at just about anything, you will start to see results. People unwilling for whatever reason to put in the work don’t deserve a get out of jail free card for cheating.

            Furthermore, I am not LeBron James in that analogy. I’m a guy at the pickup game who started out totally incompetent at basketball but got good enough to where on a good day I could at least not be an embarrassment to my team, and most of all I understand the calls made by the referees. True I didn’t have to overcome blindness, but I did have to put in a lot of work, do a lot of self-discovery, and along the way I learned that the people who cheat don’t end up having more fun in the end, that after a while nobody else wants to play with them, and I know what they’re doing is morally wrong, and that part is really fucking important (pardon my language) even if you wish it wasn’t.

          • Matt M says:

            And this is still true: telling someone to lie is bad advice. To make that argument I had to sometimes describe what good advice would look like

            I disagree. Especially if the immediate goal is to get some limited physical/sexual experience. And when you pivot to describing why my advice is bad or what good advice looks like, you pivot away from “teach me how to play basketball without dying” to “teach me how to be an NBA all star.” What good advice looks like for people with good – normal social skills is very different than what good advice looks like for people with bad social skills.

            The whole reason I jumped straight to “lie” when honestly I meant more of an “embellish” is because people with bad social skills are bad at seeing the distinction, and IMO, tend to error on the side of too much honesty. I tell him “you have to lie” in the hopes that maybe that will compel him to exaggerate. To you, knowing when it is and is not appropriate to fudge a little bit is second nature. To him, it’s not.

            A lot of other people are telling him his situation is not abnormal.

            I think a lot of these people are just trying to be nice and not destroy his confidence. I understand that approach, but I’m more of the “tough love” sort. IMO being a virgin at 22 isn’t that bad, but being kissless probably is. I don’t know if we have statistics on “first kiss” but I’d be willing to bet this puts him in the bottom 10% at least.

            Somehow you’ve concluded the OP’s situation is like that. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it is statistically highly unlikely to be true. The vast majority of people will get better at something if they practice at it — if only they put in the work. Even after a small amount of practice, at just about anything, you will start to see results.

            I believe social skills are largely innate. But of course you can get better with practice. My very first item of advice was basically “practice more” but phrased in such a way to sound a little different than the 1000x varieties of “practice more” he may have already heard. We don’t disagree on that front, I just think he needs to practice the skills that will achieve the immediate goal (get laid) and then move on to the terminal goal (get married or whatever). Practice helps, but no amount of practice in the world will get him to a place where he can pick up women as easily as people with normal – good social skills.

            I’m a guy at the pickup game who started out totally incompetent at basketball but got good enough to where on a good day I could at least not be an embarrassment to my team,

            I don’t know you personally, but based on what you said (started dating in middle school, had no extended periods of singleness since, happily married for some time) you strike me as a normal person with normal social skills. Yeah, LeBron James is an exaggeration. Maybe you’re a non-NBA D1 college player. You’re still poorly suited to help coach someone with some sort of physical disability.

            and along the way I learned that the people who cheat don’t end up having more fun in the end, that after a while nobody else wants to play with them

            Well, he’s not having very much fun now. Nobody wants to play with him now. He literally can’t do any worse. There is no evidence to believe that holding to the same trajectory, will somehow, eventually, result in dramatically different results at some long-term date in the future.

            As to the morals piece of it, we may just have to agree to disagree here. In my mind, I’m not telling him to do something notably immoral compared to his peer group. I’m telling him that most of his peer group is already doing things he may not be doing, because he considers them immoral. I think everyone omits and embellishes at the very least. Ideally, this is all he has to do, and no outright lies are necessary.

          • Brad says:

            The OP only made that one post, three days ago now. Whatever it is that’s going here 50 posts later has very little to do with Egregious Philbin his purported situation.

          • Well... says:

            @Matt M:

            And when you pivot to describing why my advice is bad or what good advice looks like, you pivot away from “teach me how to play basketball without dying” to “teach me how to be an NBA all star.

            What?!

            So if you’re at a pickup game, doing horribly, and someone says “you suck, just carry the ball down the court, don’t worry about dribbling”, and then someone else says “No, don’t cheat, do this exercise for a week because it’ll help with your ball handling” that second person is foolishly trying to prepare you to be an NBA superstar?

            To you, knowing when it is and is not appropriate to fudge a little bit is second nature.

            The difference between fudging and lying is much smaller than the difference between fudging and not volunteering flaws. I never advocated fudging. I did say it was OK not to volunteer your flaws.

            I think a lot of these people are just trying to be nice and not destroy his confidence.

            But that’s far from established and I bet some of those people would disagree.

            I just think he needs to practice the skills that will achieve the immediate goal (get laid) and then move on to the terminal goal (get married or whatever).

            I don’t think that’s the right way to look at it. The immediate goal is to gain social skills, with a focus on the social skills that are useful for wooing women (projecting confidence, spontaneity and humor, etc.).

            Maybe you’re a non-NBA D1 college player. You’re still poorly suited to help coach someone with some sort of physical disability.

            No, I’m a competent guy at a pickup game. (Maybe “pickup game” was an unfortunately chosen name for an analogy.) There are men out there who see a woman in a crowd, fall in love, and a few months later they are getting married. I don’t think I could do that without an implausible amount of luck, but the guys who can are what I’d analogize as serious basketball players.

            We haven’t established that this guy has a disability, but it doesn’t matter because as you already said we agree that practicing specific relevant skills will help him.

            Nobody wants to play with him now. He literally can’t do any worse. There is no evidence to believe that holding to the same trajectory, will somehow, eventually, result in dramatically different results at some long-term date in the future.

            Really? Does he have a reputation as a liar and a manslut? No, he’s just inexperienced. You can do a lot worse than that. And quit being a Cathy Newman: we’ve already established that holding to his trajectory isn’t what either of us are advocating.

            In my mind, I’m not telling him to do something notably immoral compared to his peer group.

            I don’t care about his peer group. Lying to get sex is wrong.

            @Brad:

            That’s OK.

          • Matt M says:

            So, in the interest of clarity, maybe we should specify on exactly where we disagree. Here’s my hypothesis:

            1. Goal optimization
            My theory is that each “milestone” in the process is incremental, i.e. achieving one makes it easier to achieve the other. Therefore, in the short term, one should focus on achieving the easiest milestone possible. IMO, lonely nerds tend to overrate the difficulty of achieving one night stands – they think that’s just for the NBA all stars who are attractive and have great social skills. NO! I think in today’s environment there’s a solid case to be made that casual sex is easier to get than a standard girlfriend, especially for the low-status. It’s easier to fake being high-status for a few hours than a few months. Your position seems to be that he should focus single-mindedly on the ultimate goal of a long-term, emotionally fulfilling relationship, and that solving for anything else is some combination of dishonest or wasted effort.

            2. Venues
            My recommendation is to stick to venues that are explicitly about dating and/or hookups. This sort of logically follows from #1, but also stands alone. Once again, I think people in this situation tend to assume bars and dating sites are hard mode, but that going from acquaintance to friend to romantic partner in a non-dating environment (pottery class) is easier. NO! The opposite is true. It takes serious social skills to pick up girls in venues where they are not expecting/wanted to be picked up at. Keep it simple. You seem to disagree on this point, and think that a common interest and highlighting a skill you might have is the best path forward, and will make the entire process easier.

            3. Lying
            I think small/white lies, particularly involving things that people would not ever consciously admit to judging you on (how much money you make, your romantic history, etc.) are perfectly OK. I think a whole lot of people (not JUST the socially awkward, even the normies) do this as a matter of course, perhaps without even realizing they do it. We all have to draw the line here based on our own moral codes, but I think most people in this situation tend to error on the side of being too honest, and therefore, should “consider lying more” to use the most extreme language. You agree that one should “put their best foot forward” and not volunteer any flaws, but would draw the line at uttering any untruthful statement. In a perfect world I would aspire to that, but I think at a certain point, one has to decide whether pure morality is worth the personal cost.

          • albatross11 says:

            Just as an aside, lying about your relationship history as an adult seems kind-of crappy, but it’s massively common among young men, or at least was when I was a young man. You would have been ill advised to believe all the stories about sexual exploits told among the guys I knew in high school.

            This makes me wonder if one of the things that’s happening here is that most of us stop needing to make up stories to impress our friends once we’ve actually had some kind of sexual experience or dated someone semi-seriously. (Also, the kind of stories 16-year-old boys tell in locker rooms don’t seem so cool among 26-year-olds.) To the extent that’s a useful on-ramp for actually having some relationship experience, I can see Matt’s point about why it might be a sensible strategy. Though I think lying by omission or implication is a lot more sensible there than overt lying.

          • Matt M says:

            This makes me wonder if one of the things that’s happening here is that most of us stop needing to make up stories to impress our friends once we’ve actually had some kind of sexual experience or dated someone semi-seriously.

            This is exactly my point when I say that, if it works, you only have to do it once.

            You only have to lie about not being a virgin until someone has sex with you, then it’s not a lie anymore. Same thing with having had a girlfriend, having had a long-term serious girlfriend, having had more than one, etc.

            The hill I am willing to die on is that it’s never a good idea to admit to having zero experience. I think that omission and exaggeration are enough, say, 95% of the time. In the incredibly rare occasion that a woman gets aggressive about it and says, “No more obfuscation, no more equivocation, I am demanding to know an exact integer value of how many other women you have had vaginal intercourse with!” I think it’s better to say “two” than it is to say “zero”, even if zero is the truth…. unless you’re a nun or something (but even Sister Simplice was willing to deceive Javert)

          • Barely matters says:

            @Albatross11

            Agreed 100%. And the same goes for girls, although we’re a lot quicker to accept their lies as justified. “I have a boyfriend!” isn’t substantially different from “I’ve totally had girlfriends before!”, and no one is really giving women a hard time for using it. “I never do this!” is an even more clear cut lie for personal gain (When it is describing a repeated behaviour), and exactly no one will take a woman to task for saying it. It’s just part of the dance as far as society is concerned.

            A bit of this exchange rubs me the wrong way because everyone in the ‘lying is bad, full stop’ camp is willing to make exceptions when they feel like it for groups they consider sympathetic. “They have to say that, otherwise the guy would think less of them” is a perfectly acceptable explanation when a woman does this, and nobody is really taking the guys who tell bullshit stories to task either. In this light, this becomes a filter that only hinders extremely scrupulous people, and honestly, those are exactly the people I’d like to encourage.

            I agree with you tactically that lying is usually an unnecessary loose end whose goals can be better achieved through implication. Saying “Nah, I can’t do Thursday, my friend is coming over to cook dinner and watch a movie. Wednesday?” will get way better effects without having to lie, because women are sensitive to subtext and they’re smart enough to know that coming over to cook you food isn’t something that guys frequently do, and she’ll fill in the blanks for you. This is also a game that attractive women play frequently, so if people would like to take umbrage with it, I’m all ears as long as they’re applying it even evenhandedly.

            Most game advice is just watching the things that attractive women do, and then finding ways to do them without it being weird or awkward.

          • Matt M says:

            In this light, this becomes a filter that only hinders extremely scrupulous people, and honestly, those are exactly the people I’d like to encourage.

            Yes! (worth noting that this is almost the exact premise of radicalizing the romanceless).

          • rlms says:

            @Matt M

            The hill I am willing to die on is that it’s never a good idea to admit to having zero experience.

            What about to someone who strongly disapproves of sex before marriage?

          • Thinking about this whole thread, I’m wondering if much of the advice is getting things backwards.

            Someone has two problems: He has never had a romantic relationship and he has never had sex. A lot of people seem to think he should solve the second one first–somehow manage a one night stand however he can do it. I wonder if it doesn’t work better the other (and traditional) way around. Develop a romantic friendship with someone you like for reasons additional to wanting to go to bed with her and let things go on from there. On the one hand, long term partners are harder to find than women you would like to go to bed with. But on the other hand, becoming friends with a woman is, I would think, easier than seducing her. And the long term payoff is much larger.

            The first woman I ever slept with, at about age 21 or 22, I ended up staying with for more than a year. I don’t know for certain if she knew I was a virgin but I don’t think I made any effort to conceal the fact.

            So a lot of this sounds odd to me, perhaps because it assumes a very different pattern of courtship behavior than I assumed fifty years ago.

          • Well... says:

            @Matt M, regarding your 3 hypotheses, now considerably upthread but I haven’t had time to respond in a while:

            1. Goal optimization. You’ve misstated my position here. I’m saying he should focus on an activity that will raise his confidence so that talking to women isn’t as difficult. I don’t care whether he approaches women for one night stands or a long term relationship. (Well I do care, and I agree with David Friedman’s latest comment, but I haven’t attempted to argue that here.)

            2. Venues. I never said jack about venues. I don’t care what venues he goes to, and actually I think your advice about venues is sound. If he goes to a pottery class it should only be because he’s noticed he’s not too bad at pottery and going to pottery class would allow him to practice so that he is well above-average at pottery, giving him a confidence/status boost he can bring with him to the bar. (“Here’s a picture of a vase I made.” “Wow, you made that?” etc.)

            3. Lying. The whole point of morality is that it’s worth the personal cost. I’m not saying I’ve never lied, or that good people never lie or whatever, I’m saying it’s never good to advocate for lying, you should make an effort to avoid lying, and when you do lie you should feel bad about it.

            @Matt M and albatross11: If you believe lying is the only way to attain a sexual or relationship experience then you are not ready for that experience.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Develop a romantic friendship with someone you like for reasons additional to wanting to go to bed with her and let things go on from there

            It would be difficult to think of worse advice for our 22-year-old virgin. This strategy is a huge waste of time even for a teenager, let alone a 22-year-old. What happens after 6 months when the girl says “let’s just be friends?” What happens is that you’ve just wasted 6 months you’ll never get back.

            If a man is serious about getting laid, getting a girlfriend, getting a wife, etc., he needs to be pursuing multiple women

          • Matt M says:

            But on the other hand, becoming friends with a woman is, I would think, easier than seducing her. And the long term payoff is much larger.

            Becoming friends with a woman is easier. Convincing a platonic female friend to have sex with you is one of the hardest and trickiest things a guy can possibly do. It requires advanced level social skills, and someone in his situation is remedial in that category.

            ETA: As far as “payoff” goes, in most cases I would agree. In the case of 20+ year old virgins, I disagree. We’re dealing with something that has hugely diminishing returns. The value of a one-night stand to a virgin is astronomical. Then immediately crashes to “very low.”

            So a lot of this sounds odd to me, perhaps because it assumes a very different pattern of courtship behavior than I assumed fifty years ago.

            I have really tried to avoid the “you old dudes don’t understand what it’s like for us hip kids!” argument here. But I think it’s reasonable to guess that somewhat casual sex is easier to obtain today than it was when you were his age. As I said, dating sites allow you to approach hundreds of women per day in a low-risk environment. That alone alters the dynamics significantly.

            I think this is a very common misconception. People think it’s easier to go to a class, make friends with a woman, then “win her over” to being romantically interested in you than it is to approach a woman at a bar and convince her to go to bed with you that night. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I really don’t think that’s necessarily true for people with low social skills.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I think this is a very common misconception. People think it’s easier to go to a class, make friends with a woman, then “win her over” to being romantically interested in you than it is to approach a woman at a bar and convince her to go to bed with you that night.

            For what it may be worth, I think those sorts of scenarios are pretty unusual. Maybe it was different in the past, but nowadays if a woman is hot for you, something is going to happen pretty quickly. The only exception I can think of is if the relationship is “forbidden” in some way. e.g. professor and student; boss and subordinate employee; married person; etc.

            Of course it’s always been the case that if the woman is NOT hot for you, nothing will ever happen. And that’s the real danger in trying to make friends and then have the friendship turn into romance, i.e. you’ll discover that you have been wasting your time. Part of the problem is that when you spend time (as friends) with a girl who is your romantic interest, it’s still very very nice and it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you actually have a chance with her. Which makes you less likely to try to meet and pursue other women. Which is why it’s such terrible advice to try to be friends first with a woman.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            An easy and viable alternative to having sex is manipulating yourself psychologically into not caring about having sex. One could make the case that some form of a social life is fundamentally necessary for a healthy psyche, but the idea that sex is just as necessary is far less sustainable. The idea is a socially constructed one and can be eliminated by withdrawing one’s belief in it. It is no doubt easier to find women or men willing to socialize with you than it is find ones who will have sex with you, so once you adjust your goals accordingly you should cease having problems.

          • Nornagest says:

            “Socially constructed” does not imply “goes away when you stop believing in it”. And it definitely doesn’t say anything about how easily you can stop believing in it.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            An easy and viable alternative to having sex is manipulating yourself psychologically into not caring about having sex.

            First, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that we aren’t really talking about sex here; we’re talking about sexual relationships. If it were just about sex, it would be just a matter of seeing a prostitute now and then.

            Second, I don’t think it’s that easy if you’ve never had it and you are a lifelong involuntary celibate. In that case, you go through your life constantly being reminded that you are considered to be a low-status loser. I suppose your response is “just ignore everyone” but I don’t think that’s so easy. Imagine if your boss at work belittled and berated you every day. You could try to ignore him but it’s hard to stop your subconscious mind from processing the words you are hearing; concluding that you are being abused; and causing you to feel really shitty.

            Put simply, it’s difficult to consciously control one’s emotional responses to stimuli; therefore its difficult for an incel not to feel lousy about his situation.

      • Deiseach says:

        Make up stories about your ex-girlfriends and start telling them.

        WHOA WHOA WHOA DO NOT DO THIS!

        Your friend has never been kissed but he’ll pretend he has had girlfriends (more than one)? Yeah, that’s like claiming to be the pilot of your own small aircraft when you get dizzy just standing on a chair. The woman will be able to tell he has never been in a relationship, trust me. (I’ve been in a conversation with work colleagues discussing a young guy who was the same as your friend – they all knew, even if he never said it, that he’d never had a girlfriend until eventually he did meet and get his first girlfriend. Why this was a topic of conversation was that he’d just broken up with her and was emotionally devastated, so this was just to tell everyone ‘be nice to him and go easy on him for the next little while till he gets over this’). Same way people can tell that someone boasting of how drunk they got last night has never drunk anything stronger than soda, or has never really taken drugs and is only describing something they read about, or any other experience where one party knows what it’s really like and the other party is inventing their part.

        Sure, let him allow the other person to think by implication that he had one girlfriend back when he was sixteen or something, or never had any ‘serious’ relationship, but do NOT pretend “oh yeah, I’ve had women before” because that will backfire very badly.

        As for the resentment – what does he resent? The situation? Yes, it’s hard, but life is not like TV and the movies – it is simply not true that everyone else but him had romantic relationships and sex from the age of fourteen onwards. If he’s starting to resent women for not ‘giving him what he deserves’ – cut that attitude off fast. It will only curdle his approaches to women and put them off, and sorry friend but nobody ‘deserves’ to have love and happiness in life. You can’t earn it, you possibly can buy it (see the dating site discussion we’ve been having) but you can’t make someone fall in love with you or be attracted to you.

        • Matt M says:

          While I definitely respect the fact that most low-status people give off a “low-status aura” such that people (and women specifically) tend to just know when you’re a virgin or whatever, all I can tell you is that I did this and it worked. It took some practice and it wasn’t easy. It helps if you have something to base the stories on so they don’t feel like bold-faced lies (for me it was online relationships). It helps if you practice telling them to yourself and others. Not to go too heavy on the Seinfeld references here, but as George said, “It’s not a lie… if you believe it!”

          I would also add that this strategy is much better served to short-term encounters. It’s good for trying to hook up with a girl at a bar. I’m not much of a hook-up guy myself, but my point here is that it only needs to succeed once. You only need to find one person willing to buy your story, and then you don’t need the story, because you aren’t a virgin anymore.

          Being a habitual liar is probably a bad strategy (unless you’re really good at it) for forming multiple long-lasting friendships and romantic relationships. My point here is that it’s a better strategy than being 100% honest (if you happen to be a low-status person), particularly if all you really need right now is for someone, anyone, to voluntarily sleep with you . The best strategy certainly lies somewhere in the middle, to be sure.

          • Deiseach says:

            While I definitely respect the fact that most low-status people give off a “low-status aura” such that people (and women specifically) tend to just know when you’re a virgin or whatever, all I can tell you is that I did this and it worked.

            I’m not saying “the woman will immediately realise LOSER VIRGIN”, I’m saying if he invents having had girlfriends (and by implication been in relationships), then if he has any interaction with that woman for longer than an hour, especially if he wants to get her as a girlfriend, the first time something that she expects he’ll know how to handle/behave because heck, this is what couples do, and he plainly hasn’t a clue – that’s when she’ll twig “yeah, this is off, if he ever had a girlfriend he’d never have done that”.

            You mentioned that you repeated anecdotes from online friendships with women and let it be assumed that these were offline relationships – that’s not exactly lying and it’s not inventing something out of whole cloth. Unless the 22 year old friend has women friends that he can re-jig anecdotes from – “this is something Sandra and I did” where he and Sandra (and maybe the rest of their buddies all in a gang) went off and did something/went somewhere, he’s going to be reduced to making things up, and generally people can tell when you’re pretending to have done something they have done but you have not.

            It took some practice and it wasn’t easy.

            Exactly. That’s why I’m saying start small, don’t invent “I had a girlfriend named Jane and we were together for five years until she tragically contracted the Purple Heebie-Jeebies while on a trip to the Amazon to save the Lumpy Tree-Toad and now poor Jane is a Lesser-Spotted Bandicoot, so we had to break up”. Because if he’s going for “I only want a couple of hours with you so I can sleep with you and then never see you again”, sure, maybe it will work. But if he wants a date that will lead to a second date, to maybe a third date and who knows what comes after that, then it is setting himself up for failure.

          • rlms says:

            My girlfriend (who) lives in Canada

          • Matt M says:

            Because if he’s going for “I only want a couple of hours with you so I can sleep with you and then never see you again”

            This is probably what he should be going for. As an intermediate goal, not an ultimate one.

            The immediate concern is losing his virginity, that is the crushing societal expectations and the personal sense of failure. He needs to solve that, as soon as possible, in a reasonably high-status way (i.e. no rape, no prostitutes).

            It will build confidence and dramatically reduce whatever depression he may be suffering, almost instantly. And it’s much easier to convince a lose woman to give you a few hours than it is to convince a high-quality woman to go out on multiple dates and eventually sleep with you. And the type of woman who is willing to go home with you a few hours after meeting you isn’t the type to grill you to death and deeply analyze your stories about your ex. She just needs you to tell her that you pass the pointless and arbitrary societal bar.

            Then, once you’re done with her, you really have passed the bar (the sexual one at least) and will never need to lie about it again. This is how it works. It’s incremental. You lie a little bit to get sex, then you exaggerate that situation to get a girl who goes out with you a few times, then you exaggerate that situation to get a real girlfriend, then you exaggerate that situation to get a wife, etc…

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’m not sure of exact procedures, but it’s worth working on getting the social pressure out of your head.

            A lot of normal people are vicious idiots– they make up irrelevant reasons to despise people. This can have a bad effect on the lives of the people they despise (being a male virgin isn’t as dangerous as having a more visible stigma), but this doesn’t mean you have to do normal people’s work for them by beating yourself up.

          • Matt M says:

            Nancy,

            You’re not wrong, but that’s much easier said than done.

            “Just stop caring about what other people think about you!” is about as useful of tactical advice as “Get better at social skills!”

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I agree that breaking a strong emotional habit is hard– it’s more a matter of gradually grinding it down rather than making a simple decision and sticking to it. Still, I think it’s worth working on.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            1. I agree with you that there is nothing at all immoral about lying to defend yourself from unfair prejudice. I think the main thing is to be very careful and judicious about lying. I imagine that once you get in the habit, it becomes very easy to rationalize just about any lie.

            2. I’m pretty confident that if I had never had a serious relationship, I could lie pretty convincingly about having had one. Potential girlfriends aren’t going to cross examine you about it. And if you casually mention an ex-girlfriend and you get asked a question that’s difficult to answer, it’s easy enough to say “things ended pretty badly and I’d rather not talk about it right now, let’s just enjoy eachothers’ company” or “you know what, let’s pretend that we are both virgins” or something.

      • fortaleza84 says:

        @Matt M

        I think this is all good advice, but I would add one thing: Consider travelling to a part of the world where people of your race/ethnicity/nationality are considered higher status than in your home country.

        The classic example of this being a white guy who goes to East Asia. I did this myself as a teenager and was a bit surprised to be swamped with female interest. Girl after girl who wanted sex with me; to be my girlfriend; to get married; etc.

        I think part of the viscous cycle of male involuntary celibacy is that subconsciously, you start to believe that no woman would ever want you. And if that belief starts affecting your words and actions, it makes you less attractive and less likely to be desired romantically by a woman. Which enforces the belief.

        I think that spending time in a venue where girls are throwing themselves at you can help to break out of this cycle and make things easier for you when you return home.

    • johan_larson says:

      Well, assuming we are for some reason discussing his sex life, I would ask him why he is not yet sexually active. Has he tried dating and failed at it completely? Is he afraid to even try? Or is he postponing the matter for some reason?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      After this comment I’m taking a break from talking about dating on SSC for a while, at least until after V-day. It’s getting extremely repetitive and I don’t feel like being the “learn game” guy 24/7.

      I would tell him to learn game, specifically day game. Don’t pay anyone for lessons, just read ebooks / online guides to get the basic idea and start approaching women in his day-to-day life.

      • Winter Shaker says:

        It’s getting extremely repetitive and I don’t feel like being the “learn game” guy 24/7.

        If you find that you’re being asked that much, maybe you could write your own lucrative book on the subject and direct people there 🙂

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          I wouldn’t feel right taking money from people stupid enough to buy a book telling them to read another different book.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Wouldn’t that just be “meta-game”? I mean, jeez, if they didn’t want to get suckered into buying a book telling them to buy a different book, clearly, they wouldn’t. If they do, it’s clearly because of evolutionary psychology.

          • bja009 says:

            @dndnrsn
            this is a criminally under-appreciated comment

          • dndnrsn says:

            Nah, it’s just playing hard to get.

      • Barely matters says:

        I feel you on that one. Though this is definitely a community that I think has a lot to gain from hearing it more often.

        Something like Simple Pickup videos would be a decent place to start for people here, given that those guys are pretty light, nerdy, and really, really hard to dislike.

      • James says:

        I don’t feel like being the “learn game” guy 24/7.

        But you’re so good at it!

    • shakeddown says:

      (a) This is way more common than you think.
      (b) Just chat up some girls/ask them out. Don’t worry too much about being smooth. Most of the successful player types I know aren’t particularly smooth, they just do the obvious ask out stuff a lot.
      (c) It’s also way more common than you think for girls – if you ask out girls that aren’t super-hot (not even ugly or overweight, just not above a 7.5 on the looks scale), a surprising number of them will be nearly as inexperienced as you are (or even more). Even with those who are experienced, a lot of them will still be nervous or unsure. Girls are like spiders, they’re just as nervous of you as you are of them.
      (d) If helpful, try a bit of the more obvious PUA stuff (getting in shape, dressing a bit better, talking up random people), but it’s more important not to stress about it than to follow the advice well.

      • Girls are like spiders

        Probably not a helpful image.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Just chat up some girls/ask them out

        You say that as if talking to total strangers is easy, and something someone automatically knows the secrets of how to do. How do you figure out what to say, what information to convey? And how do you keep it from being rude/intrusive? I mean, who want’s some rando you don’t know coming up, interrupting whatever you’re doing or contemplating or whatever, and invading your space with mouth-noises about something you couldn’t give a s**t about?

        • liquidpotato says:

          I found great value in just starting with baby steps. First holding eye contact. After a few weeks of that, push the envelope a little by a simple greeting like “Good Morning” or “Good Day”. If the person you are talking to can find simple greetings like that rude, I suggest it’s not you, it’s the other person.

          Eventually, I got to the point where I can have deep conversations with random strangers on the street. Met a guy at a bus stop a few weeks ago. He told me he was almost graduating from Criminology. Wanted to be a policeman his whole life, because another policeman was like a father figure to him when he was younger and he wanted to do the same. He wants to work specifically with troubled young adults, told me about the issues he sees with the police and how he would approach his duties. Definitely a young man with a clear idea of what he wanted from life. Idealistic too.

          I started that conversation with “Damn, it’s a wet day today. You feel cold too?”

          • Kevin C. says:

            I found great value in just starting with baby steps. First holding eye contact.

            And how do you “hold eye contact” with a stranger without it being “creepy staring” or taken as a ‘challenge’ and prompting a “what’re you looking at?”/”You eyeballin’ me, boy?”-type response?

          • cactus head says:

            Just stare at them and see what happens.

            This isn’t meant as a shitpost—I think you’re vastly overstating the danger, and getting the experience of doing it, and finding it safe to do, into your memory would be your first ‘baby step’.

          • When I encounter strangers while walking around the neighborhood I generally wave, sometimes comment on the weather. I have only gotten into substantial conversations a few times, but I don’t think I have ever gotten a hostile response.

            Of course, that might not hold in a different sort of neighborhood. I’m in an area of single family homes, mostly small but almost all with well mowed lawns, flower beds and the like.

          • liquidpotato says:

            @ Kevin C.

            I hear you man. When I first started trying it out I was sick with worry that I might find myself beaten up. And holding eye contact of random beautiful women on the streets is especially intimidating.

            The best result I get is with back straight, shoulders back and head held high. That is, with boldness and (fake) confidence.

            Like I said further down, it’s a skill. You won’t get anywhere without practicing. Give it a try. Hold eye contact with two strangers a day until they look away first for the next two weeks. See where it gets you.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @cactus head

            Just stare at them and see what happens.

            What happens is at best they shift away uncomfortably, and I actually have had “what’re you looking at?”/”You eyeballin’ me, boy?”-type responses.

            @David Friedman

            Of course, that might not hold in a different sort of neighborhood.

            Yeah, my neighborhood is one of the biggest areas for panhandling, and the ski/hiking trail near my apartment is often loaded with homeless campsites.

            @liquidpotato

            Hold eye contact with two strangers a day until they look away first for the next two weeks. See where it gets you.

            Like I told cactus head, it gets me the kind of hostile responses I talked about above.

          • Barely matters says:

            @Kevin

            Hey, so you might not be doing it right yet, but I’m glad you’re actually doing something.

            Back in the heyday, I saw a some pickup guy sum the process up refreshingly honestly. He said “If you were offered a skillset that seems to you now like a superpower (And to normal people as kinda interesting, and to natural high performers as ‘lol doesn’t everyone do this?’), and the price is that ~500 small groups of people will absolutely hate your guts, would you take it?”. If the person liked the sound of the deal, he’d say alright, let’s go find group no. 1 then.

            It sounds like you’ve found your first group and put yourself out there. Awesome. And they gave you feedback. Also awesome. I’m presuming you didn’t get rolled, stabbed, arrested, or otherwise come to any tangible harm from the ordeal, which makes this a repeatable opportunity for learning.

            The next step, and likely the biggest one for you, is to learn to recursively try, collect feedback, modify your attempt and try again, rather than failing once and concluding the whole exercise is useless. Sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.

            So, I’m not going to lie to you. From what you’ve described you might be in the single most difficult position that I’ve ever seen, so your number might be substantially higher than 500. But, I mean, what do you have to lose here?

            When you hit a wall and can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong, look to successful models. For eye contact, here check this old clip from Keys To the VIP . The second guy, Cajun, is seriously good at eye contact. With the bonus that, being short and having a face for radio, technique is really all he’s working with. The first guy is a good example of how awkward and painful the process can look, though Mitch probably isn’t having much trouble finding a girlfriend in the grand scheme of things. Both these guys are just standard, by the book puas, with the first guy having just picked it up for a few months for a laugh. If you don’t like either of these guys, there are plenty of other examples to use for research and ideas. It may be totally stupid and annoying that stuff like this works, but you have the play the ball that’s in front of you rather than the one you wish were there.

            Try, get feedback, evaluate the feedback, modify your attempt, repeat.

        • toastengineer says:

          Yeah, I think that advice is hiding the complexity a bit. Like… there are social rules about when you are and aren’t supposed to approach people for conversation, and people seem react very negatively if you do it wrong, and the rules are very non-obvious.

          • liquidpotato says:

            @ toastengineer
            Is this directed at me? If not please ignore.

            You may be right that there are social rules, but my experience is that it’s not that big an obstacle. I have been approaching at least 1 person a day for over a year now, in multiple countries on different continents. When I get a negative reaction, it’s because in the initial approach I came off as nervous and needy in my body language, and that usually happens on every first or second approach I make in a new day. The subsequent ones tend to be much better.

            I do remember a time I tried to talk to a guy that clearly had a bad day. I asked him how his day went. His reply was curt, nearly a snarl “Why do you want to know?” So I smiled and stopped talking. A couple of minutes later, he started talking to me. The conversation that followed was fairly surface level because I think the man was troubled by a lot of things in his life. There were oblique references to issues that I did not have the opportunity to explore with him because his ride came soon after.

            What I have found over the past year or so is that the two keys to having a good conversation with anyone is first to be a good listener interested in what the other person has to say. How I keep a conversation going tends to flow out of my curiosity about the other person’s story.

            The other key is to share something of myself relevant to whatever topic we were just then discussing. When the conversation gets going, the more personal story that I share, the deeper the rapport.

            Approaching and maintaining conversations is a skill. That’s the good news and bad news. The good news is that most people can put effort into it and get results. The bad news is that without actually doing it there will be none, and the skill can atrophy after a while.

        • Drew says:

          Talking to people is easy enough. Go near people. Talk. Doing it comfortably or well is harder, but mostly a matter of practice.

          If you’re looking for opportunities to talk to people, then join a semi-social activity, like zumba, social dance, or pottery classes. The activity gives you a nice, neutral topic and a way to fill awkward silences.

          If the problem is not-knowing local customs like, “where do I stand?” or then I’d re-recommend the Definitive Book of Body Language. I think I mentioned it last thread. It’s excellent, and has about 400 pages of extremely detailed notes on conversation norms.

          • rlms says:

            I second the book recommendation.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Drew

            Talking to people is easy enough. Go near people. Talk.

            And then have them respond with justified hostility for being a stranger accosting them out of nowhere and assaulting their ears with blather they don’t care about.

            If you’re looking for opportunities to talk to people, then join a semi-social activity, like zumba, social dance, or pottery classes.

            All of which cost non-trivial sums of money.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            And then have them respond with justified hostility for being a stranger accosting them out of nowhere and assaulting their ears with blather they don’t care about.

            The majority of people are not hostile. They will mostly act bewildered and wonder what you are selling them.

            The worst thing that ever happened to me on my cold approaches was a girl just taking one look at me and then ignoring me. No biggie. I never saw her again (as far as I know).

            Plus, doing an approach, and having it go reasonably well, puts you in a better mood for the rest of the day.

        • Deiseach says:

          You say that as if talking to total strangers is easy, and something someone automatically knows the secrets of how to do.

          I can’t tell you how to get a friend or a date, but even I can manage two minutes worth of small talk with a stranger.

          Re: eye contact, I’d maybe hold off on the “stare at them until they look away first”. But a quick (as in 2 seconds) glance, accompanied with a smile and maybe a nod of the head (or whatever the local custom is about quick salutes) and a “hi” or “nice/terrible day, isn’t it?” (depends on weather) generally works okay.

          Standing in a queue at the bus stop? Interacting with someone in a shop? In a lift? They’re delivering something to your office and you’re the receptionist? (Or vice versa). Passing another person on the street?

          Smile, look pleasant, look at them directly, say hello or some other greeting, innocuous common place remarks about the weather, general chit-chat – perhaps there is some big story in the news, so comment on “That Leo Varadkar, eh?” – then end the exchange by saying goodbye.

          Doesn’t need to be deep, serious or prolonged. If he’s approaching every woman as a potential date, that’s a big step. Approach them as “oh this is a random stranger I will have a minor, civil exchange with as two humans in modern life”, get comfortable having small interactions, then move on to approaching someone he knows or has a passing familiarity with. Walking straight up to a random stranger and jumping straight in to “so, wanna go out with me?”, unless he’s in a pub or other acknowledged space for “meeting singles”, is indeed a recipe for a disaster but sheesh, it’s not all or nothing! Work your way up!

          • Kevin C. says:

            But a quick (as in 2 seconds) glance, accompanied with a smile and maybe a nod of the head (or whatever the local custom is about quick salutes) and a “hi” or “nice/terrible day, isn’t it?” (depends on weather) generally works okay.

            Really? I mean, you wouldn’t find that bothersome if someone did that to you?

            innocuous common place remarks about the weather

            Why do people talk about the weather? It’s there, we can all see it, there’s no useful information to communicate about it. When someone starts going on about the weather to me, a part of me wants to punch them in the throat to make the pointless blather with which they are assaulting my eardrums stop.

            Approach them as “oh this is a random stranger I will have a minor, civil exchange with as two humans in modern life”

            “Minor, civil exchanges” are things you have with people you already know to some degree. If you’re a random stranger, you better have a good reason to start talking to me, with useful information that needs conveyed, or else you’re just bothering me and interrupting my contemplations.

          • Aapje says:

            @Kevin C.

            I mean, you wouldn’t find that bothersome if someone did that to you?

            If people find that bothersome, they can respond with a curt response or an excuse not to talk to you. It’s not necessary to assume the worst. Other people have agency. Your opening move is just that. It’s not a huge obligation.

            If we disallow that small burden on others, other people will never know that you want to talk, so no one ends up talking to each other, which prohibits many good interactions.

            Why do people talk about the weather? It’s there, we can all see it, there’s no useful information to communicate about it.

            Some reasons:

            1. It’s a lowest common denominator topic
            2. It’s fairly easy to deflect a conversation that starts with a question/comment about the weather. So it can be used as a conversation starter, allowing some rapport to be build up before you ask a more intrusive question (and since they didn’t turn you away right at the start, such a question is much less of an imposition if you ask it once you’ve established that the other person wants to talk).
            3. It can be used to convey other information, for example, you could say that you hate the current bad weather because you have to wait for the bus in the rain. Then you can shift to talking about where you are heading, or talking about how hard it is not to have a car or whatever is related and you want to talk about.
            4. It can be used to maintain contact, even when there is little of substance to say. Talking is not just about communicating information, it’s also about maintaining relationships. Weather affects mood, so it’s a decent way to create emotional bonds with people that you otherwise don’t have too much in common.
            5. It can be used to stall for time when you need some time to think of a better topic.

            If you’re a random stranger, you better have a good reason to start talking to me, with useful information that needs conveyed, or else you’re just bothering me and interrupting my contemplations.

            You want more social contact, don’t you?

            If so, then your purpose can be achieved by not seeing these interruptions as being bothered, but instead, as opportunities for more social contact. Or as an opportunity to learn about things you want to know. Or as an opportunity to get help with your problems (in a non-demanding way: just by making people aware of your needs/desires, they can help if they want).

            Also, I’m sure that you are perfectly aware that you are atypical and I would suggest that in this case, it’s a very bad idea to assume that everyone else is like you.

            When someone starts going on about the weather to me, a part of me wants to punch them in the throat to make the pointless blather with which they are assaulting my eardrums stop.

            Your phrasing (“a part of me wants to punch them in the throat to make the pointless blather with which they are assaulting my eardrums stop”) suggests you are checking out, rather than engaging. I would suggest some exercises so you’d get more out of these exchanges.

            One exercise can be to identify the parts in these kinds of bland conversations where people insert information about themselves and then trying to respond to those. For instance, when someone says “The weekend is going to be dry, which is great since I plan to go hiking”, you can:
            – ask about it: “so you go hiking a lot?”. Most people love talking about themselves, so even people with low social skills can get a lot of mileage out of this to bond with others, although it may lead to have to listen to boring lectures.
            – volunteer a little information about yourself: “I used to go hiking in the Chugach Mountains when I was a kid”. This allows the other person to ask you about that or volunteer information of their own.
            – give advice: “be sure to take your raincoat though, the weather can change rapidly. This is a more risky move that typically is for later in the conversation and after asking some questions, when you have decent confidence the advice is not superfluous.
            – volunteer some interesting fact: “yeah, la nina is creating a dry spell.” This is a risky move for autistic people, because they tend to be more systematizing and more deeply interested in things than most. So if you do it, make it short and not too complex.

            Another exercise is the opposite: try inserting personal information, so people have an opportunity to do these things to you.

            These things tend to be relatively easy for normal people and hard for autistic people, but the pay-off can be large.

            “Minor, civil exchanges” are things you have with people you already know to some degree.

            This is not true. It is very typical for more social people to have minor, civil exchanges with perfect strangers, although it is more appropriate and easier in certain situations.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            2 seconds is *not* a quick glance– counting out the seconds, I’d call it a rather long stare.

            Does anyone have numbers on how long people from various cultures look at each other in various circumstances?

          • When someone starts going on about the weather to me, a part of me wants to punch them in the throat to make the pointless blather with which they are assaulting my eardrums stop.

            This makes it sound as though part of your problem is attributing to everyone else your hostility to strangers.

            And “going on about the weather” is already a distortion of what we are talking about. “Nice weather, isn’t it” is not going on about the weather.

          • liquidpotato says:

            @ Deiseach

            Re: eye contact, I’d maybe hold off on the “stare at them until they look away first”.

            Just imagine you are a cat. All sins are forgiven to cats 😉

            @ Kevin

            Talking about the weather is indeed not the best opening, but it is better than no opening. If you can come up with a non-linear opening to suit the situation, that would be the best. Humour is also amazing if you can manage it.

            To be honest though, after reading your replies to so many people who are giving great suggestions to you, I have to ask if you yourself want the social interactions.

            There’s a great deal of hostility in the way you are imagining people reacting to you and also the way you might react. Punching people in the throat for trivialities seem excessive.

            I would be interested in listening to your story, if you are inclined to share.

    • mustacheion says:

      I am a 28 year old male who has never kissed or had sex, and am partly resentful about it. There are many reasons for that: damage, fear, contempt for the norms around dating, but the biggest reason is simply that it has never really felt like the right thing at the right time. Though I will say that, through my own lack of charisma and fear/anxiety I have semi-unintentionally turned down opportunities that could have led to sex on several occasions.

      My advice for how to be ok with yourself:
      1) Don’t let it be such a big deal. This is easy to say but hard to do. Clearly, modern society puts a large amount of value on a man’s sexual prowess, but really, this is BS. There is no good reason why the number of sexual partners a man has had needs to be indicative of how he is valued as a person.
      You can’t control how other people judge you, but you can control how you judge yourself, and you can work to let yourself be ok with being a virgin. I am writing this reply and telling you my story as a way of telling you that it is ok to be a virgin, and it might be helpful to the author of this thread if other readers who agree with me could signal boost this message.

      2) Find a way to really satisfyingly take care of yourself. Four or five years ago I was beginning to feel so… hungry for sex that I was probably at risk of starting to become criminally creepy / dangerous. In this state I was so obsessed with the physicality of sex that I couldn’t really interact with women at all – even doing something like buying groceries from a female cashier could be difficult. And I am sure that women I interacted with picked up on this – it set my prospects of actually getting sex to essentially zero. But rather than continue down that path, I invested in some sex toys and really figured out how to satisfy myself. I found that this relieved a ton of psychological pressure; so much so that I have since been able to form a few friendships with women, and not even with the intent to turn these friendships into sexual relationships but just friendship for the sake of companionship. It sort of took the need for sex off the table, and allowed me to focus on other things in life. Before this, even if I found the perfect woman for me, and even if she was totally into me and took the initiative in starting a relationship, I was so obsessed with sex that I would not have been able to actually handle it. I absolutely did self-sabotage several possible romantic relationships with fantastically beautiful women because I just couldn’t handle it. But now that I have figured out how to take care of that physiological need I feel like I am psychologically ready to find success in romance – if only I could give myself permission to do so, which I can’t because I can’t find a way to plug into society in a way that make me feel like I have a future / am not a looser.
      I don’t want to publicly discuss sex toys here, because that would probably make some people uncomfortable, but I would be happy to do so in private. I have very specific tastes that probably won’t work for you, but you could at least give it a try.

    • WashedOut says:

      Watch all of Jordan Peterson’s videos on/around this subject. He might be called an expert on the psychology of resentment and has plenty to say to young men.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        And be sure to clean your room before descending into the underworld to rescue your father from the belly of a whale.

    • outis says:

      At 22 he’s still in time to meet women (especially if he’s still in college), but time is running out. It may or may not already be too late to make up for the accumulated delay in social growth. He’s getting close to the point where even if things get better, he won’t actually feel any better.

    • christhenottopher says:

      Assuming you’re in the US/Canada, go to Nevada, hire a sex worker to kiss/have sex with, see how you like it. If you like that actual experience of kissing/sex, great! Follow David Friedman’s advice. If you don’t like the experience so much, great! Now you’ve learned something about yourself, realized the societal praising of those things are overrated for you, and don’t have to be resentful.

      Oh and before you say “but I really want romance with this” I have two points: 1) Kissing/sex is a nice part of romance for those who are into that but not necessary so be more specific in your complaints, 2) sex workers literally make their money by having you enjoy your experience with them, it’ll probably be better than you’re thinking.

      Finally, if you do some introspection and realize “what I really don’t like about this idea is it seems like a low status way to lose one’s virginity,” then I have to say maybe. But on the other hand as a guy who was a 22 year old unkissed virgin myself who had that very problem, I have to say that the higher status way I lost my virginity still wasn’t all that ideal either. And indeed my semi-conscious concerns about status in dating have messed up my romantic life more than once. So, my take away is realize what sorts of concerns in your dating choices are status based and try to de-emphasize them as much as you can.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I was in that situation at that age and eventually did fine (not because I became semi-famous, before that). I think “late bloomer” is a natural category, and it has something to do with the rate at which you learn social norms.

      Think of it this way: if you have low intelligence, you’ll learn to read slower than other kids in your class, but with enough time and effort eventually you’ll learn. If you have low social skills, you’ll learn to date slower than everyone else, but again, eventually you’ll learn.

      (this isn’t to discourage you from using whatever hacks you can to speed up the process; just to reassure you that it can be natural and doesn’t necessarily mean everything will be terrible forever)

      • Andrew Hunter says:

        I don’t think that comparison is entirely fair, alas. Putting aside the particular detail of romantic success, success in building a social life has to come at the same time other people are doing it because if you try it 5 years too late, everyone already has a social group and generally isn’t interested in making more friends. The difference between this and learning to read late is that there’s nothing wrong with being a reader/intellectual/sportsman/whatever who is five years behind the normal curve: you’ll get less of the advanced stuff done before you die, but you can make progress. With building a social and romantic life, you have to be playing the same game as your peers.

        What’s more, being a lonely person is an extremely strong signal that you’re a bad social contact, and most people who discover that you’re alone will conciously or subconsciously avoid you at all costs. Quoting Larry Kestenbaum from a previous OT:

        The cruel fact is that loneliness is unattractive. A lonely person is unlikely to find friends or partners without carefully concealing his or her suffering.

        I would therefore posit that it’s extremely crucial for this person (or anyone in a similar solution) to catch up as best they can as quickly as they can at any cost, because it will get dramatically harder as your peers age out of explore into exploit. In addition to preferences changing, in fact, you’ll soon face the lack of social scripts: the vast majority of people aren’t capable of doing anything without an accepted script dictated by society, and there are close to zero established scripts for making new friends once you’re an established adult.

        (But everyone in previous threads thinks I’m being wildly too negative about my own prospects, so what the hell do I know?)

        • Evan Þ says:

          if you try it 5 years too late, everyone already has a social group and generally isn’t interested in making more friends… there are close to zero established scripts for making new friends once you’re an established adult.

          “Hi; I just moved to town; do you know any good (bookstores)/(coffeeshops)/(pickup basketball teams)/(ways to get sports tickets)?”

          “I just picked up {hobby}; should I start with {X} or {Y}?”

          Basically, manufacture an event in your life that serves as an excuse.

          • Matt M says:

            Getting back to the OP, this is great advice for dating as well.

            To preserve the image of high-status, you always need to have an “excuse”, if you will, for being single, being friendless, not knowing where all the cool places are, etc. “New in town” is a pretty standard and inoffensive excuse. Leave it up there (on your dating site profiles) for a few years. In the unlikely event you get called out on it, the proper response is something like “LOL really? I forgot it said that! I hardly ever update my profile!” (of course you don’t, you’re a busy, high-status person who certainly doesn’t spend several hours a night A/B testing different profiles on different sites to maximize your response rate per 100 messages sent!)

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          and there are close to zero established scripts for making new friends once you’re an established adult.

          I really don’t think this is true. Last week a guy in my neighborhood posted on our community FaceBook page that he needed six guys to help him flip over a ~700lb welding project he was doing in his garage. Free beer. I and five guys from the neighborhood showed up, flipped the thing, and sat around drinking for a few hours. If I were interested in making more friends (I’m not, I have plenty) I could have very easily asked them to do this again. Or mentioned that I like shooting hoops at our community basketball court and asked if any of them wanted to play a game some time.

          Another time somebody posted they were looking for more people to play Settlers of Catan with. And we have neighborhood easter egg hunts, and fireworks on the 4th of July and all that kind of stuff. I just don’t think it’s that difficult to meet people in your area and say “hey, want to grab a beer and watch the game this weekend?”

          There are perfectly fine scripts for this sort of thing. You can say they’re difficult for you because of social awkwardness or something, but I don’t think that saying such scripts don’t exist is defensible.

          • Andrew Hunter says:

            …Where do you live? Because that sounds amazing and not like any of the massively isolated lives everyone I know in major cities lives.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I live in a suburb in the south.

            But a few years back I was in Seattle for awhile doing contract work for Nintendo and I lived in a very nice, modern, condo tower downtown. Our apartment opened up to a terrace and we got to know several of the other people whose apartments also opened on the terrace. And again, we had a mailing list for the tower residents, and there were activities, and on the Fourth of July everybody went up to the roof top communal area to watch the fireworks and chatted. And while I’m older than you are (Gen X) I don’t think it’s a generational thing as there were plenty of millennials there too.

            Oh, and while I was in Seattle I didn’t have a TV. I’m a Formula 1 fan, so I joined a meetup.com group for race fans, and we met on Sundays at a nice British pub and ate shepherd’s pie and drank beer and watched the race and then sat around talking for the rest of the afternoon. If I didn’t already have a good job it would have been an excellent networking opportunity as well, as half the guys there were in tech, working for Oracle or Microsoft or whatever.

          • dndnrsn says:

            A group hobby is a great way to make friends. Most of the friends I have who aren’t from university are from BJJ.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            lvlln frequently posts about ultimate frisbee leagues/clubs. That sounds like a fun way to meet people. The park near my house has a frisbee golf course and there’s a club that advertises weekly games there, open to anyone to join. David Friedman has lots of great things to say about the SCA. The comics and games shop in my town has weekly meetups for all kinds of different board games and card games. Last month my family took a trip to the gulf coast, and we attended a “pirate festival” with the kids. Apparently there are lots of people who really love dressing up as pirates and getting together for pirate battle reenactments and singing shanties and they have these festivals several times a year that they all travel to.

            Perhaps a good way for people who don’t want to have “massively isolated lives” to avoid having massively isolated lives is to pick a hobby that they enjoy that requires a group, then look around for a club or something that does that hobby, and join it. They would probably be happy to have more people doing the group activity they enjoy doing. People who like dressing up as pirates tend to like other people who like dressing up as pirates.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Do stuff tends to be the best advice always. My current closest friend (outside of my wife) I met through a nun that I met while walking my dog. I regularly walked past her convent where she lived alone (since sold and demolished) and one day she asked if I wanted some of the apples from one of the apple trees on the property.

        • Deiseach says:

          there are close to zero established scripts for making new friends once you’re an established adult.

          And yet people must have done this, when moving to new cities for a job/moving from one country to another in the past. If 21st century life means that all your friends are college friends, what do you do when you graduate college and everyone scatters to new cities and different jobs?

    • Mark says:

      Status is a role we play, not a thing we have.

    • Mark says:

      I wouldn’t try and suppress the resentment, either. I would say that what is going on there is either (1) he thinks that people should be looking out for him more than they do, or (2) he doesn’t have a good grasp of how he is actually behaving and interacting with the world.

      In some ways, (1) is admirable. It implies high ethical standards (or sociopathy). So, I would be reluctant to say, “ho ho, shut up with your thinking that people actually have a duty of care to each other, everything is a transaction, beep-beep.” If the world is unfair, we don’t have to be happy about that.

      Regarding (2), you have to get honest and do some experimentation. Is it a problem with social skills? Is it a feeling of shame? Is it an issue with sexuality? Is he doing something to break off those potential relationships? Is he kow towing to reality? Bit lazy?

      Get a little program in place that will at least let you test to see where the problems are.

    • Thegnskald says:

      Well, I was something like 21 before dating sounded remotely interesting to me, so… it isn’t that big of a deal?

      Other people seem to think women don’t want to date inexperienced men. This isn’t quite accurate, but most women do not want to date men who are clingy, and inexperience and desperation tend to add up to clingy, so there is some overlap there.

      Work on yourself. Work on being satisfied with who you are. Work on being happy being alone. You need these things to not be the sort of person who is likely to, or at least looks likely to, follow a woman around like a sad puppy.

      Pursue non-romantic relationships first and foremost. You do not want to be in a position where your only human contact is a significant other, both because this puts an unfair burden on your potential partner, and because most romantic relationships don’t work out, and you will find that your situation between relationships doesn’t improve because of periodic relationships; instead of resenting never having X, you will become resentful of the time since X, when what you really need is human contact. (The physiological need for sex can mostly be met by yourself. It is the human interaction you need.)

      Love is fun, but if you feel like you need it to be a complete human being, you won’t ever be complete. Become complete. Love will come much easier after you accomplish this

      • Pursue non-romantic relationships first and foremost.

        This is good advice for another reason as well. The friend you make may be unsuited as a prospective romantic partner (married, wrong sex, …), but he has friends, some of whom may be. Think of it as building a social net and using it to trawl for potential romantic interests. That isn’t all it is, but it is one function.

        • Thegnskald says:

          Eh. It is a potential, but I wouldn’t rely on it.

          I think focusing on “how to find a partner” is solving the wrong problem; it is the problem posed, but the problem posed is the wrong problem.

          If you can’t be happy without a partner, the problem isn’t the absence of a partner, it is with a mentality that happiness is dependent on fulfilling desires.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      Having been in that situation, here’s the advice I would give myself:

      Lack of romance does not invalidate your life. Seriously. The idea is very much in the drinking water that the point of a male life is to Fuck Hot Bitches and a sexless life is automatically a failure. In more ‘mature’ culture you get basically the same thing with Love instead of sex–it’s e.g. assumed that Being Alone is automatically the saddest thing in the world. As a virgin I used to think that if I ever lost my balls in an accident I’d kill myself because there’d be no point to life without sex. Then I had sex, and I realized this was dumb. It’s nice, but in the end it’s basically just a shot of concentrated hedons. And IME not an order of magnitude better than masturbation for that. For me, most of the active negatives of sexlessness/romancelessness were groundless FOMO. This isn’t true for everyone, but at least consider if it might be true for you.

      It’s okay to trade off against romance/sex. If someone tells you ‘do X, and you’ll get laid’, and you don’t want to do X, not doing it is a legitimate choice–even if it’s true that X would get you laid.

      Accept that the world isn’t optimized for you, and work around that. If you want an excuse for being a virgin, you can find a way the world is unfair to you and be done. But if you want to stop being a virgin, figure out how to navigate within the imperfect world you have. AIUI PUA is all about this mindset.

      How to proceed:So I basically lucked into my current relationship, so maybe I’m the not best source for advice. But the thing that enabled it was non-date-seeking contact with women. If I found myself single again, my strategy would be to 1) find a group activity I would enjoy that is at least 50% female, 2) start attending it regularly, 3) forget that I’m there to find a date and treat the activity as an end in itself, 4) see if any chemistry develops with any of the women I meet. Step 3) is important, think about how you’d feel about a fellow lover of your hobby vs. someone who doesn’t care about it and is just there to find dates.

      Alternatively I’d try online dating, after PutANumOnIt’s advice (Start with the earliest post and read on). Haven’t tried it but it rings true.

      Lastly, I know I’m being an annoying feminist giving a lecture when you asked for help, but
      remember that women are people too. I don’t think that feeling resentment means you aren’t already doing this, but I do think the situation puts you at some risk of it. Reading redpill/pua stuff probably moreso.

      Can’t vouch for it myself, but I often encounter the claim that PUA stuff teaches social skills well, even if you think its broader theoretical claims are horrible misogynistic nonsense. So it’s totally valid to take some PUA advice and retain feminist values, if you have those values to begin with.

    • secondcityscientist says:

      You should join a community. Your criteria should be:

      1) Meets 1-2 times per week. More than this gets to be too much, less makes it hard to get to know people.
      2) Has a decent number, both absolute and percentage-wise, of (presumably) women in which you might be interested. Make sure the women might plausibly be interested in you, too.
      3) Is focused on a topic in which you’re interested.
      4) Will allow you to meet new people each time while also allowing you to get to know other “regulars”.

      Once you’ve found a space you like, just keep showing up. Talk to men. Talk to women in relationships. These people might know and introduce you to single people they know. Obviously talk to women not in relationships. Talk mainly about what the community is about while you’re there. If you develop a rapport with someone over a few weeks, ask if she’d like to get drinks or go to dinner or whatever seems most appropriate. If she’s not interested, don’t be a jerk, just move on. Being a jerk will poison the well in your community.

      School is a community while you’re there. Work is a community. In both of these though, you have less of an opportunity to optimize who you interact with. Find your own community that’s not related to either.

      • Find your own community that’s not related to either.

        At a considerable tangent, I’ve long thought that someone should write a book titled “small worlds” about the different non-geographical communities that run through modern society. How they are similar, how they are different, why. SSC is one such, both online and in realspace–I’m hosting a meetup at my house this Saturday (3806 Williams Rd, San Jose, 3:00 P.M.) and expect something between ten and forty people to show up.

        Other small worlds I have been and am part of would be SCA and libertarianism. For my sister it would be the bridge world and some subset of the horse world. For my wife it used to include folk dancing. For her parents, mineral collecting–they drove across the country to the Tucson gem and mineral show every year, just as we drive across the country to Pennsic every year. And there are many other such worlds.

      • Matt M says:

        2) Has a decent number, both absolute and percentage-wise, of (presumably) women in which you might be interested. Make sure the women might plausibly be interested in you, too.
        3) Is focused on a topic in which you’re interested.

        I’d like to jump in here, to respond to you, to respond ADifferentAnonymous above you who said something similar, and to further defend some points I made much farther upthread.

        I think that my advice involving embellishing/lying about one’s romantic history is no more dishonest than this particular (and very common) flavor of advice – to find activity groups women participate in and to join them.

        People get pretty cute about this though. If I were to say, “So you’re telling me I should take a pottery class to meet women?” the answer would be “No! I’m saying you should take a pottery class because you like pottery, and hey, it’ll make you more confident and women will be there so who knows that might happen!”

        Sorry, but I’m not buying it. If we were to go visit our old friend, the doctrine of revealed preferences, it would quickly become clear that if someone really liked pottery enough to take a pottery class independent of its potential for meeting women, he’d already be enrolled in a pottery class. The fact that he’s not suggests he isn’t really that interested in pottery, he’s interested in meeting women.

        And how does this play out? Say he does meet a single woman in pottery class, invites her home to look at these lovely bowls he’s working on, and ends up in bed with her. She rolls over and says, “Wow, I can’t believe I met someone as passionate about pottery as I am.” What’s next for our honest friend with high integrity? Admitting he’s not that into pottery and primarily took the course in order to find a woman to sleep with? Or having to keep up an embellishment/lie that serves as a foundational element of their relationship and will for as long as they know each other?

        Lying about past girlfriends is meh. Past girlfriends aren’t important. To the extent that it factors in someones decisionmaking, it’s done instantly and subconsciously. But common interests? That’s something people are allowed and openly encouraged to discriminate based upon. If you think she’ll be mad about finding out you exaggerated about your romantic past (something society tells her she’s not supposed to care about), imagine how she’ll feel when she finds out you weren’t really that into pottery. That’s not a little white lie, that’s a complete and total betrayal.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          The assumption here is that you can cultivate an interest in something. So the decision to start taking pottery classes is absolutely motivated by an interest in meeting women, but once you get into it you should actually care about pottery. If you can’t do that with pottery, find a hobby where you can. Maybe this is harder for some people than for others?

          • Matt M says:

            My general point is that it seems, all else equal, this person would rather do introverted things (for me it was reading and video games, not sure what it is for other people) than extroverted things.

            You might not actively hate pottery, but all else being equal, you’d rather be doing other things. But you do the thing you like less anyway, because you want to meet women.

            Is this not a certain form of dishonesty? What if you end up in an LTR with this girl? Are you sentenced to a lifetime of pottery and forced to give up your video game habits?

          • People doing pottery vary a good deal in their motivations. Some are loner enthusiasts. Some are moderately fond of pottery, want an excuse to get out of the house, meet people. Some are men looking for women. Some might be SCA members whose real interest is in replicating 13th century pottery for a 13th c. feast they and their friends are doing and have to learn to make pottery in order to do it. As long as you don’t claim more enthusiasm than you feel, I don’t think your presence in the class is dishonest.

          • Matt M says:

            As long as you don’t claim more enthusiasm than you feel, I don’t think your presence in the class is dishonest.

            You’re an economist, aren’t you David? What about the revealed preferences?

            The very act of going to the class (and not immediately confessing to all that your primary motivation for attending is to meet women) is, by default, “claiming more enthusiasm than you feel.” You are pretending to be something you aren’t, which is “someone who goes to pottery class for reasons other than meeting women.”

            Because your revealed preference is to not go to pottery class, and this is only altered by someone telling you “going to pottery class will help you meet women.”

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          I think you’re being too binary about being interested in an activity.

          It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to try a bunch of things you might like in the hopes of finding something you’re enthusiastic about.

        • secondcityscientist says:

          Most communities understand that people are going to try (volunteering, pottery, yoga, D&D, ultimate frisbee, etc) and it’s not going to be for everyone. People show up for a week or two, lose interest and leave. It happens. It happens a lot with people in their 20s. Most other people are pretty understanding.

          “Join a community to meet women” isn’t going to work the first time you show up to a pottery class. Maybe after a month or two you’ll have a group of people you like talking with. For that kind of time investment, it should be something you like to do.

          I suppose that you could, very cynically, show up repeatedly to infiltrate a community focused on something that you didn’t really enjoy just to meet women. It still seems like other people would notice that you’re not trying very hard, that you’re not enjoying yourself and they would probably not want to spend much time with you. If you’re to the point of making bowls so impressive that they get a woman into your bed, I don’t think you’re that person.

          • Matt M says:

            I guess my question here is more philosophical in nature.

            What is more dishonest? A simple falsification of something about your past, mentioned once in passing, and then never returned to? Or continually altering your behavior, over a pattern of weeks and months, devoting dozens/hundreds of hours to something you otherwise would not have spent time on?

            For as much as people here have tried to peg me as a dishonest sort who should repent for his behavior, the specific reason I didn’t adopt the “join an activity” group strategy is because it felt dishonest. I didn’t want to join activity groups. I would have to spend hours and hours and hours pretending to be something I’m not. That struck me as worse than telling one little white lie verbally and moving on.

          • Nornagest says:

            Going to a pottery class to meet women is not dishonest — you’re not representing yourself as a guy who went to pottery class for some reason other than to meet women, you’re just representing yourself as a guy who’s going to pottery class, which you are. You’re not obligated to reveal your motivations. On the other hand, telling the women in the pottery class that you’ve always been fascinated by pottery is (mildly) dishonest, unless you were always fascinated by pottery and just never got around to making it for some reason.

            A lot of nerds seem to interpret “honesty” through a model where they have a true self with true, deep desires (which desires are e.g. to watch anime and eat Cheetos), and voluntarily doing anything other than following those desires is somehow a betrayal of that true self and therefore dishonest. I think this is one of the most destructive attitudes in nerd culture; you don’t have a true self to betray, and acting like you do amounts to limiting your options for no good reason.

          • Matt M says:

            The model I always used for myself was, “Would I do this thing anyway, even if I knew for a fact there would be zero women there?”

            If yes, doing the thing is honest and worth doing.

            If no, then I do consider it to be a bit skeezy and dishonest.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The model I always used for myself was, “Would I do this thing anyway, even if I knew for a fact there would be zero women there?”

            This is a lousy model. First of all, there’s nothing morally wrong with doing a thing _just_ to meet women. The only people who say that can be assumed to be people whose interests are at odds with yours. There are of course non-moral problems, because if you really don’t like pottery and you go to pottery class to meet women, you’re going to find a bunch of women who like pottery which (since you don’t) already puts you at odds.

            Second, it is quite possible that you’d be interested in a thing, but not interested enough to pursue it if there’d be zero women there. This has the advantage of fewer practical problems.

          • Matt M says:

            The only people who say that can be assumed to be people whose interests are at odds with yours. There are of course non-moral problems, because if you really don’t like pottery and you go to pottery class to meet women, you’re going to find a bunch of women who like pottery which (since you don’t) already puts you at odds.

            1. “People whose interests are at odds with mine” constitute most of society. What is antisocial behavior if not intentionally doing things that most of society disapproves of? I’ll probably still do it on occasion – like I said, I decided I’d rather do things people thought of as dishonest than die a virgin. But if you’re someone whom most people are actively working against, then you’re probably going to have to “get your hands dirty”, one way or another, to get what you want.

            2. I was (still am) a huge introvert. The problem wasn’t pottery vs basketweaving vs kickball vs bluegrass jamming sessions. I wasn’t interested in leaving the house on a weeknight and any sort of activity you can imagine would put me in close contact with with women who liked leaving the house on weeknights. Which requires me to pretend to be the sort of person who likes leaving the house on weeknights, which, once again, results in an awkward moment where if I want to have a relationship with this girl, I have to either pretend that I totally DO like leaving the house on a weeknight (which I don’t), or admit that I was, in some small sense, deceiving her.

          • Nornagest says:

            Which requires me to pretend to be the sort of person who likes leaving the house on weeknights,

            I’m gonna be that guy and quote myself three times:

            you don’t have a true self to betray

            you don’t have a true self to betray

            you don’t have a true self to betray

            If you leave the house on weeknights, you are the kind of guy that leaves the house on weeknights. Why you left the house on weeknights, whether you’re the sort of person that would like to do it in some hypothetical scenario, is irrelevant. People do annoying things for social reasons all the time and that is okay.

          • The Nybbler says:

            What is antisocial behavior if not intentionally doing things that most of society disapproves of?

            “Most of society” does not disapprove of doing various recreational activities largely as a pretext for meeting members of the appropriate sex. A few very loud people do so object. If those people can’t be ejected, they should be ignored.

            I have to either pretend that I totally DO like leaving the house on a weeknight (which I don’t)

            No, you just have to act like you prefer leaving the house on a weeknight to not meeting women. Which presumably you do, or you wouldn’t have a problem. You don’t have to actually state this baldly.

          • I do agree with Matt that joining a community to meet women is probably somewhat dishonest. You obviously can’t tell people that is why you joined, because that would likely drive women away and probably result in everyone else rejecting you too, because that isn’t what the community is about. So you have to pretend to enjoy the club’s activities in themselves, which is a pretty dishonest thing. I’m not sure why several folks seem to think that lying about a previous girlfriend is beyond the pale and more dishonest than joining a club under false pretenses. I thought the previous girlfriend thing was a pretty good idea, although you have to be careful not to get caught and so look like a fool.

            I remember taking classes partly based on recommendations that this would help me meet girls, and it didn’t work at all. (this was 40 years ago, some things never change) Maybe it would have worked better to do something where people worked together, and also didn’t have an ending date. But it definitely involved being disingenuous about one’s motives. But in my twenties I was pretty desperate to meet girls. A bit of dishonesty was very low on my list of concerns when I thought I might never meet a girl.

          • The model I always used for myself was, “Would I do this thing anyway, even if I knew for a fact there would be zero women there?”

            How about “would I do this (athletic activity) if the doctor had not advised me that I need to lose weight?”

            “Would I be learning karate instead of Judo if it wasn’t that the karate studio is a block from my apartment and the judo dojo is a mile away?”

            “Would I be learning pottery instead of jewelry making if it wasn’t that clay is much less expensive than silver and I’m short of money?”

            There are lots of different elements that affect your choices. Going to a pottery class implies some interest in pottery, but not necessarily enough interest so that you would go even in the absence of some additional incentive.

          • I do agree with Matt that joining a community to meet women is probably somewhat dishonest. You obviously can’t tell people that is why you joined, because that would likely drive women away and probably result in everyone else rejecting you too, because that isn’t what the community is about.

            I am pretty sure that I told Betty at some point that the reason I went to folk dancing, where I met her, was that a friend’s wife had told me there were nice girls there. She married me anyway, and I doubt that fact is why it took so long.

            Would the people who see going to something in part to meet women as dishonest regard it as similarly dishonest if your objective was social but not romantic, if you wanted to interact with other people, make friends, have interesting conversations, and engaged in some activity at least partly for that reason? My guess is that for many activities, such as student political groups, that’s a fair part of the motivation of many participants.

          • baconbits9 says:

            So you have to pretend to enjoy the club’s activities in themselves, which is a pretty dishonest thing.

            I would say one of the most important things that I have learned in my marriage is to try to be reasonably pleasant and engaged when we are doing something that isn’t my favorite thing. I don’t go all the way down to things I hate doing, but I don’t think this is dishonest.

            You can just say “I’m trying something new”, which is reasonably honest, and then try to enjoy yourself in that environment, which is also honest.

          • Matt M says:

            David,

            I think the social context matters a lot. It is not seen as acceptable behavior to join an activity group if your major intent is to meet and have sex with a woman. We know this to be true based on the fact that everyone in this topic seems to agree that advertising this fact would be a terrible idea, and you are best off witholding it to whatever extent you can.

            On the other hand, if you joined a co-ed kickball league and when people asked why you joined, you said “Because my doctor said it would improve my blood pressure” or “Because it’s closer to my house than the dodgeball league” people would shrug and say “That seems like an acceptable reason.”

          • Matt M says:

            You can just say “I’m trying something new”, which is reasonably honest

            Sure. It’s basically a lie of omission. As is not mentioning that you’re a virgin. If someone asks you how many girlfriends you’ve had, and the true answer is zero, and your response is “Not many,” that’s also reasonably honest, IMO.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ Matt M

            Isn’t it? Half of all Green life on campuses seems to be explicitly geared around that short of thing, high schools run dances and all kinds of socializing events, and there are explicit dating services in both meat space and online.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It is not seen as acceptable behavior to join an activity group if your major intent is to meet and have sex with a woman.

            Certainly it is. You can tell this by the fact that respectable people often advise doing just this.

            We know this to be true based on the fact that everyone in this topic seems to agree that advertising this fact would be a terrible idea

            Advertising it is a bad idea because it’s considered gauche to advertise it, not because it’s immoral to do it. There is at least one good reason for it to be gauche to advertise it, too — one reason for trying to meet people this way rather than through “meet markets” is it’s lower pressure. You can go and do the activity and socialize and if you don’t meet anyone that day, no big deal. If people started talking about how they were there to meet romantic interests, the pressure would be on.

          • albatross11 says:

            Thinking about it, it feels like it’s unacceptably dishonest to lie about your past or motives (though it’s also very common for people to exaggerate or change things around to make a better story). But there’s no dishonesty in not disclosing all your motives, or in refraining from saying things that are true but socially unacceptable when there’s no need to. Saying “I joined this class partly to meet people” sounds fine. Saying “I joined this class partly to meet women” sounds okay, but maybe a little less smooth. Saying “I joined this class because I was hoping to finally meet a woman who would sleep with me, because I’m a 30-year old virgin who’s tired of wanking off in his mother’s basement to his immense and really disturbing porn collection, and besides I think maybe nobody will ever love me and I’ll die alone” isn’t really appropriate, even if it’s all true. Nobody needs all that information from you except maybe your best friend, priest, or therapist.

            Not volunteering information that would put you in a bad light isn’t the same as lying.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            Can’t speak for the others here, but to me, what counts as a white lie is largely a matter arbitrary social rules. Lying about an ex sets of my ‘arbitrary social rule violation radar’, going to a class to meet women doesn’t (but saying out loud that’s what you’re doing, does).

            Perhaps what it comes down to is that (due to nothing but self-propagating social convention) if you make an offhand reference to an ex, your listeners forms a strong belief that you have an ex; but if you show up at pottery class and say you’re there because you want to “try something new”, no one forms a strong belief that you’re not actually there to meet women.

          • secondcityscientist says:

            It is not seen as acceptable behavior to join an activity group if your major intent is to meet and have sex with a woman.

            You should say “My goal is to meet new people”. This is a totally acceptable thing to say. Your actions should be consistent with this goal – you should talk to the men in the group as well as the women, and you shouldn’t disengage with any woman you meet the instant you learn she has a boyfriend. If the group you are part of is young, doesn’t have kids and has a reasonable mix of men and women, “… and I would be most interested in meeting new people of the opposite sex in order to form a relationship” will be an unstated sub-goal that most people there share.

          • aristides says:

            Related to several of these points, you can join a community that you are genuinely interested in, but prefer doing alone, to meet girls. I really liked rpg video games, but preferred doing them alone. I started Live Action Role Playing games in part to meet girls, but it was still a strong interest of mine, just with other people. In fact Larping is a surprisingly good way for socially awkward people to find dates, since most of the hobby is extremely awkward, dates among it’s members, and if you do something awkward at first, everyone will just write it off as your playing an awkward character. The male female ratio is not too unbalanced compared to other nerdy hobbies either

        • Deiseach says:

          Lying about past girlfriends is meh. Past girlfriends aren’t important.

          You really think that if he does land a girlfriend, she won’t want to know about “so your ex, Amy, what did you guys do together?” if discussing (say) “let’s go on holiday somewhere”. Women do compare themselves with past girlfriends, if they think this relationship might be serious. More importantly, lying about that is going to trip you up because it’s not like lying about “I used to have a dog when I was a kid”, it’s lying about having someone with whom you were in an intimate relationship.

          And the first time you have a fight or even a disagreement, it’ll be brought up – “is this why you broke up with Susan?” It will take a lot more mental energy to try and keep the story about who your exes were and what happened than to be intentionally vague.

          As for going to pottery classes to meet women – there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, so long as he doesn’t chat up a woman there and act all friendly, then as soon as he finds out she already has a boyfriend or isn’t looking for a boyfriend he drops her like a hot potato and for the rest of the class acts as if she does not exist. That makes it very clear “he’s only here to get a woman” and makes him look creepy. “Looking for a potential date” doesn’t look creepy if he takes rejection well and continues to be pleasant and cordial even after the woman (or women) don’t take him up on going on a date. If he really hates pottery, is only doing it to meet women, isn’t successful in getting a romantic interest, and drops it after the first class, that can be put down to “Ah, it wasn’t his thing”. People take up hobby classes and leave them after the first week or two all the time (I used to help with the administration of evening classes, this is why we had a refunds policy as to when you could get course fees back). If it is apparent that he dropped it because no woman there would go out with him, again that makes him look “creepy and maybe a bit stalkery”.

          • Matt M says:

            so long as he doesn’t chat up a woman there and act all friendly, then as soon as he finds out she already has a boyfriend or isn’t looking for a boyfriend he drops her like a hot potato and for the rest of the class acts as if she does not exist. That makes it very clear “he’s only here to get a woman” and makes him look creepy.

            And, as someone who has been in this situation, I’m very confident this is exactly what would happen. Someone with average to low social skills is very unlikely to navigate this sort of situation with grace and skill.

            The desperate male mind is a terrible thing. The first time you’re introduced to a new woman it kicks into overdrive. This could be it! It could be her! I can chat her up while doing pottery, we can bond over our shared interest, I can mention that I’m looking for somewhere to eat dinner after, she’ll offer to show me a place she loves, we’ll stay up all night drinking and chatting and bonding, then she’ll take me back to her place, we’ll have sex and stay up all night sharing our hopes and feelings, continue to date, and eventually marry and have three beautiful children: Jeffery, Grace, and Sarah.

            All of this happens in your mind quickly, probably before you can even muster out a “Oh… hi…. I’m Matt.” And once it happens you have an emotional attachment. It’s absurd, but you do. You’ve imagined the possibilities and it feels, to some extent, like you already have them. 10 seconds later when she motions to her right and says “Oh, that’s my boyfriend, Jeff” you are emotionally devastated. You just lost your future wife. You hate her and despise her (and especially Jeff, that bastard!) and you never want to see her again. Dropping out of the pottery class at this point is pretty likely. Making every effort to avoid talking to her and Jeff and starting to find the loneliest-looking girl in class and talking to her a lot instead is almost guaranteed.

            Is that reasonable? No. Is it healthy? No. Will it happen to someone in this sort of situation who does not possess great social skills? Almost definitely.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            My concern is that if he has no interest in pottery and is just there to meet women, he’ll be trying to get women’s attention when they want to focus on pottery.

            I don’t think this is the same situation as a man who’s only got a modest interest in the activity and would also like to meet women.

          • baconbits9 says:

            And, as someone who has been in this situation, I’m very confident this is exactly what would happen. Someone with average to low social skills is very unlikely to navigate this sort of situation with grace and skill.

            @ Matt M

            A lot of this is true, and yet it is the only alternative absent prostitutes. You have to have those whacked out feelings a few times to be able to handle them, and to learn how to handle the shame you feel at them. People with low skill level only get good at things through practice.

          • Matt M says:

            I’ve offered an alternative. Stick to things that are explicitly about dating, but omit/exaggerate/lie as necessary in order to fit into such an environment.

            This is a different tone of advice than “Participate in things that are not explicitly about dating but omit/exaggerate/lie as necessary in order eventually transition these relationships into a dating situation.”

          • baconbits9 says:

            I’ve offered an alternative. Stick to things that are explicitly about dating, but omit/exaggerate/lie as necessary in order to fit into such an environment.

            This only gets you past the ‘rejected because she had a boyfriend’ issue, it doesn’t get you past the general rejection issue, and it typically involves a longer buildup of those emotions than a 2 min conversation which can be more devastating. It also minimizes all the healthiest routes to dating if done exclusively, that is meeting people through friends, or friends girlfriends, or though common interests.

          • Deiseach says:

            Someone with average to low social skills is very unlikely to navigate this sort of situation with grace and skill.

            As long as he can make the transition between “So, want to go for a coffee sometime?” and being told “Oh hey, did I tell you about my boyfriend Jason?” to “Hey, great, so I hope the teacher goes easy on me, this is my first time ever doing any kind of crafts!” and treating her as “person in my class who I say ‘hello’ to when I see them, just like I do to Joe who is at the other bench” and not “Oh. Well.” and visibly giving her the cold shoulder and treating her like she just revealed she has leprosy, then that should be enough.

            This could be it! It could be her! I can chat her up while doing pottery, we can bond over our shared interest, I can mention that I’m looking for somewhere to eat dinner after, she’ll offer to show me a place she loves, we’ll stay up all night drinking and chatting and bonding, then she’ll take me back to her place, we’ll have sex and stay up all night sharing our hopes and feelings, continue to date, and eventually marry and have three beautiful children: Jeffery, Grace, and Sarah.

            Yeah, that’s …over-eager. Sit down, take a deep breath, maybe not go out around women until you aren’t in danger of keeling over from hyperventilation? There may be women who would go straight home with a guy they just met from their pottery class and have sex with them, but I am willing to bet they’re more in the movies than real life (if anyone has tales of nymphomaniac potters in real life, feel free to correct me).

            It’s not the woman’s fault that she isn’t an actress following the script in your little movie. If you treat her like she has deliberately injured you instead of being an ordinary stranger who has a life of her own, then you will come across as desperate, rude, and undesirable company, and you will put off any other women in the class who’ve witnessed this behaviour, and you will continue to inexplicably strike out with women.

            The key to “I want to meet women/I should go to places where there are women” is try and find something you would enjoy or have some kind of interest in for its own sake. That way, even if you can’t get a date out of it, you might still keep the class up because it’s something you’d like to learn. And by the end of the six or eight weeks, having been in the same room as women and gotten used to saying “Hi” and “Bye” to them without running the rom-com movie script in your head, you might even be a teeny bit more relaxed when it comes to meeting women elsewhere, which will help with your confidence and your approach.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            To lighten the mood, this is guy you don’t want to be: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I66aySW4le8&feature=youtu.be&t=1m09s

          • Drew says:

            If he needs to learn conversation, suggest he take a class while pre-committing to NOT date anyone he meets in it.

            The commitment sounds kind of silly, but I think it will lower the stakes in a useful way.

            He can get comfortable talking to women (and everyone else) without worrying if he’s flirting effectively. Mistakes matter less if he’s not going to date anyone in the room anyway.

            After a handful of hobby-classes, he’ll have a baseline for how to strike up cordial conversations.

            That’s a good time to drop the pre-commitment. Like you suggest, getting rejected isn’t a big deal if you go back to being cordial.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Edward Scizorhands

            My mood is not lightened, but at least I can have the pleasure of explaining some things.

            Perhaps if it had stopped with telling the joke once….

            Nf vg jnf, V jnf frrvat frireny jbzra gnxvat cebcregl qnzntr, vapbairavraprq, vawherq, naq frrvat n yvggyr qbt xvpxrq n terng qvfgnapr.

            Nqzvggrqyl, vg jnf cbegenlvat onq orunivbe nf boabkvbhf, ohg V jnf ubcvat vg jnf raq jvgu fbzrguvat njshy unccravat gb gur zna.

            This discussion does make a case for Betan earings– something from Bujold (not described in detail, I think) about people from the rather Californian planet having clear signals about what they’re interested in.

            Meanwhile, I’m not sure what’s reasonable to expect from men who are only interested in unattached women. I do think they’re imposing a cost on attached women.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            If he needs to learn conversation, suggest he take a class while pre-committing to NOT date anyone he meets in it.

            The commitment sounds kind of silly, but I think it will lower the stakes in a useful way.

            I think 22 year old me trying to honor this pre-commitment is about as likely as 22 year old me flying to the Moon on a bicycle.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            Betan earrings have the same problem as any other form of signalling. People don’t always tell the truth with them. The woman wearing the “Buzz off, not interested” earrings may really tell all comers “Buzz off, not interested, can’t you see the $@%$# earrings?” Or she may simply use the earrings to cut down unwanted attention by those too timid to ignore the signal.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            Yeah, that was the main thing I found unhuman and unbelievable about Betan culture in those books, that no Betan would ever send a false signal with their earrings.

            Humans lie about that topic. All the time. They lie to themselves, and to everyone else. They can’t not lie. They can’t even conceive of not lying about it. “I’m not interested” *always* means “unless…”, for various entirely predictable values of “…”.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I think 22 year old me trying to honor this pre-commitment is about as likely as 22 year old me flying to the Moon on a bicycle.

            It’s really good advice if you can manage it, though. My breakthrough in figuring out how to approach women was “talk to women the same way you talk to a man.” This was 20 years ago or so before PUA/Game was really a thing, but it amounted to a lot of the same practices. Outcome independence (when I talk to a man I’m not trying to get him to do something or date me), teasing or I suppose “negging” before that become well-known (guys joke with each other all the time, signalling they’re not threatened by each other).

            I’m years and years out of the dating market now, and I’m sure things have changed, but I still think it’s good advice. Talk to a woman the way you’d talk to man. You’ll be the one guy who’s not obviously trying to get into her pants, which makes you much more interesting to her because she wants to know why.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “My breakthrough in figuring out how to approach women was “talk to women the same way you talk to a man.” ”

            This reminds me of something Dorothy Sayers said– people would say that she wrote her male characters so well. Did she have brothers? She said she just wrote them as though they were human beings.

            On the other hand, the value of your advice depends on how you talk to men. I’ve had a few conversations with men who would go on about how dangerous they were.

            I found this boring rather than frightening. It just seemed like a lot of time taken up with zero information, since I had no way of telling whether any of it was true. I’ve since been told that actually dangerous people don’t go on about it.

            I also wondered whether they were afraid of me, which seemed ridiculous.

            I’ve since been told that this is a normal way for men to talk with each other. I suppose they both make claims of being dangerous.

            This might work with some women– maybe there are some who think it’s cutely masculine, maybe they’re willing to do “I’m dangerous” talk for the fun of it themselves.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            It’s really good advice if you can manage it, though. My breakthrough in figuring out how to approach women was “talk to women the same way you talk to a man.” This was 20 years ago or so before PUA/Game was really a thing, but it amounted to a lot of the same practices. Outcome independence (when I talk to a man I’m not trying to get him to do something or date me), teasing or I suppose “negging” before that become well-known (guys joke with each other all the time, signalling they’re not threatened by each other).

            That seems to be in a different vein than “precommit to not dating any of these women.” This basically amounts to “don’t put women on a pedestal.”

            Young men can put women on a pedestal even without intending to date said women. Like, I might joke around with my friend’s fathers, but refuse to do so with friend’s mothers.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Nancy –

            “I’m dangerous” means “I have feelings that I think are unusual and antisocial”, usually. (It can also mean “I think being dangerous is cool and edgy”)

            For many of the people talking that way, it is a form of emotional opening-up, to see if the person they are talking to is willing to talk about such things, at least in a very indirect way.

            The desire to harm people (in specific situations), as far as I can tell, is basically normal in people (with possibly a slightly stronger tendency in men, hard to say), but it is a facet of our lives that is rarely talked about. So many people think that it makes them unusual, and unusually dangerous.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            On the other hand, the value of your advice depends on how you talk to men.

            I would say the whole “as human beings” thing. I don’t think I’m “dangerous,” and I can’t recall any specific conversations I’ve had with men who were trying to convince me how dangerous they were, nor ones where I was trying to convince them how dangerous I was.

            Does anyone else have such conversations frequently, or is this unique to Nancy? This is honestly the first time I’ve heard of such a thing.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I haven’t had such conversations frequently– maybe three times in a lot of years of talking with people.

            And I’m not sure it was an actual effort at convincing me that the I was talking to a dangerous person. It may have been pleasure or comfort at bullshitting about being dangerous.

            If it’s any consolation, one of the scariest people I’ve talked with was a woman. I didn’t know her at all, and she was talking about how much revenge she’d taken on various people. I backed away very quietly.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Do you mean “dangerous” as in threatening you with immediate physical violence?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            No, I mean dangerous in a general sense rather than an immediate one.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’ve since been told that actually dangerous people don’t go on about it.

            Depends what you mean by dangerous. Someone that could probably kick your ass is not going to go on and on about how they could kick your ass. But most of the people I’ve met who’ve been dangerous not in a “could kick your ass” way but in a “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” way — which is really a lot more important most of the time — do like to talk about it, though not exactly in those terms.

            I think this is because you don’t usually get that way as an occasional moral failing; you get that way by thinking it’s what everyone does.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Well, I don’t think most men are “dangerous in a general sense.” I know a lot of men and I could only name one who’s been in so much as a fist fight as an adult, but he’s a bouncer at a bar so I’m not sure that counts. Men don’t generally go around getting into physical altercations or threatening physical altercations, so I don’t know why you would interpret “talk to women the way you’d talk to a man” to be “make general threats against her or others.” That’s not how men talk to each other, and I would suggest that a man talking that way to a woman is not going to do well at winning her over (unless she’s got serious problems, the likes of which your typical SSC reader would prefer to avoid).

            The only thing I can think of that might communicate “danger” would be if we were talking about hobbies and I mentioned hunting and sport shooting. But I don’t think that would signal “danger” as much as the masculine virtues of providing and protecting. At least they do here in the south, so someone interpreting interests in hunting and sport shooting as “dangerous” would be misinterpreting them.

        • James says:

          I don’t have a huge amount to contribute here, except to say that my intuition is similar to Matt’s: I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at making up or tweaking a colourful-but-inconsequential story about something that I may or may have actually done, but going to a class for some activity that I’m not actually that interested in would feel, to me, too sketchy/sleazy. For instance, I’m told that yoga classes are a great way to meet women, and yet I can’t bring myself to start turning up at them—and not for lack of desire to meet women.

          I’m not saying that such a thing actually is wrong, or harmful, or that it’s actually bad advice; only that it would set off my (usually quite flexible) moral compass. I think it would feel like a violation of some kind of principle—maybe not of honestly per se, but more of integrity (being true to one’s self, or whatever).

          you don’t have a true self to betray

          you don’t have a true self to betray

          you don’t have a true self to betray

          *shrug*

          At least in some respects, I tend to agree with this, at least philosophically, but that’s still how it strikes me intuitively.

          One explanation might be that the people who are advocating for this are extrovert enough that, even if they aren’t going to evening classes in (say) pottery, it’s still a near enough miss that the possibility of doing so to meet women could still plausibly be mostly interest in pottery with a little, marginal extra side portion of meeting women, which isn’t sleazy. Whereas—without wanting to put words in his mouth—perhaps Matt and I are so drastically introvert—or otherwise unlikely to go to such things—that the phoniness dominates. I’m not sure.

          Edit: maybe the best way to express my underlying intuition is: Christ, if things are so bad that I have to pretend to like Zumba to get a date, then the world is even sadder than I thought and I want no part of it. (Yes, it’s completely stupid, but maybe I will die on this hill, thankyou very much.)

          • baconbits9 says:

            I would agree that Yoga classes are in the grey area, there is a lot of incidental sexuality there and it is tough terrain to navigate.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            What have you got against yoga? I don’t trust it myself even though I recognize that it’s a powerful set of techniques. I think it’s too far from what I think of as normal movement for me to feel compatible with it.

          • James says:

            Nothing! It’s just there as a stand-in for anything that I am neither especially interested in nor especially contemptuous of. Could just as easily have been pottery.

            (I’ve even been told that I’d be quite good at it, because I’m unreasonably flexible and have good posture.)

          • Deiseach says:

            For instance, I’m told that yoga classes are a great way to meet women

            I think that’s probably counter-productive, as the women who are there to learn yoga and not to pick up a guy will be annoyed by the men hitting on them, and the kind of guy who goes to yoga classes to pick up women will probably be an identifiable type who the women can tell is only there to try and pick up women. “Too many creepy guys hanging round” is a great way to drive away women and annoy the class tutor since they’re losing business.

            Mainly my point is: if you get turned down, don’t be a jerk about it. Unless it’s some kind of event marketed as a singles’ night for men and women to meet and mingle, it’s very likely the women will be there because they really do want to learn pottery/yoga/metal work/how to break your kneecaps, and not to find a guy.

            I’m going off a Tumblr anecdote here, where a woman described her experience of this nature: she signed up for some class (can’t remember what), on the night it started she got chatting to a guy in the class who was very friendly and they had a nice talk about the subject, then she called over her boyfriend (who was also attending the class). Other guy – who up to then had been perfectly friendly – suddenly dropped her like a hot potato and gave her the cold shoulder. That was when she twigged “Hey, when he was talking to me about our mutual interest in Thing, he didn’t care about that at all, he was trying to pick me up! And now he’s acting like I’m some bitch that led him on!”

            Moral of the story: even if you’re only there to meet women, and you get turned down and you go “Oh crap, she already has a boyfriend”, don’t be a jerk about it. The woman probably is there to learn about pottery or yoga, she is not intending to insult or hurt you by not wanting a boyfriend if she already has one (or even if she hasn’t). Disengage gracefully, not like a toddler who has been refused candy before meal time.

          • James says:

            Hey, I’m at least smooth enough that when I fake being into Thing to hit on women, I can do so convincingly. Sheesh, give me some credit.

          • quaelegit says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz — while there’s lots of different types of yoga and ways of teaching those, in every class I’ve been in the teacher stresses multiple times that you should only move as far as is comfortable for you — to listen to your body.

            Admittedly this is really hard when the teacher’s example is perfect-seeming-super-amazing-flexibility-positions (because they’re yoga teachers and have spent thousands of hours building up the strength and flexibility to to it). But for most positions there are several variations for people of varying levels of strength and flexibility, and good will teachers demonstrate different levels.

            The “easy” levels of poses often are pretty similar to everyday movements and positions — for example tree pose as its usually photographed looks pretty out there, but the first “level” I was taught is just standing tall with your weight on one foot.

            (Personally I found yoga really helpful and just about the only “outside the house” activity I could drag myself during my worst episode of depression, but that’s an orthogonal issue and I was actively avoiding interacting with other people in the class so can’t comment on whether its a good activity for meeting people.)

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Other guy – who up to then had been perfectly friendly – suddenly dropped her like a hot potato and gave her the cold shoulder.

            I don’t see the social obligation in this scenario. She shouldn’t take offense that some guys might want to sleep with her, and are not interested in talking to her if that is not on the table. That’s just life.

          • My moral intuition is the opposite. Also my practice.

            I went to folk dancing (at VPI, where I was an assistant professor at the time) because I had been told it was a good place to meet girls. The girl I met there noticed, at some point between then and now, that when they did a complicated dance I followed the steps a little off the beat and when they did a simple dance I followed the steps a little off the beat, and correctly concluded that dancing was not my thing. So now, every Wednesday evening, she and our daughter go off to do Renaissance dance and I stay home.

            Of possible relevance to the story … . What struck me about Betty was not her ability at folk dancing but, afterwards, hearing her clearly and correctly explain a point in calculus to one of the other women there. And what struck her about me, as she told me long afterwards, was “I’ve finally met someone interesting here.” Which was not a comment on my dancing.

            On the other hand, I have very strong views against lying. I won’t swear I have never told a deliberate lie in my life but off hand I cannot think of any.

          • baconbits9 says:

            1. Its generally rude to reduce someone to a single characteristic. Even if that is mostly what you want you don’t need to treat another person as a means to your end.

            2. Its a flat bad strategy. She might not have a boyfriend 4 pottery classes from now, she might have single friends to set you up with, or the other people in the class might notice that the look on her face went from engaged to confused/hurt/something else pretty quickly during the conversation.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            1. Its generally rude to reduce someone to a single characteristic. Even if that is mostly what you want you don’t need to treat another person as a means to your end.

            This isn’t what is going on, so I don’t agree with you. If I approach a girl because I am interested in date, and she is not available for a date because she has a boyfriend, I am not then obligated to go out to coffee with her platonically.

            Giving someone a cold shoulder is a non-confrontational way of signaling to a person that you are no longer interested in talking to them. People are not obligated to talk to people who are not family members. There are more pleasant ways of doing this, which basically amount to “blowing smoke up someone’s ass and never talking to them again,” but it is rude to insist other people do this to you so you feel better about yourself. If someone is giving you the cold shoulder, take the hint and leave: you aren’t entitled to someone else’s attention or friendship.

            It would be rude if he made a snide comment about her being a bitch and then left off in a huff, or made a scene, or something similar.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            quaelegit

            I’ve been to some yin yoga classes, which are pretty careful about saying to be cautious, but I’m not sure I trusted myself to gauge what was safe for me to do, and I wasn’t sure the teachers knew how to give specific advice.

            I can hurt myself mildly doing Feldenkrais. Admittedly, it was pretty ambitious Feldenkrais, but still….

            I’ve come up with a button slogan: “Be careful, your willpower is stronger than your connective tissue.”

            You might be interested in the chapter on yoga injuries in The Science of Yoga.

          • Randy M says:

            It’s a funny situation being described here, because the man is probably feeling like the woman was leading him on romantically and the woman felt he was leading her on platonically. Persuing/appearing open to romance and friendship starts pretty similarly–finding out basic information about the other person while presenting an appealing demeanor.

            Once it’s clear the other party is not offering what you are interested in, basic civility requires politeness but the man isn’t obligated to pretend like he still wants a friend. Though if it’s a social hobby like dancing or board games manners would dictate pleasant behavior that allows participation in the activity; if it’s something like chatting after yoga, he’s not interfering with anything by focusing his attentions elsewhere.

            Hey, I’m at least smooth enough that when I fake being into Thing to hit on women, I can do so convincingly.

            If some guys were to gain an interest in yoga, they’d rather be perceived as just in it for the chicks rather than being really into chakras and limberness.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ A definite Beta Guy

            The rest of the post you quoted went on to say “Don’t be a jerk about it”, and was general advice in that vein.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            James: I’m beginning to suspect your penultimate paragraph is on point. I wouldn’t say the women-meeting motivation has to be ‘marginal’, but you should get some enjoyment out of the activity itself, take some pride in improving at it, and not be thinking minute-to-minute “how much more of this do I have to sit through to get a date”. There may not be suitable such activities for everyone, but finding one is useful enough that it’s worth a fair effort searching for one.

            @Beta Guy

            There are more pleasant ways of doing this, which basically amount to “blowing smoke up someone’s ass and never talking to them again,” but it is rude to insist other people do this to you so you feel better about yourself.

            You seem to be using a nonstandard definition of ‘rude’? Let me taboo it.

            Normal people will judge you for cold-shouldering someone without blowing the expected smoke up their ass. Normal people will not judge you for insisting on that smoke for yourself.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            You seem to be using a nonstandard definition of ‘rude’? Let me taboo it.

            Normal people will judge you for cold-shouldering someone without blowing the expected smoke up their ass. Normal people will not judge you for insisting on that smoke for yourself.

            I really can’t reconcile with the vast amount of cold-shouldering that normal people do. Probably pretty blatant hypocrisy.

          • baconbits9 says:

            If some guys were to gain an interest in yoga, they’d rather be perceived as just in it for the chicks rather than being really into chakras and limberness.

            One of the issues with yoga is that a lot of the basic signals for women are swamped by the general environment. Typically a women wearing more revealing or flattering clothing would be a decent signal that they are open to being approached, and a little bit of flush to their face while you are talking to them is a good sign, neither of these is reliable in anyway in yoga.

            A semi related story, I play ultimate with two groups, one filled almost entirely with 20-30 year olds, one that spans 20-55 with a lot of 40+ people (I’m 38). There is a very attractive 23 year old girl that plays in both groups, but first she only played with the younger crowd and she was borderline cold and unapproachable at times, with the older group she was almost immediately more friendly when she joined and on hot days will play in a sports bra and shorts, but with the younger group she always wears a somewhat baggy T-shirt. Still she got hit on almost relentlessly for a period with the younger crowd and couldn’t find the non verbal cues to stop it.

          • rlms says:

            @A Definite Beta Guy
            I don’t think the choice is between dating, friendship, and cold shoulder (and indeed just as you don’t owe your friends dates, you don’t owe people you want to date friendship). The casual acquaintanceship that is the default dynamic between people (of whatever gender) who’ve gone to the same activity a few times is also an option. If you ignore someone, that means treating them worse than everyone else there. It’s rude in inverse proportion to how awkward the asking/rejection was.

          • Brad says:

            I really can’t reconcile with the vast amount of cold-shouldering that normal people do. Probably pretty blatant hypocrisy.

            You just did.

            That you are mad at how the world works is not a good reason for claiming it works differently than it does.

          • Matt M says:

            Still she got hit on almost relentlessly for a period with the younger crowd and couldn’t find the non verbal cues to stop it.

            Surely her situation will only improve as more people here keep insisting to socially awkward nerds that ultimate frisbee is a great place to meet your future wife – just don’t be afraid to approach and talk to those hot chicks!

          • Deiseach says:

            If some guys were to gain an interest in yoga, they’d rather be perceived as just in it for the chicks rather than being really into chakras and limberness.

            Women like men in kilts, just sayin’ 🙂

          • Randy M says:

            No amount of emoticons will convince me to click on a youtube link about kilts and yoga.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            The casual acquaintanceship that is the default dynamic between people (of whatever gender) who’ve gone to the same activity a few times is also an option. If you ignore someone, that means treating them worse than everyone else there. It’s rude in inverse proportion to how awkward the asking/rejection was.

            I more or less agree, but practically everyone throws a cold shoulder once in a while. Usually this is because someone in the casual acquaintance category stopped spending 2-3 minutes talking about the weather, and started talking for 10-20 minutes talking about putting their cats in cute hats for Halloween.

            Typically, people will send subtle signals that it is time to end this conversation, and if the offender continues to talk about cats in hats, the cold shoulder will get brought out.

            The offender will then get a cold shoulder the next time a conversation seems imminent, because who wants to talk about cats in hats?

            When we’re talking about a guy who was formerly nice to a girl he was attracted to, then suddenly withdrew…I mean, that’s going to fit this scenario exactly. It’s not the ONLY explanation, but it’s definitely Occam’s Razor (from my POV).

          • Thegnskald says:

            I’ll second the recommendation to wear a kilt, IF you can pull it off.

            Be weird. Be interesting. If you are here, you are weird, and you probably want to date weird people.

            And, for some reason, most weird women really like guys in kilts.

            (Any weird dressing habit will work, actually, as long as you can pull it off, and as long as it is genuinely weird. A trilby, for example, isn’t actually weird, so much as it is a signal for a particular kind of weirdness. A top hat is genuinely weird. Genuine weirdness will get people to approach you, or give them something to talk to you about; a signal for weirdness will give them something to make fun of you for.)

          • quaelegit says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            I had to look up Feldenkrais, but from the Wikipedia description I can see why injury doing that would make you cautious about yoga!

            > I’ve come up with a button slogan: “Be careful, your willpower is stronger than your connective tissue.”

            Very much agreed. It’s way too easy to push yourself as far as possible instead of stopping when you feel an appropriate stretch (and you have to learn what “appropriate” feels like…). Also in some yoga poses it takes more strength to hold an intermediate position, so I’ll overstretch from tiredness/weakness. Low strength and low flexibility is a frustrating combination in yoga…

            The book sounds interesting, added it to my list 🙂

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Feldenkrais is great stuff– it’s just that I was trying to follow a recording of a workshop for teachers who seem to be in better shape than I am.

            The two people I respect most in movement/human potential stuff are Bruce Frantzis, who says make a 70% effort– 20% or 30% if you’re sick or injured. and Scott Sonnon who says make an 80% effort and don’t try to do more until you’ve improved your form.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          She rolls over and says, “Wow, I can’t believe I met someone as passionate about pottery as I am.” What’s next for our honest friend with high integrity? Admitting he’s not that into pottery and primarily took the course in order to find a woman to sleep with? Or having to keep up an embellishment/lie that serves as a foundational element of their relationship and will for as long as they know each other?

          I would probably tell her I don’t care that much about pottery, I just signed up for the class hoping to meet her. Maybe she’d think that’s cute. That’s a good story to tell the grandkids. Except for the part about jumping into bed with each other, natch.

      • Kevin C. says:

        You should join a community. Your criteria should be:

        1) Meets 1-2 times per week. More than this gets to be too much, less makes it hard to get to know people.
        2) Has a decent number, both absolute and percentage-wise, of (presumably) women in which you might be interested. Make sure the women might plausibly be interested in you, too.
        3) Is focused on a topic in which you’re interested.
        4) Will allow you to meet new people each time while also allowing you to get to know other “regulars”.

        And if you can’t find anything in your area, that you can afford, that fits all of these? And how would you figure out if a group fits #2, especially that last part?

        • Aapje says:

          To be honest, your challenges seem so great that achieving all but #2 would already be a huge win for you.

        • secondcityscientist says:

          You’re the guy who lives in Anchorage, right? Anchorage has such an unfavorable ratio of men:women that you’ll have to accept that you’re playing long odds to start with, and your journey might take a while. Still, if you join a community and make a bunch of friends but none of them are women who want a relationship, I think you’ll be in a better position overall.

          You find out if a group meets criteria #2 by going a few times. If it’s entirely men, then you don’t have to keep going (but you should still be polite while you’re there). If you’re a broke nerd and all of the women at your event are rich business major types, then it’s probably not a favorable scene (but you should still be polite while you’re there). Accurately assess yourself, and try to find women who are sorta like you. As I said up-thread most places understand that not everyone is going to fit with their communities. People show up a couple times, then don’t come back.

          Some suggestions for free or cheap communities:
          Volunteering (At a hospital, at an animal shelter, at a community garden, at a thorough a youth organization)
          Book clubs (Check your library especially, or just google). Science Fiction/Fantasy groups especially seems to pull a pretty good mix of men:women. Books you can check out from the library, or download as PDF if you can find it.
          Board game groups. Look, every board game nerd I know has dozens more games than they can play, and what they’re usually lacking is other players. You don’t need to contribute anything other than a willingness to learn whatever game they brought along. The Anchorage board game Meetup group is pretty huge and looks like it’s about 30% women – probably not an ideal ratio overall, but still a good start especially in an area with fewer women overall.

          For me personally, part of being an introvert is that I dislike meeting new people, and really dislike meeting people in an unstructured way. Once I’ve met someone a few times, they stop being a “new person”. If I’m meeting them through doing something, like discussing a book or playing a board game, then it’s less stressful for me. Good luck.

      • fortaleza84 says:

        I don’t think this is such good advice for our 22-year-old virgin. He is almost certainly in the bottom 10% of sexual attractiveness due to some combination of physical appearance and personality.

        A man who is that low in sexual attractiveness is not going to waltz into a pottery class or dance school and find a girlfriend. There’s just too much competition from other men.

        He is much better off following Matt M’s advice. Improve your attractiveness by hook or by crook; approach lots of girls; etc.

        A man who is average in physical attractiveness , has no serious personality problems, and has decent career prospects can get away with bumbling through his life, dating girls through school or work or activities, and marrying one of them. But that’s unlikely to work for the kind of man who makes it to age 22 without a kiss.

    • Drew says:

      I’d start by seeing if they’re skipping any necessary steps.

      They need to have a life where it’s possible for you to date. Stuff like a total lack of downtime (“serving on the International Space Station”) or major personal crisis (“evacuating from California Wildfires”) need to be fixed before they have a chance.

      Then, they need to fix problems with dress, grooming or their personal life. The /r/malefashionadvice uniform looks reasonable on everyone. I’d also ask if they’re leaving their house for social things at least once or twice a week.

      Next, are they meeting people they’d want to date. You’re not going to go on dates with women if you’re living in Trappist monastery. If this is a problem, I’d tell them to put up an online dating profile, or sign up for some kind of exercise group or art class.

      Finally, are they asking people out? If not, something as simple as, “hey, I liked talking to you, want to get coffee?” is a good starting point. The person might say no, but that’s not a huge deal.

      Once all those necessary steps are in place, then it’s possible to iterate and fix whatever issues seem to be giving them the most problems.

    • baconbits9 says:

      Listen to Jordan Peterson’s advice. In short treat yourself well, expect yourself to behave well and do your best to leave resentment behind. The best way to do this is to find something you can be good at and pursue it, focusing on a portion of life where you are starting out well behind your peers isn’t likely to lead to success. Eventually you will find yourself reasonably successful in some endeavor which will catch you up part of the way up (or more) and give you a better starting point. Don’t imagine that kissing one girl, or even getting laid, is going to be life changing out of the moment.

    • Murphy says:

      I wasn’t in quite as bad a spot but romancelessness was steadily causing me more and more internal distress until I got together with my fiance.

      I kinda wish someone had just straightforwardly told me this from one of scotts posts:

      http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/08/31/radicalizing-the-romanceless/

      I will have to use virginity statistics as a proxy for the harder-to-measure romancelessness statistics, but these are bad enough. In high school each extra IQ point above average increases chances of male virginity by about 3%. 35% of MIT grad students have never had sex, compared to only 20% of average nineteen year old men. Compared with virgins, men with more sexual experience are likely to drink more alcohol, attend church less, and have a criminal history. A Dr. Beaver (nominative determinism again!) was able to predict number of sexual partners pretty well using a scale with such delightful items as “have you been in a gang”, “have you used a weapon in a fight”, et cetera. An analysis of the psychometric Big Five consistently find that high levels of disagreeableness predict high sexual success in both men and women.

      If you’re smart, don’t drink much, stay out of fights, display a friendly personality, and have no criminal history – then you are the population most at risk of being miserable and alone. “At risk” doesn’t mean “for sure”, any more than every single smoker gets lung cancer and every single nonsmoker lives to a ripe old age – but your odds get worse. In other words, everything that “nice guys” complain of is pretty darned accurate. But that shouldn’t be too hard to guess…

      as this would have reassured me a great deal. You may not be doing anything terrible, it may just be your demographics but if you socialise reasonably regularly with the kind of people you’d like to date sooner or later you’ll probably find someone you like who likes you too.

      In the meantime attempt to avoid joining the ranks of the internets bitter-and-terrible people.

      • Matt M says:

        If you’re smart, don’t drink much, stay out of fights, display a friendly personality, and have no criminal history

        Gee, I wonder in what direction withholding/embellishing/lying correlates with these behaviors…

        • baconbits9 says:

          I wonder which direction low earnings and prison time correlate with. Should virgins start serving time in prison and slashing their earnings to get laid?

          • Matt M says:

            If they really really want to maximize for sex, maybe they should consider adopting traits that correlate with “worse” life outcomes. At least for a little while.

            As I said, these are hard choices. There are trade-offs. Nothing worth doing is easy or free. You won’t get Henry results without adopting Henry behaviors.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Assuming that those traits are casual for sex, and not just parallel outcomes for some underlying trait that is causal for both, and that a 25 year old with high agreeableness is going to be particularly adept at these practices.

            If you are in this situation I agree that you need to change something, but I don’t agree with your definition of lying (or my reading of it), and I don’t agree that actually lying is likely to be a long term positive unless you have somehow almost never lied before.

          • Barely matters says:

            I think you’ve just nailed why these traits filter for *Successful* risk taking.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’d hardly call serving time in prison “successful” risk-taking.

            Though I admit jail (not prison) time makes a good story. Probably screwed up my chance at Global Entry though; one way to keep a state-spurning Libertarian honest.

          • Barely matters says:

            Likewise. In fact I would call getting caught and being incarcerated Failure in this context. The successful part would be demonstrating competence by getting away with doing risky things without going to prison.

          • Deiseach says:

            Just remember the kind of women these guys are sleeping with (to rack up the number of partners in that chart Kevin C. links) are also going to be similar personality-wise to the men: that is, they are more likely to be less intelligent as measured by an IQ test, more prone to getting in fights, using drugs, petty crime, drinking to excess, being a single parent and so on.

            If you’re desperate enough that yes, a girl like that will do you, then go right ahead and “start serving time in prison and slashing their earnings to get laid”.

          • Barely matters says:

            @Deiseach

            Got some data for that, or are you just presuming?
            I’d be interested to see your source.

            (I’m not even being sarcastic here. My friends and I banter pretty hard, and being able to link a study and say “Yo gurl, science says your taste in men means you’re probably a trainwreck!” would be absolutely hilarious.)

          • Matt M says:

            more likely to be less intelligent as measured by an IQ test, more prone to getting in fights, using drugs, petty crime, drinking to excess, being a single parent and so on.

            It’s important to note that when people give “lower your standards” they don’t just mean physical appearance. It means all of this stuff, too.

            That’s one of the biggest problem the “nice guy” nerds tend to have. They think that “lower your standards” just means “Instead of hitting on well educated well behaved college girls who are 8s, hit on well educated well behaved college girls who are 5s.” In reality it means “Instead of hitting on well educated and well behaved college girls who are 7s, hit on working class girls who drink and cuss and create a lot of unnecessary drama who are 6s.” You have to compromise on all dimensions.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I’ve got a male relative whose been in prison and somehow has yet another girlfriend despite being an unemployed loser who mooches off family. She has no teeth and all the various social markers that go with that.

            He’s easily had 10x more sexual partners than I have had, but that doesn’t mean I’d want his partners. It’s not just looks: it’s the ability to not wonder where my wallet is in the morning and immediately suspect her.

            I thought Scott really had a good point in his “radicalizing the romanceless” post when he said that someone thought “at least I should be doing somewhat better than Henry,” and I still think it’s a great point, but over time I’ve realized that a lot of Henry’s women are not what I want at all.

          • Murphy says:

            @Edward

            Honestly I think there’s a non-trivial number of very lonely guys who would respond positively to romantic attention from almost anyone vaguely fitting their gender preference.

            I’m reminded of a reddit topic pair, someone posted a topic along the lines of “girls, what kind of compliments from guys do you really like” where pretty much all the answers went into sincerity and compliments that weren’t complete enough etc etc etc

            Then someone posted the typical mirror topic for guys and most of the responses were along the lines of “Anything. it has been 4 years and 5 months since any woman not a blood relative complemented me about anything. she said my shirt was nice”

            meanwhile many of the Henry’s of this world seem to be paired up with people who score well across quite a few metrics excluding “judgement in regard to Henry”

      • Anonymous says:

        Welcome to the downfall of our civilization, I guess.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Honestly, man? Sorry, if he’s the kind of guy that feels resentment over this, he’s stuck with it. He’s never going to fully “cure” himself of this. He needs to work around the resentment so it doesn’t grow bigger or interfere with the rest of his life. Then he needs to take some action steps to solve the issue so he feels less resentment in the future.

      What actions I would recommend would depend on what the guy’s ethical code would allow. The easiest course of action is simple:
      1. Start an online dating profile.
      2. Send out messages.
      3. Do you have dates planned? For THIS weekend? If yes, STOP. If no, go to step 4.
      4. Lower standards.
      5. Go back to step 1.

      You will likely not meet the match of your life, but you will find dates. This will give you practice dating. It will also allow you to have some fun while dating. Then you better yourself by going to the gym, and eating healthier, and dressing better, and you still have some fun dating while you improve yourself. Hopefully within 12 or 24 months, you have enough experience dating and have improved yourself enough that you will find a suitable long-term partner.

      But yeah, most guys won’t do this because they are a combination of lazy and proud. No problem. I was there, too. Life goes on. Honestly, resentment isn’t that big of a deal. Most people feel it from time to time. I’ll take some resentment over the growing pains of aging.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        In addition, many people have commented something to the effect of “join a group.”

        Alternative perspective:
        You can’t just join a group and expect to get the results you want. I joined a co-ed business/social organization and did not end up kissing or sleeping with any of the girls in this group, because I had severe personality flaws that prevented this result, even despite being a member of a co-ed group, even though several of the girls expressed (what should have been) obvious interest in me.

        These personality flaws obviously manifested when I was much, much younger, and which I was quite aware of even at the time I joined this group. These personality flaws needed to be corrected before I would see any success. It did not matter how many groups I was a member of.

        Any unkissed 22 year-old American male is likely in a similar situation. He has likely been interacting with young women and girls for the majority of his life and has not had any success because he has very poor social skills or other personality traits that hinder his success (shyness, unwillingness to escalate, bad breath, whatever). Joining a new group will not improve these personality traits.

        Note: Some of these “personality flaws” may not actually be flaws, depending on how you interpret them. Like, I’m not going to kiss a girl who is in a relationship, even though I really like her, even if that relationship isn’t “serious.” I’m also not going to kiss a girl when I actually love her best friend, not her. But others are way more into the definite “flaw” category, like, if you see a girl you like, you should actually talk to her, rather than pining from afar for 6 months, particularly if she’s sending signals she WANTS to talk to you.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          I joined a group to meet women. I was too afraid to date the women in it, because I was afraid I would be seen as someone who was just in the group to meet women. (This fear may have been rational or irrational, but that doesn’t matter for this story.)

          While part of this group, I finally met a woman through an entirely different outlet, and we’re happily married today.

          Even though meeting her wasn’t through that group at all, it made me more comfortable and relaxed around women and better socialized in many ways. I probably would not have been successful with my wife if I hadn’t joined that group.

    • BBA says:

      Don’t be resentful. A lifetime of solitude isn’t as bad as it sounds.

      It’s still pretty bad. But not THAT bad.

    • Barely matters says:

      I would say “Immediately stop listening to the advice of anyone who has not achieved success in your specific area of difficulty.” SSC and the crew are fantastic at a lot of things, but this is painfully apparently not one of them.

      I would tell him to go and find models who have done what he wants to do, specifically the ones whose other abilities and circumstances are similar his own, and study what they do, what they say, what they have, and who they are. One straight to the point way of finding them is to make friends with a couple girls of the sort he likes, and hang around with their boyfriends (Or if making friends with the girls themselves is a bridge too far, he can just make friends with the guys directly until he can grok what they’re doing differently).

      I would tell him above all to stop listening to what people say, and start watching what they do. It doesn’t matter what people say they want or like, it matters which of their options they actually select.

      I would tell him that as much as I wish it weren’t so, resentment doesn’t just go away by introspection. Resentment has to be overcome through success and understanding. Similarly, confidence can’t just be bootstrapped into existence; it needs to be earned by taking meaningful risks successfully. He’ll need to find a way to hide the resentment until he builds momentum, but once he starts enjoying success it will fade.

      Finally, I would tell him to expect an uphill battle, and that trial and failure is likely to be a necessary part of it. So long as he can learn from failures and dial in his approach over time without getting discouraged, he’ll be fine.

      • fortaleza84 says:

        Even if the person has achieved success, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Probably there are a decent number of male posters here who lost their virginity before age 22 not because of any intense strategizing but because they were not terrible-looking; neurotypical; and just kind of blundered through their teenage years until they met a girl who was DTF them.

        To borrow from Matt M’s sports analogy, if a random teenage boy wanted to run a mile in under 10 minutes, the advice you would give him would be totally different if he were morbidly obese than if he were thin. If he’s thin, it will normally suffice for him to start by walk/jogging a couple miles a day for a week; then run a couple miles a day for another week; then he’s good to go. That’s the equivalent to “take a pottery class.”

        For a boy who is morbidly obese, he could still run a sub-10 mile, but it would require many months of careful diet and exercise.

        A lot of the advice here is the equivalent of saying “just run every day for a couple weeks; it worked for me!”

        • Barely matters says:

          I agree that it doesn’t guarantee that they understand the nature of the person’s problem. But I think the inverse is more accurate, in that people who are not in that position have very little chance of understanding, to the point where the noise very quickly overwhelms any legible signal.

          That’s why I specifically recommend people who the subject feels are similar to him in relevant ways. So I’d tell our obese hypothetical runner to hit the track and find someone with obvious stretch marks, or ask a trainer if he has any students who have improved from couchbound spheroid to competent on the track that he could put us in touch with for advice.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Thing is, I am pretty sure there are a LOT of guys here at SSC who had very little experience at age 22.

        • Matt M says:

          Yeah, I feel like I am uniquely qualified to give this guy advice because I had this exact problem, and I was able to solve it. I had it worse, even! I was 27!

          I’m not a “model” in the sense that the “way” I succeeded wasn’t ideal. I had a drunken hookup with a fat girl I met on POF. Who never gave me a second date. But it solved my immediate problem of feeling worthless as a man, and I think it might solve his immediate problems too. If his advice is more “How do I get a really smart and attractive woman to marry and stay faithful to me?” then I can’t really help with that (although “lose your virginity so you’re more confident when you meet such a woman” probably isn’t the worst starting point) – but I’m not claiming to be the expert on that.

        • Barely matters says:

          I agree with both you and Matt, but I feel like both of you are getting drowned out by married posters whose last relevant experience was 40 years ago, if ever, who are quick to moralize and give terrible advice. And not through any malice or incompetence, these are largely people I respect quite a bit, but many seem to have a blind spot for exactly how different their own situation was from the one described.

          It’s not that there’s nothing of value, it’s that it’s floating somewhere in the deluge of the standard fare.

          • rlms says:

            Yes, the quality of advice SSC commenters give on this kind of thing is pretty low.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Yeah, that does sort of seem to be the case, at least a little bit. Obviously I don’t know the age of all the posters. The guys that I KNOW are older, though (David and Larry) are VERY forthcoming about what they do or do not know. It’s difficult to imagine either David or Larry standing on a podium telling young men how they should behave with 100% certainty, and by the way, I walked to school 10 miles uphill both ways.

            I am strongly of the opinion that merely joining groups is not a panacea. I recommend it myself, but only for guys that have demonstrated some level of success. They will eventually stumble into success again, and just need to create the opportunity. It’s low-effort and low-risk, so will work for the majority of men.

            Guys who are 22 and virtually successless may need to make some more serious changes. A 0.000001% chance of success means you are screwed, unless you approach some astronomical level of women. He’s going to need to work on becoming more conventionally attractive, in addition to changing the way he socializes with women, in addition to approaching far more women than he normally would.

            I can definitely say that I was in this guy’s spot. I also can say that when I first met my wife, my thought process was “Okay, I am going to hit on the first girl I see,” which happened to my wife. And I can definitely tell you that I approached her in a way that did not approach other women in the past, because I was consciously suppressing my natural instincts in the way I react to women. And I can definitely say that I may have intentionally projected a false aura on certain things (though I did not outright lie).

            And I can definitely say that some aspects have been fully internalized, and they actually make me a lot more attractive to other women.

            But I won’t speak like I have the Bible in hand or anything. I have barely any experience, just my limited set of observations.

          • Barely matters says:

            True say.

            A big part of this is that we don’t know anything specific about the guy in question, so I’m much more inclined to give a general formula that he can plug the numbers into himself than any specific advice. Largely I think someone who is celibate and pissed off about it at 22 is beyond the need for advice and needs to start looking at tangible examples of success and working to integrate the parts he is able to in his own specific case.

            I agree with you that becoming more conventionally attractive is sound strategy across the board. In this case, channeling that resentment into something productive can be massively helpful. Picking something that makes women sploosh, like guitar, dancing, painting, motorcycle riding, fire spinning, whatever, and practicing it hard every time he feels sad or lonely and doesn’t know what else to do, won’t solve the problem directly, but will give him extra tools to work with when an opportunity presents itself.

            I wasn’t that far off from where this guy was, in that I waited until 20 and then seriously made up for lost time, becoming a stripper and acting in skin films. I put a ton of effort into learning this because I was so terrible at it naturally, and the effort has paid off beautifully. Even given that history, I don’t think he has any reason to listen to me directly, because I don’t know his situation, and because I’m just some words on the internet that could be completely full of shit. Nullius in verba and all.

            Watch some in field videos, model other successful guys, experiment. I think that’s the best anyone can really tell you here.

          • Guys who are 22 and virtually successless may need to make some more serious changes. A 0.000001% chance of success means you are screwed, unless you approach some astronomical level of women.

            One possible change is in the population you are searching. The same characteristics that one person finds unattractive another may find attractive. So one while possible strategy for the person you are discussing is to figure what he should change about himself, another is to figure out what he should change about where he is looking for women.

        • Thing is, I am pretty sure there are a LOT of guys here at SSC who had very little experience at age 22.

          True of me. I’m not sure how the fact that that was fifty years go changes the implications.

    • Andrew Cady says:

      1. Read Erving Goffman’s Stigma

      2. Fake it ’til you make it

    • Viliam says:

      What would you recommend or say to a 22 year old male who has never kissed or had sex, and is resentful about such?

      Not enough information available about this unspecific “22 year old male”; and the missing information may be critical for providing a useful answer.

      Does he have some actively repulsive trait? For example, does he have a horrible hygiene? If yes, then the obvious first step is to fix it. I am not saying that solving this will necessarily solve the whole problem; it’s just that not addressing the obvious thing will most likely sabotage all other attempts to solve the problem. Or maybe there is something actively repulsive with his behavior. — The good new is that this kind of problem should be more or less obvious to an outside observer, so one just needs to find a honest observer and ask them. Maybe use more than one observer.

      Now the opposite case would be a guy who has no specifically repulsive trait; he is simply not attractive enough. Neither ugly, not nice, just average… and perhaps not assertive enough to talk to girls, or spending most of his time in places with few girls. In such case, there are two things to do, preferably in parallel. First, increase attractiveness: eat healthy food, start weightlifting, improve posture and body language, improve pronunciation, learn to give public speeches, learn dancing, practice nonviolent communication, etc., simply activities that either make his body and mind more healthy, or that make him more pleasant to interact with. Second, increase exposure: visit places with more women, visit multiple different places rather than the same place all the time, talk to different kinds of people, etc.

      No need to feel resentful when there are tons of hot sex waiting in the future. 😉 And who is the target of these feelings anyway? The guys who got more lucky? Watch them ten years from now; some of them will be divorced or approaching divorce, working off their asses in jobs they hate just to bring enough money to women who hate them and who already have sex with someone else. The girls who had it easier to find a date at high school? Watch them ten years from now, trying to hide their age when you will be in your prime age (and hopefully also health and shape). Seriously, such feeling won’t even make sense anymore. The best strategy is to throw away unproductive feelings and work hard on improving the glorious future. (Also, don’t forget to buy some cryptocurrencies: in ten years they will make you a billionaire. I am not suggesting that it’s going to attract girls, because that would be a horribly sexist thought; I am just saying it might make life even better in completely unspecific ways.)

  8. xrchz says:

    Suppose I do not want to die within the next millennium (or longer).

    What could I do now to make this possible?

    I want to focus on the individual rather than civilizational version of this
    issue. In other words, imagine global catastrophic risks are so low as to not
    be relevant. (Similarly less interested in assassination; so so about rare
    accidents.)

    I have a list of things I have considered (or in some cases done) already
    towards this, which I will post in reply later.

    • Anonymous says:

      Get absurdly rich so you can get in front of the line to early clinical immortality treatments, if they get invented in your lifetime. Hire a team of medics to keep you alive as long as possible.

      • skef says:

        Hire a team of medics to keep you alive as long as possible.

        Meh. The super-wealthy often have worse problems with snake-oil than the rest of us, because its easy to whip up something too unaffordable to have much evidence for or against it.

        • Anonymous says:

          OTOH if you have a live-in star physician and a Platinum DocWagon contract, you’re less likely to expire due to random stuff like heart attacks.

    • sty_silver says:

      Make sure you have enough money for the best cryonics package, taking inflation into account. Other than that, there are a couple of scenarios where being rich is beneficial. But in general, your probability of not dying is close to the probability of humanity surviving, so taking global catastrophic risks out of the equation doesn’t really make sense.

      • Kevin C. says:

        But in general, your probability of not dying is close to the probability of humanity surviving

        [Citation needed]

        I find it highly unlikely that we will “cure aging,” let alone within the lifespan of anyone alive today.

        • sty_silver says:

          I think we’ll create AI, and if we survive that, AI will cure aging in a pretty short amount of time.

          • CatCube says:

            It’s not obvious to me this is true. The AI is still going to have to perform physical experiments, and it’s working from a very, very limited base for computational biology. It’s probably going to take a few generations just to be able to do biology in silico, before it even starts hammering on practical problems.

        • I, in contrast, think it is likely that aging will be cured within the lifespan of some now alive, although probably not soon enough for me. Progress in medical and biological knowledge has been very rapid over the past century. To first approximation, we have gone from a world where no diseases could be cured to one in which all diseases could be cured.

          I see no reason to expect the process to stop. Aging has to be curable in principle, since the information to rebuild your body is in every cell, massively redundant data storage. It’s just an engineering problem, albeit a very difficult one, to figure out how to use that information to stop aging, ideally to be able to reverse it.

          What is your reason for the opposite view?

          • baconbits9 says:

            I would say the opposite view is that there has been basically zero major advances in increasing the maximum longevity of human beings, and that the life expectancy gains have almost entirely come from getting humans to live until they are 80+, not from making them wildly healthier after 80.

          • I agree that there have been no major advances in increasing maximum longevity. But there have been enormous advances in solving other medical problems, and that’s obviously a major one that people will try to solve.

            For a while there were no major advances in dealing with AIDS. But it was reasonable to predict that such advances would eventually occur. And they did.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Nothing.

      Anyone telling you otherwise is either trying to sell you something or desperately convince themselves.

      • Brad says:

        I was about to make exactly this post. While I recognize that there generally isn’t much value in +1 post, I wanted to put it out there that at least a few of us agree on this.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          +2
          (What a good contributor am I.)

          • Well... says:

            +4 because I reached the end of the board (king me!) and now I score double.

            Seriously, I think the pursuit of immortality is a complete waste of time. You might as well go look for vampires to bite you on the neck. Even if some kind of technology enables humans to keep their brain/heart/metabolic activity going on forever, “forever” only means “as long as the technology can be maintained” which is never going to be forever. More importantly though, what kind of existence is that? In that Steve Martin movie “The Man with Two Brains” you’re not supposed to wish you could live like Anne.

          • christhenottopher says:

            That sounds like the sort of complaint that only makes sense if one literally states “I want to live forever” but the OP stated they wanted to live for “the next millennium (or longer).” Giving a definitively not infinite time frame (indeed quite a short time frame compared to the life of the universe or even just of a still habitable planet Earth) for extended life fairly neatly side-steps that complaint. Yes entropy will happen, but given the right technologies I don’t see why entropy has to win in 1000 years or so.

            Literal immortality may be impossible, but an argument for that point isn’t a particularly useful argument against extending life, even for an order of magnitude or two past what we currently have.

          • Well... says:

            Have you ever met someone in their 90s? Several of my family members are in their 90s and they’re happy and grateful for every day they have, and their lives are probably carefree compared to the lives of people who lived to that age 50 years ago. But the precautions they have to take, and the medical interventions they undergo, are staggering to think about. It seems like they’re in and out of the hospital every week or so. If you visit them, the modifications to their houses (the extra handles, the warning stickers about use of compressed gases, etc.) greet you well before they do, and are especially overbearing if you go to use their bathrooms. A sober reminder of some of the parts of old age that you don’t think about when you’re young.

            What about 100? I’ve known a couple people that age. Their eyes were bright, and you could really sense the life burning within them, but man were they feeble.

            We might in the coming century, through a long list of scientific breakthroughs and a great deal of luck, extend the mostly-unassisted human lifespan to 150 years. Maybe 200. Imagine what kind of shape you’d be in at 200. The team of people you’d need to keep you alive. Every day you lived past your 200th birthday would be a miracle. Every breath you drew past your 205th birthday would be a miracle. You would be a breathing raisin, and maybe if you’re lucky, one who can still think and perceive clearly, and doesn’t need to be hooked up to machines just to eat or pee.

            OK but these are short-sighted projections. Obviously if we’re going to get serious about lifespans in the 500+ year range, we’re talking about something besides just better diet and exercise and gene therapy and various surgeries or whatever to slow/mitigate the aging process. We’re talking about real cyborg stuff. Forget artificial hearts, we have to get into artificial cell nuclei, computer-brain interfaces, that kind of thing.

            And that’s what I mean when I say it’s technology that has to be maintained. You will not know how to maintain it, you will rely on someone else to do that. It will be a life of complete dependence — on other people, on machines, on chemicals, on processes, all of them constantly changing as they figure out new stuff and fix bugs — and you will not get a break from it, not for a moment. At the moment you say “OK let me coast and just be myself for a second” then you will die.

          • christhenottopher says:

            Maybe that’s one alternative, but I don’t think that level of difficult maintenance is what’s mostly being researched. Things like telomere lengthening don’t really seem to be that intense and machinery generally isn’t “constant maintenance mode” either. If you’re talking about a broader kind of dependence on others, that’s been true for basically all of human history, even hunter gatherers in their prime generally rely on their band for survival.

            Overall I don’t really see where the “we design medical treatments for particular symptoms/diseases but not aging in general” is a particularly good way to look at how most anti-aging research is going to end up. That sort of seems like an argument more akin to saying “there are impossible to overcome limits to land transportation. Sure you can add extra horses to pull heavier carts, but eventually this becomes a totally unwieldy solution” and then someone comes out with a steam locomotive. Yeah limits exist, but looking at those limits within the framework of known technology is way too limiting.

            And yes there are hard limits to some technologies, but there’s generally solid theoretical reasons why those limits exist. For instance, I don’t believe there will ever be a work around on the speed of light limit. The math which most accurately explains the universe rules that out pretty much entirely. That doesn’t seem to be the case with aging as far as I can tell. We’ve failed to solve the problem of aging yes, but that’s quite a bit different from hard theoretical limits on a technology.

            So as of now I’m not particularly convinced by your point.

          • Well... says:

            In my above post I speculated about theoretical technological solutions (artificial cell nuclei, etc.), which I do not believe are impossible.

            My point is more to question whether living that long is really desirable. I went straight for the “dependence on other people” reason, which I really ought to have generalized as “quality of life is more important than quantity”, but there could be other reasons too. For instance, maybe we are not equipped psychologically to handle the experience of living an order of magnitude longer than we currently do.

            Our social structures would need to change to accommodate lifespans that long too. What do human relationships look like at that range?

            OK I admit I’m not saying life extension is an insurmountable problem like the speed of light, but it brings along with it some very complex problems that people don’t seem to think about when talking about drastically extending lifespans. And these are not problems of possibility, but of desirability.

            On a fundamental level I find this kind of thing disturbing, because it seems indicative of a deep and permeating dissatisfaction with life.

          • christhenottopher says:

            That’s all reasonable! Certainly less desirable life extension outcomes like those you sketch out are possible and I don’t really know for sure the probabilities involved. I think that kind of consideration is mostly useful for either directing life extension research away from high quantity-low quality avenues or maybe as a warning for people considering such options once they become available. And indeed the social aspects of what happens when life lengthens is really important. I’m fairly optimistic on that point primarily on the basis that the expansion of the percentage of people born living to be in their 60s and 70s hasn’t made life unbearable as far as I’m concerned. Human societies have been capable of adapting to a variety of non-hunter gatherer/ancestral environment situations even without a ton of forethought does make me lean optimistic.

            That said, I do believe the right advice for “I want to live a very long time compared to what humans currently can expect” is “try to be generally healthy and not engage in lots of high risk activities to give science the longest time to succeed in non-dystopian research.” AKA, generally good advice for anyone who doesn’t want to experience an early death anyways.

            Of course if one does want that, the proper advice should probably be move to a country with legal enthunasia and take that option before you start experiencing the really crappy sides of old age. If one is generally dissatisfied with life, life extension may not be a great choice. But such distaste for living is certainly not universal and likely not to be shared by a person wanting to live for a thousands years.

          • Lillian says:

            Have you ever met someone in their 90s? Several of my family members are in their 90s and they’re happy and grateful for every day they have, and their lives are probably carefree compared to the lives of people who lived to that age 50 years ago. But the precautions they have to take, and the medical interventions they undergo, are staggering to think about. It seems like they’re in and out of the hospital every week or so. If you visit them, the modifications to their houses (the extra handles, the warning stickers about use of compressed gases, etc.) greet you well before they do, and are especially overbearing if you go to use their bathrooms. A sober reminder of some of the parts of old age that you don’t think about when you’re young.

            One of my relatives was in her early 90s when i met her, and none of these things were true for her. No constant medical interventions, no modifications to her place of living that i could see. Hell she cooked us a huge feast for us. However she did live with a bunch of other old women, and i assume they helped each other out with daily living. Similarly, the grandfather of one of my friends died in his early 90s because when his kidneys failed he decided he would rather die than spend the rest of his life going in and out of medical facilities. The same friend’s father continued to practice psychology and living alone with his dog without any such special measures also into his early 90s. By the time his health deteriorated enough that major changes to his lifestyle were necessary, he was also dying.

            Basically, some people can hit 90 and be as healthy and functional as most people are at 70. It’s probably genetics. This can lead to different perceptions of time when a family comes to expect most people to live to advanced old age. Mom told me that at a funeral, one of her relatives approached the casket, peered into it, and asked how old the the deceased was. On being told he was 54, the old man wailed, “Oh how tragic, he was a baby! Forty years younger than me!”

          • My point is more to question whether living that long is really desirable.

            On a fundamental level I find this kind of thing disturbing, because it seems indicative of a deep and permeating dissatisfaction with life.

            I would have said that thinking that living much longer isn’t desirable is indicative of a dissatisfaction with life.

          • John Schilling says:

            Have you ever met someone in their 90s?

            Living for a thousand years implicitly means not being “someone in their 90s” in the sense you are using the term. At 90, mortality is much greater than 0.001/year, and tends to involve things that no plausible level of medical technology(*) can prevent like e.g. sudden massive strokes. Whatever technology might let someone live for a millenium, will necessarily involve at least preventing and probably reversing the sort of deterioration that leads to nonagenarians being as frail as we presently observe them to be.

            One might live to be a thousand years old and spend most of that time in no better health than someone in their 60s today, but IIRC our own David Friedman was beating the crap out of people with sword and shield well into his sixties, so I think I could deal with that. And really, if in this century we get the technology to arrest aging at ~60, that would almost certainly advance to rolling back aging no later than the next century.

            * Unless we’re talking Magic Nanobots, but being Magic those can be trivially programmed to give you the body of a twenty-something Adonis or Aphrodite.

          • Well... says:

            This happens from time to time, where I think I’m part of a decent-sized group of people who believe roughly the same thing about a given topic, and then quickly find I am arguing by myself against a team. The point being that I’m probably not the ideal deliverer of this side of the argument, but I will do my best to articulate it to the admittedly (and as always) feeble extent to which I’ve thought about it.

            @christhenottopher:

            Human societies have been capable of adapting to a variety of non-hunter gatherer/ancestral environment situations even without a ton of forethought does make me lean optimistic.

            I share the basic sentiment, but it’s important to remember that the lengthening of the human lifespan we now experience has been pretty gradual (with maybe age 50 being a common “old age” many thousands of years ago and 80 being one now) and also not that drastic: an increase of a few decades absolutely and an increase of maybe 60% relatively. Remember, that’s over thousands of years. Yes, we’ve had quite a jump in the 20th century, but that was from typical life expectancy in the mid-60s to one in the mid-80s. Not really comparable to going from mid-80s to mid-aughts! (And from the OP, I gather that xrchz is hoping for such a jump within his/her lifetime.)

            @christhenotthopher and David Friedman:

            The reason I associate the desire for extreme life extension (and if I may be frank, other transhumanist desires) with dissatisfaction with life is more because of the “extreme” part than because of the “change the way stuff is” part. Any action we take that’s even intended to support our own interests fulfills the “change the way stuff is” part at least in a small way, whether it’s inventing a cure for cancer or getting up off the couch to grab some more Cheetos. I do think there’s some room in there to argue there are big differences that emerge at scale, but I won’t try to do that here.

            Obviously we all try to live long lives, and the aged people I know are unanimously deeply appreciative of each additional day they get, and I don’t take that lightly.

            But I think there’s a difference between saying “My experience of living is enjoyable, so I don’t want it to end” and thinking realistically about what kinds of interventions could actually enable it to not end (not for hundreds of years anyway) and what the experience of using those interventions would mean, both practically and philosophically. You can either handwave that complexity away, in which case you’re a naive dreamer wishing for magical nanobots or something, or you can confront it, in which case I have to wonder exactly what kind of “experience of living” you are after, because it probably won’t be one with which anybody right now is familiar.

            That question — the philosophical one about which experience of living you’re after — is interesting and necessary but I haven’t seen it discussed by people who long for extreme life extension.

          • @John Schilling:

            For a more prominent and impressive example, William Marshall led the attack in the battle of Lincoln when he was at least in his sixties (Wikipedia thinks around seventy), fought energetically, and won a victory that was part of the reason the Dauphin failed to become king of England.

            In my sixties I was still doing sword and shield fighting but was not competitive against the best of the local people. At one fighting practice (late fifties or early sixties) I had twelve fights with someone practicing for the crown tourney. By his count he won eleven of them, by my count twelve. He also won the crown tourney a few days later.

          • John Schilling says:

            If, by the time I am sixty, I can be an even marginally adequate sparring partner for someone who is about to win a regional martial-arts championship, I think I would count myself healthy and fit to continue living a very good life.

    • John Schilling says:

      There is a small chance that the technology to make this possible will be developed during your natural life. Given the payoff, it’s probably worth making a modest wager, but not to the extent of impoverishing the life you’ve got. And there’s very little you can do to change the odds.

      If you have the means to become very very very rich, multibillionaire rich, and are very good at recognizing snake-oil salesmen, you could probably shift the odds a little bit by funding targeted research and development programs. But if you had what it takes to become a multibillionaire, you wouldn’t need our advice or this particular incentive to set you on that path.

      If you were to earn an MD and a Ph.D., embark on a career in medical research, and chose to specialize in anti-aging and/or cryonics research, there’s a very small chance that your work could make a difference. The greater benefit is that if someone else’s work makes the difference, you’ll probably be part of their community (maybe working for the same billionaire), and that could get you into the early test programs. But if you’re an MD/Ph.D or likely to become one, you again don’t need our advice.

      Taking those two off the table, leaves you with watching and waiting and keeping your options open. Try not to die of anything stupid or easily preventable while you wait. Make enough money that you can afford very good private health care, because nobody’s insurance or national health service is going to cover this at first. That doesn’t take billions of dollars, because the economics doesn’t allow developing medical technologies that cost billions per patient no matter the payoff(*). Upper middle class to low-end wealthy will probably be enough, if it comes to that. Pay attention to research in the field, but understand that most or all of it will be snake oil. Be willing to take a chance on unproven medical technologies offered by clinics nobody has heard of on small Caribbean islands, but see above re snake oil.

      Understand that your wife will probably understand that this is a waste of time and money, and will be very much opposed to your spending your combined life savings on snake oil that, if it works, lets you ditch her and spend the next five hundred years banging hot young (biologically, at least) women, And she will probably be right, so listen to her and don’t do anything expensive or risky unless you can convince her to join you. In the meantime, live this life well.

      As a side benefit, if you live this life exceptionally well, that increases your appeal to other entities that might be able to offer you a long life beyond the reach of your own efforts. Ultratech billionaires, occult secret societies, mad scientists, space aliens, time travellers, the simulation gods, or the actual god. I am told the actual god doesn’t even require you be all that exceptional.

      * The payoff is usually zero because the clever new technology usually doesn’t work, but you can’t know that until you’ve tested it on dozens to hundreds of patients. So the technology can’t be developed at all until the experimental version is down to a megabuck per patient or so, tops.

      • johan_larson says:

        John is pretty much right. There is at least a chance that some technology will be developed during the 21st century that will dramatically extend life. To maximize your chances of taking advantage of it, a) try to live a long life by conventional means (take no great physical risks and follow generally healthy practices) and b) make enough money that you could spend at least hundreds of thousands of dollars on the new technology, in case it is very expensive when introduced.

      • Vermillion says:

        As a side benefit, if you live this life exceptionally well, that increases your appeal to other entities that might be able to offer you a long life beyond the reach of your own efforts. Ultratech billionaires, occult secret societies, mad scientists, space aliens, time travellers, the simulation gods, or the actual god. I am told the actual god doesn’t even require you be all that exceptional.

        This is my preferred plan because the downside is you’ve lived a very good life and the upside is nigh infinite. The odds are good, definitely worth a wager.

    • The Nybbler says:

      If getting absurdly rich seems too daunting: Go into associated fields of research — biochemistry, for example. Make a name for yourself. Get into one of the ventures (e.g. Calico Labs) funded by absurdly rich people for life extension; the rich are unlikely to deny the benefits of the technology to those who discover it (and if they try, you could probably steal it). This is probably easier than becoming absurdly rich for your average SSC reader, but not all that much so.

    • Suppose I do not want to die within the next millennium (or longer).

      What could I do now to make this possible?

      There are a variety of dietary supplements that have a non-zero chance of slowing aging in humans, although none that have been definitely shown to do so. Also caloric restriction, eating barely the number of calories the body needs, seems to extend the lifespan of mice substantially.

      The longer you live, the better the odds that when a real cure for aging is found you will still be alive to make use of it.

    • fortaleza84 says:

      I agree with the others about low-tech life extension: Not smoking; not eating junk food; calorie restriction; regular exercise. If you do this stuff, you might buy yourself an extra 5 years or so. The idea is to improve your chance of living past the point in time where technological improvements to life expectancy are moving faster than 1 year per year.

      Based on my (modest) research, this seems to be the low-hanging fruit, so to speak. Fancy supplements are kind of iffy and even if they work, don’t seem to give you anywhere near the boost you get from exercise and healthy eating.

      I would also avoid casual sex as the human body is not engineered for it. There is something called a “subclinical virus,” i.e. a virus which doesn’t produce diagnosible symptoms but hangs around in your body. I have no research to back it up, but I think a lot of these subclinical infections take a bite out of your life expectancy by chronically tying up immune system resources.

      • metacelsus says:

        I would also avoid casual sex as the human body is not engineered for it.

        Wait, what? This seems highly implausible, given that having more sex leads to greater reproductive fitness.

        Do you have a source to back up your claim?

        • fortaleza84 says:

          Do you have a source to back up your claim?

          It’s mainly based on common sense. Based on my understanding, in the ancestral environment it would have been extremely unusual to have hundreds of sex partners who in turn would have been having sex with thousands of other people.

          • Nornagest says:

            I would be astonished if a significant number of people had hundreds of partners — even among people who’re into casual sex, I’d expect to see an order of magnitude less than that. And depending on how ancestral you’re talking about, it’s quite possible that a good fraction of at least your male ancestors had that many partners — Napoleon Chagnon spent a lot of time tracking the family structures of the Amazonian Yanomami people, for example, and found that male reproduction was very heavily skewed, with the highest-status men often having children with upwards of a dozen women.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I would have to disagree, there a lot of male and female sl*ts out there who have sex with a new person on a monthly basis or more frequently. Over 10 or 15 years, that can really add up.

            And even if that’s only 1% of the population, if you have a casual encounter, there is a pretty good chance it’s with one of those people or someone who’s been with one of those people. Pro-tip: if you pick up a drunk chick in a bar and she tells you she’s never done this before, she’s probably lying.

            It’s true that there have been conquerors and such with lots of wives, but how promiscuous were those wives?

            I think modern times are pretty singular in terms large scale sexual promiscuity. Having sex with a lot of people who themselves have sex with a lot of people.

          • Nornagest says:

            Sure, there are people like that. But I don’t think they’re hooking up with a stranger every month. I think they’re typically sleeping with everyone interested and attractive in their friend group, which would usually come to maybe a couple dozen people. Even if you’re picking people up in bars, you have to ask yourself how many regulars there are at that bar.

            Bear in mind that the current average lifetime number of sex partners in the US is something like four.

            The high-status men I was talking about weren’t conquerors or warlords; the Yanomami have neither. They were regular warriors, albeit successful ones from influential families; it’s just that half of all Yanomami men get killed in fights or battle and many of the rest never marry. Bronze Age palace economies were probably even more skewed but they didn’t last very long, evolutionarily speaking.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Sure, there are people like that. But I don’t think they’re hooking up with a stranger every month.

            I disagree, I think that for a lot of people, one new person a month is pretty conservative.

            But let me ask you this: Will you at least agree that

            (1) people are significantly more promiscuous now than they were before the advent of the birth control pill?

            (2) It’s considerably easier now than it was before 1963 for a man to convince a random woman to have a one-night stand with him?

          • Nornagest says:

            Americans after the pill are probably somewhat more promiscuous than Americans before the pill, but we were talking about the ancestral environment — pre-Sixties American sexual behavior means exactly nothing w.r.t. what the human body is “designed for”.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I don’t understand your point. The time period of the “ancestral environment” predates 1963.

            Are you saying that people were just as promiscuous in the Medieval Era as they are today? During the Neolithic era? During hunter/gatherer days?

          • Nornagest says:

            Are you saying that people were just as promiscuous in the Medieval Era as they are today? During the Neolithic era? During hunter/gatherer days?

            I’m saying there’s a lot of past, and it’s somewhere between naive and arrogant to look at the shakeup in mid-20th century Western sexual mores that accompanied the birth-control pill and extrapolate from that to the medieval era or the Neolithic. I’m not even sure that people on average were less promiscuous in the Victorian era than they are today; certainly “respectable” sexuality was a lot stricter, but there was a hell of a lot of prostitution too.

            “Still the world is wondrous large, seven seas from marge to marge
            And it holds a vast of various kinds of man;
            And the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Khatmandhu
            And the crimes of Clapham chaste in Martaban.”

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I’m not even sure that people on average were less promiscuous in the Victorian era than they are today; certainly “respectable” sexuality was a lot stricter, but there was a hell of a lot of prostitution too.

            I wonder what percentage of women were prostitutes back then. I’m pretty confident that it was pretty small just like it is now.

            The real difference is that back then, it was a lot less common for women to have multiple sexual partners before getting married; or just to have multiple sexual partners and never get married. How do I know this? It’s common sense based on general knowledge of human behavior combined with the fact that there was no birth control pill around back then, and the fact that it was much less common for young women to live on their own. (Of course the lack of modern welfare benefits may also be a factor.)

            If you want to call this “extrapolating,” fine. It seems to me that you are being overly skeptical here, perhaps because you don’t like the common sense conclusion.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Epistemic status: Sketchy numbers from the 19th century and I may have fucked a decimal up somewhere.

            In 1888, the British police estimated just over 24k prostitutes in England and Wales. Some non-police estimates were much higher. The population of England was around 24 million then, or a bit higher, and Wales about 1.5 million. Let’s say 28 million to work with because the numbers aren’t all for the same year and it looks like England had an increase of just under 3 million 1881-1891.

            That’s ~24,000 prostitutes in a population of ~28,000,000. From the Wikipedia article, it’s suggested that the number is only for female prostitutes – rent boys, rough trade, etc were quite common, though, by many accounts “telegraph boys” were often prostituted/prostituted themselves on the side, for example. If that’s ~24k female prostitutes in a population of ~14m women, that’s .17% of women as prostitutes. However, by some accounts, more “casual” prostitution was fairly common – see, for example, Jack the Ripper’s victims, who were not necessarily full-time prostitutes.

            However, the police might have a reason to downplay the number of women in prostitution – “we’re controlling this social problem” looks better than “we can barely control this social problem.” According to the same article,

            The Westminster Review placed the figure between 50,000 and 368,000. This would make prostitution the fourth-largest female occupation. One difficulty in calculating numbers is that In the 19th century the word “prostitute” was also used to refer to women who were living with men outside marriage, women who had had illegitimate children, and women who perhaps had relations with men for pleasure rather than money

            Today, a British parliamentary report estimates 72,800 “sex workers” of whatever sex in Britain (not England and Wales; presumably including Scotland, the Channel Islands, North Ireland, etc) in 2016. The population of Britain in 2016 was 65.64 million. That’s .11% of people in Britain in 2016 being sex workers. However, that’s men and women. What about just women? According to that report

            The Fawcett Society referred to research conducted in 2014, which indicated that there were at least 58,000 women in prostitution in the UK

            58k female prostitutes divided by 32.16 million (if I’ve got the math right for the male-female ratio) is about .18%. The Fawcett Society, however, is a women’s-rights group that promotes the Nordic model, which attempts to do away with sex work by going after johns. It’s in their interest to maximize the reported number of women working as prostitutes. As far as I can tell the House of Commons report doesn’t provide numbers for women vs others besides this. (Compared to the Fawcett Society, the report basically throws its hands up at the end and says “we don’t know what to do.”)

            Perhaps the Fawcett number should be compared to the Westminster Review numbers. The Westminster Review was a left-wing publication that included suffragists among its number; given that prostitution was seen then (as now) by many of that persuasion as a social crime against women, they too would have a reason to exaggerate the numbers. If it was 50k women, that’s .36% of women as prostitutes. If the high, rather unlikely (including women who today would not be considered prostitutes) 368k number is taken, that’s a whopping 2.63% of women as prostitutes in the mid to late 19th century. An average of the two figures produces 209k, or 1.49%.

            So, if we compare the cops then to the feminist campaigners now, about the same % of women are prostitutes now as then. If we compare feminist campaigners then to feminist campaigners now, that’s a lot more women as prostitutes then vs now, potentially a lot more. So, what else can be used as information? That same Commons report states that

            Around 11% of British men aged 16–74 have paid for sex on at least one occasion, which equates to 2.3 million individuals.

            By many accounts, the number was much higher in the past. However, I’m having a hell of a time finding hard numbers. Recall seeing something in the realm of 1/3 for Victorian England, but I have no idea where that book is now so I can’t check the source. Kinsey originally claimed that 69% (nice) of white men back in the 40s had had sex with a prostitute at least once, but Kinsey’s methodology was dreadful. Presumably, the number is lower than it was today than in the late 19th century because women who are not prostitutes are far more likely to have sex outside of wedlock.

          • Matt M says:

            I’d be cautious about using modern estimates that refer to “sex workers.” Often that category includes strippers, and even sometimes work-at-home camgirls.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The Commons report seems to define “sex worker” in a way that only really fits full-service sex workers. They don’t seem to include strippers, camgirls, etc.

          • Nornagest says:

            The real difference is that back then, it was a lot less common for women to have multiple sexual partners before getting married; or just to have multiple sexual partners and never get married.

            Assuming heterosexuality, it is mathematically impossible for the average number of male sexual partners to be different from the average number of female sexual partners. The distribution of course may be very different.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Assuming heterosexuality, it is mathematically impossible for the average number of male sexual partners to be different from the average number of female sexual partners.

            Agreed. I was focusing on women because women are the gatekeepers of casual sex. If women are having less casual sex, then men are too.

            All of this is consistent with my common sense hypothesis: The cost of casual sex is lower now (with “now” meaning post-1966) than at any time in the past while at the same time, society’s ability to pay for it is higher than at any time in the past. Therefore, it’s reasonable to conclude that there is a good deal more casual sex going on now than at any time in the past.

            This is also consistent with reports of people who came of age before 1966.

          • Nornagest says:

            The cost of casual sex is lower now (with “now” meaning post-1966) than at any time in the past while at the same time, society’s ability to pay for it is higher than at any time in the past.

            It’s (probably) easier to prevent pregnancy than at any time in the past, but that’s only a cost if children are treated as a net loss, and then only if the sex we’re talking about is procreative. The expected cost of sexually transmitted disease is not necessarily lower than at any time in the past. AIDS didn’t even exist until sometime in the mid-20th century; syphilis probably came to Europe with the Columbian exchange; and the EV in a given time and place depends on the actual disease prevalence, which should vary widely.

            So no, you don’t know this. I’m not trying to push for some kind of Margaret Mead free-love fantasy here, I doubt that’s ever been a thing, but your supposed common sense does not apply outside, at most, the 20th century — the past is weirder than most people could possibly imagine.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            but that’s only a cost if children are treated as a net loss,

            Sure, if nothing else there is opportunity cost for the woman.

            The expected cost of sexually transmitted disease is not necessarily lower than at any time in the past.AIDS didn’t even exist until sometime in the mid-20th century; syphilis probably came to Europe with the Columbian exchange;

            Are you saying that sexually transmitted diseases were less common in the past?

    • xrchz says:

      Thanks for the replies so far. I look forward to further responses!

      Some clarifications:
      I’m interested in “healthspan” not just lifespan;
      I’m keen to know about specific things,
      e.g., not just “get rich” but what to spend the money on;
      and I’m not so interested in motivation for/against the goal.

      As promised, here’s the list of stuff
      I’ve thought of (or done (*)):

      1. staying alive in the short term
      – monitoring/predicting common causes of death (*)
      – reduce disease risk / longevity interventions
      – diet/nutrition (*)
      – exercise (*)
      – caloric restriction etc.
      – accident risk (be careful)
      – catastrophe risk (work on xrisk reduction etc.) (*)
      2. staying alive/revivable longer term
      – cryonics (*)
      – other brain preservation
      – amassing wealth
      3. biorejuvenation research
      – Sens Research Foundation (*)
      – Calico
      – promises of AI-enhanced science
      4. extra-bio longevity research
      – Brain Preservation Foundation (*)
      – brain emulation research

      • sty_silver says:

        How old are you? It really matters for your strategic outlook.

      • johan_larson says:

        Looks like the big thing you haven’t tried is a calorie restricted diet. As I understand it, this has proved extremely effective in experiments with animals. Of course, you might feel absolutely crappy living on 1500 calories per day.

        • Vermillion says:

          It also completely tanks your sex drive, but that could be a positive if you’re trying to avoid the risks associated with casual sex. Guess it depends on how you choose to define healthspan.

    • xrchz says:

      A couple of things that haven’t been mentioned yet:
      – lifespan.io / leafscience.org
      – longevity.stanford.edu

      Does anyone have more in this vein? Or opinions/data about the quality of the projects above?

  9. SteveReilly says:

    A question that’s similar to the post on here about hot dogs coming in packages of ten but buns coming in packages of eight. Why does women’s clothing have such small pockets? I’ve heard this complaint a decent number of times, and it seems like a clothing designer would want to spend an extra few cents on fabric if it meant a woman would be more likely to buy the jeans or the skirt. So why not do it?

    Or do most women just not care and I happened to stumble on tweets by the few that do? Or is the whole thing a myth?

    • Anonymous says:

      Women’s clothing is gernerally meant to look good at the expense of practicality. Large pockets stuffed with larger objects don’t look that good, especially where form-fitting clothes are concerned.

      • Matt M says:

        Women’s clothing is gernerally meant to look good at the expense of practicality.

        This.

        Assuming anything reasonably close to a functioning market, the answer is something to the effect of “because the women who complain about this aren’t willing to sacrifice fashion in exchange for it, and there’s no practical way to make things really fashionable that also have huge pockets”

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          So far as I know, no one has experimented with making women’s clothes with large pockets. Selection needs variation to select from.

          • gbdub says:

            Sure they have – just at places that favor functionality over fashion, like Eddie Bauer, REI, and the medical scrubs store.

          • Matt M says:

            It’s also possible that experiments have been done, but failed before reaching the “put the product out on shelves and sell it to customers” phase.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Searching for [Cargo Pants For Women] brings up some. Levi’s 505s also come in women’s sizes.

          • meh says:

            scottevest

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I agree with gbdub. Occasionally I see womens’ clothing with large pockets. I have a female family member who is kind of nerdy who wears pants with large pockets now and then.

            Nowadays, it’s not crazy expensive to have your own clothing line made up and sell it online. If there were demand for womens’ clothing with large pockets, that demand would be met.

          • Rebecca Friedman says:

            @Nancy and Matt M

            You can get women’s clothing that is both pretty and has reasonable-size pockets – about two of them, but that’s still much better than what most places offer. Side seam pockets work well, in my experience*, for being both unobtrusive and solid… as long as you are willing to wear full skirts. (Since that’s specifically what I wear, I don’t have too much trouble with that part, but others might.) The trick is to buy from eclectic sources – my best sources are the people who sell tie-dye clothes at local art fairs, not exactly a generalizable solution. Some of the online custom order places do dresses with pockets as well – eShakti, for example; I don’t buy from them, but have friends who do. Land’s End is also occasionally good for that. It’s a much smaller selection than clothes with small/no pockets (IME the latter is more common), and biased away from fancier clothing, but it is there. I suspect “making pockets + tight fit look good is a hard problem” explains much of the rest, though not necessarily why they don’t add pockets when long, full skirts come back into fashion.

            I suspect women who really strongly want pockets are a minority, but the market does cater to minorities. Given a large enough overall market size, at least, and the internet is steadily increasing people’s access to unusual stuff. (Which is also probably why my oldest example is a catalog house.)

            (That said, I don’t know nearly as much about women’s pants with pockets – Mom found one style she liked, but can never get them with as many pockets as she wants. But she wants a lot, and pants are generally harder to fit than skirts.)

            *Patch pockets seem to require heavier-duty cloth than women’s dresses often use, or… something. All the ones I’ve ever had have torn the cloth under them; eventually I gave up. A pity; you can’t fit a paperback into a side pocket. Which might have been part of the problem, now that I think of it…

      • SteveReilly says:

        Yeah, thinking about it, it is probably just that designers don’t their clothes to have ugly bulges in them. Which should have been pretty obvious.

        • gbdub says:

          Also, men’s clothing meant to be particularly stylish (suits, high end jeans) tend to have smallish pockets.

          • Matt M says:

            Yep. Cargo pants are probably the most practical article of clothing ever invented, and are considered a fashion faux-pas. And suit jackets tend to have “purely decorative” pockets that aren’t capable of storing much of anything (and it would be a huge no-no to even try)

          • Nornagest says:

            Cargo pants suck, even from a functional perspective. Anything in the cargo pockets more heavy than a phone swings around and bangs into your legs and throws off your balance. I guess they could be useful if you need to carry around an entire box’s worth of Kleenex for some reason, or something similarly voluminous and light — but how often does that happen?

            If you need lots of pockets, a coat or jacket with lots of pockets is the way to go. And that’s not necessarily a fashion faux pas, either (just don’t buy a trenchcoat).

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nornagest: I won’t believe there are any rationalist men in Seattle or Portland until I see trenchcoats worn in the rain. 😉

          • Nornagest says:

            I think they kick you out of Portland if you wear anything other than a jean jacket or a Ducks hoodie in the rain.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            OK, I’ll admit to being a Portlander just to say it’s rational to wear a Ducks hoodie in the rain so you don’t get kicked out of town!

          • Well... says:

            @Nornagest:

            Surely you gest!

            All my non-jean pants and shorts have cargo pockets. I even subbed in khaki cargo pants for wearing into the office once I realized I could get away with it. (All my other ones are camo, for that Red State look.) I use the cargo pockets basically every day. In fact, just today I went to the park with my wife and kids and I stuffed — you guessed it! — a whole bunch of tissues (for wiping little noses) in one of the cargo pockets.

            I think this cargo pants thing has come up before and it might be a culture war topic but, dammit, cargo pockets are great and somebody needs to stand up for them!

            I use them right after I get dressed after my morning shower to carry my socks around while I do various morning chores until my feet have dried off completely (nothing worse than putting socks on over feet that aren’t totally dry!). I use them to carry closed water bottles, or unopened cans of LaVie (the Aldi knock-off of LaCroix) when my hands are full. They are perfect for keeping my cell phone within easy reach while I’m seated, or for quickly stashing the many random objects my preschool daughter foists upon me as “presents” or “prizes” on an hourly basis, or for chocolate bars that you want to carry around but not melt because they’re squished right up close to you, or for CDs (yes I still listen to CDs), or for holding my grocery list and pen when I’m doing the shopping, or…it goes on and on.

            Sometimes the extra weight feels a little awkward at first but it’s never swinging around that bad, and it certainly has never made me lose my balance. I think I mentally adjust first too, because I’m used to how it feels and I know it’s going to feel that way for a time while I’m carrying the thing. The pockets are on the outer side of my legs and even stuffed to overflow they don’t get in my way. I could sprint with them that way if I had to and it wouldn’t be too much trouble.

            I used to hate cargo pockets too. Not for any practical reason though, just because I knew one or two people who wore them sometimes and I didn’t like those people for other unrelated reasons and so I got my dislikes cross-contaminated. Maybe you just need to meet someone you like who wears them.

    • cassander says:

      What anonymous said plus the fact that men are bigger than women, and our clothes generally looser, means that there’s more room for larger pockets.

    • WashedOut says:

      1. Handbags. Women carry a lot more stuff than men so the need arises to put it all in a bag. The bag also has a style function. This is also why the vast majority of the iPhone market (i.e. women) don’t care that the phones keep getting bigger and bigger – it just goes in the bag.

      2. Putting things in pockets ruins your silhouette.

      • Lillian says:

        No, all smartphones have been getting larger, and if anything the iPhone is lagging behind the general trend. The iPhone iPhone 8 still has a 4.7 inch screen like the iPhone 6, whereas the majority of Android phones seem to have standardized somewhere around 5.5 inches, which is the size of the iPhone 6-8 Plus.

        • roystgnr says:

          It’s not just that the median phone is getting a little larger, the smallest phones are getting much larger. My wife went from an S3Mini (122x63mm) to an S5Mini (131x65mm) to… a standard S7 (142x70mm), because there wasn’t anything good left that was Android and small.

          You’re absolutely right about the iPhone lagging the trend – if she hadn’t strongly preferred Android to iOS then the iPhone SE (124x59mm) would have been the obvious choice.

          • Lillian says:

            Samsung sells a pretty decent smaller phone, the Galaxy A3 2017 (135.4×66.2mm). There’s two problems with it: 1) It’s not sold in the US, so you have to buy it from a foreign seller. This is not a huge problem as the OS does come in English, but it does limit your support options if it breaks. 2) It’s not compatible with the US T-Mobile network, so if you’re on it you’re SOL.

            The iPhone size with a 4.7 inch screen is my preferred one, but i couldn’t afford it, so instead i got a cheap 5 inch Chinese phone. It has roughly the same size and performance as the S7, but for at significantly less cost.

      • ThinkingWithWords says:

        Handbags are over-rated and mostly can’t be used effectively in the work environment.
        Women still need somewhere for their phone/security pass/keys.
        Where I work, women walk around with an uncomfortable bundle of notes/tablet/phones/passes, whereas men have a tablet/notes that can readily be carried in one hand, with all their other stuff stowed in their pockets. There are no handbags ever in evidence, they are back under a desk somewhere.

        • Loquat says:

          Have you guys not heard of lanyards or badge clips? At my current job, it’s standard practice to give new hires their security pass with a badge clip so you can clip it to your clothing and not have to carry it around in your hand all the time.

          • Deiseach says:

            their security pass with a badge clip so you can clip it to your clothing

            Yeah, I clipped mine onto my cardigan pocket 🙂

            Seriously, having to put everything into a handbag is a pain. That’s why I buy and wear cardigans with pockets – it’s way easier to stuff small things into the pocket than trail around with a bag hanging off your arm.

    • ohwhatisthis? says:

      Its usually matched with a purse, silly.

    • shakeddown says:

      Clothing with large pockets does exist for women (e.g. anyone who buys clothes at REI), so I’m guessing this isn’t market failure, it’s a case of revealed vs stated preferences.

      • ohwhatisthis? says:

        Something that I have to catch myself in every once in awhile is that people who don’t have major faults with system X tend to not comment online that they are annoyed with system X.

        If you’re perception of peoples annoyance with the world is what you read online, then you can end up with a very skewed view of things.

      • Andrew Cady says:

        I don’t think people are stating that they prefer clothes with larger pockets, just that they would prefer the clothing that they have to have larger pockets.

        • Aapje says:

          Publicly asking for the benefits of a chance without being willing to accept the inevitable downsides is silly.

          Of course, this describes a lot of feminist demands as well…

    • ThinkingWithWords says:

      Women care passionately about pockets in their clothing! That is part of the problem. There is a large No Pockets faction, who believe that pockets spoil the line of clothing. And there is a smaller Pockets Please group who prefer the ease and practicality of pockets.
      Given that it is cheaper not to have pockets (they use more time and fabric in the production process) and they can interfere with the drape/fit of clothing, pockets tend to be in short supply in women’s clothing.
      However by far the most annoying aspect of the whole pocket situation is the fake pocket (looks like a pocket opening but actually does nothing), and worst of all, the manifestly-too-small-to-do-anything-useful pocket. I have no idea what designers are thinking when they opt for either of those two options.
      These days it would be a rare woman who doesn’t have a phone/security pass/keys that she needs to carry with her, so it’s really not clear why the pocket thing hasn’t been more properly addressed.

      • Loquat says:

        I’m guessing the fake pockets and too-small-to-be-useful pockets are both born of the idea that pockets are more visually interesting than plain unadorned cloth, but then to appeal to the No Pockets faction they’re not functional.

      • JustToSay says:

        Be sure to always look closely though, because sometimes Fake Pockets are actually Manifestly Too Small Pockets in disguise. They come stitched shut with 2 or 3 loose stitches. If you snip them, you can cram in an ID card or a small set of keys, which can be better than nothing in a pinch.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It’s the nearish future. Earth’s orbit is littered with spaceflight debris so much that it endangers operations. Satellites are getting junked, creating yet more debris. Manned missions are approaching suicidal.

    You’re drafted into a task force that’s supposed to deal with the problem. What do?

    Hard mode: Only current day technology.

    • James C says:

      Easy mode: Project Orion and armour plate.

    • Nornagest says:

      This is the plot of Planetes.

    • Incurian says:

      Nuke it from orbit.

    • Well... says:

      If you wait a while (you know, a few months or whatever), won’t the pieces of debris bumping into each other eventually cling together because of static electricity?

    • bean says:

      Laser brooms, probably. Been a while since I looked at it very hard.

    • John Schilling says:

      If you wait that long, it’s probably too late. We can’t/won’t launch enough mass into Low Earth Orbit for the risk of colliding with large (>10cm) debris objects to be a crippling obstacle; the risk is that collisions involving large objects will eventually make enough small debris to pose a severe problem. The way to avoid that is to get rid of the debris when it is still in a tractable number of big chunks, by mandating that the owners safely dispose of them and/or sending out space tugs to do it for them. We know approximately how to do the latter using a variety of technologies; the key obstacles are economic and legal/political.

      If you do wind up with the lots-of-small-debris scenario, you can still launch armored spaceships, and the amount of armor you need isn’t prohibitive. It is annoying, particularly for people who want to deploy either cheap or long-lived satellites, but the human race isn’t going to be locked out of space.

      If you want to clean up the small debris, your options are to wait a few decades for atmospheric drag to do it for you (while being rigorous about not creating new debris), or to do something expensive and clever. There are a few ideas of my own that I do need to validate and/or discard one of these days, but bean already noted the laser broom, Launch a few satellites with optical sensors good enough to track a sunlit dust mote from a few kilometers away (against the utter blackness of space, so this isn’t impractical), and a laser powerful enough to ablate a few microns off the front face of a ball bearing. The ablated vapor imparts a propulsive impulse that, if you’ve got the geometry right, quickly drops the object into the atmosphere. Pick your initial orbits right, and you can clean up LEO in mere years, rather than decades. But those will be expensive satellites, and it may take the better part of a decade to design and test them, and they’ll look rather like weapons. Since you shouldn’t get into this situation except by a gross breakdown in cooperative behavior, that last may be an issue.

      Really, almost everything that has the attribute, “get rid of everything in LEO except the few bits of stuff that *we*want to keep around”, is going to look like a weapon to *them*.

    • Deiseach says:

      I sort of remember some vague news story about this in the past couple of weeks, which I didn’t bother reading – it mentioned using lasers to destroy space junk? Which I thought wasn’t much good – surely that would just break it into tiny particles, which are still bad when travelling at speed.

      Unless it would burn them up like falling through the atmosphere, which might work?

      Anyway, Googled it and it’s a thing.

      • bean says:

        That’s the laser broom referred to above. The idea is to vaporize part of the debris, slowing the rest down until it burns up in the atmosphere.

  11. ContrarianSystem says:

    What are the best resources for real-estate investment. Particularly interested in multi-family units, state-to-state comparisons, and risk/financial calculators.

    EDIT: Focused on the United States, but not necessarily limited to that if the property in question is (easily) buyable by a US citizen.

  12. Moorlock says:

    Do you want to get playful with the interesting hypnagogic hallucinations we all get for free? Do you have trouble with insomnia and want to find a way out without drugs or supplements or a bunch of equipment or difficult pre-bedtime rituals? Are you curious about biofeedback and ways to poke at the local minima of the mind? Wonder how to start lucid dreaming? If so, you’ll probably want to read this.

  13. rlms says:

    Last open thread I asked if anyone was interested in playing a game of Diplomacy. Several people were, so I’m organising one. Sign up here. I will decide on a platform etc. based on responses and post game details in the next open thread (Wednesday).

    • fion says:

      I can’t really imagine how this sort of thing works over the internet. (I had a quick look at the website of one of the platforms but I still don’t quite get it.) Presumably the timescales are a lot longer than an IRL game? When I played IRL games it was like an afternoon once a week for a few weeks. Would it be like that or would it be more like “you have a week to make your orders for this turn”?

      • rlms says:

        Presumably the timescales are a lot longer than an IRL game?

        Likely timescale is approximately one turn/day, so the game will probably take several weeks. Being online probably speeds up communication, but there might also be less of it than IRL (I’ve only ever played 3-player physical games so I’m not quite sure).

      • A very long time ago I was part of a play by mail game–not the board game diplomacy but one someone had invented that started at the Congress of Vienna and proceeded at real time. A lot more than a day between moves.

  14. dndnrsn says:

    Hopefully, this won’t go culture war.

    Who, in the opinion of the SSC commentariat, is the best military general post-WWII?

    • johan_larson says:

      Vo Nguyen Giap was the principal commander of the winning side in the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War. He managed to win against first the French and then the Americans. Daunting odds, that.

      I gotta believe he’s at least in the top ten.

      • dndnrsn says:

        I was going to wait and see what other people were saying, because “Hey here is a question thread, and also, here is my answer” kind of kills things, but Giap is in at least the top 3, and honestly he might belong at #1.

    • shakeddown says:

      Does Rabin count? He was in command during the six day war, although I don’t know enough about the chain of command at the time to say who should get most of the credit for that one.

      • christhenottopher says:

        The only issue I have with going for any Israeli commanders is that 20th century conventional Arab armies seem to punch below their on paper strength against pretty much everyone. Whether it’s post-WW2 Brits and French in Egypt, Iraq’s armies only holding off sanctioned Iran due to chemical weapons, or heck even in inter-arab conflicts (how well is that bombing campaign going for you in Yemen MBS?). Nearly any conventional non-Arab army or non-conventional army seems to slice through Arab forces like butter, probably due to their governments weakening military command structures and capabilities to make coups harder.

        This isn’t to say the Israeli army isn’t impressive and hasn’t been well-led, but it’s one thing to beat armies crippled by lack of morale and internally antagonistic chains of command, and it’s another to beat armies that are actually skilled, professional, and well-funded. Hence why I prefer a guy like Giap.

        EDIT: Just thought of this, but even Chad managed to beat the Libyan army. Yeah they had some US/French funding/arms but still Chad was also in a civil war and it’s not like sub-saharan armies have great military reputations either.

    • christhenottopher says:

      There’s a lot of different ways to measure that, but the standard I’m going to use is strategic rather than tactical skill since I view that as the most important skill at the level of “general.” That being said, I also don’t know every general who has fought enough to potentially claim the title of best. Caveats aside, my vote is for Vo Nguyen Giap, minister of defense for first North Vietnam then the united communist Vietnam. He didn’t win every battle, and I’ve seen good arguments that on purely military terms the Tet Offensive he planned was a disaster, but he seems to have had an excellent sense of both his and his various enemies strengths and weaknesses. The list of enemies he fought and either held out against or outright defeated is rather impressive: 1) The Japanese Empire, 2) both Vichy and 4th Republic France, 3) The USA, 4) South Vietnam, 5) Cambodia, and 6) The People’s Republic of China. All while commanding the armies of a poor, somewhat small country (though often supported by weapons from the Soviet Union and at times the PRC), against much larger and wealthier opponents. One may argue that guerilla tactics are designed for just such a situation and while that is correct, they are not always successful and even in situations where the guerillas are able to survive they often don’t produce as decisive of results as Giap managed (think such ill-fated guerilla movements as the Tamil Tigers, the Malayan National Liberation army, and arguably now the FARC). Giap to my understanding does deserve a lot of credit for just how independent and influential Vietnam has managed to be in Southeast Asia due to his military successes.

    • ohwhatisthis? says:

      This appears to be the current best general

      http://liquipedia.net/starcraft2/Rogue

      His soldiers are not human, though.

      • christhenottopher says:

        Starcraft?! Bah! Humbug! Get back to me when there’s a championship winner of Hearts of Iron 4.

        • Protagoras says:

          Supplies and resources are still a step backward from previous HOI versions, if you ask me. Though I do mostly like the new way of handling puppets (apart from their relentless desire to give me their armies even when what I really want is for them to just take care of defending themselves; AI allies have never been good at genuinely being helpful in any HOI, really).

    • johan_larson says:

      Let’s try a harder one: best general of the 20th century who lost the campaign he is most remembered for.

        • johan_larson says:

          Maybe. Or perhaps Yamamoto, if admirals count as generals.

          • gbdub says:

            Donitz might have an argument to be ahead of, or at least tied with, Yamamoto.

          • quaelegit says:

            @gdub — mind elaborating on that?

            Pretty much everything I know about those two came from Bean’s posts or Cryptonomicon, but it seems like Yamamoto did a lot more… admiral-y stuff? Like (afaik) the Germans just had Uboats and the Bismark, whereas the Japanese had a lot more ships and a lot more naval engagements.

          • bean says:

            A fairly strong argument can be made that Yamamoto screwed up badly by going after Pearl Harbor instead of trying to sink the US fleet at sea. If the ships had gone down in the central pacific, they wouldn’t have been able to be salvaged. In fact, I’d probably say that he misread the lessons of Taranto, which applied much more to the fleet in the stronger position than the weaker one.

            His other campaigns in the Pacific bolster the argument that he really wasn’t that good. He was the best the Japanese had, but the IJN was so thoroughly screwed up that it’s not saying much. Frittering away so much of his strength in the Indian Ocean, Coral Sea, and the Solomons. The strategy of running a bunch of tiny detachments all over the Pacific at Midway. Probably a thing or two I’m forgetting. The popular Yamamoto doesn’t resemble the real one that much, AIUI.

            Donitz was good, probably better than Yamamoto, but I’m not sure he’d qualify as the best.

          • quaelegit says:

            @bean — thanks for explaining!

          • gbdub says:

            Well we’re deciding “best loser” basically so they will all have flaws. Donitz’s was micromanagement and sending too many messages out (the replies got tracked by huff duff)

            Yamamoto got somewhat hosed because he ultimately knew attacking the US was doomed. And his big loss at Midway was less poor commanding on his part and more on code breaking.

            Then again Donitz was smart enough to add a rotor to his sub’s Enigma machines.

            Finally, in addition to bean’s points, Pearl Harbor was ultimately a bad idea because the US would have been mostly content to let the Japanese tromp around the West Pacific – “take out Nazi Germany first” was always the plan. “Remember Pearl Harbor” probably made the US more committed and aggressive in the Pacific than they would otherwise have been.

          • bean says:

            Yamamoto got somewhat hosed because he ultimately knew attacking the US was doomed. And his big loss at Midway was less poor commanding on his part and more on code breaking.

            I’m not saying that code breaking wasn’t important. I’m saying that scattering his force all over the Pacific did not help at all. And I honestly can’t figure out if he knew the attack was doomed or not. The traditional biography says he was a friend of the US and advised against the attack, but AIUI recent scholarship has concluded that he was actually one of the main proponents.

            Finally, in addition to bean’s points, Pearl Harbor was ultimately a bad idea because the US would have been mostly content to let the Japanese tromp around the West Pacific – “take out Nazi Germany first” was always the plan. “Remember Pearl Harbor” probably made the US more committed and aggressive in the Pacific than they would otherwise have been.

            This, I’m not so sure about. The ultimate objective of the war was the oil of the Dutch East Indies. The Philippines are firmly astride the routes from Japan to the DEI, and thus were not something the Japanese wanted to leave in the hands of a potential enemy. I’m not really sure if they could have kept the US out of the war even if they hadn’t attacked us. FDR and the China Lobby had been tightening the screws on them for some time. Pearl Harbor was something they could only pull off on the first day of the war, and it did most of what they wanted it to do. Their big mistake was in what would happen after mid-1942, when they assumed they could hold the US off. If they’d gotten us into a war without the attack, then I’m not sure we would have prosecuted it that much less vigorously. The Pacific was mostly a naval war, and I really don’t see how most of the ships that fought it could have been profitably used against Germany.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Most likely one of the German generals of WWII. Harder to say which one. The issues at hand:
        -What various campaigns are the generals who fought on the Eastern Front best known for? Especially Manstein – if you say he was best known for the third battle of Kharkov, was that a campaign? He won it. If you say he’s best known for Kursk, well, he lost that one, but he’s probably better known for the former.
        -Was Rommel overrated? If you think he was a top-notch general, well, he lost in North Africa, which he is best known for. If you think he was talked up by the British to disguise that some of their generals at the time were profoundly mediocre, then not him.

        Maybe Kesselring? He lost in Italy, but he made it much harder fighting for the Allies than it might have been. Overall, Germany in WWII had some very good generals; while the degree to which they were undermined by Hitler’s bad strategic decisions was certainly exaggerated after the war by those generals (after all, blame the dead, right?) their moral failures were far more profound than their military failures – Germany probably had at best a coinflip chance of winning the war after they declared war on the USSR, and most of them were war criminals by any reasonable standard.

        Dark horse German would be Ludendorff in the Great War; he was probably one of the better generals of the war, and performed very well in the East; he’s best known for the last-ditch German offensive in the west which covered a (by Western Front trench warfare standards) a considerable amount of ground, but pooped out in the end.

        I’m having a hard time thinking of a non-German general who was 1. uncommonly good and 2. mostly remembered for a campaign he lost.\

        EDIT: My comedy answer is Montgomery, who was a very good general, but decisively lost the postwar PR battles versus both Rommel and Patton.

      • Protagoras says:

        I don’t know if he’s best, but the competition isn’t looking that strong; some seem to have a lot of respect for Walter Model as a military leader. He’s best remembered for his role in the slow German collapse on the Eastern Front (specifically, for playing key roles in preventing it from being a fast collapse).

    • gbdub says:

      What about Matthew Ridgway?

      • cassander says:

        the US military didn’t exactly cover itself in glory in after MaCarthur’s relief. It avoided huge fuckups, and was severely limited politically, but I think it’s hard to say that Ridgeway was exceptional.

  15. CheshireCat says:

    I finally noticed a double word. “Please try try to avoid”

    • christhenottopher says:

      Well now I can’t unsee it. Why couldn’t you let us poor ignorant folks live in our bliss?

  16. scherzando says:

    Does anyone have recommendations for books (in English or Spanish) on the history of 20th-century Argentina? I’ve been listening to a lot of Argentinian music and keep encountering the historical/political contexts for it tangentially, and I’d be interested if anyone is aware of any particularly good or interesting writing about it, whether it’s a general survey or more narrowly focused.

  17. littskad says:

    Because of your crimes against the State, it has been determined that you can never again be permitted freedom. Since the State is nothing if not Enlightened, both capital punishment and permanent incarceration are unacceptable, so you are to be exiled. Since, however, the State, in addition to being Enlightened, is also Everywhere, there’s no elsewhere for you to be exiled to, you are to be exiled elsewhen. Since the State is also Merciful, it has decided to allow you to choose the time and place of your exile, with the stipulation that the time must be before the year 1000. You will not be able to take anything with you, but you’ve been granted one year to prepare yourself by learning whatever knowledge you can, to aid you in your new home. Where and when do you choose, and how do you prepare?

    • The Nybbler says:

      Just send me right behind a known ancestor of the State’s major founder, before he or she reproduced. I will prepare by doing strengthening exercises with the aim to be able to easily kill with my bare hands. My revenge having been accomplished, I will spend the rest of my days as a strangler-for-hire.

    • Evan Þ says:

      Send me outside some medieval monastery. They’re known to take wonderful care of vagrants who don’t speak the language so well, and they’re more pleasant than a lot of ways to spend my time.

      • Nornagest says:

        Just watch out for geese.

      • Baeraad says:

        Yeah, sign me up for that too. I’ll use my year learning to make cheese or whatever it is those guys do. A lifetime of singing hymns and doing what I’m told doesn’t sound so bad. Pity about being dragged out of bed for midnight mass all the time, but what can you do?

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        Mount Athos seems pleasant. Going there during one of the Byzantines’ healthier periods would be a nice retirement.

      • Winter Shaker says:

        I guess learning Latin would be a good skill to add.

      • Deiseach says:

        Running with that monastic theme, sometime in 7th century Ireland and at one of the major (at the time) monastic centres in my country.

        8th-10th century Ireland was a (relatively) good place to be, if I had to go back before the 11th century; we were in our Golden Age at the time.

    • Rob K says:

      kinda weird move for the state to punish me by giving me the potential to change history!

      Anyhow, out of delusions of grandeur I’d probably go to Periclean Athens somewhere in the Roman Empire during one of the better phases and spend my year studying the Bessemer process. People are gonna be more likely to listen to “stick this cow pus in your arm, it’ll prevent the Lesser Pox” if it’s coming from the guy who invented the magic new metal.

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        My worry with Periclean Athens would be getting caught up in the Peloponnesian War, or the plague. A year would be enough time to polish up my Greek to acceptable levels, but I think I’d opt for the Roman Empire in the year 100 or so. That gets you a full lifetime without any major barbarian invasions, civil wars, natural disasters, or horrible plagues.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where and when

      A.D. 970, outside of missionary-bishop Jordan’s abode in Poznań, Polan tribal state.

      how do you prepare?

      Crash-course in Latin. Since I’m arriving naked, it would be nice to be able to explain my circumstances to the clergymen there.

      Memorizing as many low-hanging technological fruit as possible, and history of the time. Maybe I can find employment as a chronicler or scribe, since I’ve got a highly lucrative skill – being literate.

    • Matt M says:

      It’s high-risk/high-reward to be sure, but I’m surprised nobody has proposed learning about ancient cultures sufficiently well to impersonate one of their gods. I imagine certain technological knowledge might enable you to replicate various “miracles” to further make the case seem plausible.

      • buntchaot says:

        hard to really prepare for. like the difference between knowing christian theology and becoming pope

        see metis

        • Matt M says:

          Well Cortes did it on accident, didn’t he? Surely someone with a year of prep time and who was really intentional about it could accomplish it, right?

      • Deiseach says:

        Gods tend to get sacrificed. Didn’t Kipling cover the pitfalls of this in “The Man Who Would Be King”? And Michael Moorcock has a novel about a replacement Jesus of Nazareth.

    • buntchaot says:

      I agree with the roman empire choice, but it also seems… not optimized for a high openness person (to not say boring) so…

      10th century Bagdad, the “center of the world”, at the time seems a good option to maximize civilizedness. That would imply learning arabic. The big advantage here is that although its harder to learn, we have AN IDEA HOW ITS SPOKEN. maybe greek, maybe a local language. To establish learned man credentials some quran&law basics seem useful.
      It seems also a good place to maximize payoff from our relative advantage in natural sciences, so I’d stress that.
      Islamic charity makes your earlygame at least as secure as going for christian charity.
      One thing i dont see much in these kinds of threads is our advantage from growing up in civilization in terms of being relatively well built, flynn effect etc. I think there is a strong argument to go for options instead of targets and voilà Bagdhad is probably as cosmopolitan as it gets at the time, if it turns out to be not for you, catch a boat/caravan, buy a flock of sheep, whatever. Plus: if you take the scholarly route Bagdad references are broadly modern oxbridge degree equivalent.

      My lack in everyday skills for early/midgame is just appalling: i probably need to learn how to make fire, get some basic dont get mugged/eaten by a lion skills and probably figure another bunch of those too obvious things out.

      main risk: i underestimate the culture shock and get beheaded for breaking some obscure law

      • Nick says:

        If you’re going to tenth century Baghdad, can you save me a complete copy of Aristotle’s Poetics? I was counting on the one in that Italian abbey until some idiot ate half of it and then set the library on fire.

    • Carolus says:

      Somewhere in the South Pacific, time period and exact location pending. Civilized societies weren’t all that civilized compared to what we are used to, so maybe time spent with “noble savages” would be better – assuming my filthy microbes didn’t wipe the natives out in the first year. If that were the case I’d head to Mesoamerica and maybe give the Mayans a fighting chance against the European microbiome. I wouldn’t expect to live very long there, but I’m pessimistic about my chances anywhere.

  18. NeedleFactory says:

    A couple days ago I clicked on your “Non-Libertarian FAQ 2.0” link as displayed in your “Meditations on Moloch” post of July 30, 2014. I fell for the false “your Flash Player is out of date” update, and various kinds of hell broke out. (Adware and other unwanted apps were installed, and my default search engine was changed).
    Can anyone provide a good link to, or copy of, that FAQ?

  19. CatCube says:

    A fun thing* I found late last week was a Python library (PyNomo) to create nomograms, which are a graphical method to solve equations. They used to be used everywhere in engineering, since before the widespread introduction of computers many complex equations necessary for design were nontrivial and error-prone to solve. So a graphic was developed specific to that equation that would permit you to use a straightedge to draw lines between scales that would solve for the unknown variable. Once computers became widespread, they mostly disappeared since you could trivially solve most complex equations exactly. I know we still use them occasionally in civil engineering (determining effective length factors for compression members in frames when using hand calcs is one example), so the concept wasn’t new to me. As a matter of fact, I used a nomogram from a paper in the ’70s to do some design of trash rack bars for a hydroelectric powerhouse a few weeks ago. However, I think that most people probably haven’t seen one these days.

    I think they do still have some value because they permit you to more easily visualize what will happen as values of variables change. For example, when using the nomogram for designing the trash rack bars, you could tell at a glance that changing the aspect ratio of the bar had relatively little effect on the bars’ vibration, while length between supports and changing thickness changed things rapidly.

    While poking around to learn to use the software, I stumbled across a nomogram I though would be of interest to people here: Bayes Theorem in Medical Diagnostics. Some people developed a graphical method to solve Bayes’ Theorem for post-test probability of having a disease, given the sensitivity and specificity of a test, and the pre-test probability of the disease. If you’ve never played with a nomogram, I’d recommend navigating to the paper they published here: http://www.myreckonings.com/modernnomograms/Doc_What_Are_My_Chances_UMAP_32-4-2011.pdf You can print the nomograms found on pages 8 and 12, and use a ruler to see how post-test probabilities change as you “pivot” around a particular likelihood ratio for a test, or watch how the likelihood ratio changes–and hence the post-test probability changes–as you change the sensitivity of a test. (Page 8 is for common diseases, and page 12 is for rare ones, since on the “common diseases” chart the scales for the 1%-10% ranges are so small you can hardly see anything.)

    * If you’re the kind of person who likes to play around with mathematical diagrams. YMMV.

    • bean says:

      I do love a good nomogram. Most pre-digital calculation tools, actually. The amount of cleverness people came up with back then is amazing, and it’s a bit sad that it all got rendered obsolete like it did.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Thanks!

      I’ve wanted to make my own nomograms for a while but it looked like too much work and I mostly gave up on it. Plus this is another excuse to learn Python.

      • CatCube says:

        I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that once you get the PyNomo library installed, you really don’t need to know any Python because the library builds nomograms from scripts that are in a more-or-less “PyNomo-specific” language. (The script needs to be structured like a Python script so the interpreter won’t throw up, but only two lines of the nomogram script are actual Python code and they’re exactly the same for every single script.)

        The good news is that the PyNomo library hasn’t been updated since before Python 3 came out, so you’ll have to make your own edits to the library to get it to work if you’ve got a modern version of Python installed.

        The bad news is that the edits are stupid simple…I was able to do them in a few hours with a find-and-replace, and most of that few hours was googling to figure out what got deprecated and what the new incantation is. My Python knowledge is extremely limited (I got the library for part of the same reason you’re talking about!), so I pretty much just cargo-culted the changes and can’t be sure I didn’t open a security hole or subtle bug. However, as I said, the changes are really easy–you only need to do a find for four different deprecated commands in all the library scripts–and I didn’t learn a whole lot doing them.

        The good news is that nomograms are fascinating, and you can create them even if you don’t learn much Python!

  20. dbrickell57 says:

    I’m interviewing for Jane Street this week after having applied through the sideboard ad on the homepage. It’s for a non-quant role (business development), but I’ve still been told there will be fairly challenging math and statistics-oriented questions. Has anyone been through this process before? Is there anyone who can offer me some advice or the chance to practice?

    Thank you.

    • qwitwa says:

      I have no experience with the Jane Street process, but both the sidebar ad and some questions in the example document (which seem suspiciously easy) seem to focus on solving otherwise complicated problems by using recurrence relations (expressing the recursive nature of the problem algebraically and then solving to get a solution).

  21. Oleg S. says:

    Hi!
    I’m developing new fast-acting antidepressant and came across a class of compounds that work reliably in various in vivo models. On a cellular side, they look a bit murky — they seem to modulate glutamate transmission, but the exact mechanism is unknown. Results we’ve obtained so far are too interesting to just throw away, but we have only been able to replicate them in one in vitro lab. So, I’m looking for a good lab to carry out electrophysiological experiments on freshly isolated neurons. Any ideas?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      If you’re looking for collaborators, have you tried looking up whether any other neuro labs at your institution are working with the glutamatergic system?

      If not, you can try to look for other connections so that you’re not cold-calling PIs. See where other people from your lab ended up working, maybe one of them is in a lab like that. Or ask around your department and see who people have collaborated with in the past.

      I wish I could be more helpful but I’m working in a totally different tissue and model system. Oddly enough it’s still glutamatergic but that’s the part I’m least interested in.

      Good luck with your experiments!

      • Oleg S. says:

        Thanks for the advice!
        I’m working in a startup, and have already exhausted my academic connections (not that I have much – the CNS area is a bit new to me). The only nearby lab is the one where we get a link to glutamate transmission, but then we ran into HR complications and start looking for a backup. We’ve also tried various CROs and found that it’s very hard to find a company working with isolated neurons, and those who do work have a hard time dealing with Purkinje neurons.

  22. GregS says:

    Is anyone going to The Data Science Conference in Chicago this May? The chief data scientist at my company went last year and said it was pretty good. This year will be my first time attending. The agenda looks interesting. I’m thinking about making this a yearly trip.

    • Protagoras says:

      Why are you assuming that it is wrong?

      • Pepe says:

        I am not. I only ever hear about MMT from left sources though, so I am just wondering what I might be missing.

    • Brad says:

      There’s much in there I think is correct. My disagreements are:

      * I disagree on the normative level with much of the author’s policy goals and plans. I suppose I’m not in the relevant “left”.

      * The section labeled “Jekyll and Hide” is IMO conspiracy theory-ish with respect to the Fed. It is a government agency, just a somewhat unusually structured one.

      * Most seriously in terms of positive analysis, the author gives way too little time to observed inflation as *the* major constraint in an MMT framework. There’s some discussion in the “Premises, Premises” but not nearly enough for my taste.

      • Pepe says:

        The first point is more about the preferred policies of the author, which obviously some will agree and some will disagree with. I guess those would fall more into ‘opinion.’

        On the second point, I do agree that is sounds a bit ‘conspiracy theory-ish,’ but the lads from Positive Money say something similar: that (at least in the UK) banks, not the government, make money under the current system. The author seems to say that in the US it is the same thing since the Fed is ran by private banks. Is that right or am I missing something?

        I agree he spends too little time on inflation. To me it was pretty obvious how inflation would constraint everything, but that probably does need to be made more explicit.

        • Brad says:

          On the second point, I do agree that is sounds a bit ‘conspiracy theory-ish,’ but the lads from Positive Money say something similar: that (at least in the UK) banks, not the government, make money under the current system. The author seems to say that in the US it is the same thing since the Fed is ran by private banks.

          There’s equivocation there on “run by private banks”. Also on “make money”.

          The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is an independent agency of the federal government. It’s members are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. It is has policy supremacy at the Fed, and in particular has control over the balance sheet. In the tax, borrow, spend model expanding the balance sheet is the primary means of creating money. The fed buys treasuries using money it fiated into existence and the treasury takes this money and sends it out in social security checks or whatever.

          Rather than the above the conspiracy theories focus on the Federal Reserve Banks, which are quasi-private, and on the fractional reserve banking as a means of money creation. But I think this is missing the forest for the trees.

    • roystgnr says:

      “Taxes don’t raise funds; they do help control the money supply.” is correct, and sophisticated, albeit potentially misleading.

      If it was used to conclude “So we can try to keep our taxing and spending countercyclical, worrying only about long-term rather than short-term balance, and thereby better ameliorate economic fluctuations”, then that would be great!

      It is instead used to conclude “We don’t have to raise a dime of taxes to pay for universal single-payer healthcare, or public college tuition, or infrastructure improvement (or military spending, for that matter), and we should refuse to submit to the “How are you going to pay for it?” interrogation.” which is dangerous nonsense. After admitting that spending ceteris paribus causes inflation and that taxing cancels out that inflation, planning unlimited spending without taxing is nearly insane. The author actually initially mentions a potential answer to that interrogation, “taxes can and should be used to create an income ceiling that is either absolute or becomes asymptotically more difficult to approach”, which is probably wrong, but it is wrong in a complicated way and so is at least defensible, maybe even fixable. But the final, deliberate answer, “the “How are you going to pay for it?” line is bullshit”, is so obviously wrong that I honestly can’t tell how the author managed to ignore their own context.

      The usual alternative answer, “just let inflation happen”, isn’t really suggested anywhere, so I don’t want to pin it on the author, even if their actual proposal is a bit underdefined… but it is what will happen if spending isn’t paid for, if nothing else is done. And it may happen badly. The U.S. dollar is a reserve currency because foreigners know they can safely hold dollars without losing more than a few percent of value per year, which happens because they expect that we’re not going to inflate away $20 trillion in debt someday. U.S. bonds are considered a “risk-free” investment, from which the feds get cash flow for nearly all our current deficit, because investors expect to get their money back with interest in excess of inflation. Changing those expectations would be dangerous. We already fund a little of our spending with inflation, and we could probably fund a little more without it creating a spike of hyperinflation, but at some point all bets are off: “How much does everybody trust that everybody trusts the dollar” is not a linear function of policy inputs.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      It’s more misleading than wrong. They’re sort of right that their perspective (“spending money doesn’t come from taxes”) is more accurate than the usual picture (“spending money does come from taxes”), but they basically use the reader’s lack of familiarity with the new perspective to sneak some preferred conclusions.

      You can spend more than you tax, but there are consequences (mainly inflation) if you do. The post acknowledges that, but then goes on to basically ignore them.

      It’s a bit like saying, “Conventional wisdom among engineers is that you have to cool this engine more to run it at higher power. This is wrong, running it and cooling it are separate, parallel activities. Cooling isn’t about running it with more power, it’s about preventing [boring technical term for ‘exploding’]. So when an engineer says they don’t have enough coolant to run it at maximum power, they’re talking nonsense!”

    • The easiest way to see why it is wrong, assuming I understand the argument, is to temporarily forget about money and think in terms of real resources–labor, raw materials, land, … . Whatever the government uses is not available for the rest of us to use.

      The existence of government fiat money changes the situation in three ways:

      1. If the government expands the money supply at the rate at which the demand for money is increasing it gets the income from doing that. That income is the monopoly profit on the government’s monopoly on money issuing, conceptually no different from the monopoly profit the government might get from a monopoly on mail delivery or telephone service.

      2. If the government expands the money supply faster than that prices go up, which means that the value of currency held by the public goes down–inflation is, among other things, a tax on cash balances.

      3. The government may fund part of its expenditure by borrowing. If so, it can reneg on part of its debt by inflating it away.

    • Pepe says:

      To be more specific, these are the things I am wondering about:

      – The author seems to suggest that the only goals of taxes are to prevent inflation and to reduce inequality. The first one makes sense to me. What about the second one? I am guessing it has to do with the inflation part to, but it is not clear to me. In which way (if any) is inequality wrong/more likely to cause inflation/something else? Or is it just a preference?

      – The author also seems to suggest that deficits are not only not bad, but actually might be even good and/or necessary. He claims that deficit = savings and that basically no deficit would mean no money for any of us and ‘too little government deficit makes for too much citizens’ debt?’ Is any of that correct? If deficit is necessary then hoe much deficit is enough? I guess whatever inflation says you can handle.

      – ‘But the kicker is that all that money owed is on deposit in accounts at the Fed’ and ‘all the principal amount of every loan could be paid off instantly by being transferred from one account to another, if there were no political or legal constraints on doing so’ Is that true? If it is, what is the advantage of not doing so?

      – Since ‘real wealth’ controls just how much money you can generate, otherwise inflation, the main point that seems to stick out is that he thinks (just as the Positive Money crew) that the job of making money should be in hands of the government, not private banks. I think the argument goes something like banks only create money for things that will net them the max profit, not what’s best for society. If the government takes back money-making, then we can put it into the ‘real economy’ as opposed to into finance and real estate and be better of. Is there a good reason to prefer the private banking sector to be in charge of money-making as opposed to the government?

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        1) There are some arguments that inequality has bad direct effects, but mostly we want to reduce inequality because we want the poor to have more stuff and not just the rich to have less. The article obscures the fact that the latter is necessary to achieve the former.

        2) A deficit means the people get more dollars, but not necessarily more stuff, because inflation. Scott Sumner says the right deficit is the one that makes nominal GDP grow a few percent each year–just enough to encourage investment rather than cash-hoarding.

        3) Again, inflation prevention. The US government spends the amount it does based on the understanding that China is unable to spend the money the Fed owes it, thus keeping inflation under control. If we suddenly paid China back and kept our budget the same, there’d suddenly be a whole lot more dollars around.

        4) The “money-making” the private banking sector does is in the form of loans, a complicated task involving assessing individuals’ and businesses’ creditworthiness. The private sector is better at it for the same reason the private sector is usually better at things: competition.

    • cassander says:

      In the “Premises, Premises” section, he confuses accounting identities with reality and currency with money. That the government can create currency and doesn’t technically need to tax doesn’t mean that it doesn’t mean that it can’t run out of money, i.e. real purchasing power. A government that spends more than it taxes doesn’t acquire more money, it merely devalues its currency.

      Everything he writes after that seems to be premised on this confusion, and thus, increasingly nonsensical.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        That the government can create currency and doesn’t technically need to tax doesn’t mean that it doesn’t mean that it can’t run out of money, i.e. real purchasing power.

        I really don’t have much to add except to emphasize this. The US government cannot run out of money in the conventional sense, but the increasing supply of money runs into limits in terms of what actual resources it can buy, and the second is what we are ultimately concerned with.

        The first does matter a lot when talking about government defaults. The government cannot default unless it chooses to default. But it absolutely can run into a limit into how much government it provides to its citizens.

  23. neciampater says:

    I have an effective altruist question.

    I recently cut off 18 inches of my thick, brown, curly hair of two years. I tried to sell it for 2 months. The locks of love and Pantene donations are not doing any good. Saying I donated it to locks of love would get me social points, but I really would like my hair to do good.

    But at three months maybe I’ve sunk too much costs into this hair and need to throw it away.

    • quaelegit says:

      Are you concerned that you’ve stored the hair for too long or that you don’t have a good place to donate it too?

      If the former, as long as you’re storing it carefully so it doesn’t get dirty I don’t think it matters that it’s been a few months. I took over a year to actually send in my cut hair (it was stored in a sealed ziploc bag) and they still accepted it.

      If the latter, do you think locks of love or Pantene are net negative? Because otherwise it seems donating to one of them would be better than throwing it away.

    • Drew says:

      Google (“human hair price”) suggests that 18″ of good-quality hair is worth about $40. So, if you think it’ll take you a lot more time and mental energy to get the Right Answer, I’d just dispose of the hair and give the $40 to your charity of choice.

      That donation will more than make up for any wastefulness of tossing the hair.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Wait, why is locks of love not doing anything good?

    • fortaleza84 says:

      One possibility is that your hair is worth a lot less than you think. It’s not widely discussed, but the age, race, and general health of the hair donor makes a big difference, not to mention individual variation. Just pay attention as you walk down the street and you can see this.

  24. I wrote a very short story that some of you might enjoy. http://kaftanowicz.com/the-salisbury-blockchain/

  25. keranih says:

    A question for the utilitarian altruists here – and a question for everyone.

    Scenario: You are a traveling professional who routinely does site visits (ie, you do not telecommute, but perform hands-on/in-person teaching/evaluating/testing/etc) with (work-funded, cattle car) air travel 1-4 times a quarter. On a recent non-working weekend, you sandwiched a visit with an old friend at a tourist destination between two traveling work weeks. (In other words, you’re out of town, but you have to get back to town (and your work supplies/work clothes) in order to leave again.) On the second day of an otherwise delightful 48 hours of catching up and seeing the sights, you wake up with a raging case of what you think is influenza.

    Utilitarians – how would you balance the financial and professional risks to yourself if you stay in the hotel, delay returning home, and (probably) miss your work duties for 1 or more days *even if what you have isn’t the flu* against the risks of infecting multiple people on the plane if you do have the flu

    Everyone – *would* you stay in the hotel at the tourist location, or would you fly home? What would be the reaction at work?

  26. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRudjy0cub0

    A woman spent a year not spending money– that is, she spent enough to maintain her home and communications, and cover her taxes and charities, plus a very limited food budget.

    She lived in London, so there was a lot of free fun available which she hadn’t been seeking out.

    The year wasn’t that difficult, and her habits changed– she wasn’t spending money for fun afterwards.

    I’m bringing this up because of the discussion of whether one’s real self is revealed by what you’re currently doing.

    • Well... says:

      I’m bringing this up because of the discussion of whether one’s real self is revealed by what you’re currently doing.

      Curious to know more about that, sounds interesting.

      My wife and I have been doing basically this same thing for the month of January, and I’ve been treating it as an experiment. I expect we will find we can live enjoyably and comfortably while spending a lot less.

  27. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    https://www.threedayrule.com/

    This is a match-making service. I just heard a news story about it that I can’t find, but the news story was about a woman who wasn’t getting anywhere with the usual dating services, spent $6000 for thorough-going package (included advice on how to make better use of other dating services) and found an excellent match.

    They offer a range of packages, including free for just getting listed. To judge by the testimonials page, they do good work for men as well as women. I don’t know how good they are for people who don’t have a history of relationships, but they might be worth looking into.

    • Anonymous says:

      This seems actually interesting! They are reinventing the old trade of matchmaking, only commercially professionalized.

      • Well... says:

        A friend of mine started a company doing this exact thing back around 2010 or 2011. We’ve lost touch so I don’t know if it was successful, but it seemed like it was doing fairly well there for a while.

    • fortaleza84 says:

      I know a couple matchmakers in real life. After interacting with them and their clients, I would strongly advise everyone to find the best (willing) person they can while they are still in school/still in their 20s, and get married.

      I would guess some matchmakers provide a useful service, but it’s still the same old problems: A shortage of fertile, healthy women; peoples’ standards are very high; people care more about looks than whether the potential partner would make a good father/mother.

      In fact, just the other day I was hanging out with a male friend of mine in his mid-30s who is single and looking for a long-term relationship. He has a decent career but is about a 3/10 in looks. He is very eager to meet a female associate of mine who is about an 8/10 but of questionable character. Meanwhile, I have another female associate who is about a 4/10 — he took one look at her picture and told me he had no interest in meeting her. Seems to me that with that attitude — which is very common — it doesn’t matter if you use a matchmaker or an internet site, you are in for trouble.

      To make matters worse, every day you age past a certain point (maybe age 25), your physical appearance becomes less desirable to the people whom you yourself desire. So for example, one can imagine meeting a 40-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman sitting at the same table at an event. Fifteen years earlier, they both would have found each other sufficiently attractive for a romantic relationship. But now, the man has little-or-no interest in dating and marrying a 40-year-old woman. Instead, the man is still attracted to women who are 25. Meanwhile, the women who are in their 20s will often find such a man to be too old, particularly he is balding, has gained weight, etc.

      A matchmaker can’t fix any of this. Not by matchmaking anyway. Maybe such a person could help encourage people to change their attitudes and work on improving their appearance.

      • Anonymous says:

        According to the stats for my country that I’ve found, marriages where the man is 5 to 10 years older are hardly uncommon. Not as common as age homogamy, but firmly within the Overton. Cutoff for 25 or younger women seems to be mid thirties men. 30s women cutoff is early forties.

        I’ll link you if you’re interested. Am on a calculator now, so links are hard.

        • fortaleza84 says:

          That’s okay. Age-mismatched relationships can and do happen, but the older person needs to be offering quite a lot. If a 40-year-old man wants a 25-year-old girl, he needs to have quite a lot of money and social status.

          My only point was that as you age past 25 or so, there starts to be a divergence between (1) the age of people you are attracted to; and (2) the extent to which people of that age are attracted to people of your age.

          Generally speaking, women prefer a man who is roughly their age; men prefer a woman who is in her 20s. So the best chance for either sex to make a connection is when they are both in their 20s. As time goes by, this gets harder and harder. I have seen this myself in action, sitting at a social event with a table of desperately single people both male and female, who seemed unable to pair off for this reason. In fact I have seen this many times, it’s very sad and depressing.

  28. Helaku says:

    It seems the main RSS feed does not work properly: I cannot get new posts via it (neither in Thunderbid, nor in Firefox).

    • James says:

      Someone in the comments on the Luna post said this was to do with some weird character in the post corrupting the RSS feed.