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Radicalizing the Romanceless

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[Content note: Gender, relationships, feminism, manosphere. Quotes, without endorsing and with quite a bit of mocking, mean arguments by terrible people. Some analogical discussion of fatphobia, poorphobia, Islamophobia. This topic is personally enraging to me and I don’t promise I can treat it fairly.]

I.

I recently had a patient, a black guy from the worst part of Detroit, let’s call him Dan, who was telling me of his woes. He came from a really crappy family with a lot of problems, but he was trying really hard to make good. He was working two full-time minimum wage jobs, living off cheap noodles so he could save some money in the bank, trying to scrape a little bit of cash together. Unfortunately, he’d had a breakdown (see: him being in a psychiatric hospital), he was probably going to lose his jobs, and everything was coming tumbling down around him.

And he was getting a little philosophical about it, and he asked – I’m paraphrasing here – why haven’t things worked out for me? I’m hard-working, I’ve never missed a day of work until now, I’ve always given a hundred and ten percent. And meanwhile, I see all these rich white guys (“no offense, doctor,” he added, clearly overestimating the salary of a medical resident) who kind of coast through school, coast into college, end up with 9 – 4 desk jobs working for a friend of their father’s with excellent salaries and benefits, and if they need to miss a couple of days of work, whether it’s for a hospitalization or just to go on a cruise, nobody questions it one way or the other. I’m a harder worker than they are, he said – and I believed him – so how is that fair?

And of course, like most of the people I deal with at my job, there’s no good answer except maybe restructuring society from the ground up, so I gave him some platitudes about how it’s not his fault, told him about all the social services available to him, and gave him a pill to treat a biochemical condition almost completely orthogonal to his real problem.

And I’m still not sure what a good response to his question would have been. But later that night I was browsing the Internet and I was reminded of what the worse response humanly possible. It would go something like:

You keep whining about how “unfair” it is that you can’t get a good job. “But I’m such a hard worker.” No, actual hard workers don’t feel like they’re entitled to other people’s money just because they ask nicely.

“Why do rich white kids who got legacy admissions to Yale receive cushy sinecures, but I have to work two grueling minimum wage jobs just to keep a roof over my head?” By even asking that question, you prove that you think of bosses as giant bags of money, rather than as individual human beings who are allowed to make their own choices. No one “owes” you money just because you say you “work hard”, and by complaining about this you’re proving you’re not really a hard worker at all. I’ve seen a lot of Hard Workers (TM) like you, and scratch their entitled surface and you find someone who thinks just because they punched a time card once everyone needs to bow down and worship them.

If you complain about “rich white kids who get legacy admissions to Yale,” you’re raising a huge red flag that you’re the kind of person who steals from their employer, and companies are exactly right to give you a wide berth.

Such a response would be so antisocial and unjust that it could only possibly come from the social justice movement.

II.

I’ve been thinking about “nice guys” lately for a couple of reasons.

First, I read Alas, A Blog‘s recent post on the subject, MRAs And Anti-Feminists Have Ruined Complaining About Being Single.

Second, I had yet another patient who –

(I feel obligated to say at this point that the specific details of these patient stories are made up, and several of them are composites of multiple different people, in order to protect confidentiality. I’m preserving the general gist, nothing more)

– I had a patient, let’s call him ‘Henry’ for reasons that are to become clear, who came to hospital after being picked up for police for beating up his fifth wife.

So I asked the obvious question: “What happened to your first four wives?”

“Oh,” said the patient, “Domestic violence issues. Two of them left me. One of them I got put in jail, and she’d moved on once I got out. One I just grew tired of.”

“You’ve beaten up all five of your wives?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yeah,” he said, without sounding very apologetic.

“And why, exactly, were you beating your wife this time?” I asked.

“She was yelling at me, because I was cheating on her with one of my exes.”

“With your ex-wife? One of the ones you beat up?”

“Yeah.”

“So you beat up your wife, she left you, you married someone else, and then she came back and had an affair on the side with you?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” said Henry.

I wish, I wish I wish, that Henry was an isolated case. But he’s interesting more for his anomalously high number of victims than for the particular pattern.

Last time I talked about these experiences, one of my commenters linked me to what was later described as the only Theodore Dalrymple piece anyone ever links to. Most of the commenters saw a conservative guy trying to push an ideological point, and I guess that’s part of it. But for me it looked more like the story of a psychiatrist from an upper-middle-class background suddenly realizing how dysfunctional and screwed-up a lot of his patients are and having his mind recoil in horror from the fact – which is something I can sympathize with. Henry was the worst of a bad bunch, but nowhere near unique.

When I was younger – and I mean from teeanger hood all the way until about three years ago – I was a ‘nice guy’. And I said the same thing as every other nice guy, which is “I am a nice guy, how come girls don’t like me?”

There seems to be some confusion about this, so let me explain what it means, to everyone, for all time.

It does not mean “I am nice in some important cosmic sense, therefore I am entitled to sex with whomever I want.”

It means: “I am a nicer guy than Henry.”

Or to spell it out very carefully, Henry clearly has no trouble attracting partners. He’s been married five times and had multiple extra-marital affairs and pre-marital partners, many of whom were well aware of his past domestic violence convictions and knew exactly what they were getting into. Meanwhile, here I was, twenty-five years old, never been on a date in my life, every time I ask someone out I get laughed at, I’m constantly teased and mocked for being a virgin and a nerd whom no one could ever love, starting to develop a serious neurosis about it.

And here I was, tried my best never to be mean to anyone, pursued a productive career, worked hard to help all of my friends. I didn’t think I deserved to have the prettiest girl in school prostrate herself at my feet. But I did think I deserved to not be doing worse than Henry.

No, I didn’t know Henry at the time. But everyone knows a Henry. Most people know several. Even three years ago, I knew there were Henry-like people – your abusers, your rapists, your bullies – and it wasn’t hard to notice that none of them seemed to be having the crushing loneliness problem I was suffering from.

And, like my patient Dan, I just wanted to know – how is this fair?

And I made the horrible mistake of asking this question out loud, and that was how I learned about social justice.

III.

We will now perform an ancient and traditional Slate Star Codex ritual, where I point out something I don’t like about feminism, then everyone tells me in the comments that no feminist would ever do that and it’s a dirty rotten straw man. And then I link to two thousand five hundred examples of feminists doing exactly that, and then everyone in the comments No-True-Scotsmans me by saying that that doesn’t count and those people aren’t representative of feminists. And then I find two thousand five hundred more examples of the most prominent and well-respected feminists around saying exactly the same thing, and then my commenters tell me that they don’t count either and the only true feminist lives in the Platonic Realm and expresses herself through patterns of dewdrops on the leaves in autumn and everything she says is unspeakably kind and beautiful and any time I try to make a point about feminism using examples from anyone other than her I am a dirty rotten motivated-arguer trying to weak-man the movement for my personal gain.

Ahem.

From Jezebel, “Why We Should Mock The Nice Guys Of OKCupid”:

Pathetic and infuriating in turns, the profiles selected for inclusion [on a site that searches OKCupid profiles for ones that express sadness at past lack of romantic relationships, then posts them publicly for mockery] elicit gasps and giggles – and they raise questions as well. Is it right to mock these aggrieved and clueless young men, particularly the ones who seem less enraged than sad and bewildered at their utter lack of sexual success?

What’s on offer isn’t just an opportunity to snort derisively at the socially awkward; it’s a chance to talk about the very real problem of male sexual entitlement. The great unifying theme of the curated profiles is indignation. These are young men who were told that if they were nice, then, as Laurie Penny puts it, they feel that women “must be obliged to have sex with them.” The subtext of virtually all of their profiles, the mournful and the bilious alike, is that these young men feel cheated. Raised to believe in a perverse social/sexual contract that promised access to women’s bodies in exchange for rote expressions of kindness, these boys have at least begun to learn that there is no Magic Sex Fairy. And while they’re still hopeful enough to put up a dating profile in the first place, the Nice Guys sabotage their chances of ever getting laid with their inability to conceal their own aggrieved self-righteousness.

So how should we respond, when, as Penny writes, “sexist dickwaddery puts photos on the internet and asks to be loved?” The short answer is that a lonely dickwad is still a dickwad; the fact that these guys are in genuine pain makes them more rather than less likely to mistreat the women they encounter.

From XOJane, Get Me Away From Good Guys:

Let’s tackle those good guys. You know, the aw shucks kind who say it’s just so hard getting a date or staying in a relationship, and they can’t imagine why they are single when they are, after all, such catches. They’re sensitive, you know. They totally care about the people around them, would absolutely rescue a drowning puppy if they saw one.

Why is it that so many “good guys” act like adult babies, and not in a fetish sense? They expect everyone else to pick up their slack, they’re inveterately lazy, and they seem genuinely shocked and surprised when people are unimpressed with their shenanigans. Their very heteronormativity betrays a shockingly narrow view of the world; ultimately, everything boils down to them and their needs, by which I mean their penises.

The nice guy, to me, is like the “good guy” leveled up. These are the kinds of people who say that other people just don’t understand them, and the lack of love in their lives is due to other people being shitty. Then they proceed to parade hateful statements, many of which are deeply misogynist, to explain how everyone else is to blame for their failures in life. A woman who has had 14 sexual partners is a slut. These are also the same guys who do things like going into a gym, or a school, or another space heavily populated by women, and opening fire. Because from that simmering sense of innate entitlement comes a feeling of being wronged when he doesn’t get what he wants, and he lives in a society where men are “supposed” to get what they want, and that simmer can boil over.

I’ve noted, too, that this kind of self-labeling comes up a lot in men engaging in grooming behavior. As part of their work to cultivate potential victims, they remind their victims on the regular that they’re “good guys” and the only ones who “truly” understand them.

From Feminspire, Nice Guy Syndrome And The Friend Zone:

I’m pretty sure everyone knows at least one Nice Guy. You know, those guys who think women only want to date assholes and just want be friends with the nice guys. These guys are plagued with what those of us who don’t suck call Nice Guy Syndrome.

It’s honestly one of the biggest loads of crap I’ve ever heard. Nice Guys are arrogant, egotistical, selfish douche bags who run around telling the world about how they’re the perfect boyfriend and they’re just so nice. But you know what? If these guys were genuinely nice, they wouldn’t be saying things like “the bitch stuck me in the friend zone because she only likes assholes.” Guess what? If she actually only liked assholes, then she would likely be super attracted to you because you are one.

Honestly. Is it really that unbearable to be friends with a person? Women don’t only exist to date or have sex with you. We are living, thinking creatures who maybe—just maybe—want to date and sex people we’re attracted to. And that doesn’t make any of us bitches. It makes us human.

From feministe, “Nice Guys”:

If a self-styled “Nice Guy” complains that the reason he can’t get laid is that women only like “jerks” who treat them badly, chances are he’s got a sense of entitlement on him the size of the Unisphere.

Guys who consider themselves “Nice Guys” tend to see women as an undifferentiated mass rather than as individuals. They also tend to see possession of a woman as a prize or a right…

A Nice Guy™ will insist that he’s doing everything perfectly right, and that women won’t subordinate themselves to him properly because he’s “Too Nice™,” meaning that he believes women deserve cruel treatment and he would like to be the one executing the cruelty.

But Feministe is also the first to show a glimmer of awareness (second, if you count Jezebel’s “I realize this might be construed as mean BUT I LOVE BEING MEAN” as “awareness”):

For the two hundredth time, when we’re talking about “nice guys,” we’re not talking about guys who are actually nice but suffer from shyness. That’s why the scare quotes. Try Nice Guys instead, if you prefer.

A shy, but decent and caring man is quite likely to complain that he doesn’t get as much attention from women as he’d like. A Nice Guy™ will complain that women don’t pay him the attention he deserves. The essence of the distinction is that the Nice Guy™ feels women are obligated to him, and the Nice Guy™ doesn’t actually respect or even like women. The clearest indication of which of the two you’re dealing with is whether the person is interested in the possibility that he’s doing something wrong.

Okay. Let’s extend our analogy with Dan from above.

It was wrong of me to say I hate poor minorities. I meant I hate Poor Minorities! Poor Minorities is a category I made up that includes only poor minorities who complain about poverty or racism.

No, wait! I can be even more charitable! A poor minority is only a Poor Minority if their compaints about poverty and racism come from a sense of entitlement. Which I get to decide after listening to them for two seconds. And If they don’t realize that they’re doing something wrong, then they’re automatically a Poor Minority.

I dedicate my blog to explaining how Poor Minorities, when they’re complaining about their difficulties with poverty or asking why some people like Paris Hilton seem to have it so easy, really just want to steal your company’s money and probably sexually molest their co-workers. And I’m not being unfair at all! Right? Because of my new definition! I know everyone I’m talking to can hear those Capital Letters. And there’s no chance whatsoever anyone will accidentally misclassify any particular poor minority as a Poor Minority. That’s crazy talk! I’m sure the “make fun of Poor Minorities” community will be diligently self-policing against that sort of thing. Because if anyone is known for their rigorous application of epistemic charity, it is the make-fun-of-Poor-Minorities community!

I’m not even sure I can dignify this with the term “motte-and-bailey fallacy”. It is a tiny Playmobil motte on a bailey the size of Russia.

I don’t think I ever claimed to be, or felt, entitled to anything. Just wanted to know why it was that people like Henry could get five wives and I couldn’t get a single date. That was more than enough to get the “shut up you entitled rapist shitlord” cannon turned against me, with the person who was supposed to show up to give me the battery of tests to distinguish whether I was a poor minority or a Poor Minority nowhere to be seen. As a result I spent large portions of my teenage life traumatized and terrified and self-loathing and alone.

Some recent adorable Tumblr posts (1, 2) pointed out that not everyone who talks about social justice is a social justice warrior. There are also “social justice clerics, social justice rogues, social justice rangers, and social justice wizards”. Fair enough.

But there are also social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancers.

And the people who talk about “Nice Guys” – and the people who enable them, praise them, and link to them – are blurring the already rather thin line between “feminism” and “literally Voldemort” EDIT: ARE TOTALLY GREAT, NO NEED TO TAKE THIS ONE SENTENCE OUT OF CONTEXT AND TRY TO SPREAD IT ALL OVER THE INTERNET.

IV.

And so we come to Barry’s recent blog post:

In pop culture, everyone – or at least, everyone who isn’t a terrible human being – eventually meets someone wonderful and falls in love.

But in real life, that’s not how things always work. Some people don’t want romantic love at all. Others want romantic love but will never find it. That’s life. I’m beginning to accept, at age 45, that probably “true love” will never happen for me. I have a bunch of factors working against me – I’m physically conventionally unattractive, I badly lack confidence, I’m sort of a weirdo, as I get older I meet new people less often, etc..

To tell you the truth, I resent the situation. It’s not an all-consuming bitterness or anything – on the whole, I’m a happy guy – but I irrationally feel cheated of a fundamental human experience…

I bring this up because I feel my ability to enjoy complaining about my single state has been ruined by MRAs and anti-feminists.

Because in human culture, we do something called “signaling” a lot. And, on the internet, men complaining that they don’t have the romantic success they want, that they feel they should be more attractive to woman then they actually are in practice, etc., have all become signals used to indicate alliance with the manosphere.

Gore Vidal once groused that the once-useful word “turgid” now belongs to the porn writers, because it has become impossible to use the word without sounding like a porn writer. The manosphere has done something similar to unattractive men’s romantic problems. They’ve flooded the discourse with misogyny and anti-feminism, and it’s nearly impossible to rescue discussion of being male and unwanted from their bitter waters.

Let me start by saying I sympathize with Barry, as someone who has been in exactly his position. And that if anyone uses this post as an excuse to attack Barry personally, they are going to Hell and getting banned from SSC. They’re also proving the point of whichever side they are not on.

What I don’t sympathize with is Barry’s belief that this is somehow the fault of “the manosphere” “flooding the discourse”.

It would actually be pretty fun to go full internet-archaeologist on the manosphere, but a quick look confirms my impression that, although it is built from older pieces, it’s really quite young. There was a “men’s rights” movement around forever, but its early focus tended to be on divorce cases and fathers’ rights. Heartiste started publishing in 2007. The word “manosphere” was first used in late 2009. Google Trends confirms a lot of this.

So I think it’s fair to attribute low to minimal influence for Manosphere-type stuff before about 2005 at the earliest.

But feminists were complaining about “nice guys” for much longer. According to Wikipedia, the concept dates at least from a 2002 article called Why “Nice Guys” are often such LOSERS, which was billed as a “Bitchtorial” on feminist blog “Heartless Bitches International”

(Once again, I swear I don’t make up the names of these feminist blogs as some sort of strawmanning strategy. They just happen like that!)

Looking into “Heartless Bitches Internation”, its header image is the words “Nice Guys = Bleah!” and its blog tagline is “What’s wrong with Nice Guys? HBI Tells It Like It Is”. This was seven years before the term “manosphere” even existed.

I can’t Google Trends “Nice Guys”, because it picks up too much interference from normal discussion of people who are nice. But there is one more Google Trends graph that I think relates to this issue:

This is the same graph as before. You can’t tell, because I’ve added the word “feminism”, which has caused every other line on the graph to shrink into invisibility. The purple line is – what, twenty times as high as any of the others?

People were coming up with reasons to mock and despise men who were sad about not being in relationships years before the manosphere even existed. These reasons were being posted on top feminist blogs for years without any reference whatsoever to the manosphere, probably because the people who wrote them were unaware of its existence or couldn’t imagine what it could possibly have to do with this subject? Feminism – the movement that was doing all this with no help from the manosphere – has twenty times the eyeballs and twenty times the discourse-setting power as the manosphere. And Barry thinks this is the manosphere’s fault? On the SSC “Things Feminists Should Not Be Able To Get Away With Blaming On The Manosphere” Scale, this is right up there with the postulated link between the men’s rights movement and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The worst corners of the manosphere contain more than enough opining on how ugly women, weird women, masculine women, et cetera deserve to be unhappy. You are welcome to read, for example, Matt Forney’s Why Fat Women Don’t Deserve To Be Loved (part of me feels like the link is self-trigger-warning, but I guess I will just warn you that this is not a clever attention-grabbing title, the link means exactly what it says and argues it at some length)

No one says the only reason manospherites like to insult unattractive lonely women is because “it’s hard for women to complain about how they’re single without being mistaken for a feminist”, or that “the manosphere doesn’t mean all lonely women, it’s just talking about how offended they are that lonely women feel entitled to sex and objectify men”. In the case of men, everyone pretty much agrees that no, if you’re a certain kind of person, making fun of people for being unattractive and unhappy is its own reward.

And I don’t think there is some sort of deep genetic personality difference between the sexes that makes them do things for totally different reasons. For women just as well as men, for feminists just as well as manospherites, if you’re a certain kind of person, making fun of people for being unattractive and unhappy is its own reward. Hence everything that has ever been said about “nice guys (TM)”

The only difference between the feminists and the manosphere here is that people call out the manosphere when they do it. But the feminists have their little Playmobil motte, so that’s totally different!

V.

So am I claiming that the feminist war on “nice guys” is totally uncorrelated with the existence of the manosphere?

No. I’m saying the causal arrow goes the opposite direction from the one Barry’s suggesting. As usual with gender issues, this can be best explained through a story from ancient Chinese military history.

Chen Sheng was an officer serving the Qin Dynasty, famous for their draconian punishments. He was supposed to lead his army to a rendezvous point, but he got delayed by heavy rains and it became clear he was going to arrive late. The way I always hear the story told is this:

Chen turns to his friend Wu Guang and asks “What’s the penalty for being late?”

“Death,” says Wu.

“And what’s the penalty for rebellion?”

“Death,” says Wu.

“Well then…” says Chen Sheng.

And thus began the famous Dazexiang Uprising, which caused thousands of deaths and helped usher in a period of instability and chaos that resulted in the fall of the Qin Dynasty three years later.

The moral of the story is that if you are maximally mean to innocent people, then eventually bad things will happen to you. First, because you have no room to punish people any more for actually hurting you. Second, because people will figure if they’re doomed anyway, they can at least get the consolation of feeling like they’re doing you some damage on their way down.

This seems to me to be the position that lonely men are in online. People will tell them they’re evil misogynist rapists – as the articles above did – no matter what. In what is apparently shocking news to a lot of people, this makes them hurt and angry. As someone currently working on learning psychotherapy, I can confidently say that receiving a constant stream of hatred and put-downs throughout your most formative years can really screw you up. And so these people try to lash out at the people who are doing it to them, secure in the knowledge that there’s no room left for people to hate them even more.

I know this is true because it happened to me. I never became a manospherian per se, because two wrongs don’t make a right, but – as readers of this essay may be surprised to learn – I did become just a little bit bitter about feminism. If I hadn’t been so sure about that “two wrongs” issue I probably would have ended up a lot more radicalized.

Actually, that word – “radicalized” – conceals what is basically my exact thesis. We talk a lot about the “radicalization” of Muslims – for example, in Palestine. And indeed, nobody likes Hamas and we all agree they are terrible people and commit some terrible atrocities. Humans can certainly be very cruel, but there seems to be an unusual amount of cruelty in this particular region. And many people who like black-and-white thinking try to blame that on some defect in the Palestinian race, or claim the Quran urges Muslims should be hateful and violent. But if you’re willing to tolerate a little bit more complexity, it may occur to you to ask “Hey, I wonder if any of this anger among Palestinians has to do with the actions of Israel?” And then you might notice, for example, the past century of Middle Eastern history.

Yet somehow, when the manosphere is being terrible people and commiting terrible atrocities, the only explanation offered is that “you must hate all women” must appear in some sura of the Male Quran.

My patient – not Henry, the one I started this whole thing off with, the one who works two minimum wage jobs and wants to know why he’s still falling behind when everyone else does so well – he wasn’t listed as a danger to himself or others, so he had the right to leave the hospital voluntarily if he wanted to. And he did, less than two days after he came in, before we’d even managed to finalize a treatment plan for him. He was worried that his boss was going to fire him if he stayed in longer.

I didn’t get a chance to give him any medication – not that it would have helped that much. All I got a chance to do was to tell him I respected his situation, that he was in a really sucky position, that it wasn’t his fault, and that I hoped he did better. I’m sure my saying that had minimal effect on him. But maybe a history of getting to hear that message from all different people – friends, family, doctors, social workers, TV, church, whatever – all through his life – gave him enough mental fortitude to go back to his horrible jobs and keep working away in the hopes that things would get better. Instead of killing himself or turning to a life of crime or joining the latest kill-the-rich demagogue movement or whatever.

In the end what he wanted wasn’t entitlement to other people’s money, or a pity job from someone who secretly didn’t like him. All he needed to keep going was to have people acknowledge there was a problem and treat him like a frickin’ human being.

VI.

So let’s get back to Barry.

(remember, anyone who uses this article to insult Barry will go to Hell and get banned from Slate Star Codex)

Barry is using my second-favorite rhetorical device, apophasis, the practice of bringing up something by denying that it will be brought up. For example, “I think the American people deserve a clean debate, and that’s why I’m going to stick to the issues, rather than talking about the incident last April when my opponent was caught having sex with a goat. Anyway, let’s start with the tax rate…”

He is complaining about being single by saying that you can’t complain about being single – and, as a bonus, placating feminists by blaming the whole thing on the manosphere as a signal that he’s part of their tribe and so should not be hurt.

It almost worked. He only got one comment saying he was privileged and entitled (which he dismisses as hopefully a troll). But he did get some other comments that remind me of two of my other least favorite responses to “nice guys”.

First: “Nice guys don’t want love! They just want sex!”

One line disproof: if they wanted sex, they’d give a prostitute a couple bucks instead of spiralling into a giant depression.

Second: “You can’t compare this to, like, poor people who complain about being poor. Food and stuff are basic biological human needs! Sex isn’t essential for life! It’s an extra, like having a yacht, or a pet tiger!”

I know that feminists are not always the biggest fans of evolutionary psychology. But I feel like it takes a special level of unfamiliarity with the discipline to ask “Sure, evolution gave us an innate desire for material goods, but why would it give us an deep innate desire for pair-bonding and reproduction??!”

But maybe a less sarcastic response would be to point out Harry Harlow’s monkey studies. These studies – many of them so spectacularly unethical that they helped kickstart the modern lab-animals’-rights movement – included one in which monkeys were separated from their real mother and given a choice between two artifical “mothers” – a monkey-shaped piece of wire that provided milk but was cold and hard to the touch, and a soft cuddly cloth mother that provided no milk. The monkeys ended up “attaching” to the cloth mother and not the milk mother.

In other words – words that shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has spent much time in a human body – companionship and warmth can be in some situations just as important as food and getting your more basic needs met. Friendship can meet some of that need, but for a lot of people it’s just not enough.

When your position commits you to saying “Love isn’t important to humans and we should demand people stop caring about whether or not they have it,” you need to take a really careful look in the mirror – assuming you even show up in one.

VII.

You’re seven sections in, and maybe you thought you were going to get through an entire SSC post without a bunch of statistics. Ha ha ha ha ha.

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…

Sorry. We were talking about Barry.

I have said no insulting Barry, but I never banned complimenting him. Barry is a neat guy. He draws amazing comics and he runs one of the most popular, most intellectual, and longest-standing feminist blogs on the Internet. I have debated him several times, and although he can be enragingly persistent he has always been reasonable and never once called me a neckbeard or a dudebro or a piece of scum or anything. He cares deeply about a lot of things, works hard for those things, and has supported my friends when they have most needed support.

If there is any man in the world whose feminist credentials are impeccable, it is he. And I say this not to flatter him, but to condemn everyone who gives the nice pat explanation “The real reason Nice Guys™®© can’t get dates is that women can just tell they’re misogynist, and if they were to realize women were people then they would be in relationships just as much as anyone else.” This advice I see all the time, most recently on a feminist “dating advice for single guys” list passed around on Facebook:

Step I. Consume More Art By Women – I think it’s a good idea to make a deliberate year-long project of it at this time in your life, when you are trying to figure out how to relate to women better…Use woman-created media to to remind yourself that the world isn’t only about you + men + women who have/have not rejected you as a romantic partner.

I want to reject that line of thinking for all time. I want to actually go into basic, object-level Nice Guy territory and say there is something very wrong here.

Barry is possibly the most feminist man who has ever existed, palpably exudes respect for women, and this is well-known in every circle feminists frequent. He is reduced to apophatic complaints about how sad he is that he doesn’t think he’ll ever have a real romantic relationship.

Henry has four domestic violence charges against him by his four ex-wives and is cheating on his current wife with one of those ex-wives. And as soon as he gets out of the psychiatric hospital where he was committed for violent behavior against women and maybe serves the jail sentence he has pending for said behavior, he is going to find another girlfriend approximately instantaneously.

And this seems unfair. I don’t know how to put the basic insight behind niceguyhood any clearer than that. There are a lot of statistics backing up the point, but the statistics only corroborate the obvious intuitive insight that this seems unfair.

And suppose, in the depths of your Forever Alone misery, you make the mistake of asking why things are so unfair.

Well, then Jezebel says you are “a lonely dickwad who believes in a perverse social/sexual contract that promises access to women’s bodies”. XOJane says you are “an adult baby” who will “go into a school or a gym or another space heavily populated by women and open fire”. Feminspire just says you are “an arrogant, egotistical, selfish douche bag”.

And the manosphere says: “Excellent question, we’ve actually been wondering that ourselves, why don’t you come over here and sit down with us and hear some of our convincing-sounding answers, which, incidentally, will also help solve your personal problems?”

And feminists still insist the only reason anyone ever joins the manosphere is “distress of the privileged”!

I do not think men should be entitled to sex, I do not think women should be “blamed” for men not having sex, I do not think anyone owes sex to anyone else, I do not think women are idiots who don’t know what’s good for them, I do not think anybody has the right to take it into their own hands to “correct” this unsettling trend singlehandedly.

But when you deny everything and abuse anyone who brings it up, you cede this issue to people who sometimes do think all of these things. And then you have no right to be surprised when all the most frequently offered answers are super toxic.

There is a very simple reply to the question which is better than anything feminists are now doing. It is the answer I gave to my patient Dan: “Yeah, things are unfair. I can’t do anything about it, but I’m sorry for your pain. Here is a list of resources that might be able to help you.”

There is also a more complicated reply, which I am not qualified to compose, but I think the gist of it would be something like:

Personal virtue is not very well correlated with ease of finding a soulmate. It may be only slightly correlated, uncorrelated, or even anti-correlated in different situations. Even smart people who want various virtues in a soulmate usually use them as a rule-out criterion, rather than a rule-in criterion – that is, given someone whom they are already attracted to, they will eliminate him if he does not have those virtues. The rule-in criterion that makes you attractive to people is mysterious and mostly orthogonal to virtue. This is true both in men and women, but in different ways. Male attractiveness seems to depend on things like a kind of social skills which is not necessarily the same kind of social skills people who want to teach you social skills will teach, testosterone level, social status, and whatever you call the ability to just ask someone out, consequences be damned. These can be obtained in very many different ways that are partly within your control, but they are complicated and subtle and if you naively aim for cliched versions of the terms you will fail. There is a lot of good discussion about how to get these things. Here is a list of resources that might be able to help you.

Of course, then you’ve got to have your resource list. And – and this is the part of this post I think will be controversial (!), I think a lot of the appropriate material is concentrated in the manosphere, ie the people who do not hate your guts merely for acknowledging the existence of the issue. Yes, it is interspersed with poisonous beliefs about women being terrible, but if you have more than a quarter or so of a soul, it is pretty easy to filter those out and concentrate on the good ones. Many feminists will say there are no good ones and that they are all exactly the same, but you should not believe them for approximately the same reason you should not believe anyone else who claims the outgroup is completely homogenous and uniformly evil. Ozy has tried to pick out some of the better ones for you at the bottom of their their anti-Heartiste FAQ, and Drew on Tumblr has added to the discussion.

So I think the better parts of feminism and the better parts of the manosphere could unite around something like this, against the evil fringes of both movements. Not for my sake, because after many years I mysteriously and unexpectedly found a wonderful girlfriend whom I love very much. And not only for the sake of the nice guys out there. But also for the sake of women who want better alternatives to marrying someone like Henry.

And although Barry explicitly doesn’t want dating advice, I feel like this is meta-level enough that it doesn’t count. Stop blaming the men’s movement for the problem and notice the more fundamental problem that some parts of the men’s movement – as well as some parts of feminism are honestly trying to work on.

Come to the Not-Actually-Dark-But-Spends-Slightly-Less-Time-Loudly-Protesting-Its-Lightness Side, Barry. We have cookies! And basic human decency! But also cookies!

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1,272 Responses to Radicalizing the Romanceless

  1. Pingback: What The Nice Guy Means By “Nice” — Hint: It’s Not “I’m Entitled To Sex” | Paul M. Jones

  2. Pingback: Mean People Suck: “Radicalizing the Romanceless” | Jeb Kinnison

  3. Luke Somers says:

    > I seriously thought this summary was deliberately mocking the post until I saw it was (apparently) posted by the blogger in question.

    If I hadn’t read the blog, I would have believed the same even after seeing the name (no name validation).

  4. Army1987 says:

    Don’t worry, this thread is still two orders of magnitude smaller than this one.

  5. L says:

    I love this post so much! I’m a woman who was homeschooled and the first time I was ever asked out was at age 24. I was so desperate for so many years and I understand a lot of the despair felt by the people this post is addressing. The thing is, my highly patriarchal and dysfunctional background did even *more* damage to my brothers. They are very intelligent and very kind people and it sucks immensely that they have not been able to find partners yet.

    So, hugs to you reading this and feeling the feels. (((hugs)))

  6. Asher Kayce says:

    This was a fantastic article.

    Here’s a resource I’d offer “Dan” that I think feminists would be hard pressed to criticize.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en

    I’d also offer Dan encouragement and support and acknowledgement that sticking to the higher path (not making the conscious choice to become “Henry”) will be better for his mental health in the long run.

  7. Somebody says:

    Reading the comments made me see a new aspect of a problem I had years ago:

    I had the idea that nice, geeky men didn’t have sex as teenagers (either because they didn’t want to or didn’t have the opportunity). So when I met the geeky boy of my dreams and found he had been sexually active in high school, I was extremely upset. I think this was because it made me doubt whether he could really be geeky and nice if he wasn’t a virgin. It took me a while to be able to reconcile all this in my mind.

  8. Ialdabaoth says:

    guys… I think we broke the comment section.

    • Emile says:

      I wonder how many forums have less posts in total than there are comments in this thread? I’ve seen a few…

      (but yeah, some things are looking broken, I don’t know what exactly but I see posts marked as read below posts marked as unread, which should be impossible, and I see standalone comments that look like they were supposed to be replies…)

      • Army1987 says:

        The comments shown at the bottom of the page below the most recent comment are orphaned replies to comments which have since been deleted.

        • Nornagest says:

          Either that isn’t true or comment deletion screws up threading for all descendants, not just children. I replied to a post after its parent had been (presumptively) deleted, the parent post is still there, and the subtree I’d just created still got flattened.

          That or I just entered it in the wrong reply field. But I don’t think I did.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Yes, the reply button on orphaned comments doesn’t work. Deletion flattens the tree not just at the time, but for all further replies.

  9. Slow Learner says:

    +1. The comment you replied to validates my decision to not follow the link to thatincelblogger’s blog up-thread.

  10. Anon says:

    Let me just start off by saying that Love and Affiliation and Friendship are basic human needs, as pointed out throughout the course of psychology (i.e. Maslow), that are just as important as food, shelter and safety. Sometimes the need for love might actually be more powerful and you end up seeing people sacrificing their own security to look for love. Which is not uncommon for both sides.

    Bear in mind that more that often are more complex psychological and psychosocial factors at play that the bare nice guy – loved guy causality at play. From my experience many forums and discussions in general oversimplify the matter reducing the chain of logic to “I am nice therefore I must be loved”. In REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy) this could qualify as an irrational belief, in the sense that it’s an argument that often it is not connected. This can source for a lot of what we call entitlement, and yes, some (mind you, not everybody) end up feeling entitled to other’s affection based on that. The reality is that in choosing a partner there’s a large complexity of issues that come into play, out of which, yes, is misjudging other people’s behaviors and projecting our inadequacies onto others. In working with battered women you see a lot of issues that can be traced back to childhood, in terms of abandonment, abuse and neglect. Corollary to that, many men are trapped by the same issues that make them feel attracted to the wrong type of women which in turn tunes them out from noticing other women’s attraction leading to the belief “I’ve failed in these x numbers of relationships/I’ve never had a relationships therefore women are bitches who go for assholes instead of nice guys” or beliefs such as “I am utterly unlovable”. Both can spiral into depression even the sweetest guy in the universe and turn him bitter. On top of that never forget about the gender role conditioning that we’ve all had to face and that has played a part in how we perceive the other sex, and how we should behave according to them. Culture, again, and cultural clashes between gender roles of different ethnicities and how they are perceived hold up a part, but that’s a bit debatable on the amount of differences.

    I don’t agree with neither radical view because often you’re not looking at “which gender is more drastic, cold and pragmatic”, you’re looking at a sum of individuals all clashing together with their own issues. Men who batter women are often victims of abuse themselves, plus very rigid gender socialization but I don’t agree that there’s a causality between their dysfunctional behavior and their prowess in bed. And yes, the higher the IQ, the lower the chances at getting laid, but again this can be because a number of reasons. Other priorities take up most of your energy, and one doesn’t focus their attention on getting laid, or they perceive the people they encounter as plain stupid or dull, or they have had to deal with trauma from highschool that left them highly insecure. This goes for both men and women, and nobody has the possibility or the duty to see all this and understand it.

    Basically, nobody should go around thinking “oh, I’m a nice person, I should be loved” because there may be more to look at than this. Simply put, you may be going for the wrong kind of love from the wrong kind of person.

    • Ialdabaoth, Unwitting Servant of Moloch, Dread Agent of He-Who-Swims-Ever-Leftward says:

      Basically, nobody should go around thinking “oh, I’m a nice person, I should be loved” because there may be more to look at than this. Simply put, you may be going for the wrong kind of love from the wrong kind of person.

      You shut your mouth! How dare you say that I go about things the wrong way; I am human, and I need to be loved just like everybody else.

  11. Steve says:

    When I read things touching on fe/male relations, I wonder why no one brings up homosexuals. It seems like asking them about their experience would be useful in divining whether these disputes were topics of gender or, really, misapprehension of human experience in general.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, many bisexuals have weighed in above. Of course, I’m not sure how the ample.statistics available would fail to convince you that (for whatever reason) real gender differences in dating exist.

  12. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2014/09/03 | Free Northerner

  13. Pingback: Nice guys finish last « Jim’s Blog

  14. Matthew says:

    Sort of off-topic. I spotted what I felt was an opportunity to evangelize a bit someplace where I felt the audience might be thoughtful enough not to go into reflexive SJW-attack mode. If I missed my guess and this temporarily lowers the sanity waterline when new commenters show up, I apologize.

    Here was my introductory effort. I’ve slept badly the past couple days; I hope I was reasonably coherent.

    • Multiheaded says:

      Not enough nuance. For example, the problem with privilege-checking is absolutely NOT that it “silences white male perspectives” as SJWs see such a thing! No, *that* could be an admirable and epistemically healthy goal. But instead, we get a game of oppression olympics where certain activists have an uncontrollable weapon of *sometimes* silencing *certain* perspectives that might happen to be voiced by white males even if shared by members of SJ protected classes, and then they (the activists) pretend that there are *legible, sane, agreed-upon rules* to this. In fact, this is selective enforcement by a distributed un-authority. It does not promote epistemic, or indeed mental health – to put it mildly.

      But again, the *stated ideal* of SJ is good and worthwhile. Some “silencing” of “white male” perspectives is indeed necessary and can be emancipatory/a public good/whatever, as long as the motte-bailey gap for these hostile-sounding-but-potentially-constructive operations is not so vast and uncontrollable.

      • Matthew says:

        No way I could address the motte-and-bailey problem in that comment; since no one there is likely to have read the relevant post yet, I would have ended up going down the rabbit hole of explaining all our terminology.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Well, congratulations, you’ve just bumped your head against the motte.

          …Listen, if this whole thing was easy, it would already have been handled from the inside and Scott would have never made all these posts. Do you think that SJ people haven’t tried? I assure you, they did.

          P.S.: how do normal people refer to the concept of “inferential distance”?

          • Matthew says:

            Normal people? I think you’re in the wrong subthread.

          • Nornagest says:

            how do normal people refer to the concept of “inferential distance”?

            Snarky answer: “It’s not my job to educate you, shitlord.”

            Real answer: I’ve had some success talking about it in terms of perspectives, as in “Well, I usually think about this from the X perspective, which assumes Y, Z, and Q…”.

      • Zorgon says:

        The final jump of awareness seems to be when people realise that for there to be real dialogue, everyone needs to shut up from time to time. Not just those espousing “white male perspectives”, but everyone.

        If both sides don’t occasionally shut up, all that happens is that you stand there hectoring, and the only way you can make someone continue to stick around and be lectured at is via the exercise of social power (amongst other forms of power).

        Hence all the superweapon and motte/bailey abuse. There’s no other way to force people to engage in a one-sided discussion.

  15. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    Since the big takeaway I’m getting is that men need useful advice on how to be more desirable to women, I have something that I think is helpful. No, I didn’t write it; Scott did.

    I consider it useful because it makes it understandable why certain behaviors that naively seem reasonable can be received badly by women. This gives you tools to exercise some discretion rather than trying to blindly follow rules.

  16. Castaigne says:

    I have one question. You say:

    And here I was, tried my best never to be mean to anyone, gave to charity, pursuing a productive career, worked hard to help all of my friends. I didn’t think I deserved to have the prettiest girl in school prostrate herself at my feet. But I did think I deserved to not be doing worse than Henry.

    And the question is, why? Why did you think you deserved to not be doing worse than Henry?

    There are a lot of answers that one could make to that. A lot of justifications, a lot of reasoning, stuff that makes sense…but the real answer to this question is “You didn’t deserve to not be doing worse than Henry.” When I say ‘real’, I mean that this is what the universe – our cold, uncaring universe – would say to you. You don’t deserve anything. Nothing is guaranteed; there’s no delivery promise. You don’t even deserve to be ALIVE. It’s just something that you’ve managed to do so far. And there’s no guarantee you’ll remain alive either.

    Once you’ve assimilated this, it becomes clear: the problem in thinking that you deserve anything…is the thinking itself. You deserve nothing. You have what you are able to obtain by yourself. That’s it.

    Henry has four domestic violence charges against him by his four ex-wives and is cheating on his current wife with one of those ex-wives. And as soon as he gets out of the psychiatric hospital where he was committed for violent behavior against women and maybe serves the jail sentence he has pending for said behavior, he is going to find another girlfriend approximately instantaneously. And this seems unfair.

    Repeat after me:
    Life is not fair.
    Life has not ever BEEN fair.
    Life is not SUPPOSED to be fair.
    It is always unfair.

    There is a very simple reply to the question which is better than anything feminists are now doing. It is the answer I gave to my patient Dan: “Yeah, things are unfair. I can’t do anything about it, but I’m sorry for your pain.

    Caveat: The only reason you gave that answer to Dan is because IT’S YOUR JOB. You’re paid to do that. Otherwise, it was not your problem.

    • Steve Johnson says:

      And the question is, why? Why did you think you deserved to not be doing worse than Henry?

      Because civilization’s continued existence depends on Scott Alexander and men like him continuing to do the work that only they’re capable of and depends not at all on Henry and men like him.

      Ok, so let’s say that civilization places zero weight on the good of guys like Henry – who other than Henry does this hurt? Well – women – because they prefer to get fucked by guys like Henry and let guys like Scott pay to clean up the mess (pay for her children with welfare, pull Henry off of her before he goes too far one time and kills her, keep the heat, hot water and electricity flowing, etc.).

      Maybe we can even have a civilization where we don’t have to use any measures to stop women from getting fucked by guys like Henry and maybe guys like Scott will keep on working as castrated drones so Henrys and the women who love Henrys can keep on living their drama filled, exciting lives but what happens to the next generation when all the boys were fathered by Henry? Where do the Scotts that are required to clean up the mess come from?

      Maybe women can do all the work of keeping civilization going – but there’s absolutely zero evidence for it (and plenty of evidence against it).

      Even if you don’t think that any particular woman owes guys like Scott anything (and they don’t) your civilization needs to be structured so that guys like Scott do find wives at a young age.

      We had exactly that type of civilization and feminism killed it. All that’s left now is arguing over “well, is everything really going to fall apart completely?” (what appears to be Scott’s position) and “if civilization requires monogamy then to hell with civilization” (feminism’s position).

      • Castaigne says:

        Because civilization’s continued existence depends on Scott Alexander and men like him continuing to do the work that only they’re capable of and depends not at all on Henry and men like him.

        Supposition not supported by the evidence. Intrapersonal relationships between humans has no correlative effect on the maintenance of civilization. That’s even without getting into what civilization (historical or modern) you’re attempting to sustain or even if it should continue to exist (which again, the universe does not care about either.)

        Even if you don’t think that any particular woman owes guys like Scott anything (and they don’t) your civilization needs to be structured so that guys like Scott do find wives at a young age.

        And that’s crap, even when relying on my personal anecdotes. In management, I require LESS population, not more. I eliminate jobs on a yearly basis by implementing automation, whether that be software or robotics or aught else. With enough technology, humanity (PERIOD, male or female) is not required to sustain civilization.

        We had exactly that type of civilization and feminism killed it

        Feminism killed manpower-intensive civilization? Since I’m looking to replace manpower-intensive civilization with automated self-repairing civilization anyway (as fixed costs are more profitable than human costs), I wouldn’t see that as a problem.

        But I disagree with your premise to begin with, anyway, so there’s that.

        • nydwracu says:

          Whose children will create the software and the robots?

          • Castaigne says:

            In about 50 to 75 years, they’ll be able to maintain and create themselves. This is assuming there is no plateauing of automation acceleration and that it continues along previous curves. While that could happen, there is no evidence (yet) that it will.

        • Anonymous says:

          @Castalgne
          “Intrapersonal relationships between humans has no correlative effect on the maintenance of civilization”
          Umm, Civilisation is nothing but the sum of intrpersonal relationships between humans; it’s not magic fairy dust that springs out of the aether.

          “That’s even without getting into what civilization (historical or modern) you’re attempting to sustain”

          We are attempting to sustain a civilisation able to maintain modern technological levels and hopefully one that continue to march us towards the singularity. I hope pretty much everyone on SSC shares these goals.

          “or even if it should continue to exist (which again, the universe does not care about either.)”

          The universe might not care, but this is entirely irrelevant; humans care. Furthermore, your argument that the universe doesn’t care and that nobody deserves anything, while trivially true, is a fully general counterargument to doing or asking for anything ever yet it only seems to be trotted out whenever outgroups have the temerity to think they deserve something. Consider:

          “It just doesn’t seem fair” says the slave on the cotton plantation. “Here I am toiling away all day under the baking sun with no recompense, with my master able to rape my wife whenever he fancies solely because I’m black. It just isn’t fair. Us blacks deserve better than this.”
          In rides 1850s!Castalgne. “Why did you think you deserved to not be a slave. There are a lot of answers that one could make to that. A lot of justifications, a lot of reasoning, stuff that makes sense…but the real answer to this question is “You don’t deserve to not be a slave.” When I say ‘real’, I mean that this is what the universe – our cold, uncaring universe – would say to you. You don’t deserve anything. Nothing is guaranteed; there’s no delivery promise. You don’t even deserve to be ALIVE. It’s just something that you’ve managed to do so far. And there’s no guarantee you’ll remain alive either.Repeat after me:Life is not fair.Life has not ever BEEN fair.Life is not SUPPOSED to be fair. It is always unfair.” *whip*
          Does this strike you as kind, necessary, or charitable? I doubt it*, yet this is exactly the argument you unleash on the Nice Guys(TM) of today. I would like you to ponder as to why.

          * if you do bite this bullet and would say this, then props to you, although you might want to go away and reconsider all of your moral and political beliefs under this new light.

    • Anonymous says:

      The question of desert is not how the world is but how it should be, or rather, not whether life is fair but what a fair life would look like. As such your post is incoherent.

      • Castaigne says:

        Only if you assume that there is a way that the world should be, or that there should be a fair life.

        I don’t presume that at all. And I think people who do are idealistic and foolish. Dreams are all very good, but I live in reality and do not look for anything that is not provided by reality.

        • Anonymous says:

          What? This isn’t about idealistic or having dreams, it’s about morality. Do you also think it’s “idealistic and foolish” to say ISIS shouldn’t be beheading people?

          • Castaigne says:

            What? This isn’t about idealistic or having dreams, it’s about morality.

            Morality is subjective, not objective. Every person has a different view of what is and is not moral or ethical; there are no objective standards for morality imposed by the universe as such.

            Do you also think it’s “idealistic and foolish” to say ISIS shouldn’t be beheading people?

            You or I may say that ISIS shouldn’t be beheading people because it contradicts our moral outlook.

            To ISIS, it is moral for them to do the beheading.

            Who is right? None of us. The universe does not care who beheads whom, or why. The universe has no morality. Reality has no morality. The laws of physics have no morality. They just are.

          • Crimson Wool says:

            Why are you posting on the internet? The universe doesn’t care about your posts. The universe doesn’t care whether or not you manage to convince people about the correctness of your position. The universe doesn’t say anyone has any reason to do anything.

          • blacktrance says:

            @Castaigne:

            Those are contentious claims, but this subject has been argued about in many previous posts. Instead of providing my own counterarguments (which I may do later), I’ll ask you this: do you know any counterarguments to those claims?

          • Max says:

            @blacktrance:

            Those are contentious claims, but this subject has been argued about in many previous posts.

            Really? The observation that moral realism is false strikes people as contentious around these parts? Some rationalists y’all are! XD

            Instead of providing my own counterarguments (which I may do later), I’ll ask you this: do you know any counterarguments to those claims?

            A few. Harris, Huemer, Nagel, Parfit, Rand, Singer, Wright, etc. all basically confirmed their worthlessness as sources of intelligent thought by endorsing various forms of moral realism for what struck me as obviously retarded reasons.

            I’m at least theoretically open to the idea that I’ve missed something which renders moral realism something more than mere insanity, but I can’t imagine what it might be. By all means, please share your (counter)arguments if you think they’re persuasive! There’s little I like more than finding out when I’m wrong about something.

          • blacktrance says:

            As I understand it, moral realism is the combination of three claims:

            1. Moral statements have a truth-value.
            2. Some moral statements are true.
            3. The truth-value of moral statements is not determined by opinion.

            Different realist ethical and metaethical theories disagree about what it is that makes a moral statement true, but they agree that there is something that makes moral statements true. So, as long as there’s something that can make moral statements true (and that something is not opinion), moral realism is true. Rather than making arguments for views I don’t agree with, I’ll argue for why I believe moral realism is true. (This is a rough outline, but I hope it gets the idea across.)

            Morality means “what one should do”. We must have sufficiently motivating reasons to do what we should do, so whatever morality consists of, it must be motivating. What we already find motivating are our desires. So whatever morality is, it must consist of and/or follow from our desires. What follows from our desires, and what process should we follow to determine morality? Here, different ethical theories diverge (though some ethical theories don’t make it this far), but in general, what makes a moral statement true or false is whether it follows from one’s desires. This doesn’t mean that morality is “do whatever you want”, because your desires may be inconsistent and you may fulfill them better by not following some of your whims. We can say that morality is “do what you’d want to do if you were to apply some ideal rational deliberative process to your desires”.

            Then, there are true moral statements, because there are true statements about what you desire and what follows from your desires. And the truth-value of these statements is not determined by opinion, and you can have opinions about what’s moral that disagree with what follows from your desires, and when there’s such a conflict, your desires are right.

            To give a concrete example, in the standard analysis of the one-shot prisoner’s dilemma, the payoffs are arranged such that you should defect. You can have the opinion that you should cooperate, but what you should do is determined by the payoffs, not by your opinions. If some third-person observer were to look at your payoffs, they would also conclude that you should defect – “you should defect when these are the payoffs” is a fact about the world. Relatedly, because cooperate-cooperate is a Pareto improvement over defect-defect, if some outside force were to force you and the other player to cooperate, you should welcome that force because that would give you a higher payoff.

            This approach generates/constructs/identifies moral truths, but I admit that the truths that this generates may not be intuitive or congruent with any widely held ethical theory. That’s okay, though, because all I set out to do was to show that moral statements can be true, not to justify any particular moral statements.

            For examples of this approach in action, see Thomas Hobbes, David Gauthier, and Jan Narveson. It’s also the approach that Scott takes here.

          • blacktrance says:

            I admit it, I do like Rand (and I’ve read several of her works, and enjoyed her fiction immensely), though my arguments are derived more from moral constructivists than from her – indeed, my arguments have implications that she’d reject. Nor, to my knowledge, did she ever write much about the foundations of morality or about moral motivation – she mainly wrote about object-level ethics.

            For example, it is trivial to imagine (at least for this audience, I assume,) an entity that ACTUALLY REALLY TRULY wants to turn the entire universe into paperclips. According to the definition of morality that you’ve presented here, it is moral for this entity to turn the entire universe (including you and me) into paperclips. Yet most people, when they speak of moral realism, seem to expect a little more from it than that. What they want to identify is a reason why this entity, even though it WANTS to turn the universe into paperclips, SHOULDN’T.

            My response to this is that moral realism as these people conceive of it is indeed false, but that’s not the only possible conception of moral realism, and moral truths are possible even if they’re not what people intuitively believe to be morally true. There are moral truths, but they’re not these moral truths.
            Also, to nitpick a bit, I say that it would be moral for Clippy to try to paperclip the universe. It would also be moral for us to resist it. By no means would it be moral for us to stand aside and let it do what it wants. BTW, Rand would disagree with this claim, because she held that there can be no conflicts of interest between rational individuals.

            Edit:

            As a point of fact, the payoffs in this game (and at every moment of your life, really) are determined by the player’s opinions.

            No, they’re determined by the players’ preferences, not by the players’ opinions – or, rather, the payoffs are in terms of players’ preferences. If you’d get a higher payoff from cooperating (regardless of whether I cooperate) – which means that cooperating would better satisfy your preferences – then it’s not a prisoners’ dilemma anymore. It’s only a prisoners’ dilemma if it has that form after all the sources of utility have been taken into account.

            You might as reasonably say that “vanilla ice cream rains from the sky in Madagascar every Tuesday” is a fact about the world. Because both of these statements are completely insane and wrong and bear no relationship to reality whatsoever.

            Except I am making potentially true claims about payoffs. If I say that you prefer cooperate-cooperate to defect-defect, I may or may not be right, but there is a fact of the matter, and it’s determined by your preferences, which are part of the world.

          • Anonymous says:

            Max, you’re conflating arguments for moral realism with arguments for particular moral theories.

            By the way, one needn’t be a moral realist to comprehend that the original response in this thread, Castaigne’s or whoever, missed the point.

          • Max says:

            @blacktrance:

            My response to this is that moral realism as these people conceive of it is indeed false, but that’s not the only possible conception of moral realism, and moral truths are possible even if they’re not what people intuitively believe to be morally true. There are moral truths, but they’re not these moral truths. Also, to nitpick a bit, I say that it would be moral for Clippy to try to paperclip the universe. It would also be moral for us to resist it. By no means would it be moral for us to stand aside and let it do what it wants.

            Fair enough. For the definition of “moral truths” that you’re using here, I am forced to agree that they exist, because you’ve simply twisted the term into a tautology.

            No, they’re determined by the players’ preferences, not by the players’ opinions. If you’d get a higher payoff from cooperating (regardless of whether I cooperate) – which means that cooperating would better satisfy your preferences – then it’s not a prisoners’ dilemma anymore. It’s only a prisoners’ dilemma if it has that form after all the sources of utility have been taken into account.

            What I feel you’re ignoring or failing to grasp here is that preferences are at the very least inferred from opinions, and in the strongest sense are nothing more than opinions. There is no such thing as an “ideal rational deliberative process” which one might apply to his or her desires. Thus, the only basis for claiming the existence of a preference for A over B is the expression of an opinion to that effect (whether via verbal communication or silent decision-making). When people want two mutually exclusive things, it isn’t always the case that we can identify what they ACTUALLY REALLY TRULY want; sometimes, cognitive dissonance is an unavoidable result of the fact that consciousness and identity are fictions, and people aren’t actually coherent individuals or wholes at all, but instead are a conglomeration of sometimes-inconsistent or even incoherent impulses.

            Except I am making potentially true claims about payoffs. If I say that you prefer cooperate-cooperate to defect-defect, I may or may not be right, but there is a fact of the matter, and it’s determined by your preferences, which are part of the world.

            I applaud your ability to strike at the heart of the matter. I deny that claims about payoffs are necessarily potentially true or false. Instead, what’s sometimes called “utility” has no referent in the world at all. The entire concept is nonsense on stilts.

            If A says that B prefers C to D or vice versa, he may be right, wrong, or neither, and if it’s the latter, then there is no fact of the matter. What we call people’s preferences are not a part of the world.

          • Max says:

            @Anonymous:

            Max, you’re conflating arguments for moral realism with arguments for particular moral theories.

            Pretty sure I’m not. Could you please explain why you think I’m doing so? Might be a bit tougher now that my comment has been deleted as spam, but…

            By the way, one needn’t be a moral realist to comprehend that the original response in this thread, Castaigne’s or whoever, missed the point.

            Which point was that?

          • blacktrance says:

            What I feel you’re ignoring or failing to grasp here is that preferences are at the very least inferred from opinions, and in the strongest sense are nothing more than opinions. There is no such thing as an “ideal rational deliberative process” which one might apply to his or her desires. Thus, the only basis for claiming the existence of a preference for A over B is the expression of an opinion to that effect (whether via verbal communication or silent decision-making). When people want two mutually exclusive things, it isn’t always the case that we can identify what they ACTUALLY REALLY TRULY want; sometimes, cognitive dissonance is an unavoidable result of the fact that consciousness and identity are fictions, and people aren’t actually coherent individuals or wholes at all, but instead are a conglomeration of sometimes-inconsistent or even incoherent impulses.

            If you’d get more of what you want if you defected, that means you prefer the outcomes that happen when you defect. If you think that defection is Bad (without much deeper reasoning), or if you find defection aesthetically unappealing, that’s an opinion. There’s a pretty clear illustration of the difference between the two.
            As for whether there’s an ideal rational deliberative process, of course there is one. You identify where you’re inconsistent, choose which option you’re going to go with (perhaps by referring to meta-preferences), and generally deliberate on your preferences. While doing this to become absolutely perfectly consistent would be very difficult (hence the “ideal” part), using reflective rationality to some degree is very much a real thing that can be done.
            I don’t think that consciousness and identity are fictions, I think they’re real, but that’s beyond the scope of this discussion. But even if humans aren’t conscious and don’t have persistent identities, that doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the case for all possible agents. For example, Clippy could have a persistent identity.

            I applaud your ability to strike at the heart of the matter. I deny that claims about payoffs are necessarily potentially true or false. Instead, what’s sometimes called “utility” has no referent in the world at all.

            Utility refers to preferences – “A gives me more utility than B” means that I prefer A to B, and that’s definitely a real thing in the world, and claims about it have truth-value.

          • Max says:

            @blacktrance:

            If you’d get more of what you want if you defected, that means you prefer the outcomes that happen when you defect.

            If you prefer the outcomes that happen when you defect, that means your opinion is that you will get more of what you want if you defect.

            If you think that defection is Bad (without much deeper reasoning), or if you find defection aesthetically unappealing, that’s an opinion.

            If your opinion is that defection is Bad (without much deeper reasoning), or if you find defection aesthetically unappealing, that means you prefer not to defect.

            There’s a pretty clear illustration of the difference between the two.

            Indeed. And while we’re offering clear illustrations of the difference between two concepts, would you rather have a dozen eggs or twelve?

            As for whether there’s an ideal rational deliberative process, of course there is one. You identify where you’re inconsistent, choose which option you’re going to go with (perhaps by referring to meta-preferences), and generally deliberate on your preferences.

            Ah, alright, I see where I was mistaken now. I thought there was no ideal rational deliberative process, but now I see that the ideal rational deliberate process is to generally deliberate on your preferences and then choose which option you’re going to go with.

            I apologize for this comment’s saturation in sarcasm, but you aren’t really leaving me much choice here. Metaphorically speaking, you have made a mess on the carpet and need to have your nose rubbed in the pile so you don’t do it again.

            While doing this to become absolutely perfectly consistent would be very difficult (hence the “ideal” part), using reflective rationality to some degree is very much a real thing that can be done.

            As with your claims about the existence of “moral truths,” I have no doubt that it’s possible to construct definitions whereby the above statement will become tautological. I’m not much interested in playing word games though.

            I don’t think that consciousness and identity are fictions, I think they’re real, but that’s beyond the scope of this discussion.

            Pretty important to it though! If you think that consciousness and identity are irreducible and unchanging, then you basically believe in human souls. If you do not think that consciousness and identity are irreducible and unchanging, then you understand that our reference to them in everyday language as such is a fiction. So like, are you a Christian or not?

            But even if humans aren’t conscious and don’t have persistent identities, that doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the case for all possible agents. For example, Clippy could have a persistent identity.

            Nope. The existence of persistent identity is impossible by definition. You might as reasonably argue that A != A. Everything changes from moment to moment; if we posit the absence of such change, then we are speaking of a place outside the flow of time, and therefore outside the universe as we know it.

            Utility refers to preferences – “A gives me more utility than B” means that I prefer A to B, and that’s definitely a real thing in the world, and claims about it have truth-value.

            I see. And what does it mean to say that A gives C more utility than B gives D?

          • blacktrance says:

            If you prefer the outcomes that happen when you defect, that means your opinion is that you will get more of what you want if you defect.

            I think you’re using the word “opinion” in a non-standard way. Opinions are necessarily subjective judgments, while preferences are objective. If I say “Apples are good”, that is an opinion (if interpreted literally), if I say “I like apples more than pears”, that is a fact and a preference. If you think defecting is evil, that is an opinion, if you get more of what you want if you defect, that is a fact. If my opinion is that defection is Bad, but I’d get more of what I want if I defected, then my opinion and my preferences diverge. I still prefer to defect because I get more of what I want when I defect; if X gets me more of what I want than Y, and I know that, then that means I prefer X to Y. But my opinions can diverge from that.

            Pretty important to it though! If you think that consciousness and identity are irreducible and unchanging, then you basically believe in human souls. If you do not think that consciousness and identity are irreducible and unchanging, then you understand that our reference to them in everyday language as such is a fiction. So like, are you a Christian or not?

            There are plenty of other possible positions. Of course I’m not a Christian, I’m an atheist and a physicalist. But consciousness and identity are reducible abstractions. There’s no necessary contradiction between that and them being persistent and real. When I talk about my consciousness, I’m referring to it – it’s a real thing, though that doesn’t mean it’s irreducible, non-physical, or something like the Christian concept of a soul. Just because it’s not ontologically basic doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – and things changing with time is no barrier to it existing, either.

            And what does it mean to say that A gives C more utility than B gives D?

            Then you may be thinking of utility in the utilitarian sense, which is somewhat different from utility in the decision-theoretic sense, which is what I had been talking about. In terms that avoid direct comparisons of utility, this could mean something like “C is willing to give up more for A than D is willing to give up for B”, e.g. if you gave them equal budgets, C would pay more for A than B would pay for D. Or, possibly, it could mean something like “The Kaldor-Hicks improvement from C getting A and D not getting B is, according to both C’s and D’s preferences, greater than the Kaldor-Hicks improvement from C not getting A and D getting B.”

          • Max says:

            @blacktrance:

            I think you’re using the word “opinion” in a non-standard way. Opinions are necessarily subjective judgments, while preferences are objective. If I say “Apples are good”, that is an opinion (if interpreted literally), if I say “I like apples more than pears”, that is a fact and a preference.

            It is only a fact if the statement is true, and the statement is only true if you have actually made the subjective judgment (/formed the opinion) that you like apples more than pears.

            Your claim, then, is that preferences are facts about opinions. I hope you’ll note that this in no way contradicts the following statements:

            “If you prefer the outcomes that happen when you defect, that means your opinion is that you will get more of what you want if you defect.”

            “If your opinion is that defection is Bad (without much deeper reasoning), or if you find defection aesthetically unappealing, that means you prefer not to defect.”

            If you think defecting is evil, that is an opinion, if you get more of what you want if you defect, that is a fact.

            If you think you’ll get more of what you want if you defect, that is an opinion, if defecting strikes you as evil, that is a fact.

            If my opinion is that defection is Bad, but I’d get more of what I want if I defected, then my opinion and my preferences diverge. I still prefer to defect because I get more of what I want when I defect; if X gets me more of what I want than Y, and I know that, then that means I prefer X to Y. But my opinions can diverge from that.

            lol randroids (sorry)

            But I feel compelled to point out that I totally called this in my second comment. “Morality doesn’t mean doing whatever you want, it means doing what you ACTUALLY REALLY TRULY want!”

            There are plenty of other possible positions. Of course I’m not a Christian, I’m an atheist and a physicalist. But consciousness and identity are reducible abstractions. There’s no necessary contradiction between that and them being persistent and real.

            Nothing real is persistent (or every moment is a self-contained eternity, I suppose, depending on how you choose to view time). When we speak as if it were otherwise, we’re making use of a linguistic convention that doesn’t capture how the world actually is. People can get by in their day-to-day lives without noticing, mostly, because this sort of mistake only causes problems at the margins. Like here, for example.

            When I talk about my consciousness, I’m referring to it – it’s a real thing, though that doesn’t mean it’s irreducible, non-physical, or something like the Christian concept of a soul. Just because it’s not ontologically basic doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – and things changing with time is no barrier to it existing, either.

            blacktrance at age 13 is not the same as blacktrance at age 21 is not the same as blacktrance at age 35. Just because all of these entities are referred to as blacktrance does not mean that they are all the same. In fact, they are different.

            It’s even worse than that, though. Because what we’re calling “blacktrance at age X” isn’t even a singular entity. “It” is actually a bunch of different algorithms running simultaneously in parallel on what we sometimes lazily call a “single” piece of hardware (but which actually has properties that make calling “it” a pair seem pretty sensible).

            Thus, the concept of what “you” or “I” “actuallyreallytruly want” is not even coherent, let alone quantifiable.

            Then you may be thinking of utility in the utilitarian sense, which is somewhat different from utility in the decision-theoretic sense, which is what I had been talking about. In terms that avoid direct comparisons of utility, this could mean something like “C is willing to give up more for A than D is willing to give up for B”, e.g. if you gave them equal budgets, C would pay more for A than B would pay for D.

            Allocating “equal” budgets requires prior knowledge and comparison of the utility functions in question, but interpersonal comparisons of utility are impossible.

            Or, possibly, it could mean something like “The Kaldor-Hicks improvement from C getting A and D not getting B is, according to both C’s and D’s preferences, greater than the Kaldor-Hicks improvement from C not getting A and D getting B.”

            lol, don’t even get me started on Kaldor-Hicks

            Anyway, it’s like I said to start – some rationalists y’all are!

          • blacktrance says:

            I don’t think we can come to an agreement about this now, and we’re going in circles, so this’ll be my last response to you on this subject. Thank you for taking the time to explain your position.

            First, regarding opinions. Opinions and valuations/preferences are not the same thing, and I perhaps picked a poor example of an opinion. My original example was better – you’d get more of what you want if you defect, but you can still have the opinion that you shouldn’t defect. This would mean that your opinions and your preferences are separate. It doesn’t mean that you prefer not to defect, it means you’d be acting contrary to your preferences, because you’d get more of what you want if you defect. Getting more of what you want is a preference, not an opinion – that’s what the terms mean, at least as I’m using them.

            But I feel compelled to point out that I totally called this in my second comment. “Morality doesn’t mean doing whatever you want, it means doing what you ACTUALLY REALLY TRULY want!”

            I never disputed this. I was just more specific what “ACTUALLY REALLY TRULY want” means.

            Nothing real is persistent (or every moment is a self-contained eternity, I suppose, depending on how you choose to view time). When we speak as if it were otherwise, we’re making use of a linguistic convention that doesn’t capture how the world actually is. People can get by in their day-to-day lives without noticing, mostly, because this sort of mistake only causes problems at the margins. Like here, for example.

            Or for something to be the same thing as itself later doesn’t require it to be physically identical in both times. For example, if I spill a bucket of paint on a table, it’s the same table, even though it’s physically different now – not because I make the mistaken assumption that it’s physically identical, but because that’s not a prerequisite for it being the same. I admit that concept of persistence as we use it is difficult to formulate, but it refers to real configurations and effects. This includes personal identity – I (a singular entity) am the same person I was at age 13 from a personal identity perspective, even though physically I am very different, and that’s real, though it’s an abstraction. I think this is somewhat of a Typical Mind thing – I suspect that some people feel more personal continuity than others, though I’m not sure.

            Allocating “equal” budgets requires prior knowledge and comparison of the utility functions in question, but interpersonal comparisons of utility are impossible.

            There’s a sense in which interpersonal utility comparisons are impossible and a sense in which they aren’t. For example, if your friend Xerxes loves strawberries and your friend Ygnacio is indifferent to them, you know that Xerxes would get more utility from you giving them a strawberry than Ygnacio would. But also, allocating equal budgets doesn’t require prior knowledge – take away everything they have and give them both $100, and see what they do.

            Anyway, this is my last word for now.

    • Ialdabaoth says:

      Repeat after me:
      Life is not fair.
      Life has not ever BEEN fair.
      Life is not SUPPOSED to be fair.
      It is always unfair.

      Sure.

  17. The_Guy_Behind_The_Guy says:

    As someone not terribly unlike Barry in my younger years, but who eventually got married, in my opinion, the answer and differences between Harry and Barry have nothing to do with Nice Guy-ism or social justice or anything else, but with different skill levels.
    In my opinion, getting good at dating, becoming popular, or any other smart person task are not that different, and that time spent optimizing one is generally at the detriment of others.

    Harry got that training when he was young, figured out what worked, but Barry didn’t – he was busy getting good grades or building a model rocket or whatever. Harry now has X+ years of experience at that on Barry. The good looking & popular kids get pulled in to these early activities giving them an advantage — smarties have to push their way in – but Barry’s mom isn’t signing her smart kid up for ‘debutante’ or ‘gentleman’ classes to be somewhat facetious.

    The difference is that is is socially unacceptable to ask for dating help when you are older, but if Harry wanted to learn a skill (small engine repair, a bachelor’s degree), there are tons of schools he could conceivably apply to and pick up that skill and everyone would be proud. ‘Pick Up’ books are sort of like dating training, but they only seem to be focused on shortcuts rather than requiring the guy to put in the work, and learning nothing but shortcuts is usually not very successful. Also ‘being good’ at dating doesn’t mean you get to date whomever you want (which pickup books seem to imply–get the hawt chick!), as there are still other factors that determine such things.

    Dating is a skill – finding your type, noticing glances, initiating contact, knowing when to kiss, not coming off as ‘clingy’ – all things that require (possibly years of) practice.

    It has nothing to do with some general sense of ‘appreciation’ that is associated with feminism or Nice Guyism, or nice guy-ism. I appreciate astro-physics, but couldn’t actually accomplish any but the very most basic tasks.

    When you look at it this way, ‘cosmic fairness’ sort of disappears, and you can just admit that you need some practice and to get better at dating. At least that is what worked for me. In hindsight, I feel really bad for my first few dates, I’m sure it was like elementary school all over for them, but I was in my upper 20s.

    • aguycalledjohn says:

      What skills do you think comprise being good at dating?

      • The_Guy_Behind_The_Guy says:

        Dating is a skill – finding your type, noticing glances, initiating contact, knowing when to kiss, not coming off as ‘clingy’ – all things that require (possibly years of) practice.

        Plus: flirting (there are actually really good webisodes for this), initiating sexual contact, offering positive compliments (and knowing when they will be received positively), and also finding the person you are interested in as opposed to what media/Hollywood/whatever says we should expect.

        I’m not ‘a go where the women are’ guy (not exactly), but having outside hobbies where you engage with women about an activity on a regular basis (outside of work) also helps.

        If you can get dates by simply being legitimately nice (holding doors, getting things off the high shelf, etc) more power to you, but most of us need a reason for a longer contact, and a shared activity really helps. Doesn’t even really matter what the activity is. Women like most of the same stuff men do in varying levels of interest.

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  19. J. Quinton says:

    Here’s a wacky hypothesis.

    Feminism is about female empowerment. However, men getting (correct!) advice about how to improve their chances with women works against female empowerment. Assuming this is true — that men improving their mating market value weakens women’s mate choice (and thus “disenfranchises” women in the mating market) — what sort of responses to guys lamenting their poor success with women look like from feminists?

    For the record, one can probably ask the same question with the genders reversed too. It’s very… Moloch-ish. Still, I don’t know if it is *actually* true.

    • Roe says:

      If behaviours x y & z make a man more attractive, and men get advice to do x y & z, that would be more attractive men, which would be *more* choice of attractive mates. Yes?

      Competing hypothesis: Feminsts are women. Women feel a visceral disgust for “Nice Guys” – the real reason is something to do with status, maybe, but that conflicts with feminists self-image of not caring about status. Neo-cortexes fire up and make up a plausible-sounding story about “being entitled to sex” or whatever. Yay! Contempt justified.

      Importantly, PUA is about signal-faking, and I’m guessing women have strong “Ugh” feelings about fake signaling.

      For a “reverse gender” version of this (doesn’t map perfectly), see “Porn stars without makeup”.

      • \m/ social justice chaotic evil lich cancer mage \m/ says:

        If behaviours x y & z make a man more attractive, and men get advice to do x y & z, that would be more attractive men, which would be *more* choice of attractive mates. Yes?

        Yes, but mate attractiveness is only one dimension along which someone can affect you. If behaviors X, Y, Z make someone an attractive mate and also makes people around them (including their mates along other dimensions) then you have the basis for a collective action problem for modifying the behavior away from X, Y, Z. One can certainly imagine a world where feminism is an attempt by women to do this, and it is close to certain sections of the manosphere’s self conception of what they are attempting to do; if Ozy is correct that sluts are evil generally then there may be some essentially parallel process at work here.

        (N.B. though that I am hugging the hypothesis here, I don’t really think mate preferences are as strong as many people here implicitly do.)

        • Roe says:

          I’m not sure what you mean here, I’ll take a stab at it:

          Is it that X Y & Z might be perceived in ways that are unpleasant, but orthogonal to attraction? Like X might be sexist, Y might be arrogant, Z might be just plain mean?

          (I have a possible response to this, but I want to make sure I understand.)

          • \m/ social justice chaotic evil lich cancer mage \m/ says:

            Right – suppose that (again, hugging the hypothesis here) women find most attractive as partners men who go on to make ten other people just as miserable as they make their girlfriends happy, or whatever. Then each has an interest in men in general not having in those traits, even if they would be desirable in a boyfriend.

        • Roe says:

          Right – I think that’s a good point, and is actually a general level problem – I imagine you can map the same things onto “managers” and “employees” (ie. X Y & Z will get employees to work harder, but make them unhappy, but will make the manager’s boss happy)

          This does seem to be a problem with approaching – I think feminists & PUAs definitely disagree on what the contexts and rules are for appropriate approaches – you’ll have to annoy 10 women to find the one that’s responsive or whatever. (It occurs to me we used to have *really* specific courtship rules for this reason – oh well, Chesterton’s fence and all that)

          In other ways, it seems like feminists are at war with womens’ attraction triggers.

          • J. Quinton says:

            Right – I think that’s a good point, and is actually a general level problem – I imagine you can map the same things onto “managers” and “employees” (ie. X Y & Z will get employees to work harder, but make them unhappy, but will make the manager’s boss happy)

            Yes.

            It seems this whole kerfuffle is due to a fallacy that LWers should be familiar with: It’s like thinking that just because something is a superintelligence means it will by definition be ethical. But in this case, replace “superintelligence” with “attractive”.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Senpai, I see the color and pattern of your aura, it is you~ Tee hee~ Don’t think you can hide so easily…~ [yandere intensifies]

      • Just for the hell of it….

        Assume that malice is a pleasure in itself, and that people don’t put more thought than necessary into choosing the targets of their malice.

        There’s a long tradition of attacking men for not being masculine enough, and a number of feminists repurposed that tradition. (See also the ugly habit of claiming that a man who does some unattractive thing like owning guns is doing so as compensation for a small penis.)

        In other words, it’s all the patriarchy’s fault!

  20. LilaJ says:

    -Sex & romance ARE extras.
    -Platonic and familial love should be more valued by my society.
    -People need human connection but they often can’t bear too much of it.
    -More and more people are living alone these days, because more people can finally afford to. And they like it.

    -Personal relationships and professional ones are different, or at least I want them to be, and to be respected as such. I want people to respect the role of taste/chemistry in personal relationships, and recognize that merit/virtue is, as you say, “a rule-out criterion, rather than a rule-in criterion” in personal relationships such as friendships.
    -But I want professional relationships to be as merit-based as possible, without taste coming into it, at least for most kinds of jobs. Obviously sex work or psychotherapy, or similar jobs, would be at least partially taste-based.

    -The role of taste should be respected even in family relationships between adults (parent-child relationships are different). I don’t maintain personal relationships with the family members whose company I don’t enjoy. It’s not a punishment for them, or due to any lack of virtue on their part. I just don’t enjoy their company. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  21. Army1987 says:

    Have we set the record for the most comments on a SSC post yet?

  22. spandrell says:

    I’m starting to think that SA is running this blog as a groundbreaking new therapy paradigm. Non-neurotypicals can find this blog and find a bunch of people who are 10x as atypical as they are; making their own little quirks totally mainstream by comparison. It’s worth months of anti-anxiety medication.

    • Mark says:

      Please stop trolling.

      • Emile says:

        Doesn’t look like trolling to me, the effect he describes (weirdos being exposed to more weirdos and thus having less anxiety) seems plausible and seems like a good thing.

        • Mark says:

          I suppose the effect may be real, but it’s couched in a hyperbolic and personally hostile comment by a person who regularly leaves hyperbolic and personally hostile comments.

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        If that’s trolling, the joke’s on the troll, because the neurodiversity on display is legitimately one of the best things about this commentariat.

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  24. Caspian says:

    How to complain about being single while avoiding some of the consequences of that signaling: do it anonymously. Preferably in an anonymous forum so others are equally free from worrying about that signaling. But to avoid the discussion being derailled by the association you probably need to pick your anonymous forum carefully.

    I like the 4chan style of anonymity where you get a temporary pseudonym for each thread – I wonder if there’s any blog software that’s like that.

  25. \m/ social justice chaotic evil lich cancer mage \m/ says:

    A hypothesis: online feminists direct their (our) primary hate towards dorky men because
    (1) they are online, and
    (2) they are adherents of an explicit ideology at all,
    ergo
    (3) they are dorks themselves and
    (4) their interactions are almost entirely with dorks
    (5) the men they have cause to complain about, especially those online but also their circle of acquaintances who Schroedingerly threaten rape, are dorks

    Dorks hate “jocks” (this is the dork term for “non-dork,” reflecting the fact that dorks have not meaningfully interacted with non-dorks since high school*) but in an entirely abstract way. Dorks only deal with harassment from other dorks, fight other dorks over dork domains like Magic: the Gathering LARP forums or some other dumb dork shit, need to socially differentiate themselves from other subspecies of dork, &c. &c. Online feminists interact enough with MLP fans to have formed stereotypes about them that don’t apply to fans of Adventure Time, but have not interacted enough with fans of {whatever black box things non-dorks like, maybe football vs baseball or something} to intradifferentiate them in this way. I personally have encountered the whole “women don’t like nice guys” thing verbatim multiple times in the wild, but never really “yeah brah I am totally scoring all the bitches” (actually I realized that I have, from PUAs, who are dorks, so point stands) because my social risk factors are totally different for one than the other, and also as a man who tries to uphold feminism and prefers interacting with feminists (Hansonian explanation: the latter causes the former) I have zero chance of being mistaken for one and little for the other.

    *I may, of course, be generalizing from one example here, but I am basically in no epistemic position to say what jocks are like, on a day-to-day basis, after they graduate high school. Certainly they aren’t arguing with people online.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the crux of the issue is with #5. Which men in particular do they have cause to complain about?

    • a person says:

      What you’re saying about why feminists direct their wrath at nerdy men makes sense but it kind of bothers me how you seem to think that the world meaningfully divides into dorks and jocks, like we live in some sort of cheesy 80s teen movie.

      • \m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer \m/ says:

        yes – i mean to use “jocks” here as a category in the nerd imaginary. outgroup homogeneity, &c

    • Multiheaded says:

      You are correct, senpai, but it’s still a problem, and totally their fault. I have read them explicitly saying as much a few times, but they don’t realize/disavow how fucking mean they are. And when your group needs disavowal because simple denial just doesn’t cut it anymore, things are bad. Disavowal is for the rightists. We ought to be free of it.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Dorks hate “jocks” (this is the dork term for “non-dork,” reflecting the fact that dorks have not meaningfully interacted with non-dorks since high school*) but in an entirely abstract way.

      Hey now. We also hate suits. 😛

      • Ialdabaoth says:

        How many suits do you know that aren’t ex-jocks?

        I’ve known some, but they’re a minority.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          Hm, is that so? I went to a nerd high school, so “jocks” are basically an imaginary bogeyman for me.

          Living as I do right outside of a (not particularly nerdy) college campus, I had considered also including frat boys (“dudebros”) and sorority girls, but those seemed to be too obviously similar to the jock bogeyman to be worth separately listing. That said, thinking about it that way, I guess yeah, suits really do seem to be largely drawing from the same pool based on my experience.

          (This comment seems to keep getting caught in the spam filter, what is going on here. I am adding this extra paragraph in the hopes that maybe this time it will get through. Seriously, what’s up with this? Sorry for taking up space like this, but, what else am I going to do? Let’s try this a third time now.)

  26. aguycalledjohn says:

    The original tumblr post was from drewlsummit I just reblogged it (and endorse it).

    I’d also endorse Clarisse Thorn’s “Confessions of a Pickup artist chaser” which helped me a lot and attempts to construct an idea of “ethical game” taking the less toxic elements of PUA

  27. spandrell says:

    There’s a point that really needs making.

    Basically SA is saying:

    1. Feminists are evil
    2. Barry is a feminist
    3. But Barry is not evil and anybody who says Barry is evil is a nasty-pasty person and I will ban him.

    I take it sucks to be lonely, but the sort of compromises you make to have friends are frankly pretty ridiculous. You regard as friends people you consider evil, and have a girlfriend who denies being a girl.

    • aguycalledjohn says:

      I think you’re confused with your quantifiers,

      Scott is saying *some* feminists are evil (and gain social cover from the good ones).
      Barry is a feminist
      Barry is not evil
      Barry is one of the non-evil feminsts.

      Hope that clears it up.

      [I’m just going to ignore the ad hominen stufff at the end]

      • nydwracu says:

        Generic statements aren’t I-statements either! There’s a difference between “some cats have three legs” and “cats have three legs”. It is true that some cats have three legs; it’s not true that, as a generic statement, cats have three legs.

        “Feminists are evil”, “all feminists are evil”, and “some feminists are evil” are three different statements. Just as spandrell erred in reading the generic statement as an A-statement, you err in reading the generic statement as an I-statement.

        ——

        Just in case the background knowledge can’t be assumed:

        A-statement: “All X are Y.”
        E-statement: “No X are Y.”
        I-statement: “Some X are Y.”
        O-statement: “Some X are not Y.”

        ——

        Generic statements are confusing. Surely someone must have done some good work on them — but where? This looks promising, but I haven’t read it.

        • Anonymous says:

          My first thought is Putnam’s robot cats, but I don’t remember the exact context in which they arose.

        • Peter says:

          Generic statements – Sarah Jane Leslie has done some very important work on these. Some of them turn out to have some quite exciting properties. For example, the interpretation is different for “striking properties”, which usually turn out to be something dangerous or morbidly fascinating. Presented with “1% of mosquitos spread West Nile Virus”, people feel happy summarising this as “mosquitos spread West Nile Virus”, presented with “mosquitos spread West Nile Virus” people feel happy interpreting as “99% of mosquitos spread West Nile Virus”. Sentient mosquitos with humanlike linguistic abilities, however, would not be happy with this; apparently the rules for generation and interpretation of these depend on whether you identify with the generic in question.

          If you want to get meta, then say “bare plural generics cause offense”.

        • Caspian says:

          Cats have four legs by fuzzy definition. Having three legs makes it less catlike, or a less central example of a cat, but that can be outweighed by other catlike qualities.

          My concepts of word meanings was strongly influenced by “Neural Categories” and other parts of the sequence A Human’s Guide to Words.

          This doesn’t help quite so well with statements about feminists, that word is less well defined due to being political.

        • Zorgon says:

          The completionist in me demands a “U-statement”.

          “Unbound”, perhaps? “There may be X that are Y”. Where an I-statement implies that num(X in Y) > 0, and an O-statement implies that num(X in Y) = 0.

          Not sure what use it would be, though. And obviously it breaks all those lovely Boolean logic diagrams.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          Request: Instead of AEIO, can we just say “universal”, “negated universal”, “existential”, “negated existential”?

      • Sniffnoy says:

        (and gain social cover from the good ones).

        This bit is important. (Link to my long comment on the subject in the FAQ thread…)

    • nydwracu says:

      There really ought to be a name for the fallacy of reading generic statements as A-statements.

      Generic statement: “Cats have four legs.”
      A-statement: “All cats have four legs.”

      A-statements can be refuted with O-statements: if there exists an X that is not Y, then it’s false that all X are Y. My cat lost a leg before we got him, so the A-statement above is false: not all cats have four legs.

      O-statements do not refute generic statements. Cats have four legs.

      Generic statements place the burden of interpretation on the listener/reader. If the reader is reading something thedish to himself, he will unconsciously steelman it; if the listener is reading something elthedish, he will unconsciously strawman it, often by confusing it for an A-statement. (These are generic statements.)

      • aguycalledjohn says:

        Undistributed middle?

        • nydwracu says:

          I think that’s different — undistributed middle is about Aristotelian syllogisms built from AEIO-statements. Generic statements don’t fit into the fourfold scheme at all.

      • Andy says:

        My cat lost a leg before we got him, so the A-statement above is false: not all cats have four legs.

        Complete derail: If you do actually have a tripod cat and this is not a rhetorical example, it increases my opinion of you.

    • Muga Sofer says:

      Basically SA is saying:

      1. Feminists are evil

      [citation needed]

    • Ozy Frantz says:

      Not having anyone as friends whose ideologies you regard as evil seems like a very sad and empty life to me.

      • Alexander Stanislaw says:

        Your tolerance for abuse is very high.

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        …no? I just have found, over the course of my life, that whether someone will abuse me is distinctly uncorrelated with whether we happen to believe each other’s ideologies are evil. It is very well correlated with how nice a person they are, but there are nice people in all ideologies.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          Sorry, I was talking about your interactions on the internet not in real life. With the OP and similar commenters in particular. (eg. Piano I think).

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Piano and Spandrell are not my friends by any stretch of the means.

            They also have no ability to meaningfully hurt me, because they tend to insult what they find most upsetting about me rather than what I find most upsetting about me.

          • Alexander Stanislaw says:

            Sigh, I realize that it looks very much like I was commenting on the friend thing, but I was really only commenting on the fact that you choose to read and respond to their comments at all – I’m well aware that you aren’t friends

            I guess I just have a thinner skin than you. It would certainly hurt me even if I was able to shrug it off. I mean false accusations hurt a little, even if I know that they are completely untrue.

      • I agree – well, no, I don’t, but making allowances for what I think was hyperbole, I agree.

        Unfortunately, it seems to be becoming more common.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      This is neither necessary nor true nor kind. Reported.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      What aguycalledjohn said. I’m not asserting all feminists are bad, or that the definition of bad I would use here corresponds to anything like “evil”. Even if I were, I’m on the record saying that people’s evil political beliefs often coexist with them being pretty nice people whom I respect otherwise.

  28. Eli says:

    Yes, it is interspersed with poisonous beliefs about women being terrible, but if you have more than a quarter or so of a soul, it is pretty easy to filter those out and concentrate on the good ones.

    This criterion greatly underestimates how much decency and consideration for others is necessary to avoid being taken-in by ideologies built on anger when one is feeling angry at the world.

    To go to your example of the Hamas, since it’s one I live near: yes, you can look at Israel’s actions, but do you then expect Palestinians with “more than a quarter or so of a soul” to reject Hamas? Well, no: psychology doesn’t work that way. Angry, bitter, hurt people will often turn to those who stoke their rage rather than those who damp it. Palestinians don’t react to being bombed by thinking of how to become friends with Israel, and men don’t react to lifetimes of rejection by “women” (scare quotes because the actual group of women any given bitter man has interacted with is likely to be extremely filtered and optimized compared to the general female population of the planet) by not developing toxic, misogynistic beliefs.

    Barry is possibly the most feminist man who has ever existed, palpably exudes respect for women, and this is well-known in every circle feminists frequent. He is reduced to apophatic complaints about how sad he is that he doesn’t think he’ll ever have a real romantic relationship.

    Henry has four domestic violence charges against him by his four ex-wives and is cheating on his current wife with one of those ex-wives. And as soon as he gets out of the psychiatric hospital where he was committed for violent behavior against women and maybe serves the jail sentence he has pending for said behavior, he is going to find another girlfriend approximately instantaneously.

    Go back and re-read the parts of Ozy’s Manosphere FAQ she wrote so nicely for you where she said that SLUTS ARE TERRIBLE PEOPLE.

    I repeat, in big capital letters: INCREASED PROMISCUITY IS CORRELATED STRONGLY, ON A SOCIOLOGICAL IF NOT BIOLOGICAL LEVEL, WITH BEING A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO-GOOD VERY BAD PERSON.

    So yes, Henry “has a girlfriend”, probably quite a few of them, probably quite often. But he doesn’t have what Barry wants, which is a real, loving relationship. And he never will, because he’s partly a terrible person who doesn’t care about love, and partly because even if he gained the capacity to care about it on reflection, he has failed utterly to develop himself into the kind of person even remotely capable of maintaining a real relationship. He’s either a genuine piece of shit, or just incredibly self-crippled. There is no point being jealous of him for having what Our Kind don’t even want!

    As you said, finding a “soulmate” is in fact quite difficult. Being an interesting person who excites others as opposed to just a merely ok person who blends in with others… is difficult, and I suspect that’s the primary component to it. Think of it in Fun Theoretic terms: the opposite of happiness is not sadness but boredom, and your significant other should in fact be a major contributor to your Fun score. Just being not-an-asshole isn’t enough to excite people, sexually or otherwise. As to what we can do for the people who are just boring people, well… yeah, it’s a hard problem.

    (God I hate the word “soulmate”: it implies that good relationships are maintained by just fitting that well together rather than fit being a prerequisite to huge sums of hard work put into understanding, accommodating, and working with the other person as a whole human being. It’s the same bullshit being peddled by people who say There’s a Good Job for Everyone Out There Somewhere. CAUSALITY DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!)

    And of course, considering the issue as excitement and activity rather than decency explains quite a lot about why these terrible people get dates: they’re never boring.

    Also, that statistic about MIT grad students is fucking terrible: it fails to factor out foreign-born students who were raised in heavily gender-segregated societies and then sent over to the US to study.

    • blacktrance says:

      Henry “has a girlfriend”, probably quite a few of them, probably quite often. But he doesn’t have what Barry wants, which is a real, loving relationship. And he never will, because he’s partly a terrible person who doesn’t care about love, and partly because even if he gained the capacity to care about it on reflection, he has failed utterly to develop himself into the kind of person even remotely capable of maintaining a real relationship.

      Yes. Very much this. +1
      This is part of the reason why Henry’s situation isn’t enviable. Those who see him “having girlfriends” and judge him as successful aren’t looking deeply enough.

      • Anonymous says:

        Being in a position to procreate with multiple women and few consequences or restrictions on his behavior, not enviable? Hundreds of generations of successful male ancestors are laughing at this from someplace in the back of my head. Let’s not forget our evolutionary science. Henry is the very model of a modern male progenitor. That is what genetic success looks like. Yes, it is enviable.

        • blacktrance says:

          It’s a mistake to conflate genetic success with actual human success. You may pass your genes on, but never experience much of what makes life happy. That’s no success. Who cares about genetic success when you don’t have an emotionally fulfilling relationship?

          • Scott F says:

            Our lonely men have neither genetic nor actual human success.

            Henry has genetic success, probably considers himself to have human success, and you have an argument that he doesn’t really actually have success.

          • Anonymous says:

            Who cares about genetic success when you don’t have a fulfilling relationship? Well. Me, for one, and I assume a good portion of people throughout human history. My intuition is most humans.

            This is just a really bad argument. Who cares about financial success when you don’t have a fulfilling relationship? Everyone who wants money. Who cares about genetic success when you don’t have a fulfilling relationship? Everyone who wants to reproduce. Who cares about sexual success when you don’t have a fulfilling relationship? Everyone who wants to bang. I’m not sure I even understand what you take yourself to be saying.

          • blacktrance says:

            @Scott F:

            Regardless of whether Henry considers himself to have human success, it’s unlikely that he’s actually happy, because he lacks things that significantly contribute to it and has things that significantly detract from it. He doesn’t have loving fulfilling relationships – and he dates the kinds of people who’d date him, who are themselves unlikely to be desirable. And just judging from how Scott describes him, it’s likely that he actually leads a miserable life. Our lonely man may have problems, but they’re not nearly as bad as Henry’s problems.

            @Anonymous:

            So if you had a choice between passing on your genes and having a good, loving relationship, you’d choose to pass on your genes? It’s possible, but I’m skeptical. As for people throughout history, people had been taught to believe all kinds of crazy things in the past – it doesn’t mean they were right to do what they did.

            Who cares about financial success when you don’t have a fulfilling relationship? Everyone who wants money. Who cares about genetic success when you don’t have a fulfilling relationship? Everyone who wants to reproduce. Who cares about sexual success when you don’t have a fulfilling relationship?

            At the extreme, there’s a trade-off between financial success and fulfilling relationships, but not of the same kind where Henry’s “success” directly reduces his happiness – it’s like the difference between tradeoffs between different goods and burning your own money. A lot of people do want to reproduce, but in the right conditions – they don’t just want to pass on their genes as such. Specifically, they want to reproduce when they’re in a fulfilling relationship – few dream of being single parents, for instance

          • Anonymous says:

            Since when is it a choice?

            Say I want three things:
            – sex
            – babies
            – intimacy

            Say Henry gets two of these three and I get none.

            Can you explain the point of view from which he is “not enviable”?

          • Crimson Wool says:

            Can you explain the point of view from which he is “not enviable”?

            The bit where he’s going to serve jail time for beating his wife, and has in the past.

          • blacktrance says:

            Even if having all three of those things is better than having 0, 1, or 2 of them, that doesn’t necessarily mean that having one or two of those things is better than having none of them. For example, presumably you don’t just want babies, you want babies if you have intimacy (so you can raise them with your partner, in a good household), but don’t want them otherwise (babies + intimacy > intimacy > nothing > babies). Some people don’t want sex unless they have intimacy first (sex + intimacy > intimacy > nothing > sex). In Henry’s case, he has babies in a situation where it’s better to not have babies. And he doesn’t just not have intimacy – he has “anti-intimacy” that’s actively bad for him, as opposed to the mere lack of intimacy of the lonely person. There are romantic situations that are worse than nothing – Henry’s is a prime example.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think that’s a bit off the topic, really. The question at hand isn’t “Are violent sociopaths happier than the involuntarily celibate?” Nor is it “Are they better off, objectively speaking?” The questions are:
            – Are the Henrys getting something worth wanting? I think so. It’s not perfect, I imagine, but they get sex and they get to reproduce.
            – Are the Barrys getting these things? By supposition, no.
            – Is this worth pointing out, and is one a misogynist for doing so? It seems obvious to me that the answers to these questions are yes and no respectively.

            The actual circumstances of this particular Henry are only relevant as regards sexual, genetic, and intimate success. Whether he goes to jail for domestic abuse, or for late credit card payments or for hacking Dropbox or for denying the Holocaust I don’t care about. The post and the question is about whether and why there is a disparity in the three types of success I mentioned, and what the proper responses to this disparity are.

          • Anonymous says:

            You’re making a ton of assumptions in order to argue around one of the simplest points I can think of. It is egregious enough that I have to wonder if you are arguing in good faith. Because I think you are wrong anyway I will engage these assumptions, but I want it to be clear to observers that I don’t have to; Henry is getting stuff Barry wants and Barry is getting nothing Henry wants, so envy is completely appropriate.

            You seem to believe that all Henrys will end up paying for their antisocial behavior one way or another, and all Barrys are better off just going about their business without the Henry-style mess. But this is just completely misguided. Antisocial behavior is adaptive not just genetically but often socially as well. Furthermore, there’s no particular reason to think Henry wants intimacy. He doesn’t even seem capable of it. This isn’t some universally acknowledged “thing that makes life good”. Some people want it and others don’t.

            As for the Barrys. Well, they’re not just going about their business. They’re dealing with crippling mental illness and a pervasive sense of inferiority that no doubt infects the rest of their lives as well. They will have less armor against failures at school, at work, financial failures, even small difficulties running errands. They are probably suffering from horribly low levels of chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine. And there is no particular reason to think this will magically change. And what they see is that some of these things that are part and parcel of the life that would start to cure them have been given to Henrys. And you think they should not be unhappy about this because, well, maybe sex isn’t as fun when you don’t have the intimacy to go with it? I mean – do you understand the stakes of the problem?

          • blacktrance says:

            You’re making a ton of assumptions in order to argue around one of the simplest points

            I reject your assumptions. For example, babies are not desirable or undesirable per se, they’re desirable in certain circumstances and undesirable in other circumstances, and genetic success alone isn’t enough to tell you whether someone is successful.

            You seem to believe that all Henrys will end up paying for their antisocial behavior one way or another, and all Barrys are better off just going about their business without the Henry-style mess. But this is just completely misguided. Antisocial behavior is adaptive not just genetically but often socially as well. Furthermore, there’s no particular reason to think Henry wants intimacy. He doesn’t even seem capable of it. This isn’t some universally acknowledged “thing that makes life good”. Some people want it and others don’t.

            Antisocial behavior is adaptive – for what? For getting into relationships with certain kinds of people, sure. But the question is whether you should be trying to get into relationships with them in the first place. Also, it’s important what other effects being antisocial has on you – how you behave affects how you feel, and behaving antisocially makes one unhappy. As for whether Henry wants intimacy, he may not want it, but plenty of people don’t want what’s best for themselves – they’re inconsistent, irrational, following a bad social script, etc. Achieving intimacy would make Henry happier, whether he currently wants it or not. And if he’s actually incapable of it, then he’s missing out.

            As for the Barrys of the world, it’s true that sometimes they have significant problems – but acting like Henry would make their problems worse, not better. People have a tendency to think of their own problems as the worst ones, but if you look at it from the outside, lacking companionship is less of a problem than having really bad companionship, and being unhappy despite being a good person is better than being even more unhappy and being a bad person.

          • It will be unsurprising that I agree with Blacktrance and Eli.

            As for the Barrys. Well, they’re not just going about their business. They’re dealing with crippling mental illness and a pervasive sense of inferiority that no doubt infects the rest of their lives as well. They will have less armor against failures at school, at work, financial failures, even small difficulties running errands.

            I wouldn’t call my mental illnesses “crippling,” or even mental illnesses. I have a pervasive sense of inferiority (alongside my pervasive sense of greatness) and a number of self-destructive behaviors, but I think any reasonably complex person – certainly any good artists – is likely to have some traits.

            And yet, I also have my successes – I have two published graphic novels, which have been nominated for and won various awards. Earlier this year I won the Oregon Book Prize, against some ridiculously tough competition in my category. I co-own a nice house in a city I like. I’m at work on my third graphic novel, which already has a publisher, and I have a lot of good friends – enough so I could be going out with friends every night, if I wanted to. I have two growing nieces I have seen almost every day of their lives since they were born, and having that in my life provides me with a great deal more satisfaction than I would have guessed ten years ago.

            I am the only actual example of a “Barry” in this conversation – indeed, I am literally the prototypical Barry – and yet I am not as miserable or hopeless in life as your comment seems to suggest. Maybe the problem here is that your view of what can make life worth live is blinkered.

            You list three things a person might want:

            – sex
            – babies
            – intimacy

            Okay, those are three nice things, and if those three things are the only things that can provide you with happiness and a sense of worth, then you’re in trouble if you’re not good at getting either sex or romantic relationships.

            But in real life, those are not the only things that provide people with happiness and self-worth, nor are they guarantees of happiness. Indeed, I have known a guy who got laid CONSTANTLY, with a string of women much younger than him, including a porn star – and yet, he was and is miserable. I’ve also known some unhappy married couples, including (sadly) ones with kids.

            Sex, babies, and (romantic) intimacy are great. Put them on the list of things I want, in one form or another. But to that list add:

            -Health.
            -Good friends available to me.
            -Some degree of financial security
            -Regular trips to see my family
            -Being a daily part of my nieces lives
            -Being able to create my own comics
            -Enjoying my job

            These are all things I have, in greater or lesser quantities. I don’t think I’m mistaken or wrong to find them satisfying things.

            For a lot of normal people – including me – sex and romance isn’t the be-all and end-all of our lives. I care about romantic success, but it’s not the only thing in my life I care about, and if I was offered romantic success in exchange for giving up my other successes I’d say no.

            To say (as Scott F did) “Our lonely men have neither genetic nor actual human success” is ridiculous, if I’m an example of what’s meant by “our lonely men.”

          • Jaskologist says:

            Who cares about genetic success when you don’t have an emotionally fulfilling relationship?

            Evolution sure as hell does. Take it out a few generations and it’s the only thing that matters (quick, how emotionally fulfilling were your great-grandparents’ relationships?)

            You must breed the change you wish to see in the world.

            A world where only Henry breeds is a world that will soon be filled with Henries.

          • blacktrance says:

            Evolution doesn’t care about anything, it’s just an optimization process. There’s no reason why someone who doesn’t care about passing on their genes should care about it, for example. An evolutionarily optimal strategy may be very suboptimal for fulfilling human values. Also, we’re talking about what individuals should do – Henry having more descendants in a few generations doesn’t necessarily enter into it.

        • Anonymous says:

          (different anonymous)

          If you value babies as a terminal goal (genetic success) head to a sperm/egg bank.

          and for sexual success I suppose there is prostitution.

          if what you actually want is a relationship, don’t envy henry. if what you want is genetic or sexual success, purchase them separately

    • a person says:

      As you said, finding a “soulmate” is in fact quite difficult. Being an interesting person who excites others as opposed to just a merely ok person who blends in with others… is difficult, and I suspect that’s the primary component to it. Think of it in Fun Theoretic terms: the opposite of happiness is not sadness but boredom, and your significant other should in fact be a major contributor to your Fun score. Just being not-an-asshole isn’t enough to excite people, sexually or otherwise. As to what we can do for the people who are just boring people, well… yeah, it’s a hard problem.

      I don’t think this is actually true. There are a lot of ugly, boring, stupid, and mean people in the world, and yet over 90% of people marry by the time they’re 50. ~35% of first marriages end in divorce, so you end up with about 58% of people able to find someone to spend the rest of their life with. I think that human beings are designed so that if you can find someone who is attractive who also finds you attractive and will date you, have sex with you, etc., then your brain will execute the algorithm “fallinginlove.exe”. It has very little to do with the actual characteristics of the other person. And then if they also happen to have a compatible personality to yours, then you’ll reach “soulmate” level. I wonder what percent of women in my peer group could hypothetically become my soulmate. I would imagine that it’s higher than most people think.

      This sort of goes back to the question you always think about when you see a couple of two unattractive people in the mall or something holding hands. Are they actually attracted to the other person, and happy to be with them? Or are they consciously “settling”? I am guessing that it is the former, simply because their brain knows to execute fallinginlove.exe even if it’s a person that most would consider unattractive. I remember in middle and high school my friends and I would have sleepovers where we would stay up all night in our sleeping bags talking about girls and which ones were hot, and often my attractive / high-status friends would widely agree on the question, while my unattractive / low-status friends would have more idiosyncratic views, which is sort of anecdotal evidence for this phenomenon.

      • Vegemeister says:

        I think that human beings are designed so that if you can find someone who is attractive who also finds you attractive and will date you, have sex with you, etc., then your brain will execute the algorithm “fallinginlove.exe”.

        I object to the implication that my brain runs Windows.

    • grendelkhan says:

      Agreed. Henry’s girlfriends/wives sound like awful people who Barry would not want to date. Henry’s “success” lies entirely in being successful with other awful people. Barry does not want what Henry has, except on the most superficial level. I think this pretty much covers the “why is that jerkface doing better than me?” question.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      I never did post the parts I disagree with, but this basically is it — if we can’t be trusted to sort out good feminism from the bad, why can we be trusted to sort out good manosphere from bad?

      OK, actually, there’s a pretty good reason — the manosphere doesn’t have the moral authority that feminism does, so if we find part of it bad, we’re free to ignore it, rather than forcing ourselves to find it good as with feminism. Still, some things are genuinely hard problems and I’d like a more trustworthy source for those.

  29. Douglas L says:

    Great post. I’d like to expand on the notion of “fairness.” The romantically unsuccessful do experience an injustice. Their situation is unfair. But the unfairness isn’t rejection by people they desire. The unfairness is because society persistently mistreats them. And this mistreatment can be a big part of why they are unattractive and rejected in the first place.

    I will give some examples of how mistreatment can hurt attractiveness, focusing on men (because since male attractiveness is more dependent on social skills, it may be easier to disrupt):

    1. Bullying towards introverted nerdy boys can lead to lowered confidence and social skills as a teenager, placing them on a poor trajectory with girls. Flirting is a social skill that takes time to develop, and bullied/excluded boys may miss the boat for developing it. Knee-capping people’s social skills and sexual confidence at a young age is unfair. For some people, this mistreatment persists into adulthood. There are many factors in unattractiveness, but I would argue that some types of unattractiveness are caused not (just) by the individual’s traits, but are scars of past abuse.

    There is a vicious cycle of “being different, weird, shy, short, unathletic, unmasculine, non-neurotypical…” —> “being bullied, made fun of, or treated as low status” —> “becoming more different, weird, and socially isolated” —> “being excluded even more and treated as even lower status.” In Shyness and Love, Gilmartin calls this the wishbone effect.

    In sum, the inborn social stimulus value created by (1) native temperament, and (2) physical attractiveness, serves to get young boys started on either the right foot or on the wrong foot relative to their peers. As figure 2 illustrates, those who commence school at age five with an adverse social stimulus value tend to be avoided, ignored, or bullied. And as a consequence such disadvantaged children learn to avoid people; and they learn to associate the very thought of informal socializing with thoughts of mental pain and anguish. As such, their interpersonal skill deficits and their social self-confidence deficits relative to their peers become worse and worse with each passing year. In addition, their social stimulus value similarly becomes ever worse with each passing year. This is the essence of how boys become chronically love-shy adults.

    Yes, the shyness itself is learned. But one cannot begin to correctly understand how this learning takes place without understanding and appreciating the fact that the inborn temperament factors represent indispensable catalysts and prerequisites for this negative learning to get under way in the first place. The learning which results in intractable love-shyness could never get started in the first place in the absence of the twin catalysts of (1) an inborn temperament of adverse social stimulus value, and (2) less than pleasing physical attractiveness/handsomeness.

    2. Some groups of men (especially smart, middle-class men) get messages about dating and women which are counter-productive. For example, these men may be told that attractiveness is mainly about prosocial behavior. Women’s desires are lied about or mystified, and attempts to understand them are shut down (e.g. “every women wants something different,” while trivially true, is used to block discussion). Whether intentionally lying or merely aggressively misguided, these messages are so harmful that they should be considered mistreatment. It’s unfair when society socializes you in a way that predictably sabotages your chances at relationships.

    In a society with complex mating rituals as a precondition for companionship, it’s the responsibility of society to give a good faith effort to educating people on how to participate. If you get bad dating advice from a single friend, that’s not an injustice, but if you get bad dating advice from virtually everyone you ask, then that’s a failure of society.

    3. Various groups of people, ranging from hypermasculine guys to feminists, love crapping on lonely men or low-status men and calling them losers. This treatment doesn’t help those men be more attractive.

    Society treats certain groups of men unfairly by allowing them to be bullied, giving them mistaken information about dating, and then kicking them when they are down.

    Men don’t “deserve” that women date them, but they deserve to not suffer confidence-destroying bullying, and to not be deceived about women’s preferences. It is not unfair when individual women reject men. It is unfair when men’s attractiveness is harmed by mistreatment across his entire developmental trajectory, contributing to his rejection.

  30. Eli says:

    Such a response would be so antisocial and unjust that it could only possibly come from the social justice movement.

    My surprisal spiked here. Isn’t that the response of the libertarian/anarcho-capitalist movement?

    • blacktrance says:

      I think the joke is that social justice people are acting in a way typically associated with libertarians.

    • Princess_Stargirl says:

      I believe the most common response is something like “in a truly free market he would easily be able to support himself with only one job.”

      clarity: I am not supporting this argument.

  31. Someone says:

    The author has no interest in engaging in dialogue and finding a solution to the problem (either the real or the stated one). He has no interest in listening to criticism, he is only dismissive. If he is not deeply misogynist himself, he certainly perpetuates misogynist norms *hardcore* with this article. Here’s why I make these assesments:

    He sarcastically asserts how ridiculous it would be to tell the victim (a poor black labourer) that his problems are his fault, when he is in the disadvantaged group. Then he positions men who are (the writer assumes) not misogynist as the victims, and women who are trying to speak up against the abuse they have faced as perpetrators. He makes no acknowledgement that it is the systemically degraded women who are in the victim’s position as a social group.

    Is it okay for me to complain about how affirmative action for nonwhite racial groups disadvantages me, especially without so much as acknowledging that I in the majority of my life have incredible privileges over those people? Or would that reproduce a harmful dynamic and perpetuate racist culture?

    “Such a response would be so antisocial and unjust that it could only possibly come from the social justice movement.” This is an unexplained, dismissive insult (from someone on the highest plane of every field) to those who seek to level uneven playing fields (including women who seek to end the abuse they experience). Reiterated: “And I made the horrible mistake of asking this question out loud, and that was how I learned about social justice.” (The implication, especially given the contextual derision, being that these people are crazy and dismissible.) Reiterated with the patronizing characterization of “adorable.” Reiterated with the assertion that the people he is complaining about who make the criticism of entitlement are “chaotic evil undead lich necromancers.”

    “… feminist war on ‘nice guys’.” Assigning ill-will to the criticizers of masculine entitlement expresses malice towards those women. This also disregards that there is a (greater, more expansive, louder, and more destructive) misogynist “war” (to use his term for systemic malicious intent to disvalue and dominate) against all women.

    “People were coming up with reasons to mock and despise men who were sad about not being in relationships years before…” This is just trying to dismiss the womens’ criticisms of male entitlements by suggesting that there is some misandrous ulterior motive.

    “Feminists talk about male privilege and misogyny, manospherites talk about female privilege and misandry. Some people try to deny the symmetry.” Clear, explicit denial that women are systematically discriminated against, degraded, dominated and oppressed by the patriarchy. (If any men want to argue this point, we can have a separate conversation and for now you can ignore this particular part of my argument and just pay attention to the rest.)

    The “one line disproof” reduces the criticism to literally being “they just want sex” and uses that as justification to dismiss it, completely ignoring that the criticism contains understandings of cultural norms and motivations and is not itself reducing those misogynist men to purely-sex-driven morons. Straw (privileged) man.

    “I know that feminists are not always the biggest fans of evolutionary psychology” is a generalizing and utterly false statement used to discredit these women’s intelligence. (Which if that isn’t a bias problem enough already, perpetuates the “women aren’t as smart as men” nonsense.) Oh, and he talks about how intelligent men have it worse off sexually, saying nothing about how intelligent women are rendered by men (on an average and as a class, and, as demonstrated, by this particular individual) as intellectually inferior.

    Explicitly and intensely dismissive insult to women who seek to end their mistreatment: “… the rather thin line between “feminism” and “literally Voldemort”.

    (And if you genuinely want to have a dialogue, you open up questions, you don’t just make sarcastic, patronizing, insulting, derisive dismissals of the people you are “criticizing” — what this means is you’re actually just being defensive.)

    In the whole article, women are framed as either sexual conquests (who deny him access) or hostile assailants. Women are strongly presented as bad, and men are strongly presented as victims of their goodness.

    And his solution is that we should tell men how to be more the way patriarchal society wants them to be? His solution is to capitalize on the patriarchy that is causing these problems by reinforcing it?

    He makes no acknowledgement that some (if not the majority) of men who make such complaints are actually expressing patriarchal, misogynist entitlement.

    He goes beyond failing to check his male privilege (which is what it would be to just post the argument with no sarcastic emotional appeals and no qualifications and acknowledgements of that privilege and of women’s perspectives) and dismisses women who ‘go too far’ in expressing the suffering that they have experienced at the hands of people who consistently degrade them.

    He is blaming women (particularly those who are trying to rise up against their oppressors) for his suffering, saying nothing of how women suffer at the hands of men.

    He is effectively telling women to shut up and listen to what he (a man) has to say (about patriarchy, and about women’s experiences in it [saying they’re wrong about the degradation they face]). Whether it’s his intent or not (which I have very high confidence it is, though certainly unconsciously), he is reproducing the dynamic of men having the ‘right’ to put women in their place.

    Again, I acknowledge that there is merit (though comparatively or very low value) in (what he claims is) his argument about non-dominant men being less fortunate in their sexual and romantic endeavours with women than those more overtly misogynist (and this problem is solved through feminism, through dismantling the patriarchal society that values machismo over kindness). It is unfair. But this article is even more unfair, and reinforces the very misogynist norms that need to be dismantled for his stated problem to come to an end (along with the other really serious, non-privilege-pity-party problems of misogynist culture).

    • Anonymous says:

      I couldn’t get through most of this drek. But it’s not “the patriarchal society that values machismo over kindness”. It is women.

      • Steve Johnson says:

        Steve Sailer’s observation is that when feminists are angry at men they blame “the patriarchy” and that when they’re angry at women they blame “society”.

    • Matthew says:

      Poe’s Law now definitely applies to SJWs.

      Can’t tell if this is a parody or just self-parody.

    • Anon says:

      Can I ask: how did you come across this post? Because it’s pretty clear you’re not accustomed to community norms here (for example, Scott is, like, here, and it’s really weird to see “the author of this post”). A lot of your criticisms make assumptions about his state of mind and motivations which are not only unjustified but are, in the context of the rest of SSC, kinda silly. And you are at least coming across as if you expect Scott or his audience has never seen and taken seriously this sort of criticism before, which is just… not the case.

      • Scott F says:

        The poster retreated to the wrong motte!

      • Multiheaded says:

        :terror:

        I MIGHT BE TO BLAME FOR THIS.

        WOE IS UNTO ME.

        “Someone” clearly followed the link that got me banned from The SJ Space. Yep, this one’s on me.

        • Anonymous says:

          She found it when her boyfriend posted it on Facebook, so I think you’re not to blame.

          • Multiheaded says:

            Hm. I will not pretend that I am not tempted to make (a more politically correct version of) the predictable comment here.

    • Crimson Wool says:

      Explicitly and intensely dismissive insult to women who seek to end their mistreatment

      Feminists ≠ “women seeking to end their mistreatment.”

      Feminists are voluntary members of a political movement, including men and women. Many women who seek to end their mistreatment are not feminists; many feminists do not seek to end any mistreatment anyone has suffered. This equivocation is a rhetorical flourish regularly employed by feminists, but is neither accurate nor fair.

      Hope this helps.

    • Ialdabaoth, Unwitting Servant of Moloch, Dread Agent of He-Who-Swims-Ever-Leftward says:

      Oh hai!

      Did you know you’re invading someone else’s safe space to explain to them how their feelings are wrong?

      Just thought you should be aware.

      • Michael R says:

        He he, spot on.

      • Luke Somers says:

        He doesn’t need a safe space because he’s male… right?

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          ಠ_ಠ

          • Matthew says:

            I wasn’t familiar with this emoticon until Scott used it in the book review. I can’t tell if it’s like actual applause or orsonwellesclapping. I also don’t understand what the facial expression it represents is supposed to be. Help?

          • Wulfrickson says:

            Matthew: see here.

          • Matthew says:

            Ok, but I thought both Scott Aaronson and Luke Somers were being ironic (and in Aaronson’s case, hilarious). Either the emoticon is also used ironically (?) or SA and Ialdabaoth need to crank up their ironometers.

          • Wulfrickson says:

            My guess is that Ialdabaoth is using it either ironically, or to say “don’t joke about that sort of belief when people may take you seriously.” Can’t figure out what Scott thinks it means, though.

          • Luke Somers says:

            I was being sarcastic. I suspect Ialdaboth meant ‘sarcasm detected’, just like Scott certainly did in the book review.

    • The Do-Operator says:

      He sarcastically asserts how ridiculous it would be to tell the victim (a poor black labourer) that his problems are his fault, when he is in the disadvantaged group. Then he positions men who are (the writer assumes) not misogynist as the victims, and women who are trying to speak up against the abuse they have faced as perpetrators. He makes no acknowledgement that it is the systemically degraded women who are in the victim’s position as a social group.

      I think this paragraph highlights one of the core reasons why rationalists and social justice people sometimes misunderstand each other. From my perspective, it looks obvious that you need to think more carefully about Ways That Words Can Be Wrong, in particular how words are Disguised Queries

      Imagine that an additional property of the objects is “victimization”. Blue eggs tend to be victims, whereas red cubes tend not to be victims. However, a non-negligible proportion of the red cubes are victims. I believe you are insisting on fully answering the disguised query about whether the objects are victimized by answering whether they are “bleggs” or “rubes”. In fact, it seems you are using a concept of victimization that ties the definition of victimization to whether the object is blue and egg-shaped.

      Any rationalist worth his salt will object to this, regardless of whether he sympathizes with your core value that we should do something to end victimization.

      • nydwracu says:

        The number of times I’ve seen progressives jump from “members of X have it worse by metrics A, B, C… than nonmembers of X” to “members of X have it worse than nonmembers of X” to “literally every single member of X has it worse than any nonmember of X”…

        • The more sophisticated version is “Group x is better off than group y, therefore, no matter how badly off a member of group x is, they’d be worse off if their disadvantages were combined with being a member of group y.”

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            even that fails, though, if (for example) group Y is relatively homogenized, and group X consists of a few super-well-off and a vast number of horribly disadvantaged.

            In which case, it is true that all of the highly advantaged are group X, and that everyone who’s doing better than a member of group Y is a member of group X, but it is NOT true that the average member of group X would be made better by being put into group Y instead.

        • Multiheaded says:

          I swear I will continue to try and clamp down on (the more blatant and weak kind of) this bullshit with the Stick of Intersectionality (which has to be wielded kinda sideways, but can do the trick) wherever I find it.

        • I hope that intersectionality will eventually grind so fine that people will pay attention to individual situations, but might be too optimistic. After all, if you pay attention to individuals, it’s much harder to put us vs. them coalitions together.

    • Multiheaded says:

      Hey, “Someone”. This kind of shit is why I was not long for the Fempire. You only talk at people. Here people might occasionally yell (I certainly do), but they also talk to each other, across the lines. I fucking hate many of the shitlords here, but for this comment I find myself on the same side as they are. This is not argument. This gets you nowhere.

      • \m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer \m/ says:

        i got banned years ago for making fun of voting lol

        (no hard feelings tho)

    • Multiheaded says:

      “I know that feminists are not always the biggest fans of evolutionary psychology” is a generalizing and utterly false statement used to discredit these women’s intelligence. (Which if that isn’t a bias problem enough already, perpetuates the “women aren’t as smart as men” nonsense.) Oh, and he talks about how intelligent men have it worse off sexually, saying nothing about how intelligent women are rendered by men (on an average and as a class, and, as demonstrated, by this particular individual) as intellectually inferior.

      For fuck’s sake, NO. This was not about how your people CANNOT into science! This was about how you MISTRUST AND CHALLENGE this area of research! This was about online feminists aligning themselves with actual epistemic criticism of the assumptions behind applying evolutionary psychology to modern romance. For an example of this criticism done right, see Oligopsony/”Chaotic Evil” in the comments here. This dude is fighting for you, and doing a hell of a job. In fact, he’s fighting instead of you. You are doing this incredibly wrong and hurting your misguided cause.

      Godfuckingdamnit.

      • Ialdabaoth says:

        If you’re going to do your new schtick right, you must learn to channel your rage into lovingkindness. It is not difficult.

        Remember that ‘Someone’ is a person, infected by a toxic meme. Your hatred is towards the meme, not just because of the damage it is making Someone do to others, but because of the damage it is doing to Someone. You must cut it out with a surgeon’s touch and then cleanse the wound with a mother’s care.

        Scouring the wound with fire should only be done in the field when there are no better tools, and should damn well not be done by someone who hasn’t learned proper surgical care. So practice being kind.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Yeah, I’m already trying… elsewhere, in milder engagements. But I haven’t really finished venting yet, though. It was the emotional intelligence in Scott’s post that convinced me to flip, after all, not the (questionable and incomplete) reasoning.

      • Wulfrickson says:

        Multi, I just want to tell you that however much not-entirely-undeserved shit you get here, you are one of the reasons I can read the comment threads and stay sane. So thanks.

    • m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer m/ says:

      This comment is boring, but correct; hence why here, where we compete to come up with the most interestingly wrong ideas, it gets dogpiled.

      • Anon says:

        The OP is neither boring nor correct, and its getting dogpiled has far more to do with the clear violations of community standards for discussion than its accuracy or lack thereof.

        • Zorgon says:

          What anon said. It’s not so much a comment as a hit piece. I’m mildly worried about the degree of inferential gap required for anyone to think that was “boring but correct”.

          • It’s not so much a comment as a hit piece.

            This seems like a rather bizarre dichotomy. “Boring comment” correctly describes its form, just as “correct hit piece” describes its content.

            I’m mildly worried about the degree of inferential gap required for anyone to think that was “boring but correct”.

            The comment was nothing but a recitation of cliches coming from a perspective that is standard-order, hence boring. Substantively, its major points were

            1) fuck you

            Not truth-apt, so neither correct nor incorrect.

            2) Scott has a rage-boner for feminism

            Obviously, indisputably correct.

            3) patriarchy do real

            Locally politically incorrect, globally factually correct.

            There were some minor factual inaccuracies, but for that I refer interested parties to the discussion on AEIOU sometimes Y statements.

          • Crimson Wool says:

            That’s not even close to the entirety of the information contained within it, though. For example, there’s also:

            1) It is okay when bad things happen to members of “socially dominant” groups (a section Someone gets to define for themselves and then we must all accept), or at least they shouldn’t complain about it. Well, maybe they can complain about it, if they flagellate themselves first and go “but everyone else has it so much worse than me, I’m sorry I’m a neurotypical able-bodied white heterosexual cis male,” as is customary in feminist circles.

            2) Vehemently disagreeing with feminists on a subject is roughly equivalent to hating women who complain about being abused.

            3) “Nice guys” are entitled and all the other stuff Scott counters in the article itself (PS: no explanations or proof for this, as is typical of feminists making broad claims about culture).

            4) Scott is a misogynist (“or at least, regurgitates misogynist ideas hardcore”).

            There’s probably a couple others I’m forgetting or missing.

          • Well, maybe they can complain about it, if they flagellate themselves first and go “but everyone else has it so much worse than me, I’m sorry I’m a neurotypical able-bodied white heterosexual cis male,” as is customary in feminist circles.

            Is that customary? Because in twenty years of online writing about feminism, I can’t recall even once apologizing for being a “neurotypical able-bodied white heterosexual cis male.” Nor can I recall even once doing that in face-to-face discussions, when volunteering at feminist orgs, or in any other context. Because that would be a ludicrous thing to do.

          • Watercressed says:

            “patriarchy do real” seems like a motte for the thoughts expressed in the comment.

          • Crimson Wool says:

            Is that customary? Because in twenty years of online writing about feminism, I can’t recall even once apologizing for being a “neurotypical able-bodied white heterosexual cis male.” Nor can I recall even once doing that in face-to-face discussions, when volunteering at feminist orgs, or in any other context. Because that would be a ludicrous thing to do.

            Nah, I’m exaggerating for effect.

            [deleted unhelpful largely irrelevant bit]

            e: an example would be feminist blogs (written by men) that begin with something to the effect of, “I’m a man, and I have heaps of Male Privilege and Patriarchal Indoctrination not to see women as people, but here’s what I think.”

            e2: which is, to clarify, apparently what Someone wants Scott to do, as seen in quotes such as:

            Is it okay for me to complain about how affirmative action for nonwhite racial groups disadvantages me, especially without so much as acknowledging that I in the majority of my life have incredible privileges over those people? Or would that reproduce a harmful dynamic and perpetuate racist culture?

  32. Drew says:

    I’ll propose a model:

    Visible displays of emotion trigger empathy. Empathy creates a sense of emotional connection. That connection is necessary for attraction.

    The case-studies from the post all seem to fit this. People are attractive in as far as they visibly emote near their potential partners.

    I’ll predict that Henry (the abusive dude) is impulsive and shows his emotions pretty freely, especially around women. Mirror neurons fire. People feel things (even if they’re bad). And attraction happens.

    In contrast, thoughtful introspective guys tend to under-emote. Especially when they’re trying to be polite and considerate. The mirror neurons never get a chance to fire. “There’s no connection”

    Then, the “Nice Guys are Entitled” thing could be salience-bias. All the nice guys that come to mind for a dating article are memorable because they pushed the issue. The other ones just don’t come to mind.

    And there’s a really brutal failure mode around being a “good listener”. The quinessential story is something like: A girl has a bad breakup. She goes to her male friend for emotional support. He empathizes (and feels attracted to her). He tries to be supportive by not showing his own feelings.

    My prediction/advice is that a lot of pleasant, introverted guys would benefit by emoting more visibly. Especially around people who haven’t learned to pick up on individual tells.

    • Ialdabaoth, Unwitting Servant of Moloch, Dread Agent of He-Who-Swims-Ever-Leftward says:

      WARNING: Depression/sadness/helplessness may FEEL like emotions, but THEY ARE NOT. If you attempt to emote towards girls, make sure that you emote power and agency, even if you are constantly feeling the opposite.

      In fact, if you consistently feel depressed or helpless, don’t try to emote near women. It won’t end well.

      • Anonymous says:

        haha. Again, so perfect. “Emote” – as long as it’s the right emotions.

        The worst date of my life I tried to be straight-up honest about how I was feeling at the time. Still feel sorry for her about that.

      • Drew says:

        WARNING: Depression/sadness/helplessness may FEEL like emotions, but THEY ARE NOT. If you attempt to emote towards girls, make sure that you emote power and agency, even if you are constantly feeling the opposite.

        I think we’re working from very different senses of ’emote’. Perhaps I should re-word as, “give people a sense of your transient inner life and emphasize your short-term reaction to it.”

        This would be less “Happy/sad” and more “I love this place because it makes the best burritos ever!” or “I just watched Gili. It has to be the most idiotic movie ever created.” The specificity is important, as are things that people can react to.

      • Princess_Stargirl says:

        My opinion is the most important part of attracting people is obviously not being a pushover. The main way a person will determine how much a pushover you are is by how you interact with them. (I will now focus on potential girlfriens).

        I don’t think you need to be always be strong. But if a girl pisses you off tell her to go fuck herself. You have better things to do than be disrespected by someone (I personally include reading blogs on the internet, but don’t tell her that).

        I actually think its totally fine to admit her actions hurt you badly and you are crying. As long as you follow this up by saying that because she hurt you, she is out of your life and you will spend your time with people who treat you correctly. Of course if she properly apologizes and seems sincere you can consider letting her back into your life, but if she isn’t highly apologetic she needs to go.

        None of this requires manipulation, just honesty and self respect. You really shouldn’t want to be around people who hurt you. Some people automatically treat everyone with respect, but others do not. If you want to be friends with the later type of person you need to make the conditions for your continued friendship very clear, and reflexively and violently stand by them (btw one of my best and most wonderful friends is in the later category, she is very nice to me but occasionally pretty snarky to many other people). You need to make the conditions for your continued friendship clear.

  33. I’ve been bewildered by the red pill claim that women prefer anti-social men (and are always looking to trade up for status) because the two social circles I know the most about (my family and a bunch of folks from middle-Atlantic sf convention fandom) simply aren’t high drama. The men aren’t awful people.

    So, would people care to say what proportion of women prefer anti-social men? How anti-social do you have in mind?

    • Roe says:

      The red pill claim, to be specific (by my interpretation of “strongest red pill claims” IMO) is that men displaying “dark triad” traits meet with a lot of success in short-term encounters. Which is apparently true.

      Women generally don’t marry dark triads, unless they have very bad histories and poor personal boundaries.

      Here’s the study the ‘sphere references on this:
      http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2215&context=soss_research&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.ca%2Fscholar%3Fq%3Ddark%2Btriad%26btnG%3D%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%252C5#search=%22dark%20triad%22

      (This doesn’t answer your question exactly, but hopefully the issue is a little less mysterious)

      • What would you say is the typical red pill claim about women?

        My impression is that red pillers don’t specify a proportion of hypergamous women, but they do imply that all women are like that and/or that the proportion is so high that letting women choose their partners will be a disaster for society.

        • Roe says:

          I would say the *useful* red pill claim about women that seems to be *generally true* and has a lot of explanatory power, is that women are sexually attracted to men who are confident and socially dominant. This addresses the biggest problem (IMO) that “Nice Guys” have in the mating market, which is that they’re socially shy. And there’s lots of actionable things you can do to build confidence and train yourself to be more socially dominant (without actually becoming an asshole).

          Hypergamy has drifted from it’s original definition. As the Red Pill uses it, it’s just women’s desire to get the best possible deal she can on the mating market. Which is really just… intuitively obvious. Qualities that specify “best possible deal” may vary from women to women but they are tightly clustered, and they are different for short-term and long-term relationships.

          The “disaster for society” thing unpacks like this: civilization was built by beta males – that is, guys who weren’t charismatic or exciting but who had excess resources with which they could purchase mating opportunities. It’s just a fact that babies take resources and attention, there are no reliable birth control options, so all women are hypergamous (that is, they trade beauty & reproductive capacity for resources).

          Modernity has brought with it a re-orientation in the mating market – women have less need for resources, so there’s a price correction towards external markers of genetic fitness (“alpha”).

          The problem is – beta males now have no particular reason to produce more than they consume.

          I don’t particularly endorse this as a “disaster” – but I do think it’s a meaningful problem for “beta males”, and I look at single-motherhood stats and I get a little worried.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I think “hypergamy” refers to a woman’s desire to marry/mate up. IE: A woman would be much more bothered by being with a man who is dumber or poorer than she is than the reverse.

            In red-pill land, they would also say that woman are hypergamously constantly on the lookout for opportunities to trade up, which may relate more to the current lack of societal controls on female impulses than anything else.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Here’s Rollo Tomassi elaborating on his theory of hypergamy just yesterday.

          • Roe says:

            re: hypergamy

            Yes – the original definition strictly said “women tend to seek to marry up in social status”

            The red pill has co-opted and reworked the term to calibrate it against the current sexual marketplace. Much of the accepted language is reworked in this way.

  34. blacktrance says:

    “Why am I not doing as well as Henry?” is a question based on false premises. If you have never dated and never had any remotely romantic contact with anyone, you are doing better than Henry. As I said in a comment on the anti-Heartiste FAQ, what you get out of a relationship depends on what you put in it. If you act like Henry, what you get out of it is something like what Henry gets: 5 divorces, at least as many relationships with the kinds of people who’d date someone like him, etc. It’s not a pleasant life. You say that he has no trouble with women. That’s accurate in the sense that he has little trouble with getting into relationships with women per se, but if the kinds of relationships that he has are “no trouble”, then it’s probably better to have trouble. It’s highly unlikely that you’d want to date anyone who’d have a relationship with Henry, in fact, it’s likely you’d find that a relationship with most of them would be a significant net negative.

    To describe it as an excessively general model, suppose that there are three populations: A, B, and C, in that order of desirability for dating. (So far, it sounds like the PUA alpha/beta/omega model, but I promise that this is different.) Dating an A is positive, dating a C is negative, and dating a B is somewhere in between. However, Cs are also bad decisionmakers, so they end up dating other Cs even though they’d be better off dating no one (they can only date Cs because no one else would date them). If you put “likelihood of being in a relationship” on the y-axis and “quality of the individual” on the x-axis, the resulting graph would look like a parabola. But if you put “utility derived from relationship” on the y-axis and “quality of the individual” on the x-axis, you’d get a positively sloped line that crosses 0 utility at Population B.
    As a B, it’s a mistake to look at a C who has relationships and think they’re doing better than you in the same way that an A is. Perhaps both As and Cs have more relationships than Bs, but the value of the relationships is completely different: As’ relationships are positive, but Cs’ relationships are negative. Rather than thinking “Why am I not as successful as a C?”, it’s more correct to think “I may not be doing as well as an A, but at least I’m doing much better than a C”.

    It doesn’t seem like this is a case of things being unfair. You’re better than Henry, and your situation is better than his. That’s pretty straightforwardly fair.

    tl;dr: Don’t be jealous of people who are doing worse than you, even if by one metric they’re similar to people who are doing better than you.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      This seems like a red herring. If a nice person could replicate Henry’s success at starting relationships, they could avoid his failures at continuing them. Unless you believe that the same quality that makes Henry able to start relationships also necessarily makes them fail.

      Compare: “Bob’s doesn’t work hard, but parents gave him a huge inheritance, which he then frittered away.” One can still say Bob is luckier than you are, or has easier access to money, or that it’s upsetting that he got more money even though he doesn’t work hard.

      • blacktrance says:

        Unless you believe that the same quality that makes Henry able to start relationships also necessarily makes them fail.

        This is exactly what I believe. The women that Henry dates aren’t randomly selected from the general population, they’re the kinds of people who are either okay with how he is, or, worse, see his negative qualities as positive. Most of these people are not ones with whom you’d have a happy, satisfying relationship. Being attracted to Henry is strongly correlated with all sorts of negative traits – impulsiveness, irrationality, etc. And those are bad traits for a relationship.

        • Anonymous says:

          Then put the point in these words: “Why are there a lot of irrational, impulsive women, yet none with traits x, y, and z which would attract them to me, and why am I made out to be as bad as or worse than Henry when I bring this up?”

          • blacktrance says:

            People rarely bring this up. They complain about how they can’t get into a relationship, and they complain about how Henry does, but they rarely make the connection between Henry’s relationships and irrational impulsive women. If you bring it up as “Why is no one interested in me?” without all the baggage around it, I think you’d be unlikely to get a negative response – the irrational impulsive women have nothing to do with it, because you don’t want to date them anyway and replicate Henry’s “successes”.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            If you bring it up as “Why is no one interested in me?” without all the baggage around it, I think you’d be unlikely to get a negative response

            I challenge you to make a fetlife account and try this in “Ask a Woman Questions.”

            Try the experiment.

          • Matthew says:

            To be fair*, a self-identified dom essentially asking “why am I pathetic?” on Fetlife might be a slightly different context than a vanilla male asking this in a nonsexual setting.

            *I feel like we’re playing cards in the comments, and I’m obliged to follow suit with my lead-in clause.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            So don’t identify as dom.

            But seriously, try the experiment.

            Or better, just read the comment archives.

          • blacktrance says:

            I challenge you to make a fetlife account and try this in “Ask a Woman Questions.”

            I wouldn’t be able to do it honestly, because I don’t have this problem myself.

    • matejcik says:

      I’ll point out that Henry is actually *doing better* on that one metric, i.e., having lot of physical contact and sex. You might be right that dating C is a net negative (a premise i don’t necessarily agree with), but even then, there are social and potentially huge self-esteem costs to not having dated anyone and being a virgin. Plus, there is a very basic need for physical contact, which for our nice guy is unmet, while Henry is clearly and provably doing better on that count.
      The fact that the nice guy wouldn’t actually want to trade places with Henry, or even date the same women, does not mask these observable differences.

      • Thank you.

        Those arguments about Henry actually having a bad life strike me as being like saying it’s better to starve than live on bad food.

      • blacktrance says:

        I’ll point out that Henry is actually *doing better* on that one metric, i.e., having lot of physical contact and sex.

        Yes, but looking at that metric by itself leads to the wrong conclusions. The reason Henry is doing better on that metric is because he’s doing much, much worse on many other metrics. Henry’s “successes” are a direct result of his failures, and in net he comes out far in the negatives.

  35. jayshap says:

    And the people who talk about “Nice Guys” – and the people who enable them, praise them, and link to them – are blurring the already rather thin line between “feminism” and “literally Voldemort”.

    Do with this what you will. I thought this was a solid post and showed it to my wife. We were discussing it, going back and forth, and then she came to the quoted line and stopped reading in disgust. :-/

    • Matthew says:

      Because it’s excessive or because she doesn’t like misuse of the word “literally”?

      • jayshap says:

        Both. I presented this as one of my favorite rationalist blogs, and that line came off as pretty, umm… irrationally anti-feminist? I’ve read other posts so had some context for it. She did not.

        • RCF says:

          It’s anti-people-who-shame-guys-for-not-being-sexually-successful-and-express-frustration-at-that-fact. If your wife thinks that “feminists” is an appropriate term for that category, it seems to me that she’s the one who’s being anti-feminist.

          • jayshap says:

            No. You are reading in context from previous posts, as I did. Look at the language:

            “are blurring the already rather thin line between “feminism” and “literally Voldemort”.”

            There’s nothing in there about how “feminism” means something different than feminism and exactly what the difference is. Our brains knew what he meant and inserted it, but it isn’t there, and it hurts the post’s ability to stand alone.

    • I had kind of the same reaction to that line – I didn’t stop reading, but it annoyed me. Scott himself seems to be very unforgiving of strong language when it comes from feminists, however, so I don’t blame your wife for not wanting to extend him much slack on that count.

    • drethelin says:

      yeah speaking from a perspective of someone who is familiar with and likes SSC I didn’t find it that jarring but I quite often find similar shit jarring from other people so it’s probably better not to just spill your feels out about the enemy if you think you have a decent chance of converting any of them. Thanks for pointing it out, Soapbeast!

    • Luke Somers says:

      This was indeed a very unhelpful phrase.

      • The Do-Operator says:

        I thought the phrase was both funny, and important in the sense that it emphasizes the seriousness of this issue. This is not merely an academic discussion, there are real people who experience real pain.

        From the inside of my algorithm, it feels true that what we are talking about is literally Voldemort. When Scott makes this point, it makes me feel understood. This is important for my psychological wellbeing.

        Moreover, I feel it is important that we discuss this in explicit terms publicly: If we allow the current terms of the public discourse to continue without calling them on it, I expect this will increase the risk of low-status males with abnormal psychology reacting in unpredictable ways.

        • Luke Somers says:

          > This is not merely an academic discussion, there are real people who experience real pain.

          And this phrase targeted other real people who need to change their behavior in a way that stung them and gave them an excuse to dismiss this post. Bravo.

          Suggestions: drop ‘already thin line’ so it doesn’t include all feminism in its AoE; change ‘literally Voldemort’ to jackals or hyenas. Evil enough to give you support, but not OTT evil.

          • The Do-Operator says:

            It is not a given that if we want to change their behavior, we have to avoid using language that signals strong emotion and moral judgement. Yes, there will be people who are alienated and refuse to consider the argument. I understand your point, it is possible that this is predominant consequence of using such language. However, it is at least possible that the following story is true, and that the following effect predominates:

            We can change people’s behavior only by convincing a small number of thought leaders in the social justice community to speak on our behalf. Some of these thought leaders will be alienated by the language, but a subset of them might understand and be willing to take up our cause if and only if they understand the intensity of our feelings. I mean, why would they take up an unpopular cause unless they understand how deeply this is felt by the people they would be speaking for?

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Imagine reading something where someone said something “blurs the already thin line between Less Wrong and literally Voldemort.” Would this make you go “ah, yes, I see you are hurting, I sympathize with your pain and will advocate for you”? Or would it make you go “NO, MY TRIBE IS NOT EVIL, YOU’RE EVIL”?

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Imagine reading something where someone said something “blurs the already thin line between Less Wrong and literally Voldemort.” Would this make you go “ah, yes, I see you are hurting, I sympathize with your pain and will advocate for you”? Or would it make you go “NO, MY TRIBE IS NOT EVIL, YOU’RE EVIL”?

            relevant

            (of course, when you’re already hurting and exasperated, choosing Column B can be really, really hard)

          • Nornagest says:

            Imagine reading something where someone said something “blurs the already thin line between Less Wrong and literally Voldemort.” Would this make you go “ah, yes, I see you are hurting, I sympathize with your pain and will advocate for you”? Or would it make you go “NO, MY TRIBE IS NOT EVIL, YOU’RE EVIL”?

            There is a tension, in advocacy, between the languages of condemnation and conciliation. It’s orthogonal to the emotive/analytic axis; you can be very conciliatory in an emotional appeal (“I understand why you sent me to military school after I bit six teachers and burned down the gym, but I feel bullied and isolated here”) or very condemnatory in an analytical appeal (“our climate model suggests that Washington, D.C. will be buried under ten meters of water by 2100, an outcome which we consider harmful despite advantages to the Chesapeake crab industry”). And from a rhetorical point of view, it’s pretty clear which is which: you condemn when you want to isolate your opponents, and you concile when you want to subvert or divide them.

            I don’t think this is the kind of situation where we can sit down, drop all rhetorical considerations, and have a perfectly Aumanny debate rejoicing in reason alone. That being the case, are there strong arguments for subversion or division here?

          • Luke Somers says:

            Do,

            how the frell is calling them jackals avoiding emotional language? How is targeting the insult at the people who need to be insulted failing to convey emotion?

            Ialda,

            I’m not even saying he needs to be nice, here. I’m saying, stop aggro-ing the neutrals with verbal splash damage. (to use a metaphor from an environment I expect neither of us is all that familiar with)

    • Multiheaded says:

      Okay, so it seems I actually understand Scott’s reaction so well because I understand furious and vengeful feminists. Expressing defiance in the face of a creeping, draining social toxicity is important; often it’s one of the very few things immediately mentally available to people that they can do!

      The problem is, of course, that when you set “two cheers for defiance” as a goal, the system outputs “reward conspicious anger”. And so it goes.

  36. \m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer \m/ says:

    Suppose that the implicit model of human nature accepted by most people in the Rationalist whatever, that people want to associate with the highest-“status” &c &c, is correct. Then is not a radicalization of the romanceless actually a brilliant strategic move? Everybody has contempt for sexually entitled/frustrated/whatever men anyway, including other instances of the same; why not have them associate themselves with your enemies?

    • Zorgon says:

      Well, yes. There’s no significant cost associated with going after low status men.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s never hurt marxist intellectuals riling up a mob of disaffected low status men. In fact, it’s how most dramatic political change gets done.

    • Multiheaded says:

      I approached this very conclusion in the private IRC channel a good while ago, senpai. Yes, it might be a somewhat viable strategic move, but to hell with it. My revolution will not be waged with chemical and biological weapons deployed against enemy civillians. I’m not Social Justice ISIS.

      • m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer m/ says:

        I don’t actually think Cthulhus are smart enough to do this sort of thing, for better or (and) worse.

        (also LW philosophical anthropology is garbage but that’s another story & it’s fun to hug the hypothesis so)

  37. anon says:

    About the feminist blog names.

    There was a news item in the past few years where Money for Nothing was banned from Canadian radio because of the lyric

    That little faggot with the earring and the make-up
    Yeah buddy, that’s his own hair
    That little faggot got his own jet airplane
    That little faggot he’s a millionaire

    For using the illegally-degrading word “faggot”. Immediately, people pointed out that if you look beyond the one word, this lyric serves no purpose but to insult the appliance mover who’s saying it, but that didn’t matter.

    Anyway, I think the blog names are in the same vein. Just as Mark Knopfler is OK with referring to himself as a faggot as the most direct possible answer to the guy making fun of him (as a faggot) for his long hair, cosmetics, and jewelry, some women will call themselves bitches as a way of pre-emptively rejecting that criticism of themselves. There’s a blog on the MRM side of things (female author) titled Judgy Bitch.

  38. \m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer \m/ says:

    “oligopsony” was pretty lame i am totally going by this from now on

    also send 90% of ssc commenters to gulags, &c. &c.

    • Multiheaded says:

      This is where I’m seriously splitting off. Scott made an infernally Problematic post with some awful examples, but (gulp) he’s basically right about SJ. Ok, wrong on one point: much of this looks LAWFUL evil to me. Anyway, everything in my mental equipment with “detect evil” on it has been screaming at me for the past weeks in the presense of SJ, and now I’m with Ozy. I’m still a radfem at heart, I don’t want to be a liberal, but the cruelty and viciousness of SJ is leaving me no choice. I’ll go forth and call out this fucking shit wherever I see it.

      • Ialdabaoth says:

        Your approval fills me with dread.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Ok, I’ll seriously email you, man.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Please do, I’ve been wanting to talk to you for awhile.

            (Out of legitimate concern, interest, and brotherly love; and only slightly out of frustration and dread of your typical posting behavior.)

          • Multiheaded says:

            Done.

          • Ialdabaoth, Unwitting Servant of Moloch, Dread Agent of He-Who-Swims-Ever-Leftward says:

            🙁 I don’t see it? can you resend? brent {dot} j {dot} dill {at} gmail

          • Matthew says:

            If I send you a FB friend rec., is that going to freak you out (now that you’ve had advanced warning)?

            Also, you have like three times as many FB friends as I do, which I guess is pretty strong evidence for the FB friend quantity != depth of social support network hypothesis?

          • Multiheaded says:

            Missed the J somehow. Re-done.

      • They have sown the wind, and they will reap the whirlwind.

        Best wishes, but I’ve found that it’s very easy to pick up bad habits from paying attention to SJ, so I recommend keeping an eye out for whether you’re using their methods, and whether those methods are a good idea.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Nope. I intend to go completely Light Side here. Unity of ends and means, ideally. Because the Light Side will give them oh so many nasty debuffs that they hate so much. Like demonstrating that occasionally yelling “tone argument” is not the adamantium coating for your battering ram that you trust it to be. Like explaining that you do alieve that your intent is magic, little warrior. Like… my point is, a certain kind of mean people can be beaten with niceness.

      • memeticengineer says:

        SJ at its worst is Lawful Evil, at its best, potentially an overly rigorous form of Lawful Good. As a Chaotic Good individual, I’m not fully on board with either, but at least Lawful Good is something I can work with.

        • SJ at least has a chaotic streak– it’s got an aspect of whatever makes SJ insiders feel bad is bad. I’m not saying this is entirely unreasonable, because being insulted does make most people’s lives worse, just that it’s not part of a lawful orientation.

          • memeticengineer says:

            I would be inclined to say it is largely Lawful in methods even if sometimes selfish in motives. There are complex, totalist rules for behavior which are rigorously enforced through mass criticism and ostracism from the community. Activities like public displays of enforcing the rules, knowing more sophisticated versions of the rules, and applying the rules to oneself when it seems against interest, gain status. Yes, it can be feels-driven, but there is a system of rules for which (or whose) feels are allowed to count in any given situation.The better SJ folks temper these rules with mercy but are often extra-strict in applying the rules to themselves and avoiding hypocrisy. The worse ones rules-lawyer the rules for selfish ends regardless of harms to others.

  39. RCF says:

    “I am a dirty rotten motivated-arguer trying to weak-man the movement for my personal gain.”

    Don’t you mean “weak-person”?

    • Erik says:

      “weak-man” is a derivative of the “straw-man” fallacy, and that name is going to be fairly hard to change because “straw-person” is already in use for something else.

      • Anonymous says:

        He’s (they’re?) making a (quasi-)joke about the apparent gender specificity of the name “weak-man”, especially in the context of historical feminist advocacy for other, similar gender neutralizations. (eg. fireman->firefighter, chairman->chairperson or simply chair, stewardess->flight attendant)

  40. AnonBosch says:

    While the Henry/Barry comparison is more illuminating than a feminist straw man, it still misses a crucial distinction which is largely elided but I think most people, if they thought about it for a moment, would agree on: Henry and Barry aren’t in the same markets. It’s likely that the sorts of women Henry is wifing might find Barry too much of a nebbish, but it’s equally likely that Barry, who is at least somewhat intellectual and looking for a relationship built on the same, wouldn’t find anything particularly compelling about them either.

    But moreover, including the “nice guys of OKC” yukking alongside Barry’s post is misplaced. If feminists were deriding the OKC profiles because of the complaints about singleton status in and of themselves, that would be one thing. But as far as I can tell from the Jez post and the linked tumblr, they’re only deriding the singleton status when it’s presented in combination with profile questions or other quotes that betray exactly the retrograde attitudes that you’re insisting are easily ignored background noise, e.g., the racist dogwhistle questions, “women who sleep around are bad people,” etc.

    The net effect is that some of this post (other parts of which are thought-provoking) seems to be engaging in the same ritual that it presupposes the feminists will engage in; it posits the existence of a Platonic Forever Alone Man (such that you have to pull in a rather strained career analogy with Dan) and then dismisses various feminist blogs and projects which have spent no small part of the last decade pointing out and recoiling in horror at the 250,000 examples of men being unable to complain about this without driving off the reservation at 100mph. To them, Barry’s post is notable precisely for its parsimony and rarity.

    • While the Henry/Barry comparison is more illuminating than a feminist straw man, it still misses a crucial distinction which is largely elided but I think most people, if they thought about it for a moment, would agree on: Henry and Barry aren’t in the same markets.

      This strikes me as likely to be true. Women I’m attracted to, while numerous enough in my own narrow community, are pretty unusual in the wider world.

      I also thought your point about the OKCupid snark-site was good.

  41. Dave Rolsky says:

    Apparently Scott is channeling Scott, or vice versa?

    http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/is_feminism_sexist/

    “My only objection to feminism is that in order for any group to be politically effective it needs to promote a worldview in which there are two kinds of people: Assholes and victims. Nuance doesn’t work for politics. Political change needs good and evil and no gray area in the middle. So in the feminist political battle, men are automatically included in the asshole category no matter their personal situation. I don’t think that is a conscious decision. It just works out that way.”

  42. Randy M says:

    Seems to me (if I may state the obvious) that the problem is that women (in general) have not had their arousal cues keep up with the changing environment that makes typical masculine (or extremes of it) less adaptable than the environment in which those cues likely developed.

    Intellectually, society lauds nice, supportive men, while many women who honestly believe that they would prefer such traits in a mate to those more helpful to gutting an attacking tiger still find themselves repulsed by weakness.

    And the out-spoken feminists that Scott quotes (and, as predicted, generated the discussion of what real feminists are) are simply engaged in subconscious rationalization of those feelings.

    ie, “Creepy” means behavior that I nit-pick because, while prosocial, it violates my instincts for a useful mate.
    (Standard disclaimers apply)

  43. JME says:

    There’s on view I sometimes see that I don’t want to attribute to all feminists — and not even all Jezebel-type feminists — but which I’m curious to see how it will to develop.

    If the motte position here is “lack of success in romance sometimes leads some of the unsuccessful people to engage in some nasty behaviors,” the bailey is “lack of success in romance is prima facie evidence of nastiness.”

    I remember talking with someone on Pandagon about this. The dialog went something like this.

    Her: You know how you know if you’re a genuinely nice guy and not a Nice Guy?™

    Women actually want to date you.

    Me: I don’t think that’s necessarily true. There could be a variety of reasons (physical unattractiveness, shyness, whatever) that a genuinely nice guy might not get many dates. Same goes for genuinely nice girls.

    Her (sarcastically): Because women can’t ever be attracted to someone shy.

    Because women can’t look past physical appearances.

    End scene

    Anyway, most people on that Pandagon thread didn’t agree with her, I think, so even among Amanda Marcotte fans, I think this is a minority view, but it would be interesting if feminism develops a sort of doctrine that lack of romantic success can not only be *associated* with misogyny, but that misogyny or other forms of depravity are the only explanation for lack of romantic success.

    In this case, the approval of women is not only desirable for reasons of companionship, sex, etc, but is also a prerequisite for being a morally decent man. While perhaps somewhat orthogonal to classical feminism, it might be a good idea to spread if you think men should be doing more to win women’s approval.

    • Ialdabaoth says:

      In this case, the approval of women is not only desirable for reasons of companionship, sex, etc, but is also a prerequisite for being a morally decent man.

      This process is already in play; I have experienced it first-hand. It’s just not always made very explicit, except in certain virulent feminist circles.

      Here are some simple but obvious anecdotes:

      Be a guy. Go with a girl to the park. Hang out near the playground. See how many people think you’re a pedophile.

      Be the same guy. Go alone to the park. Hang out near the playground. Get arrested.

      Be a guy. Go with a girl to a party. Hang out and talk with her female friends. See how many of them find you funny and interested.

      Be the same guy. Go alone to another party. Hang out with the girls. See how many of them talk about “that creep perving on me all night” within earshot of you but just far enough away to maintain plausible deniability.

      Be a guy. Have a girlfriend or wife. Ask for time off at work.

      be a guy. Be known to be single and not dating anyone. Ask for time off at work.

      it goes on and on and fucking on.

      I am WELL AWARE of the secondary and tertiary benefits of having girls be interested.

    • Deiseach says:

      Speaking as a woman, if you take Amanda Marcotte as a marker of anything besides frothing at the mouth bonkersness, then that’s your problem right there.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        And speaking as one of the former terrified feminists, if you think people can be reasonably expected to recognize Amanda Marcotte as “frothing at the mouth bonkers” and not to be listened to[0], and that promoting “feminism” in general will just promote the good sort because people will recognize the nuttiness of the bad sort and not listen to them… that’s your problem right there!

        (See also: My long comment on Ozy’s Anti-Heartiste FAQ.)

        [0]Actually Marcotte seems pretty reasonable to me a lot of the time? Maybe what I’ve read of her is not typical.

        • Matthew says:

          Seconding the impression that Marcotte is actually sane some of the time.

        • Protagoras says:

          I usually find Marcotte reasonable. However, the present topic is one of her weak points (in my opinion); she has certainly engaged in the kind of blaming and shaming lonely guys that Scott complains about here.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is precisely it. Many outspoken women seem to have convinced themselves that women do actually select sexually for moral virtue. And based on this, promiscuous men are seen as per se more virtuous than celibate ones. This, of course, merely exacerbates the original inequalities in sexual access, while adding an element of shame to it alongside. And, as noted above, many PUA communities are based around, at least in part, echoing this shaming. Very odd that the feminists believe they are in disagreement.

  44. Multiheaded says:

    Just chiming in to admit that I’m pretty stunned by the quality and sensibility of comments so far. (Yes, how very ironic coming from me.)

    • memeticengineer says:

      Your comments on various SRS-related subreddit make you seem more charitable and a more nuanced thinker than your comments here alone, but with too much of an irrepressible urge to defy local orthodoxy.

      • Multiheaded says:

        But without it I wouldn’t have survived.

      • m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer m/ says:

        Here, in the shadow of mine enemies, we are honor-bound to defend our comrades, to spit in the eye of the enemy, &c. &c.

        In thede and thrush, what is to be defended is the epistemic health of the group, criticism and self-criticism at the price of being spat on as an enemy if need be.

        This is a more general trend. African-American leaders spent decades haranguing the Black community about its various social problems, but attacked Obama for giving the same speech (at a black church, but whilst on the campaign trail and hence implicitly for a white audience); and they were correct to do so. NRx has been enormously productive and influential for its size and weirdness, in part because of its vigorous internal debate, but they circle the wagons here. Multi and I are just doing the same, although for some reason people interpret them as more aggressive and hateful about it when it seems like the reverse to me.

        e: actually it appears I may be misrepresenting Multi’s current status, but I consider the comment valid at a more abstract level.

        • Matthew says:

          although for some reason people interpret them as more aggressive and hateful about it

          I think many commenters simply assume you’re joking about gulags and firing squads. I take your tone as strategic ambiguity/plausible deniability between serious and not-serious.

          I still don’t find it as viscerally repulsive as the reactionaries, because some of them are clearly tyring to be directly insulting, but it is disturbing to the extent that I take you seriously.

  45. anon says:

    I would like to see Scott’s opinion on what women’s issues really are and how they really ought to be addressed, in terms of economics, history, and culture, in the US and across the world. It is known that it is easier to make sloppy criticisms as a scoffing onlooker, who is not actually trying to solve any difficult problems. I don’t think Scott’s criticisms are wrong. I only think that he has things to learn even from the feminists. Scott is defending people from the excesses of feminism. But who will defend the people from the excesses of Scott, if he does not learn the proper limits of things?

    Creating an evil memetic Leviathan might not have been the optimally responsible choice. But, the feminists who birthed such a beast were ignorant and innocent of the terrors that were to come, and they were in a desperate struggle against an even greater enemy, one that had ruled in dominion for tens of hundreds of thousands of years. Desperation should not be confused for malice.

    What if, with proper knowledge of its origins, Cthulhu could even be tamed? This is not something that should be attempted lightly. But given its potential utility, it is an option that deserves some reflection.

    • Anonymous says:

      I can’t help but feel that your description of feminists as innocent of the terrors that would be wrought by the beast they summoned out of desperation would be more believable if there weren’t feminists gleefully perched on Cthulhu’s shoulder shouting “that one! do that guy next!”.

      • guess i'll be alone in my utopia says:

        I think they’re different groups of “feminists” entirely. (Except in real life it’s not entirely, of course.)

    • m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer m/ says:

      Cthulhu is the general form of morality as such. Cthulhu is, like Aslan, “not a tame lion,” but he’s all we’ve (both feminists and their enemies) got.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Disclaimer that I do not think I am the most qualified person to talk on an object level about women’s issues as a non-woman, but since I was directly asked I will answer in the counterfactual case that I did consider myself qualified to talk about them.

      I think the most important women’s issues – in the US as opposed to Saudi Arabia or somewhere – are rape and harassment. (I think pay gaps when analyzed turn out to disappear or reverse, and that media underrepresentation often disappears/reverses when studied objectively and doesn’t really make much of a difference anyway.)

      I think solutions to rape are probably going to look like solutions to other social problems – in the same way that the 30 year secular decrease in general crime (likely itself caused by decreased lead, improved diet, and stricter sentencing) caused a concurrent 60% decrease in rape over that period.

      More than 50% (possibly much more) of rapes involve alcohol, either by the perpetrator or the victim or both. The simplest way of cutting alcohol use is to legalize marijuana – see the drunk driving statistics. Another good solution might be to legalize alcohol at age 16. Right now college students drink at semi-secret parties and are dependent on other college students to get them alcohol, which is pretty much the optimal conditions for rape (think an older guy inviting a girl to his dorm room to drink, and the girl has no other source of alcohol).

      Another good way of decreasing rape might be to improve access to pornography and prostitution. Rhode Island saw about a 33% decrease in rape rates when it legalized prostitution. Likewise, study after study has shown that increasing access to pornography decreases rates of sexual assault. All of this would make perfect sense if rape was related to sexual frustration.

      I think policies like these could easily cut rape by at least 50%, but realistically it can’t be eliminated by moral measures alone while hookup culture is still going on. This would be rejected out of hand simply for sounding crazy, but I would be interested in the idea of a college implementing a cryptosystem where people have to exchange keys before having sex. If you’re too drunk to exchange keys, you can’t have sex. If A accuses B of rape, and the rape kit shows they had sex, B better have A’s key or else they don’t have a leg to stand on. Likewise, if B does have A’s key, the argument that the sex wasn’t consensual becomes pretty shaky (there are obvious flaws in this plan, I think they’re solveable, but I don’t want to go into details).

      Finally, we’ve got to stop teaching people that “anyone can be a rapist” or “you don’t have any way of knowing who rapists are”. It’s true that nothing can 100% rule someone out, but there are obvious warning signs and people should know what they are. This goes back to the Barry/Henry distinction above. Henry screams “likely rapist” the second he walks into the hospital and opens his mouth.

      I don’t know as much about harassment. I think treating it as a gendered issue and forcing endless debates about “women get harassed so much more than men, men have no right to talk about this!” versus “actually I’m a man and I’ve gotten harassed a lot and I’m miserable!” is a mistake, and that it should all be subsumed by “bullying”. I think instead of being treated as such and such a sex or a demographic or a group is bad and needs to endlessly self-criticize, it needs to be better recognized that there are certain toxic people, they are everywhere, and there need to be better ways of getting rid of them. More fundamentally, we need to ask ourselves why we’re forcing people to hang out with other people they don’t like anyway. If a boss is sexually harassing you, then even if he is forced to stop making specifically sexual comments, he’s probably not going to be the best person to work for.

      • RCF says:

        “If A accuses B of rape, and the rape kit shows they had sex, B better have A’s key or else they don’t have a leg to stand on.”

        Besides the silliness and intrusiveness of mandating that people jump through whatever hoops you put in front of them, and the practicalities of cryptography (I take it you’re expecting them to take their phones with them everywhere they go), what happens when neither has the other’s key? Are you just going to assume that the guy is a rapist? Or are you going to only catch the rapists too stupid to realize that if they don’t give their own key, they can cry rape themselves? What if one of the partners doesn’t want there to be proof they had sex?

        • Matthew says:

          Yeah, if we’re going for complicated solutions, might as well go all the way to the Raikoth everyone-records-themselves-and-can-release-the-tape-at-their-discretion option over this one.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            That’s not complicated, it’s extremely simple to get a little recorder and keep it running constantly as a personal black box. The only complicated part would be, where to hide it from a violent attacker who knew you were carrying it.

          • Anon says:

            houseboatonstyx: that would be illegal in many states and countries, if you didn’t first get consent from everyone you interacted with. Here’s California’s law, for example (section 632). Per the DMPL, a “confidential communication” is any in which “one of the parties has an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation”. Which would almost certainly apply to the sort of thing under discussion here.

          • Jaskologist says:

            It is indeed illegal in many states. But the real question is how illegal it is compared to rape. I’d take the chance of the small hit to avoid the big one.

      • anon1 says:

        “If a boss is sexually harassing you, then even if he is forced to stop making specifically sexual comments, he’s probably not going to be the best person to work for.”

        Haven’t seen this argument for UBI before but I approve.

      • Andrew says:

        Can you link to your source on representation disappearing when studied objectively? This is the first time I’ve heard that.

      • asdf says:

        Harvard Economist Claudia Gold in has a paper attributing the pay gap to more of the the burden of child raising falling on women, and this being obstructive to their career advancements, especially in high paying, time-intensive fields like law or business. When this is controlled for, most of the pay gap vanishes.

      • grendelkhan says:

        Please note that you’re describing mostly violent stranger rape, which is a small portion of the total. It’s generally committed by stupider, less successful, more socially inept men. (As opposed to the other kind.) It’s exactly the kind of crime which would be ameliorated by lowering lead levels, and making porn and prostitution more widely available.

        I like the idea of more knock-on effects from substituting marijuana for other things–opiates, obviously, but it does seem like a much better substitute for alcohol as well.

  46. Lila says:

    There’s nothing mysterious about attraction.

    Nice personality + physically attractive = many people want to date this person
    Nasty personality + physically attractive = some people want to date this person
    Nice personality + ugly = friend-zone
    Nasty personality + ugly = outcast

    • Ialdabaoth says:

      So how do you not be ugly?

      • Princess_Stargirl says:

        Looks is not well defined but if one is trying to attract a GF based on changing your appearance I would suggest:

        If one is significantly overweight the most important thing is to lose weight. Once one has done this bodybuilding and getting a decent wardrobe seem like the best EV options.

        Of course there are many elements of looks or one’s body that someone cannot change. If these issues are severe idk what advice there is to give. Idk to live is to suffer, not every problem has a solution. I wish anyone with these sorts of problems the best.

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        Lift weights. Buy clothes that fit and flatter you (consult a fashion-conscious friend if you have one). Grow your hair long (if you’re not balding).

        • Matthew says:

          Lift weights. Buy clothes that fit and flatter you (consult a fashion-conscious friend if you have one). Grow your hair long (if you’re not balding).

          One of these is not like the others. (Well, technically there are the rare individuals who dislike athleticism, but it’s an insignificant proportion.) Preferring long hair in men is an idiosyncratic personal preference. That’s like saying “get a tattoo.” It will make you more attractive to some people.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            In my experience (admittedly, I don’t fuck girls as a dude, take it with a grain of salt, etc etc), there are way more nerdy straight girls who like guys with long hair than guys who have long hair.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            My experience as well. When I was 26 – 30 and rolling in babes, my long flowing locks were one of my selling points.

            Around age 31 I decided I was going bald and I should just give up, so I did.

            I have not had much success since.

          • grendelkhan says:

            It will make you more attractive to some people.

            But this is a fantastically good idea! You don’t care if a lot of people don’t like you; you’d rather have ten people think you’re gorgeous and ninety think you’re hideous than a hundred thinking you’re meh.

            And unlike plenty of other claims in this thread, there’s some actual data to support it. “Better to be someone’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea”, as the saying goes.

            (I am bitter that OkTrends stopped updating. It was an oasis of useful information and fascinating analysis in a sea of broscience and hate.)

        • Princess_Stargirl says:

          I also find the hair advice shocking, I am sure you are telling the truth Ozy but in the social circles I am in long hair would not be a good move for most guys. I thought “the average woman prefer shorter hair” was not controversial but I guess I am wrong.

          • The Anonymouse says:

            Agreed. This seems to be highly subculture-dependent. In most of the places I have spent my life, long hair on a man seems intended to signal “sexy nonconformist” but is usually received as “not a grown, employed man.”

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Yes, subculture-dependent, but I predict most readers of LW are in a subculture where it’ll be read as sexy.

    • Matthew says:

      You may want reconsider a schema where the only possible personalities are “nice” and “nasty.” Cripplingly shy != nasty for example.

      (I’m physically attractive but shy; I get many dates but then get friendzoned.)

    • Anonymous says:

      This is simply and demonstrably false, as many have shown throughout these comments.

    • mjgeddes says:

      Exactly.

      If you are being friend-zoned as a nice guy, the cause is simply the fact that you didn’t win the genetic lottery.

      If a douchebag is getting the girls, its because he’s physically attractive.

      It’s not rocket science.

  47. Deiseach says:

    It’s really very simple to answer this question. This is not meant to be a jab at Scott, it’s for all the people who ask: “I’m a nice guy, why won’t girls go out with me?”

    Because they don’t want to.

    There, you see? Simple.

    Why don’t they want to go out with you? Many possible answers, but probably the reason is: you don’t ding their bell.

    I won’t eat any dish with prawns, shrimps, or other shellfish in. They may be perfectly nice dishes. I don’t have a shellfish allergy. I just don’t like shellfish. And all the lamenting in the world about how I’m stealing the bread from the mouths of the starving children of the fishermen who cannot earn an honest wage by selling the shellfish I refuse to consume is not going to change my tastes.

    Nice Guys, ever find yourself saying about a girl “yeah, she’s nice, but she just doesn’t do it for me?” Well, believe it or not, girls are humans too! We don’t have some elaborate secret code and arcane ritual practices whereby we decide on who we will or won’t go out with: it’s as simple (or complicated) as why you would like to go out with Girl X but wouldn’t like to go out with Girl Y.

    • Princess_Stargirl says:

      The fact that there is not really any known solution to the problem does not mean there isn’t a problem. I will not claim no one is suggesting girls be forced to date people on some basis other than who they want to, because some crazy people really are. But I am surely not and neither is Scott.

      But the fact that many kind, decent and interesting men (say Barry) cannot find women who want to date them is a tragedy. Love is important for most people’s image of a good life. We should b sad at this state of affairs, even if we can’t change it. And we should consider if there are any non-coercive ideas that might help the situation (maybe there are none). an example would be if it was found polyamorous social norms lead to less people “left out” and higher satisfaction with their relationships overall, then we should non-coercively promote polyamory. Of course I have no real evidence polyamory helps solve this problem at all, or that it does not have other problems on a large scale that would outweigh the benefits. Just giving an example.

      If we cannot think of a solution does not mean the problem is probably not simple. And if we really cannot solve the problem the least we can do is cultivate empathy and compassion for those who are suffering.

    • Ialdabaoth says:

      If a major chunk of people’s happiness is going to hang on whether we can “ding someone’s bell”, and one side is adamant that there is no way to improve one’s ability to “ding people’s bells”, and another side says “you can absolutely learn to ding anyone’s bell you want, step one is to be a vicious asshole, but that’s okay because they all deserve it anyways”…

      Eventually there’s going to be a STRONG impulse to work out whatever motivated reasoning I need to listen to the “be a vicious asshole” guy.

      • Deiseach says:

        And for those of us who don’t find vicious assholes to be remotely attractive? Being a ‘nice guy’ loser who can’t get a date, who turns into a vicious asshole, still won’t get you a date with those who don’t like vicious assholes.

        I’m sure there are people who like going out with vicious assholes as there are people who like going on rollercoasters, and for the same reason: the frisson of risk, the thrill of fear safely managed.

        That’s not for me, either rollercoasters or vicious assholes. And while there may be helpful tips about improving what you’ve naturally got, or helping you acquire traits you don’t natively possess, still I maintain: there is no 100% foolproof formula for becoming attractive to every single person. You probably may be able to get dates or at least more sex after a course on ‘how to be a vicious asshole’ than you did before, but that does not mean that every single woman in the world will now magically find you attractive where before they did not.

        Funnily enough, I’ve just participated in a Tumblr discussion where we were asked “All you in the [redacted] fandom seem to find [redacted] attractive, so is he your type for a one-night stand?”

        General consensus: no. As one of us put it, “I wouldn’t eat caviar with a knife, and I wouldn’t treat him as a one-night stand”. Now, this is more to do with him having a personality that seems interesting, intelligent and fun, and less to do with being flash – his sartorial choices are most charitably described as “terrible” (he has his own ‘dubious knitwear’ tag in the little corner of the fandom I frequent).

        So for some women, it may be that the vicious asshole type is exactly that: a bit of fun for a one-night stand, but no more meaningful than that, and certainly not date or relationship material.

        Now if Mr Vicious Asshole is only interested in getting his leg over with as many women as physically possible, I don’t see how or why he can complain about this. But simultaneously lamenting that he can’t get a date (that is, meet a woman who wants to go on dates and have a relationship) while also complaining that he can’t get loads of sex with loads of different women seems contradictory to me.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Now if Mr Vicious Asshole is only interested in getting his leg over with as many women as physically possible, I don’t see how or why he can complain about this. But simultaneously lamenting that he can’t get a date (that is, meet a woman who wants to go on dates and have a relationship) while also complaining that he can’t get loads of sex with loads of different women seems contradictory to me.

          A shift seems to have occurred during this paragraph.
          Before, you were framing Mr. Vicious Asshole as not the kind of guy who would lament that he can’t get a date; you were framing Mr. Nice Guy as the guy who laments that he can’t get a date, and Mr. Vicious Asshole as the guy who wouldn’t bother complaining because that’s not what he’s into.

          Then you merged them.

          This process tends to push Nice Guys into trying (badly) to be Vicious Assholes, because “hey if I’m going to do the time, I may as well do the crime”.

          Let me spell out the process a bit better, because I admit it is subtle and both sides are contributing:

          1. Nice Guy complains about not getting dates.

          2. Feminists conflate him with being a Vicious Asshole.

          3. PUAs describe how he should just go ahead and BE a Vicious Asshole, and it will actually get him dates.

          4. Nice Guy goes to feminists, says “hey I’m considering being a Vicious Asshole, since these guys say it will get me dates, but I feel bad about it. Tell me if there’s another way?”

          5. Feminists say “AHA! WE TOLD YOU YOU WERE REALLY A VICIOUS ASSHOLE!”

          6. Nice Guy goes before PUA, kneels, says “show me the ways of the Dark Side.”

        • B says:

          “And for those of us who don’t find vicious assholes to be remotely attractive? Being a ‘nice guy’ loser who can’t get a date, who turns into a vicious asshole, still won’t get you a date with those who don’t like vicious assholes.”

          So? If the set of people who’ll date you now is bigger than it was before, you’ve won out.

          “So for some women, it may be that the vicious asshole type is exactly that: a bit of fun for a one-night stand, but no more meaningful than that, and certainly not date or relationship material.”

          Plenty of women consider the vicious asshole to be relationship materiel. See Henry from above, who wifed several girls.

          At the end of the day, the fact that vicious assholes do better than “nice guys” is a *real goddamn problem,* and not one that can be erased by saying “Well not *everyone* likes vicious assholes!”

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Also, would you like to know one of the tricks that I learned when I became High Status that helped get me my harem?

          I learned to pretend to be a vicious asshole.

          I didn’t learn to BE a vicious asshole, but I learned to pretend to be to make people interested, and then be a Nice Guy to them once they had sorted me into the “hot” category instead of the “useful” category. And whenever it looked like I might run the risk of being judged unattractive because I was being too nice and caring, I’d turn on the Vicious Asshole act again, just enough to keep them interested.

          This works for awhile, but satiation / tolerance kicks in and you start having to actually be vicious to maintain interest. (In most relationships, at that point I choose to fail. In one or two, to my shame, I may have actually slipped over into full-on abuse, both because of my own mental health issues and because playing roles for too long can start to blur lines. Thankfully in those situations the girls in question had been taught enough self-respect to ditch immediately.)

        • Vegemeister says:

          That’s not for me, either rollercoasters or vicious assholes.

          I seem to recall you previously saying that you expected to remain celibate. Given that I am not mistaken about this, why should anyone take your romantic preferences into account?

    • Scott F says:

      I’d like to point out that you’re saying this to quite a few men who have never gone out with anyone.

      Now, maybe you’re right, and they are lonely because literally nobody finds them attractive; they ding nobody’s bell. This would be a horrifying reality to exist in, yes? I mean, the fisherman that everybody refuses to buy from goes out of business, which in this metaphor is some combination of “develop depression”, “resign self to unhappy life forever”, “go celibate and sublimate sexual urges in pursuit of some great endeavour”, “acquire masturbation aids”, or “commit suicide”.

      Maybe that really is the case. If so, it’s kinda gauche to be smug about telling them this.

      But I think you didn’t intend to tell them they are fundamentally unlikeable. An alternate explanation (that they understandably prefer) is that they are failing some arcane secret test, and if they can just learn of this test and stop failing it, all the women who would otherwise like them will be free to like them.

      This is the eternal refrain of the nice guy, after all: “How come nobody will go out with me?”.

      In any case: it feels good to assert that women have as much agency in romantic and sexual interactions as men do, but it would be tactful to do in a way that is sensitive to lonely men.

      • Deiseach says:

        Now, maybe you’re right, and they are lonely because literally nobody finds them attractive; they ding nobody’s bell.

        And welcome to what it’s like being an ugly woman in a world where “Size Zero” blonde pouty porn-face is the target to aim for! It’s an unfortunate truth that many of us – male and female – are unattractive, we don’t ding anybody’s bell, and we learn the hard truth early that it’s settling for little or nothing (those of us with more self-esteem or at least pride may settle for nothing, to spare ourselves humiliation).

        But many of the ones complaining they can’t get a date are average. Not ugly, not outstandingly handsome; not rich, not poor; not stupid, not geniuses. Average.

        Well, there you go. You can’t make Jane like Bill just because Bill likes Jane, anymore than you can make Bill like Jane just because Jane likes Bill. You can probably find someone, it will just be difficult. But not impossible.

        And if you don’t ever? That can happen too. I think what we need to address is the gooey, gloopy, soppy slop force-fed us from the moment we’re old enough to be plonked in front of the television on our own that “There’s someone for everyone”, “Soul mates exist”, “You just have to keep trying and you’ll win over Mr/Ms Right” and of course “Try this, do that, seven easy steps to success in getting as much sex/love as you want!”

        • Steve Johnson says:

          And welcome to what it’s like being an ugly woman in a world where “Size Zero” blonde pouty porn-face is the target to aim for! It’s an unfortunate truth that many of us – male and female – are unattractive, we don’t ding anybody’s bell, and we learn the hard truth early that it’s settling for little or nothing

          Nope. Women are basically all attractive until at least 23 years old – seriously – close to 100% of women from 16 to 23 are attractive to 90% of all men.

          What you’re is the combination of two things – 1) women find most men unattractive and unattractive men are invisible to women (Cosmo – “Where to find a man?” Seinfeld – “we’re everywhere!”) and 2) the men who aren’t invisible are the ones to whom unattractive women are invisible.

          How did we end up in such a state? Because we’re in a sexual marketplace where women have free choice so top men service almost 75 – 85% of women. Women having no grounding in knowing how attractive they are other than knowing how attractive the men who approach them are end up thinking they’re way higher in the sexual marketplace than they actually are.

          Well, there you go. You can’t make Jane like Bill just because Bill likes Jane, anymore than you can make Bill like Jane just because Jane likes Bill.

          Of course you can. If Bill and Jane are sexual marketplace equals each being about 50th percentile and Jane never gets fucked by or even any interest from a 90th percentile man she’ll actually really like Bill if he’s her best chance for sex and children.

          • Anonymous says:

            Nope. Women are basically all attractive until at least 23 years old – seriously – close to 100% of women from 16 to 23 are attractive to 90% of all men.

            WTF? This is definitely not true.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Someone really ought to tell that to all my female friends in college who spent hours crying on my shoulder about how no one hits on them, seriously, they will take ANYONE, they just want to be LOOOOOOOOVED.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Someone really ought to tell that to all my female friends in college who spent hours crying on my shoulder about how no one hits on them…

            Asked and answered.

            Unattractive men are invisible to women. Read Ialdabaoth’s stories below. (comment-141754)

            I bet those women wish a nice guy would hit on them sometime. Oh well.

          • Matthew says:

            Women are basically all attractive until at least 23 years old – seriously – close to 100% of women from 16 to 23 are attractive to 90% of all men.

            I think you’ve exceeded your quota of ridiculous claims for this thread at this point.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Well, that’s a gloriously unfalsifiable argument.

            Okay, so. About a third of the people I’ve fucked are virgins, many of the rest were going through years-long dry spells. Therefore, sexually unsuccessful men are not invisible to me. Therefore, I can reliably report that, yes, there were no invisible sexually unsuccessful men hitting on them either.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Unfalsifiable?

            It’s actually amazingly easy to falsify.

            Send an unattractive man out to ask one of your friends who complains that no men ever hit on her to approach her the next time she’s walking around in public. Have him hit on her in a plausibly deniable way (“say, could you help me find an x around her”). If she gives any indicators of interest, he escalates. Some time later (not too soon afterward) ask her if any men have hit on her recently.

            Send an attractive man to do the same thing. Ask her some time later if any men have hit on her recently.

            Or you can search your memory for times you’ve seen men hitting on women and the woman denies that the man was hitting on her because the guy wasn’t attractive enough.

            Dead simple experiment.

            * Usual caveat that “attractive” in men isn’t just appearance.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Unfortunately, I’ve lost touch with all my sexually unsuccessful female friends. Any sexually unsuccessful women want to volunteer for the cause? 😛

          • Anonymous says:

            Ozy, that’s exactly what I always yell at closing time!

          • BenSix says:

            Nope. Women are basically all attractive until at least 23 years old – seriously – close to 100% of women from 16 to 23 are attractive to 90% of all men.

            This is either wrong or I’m crippling myself with nigh-on freakish selectivity. Men have simpler and broader tastes than women, of course, but I’ve never met anyone whose single romantic and sexual requirement is, “XY chromosome? Hop in!”

          • Anonymous says:

            In my experience, men are willing to have casual sex with any woman not more than about 2-3 points below him in SMV, especially if no-one will see him do so. So, assuming you are above a 3-4 in looks and put yourselves in positions where casual sex can happen, then the vast majority of men will be attracted enough to have sex with you.

          • Matthew says:

            So, I strongly disagree with this, at least about myself. But now I kind of want a straight/bi female commenter or two who seem trustworthy about protecting anonymity to volunteer to look at my photograph and tell me what my actual attractiveness is on a 1-10 scale. I’m curious if my problem is that I’m super selective, that I massively overrate my own attractiveness, or both.

            (I was like a 4 as a kid and 5-6 in my twenties, but I think I’m a 7, maybe an 8 on a good day now, and as kind of an unhappy person I wouldn’t have thought that I’d be overestimating it too much.)

          • BenSix says:

            I used to have two friends – one of them a woman and the other a gay man – who would stroll down the street saying, “5, 6, 1, 9, 7” to each other. It took me a moment to work out what they were doing.

          • Eli says:

            There is a clusterfuck here, but it’s largely cultural. The population is roughly split 50%/50%, and I doubt that attractiveness is distributed differently across males and females over whole dateable lifetimes (though it may differ with age: young men are unattractive because they’re immature and unaccomplished… said the 25-year-old male). If culture teaches everyone to “have standards” and refuse to date anyone from outside the top 20% of their preference ordering, that’s everyone screwing themselves over right there.

          • grendelkhan says:

            Nope. Women are basically all attractive until at least 23 years old – seriously – close to 100% of women from 16 to 23 are attractive to 90% of all men.

            Attractiveness does not work like that. Having the broadest appeal possible is not the optimal strategy.

            Also, your assertion about age ranges appears to be contravened by this data here; see “How A Person’s Desirability Changes With Time”. 18 year old women are considerably less desired than 21 year old women, and 27 year old women are just as desired as 18 year olds, going solely by people’s stated age-range interests.

            I think you may be universalizing your own preferences.

          • While I give them a lot of credit for trying to be data driven, the OKTrends blog is not a great source for actionable data, because they really don’t understand correlations. A case in point is their article about profile photos where they point out that shallow depth of field makes better pictures–look at how high the average is for f/1.2 shots!

            That’s because a lens that shoots at f/1.2 costs, at a bare minimum, $1500. The only people who have them are serious pros who (usually) can make people look good.

            They’re not entirely wrong in that portraits usually do use narrow depth of field (that’s what a low f-number means), but that’s not the primary reason f/1.2 shots look good.

            I don’t have any particularized problem with the article you keep citing here, but that’s mainly because I haven’t looked in great detail: I simply don’t trust OKCTrends to not miss fairly obvious reasons they’re wrong.

            (Though to _some_ extent polarizing your range is good.)

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Anecdata: When I, a 39 year old man (40 in 3 weeks), show my okcupid profile, I get a LOT of flak for having my age range be “18-25”. I experience a LOT of social pressure to up that to something reasonable and non-creepy; say, 27-35.

            I ave known several other people in my age range who talk in very obnoxious tones about how pretty particular 14-16 year olds are, but who would never admit to it in mixed company.

            I’m willing to bet that a lot of the reason 18 year olds aren’t considered universally more attractive is the massive social pressure not to admit that people past a certain age are attracted to them.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Andrew Hunter –

            I simply don’t trust OKCTrends to not miss fairly obvious reasons they’re wrong.

            Here’s an even better reason to never trust anything OKCupid would say – a dating website lives and dies from having women sign up. No women, no men, no revenue. Lots of women with no men – lots of men will sign up in a flash. OKCupid would never take a risk of saying something that’s going to get highlighted on jezebel or huffpo as “sexist”…

            …something like “women’s attractiveness declines rapidly with age and men really like 18 year old women”.

            Women simply don’t want to hear that and would be outraged (well, outraged enough to click a link) if someone said it. Clickbait sites live to generate that type of “outrage”.

            Best to steer clear.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Steve: I think your agency-detection heuristic is turned up waaaay too high.

          • grendelkhan says:

            They’re not entirely wrong in that portraits usually do use narrow depth of field (that’s what a low f-number means), but that’s not the primary reason f/1.2 shots look good.

            From the article: “For obvious reasons, we restricted this analysis to photos by cameras capable of a wide range of apertures.” (You still make a good point in that it’s not explicitly mentioned that using an SLR rather than a cell phone camera signals wealth when comparing brands of camera; it looks like it was considered obvious.)

            If you’re considering that smaller f-stops are indicative of expensive lenses, the cutoff seems to be between f/3.5 and f/2.8; kit lenses tend to only open up to f/3.5, so maybe that’s the distinction. But I’d be hesitant to believe that people are that good at distinguishing between half-stops of aperture, and in any case, a decent prime lens which opens up to f/1.8 can be had for under a hundred bucks.

            OKCupid would never take a risk of saying something that’s going to get highlighted on jezebel or huffpo as “sexist”… …something like “women’s attractiveness declines rapidly with age

            Does the graph I pointed to, which shows men having a decisive advantage in the dating market once they’re over the age of 26, and women’s attractiveness declining precipitously from then on, put any sort of dent in your belief?

            Or the paragraph below it: “Because men’s dating preferences skew so young, and women’s are age-equitable, men peak later, and have a longer plateau of desirability, than women.” That sounds like exactly the sort of thing you said that you don’t expect to see. Why do you think that is?

          • coffeespoons says:

            @Ialdabaoth when I was in my early 20s I was sometimes attracted to 39 year old guys, but I wouldn’t reply to messages from 39 year olds who said they only liked 18-25 year olds. This was probably party prejudice, but also I wouldn’t want to date guys who would lose interest in me in my late 20s. Even now (aged 30) I don’t really like dating 40 year olds who say they want to date women aged 20-35 because again I worry that they’re more likely than average to lose interest when I get older. I would think that a lot of women feel the same way.

            There is absolutely nothing wrong with you being exclusively attracted to young women, but I’m not sure that stating it on your okcupid profile is the best thing to do!

          • Protagoras says:

            @coffeespoons, perhaps I’m strange (well, really no perhaps about that), but I can report that while I tend to have a preference for younger women, I’ve also noticed a strange phenomenon where women I’ve known since we were both younger somehow don’t seem as old to me as women I first met when they were older, and often they still seem quite attractive if I found them attractive when we were both young. Attraction is a weird thing.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Ugh. See, I committed to being as honest as possible about my desires and intentions a very long time ago. Occasionally I trot it out and say “should I maybe be more strategic with the information I reveal?”, but I always come back to the conclusion that no, I’m going to play it honest.

            And you know, I anticipate finding an 18 year old girl attractive until well into her 30s, after which point I’m far more interested in her for the companionship than for her smokin’ body anyways, so either way she’s really shouldn’t be worried about me dumping her.

            But if she’s 28, then that’s significantly fewer years during which I get to appreciate her smokin’ body, and that feels kind of important to me.

            I mean, I’ve never been a love-em-and-leave-em sort, as is evidenced by all my prior relationships; I just kind of want to maximize my long-term happiness, and why can’t that mean starting out with someone at their peak?

          • It’s possible that a lot of men are lying, but I also consider it quite possible that a lot of men imprint on a woman when she’s young, and don’t have an accurate idea of how her appearance changes as she ages.

          • Zorgon says:

            I had a very sudden example of that recently. After a bad breakup with a long-term romantic interest, she underwent a significant image and personality change and I was suddenly aware of how much she’d aged.

            It was actually outright shocking to me how overwhelmingly my awareness of other people’s looks is dependent on pattern recognition. I mean, you read about it, you identify minor issues from time to time, but to have it made so blatantly obvious…

          • Matthew says:

            @Ialdabaoth

            Change your stated OKC preference in your profile to 18-35, manually reset your search parameters to 18-25, and just ignore messages from older women.

          • Unsolicited Advice says:

            Ialdabaoth, I will also suggest that you change your public preferences. Honesty does not require that you describe the totality of your preferences up-front.

            Preferences are personal and private information. You are allowed to reveal them in your own time. You are not obligated to tell your age preferences. You are not obligated to tell your breast size preferences. Likewise, women are not obligated to disclose their height preferences in men or their preferences for length and girth.

            An 18-25 preference is mildly controversial, but its hardly behind the pale. A lot of the problem here is not necessarily you having that preference, but you admitting it upfront. This admission means that (a) people will place unfair emphasis on this fact and judge you for it without knowing you, (b) you look socially unaware for failing to recognize that it’s a controversial preference, and (c) you look socially unaware for not engaging in impression management and trying to look good, which is what dating profiles are for.

            You have the right to engage in impression management as long as you aren’t directly lying. You have the right to disclose the private information of your sexual desires on your own schedule. Nobody has come out and told you that these rights exist, but people do act as if those rights exist.

            The purpose of dating profiles is to put your best foot forward. It’s the glossy cover. It’s not supposed to be complete or comprehensive. People can get a more complete picture of you by talking to you or going out with you.

    • Watercressed says:

      These answers are about as useful as:

      “Why won’t girls go out with me?”
      “Physics.”

  48. David Byron says:

    You know from a statistical point of view just comparing how often Henry gets laid with how often you do, isn’t good enough. You need to check that the women Henry is approaching are not a largely distinct subset of women or you get a statistical fallacy — oh I forget the name of it now. In general it’s entirely possible that X > Y for set A but that for any specific a in A, Y > X. To put it simply, Henry probably hits on a lot of huge sluts, and you like nice girls. If Henry hit on nice girls he’d get shot down in a second. So he doesn’t. You don’t move in the same social circles as Henry which makes this process mostly unconscious. This isn’t a moral criticism of the sluts either. Not by me, at least. All I mean is some women agree to sex a lot more than others.

    At any rate until you test such a hypothesis you can’t conclude what you concluded from the data.

  49. David Byron says:

    This quote is wrong and here’s why. You are comparing a self-identified political movement (“feminism”) with a bunch of disparate groups that do not identify with each other and were put together only by you (“manopsphere”). If you are the one doing the associating then obviously you can associate any groups with any other group you like of any quality. Having done so you then remark upon how interesting it is that “they” associate with each other. You might as well have thrown in all male rapists, pedophiles and murderers on the grounds of association of “being male” and then deduced that anti-feminists are essentially rapists, pedophiles and murderers.

    “I am not the first person to notice that the feminist blogosphere and the manosphere are in many ways mirror images of each other. Some feminists give incisive criticism of social structures that affect women; some manospherites give incisive criticism of social structures that affect men. On the other hand, some feminists are evil raving loonies and some manospherites are evil raving loonies. Feminists talk about male privilege and misogyny, manospherites talk about female privilege and misandry. Some people try to deny the symmetry, but that usually says more about what they pay attention to than it does the underlying territory.”

    Anyway you’re part of the manosphere.

    “I never became a manospherian per se”

    Sure you did. You see, you become part of the manosphere by being a man, being on-line and having some other person tell you that you are. Isn’t that the set of criteria that you just used to insult a whole bunch of other men?

    • Slow Learner says:

      Speaking as a non manospherist who has had some contact with PUA, some contact with people who describe themselves as MRAs, I absolutely can only regularly distinguish one from t’other by their self-labelling.

      • B says:

        Some big PUA/RP people/places:

        /r/theredpill, rooshv, heartiste, etc.

        Some big MRM people/places:

        /r/mensrights, avfm.com, girlwriteswhat, johntheother,, judgybitch, etc.

        If you can’t tell the difference, you’re either *extremely* unobservant or prejudiced. Though I suspect you just never went to the main hubs of activity, and drew your conclusion from people self-identifying in random internet corners, which means you have sparse enough info that you can just draw your own conclusions. Convenient but not useful.

      • David Byron says:

        Right, their political label and their beliefs.

        You wouldn’t expect to tell them apart by their race for example, or whether they wear baseball caps, or chew their fingernails.

        But since the OP was discussing political beliefs, and not head fashion or good grooming habits, he needed to draw associations only on the basis of political labels or political beliefs.

        • Slow Learner says:

          Their beliefs are precisely what I can’t distinguish in any consistent way; just as the labels of e.g. an environmentalist and an animal rights activist can cover people with very similar beliefs but different priorities, so to my understanding the labels PUA and MRA seem to cover similar beliefs (e.g. that feminism and cultural change has given a lot of men a raw deal), but while PUAs are focussed on the individual level of giving a man more power and agency in the romantic sphere, MRAs want to turn the clock back/Go Their Own Way/etc. I don’t see why it would be inconsistent to want to learn game for your own benefit, while believing that society needs to change in a way that would make game less necessary. Hell, I work hard to do well at my job so I can survive economically while doing work that is as interesting and fulfilling as possible, while also supporting the welfare state and ideally a basic income.
          Add that to the fact that there are common markers between both (evo psych and bad history are common ones), and I have trouble telling from a few comments or even a blog post or two where an individual manospherian would self-identify.

          • Kzickas says:

            They aren’t incompatible, but the groups don’t get along. MRAs want to change the system while PUAs generally take pride in their mastery of it. The result is that MRAs look down on PUAs who they see as eager to be in a cage for the pride of running the maze fastest while PUAs look down on MRAs as losers who complain about their system rather than learning to win within it.

  50. naath says:

    To me (as a woman of only modest means) the difference between a guy saying “I work SO HARD but can’t GET ANY MONEY” and a guy saying “I work SO HARD but can’t GET ANY SEX” is that in the second case that could be construed as a *request for sex* and in the first case it can’t be construed as a *request for a job* (I’m not in a position to employ anyone).

    I guess it’s hard to not hear that; even though it is probably usually wrong to do so; it might just be a request for sympathetic listening. Or advice. Or something.

    That there are a tiny minority of people (really, I’m sure it’s a tiny number) who will escalate to assault and/or rape after talking like that does make me somewhat scared. But I try hard not to be overly scared of very unlikely things.

    I guess if I was going to try for a reason it’s that jerks like Henry are not at all afraid of asking lots and lots of women to have sex with them, without regard for whether what they are asking is at all appropriate. Also perhaps the pool of women Henry is willing to date is different to the pool of women you or Barry are willing to date, or at least the pool that you are actually meeting and perhaps asking out. There are desperate women out there too; but maybe you would feel dreadful about dating a woman who was clearly just interested in having “a boyfriend” and didn’t care much who.

    • Fu's Truly says:

      “Also perhaps the pool of women Henry is willing to date is different to the pool of women you or Barry are willing to date, or at least the pool that you are actually meeting and perhaps asking out.”

      This is the hypothesis I’ve been leaning toward the most. I know several women who pick up a new partner every month or so, and who would probably be fascinated with the prospect of dating many of the men in my life who complain about not getting any, but whom the latter would not call “nerdy” or “smart” or “interesting,” explaining themselves with the word “picky.”

      Could use more data on this.

  51. Pingback: Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Triple Nihilism

  52. Sarah says:

    Crackpot speculation time! Personal experience department!

    I am a bisexual woman. My experiences with women have taught me just how hard it is to be the party that takes the initiative. There is a very deeply ingrained cultural message “women are pure, delicate flowers that you sully by contact”, as well as a more modern message “it’s really really easy to rape or be rapey by accident, just by the act of displaying desire, and anyone who experiences desire for women is under suspicion of rape at all times.” And if you are sensitive to these memes, like me, you will bend over backwards to be as harmless as possible, to the point of never actually taking romantic initiative ever.

    Jerks have more sex because they’re less worried about causing accidental harm. Sane, healthy people with good sex lives are able to *minimize* harm to others, without being neurotic about making 100% sure they could never possibly do harm. Outliers like Ozy have genuinely internalized the sex-positive message “yes, you can have sex without doing harm, and it’s pretty easy if you follow common-sense ethical rules.”

    I think it would probably be much better for society if we were all “sex-positive” in that sense. “No sex outside marriage, yay sex inside marriage” might also be a sort of sex-positive ethos (ie there EXISTS a context where sex is licit, so conscientious people don’t have way less sex than unscrupulous people.). There should be some set of rules which a reasonably conscientious person can follow, within which initiating sexual interest is not seen as wrong. I like sex-positive geek culture for this, there are probably lots of ways to implement it, but mainstream dating is DEFINITELY NOT that kind of environment.

    • Ozy Frantz says:

      I mean, I have a similar anxiety about the opposite situation. Being hit on is TERRIFYING. Random people whom I may or may not be attracted to want to have sex with me, and I can’t delay the question a bit to find out more about them or get comfortable, and I have to say things without making them feel sad, and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. I don’t understand how you people do it!

      • Lila says:

        #humblebrag

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Incidentally, the phrase “humblebrag” makes me rage.

          No, the idea BEHIND humblebragging makes me rage, because it’s fucking ALWAYS used as a status game.

          All “humblebragging” means is, “someone said something that would deserve respect or sympathy if they were higher status, but they’re too low-status to claim the positive implications so I’m going to point out the negative implications instead.”

          I fucking hate it.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t think this is entirely clear. Are you referring to the act of humblebragging or calling somebody out on their humblebragging in this comment? Because I see humblebragging as a status move from someone who is already fairly high status trying to raise their status even further i.e. “Woe is me, how awful my awesome life is. Feel sorry for your betters, ye peons.” and not as someone low status trying to raise their status to medium status. Conversely, calling someone out on humblebragging is just a status policing move.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            The latter. I get accused of “humblebragging” all the time, which makes little sense considering how obviously low my status is already.

          • Lila says:

            Sure, the term sometimes misused, but this is clearly a humblebrag. “Woe is me, too many people want to have sex with me, and then I have to spend a lot of time sorting through them and sometimes I have to break some hearts.” On a thread where a lot of people are pretty upset about their lack of sexual/romantic success. This coming from the person who inexplicably opened a post by talking about her high number of sex partners and desirable waist-to-hip ratio. I mean, everyone brags, but it annoys me when people are deceitful about bragging.

            P.S. I know that Ozy prefers to called “xiy” or whatever, but I think that’s bullshit. I’ll call her female pronouns or male pronouns if she wishes, but I refuse to acknowledge her special-snowflake complex.

          • Anonymous says:

            From the above threads she seems to be an agoraphobic and socially anxious camgirl. In light of that I think she is probably just being honest through the entirety of her post. It is important that all sorts of parties be honest about the sorts of harms they experience from social configurations. For example, if being catcalled is in fact a more significant and more painful harm than lifelong virginity, that would change my calculus on some of the issues discussed in this post. I can understand feeling “triggered” or something by offhand gestures at medium or high status in a setting like this, but I think honesty and full disclosure are higher priorities, and I think this specific individual is very unlikely to have actually humblebragged here.

          • Anon says:

            Lila, Anonymous: Ozy’s preferred pronouns are gender-neutral; generally “they” works well. They’re not a “she”. (This isn’t a criticism; there’s no obvious way to have known that in the context of this conversation. But now you know!)

            Lila: There’s no way in hell Ozy is intending to brag, humbly or otherwise. You can make any complaint sound like a humblebrag if you say it sarcastically enough, but “every time I’ve been hit on I get panic attacks” is… not bragging.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Not counting work or people who were like “hey, actually, I’m interested” after they rejected me, I’ve been hit on perhaps a dozen times in my entire life.

            That’s still enough to get a trend.

            (As is the fact that the entire idea makes me want to go handflappy.)

            And this is relevant because I think people tend to assume a lot that the asking-out role is universally stressful, and the being-asked-out role isn’t. While I don’t know what percentage are in the asking-out-is-stressful vs. being-asked-out-is-stressful groups, I think the fact that the being-asked-out-is-stressful group *exists* is a relevant factor in this conversation. (And may explain, frex, feminists with an absurd set of rules about how they get to be hit on.)

            But, yes, I am fairly sexually successful. I am not sure why I shouldn’t acknowledge this. If the less pleasant aspects of my life come up in conversation, I’ll own them too. I’m a cutter. The concept of leaving the house occasionally leaves me in meltdowns. I’ve been in mental hospitals multiple times. I have nearly flunked out of every school I’ve been in since elementary school.

            And I mentioned it at the Anti Heartiste FAQ because I was mocking Heartiste’s fondness for ad hom attacks. (And the fact that whenever manosphere ad homs are directed at me, they are inevitably very inaccurate and I am a stickler for accurate insults.)

          • Anonymous says:

            Anon: whether a remark is interpreted as humblebragging depends very heavily on the relative status of the audience. Consider the extreme example of: “Oh, I just hate it when my private jet gets delayed at the airport by air traffic control.” In any normal social situation this would be interpreted as a humblebrag, but not if you said it while dining with Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump. Similarly, Ozy’s comments about how hard it is to be hit on, even though not meant to humblebrag, are understandably interpreted that way by all the many people on this thread bemoaning their lack of romantic success and who would prefer to be hit on, even if it gave them panic attacks, than to not be hit on at all.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            @Lila:

            Not true – Ozy is okay with “they” or, if for some reason that is too difficult for you – “he”.

            Not kind – do I really have to justify this one?

            Not necessary – I am fine with people expressing philosophical objections to transgender when the topic comes up, but this seems to be a personal attack on Ozy from out of left field.

            And you’ve also hit the little-known fourth criterion, annoying me personally – not just because you insulted my girlfriend but because the resulting emotional mess it caused prevented them from getting some important work done for me last night.

            So, banned for two weeks

          • coffeespoons says:

            This coming from the person who inexplicably opened a post by talking about her high number of sex partners and desirable waist-to-hip ratio. I mean, everyone brags, but it annoys me when people are deceitful about bragging.

            That wasn’t inexplicable. Heartiste often finds out what people who criticise him look like and posts about it. Ozy was saying “bring it on”. And despite their “desirable waist-to-hip ratio”, Heartiste and his commenters would have found things about Ozy’s looks to criticise – he always does when people disagree with him. It was one of the best parts of the post for me – I thought it was very brave.

    • anon says:

      Your description of how jerks are able to have more sex due to not caring about others comes across almost like a novel version of rule utilitarianism. (Sex is good, even with jerks, if consensual. If most jerks only have consensual sex, the good outweighs the bad.)

      Most forms of rule utilitarianism popular have their user commit to erring on the side of niceness. But I’ve never before explicitly realized that there could be forms which have their user commit to being harsh and uncaring. That’s neat.

      I’m aware actual jerks aren’t utilitarians, and am uncertain whether or not their actions are truly net beneficial.

    • Lila says:

      As a bisexual woman, I second this completely. With men I feel like “omg I’m so hot and everyone wants to have sex with me”. With (non-straight) women I actually try harder to be attractive and it still ends up being “omg I’m such an ugly loser I need to kill myself”. So I really sympathize with people who are solely attracted to women.

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        #humblebrag

        • Lila says:

          I think you misunderstand the concept of humblebragging. This is a statement that contains one brag (men generally find me attractive and yes this is awesome, more please) and one humble (women generally don’t and this sucks a lot). A humblebrag is a brag disguised as a humble, where you pretend to be victimized by your own success.

      • Lila, I am replying to this comment and not the other one because there is no Reply button on that comment.
        You have upset someone I love and I am very very angry about this but I am trying to be polite.
        It is one thing to not know Ozy’s gender and say she by accident. It is another to know zir preferences, make fun of zir preferences and generally be mean about it.
        You know that being called she makes Ozy sad. Yet you continue to do it. That is both mean and completely pointless.
        If you do not want to call Ozy ze or they or whatever gender-neutral pronouns you prefer (Ozy has specifically said ze will take any gender-neutral pronouns in order to make it easier for others) then you should not talk to Ozy.
        Ozy has real physical and social dysphoria but even if ze didn’t I don’t see what is to be gained by deliberately doing stuff that makes zir sad. Nobody gains from this. You lose 100 utilitarianism points and I fart in your general direction (which gives me great pleasure and does not affectyou because you are too far away to actually smell it, so I lose no utilitarianism points.)

        • Matthew says:

          Off-topic, but but between you and The Artist Formerly Known as Oligopsony, I’m really starting to suffer from feelings of username inadequacy.

          • anon1 says:

            I’m starting to think I should pick a real name here.

          • Ialdabaoth, Unwitting Servant of Moloch, Dread Agent of He-Who-Swims-Ever-Leftward says:

            But why pick a real name when the fake ones are so delightful?

          • Nick says:

            I sympathize, but rejoice that you have a more original avatar! (Although I have to admit, I really love some of the gravatars, especially Oligopsony’s.)

          • Matthew says:

            The gravatar is oddly topical. When I was at a loss for ideas for comics, I started drawing (I hope) hilariously wrong contexts for quotes I hear in my daily life.

            So, after my totally over-the-top campaign of looking for ways to impress the girl who captivated me back in January predictably ended in failure and friendzoning, one of my platonic female friends* observed, “Matt, you would be a really attractive person if you could just tone down the crazy a little bit.”

            Clearly, she must have seen me shirtless, holding a rose and a fedora, while riding a shark with a frikkin’ laser beam….

            *My unhappiness in the rest of this thread is mostly sticking up for the other guys; I’m actually fortunate in having several female friends who, if not exactly supportive, lean toward light mockery rather than scorn and revulsion when hearing of my relationship struggles.

        • Sarah says:

          Props for courage.

          And, yes, deliberate misgendering is shitty behavior. Don’t do it, don’t condone it, keep it out of our garden.

        • Lila says:

          Sorry for referring to this transcendant non-binary enlightened being in mortal terms. I realize that was very disrespectful to its great power and I understand why it would be butthurt.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            I’m curious if you care whether you’re contributing strongly to a negative stereotype.

          • Anon says:

            You were asked to stop doing a trivial thing which makes someone else sad, and your response is mockery. I’m… having a hard time understanding your perspective here. I would take it as a kindness if you could explain what was going on in your head when you made this comment.

          • Matthew says:

            Is there some traumatic backstory that would allow us to make a charitable interpretation of this otherwise exceptionally unkind and unnecessary comment?

          • It was presented in a very unkind fashion, I’ll readily agree, but if we want to steelman the position I can come with at least this: “I believe that insisting on particular pronouns is a social status game where trans* people demonstrate the right to impose language patterns on us as a marker of their high caste, and I refuse to play as a line in the sand against people controlling my language.” Steve Sailer and Moldbug have both written similar things in much nicer fashion elsewhere, with the general theme being comparing various SJW-y demands for particular linguistic choices to traditional caste/feudal societies where nobles demands particular forms of obeisance.

            Unclear to me if this is true, etc, but you asked for a charitable interpretation of Lila and that’s the best that comes to mind immediately.

            I do strongly dislike having my language choices manipulated: besides the general feelings of low status that comes with having how I speak dictated to me, it imposes an unfair cognitive load. While any particular replacement is, in itself, not that big a deal, imagine if we were having a formal competitive debate, but you got at any point in my speeches to shout “Taboo ” three times. While it’s unlikely that word is actually necessary, it’d be a very strong advantage to you to force me to suddenly rethink how I say and do things. (Again, whether this excuses any particular wrong use of language–mispronouning someone, as here–is a more complicated question, but it explains why I dislike having to deal with such things.)

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Giving in to coercion to say obviously false things isn’t trivial but you can avoid the issue.

            I’ve avoided the issue here because I’m a guest and I’ll follow the host’s rules as part of the price of admission.

            Lila, I recommend you do the same. People can come to their own judgments about the topic under discussion.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Okay? If you don’t want to use my pronouns, no one is holding a gun to your head and making you talk to me. (If they are, that is a very bad thing to do and I am sorry but I suspect you have bigger problems than my gender dysphoria.) There is totally a way we can satisfy both your “not using gender-neutral pronouns” preference and my “being called gender-neutral pronouns” preference! Like, I don’t think you’re a bad person or anything, I just am genuinely confused about why you feel so driven to interact with someone you find deeply annoying on multiple levels, as opposed to rolling your eyes and leaving me alone.

            ETA: For that matter, call me “he.” While “he” makes me feel a little gender dysphoric, I am willing to accept it for the sake of a compromise position– clearly you care a lot about not using gender-neutral pronouns and I do wish to respect your preference. I hope that settles our conflict. 🙂

          • memeticengineer says:

            Referring to someone with they/them pronouns (Ozy’s stated preference, and what Scott uses) is a usage with long historical antecedent and is often used without a second thought in abstract gender-ambiguous contexts. Is using it really that much of an imposition? It’s also not hard to avoid using third-person pronouns for someone entirely.

            I can understand not wanting to have one’s language policed, but mocking the preference as “xiy”, and then describing the reaction as “butthurt”, seems like it’s going out of your way to be mean.

          • Multiheaded says:

            Here is a more pragmatic solution of the kind that SJ rightly advocates. Lila (and Steve Johnson) will not be addressing Ozy in any way at all in this space, because Lila (and Steve) will not be addressing anyone in any way at all in this space. In Steve’s case, this is for his far more heinous past transgressions.

            (Sorry. I’m trying. But I’m confused about the ethical merits of this approach, even from the most distant perspective I can assume.)

      • Scott F says:

        As a bisexual man, I have the exact same experience. With men, I feel attractive and pursued. With (straight) women, I feel like I have to try very hard to be attractive and often experience the “I am a loser” spiral.

        • Another Bisexual Guy says:

          Same here. From a sexual standpoint at least, guys are like easy mode and women are hard mode.

  53. Army1987 says:

    <offtopic>

    Whenever I submit a comment the page reloads, which means that some comments I haven’t read yet lose the green border. And editing the timestamp in the thingie on the top right by hand doesn’t work — all comments will be shown as new, even ones earlier than the time I input.

    </offtopic>

    • Slow Learner says:

      Potential bodge solution: try opening a new tab for a comment, e.g. instead of left-clicking Reply, right-click open as new tab Reply, return to the core tab when you’ve posted your comment?

      • Army1987 says:

        Thanks. (I normally open new tabs by holding Ctrl while I click a link, which doesn’t work for Reply links on SSC comments, but right-clicking then picking Open Link in New Tab does work.)

    • Not only that, but when I reload an ssc comment page, the new comment timer resets to the present– I can set it back to when I think I want new comments to start, but it’s an inconvenience.

      The app works properly at Less Wrong.

      • Bakkot says:

        Nancy – did you install my extension? If so, uninstall it. Scott’s now added the script to the page for everyone, and unfortunately running it twice (once through the extension, once because it’s now included in every page) will cause exactly the behavior you describe. I lack a good way to fix this for the handful of people who installed it – I wasn’t really expecting it to be rolled out for everyone.

  54. B says:

    I think you have fundamentally misunderstood the manosphere.

    First of all, it is divided into two parts that are quite distinct: The Red Pill/Pickup, and the Men’s Right’s movement.

    The Red Pill/PUA community is explicitly and proudly amoral. Their motto is, you’re losing? Well, it’s your fault for sucking so much, here are some things we think might help, if you don’t like it *get fucked.* Like, seriously, one of the first videos I saw from the PUA/TRP community had someone literally say that if you aren’t willing to go out and talk to girls, if you would rather stay inside with your computer, you should just kill yourself. It’s *not* a pro-man circlejerk, and the hate for “nice guys” on this part of the manosphere is very intense. Another example – there was a link to an advice column where a man said he was in a FLR – “female led relationship” – where his wife was fucking other women, and one of the most upvoted replies was that “men like this should be taken out and shot.”

    There is nothing in TRP/pickup that I have seen that is not *actively hostile* to the notion that men deserve sex. The party line is, awesome people get sex, if you aren’t getting sex I guess you suck, here’s how to be awesome. “Tough love” for “nice guys,” if it can be called love at all.

    The Men’s Rights movement is completely different, in that unlike TRP/pickup *it’s not directly about getting sex.* In fact getting sex is probably one of the least important things in the Men’s Rights sphere – the most important things are things like father/husband’s rights, gender imbalance in prison, lack of recognition for male victims of violence, false rape accusations, things like that. You ‘ll get a more sympathetic ear than average if you’re a “nice guy” wandering into a Men’s Rights area, but your problems getting sex are most certainly not topping the agenda there.

    “But when you deny everything and abuse anyone who brings it up, you cede this issue to people who sometimes do think all of these things.”

    *Where* in the manosphere do you find people who think all of these things? I am pretty familiar with the manosphere, and the vast majority of it fits into those two boxes I described. Neither of them have shown anything like unfair favoring of men, in my opinion – one of them has a great deal of hatred for women *and for men,* but that doesn’t fit your description.

    The manosphere does not remotely approach being a pro-male equivalent of the pro-female circlejerk that is feminism. On the TRP/Pickup side, I’m not seeing the comparison. Seriously, find me examples of feminists upvoting a comment that says that women who don’t prioritize getting a man should commit suicide. On the MR side of the equation, the most influential commentator on the Men’s Rights side is a woman (GirlWritesWhat), and she hasn’t faced any significant attacks from the movement for her gender. I’m really not seeing parallels here.

    Frankly it seems like you fall victim to the pervasive cultural bias towards recognizing attacks on women as glaring incidents and simply ignoring, or not noticing at all, attacks on men. This is the only way you’d be able to remotely see the “manosphere” as an opposite equivalence to feminism. Feminists vociferously attack men, even whole categories of men and are far less eager to attack women or categories of women (except when those women oppose feminism). TRP/Pickup communities vociferously attack women and men who fail to live up to their standard. Men’s Rights communities seem more concerned with political issues than with personal attacks most of the time, and when things do get personal being a man has no protective effect relative to being a woman in the way that the reverse applies for feminist attackers.

    I see a lot of evidence that the gender differences in automatic in group bias (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15491274) apply to the respective movements. Basically feminists are sexist, TRP/PUAs think women and men are both equally worthless (though I have seen more calls for execution and suicide aimed at men than at women in that community) and you should get pussy while the pussy’s good, and Men’s Rights activists are genuinely attempting to bring justice to wronged men (can you tell whose side I am on?) I’m pretty open to being convinced I am wrong, but people will need to do something besides conflate TRP/PUA and MR and then ignore the anti-male side of TRP/PUA in order to convince me.

    • Princess_Stargirl says:

      I too have spent a long time in the manosphere and think your portrayal of MRM/Redpill is basically right. Somewhere on less wrong I read that it is a good idea to explicitly state that you mostly agree with a message before saying/posting a response (assuming you do agree). Also I have a very engative view of the redpill as seen in my other comments (They have a sidebar article “Woman: the most responsible teenager in the house” etc).

      Some comments:

      I will add the caveat that the redpiller’s are pretty supportive of men who have accepted the redpill but have not yet gotten results (yet?). There are lots of upvoted posts of the form ” just swallowed the redpill and X.” Of course this is a very weak compliment toward the redpill.

      I agree wth you the Men’s Rights movement is currently a force for real euality. But I am kind of skeptical it will remain this way. Phrases like “NAWALT” and “concern trolling” are getting used to shut down internal criticism. The Mens Rights “leaders” seem to be a mixed bag. Christina Hoff Summers and especially Warren Farrell are obviously awesome and non-sexist. Girlwriteswhat and Paul Elam seem non-sexist but are imo too willing to make emotional appeals and hyper “provocative” claims. However the movement now honestly includes Stefan Molyneux as a leader (he spoke at the conference etc). Stef has said some pretty cruel things about women (blames women’s bad parenting for almost all social problems, says things like “vagina based parasites,” etc). So I am very concerned that the MRM will just turn out like feminism.

      A different point. What about the “Men going there own way” contingent. They seem to be accepted within MRM circles and often tolerated by Redpillers. I have seen upvoted posts on the redpill of the form “I am done fucking women, the risks of a flase rape accusation are too extreme.” Its not clear to me where MGTOW ideology fits in.

    • Jaskologist says:

      It’s *not* a pro-man circlejerk, and the hate for “nice guys” on this part of the manosphere is very intense

      Does a drill sergeant hate the new recruits? I don’t get the impression of hate; I see men giving other men very tough love in very harsh language.

      Glancing over there, I think this one currently on the front page captures the general sentiment pretty well. They are harsh because they think the world is harsh, and they are trying to prepare you for it.

  55. Hey, Scott. Thanks, of course, for the various flattering things you wrote about me in this post.

    I want to respond to parts of this post, but before I do, I’m hoping you’ll clarify what you meant in a couple of key sentences.

    You wrote (emphasis added by me):

    What I don’t sympathize with is Barry’s belief that THIS is somehow the fault of “the manosphere” “flooding the discourse”.

    What is the word “this” referring to in this sentence?

    And from the ending (again, emphasis me):

    Stop blaming the men’s movement for THE PROBLEM and notice the more fundamental problem that some parts of the men’s movement – as well as some parts of feminism are honestly trying to work on.

    Can you tell me what, specifically, “the problem” refers to in this sentence?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Randy M says:

      I think he would say the problem of “Women assuming that men complaining about loneliness are disingenuous, so-called ‘nice-guys’, appropriate targets for scorn and derision.”

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Both refer to the tendency to view complaining about being single as gross/associated with misogyny, and the consequent hostility directed at single people and especially single people who complain and especially single people who complain using the sorts of arguments I’m making here about it being unfair mean people have so much better success than they do.

      • Okay, thanks. But for the record, that’s not an accurate statement of “Barry’s belief.” I think you may have projected your own concerns and interests onto me.

        For instance, nothing in my post could reasonably be read as me complaining that it’s “unfair mean people have so much better success than [I] do.” That’s purely your projection.

        (Incidentally, that’s not a complaint that resonates with me. Perhaps whatever filters I unconsciously use to limit who I interact with are effective, because once I left school, I’ve hardly ever met anyone I’d call “mean.” Since I don’t really know any mean people, they aren’t a natural target of my envy.)

        I’m still thinking over your post and whether or not to respond to it. The thing you wrote that I’m most unhappy with is your framing me as Perfectfeministboy, which I am not and have never claimed to be. But there’s no real way to respond to that without making myself and my flaws a subject for debate, and I don’t think I’m up for that.

        Thanks, sincerely, for the “no personal attacks on Barry” rule.

  56. James James says:

    The story about Chen Shen is part of the reason we have greater and lesser punishments for greater and lesser crimes; indeed, part of the reason we have the concept of greater and lesser crimes.
    E.g. the punishment for robbery is less than the punishment for armed robbery because it creates an incentive against armed robbery.

  57. spxtr says:

    You’ve let the manosphere into your garden. Quotes from the comments:

    Women’s free sexual choice is a coordination problem that will destroy civilization very quickly.

    Basically women are smaller, weaker and less intelligent but still have genetic aims.

    Women are herd creatures to a much greater degree than men are and will basically try to figure out what the culture asks of them and do it.

    For the few men there’s only so many times you can hear “we’re not having sex tonight” (which is confirmation that you two are going to fuck) or “I don’t normally do this” or find out she’s got a boyfriend or a guy she lives with or a husband before you’re simply accept that women are almost always lying to everyone about everything sexual – most importantly to themselves.

    There are serial killers who target women. This stick out in our minds because it is unusual for women to be victims of violence instead of men, and it is more emotionally affecting than the targeting of men because we place much, much, much higher innate value on women’s lives. If feminism were to claim “that guy hated women and wanted to hurt them,” and then ended that sentence and paragraph there, then it would be right. But feminism and feminists cannot stop there. They will invariably add on that this is an expression of our society’s accepted hatred for women, and normalization of harm to women, even though this is the complete opposite of the truth. They will then add that this means we need to “have a conversation” about how women don’t feel safe, and what men should do to make them feel safer, even though women are by every objective measurement possible much, much safer than men.

    Look, I’m an MRA. Obviously. I reject feminism. I have looked at feminism, I have looked at what feminism claims to believe and claims to teach, what feminism actually believes and teaches, and the results of feminism’s actions, and I have concluded “Fuck that noise.” Feminism is wrong one hundred percent of the time. That is WHY feminism needs to be destroyed, not just ignored, because every person who subscribes to feminist ideology is one more person who will never, ever correctly analyze any single situation, and who will vehemently, violently oppose any effort at reform that might actually solve a problem.

    Time to do some weeding, eh?

    • Scott F says:

      The post’s contention was that the manosphere is the only place people are saying something about lonely men that isn’t abuse. If the only person in town who knows how to grow chrysanthemums also happens to be a Nazi, and you really like chrysanthemums, you’re gonna end up with a few swastikas mowed into your lawn.

    • Princess_Stargirl says:

      The first 4 of those seem much, much worse than the last 2. The first four are explicitly and virulently anti-women. Genuine sexism is really not ok. I would strongly prefer that sort of post be deleted from the comment section here, though this is Scott’s blog and he can do what he wants.

      The last two are intense criticisms of feminism. Imo they are pretty insulting to the many reasonable people who identify as feminist. These sorts of comments do seem harmful to the discourse here. Very few of the feminists scott wants to talk to are going to feel comfortable posting here if comments like the last two become common. And if they do post they are going to feel uncomfortable. The “feminist” posts Scott will get are the ones he doesn’t want.

      I personally have equally negative feelings toward sweeping, extreme criticisms of the MRA (“the MRM is dangerous and wrong about everything” would be an example). However MRM types would probably still come? And given Scott’s ration of Pro/Anti “Social Justice” posts I really do think Scott should be sensitive to the risk of losing a balanced comment section.

      However I feel much less strongly about the last two examples than the first two. I do not understand how the first four can possibly be justified, they break the comment policy (very controversial and insulting claim without evidence), and they are going to hurt readers who are female or feel for their female friends/family.

      edit: I do not mean to insult feminists by using the phrase “reasonable feminist.” I think most people are unreasonable when it comes to political issues. This includes most feminists, most MRAs, etc. So my view that many self declared feminists are not likely to engage in a debate over feminism fairly is not a critique of feminism. It is true of all political movements I know of.

      • anon1 says:

        Agree overall, and suggest banning Steve Johnson as he’s clearly violated the comment policy repeatedly (unkind, and inaccurate without being truth-seeking). The other commenters I’ll watch with interest for now.

        • Wulfrickson says:

          (I believe that this comment satisfies true and necessary.)

          I strongly endorse banning Steve Johnson, and am frankly surprised that he’s escaped punishment this long, especially given Scott’s declared intent of banning a large number of neoreactionaries. He is rude and uncharitable (saying things like “Progressives do not take evolution seriously”), prone to making outlandish factual claims for which he provides zero evidence, and quick to make offensive essentialist statements such as “Women are X and men are Y” based in the best case on differing but largely overlapping distributions for X and Y, and in the worst case on outlandish factual claims based on zero evidence – and all this with almost admirable consistency. He is the worst of the remaining reactionaries by a large margin, his presence is an insult to SSC’s usual admirable standards for discourse and epistemology, and we would lose nothing of consequence by ridding ourselves of him.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Thirded, not that this is a democracy. We need a better quality of NRxer. Steve Johnson is making nydwracu look bad.

    • DrBeat says:

      Hi! Care to tell me what was actually “weedable” about the things I posted, other than “they speak negatively about my ideology, which I define as always being right”?

      • The Anonymouse says:

        One of, if not the most, valuable things about SSC’s comment section is that you actually get to hear diverse and controversial views articulately stated. I value it tremendously, and at risk of typical-minding, I suspect I’m not the only one.

        Unfortunately, sometimes people come along and, rather than risk a moment feeling uncomfortable, want to fiat those voices away. I’d rather hear them, and maybe learn something. I find the neoreactionaries deluded; our hard-lefties execrable; and our PUAs pitiable. But I value every one of them who puts in the effort to argue their position.

        Please, Scott, lets keep our “weeding” in the actual garden, not our comments section.

        • Zorgon says:

          +1 to this. No hugbox plz.

          • Anonymous says:

            +1 to this too.

            Also, Scott, can I just register here my concerns about banning any more of the low quality rightists (at least without also banning the concomitant low-quality leftists). Banning just the low quality rightists gives the remainder a rhetorical advantage which is difficult to correct for where they can point at and mock all the leftist idiocy while having none of their own to defend. Basically, if we keep pitting feminists like Veronica against neoreactionaries like Nydwracu, everyone is going to get a very skewed picture of the relative merits of the two ideologies

        • Carinthium says:

          Backing this up.

        • Multiheaded says:

          D-d-do not insult senpai.

      • Princess_Stargirl says:

        “Feminism is wrong one hundred percent of the time. That is WHY feminism needs to be destroyed, not just ignored, because every person who subscribes to feminist ideology is one more person who will never, ever correctly analyze any single situation, and who will vehemently, violently oppose any effort at reform that might actually solve a problem.”

        You posted this on a site where many people identify as femnisits, including for example Ozy. Not only is this insulting its clearly false. Ozy is a feminist and has correctly analyzed many situations. If you are going to insult people, at least speak accurately.

        You are a self described MRA. Surely you realize how harmful it is when people stereotype the whole MRA as a bunch of sexist nutcases. Such insults are very common and very unfair. that quote is doing to others what you would compalin about if it was done to MRAs (ok Idk if you would be upset if this was done to the MRM but I surely would).

        Just to be clear I am not saying your posts should be removed or anything crazy. Just you asked what was wrong with the post.

        • DrBeat says:

          I didn’t say all feminists were terrible, condemnable sexist people. I said they were all wrong. And I stand by that, if they have any relationship with mainstream feminist ideology (you could say “well, this person doesn’t believe any of the things feminists believe and calls themselves a feminist, you’re wrong!” but the conclusion of that logic is that no ideology, or movement, or group can have any attributes at all).

          If someone wants to say “All MRAs are evil and sexist,” they are an asshole. If they want to say “The MRA worldview is always wrong and here’s why,” that’s something to engage with.

          • Anon says:

            OK, I technically agree, but “anyone who agrees with you will be wrong about every single thing, always, forever” is a claim so broad as to be qualitatively different from “this worldview is wrong”.

            Also, “they will vehemently, violently oppose […]” is not just a statement about the correctness of a point of view but a (quite extreme) prediction of what people will do. If someone says “all MRAs will rape women” (certainly a thing people say!), this is a very different thing from saying “all MRAs are wrong”. Moreover, that prediction is unnecessary, unkind, and in all probability untrue. It’s insulting, not engaging.

          • DrBeat says:

            OK, I technically agree, but “anyone who agrees with you will be wrong about every single thing, always, forever” is a claim so broad as to be qualitatively different from “this worldview is wrong”.

            …How so? If you are using a faulty equation to arrive at your results, you will get the wrong answers. If you use this faulty equation consistently, you will consistently get the wrong answers. If your worldview requires you to make certain fundamental assumptions when analyzing problems, and those assumptions aren’t true, then any time you analyze a problem (to which the assumptions are relevant, anyway, it isn’t like feminists can’t do algebra) with that worldview, your answer will be wrong.

          • Anon says:

            DrBeat: basically, because worldviews aren’t equations. Is your position that any worldview which is in any way flawed will never derive any answer which is correct even in part? If so, is your position also that your worldview is 100% correct? Because for my part I am certain that my position is sufficiently complex that some parts of it are flawed, even though there’s nothing in particular I can point to and say is wrong (because then I would reject it).

            Something can be on the whole wrong but still occasionally operate successfully, perhaps on a restricted subset of issues. Hell, I’d say that describes most political viewpoints. This is why your claim (“feminism always wrong”) was very extreme (vs “feminism wrong often/when applied to all situations/etc”).

          • DrBeat says:

            No, I don’t believe that any worldview has to be 100% flawless or else it’s always wrong.

            But when the fundamental, basic, square 1 assumption from which you begin every single analysis is the exact and literal opposite of reality, and your perceptive biases prevent you from seeing at least some quantity of useful information in every single event or phenomenon you analyze then yes, you will always be wrong one hundred percent of the time.

            Feminism’s square 1 assumption is that sexism is/ is due to the hatred of and desire to harm women. Sexism toward women is the infantilizing, condescending desire to protect them from harm. If you see every attempt to protect you from harm as proof of how nobody wants to protect you from harm, you will always be wrong about everyone’s motivations and actions. Sexism sees women as precious, incapable, fragile victims who are acted upon and do not act, and men as disposable, competent, threatening agents who act and are not acted upon. This is also how feminism seems men and women. If your way of combating sexism is only capable of seeing the vulnerability of the people that sexism says are vulnerable, and only capable of seeing the threat of the people that sexism says are threatening, then all of your efforts to fight the injustice you see will be based in making sexism worse. You will also never, ever be correct.

          • I think you’re mistaken about feminism’s attribution of malice– some feminists do seem to assume malice, but the oppression of women can also be explained because it’s convenient.

            It’s convenient to believe that it’s the nature of half the population to properly have no ambition outside the home.

            To take a smaller example, if a man tells a women on the street to smile, he almost certainly isn’t trying to piss her off, he’s trying to make his environment more pleasant for himself.

          • Anon says:

            DrBeat: you’re flat wrong about mainstream feminism’s claims as a question of fact. Since this topic is important to you, maybe spend an hour skimming the SEP: this might be a good place to start. And, to my recollection, very rarely will you find sexism attributed to malice anywhere outside of sections whose title includes the world “radical”.

            But my point is that even if you were correct, feminism as you posit it would still get some analyses right, unless there are no situations at all in which sexism really was the result of “the hatred and desire to harm women”. This is still a very extreme claim.

          • DrBeat says:

            There may be a time when someone’s sexist behavior is due to a hatred of and desire to harm women.

            There has never and will never be a time when society’s treatment of women is due to hatred of and desire to harm women. All feminist analysis will identify an event or trend that disadvantages women (even if it disadvantages men far worse, because feminist analysis cannot see men be harmed or victimized) as evidence of our society’s hatred of and desire to harm women. So it will always be wrong.

          • Anon says:

            Again, your caricature of feminism is a strawman, and not even a particular reasonable one. This isn’t me declaring people to be feminists despite not holding any of the tenants of feminism, this is me telling you that you are mistaken about the tenants of feminism. But I’m going to leave that aside.

            The problem with your position is that all worldviews tend to interpret events in such a way that they confirm the view. Feminism is not uniquely guilty of this, nor is it exceptionally more so than other worldviews. This fact is not generally sufficient for us to describe people who hold any political position as “wrong about everything 100% of the time”.

    • Matthew O says:

      Why delete them? Even if I don’t agree with them, I think they could provide for some interesting jumping-off points for conversation. Except for the first one which appears to be more of a normative claim based off of a complex of descriptive claims, these are all descriptive claims that could, in theory, be invalidated through thoughtful discussion, assuming the evidence stacks up against them.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I have consistently been looking for a reason to ban Steve Johnson, but he has done a pretty good job recently of stating his views, abhorrent though they may be, with a minimum of editorializing, slurs, trolling, or personal attacks. As such he is not banned for the time being.

      • Anonymous says:

        He is great at making me question my views. This is because I take both his disagreement and his agreement with me (a scary amount of that today) as counterevidence to my positions.

        Meta-question inspired by that: is guilt by association a more viable argumentative strategy when employed against oneself than against others? It feels this way to me but I can’t imagine what would make it the case.

      • RCF says:

        You have stated a policy of prohibiting comments that are not at least two of true, necessary, and kind, and I think that saying that women are incapable of farming, to take one example, is quite clearly untrue and unkind. This leaves me feeling that your description of your commenting policy is significantly inaccurate and does little to let commenters know which comments will be allowed, and that your moderation policy is overly capricious.

    • Fadeway says:

      I think we should just shut up and let Scott do as Scott wants.

  58. CaptainBooshi says:

    I would like to comment on a few things:

    First, I don’t agree with your reading of Barry’s blog. You assume that he is afraid of being labeled a “Nice Guy,” the concept of which has been around for a long time, but that didn’t really seem to be the issue for him at all. He explicitly says it’s because he doesn’t want to be associated with the ‘manosphere’ in any way, and he feels that complaints about lack of romantic success have become inextricably linked to that portion of the internet. To sum up, he doesn’t seem worried about how people will interpret his posts, like you seem to assume, as much as making sure he personally isn’t at all similar to people he dislikes.

    Second, I do agree that the term ‘Nice Guy’ is a pretty horrible one, because semantics are important. People who don’t deserve it are swept up by this title because it was so poorly chosen, and it muddles what should be an useful concept. However, the idea of a “Nice Guy” is an important, useful concept. It does capture a behavior, a mindset, that should be discussed. There are men who believe that they are entitled to sex if they behave in certain ways, and that women who don’t respond are doing something wrong, and this is reinforced by our culture in many ways. I just wish it wasn’t tied into the term “Nice Guy,” which kind of ruins the whole discussion.

    Third, I think it’s worth pointing out that women, completely objectively, have it worse online than men. There have been studies done on this (this one was the first one I found with a moment of googling). It happens to men, too, as you show in that link, but it’s just not comparable in amount or intensity.

    Relatedly, I think an important aspect of this whole debate that you never mention is relative cultural power. To clarify, I believe, in today’s culture, women still have it significantly worse than men. It’s better than before, but still nowhere near equal. I believe the disparity is obvious, to the point that if you don’t see it or deny it, there is something wrong with your perception of the world. To this point, there is a difference between punching up at those with more power than you, and punching down at those with less. Dirty tricks should still be verboten, of course, but even when they are used, one side will get a lot more leeway than the other. This is the primary difference between the feminist internet and the ‘manosphere,’ to me. I don’t see the behavior of either side being worse than the other, but one is simply more unforgivable because they are punching down.

    • Anonymous says:

      Isn’t one of the central ideas behind the whole post that these women are punching down at low-status, low-power males rather than up at powerful (but therefore desirable) ones? You are, in fact, doing exactly what the post is trying to warn against: excusing genuinely awful behavior toward people who are trying in good faith not to be “Henry”s.

      It should be obvious that low-status males who are trying to be good people have less power in sexual situations than almost any women. You can keep telling yourself that you and others are “punching up” at virgins, the physically unattractive, the mentally ill, and so on. But it is impossible to punch up at a punching bag. See this great post, linked above: http://mainisusuallyafunction.blogspot.com/2014/06/on-depression-privilege-and-online.html?m=1

      • nydwracu says:

        Moldbug on contempt vs. resentment is relevant here.

        Are UR links in comments banned? I had a longer comment but it got silently eaten. Here’s the quote — Google for source.

        English, at least, uses very different words for group emotional response depending on the rank relationship of the castes involved.

        For example, affection, as expressed from higher to lower, becomes caring or concern. … But when this same emotion goes from lower to higher, it becomes loyalty or respect. … Historically, the relationship of reciprocal concern and loyalty, normally felt between elites and their subjects, is very common and remarkably stable.

        Likewise, animosity, when expressed from higher to lower, appears as contempt. Expressed from lower to higher, it comes out as resentment. No one could possibly mistake these emotions for each other.

      • CaptainBooshi says:

        It should be obvious that low-status males who are trying to be good people have less power in sexual situations than almost any women. You can keep telling yourself that you and others are “punching up” at virgins, the physically unattractive, the mentally ill, and so on.

        First of all, as a 30-year old, morbidly obese, depressed virgin, I do my best not to punch at these people at all, because I am in the exact same situation. Nevertheless, I believe that you are completely wrong. I do not feel it obvious men like me have less power. I, in fact, feel it is obvious that men like me still have more power in these situations than women, which is one of the reasons I am a feminist.

        I am also not excusing genuinely awful behavior. I specifically say that dirty tricks should be verboten on both sides. To me, however, it seemed as if Scott was ignoring what I felt was a crucial part of the dynamics of the situation. I simply wanted to bring it up in the comments so it was represented.

      • anon1 says:

        Just want to point out that the post you link is about being a man trying to help women in the tech industry. It is very much not about the sexual marketplace, even though both discussions see some similar bad arguments.

    • nydwracu says:

      Say you have two groups: the Blues and the Greens. Blue/Green status is assigned at birth. Power is normally distributed within each group, but the Green bell curve is a standard deviation higher than the Blue bell curve. Within both groups, there is some fraction of the population, call them Crocodiles, that enjoys punching down, and wants to maximize their own personal power in order to maximize their number of potential targets. (We’ll assume that power is fixed-sum.)

      Some Blues are dissatisfied with their lot, and appeal to ethical principles shared among a sufficient power-quantity of Blues and Greens in order to try to raise the Blue standard deviation. To do this, they form a group: the Whitecloaks. Whitecloak membership is, of course, open.

      The Whitecloaks gain a sufficient amount of power to influence a sufficient power-quantity of Blues and Greens to do this — that is, more power than the Green average.

      At this point, some Crocodiles realize what’s up, join the Whitecloaks, and do their best to rise through the ranks. They can’t attack Blues as long as there’s a risk of getting thrown out of the Whitecloaks by non-Crocodiles for contradicting the point of the Whitecloaks’ existence, so they only attack Greens, and do their best to appear to be normal Whitecloaks, rather than coming across as Crocodilian.

      Eventually, enough Whitecloaks become convinced that it’s also acceptable to attack Blues who are read as opposing the Whitecloaks that it’s no longer unsafe for the Crocodiles within the Whitecloaks to attack those Blues. (It doesn’t matter whether or not the Crocodiles are responsible for this.) So the Crocodiles, who do their best to appear to be normal Whitecloaks, proceed to viciously attack those two groups.

      Are Blues who are at risk of being read as opposing the Whitecloaks justified in opposing the Whitecloaks? Are Greens justified in opposing the Whitecloaks?

      • CaptainBooshi says:

        Well, first of all, I don’t agree with your reading of the situation, but to go along with the premise, I will take it as a given.

        To be frank, no, I don’t think either group is truly justified in opposing the Whitecloaks. Opposing the Crocodiles, sure, but you’re arguing that because some part of the group is doing wrong things, and some of the rest of the group is allowing it, that we should stop trying to do the right thing at all. The answer should never be, ‘stop trying to do the right thing.’

        • nydwracu says:

          This implies that it’s possible to tell the difference between Crocodile and non-Crocodile Whitecloaks, and that the Whitecloaks can still do the right thing when they’re full of Crocodiles.

          There are two problems with this.

          The first problem is that the Crocodiles do their best to disguise their Crocodilian nature. How good are they at it? If they’re competent enough, they can appear to be normal Whitecloaks — or even the best Whitecloaks.

          The Crocodiles need to prevent themselves from being distinguishable from the rest of the Whitecloaks in order to gain power: if they’re obviously Crocodiles, they risk being opposed, both from outside and inside the Whitecloaks.

          The Crocodiles also have motivation to rise in power within the Whitecloaks, both so they can punch down at Whitecloaks with less power and so they can rewrite Whitecloak norms in order to maximize the number of people they can be seen as justified in downpunching.

          This is the second problem. Whitecloak norms aren’t invariant over time, and Crocodiles are strongly motivated to rewrite them.

          I should have explicitly specified the assumption that the Crocodiles are competent. If the Crocodiles are competent, they’ll be indistinguishable from the Whitecloaks, and they’ll rewrite Whitecloak norms toward their own ends.

          ——

          Separate question: what don’t you agree with about my reading of the situation?

          I’ve written before about the crocodilian strain of leftism that came out of Something Awful, and is now gaining influence in not just Tumblr, but also places like Gawker. This seems like that process at work.

          Internet feminism’s habit of attacking low-status men, mentioned elsewhere in this comment section, also falls under this. (As far as I can tell, gamers are a bigger issue within internet feminism than Rotherham.)

          • CaptainBooshi says:

            Nydwracu, in your proposed situation, it should be easy to see the Crocodiles posing as Whitecloaks. They’re the ones punching down. Your second problem would be a problem, but makes action opposing the Crocodiles all the more important, since the longer it goes on, the worse it would get.

            As to your other question, let me first address that final comment just to get it out of the way. You should honestly expect internet feminism to have a larger reaction to gamers than Rotherham, and not for any pernicious reason, but purely human, even reasonable, ones. First of all, the whole gamer thing recently all happened online, in plain sight of everyone. The internet is where internet feminism lives. It’s as if you saw something horrible happening right now inside of your house, right in front of you. Not only that, there simply isn’t anything internet feminism can even do about Rotherham. It’s in Britain, a distant country for most people online, and most of the action there is happening in the physical world, where the internet can’t do much with any effectiveness. The gamers mess recently, however, all happened online, in places where internet feminism can effectively use what muscle it has. What happened in Rotherham is much, much worse than the gamers mess. Is it any wonder, though, that people are going to focus on the thing happening right in front of them that they can actually try to do something about, instead of something far away they can’t help with at all?

            Now, to talk about the actual question you had! Well, one thing is that I do not believe the problem is as bad or wide-spread as it is commonly represented here. I do believe it is a real problem that feminism faces today, but I also believe it is not as bad as you paint it, where the Crocodiles have pretty much taken over. But I could be mistaken about that, and you have a clearer view from the outside than I do from the inside. So let’s assume you are correct about how bad it is! I still don’t really agree with your reading of the situation, and it has to do with who the ‘Crocodiles’ are.

            I don’t think it’s a separate group of people within feminists just using feminism as an excuse to punch down at people, anymore than I think there’s a bunch of people in the manosphere using the manosphere as an excuse to punch down at people. There probably are people like that who exist, but I honestly think they are so few as to be negligible. There are just easier ways to hurt people if that’s your goal.

            Some of the people punching are just damaged people. They’ve been hurt, and they’re just flailing out at what they perceive as their attackers. Some of the people believe that this is a genuine method to help their side. They’re hurting those who would oppose them and hold them back, and that’s how you win a fight, right? (I know that’s not right, I’m just trying to express what I believe their opinion would be.) Some people are just mimicking what they see others do in the hopes of gaining success or helping. Some people don’t see themselves as punching down at all, they see themselves as fighting the power. I’m sure there are more categories, but these are the ones coming to mind right now.

            The methods of dealing with people like these are very different than the methods for dealing with people who just like to punch down.

            I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your post for two days, I was busy and didn’t have time to write respond (it takes me a long time to express myself the way I like. I’ve spent over an hour on this comment already, for example). It was probably for the better, anyways. It gave me time to calm down. Scott’s posts on feminism are always so combative that I get riled up and defensive, and that’s never a good state to attempt communicating in. I can see that in my earlier posts, in fact. I was honest, but really too emphatic about what I believed, and it came across judgmental and overconfident.

          • Matthew says:

            Scott’s posts on feminism are always so combative

            From the other side, this sounds like you are calibrated such that anything that isn’t prefaced by, interspersed with, and concluded by preemptive concessions strikes you as unreasonable. I’d say Scott is pretty much the opposite of combative.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      One of my pet peeves is people saying a single study ‘completely objectively’ proves their point. For example, another recent study shows that men get twice as much Twitter abuse than women.

      It seems obvious to me that feminists are punching down and the manosphere punching up, which suggests that one of us is confused about status. Feminists are universally respected, have a bunch of prestigious professorships, and get their talking points quoted by the White House on a frequent basis. When they attack nerds or creeps or gamers or “nice guys”, they are punching down. Lots of them get six figure speaking fees from governments and NGOs. Manosphere bloggers are universally loathed, associated with criminals, and desperately try to hide their real names. When they attack the pretty fashionable women who rejected them, and/or Hillary Clinton, they are equally obviously punching up.

      I think you’re using some extremely broad vision in which men earn more money / have more Senate seats than women, therefore any female attack on men is automatically punching up. But if you look at the actual people involved in the actual interactions, I think it’s pretty much the opposite of that. It’s basically “high status women attacking low status men, using as an excuse that in general women are lower status than men.”

      • CaptainBooshi says:

        I was not trying to say one study completely objectively proves my point. I was trying to say that I had seen several studies (edit: I had originally said “many studies,” but it simply isn’t true to say ‘many’), and had personal experience backing it up, and that was simply the first study I brought up by googling for a few seconds. I apologize if I wasn’t clear enough. That article you link to sounds very interesting, since it is so counter to everything I have seen before, and I’ll have to see if I can find the original paper to read.

        I am also not using some extremely broad vision of power, focusing on things like money-earning power or seats on the senate. I truly believe in systemic differences of power, that permeate every encounter between men and women. It obviously won’t be true in every case, but in the vast majority of the cases you are talking about, I genuinely see feminists as the ones punching up.

        Unfortunately, it does appear that we see things so completely differently that it wouldn’t do any good to hash them out in the deep comments on a thread. As one example, I don’t think feminists are universally respected. In fact, I would say they are more hated than respected in our culture. For example, you can see in this poll that more respondants consider feminist to be a negative term than a positive one. I live in a conservative area, and personally know way more people with negative views of feminism than positive views. For you to say that they are universally respected indicates a worldview so different from mine it’s practically unrecognizable.

        I’m mainly posting these comments because I want to see my point of view represented in the blog somewhere, not because I have any hope of convincing you, Scott.

        • Ken Arromdee says:

          As one example, I don’t think feminists are universally respected. In fact, I would say they are more hated than respected in our culture.

          It’s a relative term. They can be less respected than high-status men, but more respected than low-status men.

        • Emile says:

          I live in a conservative area, and personally know way more people with negative views of feminism than positive views. For you to say that they are universally respected indicates a worldview so different from mine it’s practically unrecognizable.

          I live in a pretty different environment (tech companies in Paris), so I do indeed find your world different in interesting ways.

          I have a theory about how a lot of disagreement on the internet just comes from people being in different social environments, making generalizations about what they observe (phrased as “people seem to like this”, “people do that”, etc.), talk about those on the internet in general terms, and then get into arguments about what they think is common sense.

          • nydwracu says:

            I have a theory (as of 7:15 AM) about how a lot of disagreement both on and off the internet comes from the difficulty

            I have another theory about how some disagreement comes from mismatches of assumed connotations between the writer and the reader.

            But yes, you’re right.

            Where it gets really fun is when shared similar experiences lead to faction formation and then the factions develop belief-systems that deny or rationalize away the existence of dissimilar experiences.

      • CaptainBooshi says:

        I did find the original study the article you linked was referencing here, and it’s pretty interesting in it’s specifics. For example, in general, men will receive more public abuse on Twitter, with the exception of journalists. Female journalists and TV news anchors receive three times the abuse of their male counterparts. Why in the world would female journalists receive way more abuse comparatively than female politicians, or female celebrities? That seems really odd.

        • Matthew says:

          I have some methodological issues with that study, although not the methodological issue I predicted I would have before looking at it.

          I anticipated they would use sentiment analysis, but last I checked, the best sentiment analysis software for Twitter was still only about 70% accurate (and that’s just for positive-neutral-negative).

          However, they didn’t even do that. They just filtered the tweets by whether they contained words from google’s dirty word filter. There are two problems with this that I can see, one small and one large.

          Small problem: the assumption that the dirty word is aimed at the person being tweeted about rather than a third party. This is probably true in most cases, but not necessarily all of them.

          Large problem: Some of these words have non-abusive applications. For example, if Jane Q. Politician posts something, and someone replies, “Damn Straight!”, this methodology registers that as abuse (“damn” is on the blacklist) rather than agreement.

          • CaptainBooshi says:

            Matthew, that’s actually a really good point. I completely missed that it would register positive but crude, and even neutral but crude, comments as being abuse. Someone who has an audience more willing to curse in a tweet would register as receiving far more abuse, which makes the data so messy I’m thinking this study is pretty much useless. I guess that’s why this was just sent out as a press release, and they didn’t actually try to make a paper out of it.

            That kind of sucks, because it seemed so interesting when I first looked at it. I was so eager to find something completely contrary to my expectations I failed to critically examine the statistics.

        • Steve Johnson says:

          They also don’t receive nearly as many Pulitzer prizes.

          Two possible explanations:

          1) The Pulitzer prize committee is a bunch of sexists
          2) Women are underrepresented among exceptional journalists

          In a world where (1) is true then maybe the same explanation accounts for the extra abuse women who are journalists get. In that world women would write under pseudonyms that hide the fact that they’re women and so avoid abuse and collect Pulitzers.

          In a world where (2) is true there’s social pressure to hire more women as journalists that is stronger than the desire to hire good journalists and bad journalists get more abuse.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            My model would be that good journalists would get more abuse, because they are running around comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

          • Anonymous says:

            Odd, my model is that bad journalists would get more abuse because they use shoddy rhetorical tricks, dont research, and round everything to the nearest cliche. They are also (I would imagine) more likely to create sensationalist articles to mine for clicks and pageviews, and when you craft a piece to be sensationalist, you are basically an outrage maximizer. A good journalist would presumably need to do this less and/or be more convincing when they do so, so that they get less outrage

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Do you think most hate is because journalists are bad at journalism or because the journalists are saying things people don’t like? I’d predict the latter.

          • Anonymous says:

            Fair enough, but if good journalist implies convincing writer they could get away with telling people things they dont want to hear better than a bad journalist. So controlling for how visible their journalism is, I would still expect a good one to get less hate than a bad one.

            Also, a good journalist would presumably be ‘punching up’ at the actually powerful. I am guessing an expose on coca-cola hiring mercenaries to suppress unions or something would be reported by a good journalist (doing actual research) whereas a bad journalist would go for an easier way of generating page views by pretending to attack powerful people but offending many in the process.

            I guess tl;dr would be good journalists would get their page views from interesting facts, bad journalists from causing offense.

          • Anonymous, “round to the nearest cliche” is a great phrase.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Nancy, that’s Yudkowsky’s.

            There’s also a general problem with reporters which is that they don’t write what happened, they write the Nearest Cliche to what happened – which is very little information for backward inference, especially if there are few cliches to be selected from. The distance from actual Extropians to the Nearest Cliche “reclusive enclave of techno-millionaires” is kinda large. This may get a separate post at some point.

    • Donald L says:

      Captain Booshi:

      To clarify, I believe, in today’s culture, women still have it significantly worse than men. It’s better than before, but still nowhere near equal. I believe the disparity is obvious, to the point that if you don’t see it or deny it, there is something wrong with your perception of the world.

      I don’t think it’s obvious at all that women have it significantly worse than men. That seems like an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence.

      I think men and women both deal with shitty treatment based on gender. As far as I can tell, feminism has been drawing more attention towards mistreatment towards women for decades, which creates a lot of confirmation bias. I don’t think anyone has taken a rigorous look at the suffering of both women and men and tried to compare them.

      There are a bunch of possibilities here. Maybe women have it worse. Maybe men have it worse. Maybe they have it “equally bad.” Maybe they both have it bad in different ways which are incomparable. Maybe men have higher variance in how bad they have it, placing more men at the top and more men at the bottom.

      All I see is feminists taking their own anecdotal observations of female suffering, along with whatever statistics confirm their beliefs, and then assuming that women must have it worse, without a serious attempt at understanding what men are dealing with.

      I understand that your experiences may indicate that women have it worse, and I acknowledge that as a possibility, but there have never been any remotely good arguments that this is actually the case.

  59. zslastman says:

    “I do not think women are idiots who don’t know what’s good for them”
    I do. Men are.

    I think this is a significant part of the problem. Our society universally accepts women saying things like “men are shallow pigs” when they feel hard done by. An unattractive girl has accepted the simple reality that she is unattractive because of her appearance, and is allowed to blame men for not wanting “the real her”.

    But women are shallow pigs as well. They are shallow in slightly different ways, but they are. Men can’t vent to their friends about this. So they go online to do it. The benevolent sexism surrounding women’s sex drive is a source of a lot of male misery. And feminism has trouble addressing the point because they cannot say “yes we too are pigs”. This feels like losing.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      I thought it was this one about poverty.
      http://www.city-journal.org/html/9_2_oh_to_be.html

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Hm. He’s not too wrong about the heroin withdrawal thing, in that it’s true that practically no one dies of opiate withdrawal and that in hospitals we take alcohol withdrawal super super seriously and demand it be monitored at all times but opiate withdrawal is more of a “Yeah, I guess we should be nice and treat it” kind of thing. He’s also right that the symptoms of opiate withdrawal are very similar to the symptoms of flu. On the other hand, I’ve had some pretty terrible flus. “This is only a little worse than the flu” and “Common decency requires us to treat this” don’t seem completely inconsistent.

      The much more important objection here is that opiate maintenance therapy has very little to do with keeping people out of withdrawal, and much more to do with keeping them from being addicted. While one might naively think that “treating” opiate addiction by giving people addictive opiates is a kind of hollow victory, the difference between methadone/suboxone and heroin is night and day – even before you factor in the fact that people will provide you with the methadone so you don’t have to steal or become a prostitute to afford it. There are about infinity billion studies showing that opioid maintenance therapy is by far by far by far the best way to prevent relapse and improve the lives of opioid addicts. There’s no way Dalrymple can’t be aware of this, which makes his focus on withdrawal a red herring and seriously lowers my opinion of his honesty.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Given the framing of administering methadone in jail, the topic of withdrawal seems pretty reasonable as does most of the essay.

        Yes, you can tell that he knows everything you say about methadone, because he addresses it point by point. There’s no way you can’t be aware of this, because you read the essay.

        • I can’t see that Darymple has addressed Scott’s points. Could you give quotes?

          Darymple seens to be giving worst case examples rather than overviews of the whole situation.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I do not endorse (or reject) any of Dalrymple’s claims. I do not claim that he is factually or morally correct. I only claim that he addresses everything Scott said.
            I resent that I need this disclaimer.

            First, Scott says that methadone and heroin are night and day. I assume that means that people addicted to methadone can hold down a job, while people addicted to heroin cannot. Dalrymple rejects this and offers that most morphine addicts in 1930s America held down jobs. We could quibble about opium vs morphine vs heroin vs methadone, but people usually put morphine and heroin together. It would be interesting to study people who buy buprenorphine on the black market in Finland and Georgia. Are they functional like people receiving it from a clinic? Or are they like heroin addicts? The difference between receiving opiates on a schedule and buying them ad libitum may be more important than the choice of opiate.

            Second, Scott says that heroin addiction drives people to crime. Dalrymple counters that those he has surveyed committed hundreds of crimes before ever trying heroin, and thus rejects the claim that addiction drives people into crime. There is a quantitative version, that they will make additional thefts to pay for the drugs. In most of the essay Dalrymple takes a binary approach to most matters, but in the end, he seems to endorse it, by calling for addiction to be an aggravating factor in sentencing thieves, implying that addicted thieves are worse than clean thieves.

            Third, Scott mentions studies that methadone treatment reduces relapse. Here Scott is the one making qualitative claims: Do we care that methadone has the best success rates, if they are abysmally low? Dalrymple mentions a study that 90% of people sentenced to rehab were re-convicted within 2 years, from which he concludes that virtually all continue to be thieves. But he does not address how many continue to be addicts. Indeed, he mentions 75%; if 75% fail to comply with rehab, but 90% are re-convicted in 2 years, perhaps they are more successful in keeping off of drugs than in keeping out of victim-ful crime.

            But I do not know what the 75% means. Dalrymple does not actually say “rehab,” but “community sentences,” so this could be any kind of parole violation, such as not meeting the parole officer, but I think it means that they did not even attempt rehab, with a much higher relapse rate.

            If we are considering offering methadone, compared to not offering it, the fact that 75% reject the offer is in no way worse than if there were no offer. (If they accept it and sell it on the black market, the situation he describes in France, then it may be worse.)

            But those are not the only options. The context is not what to do with an addict who comes asking for help. Such a person should be offered the best treatment, even if no treatment is effective. The context is what to do with addict-thieves. The old guideline was jail. The new guideline is rehab. If people go through rehab only to end up in jail in 2 years, why bother? Why not keep the old system? At least they are not stealing from jail. Scott talks about improving the life of addicts. Dalrymple has given up on the addicts and wants to improve the life of their victims.

            ━━━━━━━━━

            Oh, you asked for quotes. I emphasize that this is all explicit in Dalrymple. Only the negative editorializing is mine. If you want quotes, search for 1930, “great majority,” 90%, 75%, “community sentences,” and guidelines.

            Examples? He gives two examples, one of patients suing about the torment of withdrawal, which he compares to the flu, and one of a methadone overdose in prison. He also gives statistics, such as 1/3 as many fatal methadone overdoses as fatal heroin and morphine overdoses. And then he gives tons of other statistics, such as the ones I mentioned above. There are probably fewer anecdotes in this essay than in any other Dalrymple essay I have read.

  60. Patrick Robotham says:

    I liked the Heartless Bitches essay, as well as the companion xkcd (http://xkcd.com/513/). For me, the point is that it’s unreasonable to expect or resent someone for not going out with you when you haven’t taken the trouble to ask them out. Then “Nice Guy” denotes “A guy who doesn’t ask out women he’s attracted to, but instead expects them to magically be aware of his attraction.”

    Incidentally, reading anti-Nice Guy propaganda was helpful for my romance. It let me say to myself “Damn it Patrick, I know that it’s unbearably awkward and painful to ask someone out, but if you don’t do it, you’ll be a Nice Guy. You ask him out this second or resign yourself to not being able to have any romantic experiences with him.”

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s purportedly “magic” for a straight woman to realize when a straight man is attracted to them – and yet it’s “creepy” for a straight man to be incapable of such sorcery. This is exactly the kind of doublespeak posts like these are aimed at, and for good reason.

      • Patrick Robotham says:

        I shall now reveal to you the secret arts of getting a woman to know you’re attracted to them. You utter the incantation “I think you’re very attractive.” in their presence. If this is not possible, you can write this incantation down on a piece of paper and pass it to them.

        That said, not being capable of this sorcery does not make you creepy, it makes you mute and paralyzed.

        • memeticengineer says:

          I think you are misreading the comment you are replying to. The poster is saying that, per the standard memes about this topic, it would require “magic” for a woman to know whether a man is attracted to her without explicit indication, but it’s “creepy” if a man does not know whether a woman is attracted without an explicit statement.

          Your comment totally fails to address this, and also prescribes a behavior that could be taken as “creepy” if done towards a woman who is not interested, along with a heavy does of mockery. “Lol, you’re too lame to even tell a girl you like her! What a failure!” That is kind of how your comment reads, and it is extra unkind, because it does not even address what the commenter was saying.

          Please try applying the principle of charity to other commenters, as well as basic human kindness.

          • Randy M says:

            I take his line to be better expressed if you use the word “magical” instead of “magic”; that is, think disney movies where birds chirp when prince charming comes by. But if you are a guy who doesn’t trigger the magic (but does the same behaviors, has the same feelings) you are creepy, without knowing why.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Well, to be fair, SHE doesn’t know why either.

            This actually almost sounds like a sort of “uncanny valley” and/or “capgras syndrome” thing: “he’s doing all the right moves, but something’s NOT RIGHT.”

          • Patrick Robotham says:

            @memeticengineer
            What should I do to obtain this “human kindness” thing you say I lack? My current options are providing cuddles, charitable donations, and petting kittens in sunshine filled gardens. Please specify a kitten/cuddle/donation quota.

            Re: being called “creepy”, I know of no instance of a man being called creepy for ignoring subtle flirtations. That is the behaviour that, e.g. the person in Ialdaboth’s Onion article gloats about.

          • Scott F says:

            “I shall now reveal the secret art of getting a job. You utter the incantation ‘I’d like to apply for a job’ in the boss’s presence. If this is not possible, you can pass them a resume with your name on it.”

            This is not a kind thing to say to a disabled person, Patrick. If you did say something like that, and they asked for some basic human kindness, and you responded with that drivel about kittens and cuddles… well, I suspect you’d get eviscerated by the social justice community.

            Basic human kindness here is recognising that you are giving condescending non-advice to people in pain, and not doing that.

          • Anonymous says:

            The truly crazy thing is that Patrick still doesn’t seem to realize his post was a non sequitur, as memeticengineer mentioned.

            I asked: why is it magic for a woman to recognize when a man is interested in her, but simple for a man to recognize when a woman is (or isn’t) interested in him?

            You gave an example of how to make it clear when I’m interested in a woman. It just isn’t relevant.

            Plus, all the stuff mentioned prior about not being a jerk. If this were easy for everyone, there wouldn’t be nearly so many involuntarily celibate virgins in the world. If it were easy for me I wouldn’t experience strings of several months at once of involuntary celibacy.

          • Patrick Robotham says:

            @Scott F. There’s a point of dis-analogy in your argument.
            In both getting a job, and getting a date, there are three stages:
            Stage 1: Make your intentions clear: Apply for a job, ask the person out.
            Stage 2: If the potential employer/lover is happy with the idea, proceed to stage 3. Otherwise try again with a new person. (Which may be a time-shifted version of the old person)
            Step 3: Profit / Romantic Fun Times.

            My point is that in the romantic sphere a lot of men (including 2009!Patrick) fail to execute Stage 1.

            The rhetoric here: http://www.theonion.com/articles/but-if-we-started-dating-it-would-ruin-our-friends,11473/ and here: http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/lax/483318927.html seems to indicate the following anti-pattern:
            1. Fail to make your intentions clear;
            2. Resent the person for not giving you romantic fun times.

            On a more personal / emotional note, I am a little tired of being portrayed as some kind of ogre (see: comments about lacking kindness, being literally Voldermort, being a chaotic evil necromancer.) Can anything be done about this?

          • A lot of the point of this discussion is that the social cost of making one’s intentions clear can be very high for men. Imagine that every time you applied for a job, there was a risk that you’d be treated like a telemarketer. Imagine that there was a risk you’d be treated like an robber.

            Somewhere online, I read a bit from an FtM transsexual that when she was a lesbian, her sexual advances were considered cool and edgy. When he became a heterosexual man, the same advances were considered creepy.

        • gattsuru says:

          You utter the incantation “I think you’re very attractive.” in their presence. If this is not possible, you can write this incantation down on a piece of paper and pass it to them.

          I would strongly, strongly suggest against doing so in an elevator at night, to take a recent popular example.

          The rules are much more complicated than you are describing, and you do yourself no favor by trying to bypass that.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            There aren’t rules.

            There is some behavior that will upset some women. Pretty much anything will upset *someone*. And you can get away with pretty much anything if the other person is attracted to you enough.

            The reason the rules are complicated and confusing is that there aren’t any. There is no way to have a 0% chance of creeping someone out. It’s okay. Creeping someone out will not kill you or her. It is not the end of the world.

          • guess i'll be alone in my utopia says:

            @Ozy: How do you propose to create and maintain a world where those last couple sentences remain true?

          • gattsuru says:

            There aren’t rules.

            There is some behavior that will upset some women.

            My apologies, I’m not very experienced with this sort of thing.

            I’m uh… not sure that saying is going to result in people wanting to deal with conventional romance, though. Elevatorgate wasn’t literally world-ending — there’s no pit of lava when I last vacuumed the house — but acting in way that would make someone so uncomfortable that they go onto social media and make a blanket “don’t do this, ever” statement exactly the sort of behavior I /don’t want to do/. I’m not a good person: if I want to avoid being a bad one, I need to avoid doing things that make people uncomfortable. There might be some level of uncertainty where I’m willing to risk making folk uncomfortable for my own benefit, but it’s probably lower than 5% and certainly lower than 25%, which seems like a pretty decent fermi estimate for “women uncomfortable with flirting in an elevator” given the reaction to elevatorgate.

            It’s thankfully (mostly) academic for my situation, and perhaps my ethics about making folk uncomfortable don’t generalize, but it’s… a bit of a hard step to take.

          • m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer m/ says:

            This is actually why I responded, in the last Awful Gender Thread, that the feminist “here’s a list of ten thousand things you have to do to not be a horrible rapist forever” (or some such way that Scott described it) dating advice is actually good dating advice, just not complete dating advice.

            In general, I think people underestimate how difficult it is to be a good person, not in terms of failures of the will but in terms of craft. This is something that SJ rigorism gets right, IMO, even if it inevitably (and, arguably, precisely for that reason) expresses it poorly.

            e: underestimate, not overestimate

          • Anonymous says:

            \m/, what? Social justice dogma holds that it is actually impossible to be a good person as a white male, only a relatively un-oppressive ally. Impossible sounds pretty difficult to me!

          • \m/ social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancer \m/ says:

            Anon: you’re correct; I meant to write “underestimate.” Thanks!

            (I don’t think that most would say “impossible” when stated that explicitly, though I might.)

          • Sniffnoy says:

            In general, I think people underestimate how difficult it is to be a good person, not in terms of failures of the will but in terms of craft.

            Which is why it’s a good standard to be forgiving and understanding. I mean, I get the impression that maybe IRL people usually are, but if you read internet feminists, you’ll quickly get the idea that there’s no point apologizing — the act has already revealed what a terrible person you secretly are, and your resulting ostracism will be fully deserved. (There’s certainly no point to trying to defend your actions — then you’ll be “defending sexism”.)

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Wait no actually I can’t agree, I definitely think their rules are overbroad and also contradictory.

        • Patrick Robotham says:

          @Sniffnoy, could you give an example of contradictory dating advice?

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Directly? That’s probably more effort than I’d want to go to right now. That said, your comments here suggest that you’re… just not very familiar with what everyone else is talking about? Have you read Scott’s “Meditations” series? (The fourth one can be found archived here.) Or, this one doesn’t talk about double-binds, but have you read Hugh Ristik’s “When You Have Feminist Guilt, You Don’t Need Catholic Guilt”? These might help what other people are talking about make more sense.

            Apologies if you are already familiar with these… from your writing it just really comes across as if you are not.

            I guess the short version is — being direct is forbidden, being indirect is forbidden. Repeat on other related axes.

        • Patrick Robotham says:

          @Anonymous. I’m going to have to deny the premise of your question. It’s not “creepy” to be uncertain about whether a woman is attracted to you. I don’t believe it’s a straightforward task for either sex to determine whether someone is attracted to you.

          @Nancy Lebovitz. That’s interesting. I genuinely thought that this was about stage 2 (the ‘chicks dig jerks’ complaint).

          On creepiness, I think ‘creepy’ generally means ‘may be harmful’. Creepiness double standards are easy to explain with this interpretation: Generally speaking, Men are stronger (and more able to do damage) than women.

          • I’m not convinced by the proposed “creepy” definition. In use it seems closer to “gives me icky feelings”.

          • Anonymous says:

            Right. Is Henry creepy? No. Even though he is more or less guaranteed to be harmful.

          • I agree that “creepy” can include frightening, but it doesn’t mean the same thing– I take it to mean a combination of unpleasant and (seems likely to be) clingy.

            As I recall, there was a discussion at Less Wrong where it turned out that people had very different ideas of what creepy means.

        • memeticengineer says:

          @Patrick Robotham, if you are sincerely interested in showing greater kindness in your posting here: a good starting point would be to use less sarcasm and condescension. In particular, implying that something is super obviously easy that other people say they find very difficult signals a lack of empathy and is also Typical Mind Fallacy. When you misread what someone said to be able to make that point, yet express your point with condescension, that is even worse. When you fail to acknowledge your misreading after it is corrected multiple times, and indeed continue in the same vein, it starts to seem like it was not an accident. It gives the appearance that maybe you are just looking for a pretext to be condescending. Also responding to calls for more kindness with snark about puppies does not make a very good impression either.

          Avoiding these things would reduce the risk that you would be portrayed as an ogre in the future. Hope this helps.

    • Fadeway says:

      Nice guys turn into misogynist rapists exactly when they ask someone else out. They’re not blamed for being nice and asexual. They’re blamed for playing friends with someone they secretly like. And guess how it becomes known they like someone? Cause they, at some point, try to flirt.

      PUA recommends that the way to avoid this is to act before you’ve established yourself as a friend – in the first ten hours or so. But I think an intelligent and romantically cautious person would need more than ten hours to even decide they like someone enough to try to date.

      • Deiseach says:

        But it’s not about dating, is it? The “how to score” sites are about how to identify and persuade a woman to have sex with you – and then you move on to the next notch on the bedpost.

        It’s not about finding a girl you would like to see more than once, or even go out on a date with before trying to get them into bed. It’s about being the kind of Alpha male winner who can bang any chick he claps eyes on, even if she plays hard to get!

      • RCF says:

        “But I think an intelligent and romantically cautious person would need more than ten hours to even decide they like someone enough to try to date.”

        But isn’t the whole point of dating supposed to be to decide whether you like someone?

        • Ozy Frantz says:

          It typically depends on the subculture. In many subcultures, dating is a thing you do after you know you like someone and has a presumption that you will get into an Official Relationship.

          • RCF says:

            Which means that a guy* has to be social enough to cultivate numerous opposite sex relationships that straddle the line between close enough to ask the woman out, but not so close as to already being dating. Which means that dating isn’t just about how one handles a relationship with the person you’re dating, but one’s entire social life.

            *I debated whether to use a more gender neutral term, but there is a social norm of the man being the one to ask a woman out on a date, so there is more onus on the man.

        • anon1 says:

          Once you’ve decided to formally evaluate someone as a mate, that affects your relationship going forward. In some social contexts, if you’ve formally dated but do not proceed to a relationship, it’s may still mean it’s difficult to continue being friends.

    • Ialdabaoth says:

      Then “Nice Guy” denotes “A guy who doesn’t ask out women he’s attracted to, but instead expects them to magically be aware of his attraction.”

      No it doesn’t. I ask people out once I feel like there might be the chance of a connection, which can be anywhere from 5 minutes of meeting them to after a year+ of friendship. And I definitely take effort to modulate my approach based on familiarity, comfort, and and clarity of the existing relationship.

      And it’s still creepy and disgusting, because me asking a woman out devalues her. She wants a better quality of man to approach her, and me approaching her for romance signals to the rest of the world that I think she’s in my league, which signals that I’m out of theirs.

      That said, she can’t just get rid of me, because I’m too useful.

    • gattsuru says:

      Then “Nice Guy” denotes “A guy who doesn’t ask out women he’s attracted to, but instead expects them to magically be aware of his attraction.”

      That’s the motte. In your experience, does /every/ use of the term match this description?

      Cause I see a lot more bailey than that. I see “Nice Guy” describing folk that wait too long to state attraction. I see “Nice Guy” describing folk who don’t follow the right cultural scripts. I see /gay men/ described as “Nice Guys”, for not being upfront about their obvious sexual attraction when they try to help someone.

      ((And I’m not even the target for the “Nice Guy” thing: it’s not really caught on among gay and bisexual folk, thankfully.))

      • Patrick Robotham says:

        That’s the motte. In your experience, does /every/ use of the term match this description?

        No. Furthermore, in my experience, not every use of the term “Evolution” matches the description of “The differential survival of replicators”, and not every use of the term “Quantum” matches the description of “Any coherent concept whatsoever.”

        The problem with this argument is Sturgeon’s Law. There are enough linguistically irresponsible people to make any piece of jargon refer to ludicrous things. I think the problem with the motte-and-bailey pattern isn’t the bailey, it’s the motte: specifically, the fact that its a tedious and trivial truth.

    • Matthew says:

      I think the xkcd example is an extremely noncentral case. The more common problem is the guy who goes out with numerous girls, gets along well with them, but every time sooner or later gets told “I think you’re a cool person and I want to be your friend, but I just don’t feel a romantic connection.” Hence “friendzoning.”

      Or maybe I’m just typical minding because this has happened to me like four times now, with every woman I’ve really cared about since I started dating again. (And while I actually am friends with a couple of these women, the humiliation lingers whether they realize it or not.)

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Wow, this is a completely new motte I’ve never heard before.

  61. Steve Johnson says:

    I’ll stand up for the “indefensible” position that “nice guys deserve wives”.

    You like running water? Electricity? Eating fish? Eating anything that’s grown on a farm?

    All of these are jobs that are basically done 100% by men and simply couldn’t be done by women who have neither the ability nor inclination for doing that type of work. Why should these guys get up and go to work on crab fishing boats? For money? Money isn’t worth much to men without prospects of intimacy. Men with any kind of self respect aren’t going to sacrifice their lives doing dirty thankless work for a wife who’s been with a dozen other men either. That women isn’t going to be too happy with her male equivalent either – not after she’s been fucked by a half dozen other guys who were more charming and sociopathic.

    Women’s free sexual choice is a coordination problem that will destroy civilization very quickly.

    • Michael R says:

      Ah, those poor old lonely thankless farmers and electricians!

      Funny, the ones I know don’t seem to lack for a wife or girlfriend. Might have to do with their ability to provide for a family or something, who knows?

      And to think, I was under the impression that countries with high levels of gender equality had high levels of economic development, with high life expectancies and living standards. But what would I know?

      By the way my wife’s been with a lot more than a dozen other men – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She also says I’m the most charming and good in bed of the lot – but maybe she’s just being nice.

      Honestly, the idea that 12 sexual partners is a lot -what are you on?

      • Ialdabaoth says:

        He said “half a dozen”, not a dozen. He’s talking about six sexual partners being a lot, not twelve.

        I would hazard to guess that six sexual partners is too many for a woman, while twelve is too few for a man.

    • Slow Learner says:

      “simply couldn’t be done by women who have neither the ability nor inclination for doing that type of work”

      When it became necessary, an awful lot of men who had no inclination to go to war found the ability and inclination (a lot of women too, when they’re allowed to, as my grandmother would testify).
      If it were to become necessary, people would step up, be they men who don’t currently do those jobs, or women. Oddly enough jobs that are necessary tend to rise in either social pressure to do them or in rewards until enough people are found to do them.

    • Ozy Frantz says:

      As someone who has spent quite a bit of time afraid of being homeless, money is really useful even if you can’t buy love with it. You can buy food! And books! And not dying on a street corner! These are all very useful things.

      I dunno, man, I usually like people I’m dating *more* than people I’m having casual sex with. I think this is pretty common? I mean, admittedly, my set here is the poly community, but generally people seem to like their primary partners a fuckton more than they like their one-night-stands.

    • Deiseach says:

      You don’t think women contribute to farming? Only and forever men ploughing and harvesting, and milking (there were no such things as dairymaids, henwives, and that whole bit in the Bible about Ruth going gleaning in the harvest fields belonging to Boaz must be a mistake because women don’t participate in farming, never have, never will).

      I suppose I hallucinated all the farmers’ wives and daughters who did a man’s work on the farm during my childhood (one of my aunts, who was so dainty and refined her nickname was “Duchess”, shocked her employer in England when she was able to lift and move a full churn up onto a lorry – she was well used to doing this for her father, my grandfather).

  62. Steve Johnson says:

    The idea of deep genetic and personality differences between men and women is far too complicated to get into here, but I will say that if differences exist, I do not believe they are so great as to change fundamental human nature

    This is a premise so contrary to reality that it beggars belief.

    You wrote an entire post about giant differences between men and women specifically between what they find attractive!

    Humans have concealed ovulation. Women are intensely interested in concealing their preferences in general as well as specifically. They’re even more interested in making sure that no one looks to closely into what their preferences actually are.

    Women are physically smaller and are significantly weaker even at the same weight and level of musculature (take a martial arts class in a grappling art that has live sparring – women are basically as strong as children). They have smaller brains per body weight. Basically women are smaller, weaker and less intelligent but still have genetic aims. Of course they’re going to approach achieving their goals differently than men. Why on earth would anyone think otherwise? People’s psychologies are geared towards survival and reproduction. What actual reason is there for expecting men and women to have similar psychologies?

    Of course, then you’ve got to have your resource list. And – and this is the part of this post I think will be controversial (!), I think a lot of the appropriate material is concentrated in the manosphere, ie the people who do not hate your guts merely for acknowledging the existence of the issue. Yes, it is interspersed with poisonous beliefs about women being terrible, but if you have more than a quarter or so of a soul, it is pretty easy to filter those out and concentrate on the good ones.

    A group of men set out to understand how women actually think by conducting what’s basically the largest social science endeavor in history and have come to a bunch of conclusions about how women actually think which you simplify and reject because they’re about “women being terrible”. Here’s the thing – if you’ve been trying time and time again your whole life to build a bridge but the bridges keep collapsing and some group of guys go out and try to build bridges and fail at first but eventually succeed if you’re a rationalist you don’t get to reject what these guys say about metallurgy. If they tell you “this is how bridge building works” then they’ve basically proven it. They’ve taken their theory of women’s nature and turned it into engineering – which is the best proof there is in science.

    • Scott F says:

      Metaphorically, the view is that they figured out arches make for good bridge-building structures, but they insist on hanging disco balls from every arch, and insist that the disco ball is an integral part of the bridge’s strength. You don’t think the disco ball is; you don’t know much about building bridges but it seems like you can build an arch without hanging a disco ball from it, and the ball doesn’t seem to contribute to the strength of the structure. You figure you could probably take advantage of the arch pattern, and then choose not to hang a disco ball from it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nah, a more accurate analogy would be that the PUAs have built this giant suspension bridge and hung a disco ball from the top as an architectural flourish, and the feminists argue that the all those towers and cables are useless and probably hurtful anyway, and when asked why they shriek “Because the disco ball does nothing!”

        And this isn’t even mentioning those feminists who implicitly argue that nobody should have bridges at all as they are inherently demeaning to rivers, and that only those strong enough to swim across should have the privilege of reaching the other side.

        • Scott F says:

          It is definitely somewhere in the middle, and closer to your side than mine. I recall a previous Scott Alexander post (on LessWrong under the title ‘Generalizing From One Example’) where he said “Well, I’m afraid I kind of trust the seduction people. They’ve put a lot of work into their “art” and at least according to their self-report are pretty successful.”

          So I think he does trust what they have to say on bridge-building, and that line was a pre-emptive defence against the Lobby For The Destruction Of All Disco Balls brigade.

          • Slow Learner says:

            In my experience, limited parts of “game” were useful when I was actively seeking partners.
            Others were actively destructive. There will be some variation based on your target audience (e.g. anything to do with Last Minute Resistance is invariably rapey, but negging works in some contexts and backfires in others.)

    • Slow Learner says:

      Women are not less intelligent than men; women and men are not different species – half your genes come from your mother; and humans are social animals, with a lot of survival depending on the group’s success not the individual’s.
      So What actual reason is there for expecting men and women to have similar psychologies? is simply answered – our basic psychologies are similar because they are based on similar brains, we have similar brains because of having similar genetics, and because apart from genes on the X and Y chromosomes, anything that is selected for in men will thereby appear in more women too.

      • Steve Johnson says:

        Women are not less intelligent than men; women and men are not different species – half your genes come from your mother; and humans are social animals, with a lot of survival depending on the group’s success not the individual’s.

        Peacocks and peahens. Peahens should have giant tails because they’re the same species and half the genes come from each parent! Your argument demonstrates that sexual dimorphism doesn’t exist anywhere in the animal kingdom. It does, therefore your argument is wrong.

        is simply answered – our basic psychologies are similar because they are based on similar brains, we have similar brains because of having similar genetics, and because apart from genes on the X and Y chromosomes, anything that is selected for in men will thereby appear in more women too.

        Except that men and women don’t have similar brains. There are a whole huge host of physiological differences between men’s brains and women’s brains. Distributions of behavior (which reflects brain content) are distributed so differently that only a tiny minority of men have women’s interests and vice versa. This whole post and comment thread describes the massive difference in behavior and mating preferences between men and women.

        Evolutionarily we have completely different roles and totally different criteria for success – of course you’ll get different brains reflecting this.

        • Slow Learner says:

          Mmm, perhaps my argument proved too much there. Your claims, however, fit with neither my understanding of what data exists, nor my lived experience.
          Maybe I and all my friends are outliers, and so are my parents and their friends. Or maybe, you’re claiming women are less intelligent than you, and misreading the effects of socialisation as the result of deep seated innate traits.
          Bluntly, if you were right the enforcement of gender norms and roles wouldn’t require so much, well, force.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            No, your argument still stands. Unless there is different selection pressure on one gender and not the other for a particular trait, we should expect the genders to be similar. There is no selection against male nipples, so men have nipples. There is strong selection against peahen tails, so they don’t have tails.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            To be fair to Steve Johnson’s position:

            Smart brains take up a WHOLE HELL OF A LOT of fuel to keep running, and so do reproductive factories. That suggests there *might* be a selection pressure for women that isn’t there for men.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            No Ozy, his argument doesn’t stand.

            It’s a fully generalized argument against sexual dimorphism.

            Unless there is different selection pressure on one gender and not the other for a particular trait, we should expect the genders to be similar… There is strong selection against peahen tails, so they don’t have tails.

            Costly traits that don’t provide fitness benefits are selected against.

            Larger, thicker bones are costly. Muscle mass is costly. Muscular strength is costly. Brain tissue is costly.

            Even if you exclude the differences in intelligence on the grounds of being distasteful to a progressive mind you’ve got to notice that if there were a group of people destined to grow up with the physical strength of 12 year old boys would have completely different psychologies – simply for survival value.

            80% of all women who have ever lived reproduced. In other words, selection on women operates on the level* of “can survive childhood”, “has a working womb” and “can entice a man to support her children”. Other stuff is a cost.

            * In the context of Eurasian humans. Where women can support children with their own labor things look completely different.

          • Anonymous says:

            To Steve Johnson: Eurasian women never contributed anything to supporting their children? Huh? Didn’t they traditionally do house work and also some of the outside agricultural work along with the men? I would expect this to affect the genes of women.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            EDIT: nvm, gets discussed below

        • anon1 says:

          Unless intelligence is *only* useful for attracting a mate, not for obtaining food, avoiding predators, or anything else, we’d have no reason to expect strong differential selection.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Right. And if intelligence is at all useful for, say, raising children, we might have reason to suspect differential selection in the other direction.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Unless intelligence is *only* useful for attracting a mate, not for obtaining food, avoiding predators, or anything else, we’d have no reason to expect strong differential selection.

            Nope.

            If intelligence is useful for any of the following then you’d expect massive differential selection:

            1) Finding and stalking prey
            2) Cooperating and hunting large game
            3) Avoiding predators specifically when hunting game (as opposed to avoiding predators when in a group with male protection a scream away)
            4) Hunting, stalking and killing other humans – in other words – making war
            5) Building shelter
            6) Making tools

            Another set of items – if intelligence is not useful for the following we’d expect selective pressure against expensive brain tissue –

            1) Caring for infants
            2) Producing breast milk
            3) Carrying children to term
            4) Giving birth

            Third set of items – we can expect massive personality differences if any of the following are important

            1) Getting your aims accomplished given that you have body that is weaker and more vulnerable to damage
            2) Having the patience for dealing with the demands of infants
            3) (this one is for men) The ability to deal with other men of the tribe without getting a spear though the guts or getting all your stuff taken
            4) Having your survival and the survival of your offspring depend on keeping a man happy enough to provide you with enough nutrient dense calories that can only be obtained through hunting

            Going against this we have nothing but the standard progressive line of “if we assume that the progressive line about equality between x and y is correct and ignore all evidence against it then we clearly see that the progressive line about equality between x and y is correct”.

          • anon1 says:

            I’m going to be really lazy here and just go along with stereotypes because I don’t have the energy to try to argue two things at once, but don’t interpret the following as evidence that I think you’re right about pre-agricultural division of labor.

            Anyway, raising children, persuading other humans to contribute resources to you and your children, correctly identifying which plants are safe, which plants are poisonous, and which plants are poisonous unless you prepare them just right, and weaving are all very stereotypically female things where intelligence turns out to come in handy.

            And suppose these things don’t demand quite as much intelligence as hunting (which I don’t concede). Intelligence being *more* useful to men than to women isn’t enough to result in an intelligence apparatus being constructed that only works in men, because it’s so much simpler for it to work the same way in both sexes (like nipples). It would have to present a substantial net cost, like a huge tail would for a peahen, for it to be advantageous to develop a special mechanism to prevent intelligence adaptations from affecting women.

            It’s true that intelligence does have a cost. Brains use a lot of energy. But they really are useful for a lot of purposes, not just hunting.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Anyway, raising children, persuading other humans to contribute resources to you and your children, correctly identifying which plants are safe, which plants are poisonous, and which plants are poisonous unless you prepare them just right, and weaving are all very stereotypically female things where intelligence turns out to come in handy.

            And lo and behold, women have better color vision, have more interest in knitting and crocheting, are on average more socially adept at reading people’s attitudes towards her and conforming to what’s expected, etc.

            Once you concede that there’s differential selective pressure – i.e., men and women have different roles then you’ve agreed to the whole argument.

            There’s not some miracle granting progressive god that makes sure that all the differential pressures on mental traits work out to wind up with the same total level of intelligence.

            Even that’s a side issue – the main point which you readily and directly conceded is that the evolutionary pressure for different personality traits exists and is massive. You can’t agree to that then go back to making silly statements about human nature without taking into account the massive differences between men and women.

            The only reason I even brought intelligence into the discussion is that I thought it was a clear enough difference in capability that people would see how it would drive differences in personality (to cope with the difference).

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            I recall from the Journal of I Read It Somewhere Studies that many people believe intelligence evolved to deal with social situations. Hence why anthropomorphism is such a useful tool of thinking and why even people who are bad at recursion can follow “Jane told John who told Greg who, of course, tells his girlfriend everything…” In that case, given Steve’s premises, we ought to expect women to be smarter. They are dependent on men, after all! Social skills are a survival skill!

          • Steve Johnson says:

            In that case, given Steve’s premises, we ought to expect women to be smarter. They are dependent on men, after all! Social skills are a survival skill!

            War and hunting are it. Life and death vs the best on offer that’s out there – animals and men fighting for their lives.

            Gossip about Mary and Jane doesn’t mean a damn compared to that.

            Either way, it’s not like you’re refuting my argument, in fact, you’re strengthening it. The selective pressures on personality traits and intelligence just need to be different to completely invalidate the premise (human nature vs male nature and female nature) that Scott holds that I’m attacking.

          • Anonymous says:

            Men and women have different selection pressures in mating, and different preferences in mating. For example, men tend to prefer mating with people who have vaginas, and women tend to prefer mating with people who have penises. Not always, but 90+% of the time. There are some other ones I’m sure you’d happily list.

            However, your conclusion – that women have a very different psychology – does not follow these premises. Men and women can have very different taste in sexual or romantic partners, without it implying much of anything about how they handle lying, or stealing, or politics, or feeling guilty about doing something wrong, or whatever.

            eta: Do you have a direct, psychological study suggesting a large, relevant, nonsexual difference in “fundamental human nature” between men and women?

          • anon1 says:

            Steve, you’re not addressing my point, which is that general intelligence in women would have to be a net cost for strongly differential selection to be plausible, because (as with nipples) it’s evolutionarily much easier to develop a trait that’s expressed the same in both sexes.

          • Anonymous says:

            We don’t need to theorycraft about this; we have the data. A brief check of wikipedia (not the most reliable source, but it’s late at night) shows that IQ studies consistently find that males have a larger standard deviation than females in IQ and that adult males perhaps have a greater mean score by about 4 IQ points.

          • anon1 says:

            Yes, we have the data that men and women have the same average intelligence, with different variances, and you can get a difference or so of about 4 points (inconsequential in everyday life) in either direction depending on how much you weight spatial versus verbal versus other abilities. We don’t need to theorize that men have evolved a special intelligence feature that doesn’t get expressed in women because we can see they have not. Just felt like pointing out why the proposed theory didn’t make biological sense.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Why try to come up with just-so stories one way or the other? We have data: men and women have the same average intelligence.

            Interestingly, they don’t have the same distribution, so the more intelligent a man is, the fewer women relative to men he’ll find that can match him. Maybe that’s the cause of Steve’s confusion?

            Either way, there’s obviously some kind of differential selection going on there.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Jaskologist says:

            Why try to come up with just-so stories one way or the other? We have data: men and women have the same average intelligence.

            1) From what I’ve read there’s actually a 4 point gap.

            2) The actual measured IQ gap is confounded by the fact that men and women score differently on different sub-components of the tests and that the tests are specifically weighted to produce an identical mean – the fact that men have brains that are approximately 11% larger on average and are 100 grams larger at the same body mass strongly indicate that political motives are what’s driving the numbers here rather than the evidence

            3) I fully buy the David Stove argument that he set out in “The Intellectual Capacity of Women” so (2) sounds to me like messing with the data to satisfy political aims

            4) This whole debate is a sideline – the important argument is men and women have had different roles that have caused them to have vastly different personalities – I was using intellectual capability and interests as an example of the obvious differences between the sexes. Some people don’t see it that way – fine – doesn’t change the substance of the argument because there are so many other data points. The whole point was to disagree with Scott’s premise that men and women don’t differ in personality.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            If intelligence is useful for any of the following then you’d expect massive differential selection

            In a hunter/gatherer tribe where lactation is destiny, here’s another list. Well, to put the tl;dr first. A Niven carnivore says to a herbivore, “How much intelligence does it take to sneak up on a leaf?”

            Herbivore: “Which mushroom?”

            1) Recognizing which plants are never safe to eat (and teaching your children not to eat them).

            2) Recognizing when a fruit is ripe, and when it will make you sick.

            3) Skills needed for the above include fine color discrimination and memory; same for smell; same for patterns; same for texture.

            4) On a gathering walk, not just grabbing the first possible thing, but also shopping around evaluating other plants in the neighborhood as to which of them may be ripening soon; which areas are likely to sprout useful plants soon, or later, or next year, depending on weather. And remembering all that, and/or instructing others about it.

            5) Learning and remembering what plants may be made edible by various processing methods, with various ingredients added. Again fine discrimination of colors etc.

            6) Remembering all this and transmitting it to others.

          • Anonymous says:

            To steve Johnson:

            I agree with the general idea that there are big differences between the sexes, I just disagree with the idea that just by looking at selective pressures you can establish that women must be much dumber. This is not the case.

            Pre-agricultural humans are hunter-GATHERERS, not just hunters. All too often the “gathering” part gets forgotten when discussing these things.

            Present day remaining hunter gatherers aren’t even representative of the ones that existed in the paleolithic, since they are “selected” by their very failure to adopt agriculture, so the hunter-gatherer that remain tend to be the ones that were most dependant on hunting and least from gathering, (such as – in the extreme – the Inuit) or else they would have adopted agriculture.

            Even then, in spite of this, if you look at tropical hunter-gatherers (even the existing ones that are selected for their failutre to adopt agriculture), often they get most of their calories from gathering work, example: the Kitavans, who get the great majority of their calories from coconut, tubers, and fruit. Furthermore the gathering work of women among those kind of peoples also often includes catching small animals such as lizards and mice, so some of the meat they eat is acually so to speak “gathered”, not hunted. The point is that the gathering women DO contribute a lot to the survival of the family, and in most cases I suspect they procure more food than the men. And it does take intelligence to gather effectively, since you need for example to be able to know where to dig to find tubers and other things like that.

            Women also have always done other work from which the survival of the family depends. What makes you think that watching children, cooking and so on, are brainless activities. I remember an interview to a Third World woman who remarked that in times of famines, she has to restrain her children from doing certain activities, because then they burn energy and get hungry. I think it takes smarts to draw the connection. Women have always been the ones cooking, thereby transforming non-digestible food into digestible food; they’ve been doing this for such a long time it is evolutionary important – and cooking is the technological activity par excellance and it certainly engages the brain. The amount of calories and other nutrients you can absorb from a food greatly depends on the way you cook (there are experiments about that) in both directions (you can make calories and micronutrients more available through cooking – if you eat a raw potato you won’t get many calories from it – on the other hand you can also destroy nutrients) and if you cook better you will be able to absorb more nutrition.

            (by the way all this talk leaves aside that we’re no longer hunter gatherers, evolution didn’t freeze when we adopted agriculture, and since then women have always contributed to vital work both of the farming and housekeeping varieties and it isn’t obvious at all that what women did required any less intelligence than male farming work).

            Indeed, compared to other gaps such as the gigantic gap in strenght, the IQ difference between the sexes, if it exists at all, is minimal.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            correctly identifying which plants are safe, which plants are poisonous, and which plants are poisonous unless you prepare them just right, and weaving are all very stereotypically female things where intelligence turns out to come in handy.

            And suppose these things don’t demand quite as much intelligence as hunting (which I don’t concede).

            In my hypothetical lactation=destiny tribe, where the suckling babies have to stay in a safe place and the nursing mothers have to stay near them, I imagine a protected area of women and children doing things that can be done in such an area. Such as weaving, pottery, food preparation — and instructing children on how to recognize safe foods by color, pattern, etc. So a woman out gathering, brings back samples to show the children — sprigs, seeds, etc — to tell them “This will be okay when it ripens” … “This is okay till it rots”, etc. A collection of samples taken at different seasons … some kind of notation system (perhaps oral by the old women). And that’s a botany text and a botany class. Recipes, weaving patterns — all these can be stored and shown to many children, in a safe sedentary area. So, there’s time-binding of near-abstracts. use of symbolic notation, etc.

            Some hunting skills can be taught that way — but not the essence: sneaking quietly, tracking in the field, coordinated attacks, etc.

            So here’s the gatherers with the beginning of our kind of education: booklearning, lectures, labeling.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Steve Johnson September 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm

            Currently, the hunter skills needed for 1-4 on your list are mostly used in sports, and in a few dangerous bluecollar jobs. The gatherer skills I listed elsewhere (eg color and pattern recognition etc) are needed in many professions such as medicine, geology, chemistry, etc.

            All whitecollar jobs require literacy, and intellectual professions require background knowledge acquired from representations of their subject matter, explained by teachers — ie, booklearning. The gatherer skills which I described elsewhere, are transmitted in a manner which is more similiar to our booklearning, than is an on-the-run hunt or fight. Discovering which parts of which plants at which season can be made edible by what processes, needs a somewhat stable location and safe time — not a hunt or fight.

            So if there is anything to these Just So stories, it is the stay at home gatherers whose brains would be more adapted to the sort of intellectual activity which our culture calls human intelligence.

          • Jaskologist says:

            You’re assuming an awful lot of work to find edible plants. But primitive humans weren’t driving around to different climates. Everything they’d encounter would have been vetted out generations ago, leaving behind little more than rote memorization.

          • anon1 says:

            You’d think it should be easy. I used to think it was. But I’ve spent literally hours trying to explain to actual geniuses, with dozens of photographic and in-person examples, how to recognize poison oak, and they still step right into it every time they go hiking… identifying plants is not as simple as it sounds. Incidentally, the non-rationalist population I’ve encountered that is most acutely aware of the risks of wishful thinking, a group where people intuitively understand that their brains are sneaky fuckers that may be working against them at any time, are mushroom hunters.

          • Are you sure they couldn’t recognize poison oak at all as distinct from not being able to remember to pay attention for it?

            I’m guessing that hunter gatherers would be much less likely to get spacey.

          • anon1 says:

            Based on conversation, it’s more that it’s difficult to come up with a rote rule set. “Leaves of three, let them be” keeps you safe three seasons out of four but doesn’t let you pick blackberries, or even hike on a lot of narrow trails where they grow. “Leaves in groups of three, often with an oily-shiny appearance and prone to turning red in summer, and sometimes it’s a climbing vine but sometimes it’s ground cover and sometimes it’s a bush or small tree, and usually the leaves have lobed edges but sometimes they don’t really – screw it, just look at these examples and you’ll know it when you see it” isn’t so easy for some people to apply.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            Everything they’d encounter would have been vetted out generations ago, leaving behind little more than rote memorization.

            Those cases would be an example of my Gatherers=women teaching safe gathering to their children. Rote memorization is not something you do on a macho hunt (the animals would hear you coming; sorry, it’s getting late here). It’s something you do in the safe space where the non-Hunters stay. (I see the leaves etc that one has brought as samples, held up like flash cards.)

            And it was Gatherers who did the initial vetting. How would you do that except by something like our scientific process? And managed to time-bind the conclusions so that your future generations have a body of recorded knowledge to pass on.

            This sort of thing takes an attitude and skill set that is closer to our classroom teaching — than what the macho hunters are doing.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Anonymous says:
            September 2, 2014 at 12:10 am

            To steve Johnson:

            I agree with the general idea that there are big differences between the sexes, I just disagree with the idea that just by looking at selective pressures you can establish that women must be much dumber.

            If that was the only evidence, then yes, it wouldn’t be sufficient but taken in context the combination of (a) there are differential selective pressures for intelligence between men and women (this has been disputed by literally no one on this thread) and (b) the overwhelmingly massive achievement gap between men and women historically in accomplishment in every intellectual field are pretty much irrefutable proof in my eyes.

            For a full version of this argument written far better than I can in a comment section of a blog read this David Stove THE INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY OF WOMEN.

            I’ll repeat myself from an above comment here:

            This whole debate is a sideline – the important argument is men and women have had different roles that have caused them to have vastly different personalities – I was using intellectual capability and interests as an example of the obvious differences between the sexes. Some people don’t see it that way – fine – doesn’t change the substance of the argument because there are so many other data points. The whole point was to disagree with Scott’s premise that men and women don’t differ in personality.

            Every time someone argues that “well, gathering plants required intelligence and it seems to me that it would require more intelligence than warfare” they’re disagreeing on the surface but actually agreeing with my point – different roles -> different personality traits to be successful in those roles. Different personality traits and different selective pressures means that you’re looking for different things in mates. This:

            The idea of deep genetic and personality differences between men and women is far too complicated to get into here, but I will say that if differences exist, I do not believe they are so great as to change fundamental human nature.

            is amazingly incorrect.

            Once you discuss what the differences between men and women actually are then you can have a serious discussion about the problems of the modern mating market in Western civilization.

          • Slow Learner says:

            taken in context the combination of (a) there are differential selective pressures for intelligence between men and women (this has been disputed by literally no one on this thread) and (b) the overwhelmingly massive achievement gap between men and women historically in accomplishment in every intellectual field are pretty much irrefutable proof in my eyes.

            If you believe that (a) has been disputed by “literally no one on this thread”, I have clearly not been explicit enough.
            I do not believe that any differential selective pressures for intelligence between men and women are sufficient to lead to any actual difference in intelligence between men and women, therefore for practical purposes those differential selective pressures do not exist.
            Having attended a highly selective university which is roughly 50:50 male:female, I can say with confidence that even in the top few percentiles of academic intelligence there are around as many women as men.
            Additionally there are examples from that experience showing that much of the “men do this, women do that” evo psych bullshit is in fact bullshit.
            E.g. it is a broadly accepted stereotype that men have better spatial intelligence for visualising rotations and transformations than women do. Beginning chemistry undergraduates, tested for spatial intelligence (it’s important for visualising molecular translations), indeed show better performance among men.
            With a drop out rate of less than 2%, and a transfer between courses as low or lower, by the end of the course the women are scoring comparably with the men in spatial intelligence.
            So an “immutable” “natural” difference between the sexes proves to entirely disappear given time and practice. Whoops, keep this up and we might realise men and women have similar brains that are similarly capable, and where would your sexism be then?

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            Here’s something that might help to untangle some of this. I’m probably garbling it, so it would be best to read the article itself.

            http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/08/28/developmental-plasticity-is-not-lamarckism/

            Organisms are plastic: that is, they change their patterns of gene expression in response to the environment.
            [….]
            Changing the environment leads to plastic changes in gene expression, which exposes genetic variation to selection.

            If the genes themselves don’t change, that might be expressed as something like Scott’s position.

            If after long enough exposure to the pressure of, say, learning which mushroom to eat, selection may eliminate those who don’t have that expression. This might account for something like Steve’s position.

            The question then would be, has that exposure gone on long enough to produce a permanent change such that all surviving women have the ability to choose the right mushroom (and to pass such information to their children, including perhaps the males), but perhaps have lost some other abilities which the males retain.

            Yes, I and others here have been borrowing Steve’s assumption that role pressures can produce such changes. Just borrowing. Me, because it’s interesting to analyze what effect the different roles would have on intelligence — or, we might say, produce different kinds of intelligence.

            So, on that assumption, I’d see Hunter Intelligence (about sneaking and fighting; now football), Gatherer Intelligence (perception of colors, shapes, etc; now fashion, art, and many professions) — and Booklearning Intelligence, which obviously occurs in both genders, and is useful for almost everything we do, and in which the Gatherers had a head start.

            ——

            Must go now. To answer Steve’s point about unequal accomplishment, I’d apply Occam’s Razor. Differences in recognized accomplishment and possible 4% difference in results of tests written, administered, and interpreted by men — can be accounted for by social discrimination which is known to exist, without needing a Just So claim about genetic difference.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Having attended a highly selective university which is roughly 50:50 male:female, I can say with confidence that even in the top few percentiles of academic intelligence there are around as many women as men.

            This is about the furthest you could get from a representative sample of the population (especially since most universities take extra pains to recruit women). Your confident claim is definitely wrong; women are substantially outnumbered by men at both the top and bottom percentiles of intelligence.

          • Slow Learner says:

            While there are efforts to recruit women into STEM subjects, there are also efforts to recruit men into some of the arts and social sciences. They are less well funded and formalised, but nonetheless real…and the result is a 50:50 split, or very nearly. I can assure you that this isn’t because of university politics, as admissions tutors (at least at the university in question) are famously resistant to university politics and determined to recruit the best possible students.
            In other words, if political correctness were leading the university to push for an excessive proportion of women to be admitted, at least some colleges would buck the trend and select the best candidates who applied in order to beat other colleges in academic results (inter-college competition is fierce and very real). And yet, rates of admission generally reflect application rates (if 20% more women apply for a given subject, around 20% more women gain places).

      • Jaskologist says:

        Our internal organs aren’t even the same. A single chromosome can make a big difference.

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sex-matters-who-has-the-softer-heart/

        • Matthew says:

          Further of interest… avians don’t have X and Y chromosomes; they have Z and W. Z is the larger chromosome, but ZZ is the male genotype, while ZW is female. And male birds live longer than female birds — the opposite of the mammal norm.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Yes, sex (and dimorphism) is apparently so vital that organisms have evolved it through many different pathways. Some aren’t even genetically based. There are fish that change to males once they become dominant, and alligator sex is determined by the temperature of their egg incubation. But you still end up with males and females once the organism passes a certain level of complexity.

            Interestingly, though scifi has often tried, I don’t think any actually existing species have come up with a sex other than male, female, or hermaphrodite. I would be interested to find out if this is not the case.

            (For a good time, google “side-blotched lizard”).

          • Some candidates: The Gods Themselves— see the description of the aliens in the second section of the book.

            The Left Hand of Darkness by Le Guin. Humans (possibly not fertile with earth humans) who are neuter most of the time, but have a cycle of becoming male or female occasionally.

            As usual, science is weirder than science fiction– a microorganism with seven sexes, though I don’t know whether they’re much different from each other.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I should clarify that I was only asking for actual other sexes, not scifi speculations. That second link looks interesting!

            (David Brin’s Glory Season is another exploration of a different method of human reproduction, although it still has male and female.)

          • Andrew G. says:

            There’s at least one fungus that has thousands of “sexes” (I forget the exact number, but about 3000 iirc).

            It uses a two-factor mating type: one factor has ~30 variants and the other ~100, and an individual can reproduce with another individual as long as both factors are different between the two.

            The obvious advantage is that siblings are only ~25% likely to be compatible, while random unrelated individuals are >95% likely.

            Mating type systems with multiple types are common in fungi, but most don’t seem to be this extreme.

          • anon1 says:

            The white-throated sparrow has two color morphs, cross-color-morph matings are much more common and more successful than same-color matings, and the chromosome involved acts somewhat like another sex chromosome. Not quite four sexes yet, but interesting. http://www.theguardian.com/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2011/may/25/2

            Andrew G. is thinking of Schizophyllum commune, on which more info here: http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/feb2000.html.

            Edit: Did a bad job explaining but I think this is better:
            “Sibling” is not quite the right term. It’s “haploid” (actually monokaryotic – one nucleus per cell) spores where the compatibility difference comes in, so spores from the same “diploid” (actually dikaryotic – two nuclei per cell) organism will be ~25% likely to be compatible and spores from two different “diploid” organisms will almost certainly be compatible.

      • M.C. Escherichia says:

        “apart from genes on the X and Y chromosomes, anything that is selected for in men will thereby appear in more women too.”

        It’s not as simple as that; in fact this view is quite wrong.

        Your cells have the ability to switch genes on and off, or alter their levels of expression, in response to information present in the cell (in the form of various molecules). This involves fairly complicated interactions between DNA and other molecules.

        If this is not obvious, consider all the different cell types in the human body. They usually have the same DNA, but they express different genes at different levels, because they have enough information to “know” what to do.

        In the same way, a cell which “knows” it’s in a male body can switch a gene on or off, or change its expression level, without that gene needing to be on the Y chromosome.

        There’s selection pressure on every aspect of the whole complicated system that makes these “decisions”.

        As evidence I’m not making all of this up, here’s an example paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/8/3394.full

        “At these early stages, sex Chrs [chromosomes] modulate the genome machinery leading to differences in epigenetic status and expression level of both X-linked and autosomal [that is: non-X/Y] genes.”

        Square brackets are my notes.

    • Ialdabaoth says:

      You’re making a pretty good case for banning women from all discussion and decision-making altogether, there. I’d like to check in and confirm that that’s a natural implication of your evidence from your perspective as well?

      • Steve Johnson says:

        Take what they say with a grain of salt.

        If the topic is “how to attract women” then yes, ban them from the conversation because they have nothing to contribute and will invariably turn the conversation to something personal about her. “Oh, but I’m attracted to blah, you think blah…” and next thing you know you’re in some discussion about some woman’s life. I dare you to not see this pattern everywhere.

        See the comment sections of alphagameplan and returnofkings or the rooshv forum for examples.

        Alphagameplan btw, is a great resource for thinking about the sociosexual hierarchy in a bit more depth and at a higher level of discourse than blogs aimed at a wider audience.

  63. Amanda L. says:

    This is really interesting and comprehensive post. Without defending feminists or feminism, I do have a thought on one part of it: the analogy between nice guys and poor minorities. I would say the difference between Poor Minorities(tm) and Nice Guys(tm) is the resource that is being unfairly distributed: money vs. women. Money is an abstract, non-sentient entity, but women aren’t.

    I’ve done my best to introspect on this and I honestly think the parts of me that sympathize with “Nice Guy bashing” aren’t doing so from a powerful playground bully mindset, but from a mindset of fear. As a woman, I fear the people who think that I should be redistributed to the men they deem most morally worthy.

    I realize rationally that I have legal rights and no one can redistribute me in this way. But on the other hand, if “society” as a whole tips into this line of thinking, then powerful weapons can be used against me, social shaming being primary amongst them. I’m scared shitless of living in a society where I would be shamed out of making free choices in who to date. Hence the instinct to strike out, an instinct which I don’t actually follow, because I think the memes created are harmful to guys like past-you who are genuinely confused and upset.

    But it’s damn hard sometimes — selection bias makes it so that I also run into the bad kind of Nice Guy more often than perhaps you would. And it’s hard not to get scared and cynical after the the nth time being harangued to about why you’re a shallow bitch and a horrible human being for liking tall guys, or fit guys, or guys with high IQ, and how girls like you will eventually get what’s coming to you in the form of a lonely spinsterhood rejected by all good men.

    Like I said, I don’t endorse many of the ways women end up lashing out at Nice Guys / nice guys, but I don’t think it’s coming from a totally crazy or even powerful place. It’s coming from a place of justifiable fear.

    • Lemminkainen says:

      Thank you for sharing this perspective– I think that it’s actually the most important concern that Scott fails to consider here.

      It seems like the best way to address the problem which Scott is pointing out here while still addressing these issues would be to focus efforts to solve it on making unattractive men more attractive rather than pressuring women to go out with men who they didn’t find attractive (which sounds shitty for everyone).

    • Icicle says:

      Agreeing with what you said, I think it is important to draw a more clear distinction between bitter pursuers who think that the woman is a bad person for rejecting them, and the romantically unsuccessful, so the first group can’t use the second group as cover, and the second group doesn’t get stigmatized by the first group. Capitalization isn’t enough to draw a bright line between the two in people’s minds, so does anyone have ideas for some alternate word for the first category?

      • lunatic says:

        I reckon the “nice guys” terminology is problematic, because I’d guess that a lot of “nice guys” (of both stripes) actually value being nice. I do. Why not just call the first group “bitter guys”, or “entitled guys” or something like that?

        My mental response to that question is “you’re just making it easy for guilty parties to avoid identifying with the appropriate group”, but I also don’t know if that matters at all.

        Sometimes, though, people going on about nice guys seem to be doing so partly because they want to distract from the idea that nice guys aren’t getting laid because they’re nice, and damn you for even considering it. I can see why these people wouldn’t want to revise their terminology, because it now fails to push the appropriate guilt buttons.

        There really don’t seem to be many people who write about how to be nice and sexually successful. Given that most people seem to like sex, and most people who like sex like it with people they find attractive, it doesn’t seem an impossible task. I do have a suspicion, however, that the reason there appear to be a lot of silly games around getting laid are that in practice there are very often preferences or interests involved that are awkward in the open, and that this might be a source of difficulty for those aspiring to niceness.

    • Steve Johnson says:

      I realize rationally that I have legal rights and no one can redistribute me in this way. But on the other hand, if “society” as a whole tips into this line of thinking, then powerful weapons can be used against me, social shaming being primary amongst them. I’m scared shitless of living in a society where I would be shamed out of making free choices in who to date. Hence the instinct to strike out…

      This is, of course, exactly the manosphere view on why women embrace feminism.

      Point by point –

      1) “I realize rationally that I have legal rights and no one can redistribute me in this way.”

      Women personalize every discussion. If someone says “women’s free sexual choice is incompatible with the continuation of civilization”. Women only hear “we’re not going to let you date the guys you want”.

      2) “But on the other hand, if “society” as a whole tips into this line of thinking, then powerful weapons can be used against me, social shaming being primary amongst them. ”

      Women are herd creatures to a much greater degree than men are and will basically try to figure out what the culture asks of them and do it. When you’re born with a womb and therefore are almost guaranteed to successfully reproduce (historically true enough so to clearly shape psychology) might as well just go with the herd because it’s safer and safer is better when you start out ahead in life. Hence, women are more susceptible to social pressure and in fact are sensitive to the faintest hint of social pressure.

      3) “I’m scared shitless of living in a society where I would be shamed out of making free choices in who to date. Hence the instinct to strike out”

      The manosphere describes exactly how and why and when women will strike out due to fear. Fear of getting cut from the herd. Fear of social disapproval. Fear of loss of any amount of sexual autonomy.

      • Army1987 says:

        When you’re born with a womb and therefore are almost guaranteed to successfully reproduce

        IIRC only about 80% of women who’ve ever lived reproduced before dying. This is higher than the 40% for men, but hardly “almost guaranteed”.

        OTOH I suspect that most of the remaining 20% died as children, so if I interpret “born” less than literally you do have a point.

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        But like… you *are* going to make me not date guys I want. That is, in fact, the meaning of ending women’s free sexual choice. If I were like “I think, in the name of continuing civilization, we ought to send everyone named Steve to a forced labor camp,” it would not be fair for me to expect you to calmly and rationally argue the costs and benefits without the fact that you in particular are going to a labor camp coming up. (Particularly if you are making the argument “Steves will be sad if they have to be in a forced labor camp.”)

        • Jiro says:

          I don’t think the idea is “force someone to date guys they don’t want”, it’s “force them to stop dumping on guys they don’t want”.

          If you don’t want to date someone, fine. But don’t claim that they have a sense of entitlement, that it’s all their fault, or otherwise try to shame them, and at least recognize that they have a problem and that things are bad for them.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            That is the point of this post. That is not the point of Steve’s little rant about female sexual choice. The point of Steve’s opinion about female sexual choice is that females should not be allowed to make sexual choices.

      • Amanda L. says:

        Women are herd creatures to a much greater degree than men are and will basically try to figure out what the culture asks of them and do it… Hence, women are more susceptible to social pressure and in fact are sensitive to the faintest hint of social pressure.

        Source that men aren’t?

        When this post itself (and a lot of Scott’s posts on feminism) is about “hey let’s stop shaming romantically unsuccessful men because it makes innocent men feel shitty,” I find it hard to doubt that social shaming is in fact a big fucking deal to both genders. (As is reasonable and proper, given that we’re all social animals here.)

        • Fadeway says:

          He said “to a much greater degree”. Yeah, everyone hates public embarrassment/being made an outcast. Men will still risk it much more often than women. For a non-dramatic example, approaching is much riskier socially than being approached, and is almost always done by men.

          • Amanda L. says:

            He said “to a much greater degree”. Yeah, everyone hates public embarrassment/being made an outcast. Men will still risk it much more often than women. For a non-dramatic example, approaching is much riskier socially than being approached, and is almost always done by men.

            I disagree with the “much” in “much greater degree.” If there’s a difference it’s the difference between “caring a helluva, helluva lot” and “caring a helluva, helluva, helluva lot” which in either case is… a lot. Shame is all tied up in social status, too, which men presumably care as much about as women do (I’ve heard it claimed that men care more.)

            I think women don’t approach because they can get away with not doing so — but if, for example, men all started adhering to a “don’t approach” norm, with no one defecting, I think women would basically suck it up and start approaching, shame or no shame. It’s just that the social default is flipped a certain way due to historical factors. Fwiw, I think this social default is changing, too, at least in my circles, so it doesn’t seem all that biologically-fixed to me.

      • Nornagest says:

        If someone says “women’s free sexual choice is incompatible with the continuation of civilization”. Women only hear “we’re not going to let you date the guys you want”.

        No offense, dude, but that sounds an awful lot like “we’re not going to let you date the guys you want” to me, and I’m neither female nor generally burdened with an overabundance of feels. There is a point at which self-conscious crimespeak stops being merely taboo.

        • Paul Torek says:

          Also, there’s the fact that women’s free sexual choice is obviously and manifestly compatible with civilization, and even makes it better. So it’s quite natural to see “women’s free sexual choice is incompatible with the continuation of civilization” as propaganda meant to foster domination.

          • Anonymous says:

            “Also, there’s the fact that women’s free sexual choice is obviously and manifestly compatible with civilization, and even makes it better.”

            Umm, cite?

    • Michael R says:

      I’m sure your comment is sincere and thank you for making it.

      But … I must be missing something. Your fear is that you might end up living in a society where you will ‘sexually redistributed’ to men who are thought ‘morally worthy’?

      What kind of society could that be? I just don’t get it. Some kind of fascistic nerdocracy?

      Surely the trend in human development is the opposite? Where anybody can date anybody else? I’m just trying to picture a society where women are shamed into dating socially awkward men, to the detriment of good-looking or confident or fit guys…but I just come up blank.

      • Anonymous says:

        The real fear isn’t redistribution to “the most morally worthy”. It’s redistribution to someone who is appropriately sexually worthy. The sexual situation in which high-status males have access to many females and low-status males have access to none has, I think, obscured the real status of many women, to those women in particular most of all.

      • aguycalledjohn says:

        We’re talking more about social norms/pressure than direct government action. In lots of social situations (even within western liberal societies) women are socially pressured to go out with men who they have no feelings/attraction to, for various reasons, generally based on the idea they they owe them something (“he helped you with that project its the least you can do…”) or because rejecting them is seen as cruel (he will be sad if you dont date him, making people sad is nasty, so date him).

        This is a thing that happens. I have literally seen this happen. (E.g. in university departments in liberal countries).

        This is ignoring those cultures (where probably the majority of the human population has lived for most of history) where you literally marry, have unsatisfying sex, and babies with a man chosen by your family/the elders/socially powerful people in your tribe. Even if you have a technical right of refusal an legal autonomy social pressure is a really fucking powerful thing.

    • Scott F says:

      To maybe reassure your fear, without necessarily defending Scott’s point: in the analogy, we don’t help the poor minorities by redistributing more money towards them, we stop mocking Poor Minorities and maybe offer real help and resources for them to turn themselves into middle-class minorities. If we did just redistribute money (as some feel we are now, with welfare programs and the like), Poor Minorities would get even more hatred and vitriol (as some feel they are now).

      So it would be misguided to start shaming women into dating lonely men, and I think even some of those lonely men would argue against this hypothetical social practice. The real solution implicitly suggested looks more like providing resources for lonely men to turn themselves into the kind of men you actually like and don’t need to pressured in order to want to date.

      I agree, a world where societal pressures take away your choice in dating is scary, and I would like to think I’d argue against that norm even if I was benefiting from it.

      • Amanda L. says:

        So it would be misguided to start shaming women into dating lonely men, and I think even some of those lonely men would argue against this hypothetical social practice. The real solution implicitly suggested looks more like providing resources for lonely men to turn themselves into the kind of men you actually like and don’t need to pressured in order to want to date.

        I think most PUA/redpill literature does focus on “here’s how you improve yourself,” but often with an undertone of bitterness about how it’s women’s shallowness/awfulness that makes this necessary, hence real relationships with women aren’t desirable and women are really only good for sex. Which is a mindset that makes me reflexively flinch a bit — even if the people saying it don’t think actual women should be shamed into having sex with people they’re not attracted to, “you’re a terrible person” has an implicit “you should feel bad” to it.

        But anyhow, this seems like one of those things where there is a lot of divergence in what people want / think — and I would agree with you that your solution sounds like the best way to look at it.

        I agree, a world where societal pressures take away your choice in dating is scary, and I would like to think I’d argue against that norm even if I was benefiting from it.

        I hope I would do the same. Scott’s posts on various social phenomena (not just the feminism ones, but also the ones on group organization, social signaling etc) have helped me actually crystallize the idea that societal pressures are real, they are powerful, and hence they can be very scary.

    • Thanks for explaining this, though I’ve never felt it as a fear that the government would redistribute me. Instead, it’s seemed more like a moral claim that I should redistribute myself.

      • Amanda L. says:

        Oops, I may have phrased things unclearly. I was trying to say that “while I realize the government can’t redistribute me, I’m afraid of being socially pressured into redistributing myself [based on a moral claim].” So I think my fear is the same as yours.

        • Anonymous says:

          And you find this odd, fuzzy, hypothetical, some-social-pressure-exists world to be worse for you than the world of indefinite and involuntary celibacy is for low-status males? Or what? Are you literally afraid of being “shamed” into being a good person by open moral discourse about sexual selection?

          • Amanda L. says:

            And you find this odd, fuzzy, hypothetical, some-social-pressure-exists world to be worse for you than the world of indefinite and involuntary celibacy is for low-status males?

            Well, if you think this world would result in fixing the problem of involuntary celibacy — then you presumably think the social pressure that would exist would be strong enough to compel people to have sex with people they otherwise wouldn’t, yes?

            Then yes, I do prefer a world where I wouldn’t be subjected to social pressures strong enough to change who I romantically interact with.

            It’s not that fuzzy of a hypothetical either — cultures with arranged marriages, for example, demonstrate what that looks like. I’m very glad that I get to choose my mate based not on economic factors, or “how good is this boy / his family” factors, but rather who I fall in love with.

            Are you literally afraid of being “shamed” into being a good person

            See, this is what I mean. I don’t think wanting to be with people I find attractive, rather than people who are optimally morally good by someone else’s standards, in fact makes me a bad person. A world where all of society thinks that this makes me a bad person is, in fact, very undesirable to me.

          • Matthew says:

            As a lonely male, I have no trouble saying that, awful as the current world is, it is far superior to the world in which I am forced into a sexual relationship with someone I find unattractive. I would expect women, including lonely women, to feel so even more strongly.

            If you’re straight, try to imagine the world in which you are forced into a gay relationship. Better than being alone? If so… human mindspace is even vaster than I thought.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Theoretical technical solution: Ems + tailor-made bioroid bodies.

          • Anonymous says:

            Well, you tell me, Amanda. How strong would these mystical “social pressures” have to be in order for you to enter into a relationship with a low-status virgin?

            Here are some examples of current social pressures regarding dating:
            – Female cheating is frequently blamed on male “emotional absence”.
            – Female promiscuity is prized and its denigration is thought of as a patriarchal relic of a bygone era.
            – Male inexperience is evidence of something deeply wrong, psychologically or physically.
            – Low-status males are castigated both for approaching (“creepy”) and for not approaching (“nice guy”) women they’re interested in.

            What exactly are you afraid of? You get everything you want in dating and when you don’t, you can blame it on media beauty standards, the patriarchy, or whatever. And my question was: if a few of these dating mores shifted to favor you less, do you think that would make your life worse than an involuntarily celibate man’s already is, qua dating?

            And if not, why not just shrug, accept that it’s a net good, and move on? Again: what’s so ” oppressive” about bring asked to do the right thing?

          • Amanda L. says:

            @ Anonymous

            Again: what’s so ” oppressive” about bring asked to do the right thing?

            I disagree that I have a moral obligation to have sex with people I’m not attracted to. Even in a utilitarian sense, I think the harm to me would be greater than the benefit to the aforementioned people. As Matthew said above,

            As a lonely male, I have no trouble saying that, awful as the current world is, it is far superior to the world in which I am forced into a sexual relationship with someone I find unattractive.

            Also, not sure why you put “oppressive” in quotes when I never used the word.

            @Ialdabaoth

            Theoretical technical solution: Ems + tailor-made bioroid bodies.

            Good idea. (Depending on how properly conscious / possessing of personhood the ems are).

          • Crimson Wool says:

            If you’re straight, try to imagine the world in which you are forced into a gay relationship. Better than being alone? If so… human mindspace is even vaster than I thought.

            I am in an analogous situation. By all social standards, I should get into a relationship, because otherwise I’m a weirdo kissless virgin foreveralone incel or what have you.

            I’m still not in a relationship. Not because I’m a socially incompetent baboon, but because I don’t want one.

            The hypothetical situation is not “women being forced into relationships with men they find unattractive.” The hypothetical situation is women being socially pressured into certain kinds of relationship, which would alter the sexual market place in certain ways. Women in such a society could still: a) ignore those pressures (if they so wanted) and b) not have sex or relationships with men they weren’t attracted to.

            The only change to their choices available would be (in the proposed models I’ve seen) that they would be less likely to be having sex with much higher quality males, since those males would be more likely to be currently tied down in monogamous relationships with much higher quality females.

            e: to be clear, I don’t really care either way. I’ve got Opinions on the SMP, but they’re not that important to me. It’s just really disingenuous to draw an equivalency between social pressure and force, because they are not the same.

          • Matthew says:

            In the status quo, lonely men are made to feel they are horrible people if they acknowledge being lonely. Even without actual force, one way you could make the situation even worse would be for society to constantly send the message that you are a terrible person if you do not accept a pair-bonding you don’t want. You can still inflict negative utilons on people purely through emotional pressure, even if you don’t physically coerce them.

          • Ialdabaoth, Unwitting Servant of Moloch, Dread Agent of He-Who-Swims-Ever-Leftward says:

            Good idea. (Depending on how properly conscious / possessing of personhood the ems are)

            Speaking from experience:

            There are plenty of fully conscious people in BDSM that, if told “I want to duplicate you two point five billion times, make you all irresistably beautiful and feminine, and sell all of you as sex slaves to lonely men”, would respond “shut up and take my brain” before you finished your sales pitch.

            If you told them “oh, I’ll also modify you so you’ll continue to enjoy it no matter what happens to you”, they would likely want to pay YOU for the privilege.

            There actually *are* people for just about any niche; the problem is appallingly unfair supply/demand ratios.

            Emulation and mass-production would fix that without having to cull anyone.

        • Protagoras says:

          Surely some people are pressured by the present social order into not having sex when they would otherwise wish to, out of fear of appearing promiscuous or losing status due to being associated with the wrong kind of partner. While certainly taking steps to reduce pressures like that would not eliminate all cases of loneliness, it seems it would be likely to at least slightly reduce the problem, without anybody being pressured into sleeping with anyone they don’t want to (quite the opposite). I’m not sure why people being pressured to sleep with undesirable people was the only possible ameliorating measure you could think of.

          • Amanda L. says:

            It’s not the only one I can think of. It’s the one that I think those who are accurately labeled “Nice Guys” (leaving aside those who are unfairly so labeled) favor, as shown by my conversation with Anonymous above on my supposed obligation to date people based on how lonely they are rather than based on how attracted I am to them.

            If the redpill and associated movements were in favor of removing social shaming against promiscuous women instead of continuing to shame sluts (and non-sluts who prefer “high status” men) while still trying to have sex with them, then I wouldn’t be so alarmed by the prospect of their views becoming commonplace.

            I’m definitely in favor of win-win solutions like the one you suggest. As well as win-neutral or even win-mildly lose situations, because loneliness is a terrible thing — I’ve experienced it myself as a socially ostracized child and pre-teen, and it was devastating. My objection is purely to the idea that I ought to remedy the loneliness of others with the gift of my body and/or feigned affection. My bad if I miscommunicated this.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Amusingly, the general manosphere view is that you should be distributing yourself *less* than you are now.

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        A step actually possible might be, to encourage authors, movie producers, etc to make more stories with no dominant man in sight, and a nice man as the hero, who does get the girl, and they live happily ever after. Weren’t there a lot of those stories around mid-20th century? With heros played by Jimmy Stewart, Steve Allen….?

        Also, in this whole discussion, I’m seeing a lot of generalizations about jerky men in general always getting women, and nice men in general never getting them. Which mostly seem to be coming from online posts by those groups, respectively: the successful jerks and the lonesome nice men.

        But those are a self-selected and limited sampling of men in general. If there are lonesome jerks and happy popular nice men, would as many of them be posting about their respective conditions? The lonesome jerks wouldn’t want to admit they were jerks. The happy nice men would have better ways to spend their evenings.

        • Anonymous says:

          Did you skip section VII of the post?

        • Anonymous says:

          No, the heroes were more alpha 50 years ago. They may have been more pro-social, but that’s not the opposite thing.

          Propaganda is not easy.

          For example, in the Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, Jimmy Stewart wins the girl from John Wayne. Stewart isn’t a jerk like Wayne, but he displays physical courage in Wayne’s arena. Moreover, he is a leader of men. This film is the only example I know of what I hear used to be a common trope: the woman falls in love from seeing the man confidently lecture to a room.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            The Man who Shot Liberty Valance is a borderline case:. The non-physical-fighting Stewart character does get the girl, which is better than our current standard. But there is a dominant fighting man in it, Wayne’s character, who does dominate Stewart whenever they come in conflict. Stewart’s Alpha-ness in non-violent groups also confuses the example.

            I was thinking, or trying to think, of movies where there is no dominant male figure; the only male star is a non-tough-dominant type, the protagonist. Like the Steve Allen character in The Benny Goodman Story. Some of Hitchcock’s stories were like that; a mellow low key guy caught up in a suspense plot. Arsenic and Old Lace had the kind of hero I’m thinking of, but I don’t remember whether there was girl for him to get.

            All I can think of at the moment is Arsenic and Old Lace, and

          • Mary says:

            There was a girl in Arsenic and Old Lace. He had gotten her before the story began. He’s just a little worried about marrying with his relatives. . . .

        • Nornagest says:

          Pop standards of masculinity seem to have changed in some pretty subtle and profound ways in the last 50 years. I can’t quite fully describe how, and I don’t think it’s a simple matter of them being more or less alpha-by-manospheric-standards, but I do think one part of it is that the masculine ideal has gotten a lot less cerebral over that timeframe: it used to be that half the pulp heroes out there had advanced degrees or comparable intellectual achievements, but outside of a few techno-thrillers you now only see that in franchises that’ve existed since the Fifties and Sixties, or in conscious genre throwbacks like Indiana Jones.

          Simultaneously, the character archetype of the schlubby techie sidekick seems to have been spun up more or less out of whole cloth.