THE JOYFUL REDUCTION OF UNCERTAINTY

Open Thread 100.75

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.

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980 Responses to Open Thread 100.75

  1. bean says:

    Naval Gazing wraps up its look at battleship main guns with an examination of the guns of the treaty battleships, and Iowa in particular.

  2. simoj says:

    Ages ago, somebody posted in the SSC comments a link to some very lengthy webcomics – one about evolution following the adventures of an alien sex researcher, and one about many-worlds QM following the adventures of a hero that could talk to his Everett-branch doubles. It was written by a European person, I think Scandinavian or possibly Dutch.

    I can’t find them anymore, which is sad because they were great. I would be super super grateful if this rings any bells and somebody can help me find it.

  3. J Mann says:

    Following up on the interesting discussion on “incels” two threads ago, is there anything that society can do, collectively or individually, to help incels?

    1) I’m sympathetic to Dan Savage telling lonely hearts to hit the gym, get a haircut, practice talking to people, etc., or to the “I got through it” posts that always pick up angry responses on /r/incel, but obviously there are a lot of people who believe that won’t work, either correctly or not.

    2) By contrast, I’ve seen a lot of arguments that the way to solve the problem is to confront incels and get them to acknowledge that they don’t have a right to sex. I confess that I don’t get this one, but I want to, so I’m sure I’m being reductive and would love to be educated.

    3) To be even more unfair, other possibilities seem to be sex robots (Hanson) or a return to traditional values (Douthat).

    Any thoughts?

    • dndnrsn says:

      1. I’m not just sympathetic to this; this is what I think. A lot of people in that sort of circle are people who need the message “suck it up buttercup” and instead got a message that mixes self-pity with “this can’t be changed” and a toxic, self-reinforcing community with beliefs that make them worse people and make it less likely they’ll get laid, find love, whatever.

      2. Seems less profitable than 1. “You’re miserable, and that’s partly of your own making, and some of the stuff that’s not of your making you can still work to fix or alleviate, and you can probably be less miserable if you put the work in and stop being nasty” is a far better message than “you have no right to not be miserable.” Sure, there’s no right not to be miserable. So what?

      3. People whose problem is that they don’t feel desired or validated or whatever won’t be helped by stuff that doesn’t do those things. Beyond the other issues, sex robots won’t do those things, any more than porn or whatever will. As for traditional values, patriarchal societies where high-status men have multiple wives/concubines are pretty dang traditional, and they also have problems with low-status young men who can’t get laid/relationships. Just as traditional are societies where a man getting a wife is basically making a business deal with her father; these societies have problems with young men who can’t seal the deal literally with the dads any more than incels can figuratively with the daughters.

      What’s new here is not the existence of lower-status, usually-younger, men who are or consider themselves unfuckable, unlovable, whatever. What’s new here is technology that allows these ugly, counterproductive communities (if you want to attract women, adopting an ideology that takes a very dim view of women is counterproductive; if you want to get laid, hanging out with people who share in common that they can’t get laid isn’t gonna help) to exist.

      Further, I don’t like the framing of “how to help them” – they simultaneously need to help themselves and play hole-in-the-bucket as to why they can’t.

      • Randy M says:

        Sure, there’s no right not to be miserable. So what?

        I mostly agree with you, but I think there may be a lesson to be imparted along the lines of “women have the right to their own preferences, these are not always honestly communicated in our culture, and you have to think about what you have to offer the other person.” Like reminding someone interviewing for a job to focus on why the company wants them rather than vice versa.

        Just as traditional are societies where a man getting a wife is basically making a business deal with her father; these societies have problems with young men who can’t seal the deal literally with the dads any more than incels can figuratively with the daughters.

        If it is not the case that you have some tribal bigman with a harem, the above situation could be of help to incel men, as there would be pressure on the alphas to settle down with a single woman, especially after having fathered a child, and to stay attached to that one, freeing up more of the average women for these average guys. (Inasmuch as some men will have nothing to offer a father, some fathers will be getting no better offers.)

        Also, as we tried to impress upon Kevin in the past, many traditional societies had some respected role for voluntarily celibate men, monks or priests or the like. That’s not the same as men who wanted wives but couldn’t get them, but it is an option.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          If it is not the case that you have some tribal bigman with a harem, the above situation could be of help to incel men, as there would be pressure on the alphas to settle down with a single woman, especially after having fathered a child, and to stay attached to that one, freeing up more of the average women for these average guys. (Inasmuch as some men will have nothing to offer a father, some fathers will be getting no better offers.)

          Yeah, what people who make the harem argument are overlooking is that our ancestors lived in Christendom, where patriarchy involved shaming high-status men into settling down with one wife.

          • dndnrsn says:

            At what point did kings, etc, not have mistresses?

            EDIT: Let me put it this way. Social mores about sex haven’t changed as dramatically as some think – people are a few times more promiscuous than previously, overall, not a dozen or a hundred. The norms for referring to sex have changed far more than the actual having of sex.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @dndnrsn: St. Louis? Good King Wenchesless? 🙂
            I mean, you’re right that people today are not a dozen times more promiscuous than they were in Christendom, but changing behavior at the margin can be powerful.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yes, the king might have a mistress or two, and all of it kept very discreetly. But he wasn’t forgoing marriage to bang wenches off Ye Olde Tynder every night. Today we have men who are decidedly not kings doing that sort of thing.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Plenty of kings weren’t particularly discreet about it.

          • Jaskologist says:

            If you’ve reduced the defection rate to just the king, I’d say you’ve pretty well succeeded from a societal distribution-of-sex standpoint. Of course you’re tinkering at the margins, but shrinking those margins drastically is very valuable!

            Think about it from this perspective. We’re balancing off conflicting interests: women’s interests in getting the best genes vs society’s interests in not having a few men monopolize all the women.

            Prohibition is one route. Another is raising the cost of engaging the activity to be discouraged so that people won’t take it unless it really is that much better. There’s probably no way to make “dem royal gametes” undesirable for women. So don’t prohibit that. But do make it clear that those genes better really be all that, to the point that they are worth forgoing the social support of a man working for your household, and your bastard kids getting any sort of inheritance.

            I think in practice, I think that’s what old English common law filius nullius did. Good girls wait until they’re married, and lock down a good man who will support her and her children. Good men see that their best chance to get the goods is to work hard and be a net positive to society, so most of them go down that path. And the lord still gets to bang the scullery maid, who really doesn’t have any better prospects, and so those nice high-status genes still disseminate into the lower classes.

          • rlms says:

            Back in the Good Old Days, prostitution was a lot more common. This claims that 69% of men in 1911 said they’d paid for sex, whereas that figure was 15% in 2007.

          • christhenottopher says:

            Back in the Good Old Days, prostitution was a lot more common. This claims that 69% of men in 1911 said they’d paid for sex, whereas that figure was 15% in 2007.

            Actually the link you provided says the 69% figure (nice) was in 1948. If my history is right, I’m pretty sure there was a minor historical incident right before then that might have increased prostitution demand.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’m not just talking about kings; the “etc” there is doing a lot of work. In some times and places, it was common for parish priests to have mistresses! There was a special fine for priests with mistresses; many treated it as the cost of doing business, so to speak.

            rlms’ link is important. Men are a lot less likely to frequent prostitutes now – both married men (whose wives will be less likely to see sex as an imposition due to better contraception, antibiotics, and social changes) and unmarried men (who can get sex from their girlfriends, or hookups, or whatever). But back then, they were having lots of illicit sex with prostitutes.

            The sexual landscape is very different, but there was no lost age of chastity.

          • LewisT says:

            @rlms
            @ christhenottopher

            Actually, that 69% figure came from Kinsey, and is (like not a few of his statistics) pretty much totally bogus.

            Unfortunately, the 12,000 cases from which Kinsey et al. drew their conclusions were gathered entirely through convenience sampling of colleagues and friends, and from places such as fraternities, attendees at sexuality lectures, and men in gay bars. Despite its large size, the sample is far from representative.

            (Source)

          • christhenottopher says:

            @LewisT

            I do at least feel gratified in my guess that military service could increase prostitution usage was supported (given that serving had 23.3% with prostitution usage while not served was 9.1%). Though I am still slightly disappointed the kabbalistically appropriate number 69% was inaccurate.

          • rlms says:

            That figure did seem remarkably high, but I think it’s still safe to say (based on other evidence) that prostitution was considerably more common in the past, especially if you go back to pre-syphilis Europe.

          • quanta413 says:

            That figure did seem remarkably high, but I think it’s still safe to say (based on other evidence) that prostitution was considerably more common in the past, especially if you go back to pre-syphilis Europe.

            Considering your last datapoint turned out to be garbage, shouldn’t you either give decent citations (the written occurrences of kings having mistresses or even the occasional parish priest don’t count because that still doesn’t give you any thing but a couple anecdotes; may as well compare to Genghis Khan) or consider the possibility you were wrong?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @quanta413

            Considering your last datapoint turned out to be garbage, shouldn’t you either give decent citations (the written occurrences of kings having mistresses or even the occasional parish priest don’t count because that still doesn’t give you any thing but a couple anecdotes; may as well compare to Genghis Khan) or consider the possibility you were wrong?

            What does Kinsey just making numbers up/running some kind of grad student sex club/whatever he was doing, have to do with earlier historical sources on mistresses or prostitution or whatever?

            Especially past a certain point, hard numbers are tricky to get. There’s a reason that medievalists have to do at least some “well, based on the Decameron, we can say this about the society that produced it” or whatever.

            I tried to do some back-of-the-envelope calculation on how many prostitutes there were in England and Wales today vs the 1890s; ran into the problem that the sources back then are either cops (trying to downplay the number of prostitutes, usually by counting only arrests or even convictions) or social reformers (trying to really highball the number of women in prostitution as proof of the need for social reform to save said women from being in that line of work). Sources now are more reliable, but still run into the problem that you’ve got a tug-of-war between those who want to downplay it since it’s happening on their watch and those who want it as proof of how awful society is.

          • quanta413 says:

            Especially past a certain point, hard numbers are tricky to get. There’s a reason that medievalists have to do at least some “well, based on the Decameron, we can say this about the society that produced it” or whatever.

            Precisely. There’s almost no way to know, so any claim about more or less prostitutes per capita than the past without huge error bounds is almost certainly unjustified.

            So when your numerical datapoint is wrong, you don’t doubledown with “considerably more common in the past” with absolutely no evidence.

            Go back to medieval times or even early America. You’ve often got a whole bunch of agrarian farmers living in small villages. It’s such a different society as to be almost incomparable. It wouldn’t be surprising if they had less prostitution because they didn’t go anywhere and a market for prostitution basically couldn’t form in a small population where everyone knew each other. Cities had prostitutes but were a small fraction of the total population unlike now. The gap between population density now and then means enormous differences.

            I doubt the moral differences are the determining factor.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @quanta413

            First: a datapoint about prostitution in the early-mid 20th century being wrong doesn’t undermine data points about prostitution from before then.

            Second: It’s not a moral difference, it’s a technological difference.

            Prior to the early-middle 20th century: no antibiotics, no Pill, no safe abortion, no way to reliably check the paternity of a given child. The first three make sex risky, for both men and for women (worse for women, and this is probably further offset by greater male risk-taking behaviour). The last one makes sex riskier for women socially – a woman wants a reputation for chastity outside of wedlock because it will feed into a reputation for fidelity within wedlock; she wants to minimize the chance her husband will get correctly or unjustly suspicious and turf her out or whatever – as well as meaning a higher chance then than today that a guy will end up unknowingly raising another man’s child. If you are a family with the means to keep your daughters indoors or otherwise under supervision, you do that; if you’re not, you’re SOL, and you just gotta hope your daughter sent off to work as a maid at the local rich guy’s manor doesn’t catch the eye of the rich guy or his son.

            Development of good, reliable, hormonal contraception, where a woman doesn’t have to convince a guy to put a condom on, etc, that changes a lot, as does safe abortion, as does antibiotics. It probably changes women’s sexual habits more than men, because men are idiots that way – the threat of syphilis or pregnancy probably dissuaded more women from sex than the threat of syphilis or getting someone pregnant dissuaded men (if, with modern medical technology, men and women were equally risk-averse and had the same sex drive, this would predict that lesbians would have the most sex partners and gay men would have the fewest – obviously not the case).

            The change in the sexual landscape in the middle 20th century saw more men get sex from their girlfriends, especially first-time sex, and less with prostitutes. Female prostitutes are one of the possible responses to a situation where sex is risky and women are more dissuaded than men (due probably to some combination of the risks being greater to women and to less risk-taking behaviour): they are essentially professionals paid, in part, to take on risk and harm, in that context. Another outlet is situations where there’s a lopsided bargaining position, like wealthy men going after their servant girls. When for a “respectable woman” having sex with a guy who hasn’t put a ring on it is a less potentially bad choice, more women will do it. This means less demand for prostitutes.

            Taking “there are no more or less prostitutes now versus a hundred or two hundred or however many years ago” as the default assumption is, I think, a mistake. There’s a lot of reasons to think that there were more prostitutes per capita back when a nice respectable guy couldn’t lose his virginity to his nice respectable girlfriend, or whatever.

            Further, there’s lots of historical reasons to think that high-status men, regardless of the society, have always sought out as many sexual partners as their society will let them have, plus wiggle room.

          • rlms says:

            @quanta413
            If you think “the written occurrences of kings having mistresses or even the occasional parish priest” is the kind of evidence that might be brought up in support of the claim that prostitution was more common in the past, you should read more about the issue. Priests didn’t sometimes have mistresses, they owned brothels and claimed that “If you expel prostitution from society, you will unsettle everything on account of lusts”.

          • quanta413 says:

            @rlms

            Cherrypicking a random brothel just outside of London tells you almost nothing except about London at that time. Corrupt bishops are hardly surprising. It’s barely better than just happening to sample modern U.S. mores on prostitution by looking only in a 5 mile region around Mustang Ranch in Nevada.

            @dndnrsn, rlms

            You are both ignoring the primary point I already made about social differences.

            Low density agrarian societies cannot be assumed to have prostitution patterns matching the major cities of their time. Sure, the pill etc, cut the opposite direction. But when people live in very small communities and rarely leave them, it’s not conducive to a sustained pattern of widespread prostitution. There’s no theoretically sensible way to know the magnitudes of either effect. So all that’s left is empiricism on weak data.

            But in the past, looking at major cities or armies or whatever is explicitly biasing the sample in an extreme way. It’s not representative of a population that’s predominantly rural and agrarian. And this is true up until what? The 19th century?

            There’s no way to know if at various points, the past was roughly similar, had an order of magnitude more or less prostitutes per capita without doing the brutal work of trawling through and trying to figure out how many prostitutes there are in a significant sample of tiny villages or towns. And good luck about something people mostly hide.

            I hold that our error bars are just way too big to know if prostitution is more common now or in the past. It’s not like our current measurements are even going to be reliable to better than a factor of 2 or 3 or something like that. How would you even know how bad your systematic errors were? How do you count people that bounce in and out of turning tricks? Escort services? etc. And the problem just gets worse as you go back in time.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @quanta413

            Low density agrarian societies cannot be assumed to have prostitution patterns matching the major cities of their time. Sure, the pill etc, cut the opposite direction. But when people live in very small communities and rarely leave them, it’s not conducive to a sustained pattern of widespread prostitution. There’s no theoretically sensible way to know the magnitudes of either effect. So all that’s left is empiricism on weak data.

            But in the past, looking at major cities or armies or whatever is explicitly biasing the sample in an extreme way. It’s not representative of a population that’s predominantly rural and agrarian. And this is true up until what? The 19th century?

            This is a good point. It raises the question: how large does a settled group of people have to get before that anonymity effect sets in? If it kicks in relatively high, if say you need several thousand people before John the Miller can throw his coins to a prostitute without everyone knowing, that would support your side. If it kicks in smaller – if a decent-sized village would be enough to cover up some sins – that would support mine.

            There’s also some sexual activities that won’t be necessarily constrained in the same way. Everyone might know that the duke has a habit of impregnating and discarding servant girls, but he’s powerful enough that nobody really wants to point it out. Bad behaviour by a powerful individual can be an open secret without the person suffering any consequences.

            There’s no way to know if at various points, the past was roughly similar, had an order of magnitude more or less prostitutes per capita without doing the brutal work of trawling through and trying to figure out how many prostitutes there are in a significant sample of tiny villages or towns. And good luck about something people mostly hide.

            One could try to estimate sexual habits more generally by comparing, say, wedding dates to birth-of-first-child dates. That wouldn’t say much about prostitution, but it would say if people were having sex before the wedding.

            (It’s only one anedcote, but it’s an amusing one: I remember, from a long-ago course, a collection of local court records, I think English, can’t remember the century. In one, a man was charged with some sort of crime for having, allegedly, promised a woman he would marry her if she slept with him, which he had not done. Can’t remember if he was found guilty)

            I hold that our error bars are just way too big to know if prostitution is more common now or in the past. It’s not like our current measurements are even going to be reliable to better than a factor of 2 or 3 or something like that. How would you even know how bad your systematic errors were? How do you count people that bounce in and out of turning tricks? Escort services? etc. And the problem just gets worse as you go back in time.

            OK, so, what’s “the past”; where are we starting for these purposes? When’s the good old days, or at least the better old days?

            EDIT: And more generally, my overall point – this isn’t really about prostitution – is that it’s hard to square with one of the core redpill ideas, which is that things used to be better: that there was a golden age when stuff was considerably better for average or sub-average guys, sexually at least. This is a questionable proposition. There’s always been low-status guys and high-status guys and the latter have always had more partners lifetime. I think the major difference is a recent technological change that’s let the low-status no-sex guys connect with each other, figure out their numbers, and stew.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            I think people tend to forget that males had a high rate of mortality in the past, higher than women. If 10-60 percent of men died in conflicts in tribal societies, that leaves an abundance of women for the survivors. In this context, the higher male sex drive actually makes sense. My view is that we should decrease the number of males born relative to females, so that the sex drives of the two sexes balance out. Just like in ancient times.

          • quanta413 says:

            @dndnrsn

            This is a good point. It raises the question: how large does a settled group of people have to get before that anonymity effect sets in? If it kicks in relatively high, if say you need several thousand people before John the Miller can throw his coins to a prostitute without everyone knowing, that would support your side. If it kicks in smaller – if a decent-sized village would be enough to cover up some sins – that would support mine.

            Agreed. It depends heavily on social effects and size of settlements. I’d assume that much like now, prostitution is highly unevenly distributed. We know prostitution springs up near heavily male areas/routes. So truckers, sailers, mining camps, armies, etc.

            I figure that in a lot of areas in the past, a significant number of people had sex before marriage risks be damned. Pretty much like they do now.

            There’s also some sexual activities that won’t be necessarily constrained in the same way. Everyone might know that the duke has a habit of impregnating and discarding servant girls, but he’s powerful enough that nobody really wants to point it out. Bad behaviour by a powerful individual can be an open secret without the person suffering any consequences.

            I agree there is good reason to suspect this may have been more common. It’s just this isn’t prostitution so it wasn’t what I was including in a count. We don’t know the rates of this now either, but it’d be surprising if there weren’t a significant number of people behaving this way.

            We could probably estimate the rate of illicit sex (almost always rape) on say, U.S. southern plantations in the 19th century. We know it can’t be low considering the average % of European ancestry of African Americans.

            Similar qualitative behavior may occur in any highly stratified society where powerful men have control over lower class/caste/slave women. Although it’s possible some social arrangements lead to lower rates of it. Caste systems maybe? They sometimes managed to keep their line of descent within a single group making them genetically distinct from each other (not true of all castes though). That implies illicit sex across the “wrong” castes rarely led to children who themselves had children.

            One could try to estimate sexual habits more generally by comparing, say, wedding dates to birth-of-first-child dates. That wouldn’t say much about prostitution, but it would say if people were having sex before the wedding.

            (It’s only one anedcote, but it’s an amusing one: I remember, from a long-ago course, a collection of local court records, I think English, can’t remember the century. In one, a man was charged with some sort of crime for having, allegedly, promised a woman he would marry her if she slept with him, which he had not done. Can’t remember if he was found guilty)

            This is certainly true. I’d be a little surprised if no one had tried this. The question of estimating a lower bound on the amount of pre-marital sex is an interesting one.

            OK, so, what’s “the past”; where are we starting for these purposes? When’s the good old days, or at least the better old days?

            EDIT: And more generally, my overall point – this isn’t really about prostitution – is that it’s hard to square with one of the core redpill ideas, which is that things used to be better: that there was a golden age when stuff was considerably better for average or sub-average guys, sexually at least. This is a questionable proposition. There’s always been low-status guys and high-status guys and the latter have always had more partners lifetime. I think the major difference is a recent technological change that’s let the low-status no-sex guys connect with each other, figure out their numbers, and stew.

            An excellent point. There are probably times in the past with more and probably times with less prostitution. And of course, we already agree the pattern should vary heavily by where we look.

            I’m saying that it’s going to be hard to really know what times had more or less prostitution outside of extreme cases. On the other hand, we can relatively easily estimate what places have more or less prostitution.

            I agree the redpill thing is at least partly mythological. I don’t think it’s totally wrong though. The various factors that add up to high and low status in a partner aren’t weighed the same the same with modern sexual mores as the factors would be weighed during periods when people got married and had children earlier and divorce rates were much lower (so pre-1960 or thereabouts). And if you step back to the 1800s, it’s hard to imagine any woman shacking up with a man who’s practically unemployable for any length of time. Life was just too damn hard for that. But that’s something that’s possible now although still looked down on.

            @The Red Foliot

            Tribal societies is rather further back than I was thinking. My impression is that at least post-childbirth, women’s mortality rates were notably worse than men’s in most places for couple millenia. Although war can quickly reverse the pattern. But my impression was that war wasn’t so common as to reverse the skew at all times.

            My vague recollection is there are about 105-110 males per female at birth, so your plan is certainly appealing if there was an easy way to pull it off. Although I’d only push it to there being an equal amount of males and females. I don’t like the idea of an imbalance because I’d prefer a relatively monogamous civilization not a polygamous one or one with a bunch of people alone.

          • mtl1882 says:

            From what I’ve read about the 1700s and 1800s, prostitution outside of cities more often took the form of a local girl who would sleep with a small number of guys who were friends. It was less anonymous. One or several guys with money would “keep” a girl – pay her rent etc. Because of fear about diseases, it was a lot less random. They’d find an easy/desperate girl, and control access to her. Then a lot of times, especially if she got pregnant, they’d find some not too smart man, convince him to marry her, and they’d move to a new town where she could get a new reputation. It seems like prostitution was pretty common, especially out west, but sometimes it looked more like having a girlfriend than what we’d think of. Any sexually active woman outside of marriage could be considered a prostitute.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @quanta413

            Agreed. It depends heavily on social effects and size of settlements. I’d assume that much like now, prostitution is highly unevenly distributed. We know prostitution springs up near heavily male areas/routes. So truckers, sailers, mining camps, armies, etc.

            I wish I could find my copy of a book of essays about the intersection of the military and medicine; there’s a chapter on VD in WWI. One of the statistics is that VD infection among the troops tended to be low (I think 10s-20s?) double digits, fairly chronically.

            I figure that in a lot of areas in the past, a significant number of people had sex before marriage risks be damned. Pretty much like they do now.

            Oh, people are idiots. We’ll make really bad choices for sex. But the bad choices are less bad than they used to be, for the most part.

            I agree there is good reason to suspect this may have been more common. It’s just this isn’t prostitution so it wasn’t what I was including in a count. We don’t know the rates of this now either, but it’d be surprising if there weren’t a significant number of people behaving this way.

            We could probably estimate the rate of illicit sex (almost always rape) on say, U.S. southern plantations in the 19th century. We know it can’t be low considering the average % of European ancestry of African Americans.

            Wouldn’t a society like that have two “tracks” regarding what’s considered illicit? After all, there’s an underclass of people who are despised, and before a certain point, enslaved. Doing awful stuff to them would be more accepted than doing it in general.

            Hackett Fischer claims that in general the Cavalier semi-aristocracy of the South tolerated a level of sexually voracious/predatory behaviour by high-status men that wouldn’t have been tolerated further North, as I recall, but I may be getting that muddled. I read the book some time ago.

            Similar qualitative behavior may occur in any highly stratified society where powerful men have control over lower class/caste/slave women. Although it’s possible some social arrangements lead to lower rates of it. Caste systems maybe? They sometimes managed to keep their line of descent within a single group making them genetically distinct from each other (not true of all castes though). That implies illicit sex across the “wrong” castes rarely led to children who themselves had children.

            “Girl falls in love with guy from the wrong side of the tracks and her family murders them” is something that exists in multiple societies, isn’t it? Presumably, at least in part, they were killed to prevent children.

            This is certainly true. I’d be a little surprised if no one had tried this. The question of estimating a lower bound on the amount of pre-marital sex is an interesting one.

            I vaguely remember reading something about looking at New England Puritan communities, the church registries of weddings and births. The level of “baby born 6 months after wedding” was higher than one might expect from Puritans. This could be more “there was some level of tolerance for sleeping with someone you were engaged to, for serious” or more “blunderbuss wedding” territory. Those both fall in different places on a spectrum where one end is “you may have sex after marriage, but you have to feel guilty” and the other is “it’s impolite to ask your casual sexual partners’ names” or whatever.

            An excellent point. There are probably times in the past with more and probably times with less prostitution. And of course, we already agree the pattern should vary heavily by where we look.

            I’m saying that it’s going to be hard to really know what times had more or less prostitution outside of extreme cases. On the other hand, we can relatively easily estimate what places have more or less prostitution.

            Yeah, it’s probably easier to try to estimate over place rather than time.

            I agree the redpill thing is at least partly mythological. I don’t think it’s totally wrong though. The various factors that add up to high and low status in a partner aren’t weighed the same the same with modern sexual mores as the factors would be weighed during periods when people got married and had children earlier and divorce rates were much lower (so pre-1960 or thereabouts). And if you step back to the 1800s, it’s hard to imagine any woman shacking up with a man who’s practically unemployable for any length of time. Life was just too damn hard for that. But that’s something that’s possible now although still looked down on.

            I have a sense that the situation is slightly different – people are still determining status using old-fashioned measures that are somewhat atavistic. For example: in a society where authority is determined in part on physicality, strength, combat ability those things will be high-status in a guy. Society changes more quickly than we (our biology, our socialization, whatever) do. So we count those things for status in contexts where it makes no sense: don’t American presidents tend to be taller than the average? (Is the US a place where wealth gives enough of a nutrition edge to make people taller? Because that would explain taller leaders in some places and times).

            The anecdotal “criminal amoral shithead who has an endless procession of women” – the toughest guy in the trailer park who doesn’t take no shit from nobody might be a loser today, unemployable and sleeping on his girlfriend’s couch. By the standards of most of human history and prehistory, a guy who plays a lot of dominance contests, is relatively good at them, and is able and willing (probably too willing) to resort to force is probably a catch. To put it another way: maybe the difference isn’t that guys like that didn’t exist back in the medieval village or the hunter-gatherer band; maybe the difference is that back then there were more financial and social rewards for being that guy.

          • A couple of points tangential to the thread.

            1. We don’t have data on prostitution, but we do have data on premarital sex–more precisely, on the fraction of brides who were pregnant. For several European cities in the late 19th century it was about a third. That’s from memory, but I think accurate.

            2. It may well be true that in hunter-gatherer societies male mortality was higher than female, giving a high f/m ratio. On the other hand, in somewhat later societies, the most dangerous thing that any large fraction of the population did was childbirth, which could give the opposite result.

          • quanta413 says:

            @dndnrsn

            I wish I could find my copy of a book of essays about the intersection of the military and medicine; there’s a chapter on VD in WWI. One of the statistics is that VD infection among the troops tended to be low (I think 10s-20s?) double digits, fairly chronically.

            That’s pretty high. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea mostly I suppose?

            Oh, people are idiots. We’ll make really bad choices for sex. But the bad choices are less bad than they used to be, for the most part.

            Agreed. It’s a pretty great improvement.

            Wouldn’t a society like that have two “tracks” regarding what’s considered illicit? After all, there’s an underclass of people who are despised, and before a certain point, enslaved. Doing awful stuff to them would be more accepted than doing it in general.

            Hackett Fischer claims that in general the Cavalier semi-aristocracy of the South tolerated a level of sexually voracious/predatory behaviour by high-status men that wouldn’t have been tolerated further North, as I recall, but I may be getting that muddled. I read the book some time ago.

            Yeah, pattern definitely doesn’t vanish post slavery either even if it weakens. One of Zora Neale Hurston’s novels has a main character who’s an illegitimate child of one of the semi-aristocracy and a sharecropper. And there’s “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man”.

            “Girl falls in love with guy from the wrong side of the tracks and her family murders them” is something that exists in multiple societies, isn’t it? Presumably, at least in part, they were killed to prevent children.

            That’s got to drive down the rate of couples even trying too though right? I mean, when you’re damn sure your families will murder you, that’s a hell of a deterrent. The lack of past gene flow between many jatis implies a pretty high rate of successfully discouraging breaking the taboo or of halting the reproduction of anyone who broke the taboo (or at least expelling each member of the illicit couple from both groups). I figure even the hardiest of fools is usually dissuaded.

            My vague understanding of what’s distinct about population clusters in much of India is the sheer level of consistent long term strictness implied by the genetics of many jatis. Europe has a lot of gradients between Germans and Danes, Germans and Swiss, English and Scots, etc. And their social structure has changed drastically several times in the past couple millennia causing gene flow across previous social boundaries even if the “murder people who mate across the wrong lines” was a still a rule at any given time, Europeans apparently failed to define what the “wrong lines” are consistently for a few thousand years.

            I have a sense that the situation is slightly different – people are still determining status using old-fashioned measures that are somewhat atavistic. For example: in a society where authority is determined in part on physicality, strength, combat ability those things will be high-status in a guy. Society changes more quickly than we (our biology, our socialization, whatever) do. So we count those things for status in contexts where it makes no sense: don’t American presidents tend to be taller than the average? (Is the US a place where wealth gives enough of a nutrition edge to make people taller? Because that would explain taller leaders in some places and times).

            The anecdotal “criminal amoral shithead who has an endless procession of women” – the toughest guy in the trailer park who doesn’t take no shit from nobody might be a loser today, unemployable and sleeping on his girlfriend’s couch. By the standards of most of human history and prehistory, a guy who plays a lot of dominance contests, is relatively good at them, and is able and willing (probably too willing) to resort to force is probably a catch. To put it another way: maybe the difference isn’t that guys like that didn’t exist back in the medieval village or the hunter-gatherer band; maybe the difference is that back then there were more financial and social rewards for being that guy.

            I’m not convinced that being willing to resort to force against other humans is particularly advantageous in 19th century America compared to now. Or in a medieval village compared to now.

            The more risky life is, the more atavistic rage heads can fuck it up for everyone else. I think the modern U.S. and Europe in some ways are more conducive to behaving this way than the past might have been.

            This theory also seems to cut against social survey data where we find that Western “modern” men have values/aggressiveness distinctly higher than women whereas men from more “traditional societies” don’t. Or something vaguely along those lines. People have mentioned it here before, but I can’t remember the results/wording very well.

            It is possible that someone who may be considered a loser now might have done well in the past, but I kind of doubt it for a lot of reasons.

          • ohwhatisthis? says:

            “Yes, the king might have a mistress or two, and all of it kept very discreetly. ”

            What? Plenty of kings had large harems at their whim, even in Christondome.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @quanta413

            That’s pretty high. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea mostly I suppose?

            I can’t remember if they listed the diseases. Gonorrhea was probably the bulk, I would guess; it’s extremely noticeable. I think the highest rates were among Canadians, of the nationalities’ soldiers they looked at – into the 40% range, if I’m remembering it correctly. So either Canadian soldiers were having more sex with prostitutes, or were somehow worse at not getting the clap, or were more conscientious and likely to report that they had it, or were treated better than other nationalities when they reported they had it (I think that different armies treated it differently – some punished men in treatment for VD, which would give them an incentive not to report that they’re pissing funny).

            That’s got to drive down the rate of couples even trying too though right? I mean, when you’re damn sure your families will murder you, that’s a hell of a deterrent. The lack of past gene flow between many jatis implies a pretty high rate of successfully discouraging breaking the taboo or of halting the reproduction of anyone who broke the taboo (or at least expelling each member of the illicit couple from both groups). I figure even the hardiest of fools is usually dissuaded.

            My vague understanding of what’s distinct about population clusters in much of India is the sheer level of consistent long term strictness implied by the genetics of many jatis. Europe has a lot of gradients between Germans and Danes, Germans and Swiss, English and Scots, etc. And their social structure has changed drastically several times in the past couple millennia causing gene flow across previous social boundaries even if the “murder people who mate across the wrong lines” was a still a rule at any given time, Europeans apparently failed to define what the “wrong lines” are consistently for a few thousand years.

            On the other hand, “star-crossed lovers” are a trope in many cultures’ stories. They just have different reasons why they’re star-crossed, and they’re more crossed in some cultures than others. The use of it as a central trope in works of fiction in a given culture would suggest that it’s something taboo enough to be interesting as a plot device (the story of Romeo and Juliet, two young lovers, who get together without any obstacles and don’t kill themselves due to a series of dumb miscommunications, is not a very interesting story) but would be familiar enough that it wouldn’t completely kill suspension of disbelief.

            I’m not convinced that being willing to resort to force against other humans is particularly advantageous in 19th century America compared to now. Or in a medieval village compared to now.

            Oh, I’m just spitballing here. It depends on how much you trust numbers claiming that, say, medieval England was considerably more violent than England today. The authorities were arguably much worse at preventing violence, on average. In such a situation, being able to use violence one’s self would be more attractive.

            The more risky life is, the more atavistic rage heads can fuck it up for everyone else. I think the modern U.S. and Europe in some ways are more conducive to behaving this way than the past might have been.

            How so?

            This theory also seems to cut against social survey data where we find that Western “modern” men have values/aggressiveness distinctly higher than women whereas men from more “traditional societies” don’t. Or something vaguely along those lines. People have mentioned it here before, but I can’t remember the results/wording very well.

            I’d be interested in seeing that, and the definitions.

            It is possible that someone who may be considered a loser now might have done well in the past, but I kind of doubt it for a lot of reasons.

            I think it depends on what kind of loser. Additionally, the other form of the atavism is in non-losers: it’s that we value things that signal strength and potential to do violence, even in contexts where neither strength nor violence are necessary or even desirable. If you have two, say, business executives, the one who’s a bit bigger and taller will probably do better, if all else is equal. I think it’s because there’s some part of our brain/some part of our socialization/both that deep down still expects the big man to lead his guys in battle against the raiders from the tribe a couple valleys over/lead them in a raiding party against the tribe a couple valleys over.

          • Anonymous says:

            @ohwhatisthis?

            What? Plenty of kings had large harems at their whim, even in Christondome.

            To my recollection, it’s more like “a few kings, highly infamous for their scandalous behaviour, were indiscreet about keeping multiple lovers”. I recall Charles II of England, and one of the Polish kings deeply conflicted with the Church over unchristian behaviour.

            Can you substantiate what you mean by “plenty”?

          • rlms says:

            From this list, all but two or so of the British kings had public mistresses that were notable enough to have their own Wikipedia pages. Around half had several. Likewise, the list of sexually active popes is distinctly non-empty.

          • From this list, all but two or so of the British kings had public mistresses that were notable enough to have their own Wikipedia pages.

            ???

            Starting with William the Conqueror, there are eighteen kings of England not on that list:

            William I
            William II
            Henry I
            Stephen
            Richard I
            John
            Henry III
            Edward I
            Henry IV
            Henry V
            Henry VI
            Edward IV
            Edward V
            Edward VI
            Charles I
            William III
            George V
            George VI

          • John Schilling says:

            And I count five who are not believed to have slept with any woman other than their wife,

            Edward II
            Richard II
            James I
            Charles I
            Charles III

            plus three more who did so only before marrying or taking the throne

            Richard III
            Henry VII
            William IV

            By comparison, notoriously sleeping with multiple mistresses is limited to four or five English monarchs of the past thousand years, none of whom are exactly considered role models.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            This is just from fiction, but my impression is that smallish communities might have a prostitute. Everyone knows who she is, and I’m not sure whether everyone one knows who all of her customers are. She isn’t respected, but she’s there.

          • rlms says:

            All the *British* kings (I was being deliberately obtuse). The *English* kings seem to have had fewer, although it seems plausible that that is to some extent due to a lack of historical evidence rather than a lack of mistresses (I assume we also know less about e.g. the sisters-in-law of medieval kings than modern ones).

          • Randy M says:

            I was going to reference the biblical story of Tamar and Judah to show that prostitutes were not unheard of in small ancient agrarian communities, but those may well have been temple prostitutes, indicating that perhaps there wasn’t enough business for full time sex workers. (Joke; but still confounded for other reasons)

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Randy M

          You are assuming here part of the whole redpill worldview (which incels have adopted – they just believe that something they cannot change is keeping them from acting on the advice that’s a part of the worldview): namely, that the top guys are hogging all the women, or that women are “ruined” for normal guys by the top guys, or a combination of the two. This is a big assumption to make, and it sounds like you’re taking it for granted.

          • albatross11 says:

            Is there actual survey data or something that either demonstrates this is true or that it’s not?

          • powerfuller says:

            If it’s true that some women are “ruined,” it ought to be kept in mind that this happens to men, too (though not the incels, probably).

          • Randy M says:

            I am assuming that as monogamy increases, there are more mates to go around.
            You seem to be assuming that that people can be polygamy (serial or concurrent) will increase the options for those who find it hard to get mates, and this has many assumptions baked in as well.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Randy M

            Why do you assume I think that? I don’t know whether changes have made things better or worse for the average person, or for the bottom third, or whatever, speaking statistically.

          • Randy M says:

            Why do you assume I think that?

            Rereading my jumble of typos, I’m not sure what you think I think you are assuming. That aside…

            My original point was that if there is more encouragement towards monogamy, and sexual continence otherwise, there would be fewer men without access to women, except for those that were worse for partners of their respective caliber than being alone–presumably not including the category we feel sympathy for, those with pro-social behavior but some deficit in sex appeal.

            This doesn’t entail assuming that in the current milieu a woman will necessarily become an alpha widow or harem member, but that there is some of that behavior on the margins; some women who have hope of settling for part of an alpha who would otherwise settle for all of a beta. Do you think this is an unlikely state? It doesn’t have to affect every woman to leave some men lacking.

            An alternative assumption is that with more wanton hook-ups and breaking down of standards (something akin to your fully realized sexual revolution, perhaps) there would be more nookie for everyone. This is a theoretical possibility, but not a convincing one; you’d probably eliminate more of the virgins than at present, but still have lots of people without regular sex or companionship, since there would be more hope of getting some attention from the most desirable and little reason to change what constituted desirable.

          • gbdub says:

            “I am assuming that as monogamy increases, there are more mates to go around.”

            This is true relative to a situation where a small cadre of men are monopolizing multiple women. But I don’t think such a “harem” system describes current reality.

            Rather, it’s more like there’s a continuum of promiscuity with both men and women at either end and all along. And it seems like (most) of the hooking up occurs between people on similar levels of that continuum. There are certainly “Chads” and… I don’t know, “Chadettes”? Chad might be hooking up with a dozen women over the course of a year, but it’s not as if those women never date anyone other than Chad.

        • James says:

          “women have the right to their own preferences, these are not always honestly communicated in our culture”

          I think the two parts of this are separable and the latter is sometimes underheard and could be useful to these guys.

          • Randy M says:

            Yeah, but if someone is caught up on how unfair the situation is, pointing out that any remedy other than making oneself more appealing (because the other party has the right to have their desires fulfilled) may not be fully persuasive but may be useful.

      • mdet says:

        Having read the specific Douthat article and Douthat generally, he’s not talking about a return to polygamy, or even a full return to the 1950s-type values. In the article, he specifically pushes back against what he calls a Hugh Hefner morality that puts having lots of great sex all the time as one of the most important things in life. He seems to suggest that if the rest of us all put just a little more value on chastity, incels wouldn’t feel so left out.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Here’s what Douthat says.

          First, because like other forms of neoliberal deregulation the sexual revolution created new winners and losers, new hierarchies to replace the old ones, privileging the beautiful and rich and socially adept in new ways and relegating others to new forms of loneliness and frustration.

          Did it? Do we have some kind of Chad Index over time to measure the sexual marketplace? He just flatly states it. What’s his source? What’s his evidence?

          Second, because in this new landscape, and amid other economic and technological transformations, the sexes seem to be struggling generally to relate to one another, with social and political chasms opening between them and not only marriage and family but also sexual activity itself in recent decline.

          Yeah, relations are pretty bad. Whole bunch of possible reasons. But it’s not because of the “new landscape” because there isn’t really a new landscape as in his first and third points here.

          Third, because the culture’s dominant message about sex is still essentially Hefnerian, despite certain revisions attempted by feminists since the heyday of the Playboy philosophy — a message that frequency and variety in sexual experience is as close to a summum bonum as the human condition has to offer, that the greatest possible diversity in sexual desires and tastes and identities should be not only accepted but cultivated, and that virginity and celibacy are at best strange and at worst pitiable states. And this master narrative, inevitably, makes both the new inequalities and the decline of actual relationships that much more difficult to bear …

          This is really exaggerating. The modern sexual culture is incoherent; the sexual revolution kinda stalled halfway. It’s not like he says it is. Virginity and celibacy are less admired, but the mainstream view does not seem fairly described as “Hefnerian” – maybe influenced by, sure.

          I think his article is looking back to a golden age that never existed. A silver age, maybe.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            There’s definitely a new landscape. Divorce, delayed marriage, women in the workplace, the pill, all these things have changed gender relations in some pretty major ways.

            I agree that Douthat and the Red-Pillers are buying into a Golden Age that never existed. I made this point on a different forum, but while it’s obviously true that women prefer wealthier, more fit, and wittier partners and men prefer younger and more attractive partners, both sexes have malleable tastes. We can settle and be happy with something “reasonable.” It’s why we still have ugly people: ugly people got laid and made babies, too.

            Red Pillers point to stuff like massive cities and online dating and such that creates a supposed “cock carousel” that women “ride” which means they can never be happy with a normal man, and that may be true for a small number of women who adapted poorly to the new landscape. Similarly there probably are a few women and men who cannot get off Tinder and just settle with someone. And both men and women probably have unrealistic expectations as a result of porn/romance novels that makes their real-life partners a bit disappointing.

            But these problems are all over-stated. There are other secular trends driving us towards delayed marriage and caused the divorce bump. And if anything is causing a drying up of sex, it’s the damn smartphones! People aren’t spending too much time on Tinder and checking out guys/girls, they are too busy playing video games and seeking validation from Facebook! Or Snapchat! Or whatever app is “cool” this week!

            Most people are still just people, just some of the details changed.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If you’re going to blame tech, I wouldn’t blame the smartphone but the Sony Walkman and its descendants. Put the headphones in, eliminate casual social interaction. Great for misanthropes, maybe not so great in the long run for normal people.

            However, I think another thing has been missed — violence. Namely, there’s not enough of it. War and violent crime used to kill off a LOT more young men, more than young women. This certainly cut down the competition. Participating in war and violence made the men more attractive to women. And the guys not suited to violence got their chance when the tough guys were actually off at war.

            Now? We’ve got 115 young single men for every 100 young single women nationwide. The odds are bad, and those men who were low-desirability to begin with get the worst of it.

          • mdet says:

            Douthat talks about sex, gender, and relationships fairly regularly in his columns, so you might have to read more of his writing to clarify.

            If I could try to summarize his views:
            —First off, he’s a moderate-conservative Catholic.

            —He thinks that American culture broadly encourages people to have as much sex as they can get, and portrays casual sex and one-night stands as totally acceptable, if not normal. His evidence: Movies & tv, including those aimed at teenagers, are sex-saturated. The prudest standard you’ll usually see is “Wait for the right guy/girl”, where the standards for “right” are little more than “We’ve dated for a several months”. Both sex-positive feminists and Hugh Hefner-type men openly endorse the “Have lots of sex” mindset. “Wait until marriage, or at least near-marriage” is losing popularity, even among devout Christians.

            —He’d probably agree with you that “the sexual revolution kinda stalled halfway”, in the way he describes how predatory men sort of hijacked the sexual revolution and turned it into a way for them to acquire sex more easily. When there’s a presumption that women enjoy casual sex just as much as men do, it makes it much easier to pressure and abuse women and call it “consent”.

            —He’s not too nostalgic though. He recognizes that “in a world of more stringent moral rules, a world that emphasizes sexual restraint and make chastity a virtue, the same predator might find a different way. He might be more aggressive, for instance, and then play on his victim’s sense of shame, her desire to be chaste and her feeling that she’s been soiled by the encounter, to induce her not to tell anyone and perhaps even to continue seeing him, because after once you’ve fallen there’s no point in getting up… Conservatives arguing for a different, thicker sexual ethic than just the rule of ‘consent’ need to recognize that any revived code of sexual restraint would need to draw on the insights of feminism as well as those of pre-sexual revolution sources”

            He thinks that sex and marriage are split along class lines. “In upper class circles, liberal social values do not necessarily lead to libertinism among the people who hold them, and indeed quite often coexist with an impressive amount of personal conservatism, personal restraint…[because] the influence of a libertine culture is counteracted by the dense network of adult authority figures whose examples matter more than what you watch and read and consume.” Given his belief in the importance of marriage to create stable and prosperous families, this is part of what he means by sexual-revolution-as-neoliberal-deregulation, benefiting the privileged and socially adept who can navigate the new rules. Not directly relevant to incels here, but it gets at what ADBG said about divorce, delayed marriage, the pill, online dating, and (I’ll add) online porn changing the way that people approach relationships and what they want when they’re in them.

            I think it’s fair to infer into Douthat that he thinks the cultural norms surrounding sex should be much more chaste than they currently are, but not so chaste as to recreate the days when sex outside of marriage was unspeakably shameful.

          • Deiseach says:

            Did it? Do we have some kind of Chad Index over time to measure the sexual marketplace? He just flatly states it. What’s his source? What’s his evidence?

            Back in Ye Olde Dayes up to the 1970s when Nice Girls Didn’t and there was supposed to be at least the pretence of waiting for marriage, a man who could get dates but not sex, or couldn’t even get dates, could console himself that Nice Girls Didn’t and it was just bad luck that he didn’t have the good job or whatever to be able to afford marriage.

            Now that sex outside of marriage is normal, and Nice Girls Do and do a lot more than vanilla missionary sex, a guy who can’t get a date doesn’t have that sop to his self-esteem. Now that everyone is supposed to be having sex when they turn fourteen*, what’s your excuse to be eighteen and a virgin who can’t even get a kiss?

            *No I know everyone is not, but the blather about ‘we have to let minors have access to contraception and abortions without the consent or knowledge of their parents or else terrible bad things will happen’ sure makes it sound as if everyone is having sex at fourteen.

          • Randy M says:

            However, I think another thing has been missed — violence.

            I meant to consider this point yesterday. We haven’t had a significant war in a while, one that could serve to skew the sex ration. Perhaps that results in more men being left out, though it seems it should make things more even unless one sex had more chance of being content sexless, or…

            Now? We’ve got 115 young single men for every 100 young single women nationwide.

            Wait, what? Why that imbalance?

          • dndnrsn says:

            I read Douthat semi-regularly and I think that in general he’s too ready to believe what the past said about itself. There are some things where it hasn’t gone from “doesn’t happen” to “happens” but from “happens but we say it shouldn’t” to “happens and we say it’s OK.” It might happen more. But how much more? High-status aggressive men who sleep with lots of women aren’t a new invention, at a minimum.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @RandyM

            I don’t know why the imbalance; my intuition would be mostly “male divorcees with younger women”. There are also more men born than women (105 to 100), which likely accounts for some of it.

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t know why the imbalance; my intuition would be mostly “male divorcees with younger women”.

            Hmm… if the pool of men is those ages 15-60 and the pool of women is those ages 15-55, then that ratio makes sense, I suppose.

            We might also have to consider how vigorously one is searching; presumably younger people are looking for romantic companionship more than older people, on the basis that they have more reasons to do so (family formation, economic support).

          • bean says:

            There are also more men born than women (105 to 100), which likely accounts for some of it.

            That accounts for all of it if we assume that 2/3 women are not single. The singles pool is going to enrich in men as pairs drop out, provided the death rates are the same. I suspect that some of it is women marrying older men, but I don’t think we should discount raw birthrate in an age when we aren’t finding new and exciting ways to kill off our young men.

          • Jesse E says:

            “Now that everyone is supposed to be having sex when they turn fourteen*, what’s your excuse to be eighteen and a virgin who can’t even get a kiss?”

            Age of first sexual experience is going up bit by bit and the number of partners is going down bit by bit.

          • a reader says:

            I agree with A Definite Beta Guy:

            the Red-Pillers are buying into a Golden Age that never existed.

            That Golden Age being a legendary time before the feminism, the pill &co, when any guy, regardless of his attractiveness and courtship skills, could receive a young, virgin bride if he was considered ok by her parents. That part may be somewhat true, many of today incels may have married a virgin bride (although let’s not forget that Andersen, the famous writer, was probably an incel of his time).

            But what followed after that young and pretty virgin bride (usually still a teen) was married against her will to an unattractive husband with low social skills?

            Think about it: most unmarried girls were virgins, educated at the monastery or under the strict surveillance of their housewife moms and maybe also governesses; both the girls and the mothers knew that a single mistake meant the girl was “lost”.

            So, for all the young men who didn’t yet have the situation to marry and sustain a family, or didn’t yet want those responsibilities, there were mainly two possible sexual targets: the prostitutes (risky because syphilis) and other men’ wives.

            The incel-equivalent would have been an ideal husband – for a prospective Don Juan:
            – not attractive, his forcefully married pretty wife doesn’t love him.
            – no social skills; isolated, few friends, no experience in courtship, so the chances to observe or be informed that his wife cheats are weak.
            – not physically fit – so chances to be a physical threat for the lover are weak.

            So, in that “Golden Age”, the incels wouldn’t be virgins but would most probably be cuckold, raising Chad’s Casanova’s children.

            I think the Red Pill theory has such a success because most men nowadays read less literature (except SF or fantasy).

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        My random thoughts:

        1. As with all things the inceldome thing is a combination of factors beyond the control of the individual male plus factors that are theroetically within the control of the individual male but are very difficult to act upon without some degree of collective will power.

        2. It should be emphasized strongly that the kinds of ‘self improvements’ that people insist incel’s perform to improve their chances of getting women should not be advocated for on the grounds it will improve their chances of partnership. (The fact that it probably will is irrelevant)

        Better life routines, more musculature (I am going to be a bit unfair and assume the typical incel has either too much fat and/or too little muscle) , higher activity levels; these things will generally raise a male’s self esteem and quality of life regardless of whether they die a virgin or not.

        3. A lot of anecdotes are getting thrown around and very little data. For example, incels and the women that despise them are accusing the other of having standards that are too high. Almost no one as far as i can tell has bothered to provide data to support their claims. I say almost because there is a bit of data that suggests women have a higher probability of being in a sexual relationship between the ages of 18-25.

        4. “You’re not entitled to sex” — This is a very frustrating statement to me because I simultaneously agree with it and yet I can barely restrain myself from hold the people who say it in absolute contempt.

        Personally, I don’t believe in rights of any kind and I do not believe that anyone is entitled to anything (I’m partly frustrated because people who say that ‘Sex is not a right’ often but not always believe that people (mostly women) have rights to a laundry list of arbitrary goodies (In an absolute or a social sense) — This view of entitlement[s] seems to come from a position of which groups you sympathize with and which you hold in contempt. However there are nevertheless consequences to supporting social systems which create extreme amounts of inequality.

        If for example a market economy naturally produces a working class operating at the margins for whom wages tend not to increase; it is generally agreed by progressives that having some hedging mechanism (which at a bare minimum could be a strong social norm for charity, and in other cases a welfare state) is valuable/necessary if for no other reason then creating a mass of persons that will threaten the existence of the otherwise wealth-generating system.

        I see a similar argument to be made for modern sexual relationships. If modern technology plus modern social liberal sexual norms produce a system where a significant portion of the population (The majority of whom let me remind you are men of fighting age who often have nothing to lose) are alienated from nearly all social interaction; this threatens the stability of the system. So it is worth addressing with more than condescension if for no other reason than to keep the system working.

        • Matt M says:

          I strongly disagree with #2.

          It may be true that working out more is a good idea, even if it doesn’t attract women, because it will make me healthier.

          But as someone who is currently NOT working out, I’ve already presumably run the cost/benefit analysis in my head, and concluded that the health benefits alone don’t justify the time expense and physical discomfort of working out.

          Therefore, the other general benefits are irrelevant. If you want to convince me to work out, you need to convince me that it will help solve my immediate and most pressing problem. Particularly if there are other approaches to my immediate and most pressing problem that will demand similar resources (i.e., every second and dollar I spend on working out is a second and dollar I’m NOT spending practicing approaches, etc.)

          It’s like suggesting that a poor person looking for a job should read more Shakespeare. Like, okay, maybe reading Shakespeare is good advice in general and we’d all benefit from being well-read. But man, the guy has bigger problems at the moment. So unless that advice is of the form of “Read Shakespeare so that you can pass an Intro English class in Community College and get a degree and make more money,” it strikes me as very bad advice indeed.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            Our disagreement comes from where on the cost benefit analysis personal health falls.

            There are certain approaches to improving health that are extremely costly and I wouldn’t advocate for. And perception of cost is also a function of how the method is integrated into the person’s lifestyle; so doing these things with the support and participation of other people helps.

            I wouldn’t tell someone to go to the Gym for 2+ hours a day or something. [unless they could do it with other people] — But low hanging fruit like changing sleeping patterns, developing a personal hygiene habits, reducing the amount of sugar in your diet; they’re difficult to start at first but have zero cost to maintain once they become habitual.

          • Matt M says:

            Our disagreement comes from where on the cost benefit analysis personal health falls.

            Okay, yeah, obviously.

            But my point is, a recommendation of “start working out to improve your health” is hardly new or groundbreaking or uncommon. Everyone has already heard this. And if you’re making that recommendation to a sedentary person, they’ve presumably already done the cost benefit analysis in their head and came out on the negative side of it.

            So you’re going to have to offer them some sort of additional benefit… and if you readily concede that your advice will not solve what they deem to be their most urgent and pressing problem, it shouldn’t be any surprise whatsoever that they don’t take it.

          • bean says:

            @Matt
            I’m not so sure. Scott’s talked about how a doctor recommending that you stop smoking is actually pretty effective at getting people to stop relative to baseline. I suspect that much the same would be the case with working out.

          • Matt M says:

            The key word there being doctor, thus making it a recommendation from authority. I’m just struggling to see this as an effective conversation:

            Guy: How do I get a girlfriend?
            Other guy: You should work out.
            Guy: That will help me get a girlfriend.
            Other guy: No, but you’ll be healthier, and health is very important.

            Like, how is that helpful?

          • hls2003 says:

            @Matt M

            “No, but you’ll be healthier, and health is very important.”

            The way you’ve written the “advisor” script isn’t how I would think about the advice. It would be more like “Not directly it won’t get you a girlfriend, but you’ll be healthier. Healthier people are often more attractive. You’ll also build confidence, and confident people tend to be more attractive. You’ll gain satisfaction from seeing progress along one axis of your life, which can help break through mental blocks or mental health issues which are whispering that you’re hopeless. It will also open more environments to socializing (e.g. sporty environments) which expands your potential pool. No, working out won’t directly get you a girlfriend (unless you meet someone at the gym) but it might help make you a happier, healthier person. At which point you might care somewhat less about your girlfriend status. Besides potentially making you happier in the interim period, being more satisfied with your single status may help you to exhibit less signs of desperation, which also tends to make you more attractive.”

            Personally, I think the most destructive advice that is widely disseminated is “always be yourself” because many people unfortunately interpret that as “your worst habits, vices, quirks, hygiene, and oddities are ‘yourself’ so be true to those.” Better advice, of the nature bean is suggesting, is “always be striving to be an improved version of yourself” both for inherent and instrumental reasons.

          • hls2003 says:

            @Matt M
            The way you’ve written the “advisor” script isn’t how I would think about the advice. It would be more like “Not directly it won’t get you a girlfriend, but you’ll be healthier. Healthier people are often more attractive. You’ll also build confidence, and confident people tend to be more attractive. You’ll gain satisfaction from seeing progress along one axis of your life, which can help break through mental blocks or mental health issues which are whispering that you’re hopeless. It will also open more environments to socializing (e.g. sporty environments) which expands your potential pool. No, working out won’t directly get you a girlfriend (unless you meet someone at the gym) but it might help make you a happier, healthier person. At which point you might care somewhat less about your girlfriend status. Besides potentially making you happier in the interim period, being more satisfied with your single status may help you to exhibit fewer signs of desperation, which also tends to make you more attractive.”

            Personally, I think the most destructive advice that is widely disseminated is “always be yourself” because many people unfortunately interpret that as “your worst habits, vices, quirks, hygiene, and oddities are ‘yourself’ so be true to those.” Better advice, of the nature bean is suggesting, is “always be striving to be an improved version of yourself” both for inherent and instrumental reasons.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          The biggest problem with telling incels “do X and you will get a gf” is that, for a lot of them, they’ve already been told this, and it turned out not to work, and they feel cheated. It was a different “X” but that’s irrelevant to the pattern-matching they are doing.

    • johan_larson says:

      Make it more socially acceptable for parents to arrange marriages or at least help with the process when their children can’t find mates themselves.

      I don’t know how much of this happens in the Indian overseas diaspora.

    • drunkfish says:

      Re 2:

      I think there’s an important distinction between “nobody is willing to have sex/be intimate with me, and I’m really upset about that” and “the fact that nobody is willing to have sex/be intimate with me is a reflection of how horrible women are”. The latter is disgustingly common from the little I’ve seen of incels, and I think is toxic enough to require serious attention. As far as I can figure, it’s the perspective that “you aren’t entitled to sex” is directed at. I don’t think anybody is trying to say “you have no right to want sex”, they’re saying that you can’t look down on other people for their choice not to have sex with you. I don’t think it’s a solution to help them, but it’s an important response to their discourse. I think it makes sense to do it in parallel with actually helping, but I think it’s pretty problematic to only help without pointing out that a lot of their discourse is horrible.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        I don’t think anybody is trying to say “you have no right to want sex”, they’re saying that you can’t look down on other people for their choice not to have sex with you.

        I agree with the sentiment but question the sincerity of the feminists who voice it here.

        Intersectional feminism normally has zero problem with labelling sexual preferences as problematic. If a man doesn’t want to date a woman because of her weight, race, sexual history, or even the fact that she was once a he then he’s a bigoted asshole. There is a very narrow range of acceptable sexual preferences and the rest are a sign of conscious or unconscious bigotry.

        Women shouldn’t be coerced into dating ugly and unpleasant men, that should be obvious to everyone. But it should be equally obvious that coercing men and women into dating a laundry list of so-called oppressed groups is equally wrong.

        • Nornagest says:

          I agree that this sort of thing shows up in rhetoric, but in actual Blue social circles — or even among full-blown social justice activists — that rhetoric seems to be honored more in the breach than the observance.

          • gbdub says:

            The problem of course is that the, for lack of a better term, “toxic” incels don’t have meatspace blue social circles, and just get the nasty Twitter rhetoric.

          • mdet says:

            I don’t think Nabil’s description of feminists even necessarily holds a contradiction. It seems to me totally possible to both hold “You should not categorically remove someone from the dating pool because of weight, race, sexual history, or trans-status” and “You cannot be compelled to date any particular individual”.

            What I’ve actually seen in practice among social justice aligned people is “We, as a society, should reduce the stigma that makes certain superficial characteristics undesirable”, without necessarily compelling or coercing any specific individual into dating any other specific individual. Like, a very Leftist trans-woman I know lamenting that she had men who would flirt and go on dates with her, knowing she was trans, but those men would refuse to be seen in public with her, refuse to be in any pictures with her, and refuse to introduce her to their friends because the *friends* thought that dating someone trans was nasty.

            This is actually the exact kind of debate I see among social-justice type people on facebook. “So I don’t wanna tell anyone they can’t have preferences, because we all have preferences, but our preferences are influenced by society’s oppressive standards. How do we change society’s standards without telling individuals they can’t have their preferences?”

          • Aapje says:

            @mdet

            But doesn’t that mean that a person then has to lie if they aren’t attracted to overweight/black/promiscuous/trans people? Because if they honestly state that their reason not to date an individual is categorical, they are then seen as creating oppressive standards, aren’t they?

            I am not willing to believe that SJ people in general are very good at separating categorical reasons not to date people that are merely based on stigma vs those that are based personal preference.

            In fact, given that people internalize social norms, I don’t even think that this distinction clearly exists.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            I have an admittedly cynical view, but that selective enforcement seems more like a feature than a bug.

            In my very blue circle, the main time when accusations of bigotry for sexual preferences get pulled out is to attempt to remove competition by other women. If any man lower than you on the progressive stack prefers women with traits that you lack, he’s a bigot and needs to be called out.

            Race produces the clearest examples of naked self-interest. White feminists rail against the racism of white men dating Asian women. Black feminists rail against the racism and colorism of black men dating white or lighter-skinned black women respectively. Etc, etc.

            The thing that makes it less amusing is that it’s relatively easy to get caught in the crossfire. If a woman gets salty enough about you choosing another woman over her she has the option to threaten your career and social standing potentially years down the line.

          • Deiseach says:

            because the *friends* thought that dating someone trans was nasty

            Put it down to my cynicism, but I don’t think the “friends” were the problem so much as the guys themselves; it sounds parallel to the “fat/ugly girl who is good enough to fuck but you don’t want to be seen in public with her, because she’s low-status and you don’t want other people to think that she is as good as you can get and you can’t do better”.

            Guys who like to date trans women but don’t want to be seen as a boyfriend are not guys who seriously mean “oh honey, I’m perfectly okay with this, but my friends on the other hand…” They are “I’ve got a fetish for chicks with a dick but society in general thinks that kind of preference is low-status so I’m not going to have people thinking I can’t get a real woman”.

          • Iain says:

            Put it down to my cynicism, but I don’t think the “friends” were the problem so much as the guys themselves; it sounds parallel to the “fat/ugly girl who is good enough to fuck but you don’t want to be seen in public with her, because she’s low-status and you don’t want other people to think that she is as good as you can get and you can’t do better”.

            You are just restating mdet’s point in different words.

            The claim is that there are a bunch of fat/ugly/trans/whatever people who would be happily getting it on in mutually fulfilling relationships if not for concerns about status. Nobody is being asked to ignore their own preferences; they are being asked to stop reinforcing social norms that say some of those preferences are objectively better than others. If you politely turn down a fat girl, nobody will bat an eye; if you spend a lot of time talking about how fat people are inherently repulsive and undateable, people will object.

            if you don’t want to be seen in public with the fat girl you are banging on the down low because you’re afraid of what other people will think, that’s bad. One part of the solution involves you sucking it up and not caring what other people think; the other part involves other people learning to keep their opinions to themselves.

            Edit: As Fion says below: “shouting about those preferences may indicate that you’re being a bit of a dick”.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            Of course, it can also be the other way around: that the incel is getting ignored by some because of status concerns.

          • Iain says:

            If you are in the situation we are talking about — where somebody will have sex with you but not introduce you to their friends because of status concerns — you are by definition not an incel.

            Also: to the extent that incels can’t find love because they are (say) fat, they are already the direct beneficiaries of attempts to reduce status concerns around dating fat people.

          • Matt M says:

            If you are in the situation we are talking about — where somebody will have sex with you but not introduce you to their friends because of status concerns — you are by definition not an incel.

            This is super common from the higher status male, lower status female perspective, but does it ever happen the other way? I feel like males see sex as the ultimate validation while females see public relationships as the ultimate validation.

            While I’d prefer a super hot woman be very publicly into me, I’d certainly happily settle for “sex but I’m not allowed to tell anyone.”

          • mdet says:

            I agree with Iain & fion.

            I also agree that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to change “society’s” standards without changing any individual’s standards. No one really wants to change their own preferences, so the only thing that really ends up happening is shaming people who proclaim out loud “People like X are undesirable”. Occasionally someone may call out an individual for dating / marrying the “wrong” person, as Nabil says, but I’ve never seen anyone do this without criticism and pushback.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          But it should be equally obvious that coercing men and women into dating a laundry list of so-called oppressed groups is equally wrong.

          Sarcasm on:
          But where have all the GOOD men gone?! If Jane can’t get a date (with a suitably attractive, suitably educated, suitably healthy) young man, it’s time we “have a conversation.” And don’t you worry, we have no problem laying out the laundry list of social problems that contribute to this problem of Jane being single. The first of which is obviously porn. Porn just makes men have too high standards and makes them have unrealistic expectations in bed.

          Sarcasm off.

          Obviously there’s a huge difference in how these issues are treated in the media, and the incels (being redpill adjacent) are aware of it. I don’t see how anyone would respond to the cultural criticism with anything other than a “Yeah, right.”

        • fion says:

          I think I probably count as an intersectional feminist, albeit an atypical one because I read SSC… But I don’t think refusal to date women because of their race, weight, sexual history etc. makes you a bigoted asshole and I *think* most of my fellow feminists would agree with me.

          But we’re sweeping some stuff under the rug with the word “refuse”. Having a preference for X over Y doesn’t mean “will never choose Y under any circumstances”. If you’re in the “never under any circumstances” camp then you’re probably a bit bigoted; but if you just have certain preferences then feminists should leave you alone.

          (Of course, shouting about those preferences may indicate that you’re being a bit of a dick, and that may sometimes be what’s provoking the feminists. There’s lots of people that I have a total lack of attraction towards, but I tend to keep that to myself.)

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            Would you say that, for example, a gold-star lesbian who will never have sex with a man “under any circumstances” is bigoted against men? Is she being a dick by not keeping that preference to herself?

            I would be very surprised and a bit concerned if you said yes in either case. Yet you seem entirely comfortable applying the same standard to straight men that you would rightly consider abhorrent if applied to LGB people.

          • fion says:

            @Nabil ad Dajjal

            I think there’s a difference between sexual preference and sexuality. But don’t think I’m using that as a way of weaselling out of admitting any anti-straight-man bigotry on my part.

            A straight man who will never have sex with a man under any circumstances is also not bigoted against men, and he is not being a dick if he proudly proclaims his heterosexuality.

            A black lesbian who will never have sex with a white person under any circumstances probably is a bit of a bigot.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            I don’t want to imply that you’re dishonest or weasely, and if I have I apologise. You seem like a very upright and interesting person.

            But I don’t think that your distinction between sexuality and sexual preferences is had any basis in reality.

            A lot of self-proclaimed lesbians still have sex with men and enjoy it. It’s actually a recurring controversy in the lesbian community: if these women are considered “real lesbians,” then it implies (to use your terminology) that lesbian sexuality is nothing more than a sexual preference.

            If it turns out that a higher proportion of lesbians seek out sex with men than, say, white men seek out sex with black women* the does that mean that race is a sexuality and gender just a sexual preference? It seems ridiculous but that’s the logic of your categorization scheme.

            *For the record I actually find black women very attractive. That doesn’t mean that I can’t be a racist, obviously, but I think it helps to clarify where the frustration is coming from. Someone who presumes to tell me what to do can go straight to hell even if it was what I was doing anyway.

          • fion says:

            @Nabil ad Dajjal

            Don’t worry – I didn’t take any such implication from you. Good of you to clarify just in case, though. 🙂

            I’ll confess that I don’t actually know that many lesbians, but I do know lots of gay men who, when you discuss sexuality with them, say that they’re actually bisexual with a preference for men. They use “gay” because, for whatever reasons, they find it a useful label. I would guess that this is the same for some lesbians. Perhaps they feel more affinity to the lesbian community than to the bisexual community, or perhaps they have experienced not-being-taken-seriously when they call themselves bisexual (“it’s just a phase”, “she hasn’t met the right man yet”, “she’s curious and experimenting” etc.).

            To be honest, the way I personally view sexuality is more as a preference, but I’m pansexual, so I probably just don’t really understand what it feels like to be monosexual. I do have many straight friends, though, who insist that they feel absolutely no attraction whatsoever to anybody of the same sex as them. This seems kind of weird to me, but I tend to trust them.

          • Aapje says:

            @fion

            I’ve seen people argue that bi people have very low status in the LGBT community. That may play a role as well.

          • fion says:

            @Aapje

            Yes, probably. All the LGBT communities I’ve been in have been very bi-friendly, but you’re right that that’s not always the case.

      • J Mann says:

        Yeah, redpill is a terribly unproductive model of courtship if you aren’t getting results. (I don’t think it’s great if you are getting results, but I have to admit that I don’t have any first hand experience.)

        I don’t think the common lefty twitter response – to make sure that these losers understand they don’t have the right to be loved or accepted – is likely to work. Of course the IMHO correct response – that you have a better change of being loved and accepted if you work the problem than if you don’t – may not work either. Maybe the solution is the right nootropics. (Now that I think about it, not really kidding).

      • The Nybbler says:

        I don’t think anybody is trying to say “you have no right to want sex”, they’re saying that you can’t look down on other people for their choice not to have sex with you.

        Even the second isn’t right; any number of “alpha jerks” look down on women who refuse to have sex with them. It’s a nasty sort of self-confidence, but it beats no self-confidence at all. But in fact I think a lot of these incels have been told something along the lines of “How dare a disgusting toad like you want sex? Gross!”

        • drunkfish says:

          What do you mean the second one isn’t right? “can’t” was the wrong word there, I meant “shouldn’t”. Yeah, I’m sure plenty of alpha jerks do that, and they’re also being assholes. It’s of a different sort I think, looking down on individual women instead of women as a whole (which plenty of incels do), but it’s also very problematic.

          a lot of these incels have been told something along the lines of “How dare a disgusting toad like you want sex? Gross!”

          That’s horrible, I totally agree with you. Anyone who says that should absolutely stop now. If that’s part of the set of people described by J Mann’s point 2, then that’s definitely something to weed out. My goal though was to justify part 2 as part of the conversation, and I do think it has an important place as a response to people who legitimately think they’re entitled to women’s bodies. I’ve seen incels advocate laws that would provide them sex. Perhaps that’s an extreme fringe (though I sort of doubt it since the incel groups we’re discussing are already an extreme fringe), but it’s an important thing to keep in mind. Yes, everyone has the right to want intimacy, to strive for intimacy, and to be upset if they fail to receive it, but no, you don’t get to demand other people’s bodies from them and when conversation gets to that point it needs to be emphatically shut down.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I mean looking down on (particular) women who don’t want to have sex with them is probably healthier for the incels than internalizing the idea that they’re unfuckable. Unless they’re literally elephant-whales with incurable halitosis. As for “problematic”, I don’t think someone else’s internal state is really something that can be reasonably subject to moral judgement, only the actions they take based on it.

            The incel “movement” seems to be a bunch of nasty people with terrible ideas, but going from that to “the people treating them like shit aren’t doing anything wrong” isn’t right either.

          • drunkfish says:

            @The Nybbler

            I’m not referring to incels looking down on particular women, I was saying that about “alpha jerks”. With incels I was specifically taking issue with the fact that they often look down on women as a group, and I think that’s really dangerous.

            As for “problematic”, I don’t think someone else’s internal state is really something that can be reasonably subject to moral judgement, only the actions they take based on it.

            “problematic” doesn’t have to be a moral judgement. I sortof agree with you that actions matter more, but what I’m saying is a widespread belief that “women are horrible because they won’t have sex with me” is really dangerous whether or not every individual acts on that belief. I think I agree that we shouldn’t pass moral judgement on people who believe that without acting, but we can try to take action against that belief. In terms of discourse in society being in part a war between ideas, fighting against that idea has merit if it’s possible to make it less common.

            We probably shouldn’t pass moral judgment on people who are privately racist but capable of somehow not acting on it at all. We should, however, spend time as a society trying to educate against racism so that racism becomes less common, even as a privately held belief.

            but going from that to “the people treating them like shit aren’t doing anything wrong” isn’t right either

            I never said that, I tried to say the opposite. We shouldn’t be treating them like shit. That said, when they frequently hold dangerous beliefs, I think some of the time we could be spending ‘helping’ them should be spent trying to educate/fight away those beliefs.

          • quanta413 says:

            Yeah, I’m sure plenty of alpha jerks do that, and they’re also being assholes. It’s of a different sort I think, looking down on individual women instead of women as a whole (which plenty of incels do), but it’s also very problematic.

            A not insignificant portion of Chads strike me as looking down on women as a whole.

            Looking down on women as a group isn’t the only thing getting incels in trouble. Lots of sexually successful men do that; you’ll see tedious thinkpieces condemning them, but their bad behavior doesn’t always hurt them in meatspace. Witness Sean Connery on slapping women. An extreme case, but not actually that weird. A significant minority of men are sexually successful jerks.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      If you know an “incel” personally, or if you are one, option 1. is the only humane choice. It works, demonstrably, and frankly it’s solid life advice that a lot of regular guys could use too. Some of the more bitter guys are resistant but ultimately you can’t force someone to change. The best thing that you can do is to give them actionable, useful advice.

      People who talk about sexbots, prostitution, or “government issued girlfriends” are usually flogging an ideological dead horse. Usually they’re libertarians trying to make a satire of statist justifications for taxation or conscription that nobody else gets. They’re not serious suggestions and anyone who makes them deserves a smack.

      People who take these guys as an excuse to rail about supposed male entitlement were covered well in Scott’s ‘Radicalizing the Romanceless’ a few years back. It’s all of the ideologically-driven inhumanity of the second group married to a sort of childlike cruelty.

      I don’t think incel per se is a societal problem, although it is likely a symptom of wider problems with our dating culture. A lot of these guys would likely still have trouble courting women in a traditional society but they would have much more support from their families and communities. Loneliness is lethal and in the modern world romantic attachments are all many men have.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        I have nothing to add other than seconding all of this. Incel guys are failing due to personality limitations and high standards. They should do things within their own power to improve themselves and lower their standards. That means getting to the gym, getting a haircut, and dressing well.

        This comes from a guy that could probably be described as “incel” when younger.

        My trigger point is when people confuse personality limitations with dating with personality flaws as an individual. If women choose not to have sex, it doesn’t have anything to do with you as a person. I feel if we remove the sex from the picture and look at a different aspect of life, this will be intuitive: you might be a real crappy interviewer and find it hard or impossible to find gainful employment due to your poor interviewing skills. This might not map AT ALL to your actual job skills, and has absolutely NOTHING to do with your actual worth as a person.

        Returning to traditional values is trying to put the genie back in the bottle: it’s not going to happen. The best you can do is stay inside relatively conservative communities, but even those are exposed to external influences.

        And, yeah, the idea that libertarians want to force people to have sex? Or provide government hookers? Come on.

      • Usually they’re libertarians trying to make a satire of statist justifications for taxation or conscription that nobody else gets.

        There is a novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, by a libertarian along these lines.

      • Education Hero says:

        People who talk about sexbots, prostitution, or “government issued girlfriends” are usually flogging an ideological dead horse. Usually they’re libertarians trying to make a satire of statist justifications for taxation or conscription that nobody else gets. They’re not serious suggestions and anyone who makes them deserves a smack.

        It’s quite amusing, however, to see how quickly some people will flip from supporting economic redistribution to libertarian arguments when it comes to sexual redistribution.

        It’s almost as if ideological positions tend to align with self-interest rather than logical consistency.

        • fion says:

          “It’s almost as if ideological positions tend to align with self-interest rather than logical consistency.”

          Or possibly people think women differ from property in an important way.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            I’m not sure that that’s the best way of framing it, though. You could easily formulate a reasonable traditional monogamy-based ‘sex redistributionism’ in which men at the upper end of the attractiveness scale are not allowed to monopolise more than one woman (which I think is a core incel complaint?), meaning that those other women must choose between a less attractive partner or no partner, but are, crucially, still free to choose. This would not eliminate the incel problem, but it would presumably mitigate it.

            Or, if, as I’m sure some libertarians will argue, economic redistributionism entails the obligation on the wealthy to provide a service of giving away money to those who have less, and sexual redistributionism entails the obligation on the attractive to provide a service of giving away sex/intimacy to the less attractive, then either both (the wealthy and the attractive) or neither are being treated as property. If, of course, there are serious differences in, say, fungibility between sex and money, which there are, then you can argue that they are serious enough to break the analogy, but I don’t think that you can declare the analogy broken without making that argument.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            No, the government wouldn’t seize or redistribute the woman, just her sexual labor, in the same way the government seizes and redistributes economic labor in the case of taxation or martial labor in the case of conscription.

          • fion says:

            @Winter Shaker

            Fungibility would indeed be my argument. Money is our most universal exchange. If you want to give a good or a service to somebody, you could do that, or you could give money. And if you owe somebody something, you can pay them in money.

            So if some people are advantaged and others are disadvantaged, and we want to do something about that, we redistribute money from one group to the other. We do not force them to have sex, or bake a cake, or build a house for somebody else; we force them to give money.

            I would engage with a libertarian who used “we should force sexy people to give money to unsexy people” as an example argument, but not if they used “we should force sexy people to give sex to unsexy people”.

            EDIT: @Conrad Honcho, I think my point responds to you as well.

          • Aapje says:

            We do not force them to have sex, or bake a cake

            That example seems ill chosen.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @fion and with regards to conscription / the draft? Your own soldiering is not fungible.

          • fion says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            Oops. Sorry, I missed that. I’m opposed to conscription anyway, though. Except perhaps in cases of existential crisis.

            @Aapje

            Haha, I knew exactly what that link was going to be without clicking on it. I’m not sure whether you’re making a serious point or just an amusing observation.

            If the former, I would argue that it’s a different discussion. We were talking about using forced labour as a means of redistribution and comparing it to taxation as a means of redistribution. In that example, some people were offering a service in exchange for money, some people tried to take up that offer of service and provide some money, and then all of a sudden it wasn’t on offer any more.

          • Matt M says:

            I would engage with a libertarian who used “we should force sexy people to give money to unsexy people” as an example argument, but not if they used “we should force sexy people to give sex to unsexy people”.

            You’re not wrong – but I think a prohibition on prostitution prevents this from really “working.”

            We require people with lots of food to give money to people with no food because then those people can use the money to get the food they need.

            So long as the unsexy are not allowed to use money to get what they need, giving money to them is virtually useless.

          • fion says:

            @Matt M

            Well obviously prostitution should be legalised. I thought that was a given. 😉

          • I would engage with a libertarian who used “we should force sexy people to give money to unsexy people”

            There is a famous classical account of just such a scheme. I discuss it in the webbed draft of one of my current writing projects.

          • fion says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

          • Aapje says:

            @fion

            Semi-serious, semi-anticipating what seemed inevitable.

            In that example, some people were offering a service in exchange for money, some people tried to take up that offer of service and provide some money, and then all of a sudden it wasn’t on offer any more.

            That depends on how you frame it. The bakery did offer to make cakes for money, but did they offer to make gay wedding cakes for money?

            Furthermore, it seems to me that a sale is not necessarily just about exchanging a good/service for money. I’ve given away and sold things for an extra low price to people because I liked them. The same for services. For me, the good feeling that I got from making a trade/gift to a specific person was part of the transaction. I would not be happy if I were be forced to treat a person that I liked the same as someone I didn’t.

            You can (simplistically) frame sex the same way: the base transaction is two people providing a service that gives the other an orgasm, but there is extra benefit to having sex with someone who is pretty, nice, etc. This is not strictly necessary for the base transaction, you can get an orgasm with an ugly, nasty, etc person as well.

            Let’s say that a person greatly dislikes having sex with a pro-gay marriage person. Is this not very similar to the feeling that the baker had when forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding?

            Is there truly a fundamental difference or is the difference more subjective, where you have upsides and downsides to forcing people? Do people decide what is appropriate based on whether the downsides outweigh the upsides for the situation at hand or are they truly principled?

            Call me a cynic, but I strongly question many of the ‘principles’ that people claim to uphold, as it seems that people often start by deciding how they feel and then they later scrounge around for a principle that they can use to defend their position.

          • Education Hero says:

            @fion

            Neither sexbots nor prostitution would require thinking that women are similar to property, and that’s not even getting into redistributive social technology such as (non-serial) monogamy.

            But your willingness to jump to such a conclusion parallels libertarian arguments that taxation is a form of slavery.

            I doubt you would consider “Or possibly people think citizens differ from property in an important way” a good faith response to economic redistribution.

          • fion says:

            @Aapje

            I don’t actually have a strong opinion on the gay cake thing. My feeling is probably actually in favour of the cake-makers. I think it’s a good principle that both sides of an arrangement can choose not to do it. I think it’s a more important principle in some cases than others, because some services are more personal than others. For somebody to get to the checkout of Sainsbury’s to be told that they won’t be served today (or even being turned away at the door) is a lot worse than somebody walking into a hairdresser’s without booking and being told that they won’t cut their hair. I think baking a personalised cake is somewhere in the middle of this spectrum and sex is way off to one end.

            And again, there’s a difference between services that you normally do for money and services that you normally do free. If you’re giving out cookies to your friends (and perhaps some strangers) and one particular stranger comes up and asks for a cookie, obviously you can say no. If you’re a cookie seller purporting to sell to all comers, and then somebody comes and you don’t sell, then I would probably think you had done wrong (although I’m not sure whether I think the law should get involved…).

            @Education Hero

            I was responding to glibness with glibness. I accept that I probably shouldn’t have.

            I didn’t consider “It’s almost as if ideological positions tend to align with self-interest rather than logical consistency.” as a good-faith interpretation of other people’s opinions.

          • Aapje says:

            @fion

            Sure. Your intuitions are a spectrum where you weigh different pros and cons, not a single principle that you uphold in all cases. That is my point.

            If people look at it this way, then it is much harder to be super outraged when someone draws the line on the spectrum differently.

          • fion says:

            @Aapje

            What principle am I supposed to be defending here? “Don’t use forced labour as a means of redistribution”? I’m fairly sure I believe that principle should be consistently applied to all real-world situations. The gay cake is neither a relevant example nor one where I come down on the “wrong” side of my principle.

          • Education Hero says:

            I was responding to glibness with glibness. I accept that I probably shouldn’t have.

            I didn’t consider “It’s almost as if ideological positions tend to align with self-interest rather than logical consistency.” as a good-faith interpretation of other people’s opinions.

            No worries, your glibness was perfectly warranted and fine.

            My point, glibness completely aside, was that your underlying argument against sexual redistribution inevitably looks similar to arguments against economic redistribution. Both entail varying levels of coercion, depending on the exact extent and manner in which they are executed.

          • fion says:

            @Education Hero

            My argument against sexual redistribution was an argument against forcing attractive people to have sex with less attractive people, because that’s how I interpreted the proposed argument. My argument that that was different to economic distribution was that I think there’s a qualitative difference between forcing somebody to give up some vouchers that can be traded in for services with third parties willing to provide them and forcing somebody to provide a service.

            If you want to talk about using tax dollars to pay for state prostitutes then we can have that discussion instead. Part of me suspects we were talking past each other a bit, where I was responding to a particular, particularly unpleasant example of a more general idea you were referring to.

            To be clear, my arguments so far are only against sexual redistribution by means of forcing attractive people to have sex with less attractive people. And those particular arguments do not apply to economic redistribution at all.

          • Aapje says:

            @fion

            ‘Forced labor’ seems like a term where the subjectivity is already built in. At the level of coercion that people deem unacceptable, they call it ‘forced.’ Anything below that they call ‘free choice.’

            Neither tend to be accurate terms. There is pretty much always a choice other than to comply (even if it is just suicide) and consequences to not making a choice.

            I’m probably going too meta now, though. I’m in such a mood.

          • fion says:

            @Aapje

            Fair enough. It is a loaded term. Would “legally mandated” be better?

            I do want to avoid just saying “coerced” because I think it’s a bit too vague. The law, peer pressure, societal pressure, economic pressure, aggressive bribery (I don’t know if you were part of that discussion; if not, just ignore this one) are all arguably coercion. But it’s not just a spectrum. There are a few discrete and qualitatively different flavours.

          • Education Hero says:

            @fion

            My argument against sexual redistribution was an argument against forcing attractive people to have sex with less attractive people, because that’s how I interpreted the proposed argument.

            How would you respond if someone argued against economic redistribution with an argument that forcing more productive people to provide for less productive people?

            To be clear, my arguments so far are only against sexual redistribution by means of forcing attractive people to have sex with less attractive people. And those particular arguments do not apply to economic redistribution at all.

            Those arguments would apply to economic redistribution if you similarly limited economic redistribution to “forcing more productive people to provide for less productive people”.

            Can you see that you are defining sexual redistribution much more narrowly than economic redistribution?

          • fion says:

            @Education Hero

            Again, I think there’s an important difference between “forcing someone to provide a service for someone else” and “forcing someone to give money to someone else”.

            If you proposed a method of economic redistribution whereby rich people had to, I don’t know, provide free financial advice to poor people I would be opposed to it. That is the appropriate ‘economic’ version of the sexual redistribution we were discussing, not taxation.

        • Garrett says:

          I fall into this category. I can accept that I’m not desirable; as noted, I have no right to the companionship of another, especially of my choosing.

          But I find this horribly hypocritical when one of the things I am good at doing, making money, is substantially taxed. And given the way the tax system and employment preferences in this country work, that money is going to disproportionately benefit women and the children of other men.

          I would be okay if I got to keep my money (and possibly use my financial security as a bargaining chip in the mating dance) and ended up alone. But if I’m going to be taxed for something I have in surplus to the benefits of others, I don’t consider it remotely fair that I don’t get to benefit from the surplus sexual value that women have.

          • Deiseach says:

            I don’t consider it remotely fair that I don’t get to benefit from the surplus sexual value that women have

            Excellent, Garrett, we’re going to re-distribute some of that surplus sexual value to you. Meet your date and bedmate for the night, Judy. Sure, she’s twenty years older and thirty pounds heavier than you, has three kids, is not a natural blonde and is going to be soaking her dentures in the bathroom tonight, but hey she’s got all that unfair sexual value stored up and you are the lucky recipient of it!

            This “taxation and sexual redistribution” parallel is making me want to quote Vespasian about money does not stink. Your high-value high-earner tax dollars go into the same gaping government maw as the taxes from the high school dropout burger-flipper. Same with sexual redistribution; why do you think you’re going to get the nineteen year old supermodel instead of Judy?

            I feel the urge here to quote from a C.S. Lewis short story called Ministering Angels, about an all-male expedition to Mars who have been there for a year or so, and back on Earth it’s been decided that Men Have Needs and they’ve solicited women volunteers to go fill those needs.

            It’s the same kind of thinking as ‘women have all this sexual surplus value’ and the first two ladies who arrive on Mars are not the kind of ‘nineteen year old supermodel’ version that this “it’s not fair women can get laid” argument seems to assume when it’s proposed that “there should be a law that makes women accept boyfriends” (the unstated but assumed corollary is “and so Sally who turned me down in high school will have to go out with me now, hah!”). Sorry guys, you’ll get Judy not Sally 🙂

            (I think the story is very funny and have done ever since I read it years back, but I suppose some women and men would find it full to the brim of Problematic) 🙂

            The speaker was infinitely female and perhaps in her seventies. Her hair had been not very successfully dyed to a colour not unlike that of mustard. The powder (scented strongly enough to throw a train off the rails) lay like snow drifts in the complex valleys of her creased, many-chinned face.

            …”That’s right, dearie,” said the Fat Woman to Dickson, “she only means a poor boy needs a woman now and then. It’s only natural.”

            …“She means you’re to have tarts, duckie,” said the Fat Woman to Dickson.

            [Dickson is full of enthusiasm when he hears this and wants to know so where are the hot young nubile chicks who are going to be banging them? Are they still aboard the rocket from Earth that just landed? He gets quite the let-down when he learns it’s these two women who are the volunteer sex companions and there aren’t any hot nubile young women dying for his company].

            …“Can anyone tell me,” said Dickson at last, “who in the world, and why in the world, out of all possible women, selected those two horrors to send to Mars?”

            “Can’t expect a star London show at the back of beyond,” said the Cockney.

            “My dear fellow,” said his colleague, “isn’t the thing perfectly obvious? What kind of woman, without force, is going to come and live in this ghastly place – on rations – and play doxy to half a dozen men she’s never seen? The Good Time Girls won’t come because you can’t have a good time on Mars. An ordinary professional prostitute won’t come as long as she has the slightest chance of being picked up in the cheapest quarter of Liverpool or Los Angeles. And you’ve got one who hasn’t. The only other one who’d come would be a crank who believes all that blah about the new ethicality. And you’ve got one of that too.”

            “Simple, ain’t it?” said the Cockney.

            “Anyone,” said the other, “except the Fools at the Top could of course have foreseen it from the word go.”

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I’m sympathetic to your position, but how do you think the laws should be changed so that you can get your fair share of the sexual pie?

          • Garrett says:

            @Deiseach:
            “why do you think you’re going to get the nineteen year old supermodel instead of Judy?”

            For the same reason that I think that poor people are getting more of my net tax dollars than rich people are. It’s explicitly about balancing the scales.

            @fortaleza84:

            As much fun as it is to watch people go through with mental contortions separating different kinds of labor and taxation, the easiest would be the alternate model where redistribution ceases.

        • Education Hero says:

          Again, I think there’s an important difference between “forcing someone to provide a service for someone else” and “forcing someone to give money to someone else”.

          I agree, but my point is that you took a leap from “sexual redistribution” to “forcing someone to have sex with someone else”; further, I noticed that you did not make a similar leap when discussing economic redistribution.

          That is the appropriate ‘economic’ version of the sexual redistribution we were discussing, not taxation.

          You originally replied to my original post which discussed “sexual redistribution” without mentioning anything about forced sex. My post was a response to the quoted portion of Nabil ad Dajjal’s post that mentioned “sexbots, prostitution, or ‘government issued girlfriends'”.

          You are the one who brought up the concept of forced sex and its treatment of women are property. Your implicit assumptions in doing so only corroborate my argument that you are demonstrating an attitude towards sexual redistribution that parallels the libertarian attitude towards economic redistribution.

          • rlms says:

            Garrett in the comment above you seems to be proposing redistribution of sex with specific people.

          • Education Hero says:

            @rlms

            No, he is not. Both in that post and his previous post, he has instead proposed a cessation of economic redistribution:

            I have no right to the companionship of another, especially of my choosing.

            As much fun as it is to watch people go through with mental contortions separating different kinds of labor and taxation, the easiest would be the alternate model where redistribution ceases.

          • rlms says:

            He suggests ceasing of economic redistribution might be the easiest thing, but he doesn’t rule out other models, and the response to Deiseach suggests he is entertaining the possibility of redistribution of sex with specific women to some degree.

          • Education Hero says:

            Not ruling out a model ≠ proposing it, but even leaving that aside, he actually has ruled it out by stating that he has no right to the companionship of another, especially of his own choosing.

            He has in fact sought to demonstrate to Deiseach the hypocrisy inherent in economic redistribution without sexual redistribution, by paralleling the arguments for economic redistribution.

            However, he has clearly proposed that this hypocrisy should be resolved by ending economic redistribution.

          • rlms says:

            How does that fit with

            “why do you think you’re going to get the nineteen year old supermodel instead of Judy?”

            For the same reason that I think that poor people are getting more of my net tax dollars than rich people are. It’s explicitly about balancing the scales.

            ?

          • Education Hero says:

            Because he’s discussing the obvious parallel to taxation and the arguments behind it, in order to demonstrate the aforementioned hypocrisy.

          • rlms says:

            So the implication is that both methods of redistribution are terrible? That’s not the impression I got, it sounds to me more like he things both are moderately bad.

      • vrostovtsev says:

        Radicalizing the Romanceless was a great post full of Old-Testament Scott, including literally threatening people with hell (and being banned from SSC). Thank you for reminding me it exists.

    • Atlas says:

      It is ridiculous that in the United States (and I would have to imagine in many other countries as well) enormous amounts of time and energy are devoted to instructing indifferent students in subjects like ancient history, trigonometry, chemistry, American literature, et cetera, that will mostly have virtually no relevance to most of their lives (see: the Case Against Education), while they receive no clear and formal instruction in the process of successfully courting a mate.

      Relevant to your 3: here’s an article in Jacobite by an evolutionary psychologist that offers a much more informed and useful take on this than Hanson did.

      Oh also: an interesting and relevant article offering some (slightly humorous, but also serious) recommendations on preventing school shootings by incels.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Oh man. Government-approved and government-mandated courtship rituals. Not looking forward to that.

        • Atlas says:

          To be clear, I wasn’t necessarily saying that the government should be doing the educating. (And actually I think hard core libertarians/ancaps have some interesting arguments against government run education in general.) But I don’t see that it would be such a bad thing either. Like, a high school dance/prom is implicitly a “government-approved courtship ritual”, and people seem to enjoy those a lot.

        • Nornagest says:

          If it’s anything like government-approved and -mandated health education as it currently exists, it’ll probably be horribly inept and out of touch. But on the other hand, it’ll probably be hilariously inept and out of touch.

        • psmith says:

          Not looking forward to that.

          If anything, you’re looking backward to it!

          (Quoted in full, because Tumblr is slow tonight):

          So the “government-issued gfs” thing going around got me thinking about Billy Joel’s Allentown again.

          Like, the whole conceit of the song is “Our fathers went off to WWII and in return the country moved heaven and earth to make them patriarch-princes, we went off to Vietnam and now we’re treated as disposable.”

          (He’s forgetting Korea in between, but that’s OK, everyone does.)

          And given the title the focus is on the fall of the unionized Rust Belt heavy industry, but look at this line

          met our mothers in the USO
          asked them to dance
          danced with them slow

          this is literally, 100%, a lament for when we had government-provided gfs

          The morale-boosting USO, now best known for in-theatre concerts and airport lounges, ran homefront clubs and canteens near soldiers’ postings, and a major role was providing the troops with female attention, recruiting girls from the area to free dances with regularly paid soldiers, hiring staff hostesses whose job was to flirt.

          (This in a period where “courtesan” jobs like taxi dancer or cocktail waitress, with a career path culminating in marriage, were more of a thing)

          And it wasn’t just the USO. Part of the point of the WAC was to match the supply of single women to the demand of support roles, freeing men for front-line service, part of it was just to have some young women on base. (Here I vaguely gesture at Miss Buxley, General Halftrack’s buxom secretary in Beetle Bailey)

          Then there were nurses. Male military nurses in the war had a reputation as twinkle-toes homosexuals, drawn by the constant flow of strong yet vulnerable young men in uniform far from home to comfort. The male ones, of course. (Florence Nightingale’s innovation wasn’t young women going abroad to tend to soldiers – field armies ALWAYS drew trains of camp followers to attend to the men’s needs – but rather an idiom to do it compatible with Victorian sensibilities)

          Like, guys, the government very much did try to provide gfs. And it didn’t stop with the war.

          There’s this Rosie the Riveter impression that women streamed into factories in WWII but faded at its end, in fact post-war female factory employment was lower than before the buildup. (If women in factories started with WWII, how would you explain the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911?)

          And this came amidst government pressure (from an extensive wartime central planning system) to clear out women and make way for returning men. There was a fear the Depression would return (this is why the war economy was never unwound) to a country of battle-hardened men and provoke Communist revolution; it was a high priority to keep men occupied, loyal, and rewarded as patriarchs.

          Daniel Moynihan took shit over his famous report for suggesting the solution to the black community’s ills was government-backed patriarchy, Earl Butz took more shit for putting it thus:

          “I’ll tell you what the coloreds want. It’s three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit.“

          For how colorful the language might be, though, that formula – “rising standards of living through improved access to consumer goods and women” was the exact same deal the United States made with its whites, as the basis of the postwar golden age.

          I could talk about the postwar expansion of high schools and the creation of the “teenager” and all the courtship stuff there, hosting proms and football games and teaching how to dance in gym and how to wife in Home Ec and showing film strips and Coronet 16mms on how to get a date, but that’s a bit of a stretch. The point remains, though, under the New Deal social compact, from the Depression into the 1970s, the government was ABSOLUTELY in the gf-providing business.

          • J Mann says:

            That’s a really well written piece, thanks!

          • bean says:

            I know more than a little about WWII, and not just about battleships, and I don’t think that’s quite right. Yes, the government and various other organizations did attempt to provide some females around the fighting men. But they weren’t girlfriends as we’d understand it. The girl you danced with at the USO (or whoever was organizing the local soldier’s dance) might well have been going to a dance every weekend with a different soldier. And no, she probably wasn’t sleeping with each of them. This was the era before antibiotics, and the biggest public health problem in the rear areas was VD, so that sort of thing was discouraged. And I think the difference between “spend a voluntary, non-sexual evening with a man who is serving his country” and “we’re going to draft you to be the girlfriend of this random guy” is pretty obvious.

            I think the view of the WACs is too cynical. They (and other women auxiliaries) didn’t generally go to places that had no civilian women around. The WAVES at least never deployed outside of CONUS and Hawaii. Nurses did go overseas, but I don’t think there’s any way you could say they were there simply as girlfriends. On hospital ships (which is what I know about offhand) the grunt work was done by male pharmacists’s mates under the supervision of the female nurses. If “providing girlfriends” was an objective, then I suspect they’d have used female orderlies.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @bean, that’s a very useful elaboration, but I don’t think it’s as distinct as you’re implying. To a large extent, “spend a voluntary, non-sexual evening with a man who is serving his country” is “volunteer to step out with him for the evening,” or to update the 1940’s language, “be his girlfriend for an evening.”

            True, it was inside CONUS+Hawaii, but it was still a very sizeable something.

          • bean says:

            @Evan

            To a large extent, “spend a voluntary, non-sexual evening with a man who is serving his country” is “volunteer to step out with him for the evening,” or to update the 1940’s language, “be his girlfriend for an evening.”

            There’s a couple of key differences. Girlfriend in a modern context brings a bunch of baggage that simply doesn’t apply to a USO dance. At closest, it’s a well-chaperoned blind date with a random soldier. Sure, maybe you get the scrawny, ugly guy with bad breath. But there’s also the chance of getting to spend the evening with that hunky sergeant. And I suspect they switched partners throughout the evening, so you may have to put up with the ugly guys to dance with the cute ones. At very most, if you’re going to do something more with a guy, it’s your choice, and you can decide you aren’t going to seek out the scrawny guy at the next dance.

            True, it was inside CONUS+Hawaii, but it was still a very sizeable something.

            CONUS+Hawaii was the reach of the WAVES. I don’t know about the WACs specifically (their wiki article is a lot worse), but I do know that dances as described were quite common in the UK for US forces stationed there. Also, remember that the alternative for the girls participating was probably no boys at all, because everyone was in uniform. I don’t really want to learn the details of any incel proposal, but I can’t really see how it could be anything other than a forced redistribution of girls to those of lower attractiveness, which is pretty different from girls getting to enter the lottery when they have limited choices.

          • Atlas says:

            Very interesting post, psmith, though I take note of bean’s comments on it as well.

          • bean says:

            The more I think this over, the more problems I see. AIUI, the girl at the USO was basically doing what she would have been doing for fun/to meet boys anyway, and she probably went about 25% out of patriotic duty and 75% because that’s where the boys were. I think something like 2/3rds of young men were in uniform, and the ones who weren’t were probably disproportionately the bad ones. (I don’t have eligibility statistics to hand, sorry.) So the military dance is the obvious place to go and meet guys. And from my readings on various units, dances were more often set up by private organizations (churches, Rotary/Kiwanis, maybe the local government) than the USO/US government. I’m sure that being in uniform was good for the least attractive soldier, who would get dances out of courtesy, but I think the change there was social mores much more than anything the government could do.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          1. psmith’s linked article is great.

          2. With Title IX and mandatory sexual harassment training for incoming freshmenpersons at universities, the government is already in the courtship ritual instruction business. It’s mostly incoherent and in the negative (“here’s a list of 500 things not to do!”) but the government and schools are already all over this.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Bad courtship instruction pushed by malevolent actors is almost certainly worse than none at all. (waves in the general direction of “Untitled”)

          • Evan Þ says:

            Great; if the government’s providing incoherent negative courtship instruction, there shouldn’t be so many objections to its providing somewhat-coherent positive instruction too, right?

          • Atlas says:

            What Evan said; I think it’s unfortunate that young men, in particular, are provided with lots of clear messaging about what not to do, but only noisy and confused messaging about what to actively do. It should hardly be a surprise that there’s a non-trivial subgroup of incel men given that no one clearly explains the rules of courtship.

      • b_jonas says:

        My problem with this argument is that it proves too much. Everyone seems to have their own favorite topic, and I keep hearing arguments that schools are organized wrong because they teach so much useless material, but they don’t cover the one really important thing the debater cares about at the moment. This applies at all middle school and all levels above that. There are so many useful skills that someone thinks should be taught in school that they really can’t all fit into any school agenda.

        • Atlas says:

          Well, it seems like there are two arguments here, but I still think that both are correct:

          1. Schools teach useless material; they should teach useful material instead.

          This can easily be true even if there are more useful things school could choose to teach than they can actually teach at once. (Like, if you’re arguing that someone has a diet composed of bad foods, and point out more possible combinations of healthy foods than they could actually eat, it doesn’t mean that their diet isn’t bad.) As long as they teach something useful after basic algebra and reading comprehension, it would be an improvement.

          (And actually I even think that apprenticeships, part-time jobs and simple free time could well be superior substitutes for the “education” that many students receive.)

          2. Courtship in particular is a very important thing.

          While maybe you take an outside view that makes you skeptical of this, from the inside view I don’t think that it’s at all unreasonable to say that achieving their mating goals is one of the most important things to young people. (I feel like I could have phrased that better but hopefully the point is clear.)

          • christianschwalbach says:

            A part time job doing various types of construction or even customer service may be quite educational, but a part time job in Food service, janatorial, or in the vastly dwindling manufacturing realm vs school? Im not sure about that. Do you mind divulging if this opinion was at all based on your own school days?

          • Atlas says:

            A part time job doing various types of construction or even customer service may be quite educational, but a part time job in Food service, janatorial, or in the vastly dwindling manufacturing realm vs school? Im not sure about that. Do you mind divulging if this opinion was at all based on your own school days?

            Well, I think that there are all the cliched things like showing up to work on time, following directions, working with co-workers, et cetera, that one learns with even a menial job. Learning those would probably be more useful to low-IQ, unmotivated students than endless fruitless attempts to get them to understand Shakespeare or calculus. Additionally, they would be making money, which would be good for both them and the taxpayer.

            And I think that many high-IQ students would benefit from work experience as well. I knew a fair amount of kids in high school who wanted to go into fields like finance or medicine, and I feel like they probably would have learned a lot more useful stuff by spending some time in some capacity actually observing what professionals in the field do relative to most of their actual studies. I hear a lot of people give advice like “make sure you get good grades”, but I very rarely hear people say “make sure you remember what you learned in your classes.”

            As far as if my own school days influence(d) my opinion, sure, of course, but equally or more significant would be books like the Case Against Education, Coming Apart and the Bell Curve that present more rigorous evidence on the relevant issues.

      • fion says:

        “clear and formal instruction in the process of successfully courting a mate.”

        I wonder if courtship might be one of those anti-inductive things? (Not sure if I’m using that term right.) As in, if you had clear and formal instruction in it then the nature of it would change such that your instruction was useless. “Oh look, he’s doing the formal-instruction-method of trying to hit on me. What a loser!”

        • Skivverus says:

          If so, that seems like an important thing to include in the instructions:
          “(Some|most) people don’t like being asked out the same way as everyone else; it’s still okay to ask them out, but they’ll probably say no if you don’t get creative.”

          • fion says:

            Yeah, that’s probably true. I guess such an education could establish useful guidelines (and perhaps rule out some things that are definitely mistakes) even if it couldn’t be too detailed.

            if you don’t get creative

            Haha, after writing my “arms race” comment in reply to Atlas, I just had the same thought here. What if people start valuing “creativity in the asking-out method” too much and all of a sudden it’s no longer enough to drop out of a tree in front of them to dangle upside-down playing “I want to hold your hand” on the soprano saxophone while dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Girls like a guy who does something a little special, you know?

          • Deiseach says:

            “(Some|most) people don’t like being asked out the same way as everyone else; it’s still okay to ask them out, but they’ll probably say no if you don’t get creative.”

            Don’t we already have this in the form of “cheesy pick-up lines that don’t work”?

        • Atlas says:

          Hmm, maybe, but I don’t think so. For instance, I think that if boys were explicitly told at age 13 that upper-body strength is demonstrably attractive to women, and thus that developing it is a major part of their physical education, women would still find upper-body strength attractive.

          • hls2003 says:

            I think this works better in a gender-reversed sense. If women were told that certain waist-to-hip ratios seem to be more attractive, men would probably still find it attractive.

            But if women are attracted to guys who are “just different” and “have enough confidence to go off-script,” then teaching guys a literal script might in fact backfire as suggested above. Unless there is some sort of societal compulsion that mitigates the element of choice and instead says, for both parties, “You will do X and upon completing it you will be married to Y.” The most literal version would be something like arranged marriages. The less literal version would be some version of socially enforced cultural expectations. Both have problems because they only work by mitigating pure-preference choices.

          • albatross11 says:

            ISTM you’re basically talking about the difference between a kind of tournament (where the top 80% of men get wives and the bottom 20% don’t) and some kind of good-enough-is-enough situation (where improving the social skills and approach of men at the bottom can raise the fraction who get married).

          • fion says:

            women would still find upper-body strength attractive.

            Sure, but their standards would be higher. Right now most men don’t have very much upper body strength, and a moderately strong man is attractive. If all teenagers were hitting the gym then our moderately strong man would all-of-a-sudden seem a bit scrawny.

            I accept that this scenario doesn’t fit my “anti-inductive” worry above, but I still think it doesn’t do any good for helping humans pair up.

      • Garrett says:

        For entertainment value, phone up the local department of child and family services and ask them for a family. The puzzlement on the other end is depressingly hilarious.

    • BBA says:

      Let me channel my inner left-wing tweetstormer:

      “Why should anyone help them? They’re a terrorist movement responsible for two mass killings. They need to be destroyed and the earth they grew from salted so they can never spring up again.”

      Now I think in practice, since nobody is going to bother rounding up these losers and sending them to Gitmo to be waterboarded, this amounts to option 2. Sure it’s “mean” but the nice options amount to giving in to terrorist demands, so meanness is justified here.

      (I’ll also note that most feminists don’t bother distinguishing incels from the rest of the manosphere, for much the same reason that we don’t bother distinguishing Stalinists from Trotskyites. It’s not outgroup homogeneity bias so much as that the differences are irrelevant.)

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        How is giving someone advice on fitness, fashion, or flirting giving in to a terrorist’s demands?

        I think you may be stuck down the rabbit hole of social activism if you think that the only possible remedies are on the policy level. What about personal responsibility?

        One of the biggest problems these guys have is their external locus of control. They feel helpless and don’t think that anything they do could possibly fix their situation. You’re like the mirror image of an incel: you agree with all of their premises but come to the conclusion that they’re dangerous sub-humans. Those premises are wrong and therefore so are you and they.

      • Atlas says:

        There’s a huge difference between giving into the unreasonable demands of terrorists and changing the Conditions Of Society so that people don’t feel motivated to become terrorists who make unreasonable demands in the first place.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Couldn’t the exact same thing be said about islamic terrorism and how it supposedly is caused by Islamophobia? “We shouldn’t do anything to make life easier for muslims. That would be giving in to them. The appropriate reaction is to be as Islamophobic as possible until the attacks stop.”

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          No, because leftists like Muslims and hate incels.
          (Remember to assume that all incels are white. Don’t think about the possibility that a male Muslim might be willing to kill himself not because mean white people drive him to terrorism but because he can’t get laid and feels certain that those who die for Islam get a mansion in Paradise with 72 virgins. That would be Islamophobic!)

          • albatross11 says:

            Le Maistre Chat:

            Bashing the outgroup != advancing the conversation. Less like that, please.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Perhaps the leftists might be slightly more sympathetic to the plight of American incels if we swapped the color palette.

          • [Thing] says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I read that same article in the Washington Post. Then I read the comments. And no, there was not much sympathy to go around.

            To be fair, a lot of the unsympathetic comments from feminists were more about the traditional patriarchal norms that led to all the sex-selective abortions and female infanticide that caused this problem in the first place, and are arguably exacerbating it by setting very inflexible expectations around how marital relations are supposed to work. I think there’s a further reason for the lack of sympathy beyond that, though, which is that people have a psychological defense against sympathizing too much with the less fortunate, by rationalizing how they must have brought it upon themselves somehow. That way they can reassure themselves that they will be safe from similar misfortune.

            And yeah, there’s probably also some element of male incels just being inherently low-status, and male suffering being inherently unsympathetic.

      • J Mann says:

        Thanks. FWIW, I agree with you that a lot of what seems to be the incel worldview is really counterproductive and harmful to themselves and others.

        That said,

        (1) it seems to me that bullying some kid because some other kid killed people smacks of group punishment. I don’t hold the Dallas shootings against Black Lives Matter, or the Family Resources Council attack against whatever group shares that losers beliefs.

        (2) More importantly, I don’t think shaming these guys would work. Frankly, it would be good for them to change their model of courtship and move on, so if I thought yelling at them would work, I would support it as in their interest as well as everyone else. Instead, I bet it feed their sense of victimization and also has a problem because the model used by their critics (that their error is entitlement to women as property) doesn’t meet incels’ model of their own mentality, so they’re likely to tune it out.

      • rlms says:

        Looks like your point flew over a lot of heads.

        • J Mann says:

          Whoops.

        • BBA says:

          Yeah, that’ll teach me.

          From a left-wing perspective that I mostly agree with, the problem with incels isn’t that they can’t get laid, it’s that they murder people because they can’t get laid. #2 is meant to address the murders.

          Now I don’t think #2 is likely to work. Just telling the incels that their ideas are bad and they should feel bad is not going to convince them, even though their ideas are bad and they should feel bad. Besides which, even people who can get laid commit mass murders, so even if shaming could shut down one sick ideology there are still so many others to deal with.

          But the point is, if some men can’t get any, that’s their problem. If they start murdering people because of it, then it becomes everyone’s problem.

          (Also, the equivocation between incels as including all involuntarily celibate people versus just the ones who inhabit bizarre misogynistic echo chambers online is really not helpful to this discussion. I’m kindof one of the former, talking about the latter.)

          • Aapje says:

            From a left-wing perspective that I mostly agree with, the problem with incels isn’t that they can’t get laid, it’s that they murder people because they can’t get laid. #2 is meant to address the murders.

            The left-wing perspective has zero concern about their happiness????

            This seems like a similar sort of thing as a humblebrag, but then an agreeattack.

            Also, the equivocation between incels as including all involuntarily celibate people versus just the ones who inhabit bizarre misogynistic echo chambers online is really not helpful to this discussion. I’m kindof one of the former, talking about the latter.

            Mumble, mumble, superweapons.

          • Michael Handy says:

            I’m pretty left wing, and my first response when looking at a group like the Incels is to, to use leftist jargon, “Eliminate the dangerous aspects of their false consciousness and critique their position from a position of solidarity against the societal forces of alienation that have caused their distress.”

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “The left-wing perspective has zero concern about their happiness????”

            Abso-goddamn-lutely.

            The left isn’t a monolith, of course, but I’ve seen all too much boasting of having no empathy with incels.

          • Aapje says:

            They’ve got many of the risk factors for low sympathy:
            – White men or what looks like white men if you squint your eyes (Asians)
            – Nerdy or at least low in social ability
            – Men who are asking for societal change for men’s benefits
            – Complaining about what women do
            – Complaining about female sexual behavior

          • outis says:

            But the point is, if some men can’t get any, that’s their problem. If they start murdering people because of it, then it becomes everyone’s problem.

            Why does it have to be a problem? It could be an opportunity.

        • John Schilling says:

          #2 is meant to address the murders.

          All two of them?

          Seriously, I’m going to ask for evidence that incels represent more of a murder risk than e.g. cardiologists, or I’m going to maintain my current lack of respect for the left-wing perspective in this as so many other issues. If your concern is that there’s a clearly-identifiable group of people that treats women with open contempt and frequently murders them, and your target of choice is “incels”, those are positively telescopic blinders you are wearing.

          • rlms says:

            Two murderers (that we are certain of, it seems pretty plausible that e.g. the other man mentioned here should be included too), sixteen murders actually. Now, I doubt that the disturbed young men who identify as incels are significantly more likely to be (mass) murderers than similar disturbed young men who don’t, but it seems pretty likely that they are more commonly murderers than the population at large (by virtue of being disturbed young men), and than the group you are insinuating at.

            Let’s run the numbers. Wikipedia says r/incels had 40,000 readers when it was shut down. Counting the two men you identify gives a terrorist-murderer rate of 5 * 10^-3%. Technically that’s being somewhat unfair, as it is well-known in certain circles that Elliot Rodger was never an incel in that sense (he hung around in a different forum). So let’s double and round the reader count to 100,000. I’m pretty sure this is extremely generous, some sleuthing reveals that Rodger’s preferred forum PUAHate.com had 12,000 members (1,100 active) in March 2013. Likewise, the estimate of two perpetrators is surely an underestimate too. But I’ll stick with the rough figure of ~2 * 10^-3% for the moment.

            Moving onto Muslim terrorists: from Wikipedia’s list of terrorist attacks I get 9 terrorist Muslim murderers from 2010 to now. However, there are 3.3 million Muslims in the US, giving a rate of 0.3 * 10^-3%. If we included Canadians because the recent incel murderer was such then that rate will be lower. So even with very generous assumptions an incel is about an order of magnitude more likely than an American Muslim to go on a murderous rampage.

          • hls2003 says:

            @rlms: Aren’t your denominators non-comparable? You’re using forum usage as a proxy for “identify as incel.” I would expect then to use as denominator for Muslims, say, participants on certain specified activist Islamic forum spaces where “Muslim identity” is a bigger deal. Otherwise I would think you’d either be over-counting the Muslim denominator or under-counting the incel denominator significantly.

            On the other hand, I agree that, statistically, I would expect incels to have a higher-than-background rate of violence, especially spree violence, since they are by definition single men, almost all young.

          • Nornagest says:

            Let’s run the numbers. Wikipedia says r/incels had 40,000 readers when it was shut down. Counting the two men you identify gives a terrorist-murderer rate of 5 * 10^-3%. Technically that’s being somewhat unfair…

            Somewhat more than “technically”, I think. Even if /r/incels is the main hub for the… movement? identity? complaint?… on the Internet, which I’m not sure of, counting subscribers doesn’t necessarily give us a good estimate of how many people are involved in it. /r/The_Donald has about 0.6 million subscribers; more than a hundred times that many people voted for said Donald.

          • rlms says:

            @hsls2003
            I’m not aware of evidence that any Muslim terrorists participated in activist Islamic forum spaces in the sense you are referring to, and I don’t think anyone points at participants in such as a group with a disproportionate number of terrorists. So I don’t think it does make sense to use that as the denominator. You could use “reads ISIS propaganda” or something, but “incels less likely to be terrorists than ISIS supporters” is damning with rather faint praise.

            @Nornagest
            The difference is that the incel movement is AFAIK pretty much internet-only, whereas supporters of the Republican candidate for president are not.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            If your concern is that there’s a clearly-identifiable group of people that treats women with open contempt and frequently murders them

            Moving onto Muslim terrorists

            Wouldn’t the comparable case be honor killings, not terrorism?

          • hls2003 says:

            @rlms: Google for “islam internet forum” returns http://www.islamicity.org/forum/ , https://www.ummah.com/forum , https://www.islamicboard.com/ , and https://www.muftisays.com/forums/ in the top 7 results. So I think the burden would be on you to provide some evidence that Muslim terrorists have never participated in internet fora.

            But that’s ancillary. The point is that comparing a small subgroup self-selected for intensity to an undifferentiated national population number is not valid. In that sense, yes – Isis forum participants would be a better comparison, at least in the sense that it would give you the ability to say “incel forum users have a greater/lesser/equivalent violence rate to Isis forum users.” But for either subset, you can’t use those rate statistics to generalize to the Muslim population as a whole or to the involuntarily celibate population as a whole. The chosen methodology simply doesn’t work.

            I’m not sure what the point would be anyway. I assume, or at least would hope, that somewhere in the US intelligence apparatus they could spare a couple people to monitor traffic on Islamist web fora – because I expect them to be self-selected for higher risk. I have no problem at all if they want to assign someone to do the same on the incel reddit or whatever the equivalent would be, for exactly the same reason.

          • Nornagest says:

            The difference is that the incel movement is AFAIK pretty much internet-only, whereas supporters of the Republican candidate for president are not.

            Granted, but I think the basic point holds. As a rule of thumb you usually get ten readers to every subscriber for most online services, and /r/incels isn’t the only one in the space.

          • Nornagest says:

            So I think the burden would be on you to provide some evidence that Muslim terrorists have never participated in internet fora.

            ISIS gets/got a lot of attention in infosec circles for having a sophisticated online presence: they use online services as a vector for propaganda, radicalization, recruitment, and plain old terror.
            YouTube beheading videos probably got the most attention outside those circles, but it goes well beyond that. I would be astonished if all the people that’ve killed in its name over the last few years didn’t participate in it.

          • rlms says:

            @Gobbobobble
            Possibly. In that case we can’t compare like-for-like in the same way. Honour killers/Muslims is probably about the same number as incel rampagers/incels, but that’s irrelevant because domestic murders are vastly more common than mass murders. Domestic murders/Muslims is way higher than incel rampagers/incels, but so is domestic murders/straight white cis men. But honour killings are a small fraction of all domestic murders (I make it about 1% from Wikipedia on American crime plus this article), so I don’t think the claim about telescopic blinders stands up here either.

            @Nornagest
            Firstly, there are the opposing factors that some number of subscribers won’t be active, and there will be some overlap in the readerships of different incel sites. But secondly, I don’t think the classic 1-9-90 rule is applicable here. It is generally applied to lurkers-participants, not lurkers-subscribers — subscribing to a reddit requires a lot less effort than engaging; some people who occasionally read /r/incels but don’t subscribe let alone participate probably should’t be included in our total of incels (as in members of the online community, not the involuntarily celibate); and there is doubt about how correct the 1-9-90 rule is even when it is relevant anyway.

            I certainly agree that plenty of Muslim terrorists probably read ISIS materials online etc.. As I said before, I don’t think “incels are less likely to be terrorists than literal ISIS supporters” is a particularly bold claim. But hls2003 linked random not-at-all-terroristy Muslim fora that I don’t believe there is any reason to think any terrorists used. More importantly “we need to keep a close eye on people-who-visit-https://www.muftisays.com/forums/ because they’re disproportionately terrorists” isn’t something anyone has ever said.

        • quanta413 says:

          No, his point was just stupid.

          And this whole subthread rapidly degenerated into more stupid. Something something comparing Islamic terrorism to incel terrorism.

          The response of punishing random people who might be vaguely associated is stupid either way. And if that’s BBA’s point, he shouldn’t skirt Poe’s law, because there’s no way to tell if he’s serious or not. His serious paragraphs below his left-wing twitter imitation and his past posts do not encourage me about the likelihood he doesn’t basically mean what he says.

          • BBA says:

            Fine, I’ll talk straight.

            The only reason why anyone is talking about “incels” right now is that one of them rented a van and ran over a bunch of people in Toronto last week. I, being just as lonely as the perpetrator but who wouldn’t consider killing anyone in a thousand years, am baffled and offended that this is what triggers sympathetic reactions among the populace here. And then when I point this out, and note that between this and the general hatefulness of the incel “community” the scorn being heaped upon them is totally explicable, you all tell me that it isn’t about the murders – WHICH IT ABSOLUTELY IS.

            Meanwhile, my political “allies” are now telling me that because I don’t fuck, I must be a violent shithead like the one in Toronto, and I wonder why I bother getting up in the morning.

            This is all deeply personal for me. Even here I feel uncomfortable saying “Yes, I’m a 33-year-old virgin, go on, point and laugh” but that’s really what’s driving me here.

          • Randy M says:

            The only reason why anyone is talking about “incels” right now is that one of them rented a van and ran over a bunch of people in Toronto last week.

            As a group, sure–emphasis on right now. But here we’ve had many people in the past request advice on personal romantic matters, some who may be adjacent to this identification (to put it delicately). We’ve had threads on PUA, ethics and technique. I’m sure at some point medieval Icelandic dating customs on battleships have been raised. And we’ve had plenty of discussion of helping various groups that aren’t murder related, like asexuals and autistics.

            If you mean the wider world… probably the same replay. Incel as a group may not be a common topic of conversation, because most people are familiar with them, but “lonely guys/gals” or “dating advice” are common topics.

            (It has come up here before, often as a hobby horse of a banned poster; here’s a different instance, though.

          • J Mann says:

            Hey BBA, thanks.

            1) Let us know if you need advice, assistance, whatever. We probably can’t do much for you, but we can probably do more than we can for incels, because you’re engaged. If it’s embarassing, but you want to change things, maybe pick up a new screenname and ask for advice once things cool down.

            2) As the OP on this thread, let me explain where I’m coming from.

            2.1) As rationalist adjacent type, it makes me sad that the incels have adopted a model of courtship and women that I think is probably harmful to them and to the community at large. I’d love a way to get them to stop thinking like that. But as far as I can tell, they’re even more unlikely to change their priors as a result of external efforts than most groups. So I’m interested if there’s something that can be done. If we found something that works for incels, I bet it often would work for decent, lonely, non-hateful people as well, which would be good.

            2.2) I get some lefty twitter as a result of other interests, and all of the “see, I told you these incels must be stamped out” has me a little engaged.

            2.3) I’m not a big believer in demanding just punishments, even if I were to believe that having the same priors as a murderer makes you worthy of punishment. (Which I also don’t.) If there were a way to convince drug dealers and torturing sadists to stop doing those things, I would be motivated to find it, on some mix of utilitarian grounds and the hope that everyone can be redeemed.

          • quanta413 says:

            @ BBA

            Thank you. That’s a much preferable way of engaging.

            First, I’m sorry.

            Second, lame excuses for my behavior. I don’t pay close attention to the news on a short timespan, and there’s been discussion about men trying to find women etc. here in the past. I don’t sync to which thing happened each week. I have a vague idea, but I’m not making the connections.

            I’m probably just randomly lashing in the subthreads here because a lot of the points are frustrating. And my vague feeling is that in the last year, culture war discussions have actually been getting worse here rather than better.

          • John Schilling says:

            The only reason why anyone is talking about “incels” right now is that one of them rented a van and ran over a bunch of people in Toronto last week

            .

            Right, and when a Muslim rented a truck and ran over a much larger bunch of people in Nice, we spent some time talking about Muslims. But what virtually all of Team Social Justice was saying, and what I am willing to bet you yourself were saying at the time, is that we should be very careful not to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few, that most Muslims were good and decent people whose help we were going to need to deal with the few bad ones.

            AND THEY WERE RIGHT TO DO SO.

            Just like they were right on 9/11 to point out that we shouldn’t be planning to wage war against Islam generally, that there was no urgent need to “do something” about all the Muslims running around in the United States. Just like they are right, every time the huge disparity in crime rates by white vs. black Americans comes up, to point out that the answer is not to marginalize Blacks in general on account of their criminality.

            So when the people who get it right in almost every other context – because this is something Social Justice is usually pretty good at – respond to this attack with “what a bunch of pathetic losers; we should ridicule and marginalize them all because they’re basically all violent misogynists or cowardly apologists for violent misogynists”, I do not for one minute believe that this is motivated by their best judgement as to how to respond to rare incidents of terrorism. That’s just the excuse.

          • outis says:

            This is all deeply personal for me. Even here I feel uncomfortable saying “Yes, I’m a 33-year-old virgin, go on, point and laugh” but that’s really what’s driving me here.

            Yeah, well, you know who else was a 33-year-old virgin and got pointed and laughed at? Jesus Christ.

          • Education Hero says:

            The only reason why anyone is talking about “incels” right now is that one of them rented a van and ran over a bunch of people in Toronto last week. I, being just as lonely as the perpetrator but who wouldn’t consider killing anyone in a thousand years, am baffled and offended that this is what triggers sympathetic reactions among the populace here.

            Have you considered the possibility that people generally despise weak males and sympathize with strong males, and that violent action implies strength?

            Or, to paraphrase our recently returned Dr. Beat, the bullied are targeted due to their inability to defend themselves from bullying. Violence is a costly signal of some ability to defend oneself from bullying.

            Consider another recent example of an incel who began receiving sympathetic (including sexual) reactions after engaging in violence.

            Meanwhile, my political “allies” are now telling me that because I don’t fuck, I must be a violent shithead like the one in Toronto, and I wonder why I bother getting up in the morning.

            Then why do you consider them allies, quotation marks or no?

    • maintain says:

      You list 3 possibilities, but I think you’re leaving out another big possibliity:

      4) Incels get prescribed hormones that lower their sex drive.

      We have drugs that would alleviate their suffering; why shouldn’t we use them?

      Finasteride lowers sex drive. People are prescribed finasteride all the time for male pattern baldness. People are prescribed psychiatric drugs all the time for other conditions. It doesn’t seem outlandish to me. It seems like we could treat incels so easily if we were just willing to prescribe them the drugs.

      • christhenottopher says:

        Drugs have a pretty good likelihood of having negative side effects and depending on the specific drugs can be quite expensive. While for extreme circumstances I would say OK maybe an attempt can be made to see results, first should definitely be to try approaches that aren’t messing with the complex system of human body chemistry. OP’s approach one, get more fit and develop more social skills, actually has known beneficial side effects so unless there’s strong evidence a person can’t do that or the problems persist after doing that, drugs shouldn’t really be a serious suggestion.

      • Wrong Species says:

        The problem of incels has very little to do with sex drives. Unless you have a drug that permanently raises their self-esteem, it’s not going to work.

      • christianschwalbach says:

        Frankly this is a terrible idea. Im sorry, but unlike treating depression, schizophrenia, etc.. a valid sex drive is not an evolutionary trait that is vastly out of step or mis-aligned with the modern world as I look at it. Sex has many positive benefits and in the case of mood disorders, can help alleviate symptoms. Why in the world would you suppress that?

      • Jaskologist says:

        Palliative care is supposed to be the last thing you turn to, not the first.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        It’s not just a desire for sex. It’s a desire for the social status and self-esteem that comes with being able to say “I have a girlfriend” or “I love someone who loves me back.” Those sounds like really basic things because they are. It’s easy to mock them as unimportant when you have them met.

        • Matt M says:

          Those sounds like really basic things because they are. It’s easy to mock them as unimportant when you have them met.

          Yeah, it’s definitely weird to me that comments such as “Poor people who can’t afford food need to just accept that they are not entitled to anyone else’s food, and if they can’t get their own food – they will starve to death and they will deserve it.” are considered evil and immoral and beyond the pale – but if you replace “food” with “sex” suddenly that’s the exact right attitude to have and the only problem we have with society is that too many people disagree with it…

          • albatross11 says:

            c/sex/companionship/

          • MrApophenia says:

            I’m just spitballing here, but I suspect the crucial difference is that you don’t need to rape anyone to redistribute food.

          • Matt M says:

            No, but you do need to steal from them. Which is also normally immoral but magically stops becoming so if the government is involved.

          • John Schilling says:

            No, but you generally do need to either enslave farmers or offer them money. And in the latter case, more money than your social safety net would provide if they did basically the same things except not produce and distribute food to people they don’t otherwise feel like feeding.

          • Iain says:

            Money is a claim on society’s finite resources. You exchange it for goods and services. If we redistribute your money — say, to buy food for the starving — you now have a slightly smaller claim on those goods and services.

            Sex is an intimate physical activity between two people. If we redistribute sex, you are now required to penetrate or be penetrated by a stranger against your will.

            Emotional companionship, which is the thing that the sympathetic brand of incels actually want, is even more intimate than that. If we redistribute emotional companionship, you are now required to — convincingly fake long-term affection for somebody you don’t actually like, I guess? Not exactly sure how this is supposed to work.

            It’s so weird that people have different opinions on the redistribution of these essentially identical commodities!

          • MrApophenia says:

            I deleted my last post because it was needlessly dickish and Iain said it much better.

          • rlms says:

            Also, would you rather never have food or never have sex?

          • John Schilling says:

            Sex is an intimate physical activity between two people. If we redistribute sex, you are now required to penetrate or be penetrated by a stranger against your will.

            And if we redistribute food, you are now required to plow and plant and reap a field against your will?

            Once upon a time, people believed that we did. People who put as little thought into that matter as you did to this one, said “Obviously people won’t work the fields without whips and chains being involved, so since we need food I guess we are just going to have to have slavery as well”. Eventually, they put some thought into finding a better and it turned out slavery wasn’t inevitable after all.

            But if you’re uncomfortable with food as an analogy, what about health care? Which I am told is an absolute human right that only the most monstrous of societies would fail to provide to absolutely everyone. But which cannot be commoditized, which requires an intimate one-on-one interaction between a doctor and a patient, some of whom will be as odious to deal with as any ill-socialized incel.

            Education seems similar, and we’ve recently had the discussion about how having to accommodate a few particularly obnoxious students can degrade the process for everyone else. But, universal human right, must be made available to everyone.

            And yet I am told that there are enlightened societies that have managed to redistribute food and health care and education so that even the odious get their share, and if they are doing it by enslaving farmers or doctors or teachers they are doing a fair job of keeping that out of view. So I can’t help but think you might be a bit hasty with your judgement that anyone who suggests redistribution of sex must be openly advocating rape.

          • Aapje says:

            @rlms

            Well, if a guy only gets to have sex, he can just eat out 😛

          • Aapje says:

            @John Schilling

            We also coerce people towards jobs, which means that we do coerce people to washing naked people and other such things, which are part of caring for the infirm.

            Of course, one can reasonably argue that it is the step between coercing people to wash naked old people and coercing people to have sex where the burden becomes too odious.

          • albatross11 says:

            Aapje:

            In the US, we don’t coerce people into particular jobs. We do make it hard to live very well without having some kind of job, and some of the jobs people do in order to make a living are unpleasant things like being assistants at nursing homes. But we’re several decades from the last time we actually drafted anyone and gave them some shitty job they couldn’t refuse without going to jail or being shot.

          • albatross11 says:

            John Schilling:

            Prostitution vouchers? (As opposed to some kind of system of public whorehouses where you get a really nice one if you live in an expensive neighborhood, and a really nasty one with lots of disruptive clients if you live in a poor neighborhood?)

          • Iain says:

            @John Schilling:

            Before we had publicly funded healthcare, we had private doctors who performed surgery for money. Before we had publicly funded education, we had private teachers who taught classes for money. Before we had food stamps, we had farmers who grew crops and sold them for money.

            All of those jobs were respectable and uncontroversially legal.

            Prostitution is illegal in most jurisdictions, and disreputable pretty much everywhere. (There’s also no sign that publicly funded prostitutes would help anything – it’s not like Elliot Rodger or Alek Minassian couldn’t afford a handjob.)

            Providing genuine companionship and affection for money is not a job anywhere — and it can’t be, because paying for it would invalidate the entire point.

            But apparently my reasoning on this point is as poorly thought-out as the logic behind slavery. So enlighten me, o wise and noble one — what’s your brilliant plan?

          • albatross11 says:

            Actually, this makes me wonder–*could* some kind of business provide companionship in a way that it would actually meet the needs of people who were involuntarily alone (celibate, touch-starved, lonely, etc.)? Or would it always fail because the person paying for the service knew it was insincere? The answer isn’t obvious to me.

            One model here is therapists–people pay a stranger to listen to their problems and offer advice and help. Your therapist isn’t a friend, exactly, but he may fill some of the same role. A good therapist genuinely cares about your well-being. But you are totally paying him by the hour, and modulo some level of willingness to take charity cases in special circumstances, he’s only going to spend time with you when he’s on the clock. And I suspect a lot of people do, in fact, get some of the social contact they need via talking to their therapist (doctor, masseuse, physical therapist, home healthcare nurse).

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            While I’ve argued already that incels aren’t all about getting laid, anecdotal evidence of experience with some is that if they do get laid, even by a hooker, they . . I don’t know the best phrase for this, so I’ll say “stop putting the pussy on a pedestal.” They mark it off their bucket list and still want companionship, but they don’t feel so bad or disrespected about it. Getting them to go through with it may be difficult. (See the story about ER’s dad elsewhere on this page.)

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Prostitution is illegal in most jurisdictions

            Prostitution is legal in most western countries. You’re Canadian, aren’t you? Prostitution is legal in Canada. There is a hypothesis that people get their beliefs about the world from Hollywood. This is the clearest example. (There are also examples about Americans believing that every state is like CA.)

          • Aapje says:

            albatross11

            In the US, we don’t coerce people into particular jobs.

            No, you just deny federal aid completely to able-bodied adults with no children. Local aid that may be available to these people is often time-limited. That’s very coercive.

            While this indeed does not force people into specific jobs in the sense that people truly have no options, it on the group-level result in people doing these jobs even if they would strongly prefer not to.

            PS. Note that this policy also seems to result in women avoiding relationships with poor men.

          • Iain says:

            @Douglas Knight:

            It is legal to sell sex in Canada, but not legal to buy it. That pretty clearly doesn’t count.

            The other standard trick is to keep prostitution legal, but ban as many associated activities as possible. (See, for example, the UK, which prohibits “soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, owning or managing a brothel, pimping and pandering”.

          • John Schilling says:

            Prostitution vouchers? As opposed to some kind of system of public whorehouses…

            If prostitution is fully legal and at least semi-respectable, you don’t need vouchers but you might want to factor the cost of prostitutes and/or dating into your cost-of-living estimates for deciding who needs financial assistance generally.

            Somewhat more speculatively, if prostitution is fully legal and at least semi-respectable, it might be easier to fold it into a more generalized spectrum of paid companionship, overlapping some of the niches already mentioned like therapists, barbers/stylists, bartenders, etc. See e.g. geishas and hetaerae.

            If prostitution is not legal, or barely legal but heavily stigmatized, then of course prostitution vouchers are right out. You might be able to approach the same end result from the other direction by expanding some of the other paid-companionship professions to include sex that people very carefully don’t talk about and that the police don’t try to find out about.

            Either way, the incels who up their game by going to the gym, etc, are still going to have an edge because dating is almost always cheaper than hiring a prostitute and the more mercenary members of the dating pool are better at camouflaging their lack of true affection or respect.

            Probably only room for marginal improvements here, but I expect that’s true of every plausible approach.

          • BeefSnakStikR says:

            dating is almost always cheaper than hiring a prostitute

            Is this true? Free events and workplaces tend to be imbalanced by age and gender and seem not to facilitate dating as much as people say they do. I understand the “get out of the house and do something,” advice, but I think it’s meant as a starting point dressed up as a guarantee.

            If you’re looking at things that sort people into datable demographics, those do cost money. Online dating can run you $40 a month. Attending university will run you a few hundred dollars a month.

            And those methods are only less expensive than a sex worker if they prove to be successful and the relationship lasts — if you go through several relationships, you have to keep attending university or keep paying for a subscription.

          • John Schilling says:

            Online dating can run you $40 a month. Attending university will run you a few hundred dollars a month.

            Hiring an escort, in developed nations where prostitution is legal and prices are openly advertised, seems to start at about $200 an hour.

            That would probably come down if prostitution were less stigmatized, or if we postulate a socially camouflaged version with a higher companionship:sex ratio, but I’m fairly certain the economic fundamentals are going to keep dating at least somewhat cheaper than hiring prostitutes.

          • albatross11 says:

            Aapje:

            Yep, that’s pretty much what I said. We don’t coerce you into any particular job, but we also don’t promise to support you if you won’t work, and we don’t promise you a job that you’d like.

            Refusing to support you is very different from coercing you into some job you don’t like. Coercing you into some job you don’t want to do would involve assigning you that job and putting you in jail or beating you up or something if you didn’t do as you were told. We have done that in the past–we used to have a draft. Plenty of people who absolutely didn’t want to be soldiers found themselves carrying rifles in various unpleasant places as a result.

          • IrishDude says:

            @albatross11

            Actually, this makes me wonder–*could* some kind of business provide companionship in a way that it would actually meet the needs of people who were involuntarily alone (celibate, touch-starved, lonely, etc.)? Or would it always fail because the person paying for the service knew it was insincere? The answer isn’t obvious to me.

            You can hire actors to be friends and family in Japan:
            Money may not be able to buy love, but here in Japan, it can certainly buy the appearance of love—and appearance, as the dapper Ishii Yuichi insists, is everything. As a man whose business involves becoming other people, Yuichi would know. The handsome and charming 36-year-old is on call to be your best friend, your husband, your father, or even a mourner at your funeral.

            His 8-year-old company, Family Romance, provides professional actors to fill any role in the personal lives of clients. With a burgeoning staff of 800 or so actors, ranging from infants to the elderly, the organization prides itself on being able to provide a surrogate for almost any conceivable situation.

            Yuichi believes that Family Romance helps people cope with unbearable absences or perceived deficiencies in their lives. In an increasingly isolated and entitled society, the CEO predicts the exponential growth of his business and others like it, as à la carte human interaction becomes the new norm.

          • Deiseach says:

            if we postulate a socially camouflaged version with a higher companionship:sex ratio

            No, if you want a girlfriend experience, this is going to cost more since it involves a lot more work and acting and time than “a handjob costs X, a blowjob Y, and full intercourse is Z. Any kinks or fetishes are negotiable but will cost more”. A prostitute is going to lose time on “one client wants five hours of a date with full ‘hi honey how was your day at the office?’ conversation” than “I can fit six clients in to that block of time” and will need to be compensated accordingly, just like any other professional. A consultant costs more than the ordinary doctor, after all! 🙂

          • John Schilling says:

            No, if you want a girlfriend experience, this is going to cost more since it involves a lot more work and acting and time

            More work and time, but less of that work and time will be devoted to sex, which I understand women place a premium on. There will be substantially less risk, because fewer and better-known customers. And any social camouflage will reduce the reputational penalty to the woman, which is presently substantial and not likely to go to zero even in a more tolerant society.

            My admittedly limited understanding is that the women who advertise on sugar daddy websites could earn far more $$$/hr as outright escorts, but choose not to for the above-noted reasons. The same would probably apply to any social-support profession that includes occasional sex as a secondary element.

          • Andrew Hunter says:

            My admittedly limited understanding is that the women who advertise on sugar daddy websites could earn far more $$$/hr as outright escorts, but choose not to for the above-noted reasons.

            My dance teacher charges me $70/hour to learn zouk, but she does not make 145K a year. Escorting might pay more than sugaring per hour, sure, but sugar daddies, as I understand it, pay a fixed salary for semi-full-time employment, and it’s damn hard to make 40 billable hours a week at anything; I doubt prostitutes are different there. In addition to the different mix of romance vs. sex and safety, sugar babies are at least a bit closer to employees (instead of contractors) compared to escorts.

          • rlms says:

            1. If it were optimal for such a service to exist, an efficient market would provide it.
            2. Markets are efficient.
            Therefore 3. It is not optimal for such a service to exist.

          • People who put as little thought into that matter as you did to this one, said “Obviously people won’t work the fields without whips and chains being involved, so since we need food I guess we are just going to have to have slavery as well”.

            I cannot think of any historical society that fits that pattern. Lots of them had slavery, but I don’t know of any where there was not also farming by free men.

            Which ones were you thinking of?

    • johan_larson says:

      What are the Mormons doing about this? They have a high marriage rate compared to the rest of us. They must be doing something right.

      http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/22/mormons-more-likely-to-marry-have-more-children-than-other-u-s-religious-groups/

      • gbdub says:

        I’m guessing they live in a culture that puts much more emphasis on marriage, and less on sex. They also probably have stronger family units that support (and push) young singles into matches.

        • Iain says:

          This. The Mormons don’t have any secret tricks; they just apply a lot of social pressure to people to get married young and start pumping out babies.

          My girlfriend’s family is all Mormon — her mother was the only one of the six kids to leave the church. She has thirty-something first cousins, including multiple families with eight kids, and a lot of those cousins are already married and pumping out babies of their own.

          If your goal is just to maximize the number of marriages, the Mormons are doing pretty well. If you want to maximize human happiness, it’s a little less clear. One of the aunts spent years in an abusive marriage, finally managed to get a divorce, and is now estranged from her six sons (because it is a wife’s duty to obey her husband). Another aunt, who would clearly have been happier as a career woman with 1.5 kids, swore after two kids that she was done but just gave birth to her sixth kid last year. One cousin is mildly autistic and soul-crushed by reaching her mid twenties without being able to find a man and start a family like a good Mormon.

          If you fit into the Mormon box, or can cram yourself into the Mormon box, it seems pretty nice. That doesn’t necessarily make it a good model for society at large.

          • albatross11 says:

            I suspect one of the interesting problems we run into as a society is that there’s a strategy for life happiness that works pretty well for most people (probably something like “marry, have kids, buy a house, have a full-time job, maybe join a church or get involved in Scouts or something”), but it works really badly for a smallish subset of people.

            It seems like, as a society, we have had many decades of weakening the push toward that strategy, and sometimes actively attacking it as bad/evil/wrongheaded. And we’ve had a consistent undermining of a lot of the legal and social pressures/structures that re-enforced it. And that’s probably made life better for the smallish subset of people who would have been miserable following that strategy, but at the cost of a lot of people who would have been happy following that strategy ending up unhappy.

          • Iain says:

            It seems like, as a society, we have had many decades of weakening the push toward that strategy, and sometimes actively attacking it as bad/evil/wrongheaded. And we’ve had a consistent undermining of a lot of the legal and social pressures/structures that re-enforced it.

            “It” is ambiguous here. Do you mean that people have attacked the strategy as bad/evil/wrongheaded, or attacked the push towards the strategy?

            At most, I think we have moved from a society where that strategy is socially mandated to a society where it is socially encouraged. The number of people who argue that marriages, kids, and jobs are actively bad is negligible.

            The real change has been a shift in the ability of women to access that strategy. “Many decades” ago, women were mostly expected to stay at home and take care of the kids. In a lot of Mormon families, that’s still the case. If that’s what you’re talking about, then I dispute its description as “a strategy for life happiness that works pretty well for most people”. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my list of unhappy Mormons was three women.

          • albatross11 says:

            Iain:

            It seems like there used to be a lot more social pressure and support pushing people toward that life strategy. And now there’s much less, and that leads to both:

            a. Fewer people for whom the strategy would have made them miserable ending up following it.

            b. Fewer people for whom the strategy would have made them happy ending up following it.

            I have zero interest in forcing anyone into my favored strategy for life satisfaction. But it sure seems plausible that (b) has done more harm than (a) has done good. That seems like it’s ultimately an empirical question.

            Some parts of the breakdown of social pressure/support for the traditional happiness strategy seem like unambiguously bad things. For example, the huge increase in single mothers raising their kids without the fathers around seems pretty awful overall.

            It looks to me like as social pressure/support toward a particular standard of how to live decreased in the US, people on the high end of intelligence, education, and income did better–the ones who wanted a traditional life mostly managed to get it, and the ones who would have been miserable in a traditional life found something different that suited them better. But the people at the low end of intelligence, education, and income mostly did worse–thus the Coming Apart phenomenon.

        • smocc says:

          Mormon checking in. I think “no secret tricks” is a fair summary, but also “just a lot of social pressure” is under-selling what’s going on in several ways.

          It’s important to remember that the Mormons aren’t just a culture but a highly structured church that meets three hours every week to (among other things) discuss topics from a unified curriculum. They also have a top-down leadership that is very active, constantly sending out talks and broadcasts and essays and magazines that are widely read and listened to.

          And in all of this they talk about marriage incessantly. About how important it is and how great, and how much fun, and how happy it is, but also about how to be a good husband and a good wife and how to be a good parent and how terrible abuse is and how tragic divorce is. For a while it was common for church leaders at the highest level to encourage, over the pulpit, married couples to set aside regular time to go on “date night” and to engage in “continuing courtship.” You can call that “social pressure” but it’s more than just southern grandmas asking questions at Thanksgiving.

          As Subject4056 points out, there are “singles wards” which are whole congregations specially organized for and populated by young single adults. You go to church and do all your church social activities with other single adults. The point is to get you meeting people and married, and everyone knows this. It’s also not rare; there’s at least one singles ward in pretty much every place there’s enough church members for it.

          There are also, I believe, large effects from already having a culture with happy, stable marriages. I see a lot of general anxiety about marriage and divorce in my non-Mormon friends. My Mormon friends by and large simply assume that most marriages will be mostly happy, as long as they put in effort. And I think largely they are correct — they grew up surrounded by evidence for it. Even my Mormon friends who had experienced divorce as a kid were pretty rosy on the possibility of happy, stable marriage. And those kids who aren’t born Mormon go to church every week surrounded by other adult role models with happy marriages.

          When I was in a singles ward the Bishop would give spiels to the men about how important it was to go on dates with the women, and to kiss them, but we could also see day to day how much he and his wife loved each other and how happy they were with each other. That kind of thing is powerful. (In the year and a half I was in that ward about 20% of the members met and got married, myself included)

          So yeah, there’s no secret sauce besides using the huge infrastructure of the church to talk about marriage constantly to encourage people to form and maintain happy marriages. (I expect they actually are happy too, but that’s a separate question)

          • christhenottopher says:

            To any male incels, join up with Mormonism! The demographics are in your favor right now with the female-male percentages being 56% to 44%. And as above shows you’ll still be able to read SSC! Disclaimer though, this probably only helps the “wants a real relationship” incel and not so much the “I just need to get laid” type.

            But that actually does make me curious, does the Mormon church right now worry about people joining for such less-than-spiritual reasons? Or does it seem that there are sufficient hurdles to joining that there isn’t a significant problem with insincere conversions? Or maybe even is there a “fake it til you make it” attitude that initially bad reasons to join will grow into real faith?

          • johan_larson says:

            …does the Mormon church right now worry about people joining for such less-than-spiritual reasons?

            I’m having trouble imagining a minister commiserating with his fellows and saying, “People keep joining my congregation, but they’re not really believers. They’re just there for a chance to get laid. I don’t know what to do with these scoundrels.”

            It sounds like one of those good problems to have.

          • Matt M says:

            Purely anecdotal, but I work with more than one young, male, mormons who seem to me to be attractive, athletic, nice guys with degrees from great schools who have elite level jobs – and who seem to be struggling to find mormon females to date.

          • albatross11 says:

            I can’t speak for Mormons (I’m a Catholic), but I think it’s pretty common for people to start coming to a church largely for the social interactions (meeting other single people, meeting other young families) and to find themselves becoming more involved over time for deeper reasons.

          • smocc says:

            @christhenottopher

            We welcome everyone, but there are definitely barriers to entry. It’s not like you can walk in and find Mormon girls desperate to marry you.

            The first one is baptism, which requires sitting through lessons with missionaries, and then sitting in an interview with a missionary about your commitment to certain religious principles and practices, including giving up alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee, paying a tithe, and going to church every week.

            In my post above I left off discussion of the concept of temple marriage, which is huge. Marriage in a temple (as opposed to in a chapel or elsewhere) is seen as the ultimate goal for a variety of reasons. Being allowed in the temple requires passing additional barriers including more interviews, being a member of the church for at least a year, and receiving the priesthood for men (which is easier and less of a commitment than becoming a Catholic priest or full-time pastor; basically every active Mormon man does it)

            And in the course of all this there’s the unofficial barrier of being involved. Being an active Mormon of the kind Mormon girls will want to marry is a significant commitment in time and energy. But you don’t have to act like a Chad, and that’s a huge plus.

            And you do have to actually date. I got married in a singles ward, but only after I forced myself to start asking girls out even when it was awkward.

            Again, the only secret sauce is a huge amounts of effort and commitment. I suppose you might say the secret sauce is self-selection.

            So yes, incels, join up with Mormonism! It will take as much or more effort as “hit the gym, get a haircut, etc.” but it works pretty darn well.

          • Telminha says:

            @christhenottopher

            I was a member of the Mormon church for several years (converted from Catholicism); I do not believe that would work, especially in the US. But — if incels are looking for serious relationships, they could try international dating. When I was younger and lived in Brazil, I had many friends (conservative women) who wanted to marry and never found anyone there. I registered some of them in American dating websites, and in one case, translated all the love letters because he didn’t speak any Portuguese, and she didn’t speak much English. They met a few months later and are happily married today. Other friends found American husbands without my cupid help, and they are still married, and none of them ran away once they arrived here.

          • Aapje says:

            @Telminha

            Why do you think these women are so happy with American men and/or unhappy with Brazilian men? Is it for the reasons described here*?

            * That Brazilian men tend to be macho and in want of a ‘mommy’ girlfriend who takes extreme care of them, while being prone to cheat.

          • Telminha says:

            @Aapje

            I would agree with some of the things she mentions in her article, but my social circle in Brazil was made of very conservative people, and some of our experiences differ.

            In the case of my friends, they were mostly Mormons, and the reason they were also interested in American men was that there were no single men available in our local church (ward). The problem was severe enough that the church authorities temporarily changed some rules about baptism: Missionaries could no longer baptize families if there weren’t at least one (young) single man included.

            My friends were happy with dating Brazilian men, as long as they were Mormon or religious — they believe these were less likely to be alcoholics and to cheat. Alcoholism and domestic abuse were rampant in our area.

          • Aapje says:

            Interesting, thank you.

      • Subject4056 says:

        While on the whole Mormonism’s retention numbers are good, this masks the gender imbalance – many more men leave the church than do women. This imbalance and the taboo against out-of-group partnerships make it a lot easier for (observant) Mormon men to find dates.

        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283733702_Increasing_Sex_Ratio_Imbalance_Among_Utah_Mormons_Sources_and_Implications

        The church also facilitates meeting eligible partners through “singles ward”, which is basically an extra hour or so after normal church services in which the single members of the congregation are expected to mingle. If you’re observant, single, and not meeting anyone, your bishop will know about it, and in theory try to get you back on the path to marriage.

    • Acedia says:

      I’m not incel, but I know a lot of them because I participate in the chan and twitter subcultures where they’re common. Inceldom has almost nothing to do with sex. Nothing. For the vast majority it’s about touch starvation, loneliness, and self image. Here’s a sad thread where a bunch of incels talk about what they’d like to do with a gf. A lot of incels outright admit the idea of sex terrifies them and they just want a woman who is nice to them to cuddle and watch anime with.

      Unfortunately there are incentives on both sides for people to publicly behave as if inceldom is about benis in bagina and nothing else. On the social justice side, because it makes incels less sympathetic and easier to mock and denigrate. On the incel side, because it’s less humiliating and more socially acceptable for a male to talk about sexual frustration than to talk about how he wants someone to hold him and run her fingers through his hair and tell him he is loved.

      It’s weird to me that so many people apparently genuinely believe that the incel phenomenon is about fucking, like that guy above suggesting that using finasteride to eliminate sex drive might help. It wouldn’t do anything.

      • Wander says:

        Thank you. Almost everything that has been said about incels here has been almost totally incorrect, missing the point to the extent that a literal 5 second glance at any of their communities would show that they’re wildly wrong. Particularly the idea that they have extremely high standards and blame everyone else for their failures, when almost the defining feature is absolute desperation, the belief that they’re so totally, absolutely unlovable that they want literally any affection from literally anyone. It worries me to see people immediately take the surface level obviously bullshit culture war take that perfectly conforms to Jezebel strawmen seriously.

        • BBA says:

          How does that square with the part where they idolize mass murderer Elliot Rodger? I get that they aren’t a monolith, but according to one observer they’ve recently taken a very dark turn.

          • Wander says:

            Is there actually main hangout of theirs where they view him in a favourable light? /r9k/ mostly mocked him endlessly.

            And if it is true that they’ve taken a dark turn recently, I would suggest that it was via the process of the media painting them as terrible misanthropes instead of self hating loners which in turn has actually attracted terrible misanthropes to them.

          • J Mann says:

            There’s a popular perception that redpill is radicalizing incels – that greater proportions of them are beginning to believe not only that they are miserable, but that society is organized in a way that unfairly impacts them.

            I haven’t seen a good systematic way to measure this – like the dispute some time ago regarding ethics in gaming journalism and/or oppressing women, you can pick various postings that reflect one side or the other.

            To the extent that incels believe either (a) that their life is doomed to incurable misery or (b) it’s society’s fault, I suspect those ideas are harmful to them. I’d love to have some kind of philosophical evangalization program, or to invent a useful medication – maybe someone will come up with one or both.

          • MrApophenia says:

            The Daily Beast’s “Sympathy for Incels” article did just casually toss off in their interview with an incel Youtuber that there are pretty common references to “going ER” as an option of last resort. The interviewee suggests that’s just blowing off steam and not meant to be taken seriously, but there’s only so many mass shootings that can come out of a very small, insular community before theoretically-joking references like that stop being plausible as jokes.

          • J Mann says:

            @MrApophenia – thanks, that Daily Beast article was really informative.

          • WashedOut says:

            How does that square with the part where they idolize mass murderer Elliot Rodger?

            A couple of points of clarification and/or interest:

            I’ve been in all the places where this idolization would surface, but my findings are the exact opposite. Elliot Rodger is a joke and a sick, sad one at that. Cringe and pity are the responses. I would also add that ER is not often regarded as a ‘mass murderer’, which leads me to my second point…

            If you’re looking for examples of pathologically resentful young men who acted out their beliefs, and *did* get idolized, then better examples are Anders Breivik or Dylann Roof. Both of these actually were mass shooters and were at least in part motivated by white supremacy.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Do you believe that participants on anorexic forums are correct about their impression of how fat or thin they are?

      • Zephalinda says:

        Thanks, that thread is really interesting. FWIW the lovey-dovey, intimacy fantasies you noted do seem to be balanced pretty evenly with more straightforward sex and even ultraviolent rape.

        I’ll buy that a large part of the angst seems to be about sex or relationships as a form of “validation,” proving one’s “worthiness” (as one guy’s sig put it). There’s still a pretty ugly narcissism about that whole way of constructing relationships, though– the assumption that it would be the job of a just universe to provide you with a romantic partner who’d love you just the way you are with no need for you to change or improve. Who’d fill all your emotional holes by properly recognizing your current hidden awesomeness, not by demanding that you grow or give in any way. (Even the elaborate gestures of self-loathing in that thread feel pretty indulgent and ego-defensive: it’s certainly easier to angrily despair than to consider doing any work to fix yourself.)

        Weirdly, the whole thing feels a bit Disney-princess when examined more closely, and probably not unrelated to various women’s self-regarding romance-novel fantasies where the sexy, high-status hunk tenderly removes the glasses from the sensitive ugly duckling girl, instantly revealing the beauty that’s been there all along (and then they snuggle). It’s still a pretty messed-up and infantile model for relating to others/to the world/to oneself, though. Demolishing that model in the broader culture would probably be my #1 candidate for fixing the incel problem.

        • christianschwalbach says:

          I readily agree with your viewpoint here. I hate to say it also, but it would seem to me that the type of fantasy-based media consumed by these groups does little to help their cause either.

        • Deiseach says:

          I’m a little bemused by the notion that women have it so easy on the dating market and have all the advantages over these poor guys, because come on, there are such things as female incels and have been, as long and as much as male incels.

          Janis Ian’s At Seventeen was the ugly/socially awkward girl’s song of the 70s and the lyrics seem to be equally applicable:

          I learned the truth at seventeen
          That love was meant for beauty queens
          And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
          Who married young and then retired

          The valentines I never knew
          The Friday night charades of youth
          Were spent on one more beautiful
          At seventeen I learned the truth

          And those of us with ravaged faces
          Lacking in the social graces
          Desperately remained at home
          Inventing lovers on the phone

          Who called to say “come dance with me”
          And murmured vague obscenities
          It isn’t all it seems at seventeen
          A brown eyed girl in hand me downs

          Whose name I never could pronounce
          Said: “pity please the ones who serve
          They only get what they deserve”
          The rich relationed hometown queen

          Marries into what she needs
          With a guarantee of company
          And haven for the elderly
          So remember those who win the game

          Lose the love they sought to gain
          In debitures of quality and dubious integrity
          Their small-town eyes will gape at you
          In dull surprise when payment due

          Exceeds accounts received at seventeen
          To those of us who knew the pain
          Of valentines that never came
          And those whose names were never called

          When choosing sides for basketball
          It was long ago and far away
          The world was younger than today
          When dreams were all they gave for free

          To ugly duckling girls like me…
          We all play the game, and when we dare
          We cheat ourselves at solitaire
          Inventing lovers on the phone

          Repenting other lives unknown
          That call and say: “come on, dance with me”
          And murmur vague obscenities
          At ugly girls like me, at seventeen

          • Zephalinda says:

            Yeah, the female version of “incel” is pretty much the “old maid,” which is a figure with a much longer history of undeserved suffering and abuse at the hands of the wider culture.

            Except that for incels, things get better over time, whereas for old maids, they only get worse. Oh, and old maids get to be poor as well as loveless, touchless and handholdless.

            Now that I come to think of it, it’s kind of weird that folks devote this level of intense scrutiny to the needs of men unable to obtain their preferred flavor of female companionship, given the universal, eternal indifference to the plight of relationship-less women. I guess if Miss Bates had gone out and bought a machine gun…

          • J Mann says:

            It’s apparently an article of faith among male incels that all women in the 21st century can find a mate. Certainly the system would have to change if there were a bunch of straight women on the incel boards.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s apparently an article of faith among male incels that all women in the 21st century can find a mate.

            If only by being at a Country and Western bar at closing time. (It’s a cliche, but I actually first heard it from a woman)

          • fortaleza84 says:

            When pressed, most self-described female incels will admit to having had sexual and romantic relationships in the past. No doubt their situation is pretty lousy but I think it’s qualitatively different from that of someone who has literally never had any kind of sexual or romantic relationship.

      • rlms says:

        Sure, some answers on that thread are things like

        holding hands would be nice.

        but others are

        have as much sex before she eventually cucks me

        Dump her. I only want fwb

        Make her cook me lunch because I’m starving ahhhh

        I’d be constantly wondering which Chad she’s fucking behind my back

        fuckherfuckherfuckherfuckherfuckherfuckherfuckherfuckherfuckher………………oh yeah i would FUCKHERWITHORWITHOUTCONSENTASSUMINGSHEISASUBMISSIVEPROPERWOMEN

        punch her in the stomach hard as i can so i can feel the surge of pleasure of dominating another human being

        and

        If she’s a virgin use her as much as I can before I get cucked then dump her once I get cucked. If she’s already a used up roastie then dump her.

        which don’t exactly cause pangs of sympathy for me at least.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Why do they call some women “roasties”? A cannibalism fetish?

          • The Nybbler says:

            From Encyclopedia Dramatica, which is probably the appropriate source for this sort of thing:

            Roastie: Women who have ever had sex (except with an incel). Incels believe that once women have lost their virginity, their vaginas begin taking a downward spiral of sagging and turning brown. While hilarious, this groundbreaking theory has not yet been proven.

            The more staid Urban Dictionary simply says

            Roastie: A female whose labia of their vagina resembles roast beef.

        • Wander says:

          It’s worth mentioning that you quoted basically every bad example from that thread, while the majority were in line with that first one and that an equal number were being very depressed over how outlandish the suggestion even was.

          • rlms says:

            I count ~7/56 bad ones and ~13 nice ones. The remainder are things like

            Lick her pussy and ass. Fuck her hard in both holes.

            and

            i have aspergers, i can’t maintain normal friendships let alone having a gf

            .
            I almost counted an extra nice one, but noticed the Elliot Rodgers idolisation in

            n honour of a certain hERo, I would buy a cafe latte, rent a BMW and drive her to watch the sunset, then make out to the sound of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a place of earth”.

            just in time.

      • DrBeat says:

        But that would require us to feel sympathy instead of stomping on the throats of the weak just for being weak, and to stop using “male virgin” as a synonym for “freak who will never be loved and should be punished and degraded until nothing of him remains but his ability to feel shame”.

        We have an epidemic of male loneliness and isolation. It will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be cured or even addressed. Because lonely men are weak, and nobody will ever stop punishing the weak for being weak, and nobody will ever notice a single thing that might motivate them to feel sympathy for the weak.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          Hey, nice to have you back! I hadn’t seen you post in a while.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The Shamalan twists that DrBeat was here the whole time, we just didn’t notice until he spoke words of despair.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Nope, first comment this year. Last comment was in OT 90.5.

            DrBeat: I assume you’ve seen this (posted elsewhere here)?

            https://twitter.com/ekp/status/991817194987114496

            I think Ms. Pao may be contending for Ms. Marcotte’s title.

          • j1000000 says:

            @The Nybbler, is there a way to see people’s SSC post histories?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @j1000000

            They’re in the archives. Not indexed by author, but despite the, lets us say, loquaciousness, of our host and some of our commenters, it’s only about a gigabyte total.

          • j1000000 says:

            @The Nybbler — So to find his last post, you just click on each post and Ctrl+F’ed DrBeat?

            Sometimes when someone says something interesting on here I want to see what else they’ve written, I guess that’s the only method.

          • bean says:

            @j1000000
            Some well-chosen googling on a poster with a reasonable rare name is faster. It would be nice if someone could compress the comment archives into something we could search on our own, though. That method doesn’t work all that well if you want something more complex.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @bean

            I’d be a bit concerned about the abuse potential of making such a thing generally available. A lot of witch-hunters around, but fortunately a lot of them are lazy.

          • rlms says:

            I usually manage fine with site:slatestarcodex.com on Google.

        • Deiseach says:

          it’s only about a gigabyte total

          Dammit! Must try harder! 🙂

    • Well... says:

      Have there been any demographic studies of “incels”? I wonder if there’s anything common to their backgrounds that’s unusual in the backgrounds of others.

      • christianschwalbach says:

        I would be very interested in this as well. Namely conservative vs whatever else family background…

      • Education Hero says:

        As mentioned in the other thread, academia is unlikely to touch this subject with a ten-foot pole, and if they did, the culture war would likely color its results.

        Anecdotally, however, my substantial professional experience in working with young adults suggests that the single largest predictor would be absent fathers. Traditionally, young men learn appropriate sexual behavior from older male role models. Given the rise of single mother households, female domination of primary education, and entryism into formerly male spaces, it should not be surprising that a greater number of men are left to learn how to achieve sexual success on their own, with some failing completely.

        Similarly, men with fathers who navigated very different (typically patriarchal) sexual marketplaces (e.g. East or South Asian immigrants) are often provided inadequate or improper strategies for the modern sexual marketplace in Western societies, and thus run a higher risk of failing to pick this up on their own and end up as incels.

        • The Nybbler says:

          How does the presence of a father help? The father in a traditional monogamous relationship has presumably done the courtship work long before the son is aware of such things (or indeed even born). A dysfunctional single-mother family with a series of boyfriends actually provides more role models — at least for the son to obtain similarly-dysfunctional relationships, which I believe is a common outcome.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            By providing a role model of how to interact with a woman in a relationship. It’s unlikely my son watching me interact with my wife is going to learn unsuccessful behavior. My wife and I respect each other and care for each other in mutually supportive ways. I do manly stuff around the house (as my mother called them, “hairy leg jobs”) like take out the trash, deal with the lawn, knock down the wasp nests, crawl through the attic, fix things that break. Oh and go to work to support the family. And my wife does traditional female things like cooking and cleaning and childcare. Neither of us is abusive to the other, nor is either of us obsequious towards the other. If the lesson on how to act my son receives by watching his parents is “do useful masculine things while being neither mean to nor fawning towards the woman” he’ll be halfway along the successful courtship path before he even realizes he wants a girlfriend.

            It seems to me the thrust of the government / culture approved instruction for young men is mainly about avoiding being the bad type of man (the rapist, abuser, harasser, etc). This leaves them paranoid, without useful positive instruction, and then extremely suspicious of women and the institutions because as they observe the world they see men who behave exactly in the ways they were told was The Worst Things You Can Do have high levels of sexual/romantic success.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            That’s all great for the steady state of two people in a monogamous relationship, but it does nothing to provide a role model for how to get into such a relationship in the first place. Getting a job and doing chores is not going to get him a date.

          • A1987dM says:

            @Conrad Honcho: that’s about how to *stay* in a relationship, not about how to *enter* one.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            And I’m saying they’re very closely related. “Be the sort of guy who’s gainfully employed or has good employment prospects, is competent in masculine things, bathes after performing them, and is neither abusive towards nor subservient to his love interest” gets you halfway towards getting a girlfriend/wife. A young man without a male role model around doesn’t get that instruction. He’s starting at the origin without even a unit vector.

            @Nybbler

            Getting a job and doing chores is not going to get him a date.

            I dunno. On my first date with my wife she was running 20 minutes late so I was hanging out with her roommate. Their landline phone “rang” but made no noise. The roommate told me it was broken. So I took it apart and fixed it (the wire on the ringer had come loose). Oh, and then I changed the filter in their air handler, because they didn’t know those needed to be changed and had never done so. Basic man stuff but it was impressive to her.

            And the first thing her mom asked when she told her she met a guy was “does he have a job?”

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            “do useful masculine things while being neither mean to nor fawning towards the woman” he’ll be halfway along the successful courtship path before he even realizes he wants a girlfriend.

            isn’t just a template for committed monogamous men, but a template for how to become a committed monogamous man. It means he is going to be a confident Boy Scout doing car work and wood-working on the side and isn’t just going to put women on a pedestal, which is indeed half-way to where he needs to be.

            EDIT: Conrad ninja’d me.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            “Be the sort of guy who’s gainfully employed or has good employment prospects, is competent in masculine things, bathes after performing them, and is neither abusive towards nor subservient to his love interest” gets you halfway towards getting a girlfriend/wife

            Halfway isn’t all the way there. And the incels watch as the Henrys with no job prospects get more.

            It’s vastly harder to get into a relationship than to maintain one. Like getting a job, you need to be much more impressive when you are hired than you do to keep the job.

            I went through the painfully cliché phase of “why do women like jerks?” in my 20s. When I acted to women like my father acted to my mother. Like I act now to my wife. When you are in your 30s and dating a more mature group of people, it will pay off, but it can be tough to wait that out while watching the Henrys in your 20s.

            (My BIL is a Henry. Drug-using, jobless, layabout slob. Has a girlfriend. I would point out to any incels observing him ruefully that his girlfriend has no teeth, and it’s not because they got knocked out playing polo. The Henrys gets lots of women but you don’t want those women. That last sentence works whether it is normative or descriptive.)

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            If you are asking why women like jerks, it generally means that you need to be more jerkish. Some guys interpret behavior as “jerkish” when the default person or interested woman interprets it as something entirely different.

            Sort of like the introverted job seeker not asking for more money, because that’s “greedy,” when no normal person would think that.

            Obviously the internet hates that line of advice, but it’s only meant for certain guys who need to hear that message. And to give women credit, the WOMEN in the lives of these unassertive men generally recognize the flaw: I had a friend who was extremely unsuccessful with women, and his mother told him “you need to be an asshole.” He was way, way, way too nice. And is still way, way, way too nice.

            One of my friends told me basically the same thing one day.

            It does not mean that all men or men in general need to be more jerkish. There are plenty of men out there that are absolute assholes and need to be a lot nicer.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I did get over the “women like jerks” stuff; I described it as cliché. And there was not just the women in my life desiring more mature things; it was also me becoming more mature and desiring more mature things. If I had gotten my dream girl in my 20s I would have fucked it up royally because I had immature ideas about relationships. (But doesn’t everyone in their 20s? Part of having relationships is working all those things out.)

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yes, this is the “All Debates are Bravery Debates” thing where it’s good Atlas Shrugged exists because some people are complete doormats and need to hear “it’s okay to be selfish.” People who are assholes don’t need to hear that. Maybe they need a little more A Christmas Carol. Some guys do need to be told they’re too nice. Not Henry though.

            I’m saying “halfway there is better than none” and people keep responding “but halfway isn’t all the way!” I know it’s not. All I’m saying is it’s better than none. I was halfway there at the beginning of college. I went on a few dates in high school but did not have a girlfriend. Then when I got to college I went the other half way there: I hit the gym, bought trendy clothes at the mall, found a homosexual to style my hair, and hung out with guys who occasionally got laid, and then shockingly enough I got laid too.

          • andrewflicker says:

            It’s vastly harder to get into a relationship than to maintain one.

            Strongly disagree. Relationships are hard work, and it’s easy to take a partner for granted, or fall into destructive habits, etc. For many/most people, a lifetime includes several started relationships and 0-1 maintained one.

          • Aapje says:

            @andrewflicker

            Yeah, but it’s extremely common that people put high to unsustainable effort into the dating phase and then reduce the effort later on.

            So it could both be true that dating is harder, but also that many relationships fail because people put in too little effort to satisfy their partner.

          • Iain says:

            It seems pretty clear to me that initiating a relationship and sustaining a relationship are two separate skill sets, and their relative difficulty varies between people.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Strongly disagree. Relationships are hard work, and it’s easy to take a partner for granted, or fall into destructive habits, etc. For many/most people, a lifetime includes several started relationships and 0-1 maintained one.

            I hear this a lot, but I don’t really believe it. I am just picturing my brother-in-law. He is 6’2, built like Thor, has Lassie for a dog, and is really funny. He also makes crappy relationships choices and is really irresponsible (basically a human version of a puppy), so of course maintaining relationships is harder for him than starting relationships.

            EDIT: Iain beat me to it.

          • Education Hero says:

            How does the presence of a father help? The father in a traditional monogamous relationship has presumably done the courtship work long before the son is aware of such things (or indeed even born).

            In addition to the points covered by Conrad Honcho and ADBG, I’d like to approach this from a different angle:

            How does the presence of a father reduce the risk of sons becoming criminals, given that fathers presumably turn down criminal opportunities in their youth before their sons were born?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            It seems pretty clear to me that initiating a relationship and sustaining a relationship are two separate skill sets, and their relative difficulty varies between people.

            Any overlap at all? Or are they completely orthogonal skill sets?

          • Iain says:

            Any overlap at all? Or are they completely orthogonal skill sets?

            Overlap, obviously. But the things you were talking about — manly tasks around the house, working to support a family — are much more valuable in sustaining a relationship, not starting one. You had a chance to impress your wife with your handiness on your first date because you had already arranged a first date.

            (Also, your described goal of making your sons good at “masculine things” is too narrow. Childcare might not be an easy way to show off, but a man who can cook a nice dinner for two has a distinct edge in the dating department, and knowing how to keep a house clean certainly won’t hurt either. Teach your sons general competence, not just masculine competence.)

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            a man who can cook a nice dinner for two has a distinct edge in the dating department

            Absolutely. I’ve been cooking since a young age, and have an extensive collection of antique cast iron cookware. I have always been able to impress dates by cooking for them. I consider cooking part of “masculine competence.” Not so much needlepoint, though.

            I also recommend firearms proficiency. When you’re discussing hobbies and you mention sport shooting and hunting that immediately conjures images of both danger and protecting/providing virtues. If you’re lucky, she’s into shooting, too. If not, you get to do the whole “what do you mean you’ve never shot a gun before? How about I take you to the range and teach you how to shoot? You’ll see it’s no big deal!” Great ~3rd date. Gets that whole sex and violence thing working together too. (Note, this may only work in red states. Dunno.)

          • albatross11 says:

            Iain:

            +1

            Knowing how to cook a decent meal (at least well enough to follow a recipe from a cookbook), keep a reasonably clean house, maintain a budget, etc., are life skills that will be very valuable to your sons both before they’re married and after. It would be as silly to refrain from teaching them those things as it would to refrain from teaching a girl how to do simple household repairs or check her own oil.

            Even if you have a pretty traditional marriage where your wife does most of the cooking and cleaning and you do most of the house and car maintenance, life is a lot better when each of you can cover at least the basics for each other. Actual traditional married life involves a lot of times when your wife is sick or nursing the baby or on bedrest while pregnant or at a parent-teacher conference or whatever, and you’ll be a lot happier if you can do something better for the kids than opening a box of mac and cheese and a bag of frozen french fries.

          • Randy M says:

            Even if you have a pretty traditional marriage where your wife does most of the cooking and cleaning and you do most of the house and car maintenance, life is a lot better when each of you can cover at least the basics for each other. Actual traditional married life involves a lot of times when your wife is sick or nursing the baby or on bedrest while pregnant or at a parent-teacher conference or whatever, and you’ll be a lot happier if you can do something better for the kids than opening a box of mac and cheese and a bag of frozen french fries.

            cosigned

        • Well... says:

          @Education Hero:

          As mentioned in the other thread, academia is unlikely to touch this subject with a ten-foot pole, and if they did, the culture war would likely color its results.

          I wonder how much that just has to do with the language used to talk about it. “Incel” isn’t a term I had heard of before the thread in which it was discussed, and my underlying gut feeling was (and still is) that normalizing this term, even unpacked as “the involuntarily celibate”, is probably a bad idea, though I’m not sure I can explain exactly why. In the past it seems like we’ve managed to talk about guys who chronically strike out with the ladies without it being controversial.

          Anyway, your anecdote fits the hypothesis I had formed in my head when I asked the question.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          It’s a shame incels don’t have a habit of talking about their families and early lives.

          Pure hypothesis here, but my bet is that incels grew up with emotional abuse, and their fathers were probably present.

          First, remember than incels aren’t typical men– heterosexual men who are that bad at attracting women aren’t common, though they aren’t extremely rare either.

          I get the impression that most men who haven’t attracted any women by their twenties wait it out and do better in their thirties.

          Incels chose despair and rage.

          I suspect part of the pattern is having parents who default to anger, which might be partly genetic.

          This is purely a guess, but I think some parents see their children as rivals for status, including sexually– it’s possible that incels have fathers who were flattening their self-assurance from childhood.

          It’s possible that incels started out as family scapegoats.

          I’ve seen SJW claims that incels tend to be white and from well-off families and expect to get what they want with no effort. Anyone have information?

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’ve seen SJW claims that incels tend to be white and from well-off families and expect to get what they want with no effort. Anyone have information?

            I’m going to be radically agnostic on this and claim “I don’t know and they don’t either”. Incel forums, for obvious reasons, tend to be anonymous or pseudonymous.

          • albatross11 says:

            To the extent an imbalance of too many men chasing too few women accounts for any of this (I have no idea how much), I think you should see:

            a. Few incel men among blacks who aren’t in prison, because the large fraction of the black male population in prison has led to a large gender imbalance (more women than men) in the outside world.

            b. More incel men among Asians, because Asian women seem to outmarry (to whites, usually) way more often in the US than the other way around. (The opposite pattern happens among blacks–way more black men outmarry, mostly to whites. Which probably makes the women/men ratio among black singles even more one-sided.)

            ETA: The claim I’ve often read (which is consistent with the interracial stats I’ve seen) is that you get a kind of racial hierarchy of attractiveness that’s different for women than men.

            For women, Asians seem to get an attractiveness boost relative to everyone else, and blacks seem to pay an attractiveness penalty.

            For men, blacks seem to get an attractiveness boost, and Asians seem to pay a penalty.

            This would predict more unhappily alone black women and Asian men, and more sexually/romantically successful black men and Asian women. I don’t know if that’s true, but it is at least plausibly consistent with what I can observe day to day.

          • Randy M says:

            For women, Asians seem to get an attractiveness boost relative to everyone else, and blacks seem to pay an attractiveness penalty.

            For men, blacks seem to get an attractiveness boost, and Asians seem to pay a penalty.

            Would it be controversial to suggest that Asians tend to be less masculine relative to Europeans, and Blacks moreso, at least as far as secondary sexual characteristics go? Think amount of facial hair, height, musculature, and so on. One obvious counter-example, though.

          • Aapje says:

            @albatross11

            OKCupid has pretty solid information about this and you are basically correct. People dislike Asian men and all black people.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Steve Sailer had an interesting piece about the romantic problems of Asian men and Black women.

            https://www1.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/color/articles/sailer.html

            While interracial marriage is increasingly accepted by whites, a surprising number of Asian men and black women are bitterly opposed. Why?

          • albatross11 says:

            The other interesting bit about that is that marriages between black women and white men were more stable than any others, including white/white and Asian/Asian marriages. I am not sure why.

          • Aapje says:

            @albatross11

            Women initiate most divorces & black women are the women with the least chance to end up with a better partner if they divorce.

            Mystery solved?

          • albatross11 says:

            So shouldn’t the divorce rate among black/black couples be low, too?

          • Aapje says:

            @albatross11

            No, because the woman is much more likely to find a higher status man than her black partner, than if she had a white partner.

            Also, since black people have low income, partnering with black men will on average be less of an improvement compared to being a single mom.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I would leave the possibility open that black men are less willing to admit they’re incels and/or are put off by majority white incel groups.

      • Tarpitz says:

        I predict that being an incel is strongly inversely correlated with having at least one sister, especially a sister close in age.

        To be clear, this is not some kind of obscure incest joke. I think a key factor is seeing women/girls as a radically different, even alien, class of people. Years of inevitable closeness with one or more examples of the genre will tend to preclude that.

        I would also expect a much weaker correlation with single sex education, for much the same reason, but there are almost certainly a ton of confounders there, so it might be difficult to tease out.

        • Well... says:

          I would cosign on that not-having-a-close-in-age-sister hypothesis.

        • Education Hero says:

          I would cosign this as well, and further suggest that being an incel is even more strongly correlated with having a younger sister close in age.

    • Thegnskald says:

      Talking to men, apparently dating suddenly becomes easy once you hit your 30’s. And it suddenly becomes difficult for women.

      Likewise, dating is apparently relatively easy for men in New York City, but is, I guess, difficult for women.

      So, setting aside the much more general problem that it is against gender norms for men to complain – including about the fact that it is against gender norms for them to complain – if you are in this boat, there are two simple steps you can take.

      First, ensure you aren’t living in an area with 10% more men than women. Small shifts in the dating pools can have major effects on the dating market. Because men and women apparently have different preferences for where they live, I expect this particular problem to get worse, not better, over time.

      Second, and here is where the real problem comes in: Women, on average, tend to prefer dating men who are the same age or older, whereas men, on average, tend to prefer dating women who are the same age or younger. A 20 year old woman has about 15 years spread of people she prefers to date, pretty much all of whom would equally prefer to date her; a 20 year old man has, effectively, a 5 year spread, and only a 3 year spread of mutual attraction. So a 20 year old woman will generally have five times as many potential suitors as a 20 year old man has potential interests. (I offer no evidence for this except to gesture emphatically at society and conclude anyone who disagrees is an alien who hasn’t interacted with our society.)

      From a feminist framework, the argument is that it is sexist or ageist or whatever that women are only considered attractive when they are young. This is, indeed, part of the problem. The other part of the problem is that men are only considered attractive when they are experienced. (This is commonly framed as “maturity”)

      • christianschwalbach says:

        This is true, however I do see growing numbers of older women/younger men pairing up, and not a cougar stalking type scenario…

      • Deiseach says:

        The other part of the problem is that men are only considered attractive when they are experienced. (This is commonly framed as “maturity”)

        Or even “stopped whining about what women owed him, grew the hell up and started thinking about how to interact with other people instead of expecting them to share his interests and if they didn’t care about 17th century toadstools but liked pop music and sports and reading about the Kardashians then they were idiots and he let them know he thought they were idiots”.

        For some of the incel boys, time really is the only solution. If they never learn “so what do I want with a girlfriend – what can I do for her, not frame this in what can she do for me and what kind of social status that will give me”, then they will always be boys even if they’re forty years old.

        Okay that was sharp and mean, but I’m so thankful right now that not alone have I never been interested in this nonsense, I have always been too ugly to attract any interest – how the hell worse would my life have been had I been conventionally attractive and had to fend off the kind of “but you haaaave to give me a chaaaance, you owe that to me!” kind of attention?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Yes, yes, they should “grow the hell up.” It would have been nice, though, if the feminist instruction they received on how to do this were not completely backwards from reality. How they were told to behave in their formative years was counterproductive. It’s like they were raised wrong, as a joke.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Erm, partly. But I’m in my early 30s. I now have a nice car, some great clothes, a suit, a Facebook that shows me doing lots of interesting things on vacations, muscles, etc.

          It doesn’t matter what my personality is, 30-year old ADBG is playing on easy mode, 18-22 year old ADBG is playing on Nightmare difficulty. He doesn’t have money, his body hasn’t started filling out, he doesn’t know much about clothes, etc.

          • outis says:

            Yeah, but it’s kind of pointless by that point, isn’t it?

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Did you go to college between ages 18 and 22? A young man who is in college is somewhat insulated from competition from older men.

            If I had sons, I would definitely urge them to attend a college which (1) has a favorable male/female ratio; and (2) is not smack dab in the middle of a big city.

          • John Schilling says:

            A young man who is in college is somewhat insulated from competition from older men.

            Isn’t that what professors are for?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I believe that sort of thing is “frowned upon,” John.

          • Education Hero says:

            Grad students, then.

        • Thegnskald says:

          Wisdom is earned through pain.

          Some refuse to learn from their pains, but many more avoid the pain of mistakes entirely, and never act, never learn, and never grow.

          Ill treatment affords the opportunity both to learn rapidly, or, facing more pain than can be borne, to submit to the lure of inaction and never learn at all.

          Expectation of reward without action is the latter path. But many pursue the former, now, and I suspect a few decades hence, the common wisdom will be that men mature more quickly, even as the situation again reverses and women have new opportunity to learn more quickly.

          • Aapje says:

            Not acting is also learning from pain. If I touch a flame once and learned to stop touching flames, I just learned and grew as a person. It would be stupid to keep touching the flame forever, hoping that one day it will stop hurting.

            Trying again and again also has a cost & it is hardly irrational to quit if the chance of success seems too low, based on the available data.

            A big problem with dating is that the feedback mechanisms suck for people who are not naturally close to being desirable. In many cases, people only get good feedback if they simultaneously do multiple things right and even then a single test is not enough, since for quite a few people, getting the combination (close to) optimal for that person merely increases the chances to ‘poor’.

            So a trial and error approach can then be immensely costly.

            Some choices can not even realistically be changed to do testing. Is a person going to give up being a programmer and spend years learning a different profession, just to see if it increases their attraction? Surely that is too much to ask.

            In such conditions, good advice is immensely valuable, because it can lead people to doing the right things without such an immensely costly trial and error approach & without ending up doing something very costly that greatly harms their chances with women & that they can’t just undo. However, we seem to be doing worse at giving good advice than in the past.

            I suspect a few decades hence, the common wisdom will be that men mature more quickly, even as the situation again reverses and women have new opportunity to learn more quickly.

            This depends very strongly on the quality of the advice, the quality of feedback and the cost/reward ratio. Increasing the cost/pain that men experience, while not improving the rewards, logically leads to more men concluding that the rewards are not worth it.

            We seem to be giving worse advice to men, partially based on wishful thinking and partially based on obsolete norms. This logically increases the costs for men and makes it harder for them to actually make progress toward the goal, rather than trying things that are hopeless. Again, this logically leads more men to conclude that they have no realistic shot, since they don’t see any progress; or correctly concluding that the costs have increased and deciding that it is not worth it.

            Greater atomization of society probably resulted in greater diversity in what women demand, which makes advice even more useless. If you are attracted to blue-haired feminists who like X, but you get advice by those who are attracted to blonde-dyed conservatives who like Y, you can end up spending loads of effort to do Y, seeing other men do Y successfully for the women that they like & yet strike out completely yourself. It’s not strange that such a man would then conclude that he has done everything in his power & that the thing that puts off the women he likes is an unchangeable trait, like his looks.

            So in short, I think that your analysis is way too simplistic, merely recognizes one way in which people can learn or ‘grow’ and most importantly, fails to recognize that trial and error is not a good solution for all problems.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Aapje –

            Starving to death for fear of touching the stove to cook isn’t wisdom earned at the flame’s touch.

            Learning from pain and fleeing from pain are not the same, even if the behaviors can resemble each other superficially.

            And at a certain point, I lose patience with the idea that society has taught people wrong. Of course it has. That is what society does, and the whole history of progress has required throwing aside society’s incorrect teachings. This isn’t unique, this isn’t special. Not even is the deliberate ignorance of the pain such teachings provoke, for that is the heart of all such misinformation.

            The world is full of unhappy people choosing one thing to blame their unhappiness on.

            I have never been unhappy, any more than I have ever been happy. I have no idea what those words truly mean. But I do see people blaming their misery and pain on their circumstance; it takes misery and pain, however, to learn a far more important lesson: Misery and pain are a choice.

            Wisdom isn’t the knowledge that fire is hot, that is knowledge. Wisdom is closer to knowing that the pain of a burn is a transitory thing just as much as the pleasure of the food that might be cooked.

            There is relevance to the topic, but I have trouble condensing the idea into words, and am forced to wave my hands and gesture in a direction.

          • Aapje says:

            Wisdom is closer to knowing that the pain of a burn is a transitory thing just as much as the pleasure of the food that might be cooked.

            Unless it is a 3rd degree burn. And if you have leprosy, it may be better to never try to cook anything, if you can eat well enough to survive without it (although they may then miss out on a lot).

            Plenty of people do end up with permanent damage due to their experiences in life. Trial and error doesn’t have merely upsides. There are real costs, beyond just the effort that people put in.

            I agree with you that just blaming others can prohibit people from taking the opportunities that they do have. However, there are also plenty of things that we could improve to make this far easier or even merely possible, for some people.

            Furthermore, it is frequently those who have it easy, due to the luck of the genes, who make things harder for those less fortunate. Pretending that this is not the case and letting these people get away with abusive behavior is wrong.

            From my perspective, the balance between sympathy & support and pressure for single men to solve the problem by themselves is severely out of whack. Furthermore, at a certain level of pressure, people don’t try harder, they simply give up and become miserable.

            But I do see people blaming their misery and pain on their circumstance; it takes misery and pain, however, to learn a far more important lesson: Misery and pain are a choice.

            Balderdash. There is a limit to stoicism for most people.

    • tayfie says:

      For the people who are recommending option one, I mostly agree, but with the caveat that this is much harder than it used to be.

      1. Social atomization means it is harder to just “go to the gym” because you don’t know anyone there. People have fewer and weaker personal relationships. There is less incentive to get a haircut. There are fewer people in day to day life to comfortably practice talking to.

      2. Single moms, deadbeat dads, and divorce combined with a female supermajority of K-12 teachers means more boys growing up with zero male role models. Male only spaces and clubs are basically dead. Worse, the boys that do have fathers often have absentee fathers that never care to provide any discipline. The problem incels face is not women-trouble specifically, but incredible feelings of worthlessness and loneliness. They need an older male figure for guidance, frequent goals to work towards, and praise for accomplishments. The closest thing I can think of is a high school coach or drill sergeant.

      • The Nybbler says:

        You’re only going to get a few takers for Option 1. And most of them are going to get even more blackpilled once they get in shape, cut their hair, improve their grooming in general, and find themselves still alone.

        This is because they lack the skills to do anything about it and are no longer in a situation where it’s possible for them to learn. They don’t know how to ask a woman on a date without being painfully awkward, nor to do any of the follow-on, and they’re not teenagers any more: most women are not going to put up with fumbling advances.

        • [Thing] says:

          It sounds like you’re endorsing a critical period hypothesis for the acquisition of courtship skills in adolescence. Maybe there’s a tiny kernel of truth there, but I think that’s much too pessimistic. More likely, if you notice that most of the poorly groomed out-of-shape virgins who manage to get their act together later in life still fail to find girlfriends, it’s because they also had and continue to have psychological problems getting in their way. (After all, plenty of poorly groomed out-of-shape people do manage to find mates.)

          In other words, it’s survivorship bias: The guys who didn’t have those psychological problems started dating in adolescence because that’s the earliest they were able to, but if they had been prevented from doing so until later in adulthood for some reason, they’d still figure it out without all that much more difficulty and awkwardness than a typical teenager.

          Of course, this explanation isn’t much comfort to those of us who can’t find love due to psychological problems.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Not a critical period in the biological sense but in a social one. If the only way to learn to play baseball at a higher level than beginner is to actually play baseball, and nobody will play baseball with a beginner over the age of 20, then if you’re over 20 and haven’t played baseball, you aren’t going to. Even if you’re physically capable of learning.

          I’m not sure how you’d distinguish this from survivorship bias, which implies that some people are just innately unable to participate in courtship. I imagine one distinction might be the presence of well-groomed in-shape virgins (who don’t want to be) during adolescence. But I doubt anyone’s done the study.

          Either way’s a black pill.

          • [Thing] says:

            I don’t want to get into too much detail about my own sad biography here, but I’ll say this: while I’ve never exactly been a dashing Adonis, I have good reason to believe that neither my grooming nor my physical fitness level ever presented significant obstacles to me losing my virginity. Not in adolescence, and not now (late 30’s, alas). In my case, at least, it’s always been about my psychological problems. I did finally pull myself together enough to go on a few first dates within the last couple of years (by a Herculean and unsustainable effort). My complete lack of prior dating experience certainly made me feel even more insecure, but beyond that, it didn’t seem to present any obstacle to getting and learning from the experience I missed out on as a youth. (The one woman who brought up the question of prior relationship experience reacted quite well when I told her the truth, and continued to show interest in me for long enough that I don’t think it was a major factor in why she eventually lost interest.)

            Having said all that, I don’t think I’m a central example of an older male involuntary celibate. It’s hard to say for sure, though, because it’s so hard to talk openly about it. (I learned not long ago that an acquaintance of mine only a few years younger than me was also a virgin, and he also has always been, not super-handsome, but a normal looking, presentable guy. I was really surprised, actually, since he’s also much more socially adept and generally better functioning than me. Not sure what’s going on there.)

      • Well... says:

        1. What’s all this “go to the gym” stuff? I did prison workouts (i.e. using bodyweight as resistance; household or “found” fixtures as equipment) at home for years.

        2. Computer programming meetup groups are pretty much de facto male spaces. Likely to be some decent male role models there too as many programmers seem to have great careers and smoothly functioning family lives. If computer programming isn’t your thing, go for basically anything else remotely masculine that one might nerd out about and that attracts more grown-ups than children (so, not video games): history, heavy metal music, math, chess, serious RC car racing, etc.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          I like bodyweight exercises as well but there’s a real trade-off between bodyweight and free weights.

          Bodyweight is more like cardio and it takes a longer time to build up visible muscles. You’ll definitely get in excellent shape but you won’t get huge right away. Not to mention that adding on another plate is just hands-down a lot more satisfying than going from push-ups to pike push-ups.

          Women care about percent body fat but less than you would imagine. Having developed arms, chest and back muscles plus a gut versus being toned and less muscular isn’t an obvious choice. It’s not just gay men who like bears; a lot of women share that preference.

          • Well... says:

            Getting huge isn’t that important, either to (most) women or to (most) men’s confidence. Neither, as you said, is % body fat. Looking healthy and strong is much more important. A “gut” is not how I’d describe the abdomen of a man who is in good shape but doesn’t have a 6-pack.

            Think soccer or tennis player vs. bodybuilder.

    • Anonymous says:

      1) I’m sympathetic to Dan Savage telling lonely hearts to hit the gym, get a haircut, practice talking to people, etc., or to the “I got through it” posts that always pick up angry responses on /r/incel, but obviously there are a lot of people who believe that won’t work, either correctly or not.

      This is probably the best advice. The cards you were dealt are shit, so you have to play better.

      2) By contrast, I’ve seen a lot of arguments that the way to solve the problem is to confront incels and get them to acknowledge that they don’t have a right to sex. I confess that I don’t get this one, but I want to, so I’m sure I’m being reductive and would love to be educated.

      This is basically just telling them they are fit only to be culled from the population. Pretty nasty. FWIW, there is a right to sex – it’s called “marital debt”.

      3) To be even more unfair, other possibilities seem to be sex robots (Hanson)

      This may alleviate some symptoms, but won’t cure the disease.

      or a return to traditional values (Douthat).

      So long as those values are indissolubility of monogamous marriage and legal punishments for fornication and adultery (especially severe for the latter), which I would expect from Christendom, rather than the Islamic tradition of converting incels into jihadis. But overall, this is just whining at power to do something about it. Ineffective.

      • Winter Shaker says:

        [Sexbots] may alleviate some symptoms, but won’t cure the disease.

        Well, how realistic are we talking here? As far as I’m aware, the sexbots haven’t managed to clamber up the near slope of the Uncanny Valley yet, and yet there are still presumably some takers. Assuming that the craft of … I want to say ‘sexbotology’ here, but maybe the industry has a less silly term … doesn’t stall out, eventually at the margin there are going to be an increasing number of guys for whom a shapely and somewhat responsive droid is a more attractive prospect than the best human partner they could get.

      • rlms says:

        FWIW, there is a right to sex – it’s called “marital debt”.

        I suspect very few incels are married.

        • [Thing] says:

          It’s not unheard of. E.g. it can happen when a married couple can’t have sex for medical reasons. I recall seeing someone in this situation described as an “incel” years ago, when I first heard the term. Since then the connotation seems to have shifted to more specifically being about angry, bitter, mostly very young men who wax misogynistic on dedicated incel internet forums, and yeah, few if any of them are married.

    • Anonymous says:
      • Aapje says:

        That’s not a good conclusion to draw from what was presented. Error bars are too large.

      • Deiseach says:

        That seems a bit of a mess; various graphs and nobody defining what do they mean by celibacy: do they mean “never marrried (but has been/is currently sexually active)” or do they mean “not having sex now (but did at least once in past)” or “never, ever had sex”? Because if some of your respondents are answering “not married but I’m banging hot studs/chicks every weekend” and some are answering “never even had a kiss under the June moon”, you are going to get weird results where “there are no female celibates”. Also, it’s entirely possible some people think “celibate? you mean, like a nun? I’m not a nun, I’ll put down ‘no’ for that one” even if they otherwise fit whatever criteria you’re using.

        I mean – I’m one of the non-existent female celibates! Female! Unmarried and never been married! Alive and typing this right now!

        • A1987dM says:

          If I understand correctly, they mean people who answered “zero” when asked how many times they had sex in the past 12 months.

          • Deiseach says:

            So they are saying no women at all answered “yes, I have not had sex at all in the past twelve months”?

            That would be a very strange answer and I see why it’s puzzling. I don’t have an answer save that I’d like to know more about the population they were sampling to see what the disparity could be.

          • Aapje says:

            The number of women surveyed for each age group seems to be ~20. It doesn’t seem that puzzling that none of those would be celibate, if the actual rate is a couple of percent. The number of surveyed people is too low to accurately see incidence rates that small.

            Also, there may be a correlation between celibacy and the willingness to take this survey.

        • Aapje says:

          @Deiseach

          The rates were only zero for the sampled women who were aged 22-40 in 2014 and 2016. If I’m not mistaken, you are too old to be part of that group.

          • Deiseach says:

            If I’m not mistaken, you are too old to be part of that group.

            Aapje, a gentleman never comments on a lady’s age 😉 I suppose the fact that “not even living in the same country much less took the survey” might also have something to do with it!

          • Aapje says:

            @Deiseach

            The twitter statistics guy tried to figure out whether incel theory is consistent with the data, in part by looking whether male celibacy is going up and female celibacy is going down. He specifically noted that the youngest generation reported no celibacy, although as I said, he also noted that the error bars are very large.

    • Matt M says:

      As someone who has “gotten through it” I’d strongly lean towards 1, with a bit of a caveat.

      I think “You can overcome this” is generally right, but that there are three main “levers” one can pull, and depending on an individuals circumstance, you might need to pull all three fairly hard.

      1. Make yourself more attractive. This is the conventional “hit the gym, practice talking to people, etc.” advice. While it might not “solve” the problem – it certainly can’t hut.

      2. Lower your standards. Every incel already thinks they’ve done this – but there’s always room to do more of it. And I mean actively lower your standards. Which is less “Sure, I’d be willing to sleep with an ugly person if they came on to me,” and more “Actively pursue ugly people.”

      3. Have some patience. “It gets better.” It is factually true that generally speaking, older women are less concerned with looks and charisma and are more concerned with intelligence, personality, economics, etc. than younger ones. The things that make you “boring” at 20 might make you considered a catch at 30.

      • Matt M says:

        I think 2 is 100% backwards by the way.

        If we need any societal changes, it’s less “teach these people that they aren’t so entitled” and more “teach these people that not having sex doesn’t make them some subhuman swine.”

        Improving the culture to not be so rough on these guys is probably a very good idea.

        • Well... says:

          If I remember right, you and I have tended to disagree on this kind of topic in the past, but I think what you said here is pretty true.

        • fortaleza84 says:

          I agree, but I think there’s a problem with that. If we start from the premise that “being an incel doesn’t mean you are subhuman swine,” it follows that women regularly pass on otherwise decent men for somewhat shallow reasons such as physical attractiveness; race; wealth; social status; etc.

          Which is of course true, but society is uncomfortable with the idea that women are not Wonderful. And for the most part women enjoy being the arbiters of male value and are resistant to anything which undermines such power.

          As an example, consider the situation where a man tries to strike up a conversation with a woman in a public space. It’s well known that the reaction he gets will have much more to do with his physical attractiveness than his actual behavior. And yet if the man is unattractive, most women will fault him for some aspect of his behavior (e.g. “How dare he approach me while I was wearing headphones!”).

          Women don’t like to think of themselves as being so driven by a man’s looks, money, and status. So publicly proclaiming that incels are striking out due to their shortcomings in these areas and not some moral failing is very threatening to women. And in our gynocentric world, it’s women’s concerns and needs and feelings which drive public discourse.

          • Baeraad says:

            I honestly think a lot of social ill-will could be negated by admitting that women are as awful as men are.

            The key term, of course, being as awful. Any time I hear some chauvinist go on a rant about how women are irrational and insane, unlike us practical, common-sense-following guys, I roll my eyes so hard that they almost fall out of my head. I mean, seriously? Men do stupid shit all the time. We make so many bad choices that violent crime statistics are full of us. No one has any excuses to deny the existence of testosterone-fueled idiocy!

            But most people who aren’t chauvinists are perfectly willing to admit that. It’s a solid part of conventional wisdom. Ask the average person if men do a lot of stupid shit, and the answer will be, “uhm, duh!” But if you ask them if women do a lot of stupid shit, they’ll start squirming. That’s MISOGYNY, after all!

            I really think that equality and understanding between the sexes is only going to come after we all accept that we’re all fundamentally gross, stupid and selfish. Just for one thing, if we just admitted that? Then we’d already have three things in common! :p

          • There’s a similar problem with hypocrisy — a lot of people think it;s a rather rare thing, which only their opponents display. As opposed to : https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ufBXmcpxC9kLDeELz/hufflepuff-cynicism

          • albatross11 says:

            fortaleza:

            I guess it seems like a really obvious statement that both men and women often judge potential mates on surface-level stuff like appearance, wealth, dress, social status, etc., and that that stuff often doesn’t track too well with more fundamental things like how good a person you are or how smart you are or how reliable you are in a crisis or something.

            That seems like something you could get from any Disney movie.

          • Aapje says:

            @albatross11

            It is obvious, yet it is also something that you have to say a LOT more carefully and nicely when you say it about women than about men.

            And it’s also one of these things where motte-and-bailey games are often played, where if you address it directly, people acknowledge it, but in larger arguments, they act like it doesn’t play a role.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I guess it seems like a really obvious statement that both men and women often judge potential mates on surface-level stuff like appearance

            I think that in the abstract, most people will agree.

            But, for example, if an incel complains online that he is a virgin because he is physically unattractive and women all want Chad, frequently a few women or white knights will show up and insist that it’s actually his misogyny which is preventing him from getting a girlfriend. Or that if he would only take a shower, girls would not be repulsed by him.

            Scott actually made a good point about this a few years back. We all know examples of handsome/charismatic men who mistreat women but still get lots of romantic/sexual attention. But try complaining about this publicly and watch women freak out.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            It is obvious, yet it is also something that you have to say a LOT more carefully and nicely when you say it about women than about men.

            I agree, and in fact the formulation offered by albatross — “women often judge potential mates on surface-level stuff like appearance, wealth, dress, social status, etc.,” — is a pretty mild way of putting it and doesn’t really capture the reality — that women are primarily driven by looks, money, and status in selecting potential mates.

            And it’s also one of these things where motte-and-bailey games are often played, where if you address it directly, people acknowledge it, but in larger arguments, they act like it doesn’t play a role.

            Yes, I think this is a good way of putting it. Suppose an incel man complains that he is lacking in looks, money, and status and it seems to him unfair that men with these attributes get a lot of sexual/romantic attention even when those men regularly mistreat women. It’s unusual for women to agree with him even though everything he said is literally correct and consistent with the abstract premise. Instead, he can expect to be attacked.

          • Deiseach says:

            It’s unusual for women to agree with him even though everything he said is literally correct and consistent with the abstract premise.

            Because the correct conclusion is “yes, it’s unfair that men who mistreat women manage to attract some women”, not “yes, it’s unfair that you can’t get the kind of high-status women you find attractive even though you are ugly, poor and low-status”.

            “I don’t beat women so why can’t I get a girlfriend?” is not by itself a sufficient reason, anymore than “I don’t go up to random strangers in the street and stab them, I should get a medal and public acclamation for my restraint!” Basic levels of human decency are assumed to be the lowest common denominator of behaviour in a civilised society.

            Unless you say and really mean “I’d be quite happy to have an ugly, poor, weird girlfriend!”, then saying “women like handsome successful men, the shallow bitches!” is not an argument, it’s sour grapes.

          • albatross11 says:

            fortaleza84:

            How would you phrase it, then? And how would you test whether you were right, in a world where it’s clearly true that a lot of non-asshole, not all that handsome or wealthy or fit guys do, in fact, have girlfriends, get married, and have kids?

          • mdet says:

            We had this discussion on the last thread, and (while I am a man) I similarly objected.

            My objection was not to saying “women prefer handsome and charismatic men”, that’s obvious. Being handsome and charismatic is the easiest route to popularity, whether among men or women, whether in romantic or platonic or business relationships. I specifically had a problem with the implicit or explicit idea that handsome and charismatic but abusive men got women *because* they were abusive, instead of *despite*. Everything I’ve seen in life points towards the ideal man (for women) being Handsome, Charismatic, Has Money, Not Abusive, Shared Interests. Sometimes abusive men have enough of the other qualities to hide that they’re abusive, but I’d need a lot of evidence to believe that, holding the other traits constant, abusive men do better than non-abusive men. Any woman for whom that is true probably has psychological problems of her own.

          • albatross11 says:

            There’s an empirical question here: Are some jerkish behaviors beneficial for men in trying to get a girl to go out with/sleep with/marry them?

            I suspect the answer is yes, because it’s often the case that bad behavior pays off. (One reason we end up with social pressure against bad behaviors is probably to limit them when they’re paying off.)

            How could we find data that would tell us who’s right, rather than just anecdotes?

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Because the correct conclusion is “yes, it’s unfair that men who mistreat women manage to attract some women”, not “yes, it’s unfair that you can’t get the kind of high-status women you find attractive even though you are ugly, poor and low-status”.

            This is a good example of the sort of attacks I am referring to. The implication that “You’re aiming for women who are out of your league” is a typical response to a an incel who complains about women’s focus on looks, money, and status.

            “I don’t beat women so why can’t I get a girlfriend?” is not by itself a sufficient reason,

            This is another good example of the sort of attacks I am referring to.

            Unless you say and really mean “I’d be quite happy to have an ugly, poor, weird girlfriend!”,

            Actually I think most incels would be ecstatic to have such a girlfriend. But women date up which means that there are inevitably men at the bottom who get nobody.

          • mdet says:

            This is still in the realm of anecdote but one thing I said in the last thread was that being *somewhat* of an asshole probably correlates with “engages in risky behavior”, and “engages in risky behavior” correlates with “has casual sex”, since casual sex is risky. But I’d expect diminishing returns as the degree of jerkishness rises past “snarky, sarcastic, sometimes rude” to “mistreatment and abuse”.

          • mdet says:

            @fortaleza

            There seems to be a hypothesis here, I’ve seen it a few times, that the men at the top are monopolizing large numbers of women and leaving few for the men at the bottom. It doesn’t sound plausible to me that high status men have *so many* girlfriends so consistently that those at the bottom are actively deprived. Is there more than anecdotal evidence for this? (I don’t have more than anecdote for my claims so it’s fine if you don’t)

            Edit: Like in your comment just below where you state that women “settle”, as if men don’t also have high standards and desire the most attractive women. Where are we ruling out “Both men and women desire attractiveness and charisma, and people eventually get someone with comparable status to themselves”?

            Yeah, what’s kind of bothering me isn’t your assertions that attractive, high status, wealthy men do well, which I don’t think anyone disputes. It’s that it sounds like you’re saying that women collectively have standards for men that are both ridiculously high and ridiculously shallow, as if men don’t have similar attitudes. Apologies if I’m reading you wrong.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            How would you phrase it, then?

            Just like I said — women are primarily driven by looks, money, and status in selecting mates.

            And how would you test whether you were right,

            I don’t know, I’m satisfied that I’m right based on simple observations of the world. I do recall that OKCupid has done some informal studies based on responses to personal ads. I’m pretty confident that if you look at those studies, you would find that men’s success in terms of responses from women is highly correlated with (1) their degree of physical attractiveness; (2) their income/wealth; and (3) the status of their occupation. What do you think?

            in a world where it’s clearly true that a lot of non-asshole, not all that handsome or wealthy or fit guys do, in fact, have girlfriends, get married, and have kids?

            Yes, it’s fortunate that a lot of women settle.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Is there more than anecdotal evidence for this?

            I saw a study once which computed ratios of marriageable men to marriageable women using different definitions of the word “marriageable.” As I recall, if one requires that a person be childless to be marriageable, the ratio is very unfavorable to men.

            In general (as I recall) there are significantly more childless men than childless women. Which is only possible if some men are impregnating multiple women i.e. monopolizing women.

            I believe there are also genetic studies which confirm that historically, the percentage of women which reproduced was higher — sometimes a lot higher — than the percentage of men.

            All of this confirms the common sense observation that men are naturally polygynous and women are naturally hypergamous; that to the extent people are free to follow their natural instincts, men at the top will tend to have multiple women leaving men at the bottom with nothing.

          • Aapje says:

            @Deiseach

            Imagine that you want a passport from the government. You go there and they tell you to climb Mount Vesuvius and get a permit from an office at the top of the mountain. Everyone else you ask says the same thing.

            You climb the mountain, get the permit and go back to the government. They now tell you that the permit is actually not enough, you need something else, but they can’t tell you what.

            You walk away dejected and ask the first person you meet (Bob):
            You: Do you have a passport?
            Bob: Yes.
            You: What did you have to do to get it?
            Bob: I just walked up and they gave it to me.
            You: Did you climb Mount Vesuvius?
            Bob: Mount Vesuviwhat?

            You go back into the government:
            You: why did you give a passport to Bob, who didn’t even climb Mount Vesuvius?
            Gov: Ah yes, we broke the rules, because we have the right to.
            You: Can you break the rules for me, whatever they are?
            Gov: No, we won’t, you entitled prick.
            You: I noticed that people with passports tend to be prettier than those who don’t get one. Are you discriminating by looks?
            Gov: Go away, you entitled prick.

            Imagine that you then (incorrectly) conclude that they are only discriminating by looks & that since you can’t change your looks, you have no chance at all to get a passport.

            Do you agree that regardless of the validity of this, it is reasonable to get upset over the deception and the lack of empathy? Do you agree that there is a basic level of human decency that is missing in how you were treated in this scenario?

            Note that the above scenario is not a legitimate reason to be abusive to others in turn, but people can both be severely harmed by others and do/wish harm to others. These are not exclusive.

            IMO, we should seek to reduce suffering, also if that means making the lives better of nasty people, especially when the suffering likely made them more nasty (and we would not just be helping nasty people).

            I personally think it would be far more helpful if we would recognize the unfairness inherent in reality & also give realistic advice how people can improve their odds & also tell them early on that this offers no guarantee.

            This would surely damage fewer people and probably also cause fewer damaged people to strike out angrily in turn.

          • Aapje says:

            @mdet & fortaleza84

            I would expect that such sharing would generally take the form of serial monogamy, where some men have long term relationships* with several women, while those women would tend to have fewer relationships with men; while other men would have zero long term relationships.

            So the pattern I would expect, would be that you’d have more men with many long term relationships and more men with zero long term relationships; while women would be in between far more often (the basic pattern that you see in studies about gender a lot, with women ending up closer to the average and men having more outliers in both directions). I looked on Google scholar, but I can’t find such studies. It seems that the studies tend to count sexual partners, not relationships.

            So no data :/

            * Let’s define that as a 1 year relationship or longer

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I can’t speak for all incel guys, but I know plenty of nerdy guys who date and are happy with women best described as horse-faced and obsessed with (insert hobby here). They aren’t particularly wealthy.

            I don’t know how far down we consider “ugly, poor, and weird.” I saw such girls in high school getting boyfriends, with similar guys.

            Ugly people are still with us, so clearly humans can settle for ugly people.

          • mdet says:

            The purpose of marriage is to get people paired off at equal rates. To the extent that high status people are MORE likely to get married than low status people, that would imply that LOW status men are monopolizing women. Maybe we’re defining status differently. “I want to be like the guys with multiple baby-mommas” doesn’t strike me as sympathetic.

            I also feel like this is directly contradicting the stereotype / tendency for women to be less interested in casual sex and more interested in long-term relationships than men.

            I don’t dispute anything you said there, but it just feels incorrect at the moment.

            Edit: Aapje’s comment makes a little more sense

          • Nornagest says:

            To the extent that high status people are MORE likely to get married than low status people, that would imply that LOW status men are monopolizing women.

            Only to the extent that the difference in marriage rates is driven by monopolization. I can imagine cultural differences which make people with lower-class backgrounds more skeptical of marriage. Or even purely practical ones: there’s a link to an article somewhere around here which described how having a man present disqualifies the poorest households from a variety of welfare programs. Not much of a surprise, then, that they tend not to have men present.

            Also, I think you’re using “status” differently than the people you’re talking to: to guys in the manosphere, an “alpha” or a “high-status male” could easily be a dude with eighteen-inch biceps, a motorcycle, and a criminal record. YMMV on how appealing that actually is, but that package probably isn’t going to come with high SES.

          • mdet says:

            I guess the reason why I’m not really groking this framing is that my framing is “Men are more likely to prefer casual sex, women are more likely to prefer long-term relationships”. Since a man in a relationship is off the market, but a woman who has casual sex is still available, my inclination is to believe that women are the ones monopolizing men. (No offense women, since I don’t consider “How am I gonna get laid when all these women are married???” to be a sympathetic problem)

            If the complaint is that *within* the casual sex market, a small number of men are getting most of the women, then I’ll believe that, but again, I’m not very sympathetic.

          • Iain says:

            As I recall, if one requires that a person be childless to be marriageable, the ratio is very unfavorable to men.

            Roughly 80% of single parents are single mothers. If you arbitrarily rule out a disproportionately female segment of the population, you shouldn’t be surprised that the remaining group is disproportionately male.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Roughly 80% of single parents are single mothers.

            Umm, your source is talking about single-parent families, it’s not the same thing.

            Of course it’s far more common for children born out of wedlock to reside with the mother than the father. But that’s not the same thing as asking how many fathers there are out there of all these children living with single mothers.

            That said, it is true that in general people who are parents are disproportionately female. But the distinction between “parent” and “childless” is anything but arbitrary in the context of this discussion.

          • Deiseach says:

            Which is only possible if some men are impregnating multiple women i.e. monopolizing women.

            I’d agree with this to a degree, but it depends very heavily how you define your terms.

            Donald Trump has been married three times (never mind any alleged affairs). Is he monopolizing women? Are you really arguing “Damn that man, I would have had a real chance at Marla Maples otherwise?” While Trump has moved on to his third wife, Ms Maples appears to still be single (whether she’s in a current relationship or not I have no idea). Any suggestions as to why she isn’t on marriage #2 right now?

            So “rich high-status guys get to have their pick of women” which is a revelation to exactly no-one since we knew this already.

            Then there are the other men who have multiple relationships with women and are not childless. Are these the men our incels are competing with? Because a lot of them are not high-status in any way, unless ‘local petty criminal with a drug habit’ counts as high-status in your neck of the woods. This kind of “fewer men impregnating more women” relationship (if it can be called that) generally goes like this: Joe knocks up Sue, they may or may not move in together, they may or may not be together after the birth of the child. Eventually they split up; Joe may or may not have been involved with another woman who is now pregnant by him, or Sue may have kicked him out and later moves another boyfriend in, by whom she becomes pregnant. And new boyfriend is quite likely to have a kid or kids by former girlfriend(s) already, and the merry-go-round goes for another spin.

            The women get pregnant because they think (this time) it’s true love, or they’re careless about contraception, or they already have one child out of wedlock so any stigma is no longer a fear to them. There’s a lot of short-term thinking going on here, and while to an outsider it’s very plain that Sue and Phil are going to split up just the same as Sue and Joe did, you cannot convince Sue of that (and Phil is just a slob going along to get along and not making any plans one way or the other about being a father).

            If your incel example is wanting to compete with guys like that for women like that and relationships like that, well, good luck to them (they’re going to need it).

            But being envious about “Joe has three kids by three different women, I can’t even get a woman to talk to me” – just like talking to Sue about how she should not be shacking up with guys like Joe and Phil in the first place, it’s plain that any advice about “no you really don’t want a disaster life like that” is not going to be listened to.

          • David Speyer says:

            “there are significantly more childless men than childless women. Which is only possible if some men are impregnating multiple women”

            It seems to me that the easier explanation is that a child mother can almost always be identified, but not the father. The data is perfectly consistent with many men who have one unacknowledged child (and no acknowledged ones).

          • mdet says:

            @David Speyer
            I’ll totally believe that a man who has a child by a woman and doesn’t acknowledge it is likely to have children by multiple women.

            But I’m with Deiseach again on “…is this really the market you’re trying to be successful in?” Among the people who are trying to settle down into real relationships and eventually marriage, I’d think there are more women than men, and any decently attractive and personable guy should be able to find a girlfriend if he knows how to put himself out there.

            Edit: I guess I’ll also say that, since more women are going to college than men, and a highly educated woman seems unlikely to date a man who isn’t similarly educated, men without a college degree might find themselves in a position where they’re stuck competing against “guy with three baby-mommas” for dates and can’t get into the ”professional women” market because they don’t meet those women’s standards. I don’t have demographic data on incels, and this doesn’t quite sound like the narrative of them that this thread has provided so far, but I do have sympathy for this group.

          • Aapje says:

            @Deiseach

            My point is not that it is reasonable for lonely people to feel upset at not having the results of the top tier men, but rather that they can legitimately feel upset at having it worse than the average woman.

            I think that the quality of life gap between being in a relationship for most of your life compared to having a long period singlehood after already having had a relationship, is generally far less than the gap between having a long period singlehood after already having had a relationship and never having had a (decent) relationship at all.

            Or as Alfred Tennyson put it more succinctly:

            I hold it true, whate’er befall;
            I feel it when I sorrow most;
            ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
            Than never to have loved at all.

          • Aapje says:

            @mdet

            Among the people who are trying to settle down into real relationships and eventually marriage, I’d think there are more women than men, and any decently attractive and personable guy should be able to find a girlfriend if he knows how to put himself out there.

            This is always going to be true, if you just define “decently attractive and personable” strictly enough. So it is a pretty meaningless statement.

            It’s like saying that anyone who actually wants to win an Olympic medal, rather than just do sports leisurely, can win one, if they are just athletic enough.

            This is true and yet loads of people who really try to win an Olympic medal, never do.

          • Deiseach says:

            Just like I said — women are primarily driven by looks, money, and status in selecting mates.

            And what are men driven by in selecting mates? I think looks come into it there, too.

            What annoys me is that a lot of this arguing seems to presume that there have never been spinsters or women who were deemed unmarriageable, there have never been women who wanted to marry and have families but couldn’t find or attract a husband; that any woman can have any man and as many men as she wants but a guy who isn’t a 10 in looks, wealth and what passes for status in his particular social circle has no chance at all.

            If men are primarily and only interested in “a warm body I can stick my dick in” and therefore will be sexually available even to less desirable women, how is that the fault of women? This reminds me all too much of the poems about “she’s a frigid bitch if she won’t sleep with me, at the same time I don’t want her to be willing to sleep with another guy because that would mean she’s a slut”.

            The brutal truth is that there are some guys who will never get a woman because they have some quirk of personality or behaviour or mental/behavioural/emotional problems; guys who are just plain weird and who can come across as creepy. This may be horrible, but it’s true*. And I think we have to acknowledge it. For every guy who is helped by the advice to “smarten yourself up, find a topic of conversation that isn’t your niche interest even if you have to hold your nose about talking about dumb stuff normies like, and go out there and try, try, try again and don’t be put off by rejection”, there are men who can’t be helped.

            Even prostitutes reject some potential clients because they’re too odd or strike them as possibly dangerous.

            And yes, that’s dreadful. But you can’t make people like you, and even a government-mandated sex and companionship provider will only be doing it as a job, not as “if I wasn’t getting paid I’d still spend time with you”.

            So the real problem is trying to disentangle the absolute no-hoper guys from the guys whose main problem is that they are too damn immature and need to get older and wise up and then they’ll realise that adjusting their standards and not being self-involved in their misery will get them further. Also, not believing every damn thing they read/hear about guys boasting they lost their virginity at twelve, they have a sixteen inch cock, they’re so good in bed prostitutes pay them and they can seduce even a nun with just a snap of their fingers. Men lie about their sexual conquests! Especially when trying to score status points about being a real manly guy! Exercise some discrimination in evaluating “is this story full of shit”!

            What can be done about/for the guys who will never have a chance? I don’t know. I do know that saying “it’s not fair women don’t like weirdoes” is as unreasonable as saying “it’s not fair men don’t like women who are only 3s not 10s”. Yeah, it may not be fair, but life is not fair. You can’t make that hot popular socially desirable person want to be with you and fall in real love with you just because your heart hurts.

            And no, “Curtis is a cad who mistreats women but because he’s good looking and rich and well-connected he can still get women” does not translate to “therefore what women really want is a guy who is mean to them because that signals Alpha Maleness, all that stuff about niceness and being a good provider and a sense of humour is only a smokescreen so they can hook a victim once the Alphas have dumped them”.

            Some guys getting women despite being a boor does not entitle you to say “my problem is that I’m too nice!” If the secret to sexual success is “be deceitful and awful”, then you shouldn’t object to women “cucking” you, they’re just pursuing a winning strategy!

            *I’m a female version of this; I’ve been very lucky in whatever genetic quirk made me asexual/aromantic because even from a very early age I knew it would be a disaster if I tried to reproduce and that I could never have a relationship with another person the way society tries to push everyone into couples. So I’m not picking on the creepy guys, but saying as a fellow creep – you have to admit and accept it.

          • mdet says:

            This is always going to be true, if you just define “decently attractive and personable” strictly enough

            You’re right, but my point was that if you can’t get a date here, it’s not because there aren’t enough women / some men have harems. The “aspiring towards marriage” pool is by definition the “no harems allowed” pool.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            but rather that they can legitimately feel upset at having it worse than the average woman

            Well, in some respects. Young women have more options than young men. You can feel upset about it, sure. Do whatever the hell you want. There are other arenas where young men have more advantages over young women, and somewhat older men have advantages over somewhat older women.

            The same market forces that give younger women such a huge premium create more opportunities for somewhat older men to enjoy themselves. Like I said above, in my early 30s, I have nice clothing, money, a decent body, a car, and I can date younger girls. I have a friend or two that suffered throughout college but are raking in girls now, because the market has shifted and they have turned themselves into premium dating options.

            Of course, again, the social response to this is “where have all the good men gone” and “Peter Pans” and other bologna.

          • Iain says:

            @fortaleza84:
            You were talking about marriageability. I assumed that “childless” in that context meant “is not responsible for a child” — while I don’t see that as a necessary prerequisite for marriage, I am aware that some people disagree. If “childless” instead means “has never procreated”, then I’m even more confused about why childlessness is at all relevant to marriageability.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            This discussion is disappointing because people don’t seem to understand how margins work.

            My hometown, New York City, is considered one of the best places in the country for men to date because we have a 53:47 ratio of women to men. That’s just five percentage points off from the national average but it’s enough to transform the dating scene.

            If a small number of sexually successful sociopaths, whatever we want to call them, can impregnate a few women each they could have an outsized effect on the dating market. Even men who they aren’t directly competing with would feel the pressure of a shrunken dating pool.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Donald Trump has been married three times (never mind any alleged affairs). Is he monopolizing women?

            Absolutely.

            Are you really arguing “Damn that man, I would have had a real chance at Marla Maples otherwise?”

            Not me (I am married) but Donald Trump’s behavior is not in any way unique. It’s pretty common for men who are elite in terms of desirability to engage in this type of polygamy (often referred to as “serial monogamy”).

            If men in the top 10-20% of romantic market value engage in this sort of behavior, you don’t need to be a mathematician to see that men at the bottom will be screwed.

            While Trump has moved on to his third wife, Ms Maples appears to still be single (whether she’s in a current relationship or not I have no idea). Any suggestions as to why she isn’t on marriage #2 right now?

            I don’t know about her in particular, but for obvious reasons, a person’s desirability for marriage depends a good deal on their fertility. Further, if a woman already has children, she is far less desirable as a marriage partner.

            Of course women have a much shorter fertility window than men, so a man who marries; has children; leaves his wife for a younger women; has more children; etc., is — in effect — monopolizing women even if he is married to only one woman at a time.

            I suppose one could say that a 25-year-old incel male should be happy to date and marry an alpha widow in her 50s or 60s but I think in practice, it doesn’t work out like that. From my observation, such a woman would rather be alone than do what she perceives as dating down.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            And what are men driven by in selecting mates? I think looks come into it there, too.

            Sure, but so what? Society has no problem admitting that men are driven primarily by looks (including youth) in selecting potential mates. We don’t insist that Men are Wonderful. In short, this is just more feminist deflection.

            What annoys me is that a lot of this arguing seems to presume that there have never been spinsters or women who were deemed unmarriageable,

            Would you mind providing a few quotes of this? Because I didn’t notice anything like that in the comments. Obviously there have been times and places where there were big shortages of men.

            that any woman can have any man and as many men as she wants but a guy who isn’t a 10 in looks, wealth and what passes for status in his particular social circle has no chance at all.

            Again, can you provide a quote? This seems like a strawman to me.

            The brutal truth is that there are some guys who will never get a woman because they have some quirk of personality or behaviour or mental/behavioural/emotional problems; guys who are just plain weird and who can come across as creepy.

            This is just more feminist deflection and victim-blaming. The vast majority of incels would not be incels if they were physically attractive or if they lived in a time when there was a surplus of women.

            Moreover, even if every last “creepy” man could be turned into Rico Suave, it still wouldn’t change the basic mathematics of the situation which necessarily result in men at the bottom getting left out.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            If “childless” instead means “has never procreated”, then I’m even more confused about why childlessness is at all relevant to marriageability.

            Perhaps it’s not. The people who authored the study took various factors into (and out of) account. For example, they looked at “being employed” as a factor in whether a man is marriageable. In fact, the traditional definition of a marriageable man (according to the study) was that he was single, non-incarcerated, and employed.

            But anyway, I was using the study as evidence of elite men monopolizing women. If more men than women are childless, it supports my position.

          • mdet says:

            Are you suggesting that 10-20% of men will have three or more wives over the course of their life, all of whom will be in their 20s-30s at marriage? That’s… a much larger percentage than I’d estimate off the top of my head. I’m only in my mid-twenties, but neither me nor anyone I know have ever had the problem of wanting to date someone but having them get married to someone twice our age.

            Maybe Nabil is right, but I stand by my point that just moving from the “trying to get laid” market to the “steady relationship” market is already enough to give you a women to men ratio higher than 53:47, as well as providing much stronger norms against harems and slightly decreasing the emphasis on physical attractiveness (although that obviously still plays a large role)

          • fortaleza84 says:

            It seems to me that the easier explanation is that a child mother can almost always be identified, but not the father. The data is perfectly consistent with many men who have one unacknowledged child (and no acknowledged ones).

            It’s certainly an alternative explanation, but let me ask you this:

            1. Do you agree that it’s more common for men to divorce, remarry, and have more children than it is for women?

            2. Do you agree that DNA analysis suggests that in the past, far more women than men successfully reproduced?

            3. Do you agree that from the perspective of evolutionary biology, it’s far more effective for a high-status man to reproduce with multiple women than it is for a high-status woman to reproduce with multiple men?

          • Nornagest says:

            10-20% is probably a serious overestimate. Even in cultures where actual polygyny is legal and religiously sanctioned, we usually only see it in small percentages of the male population — less than 5%, often much less.

            But if 2% of the men have four wives each, that’s empirically enough to change the marriage market significantly. Our customs are less binary, less codified, and therefore harder to study, but it’s not totally unreasonable that something similar might be going on.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Are you suggesting that 10-20% of men will have three or more wives over the course of their life, all of whom will be in their 20s-30s at marriage?

            No, if I had to guess I would say it’s more like 5-10% of men having 2 or more wives, with the second wife being considerably younger. Even that is enough to make life pretty bad for young men at the bottom who want a mate in their age range.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            but I stand by my point that just moving from the “trying to get laid” market to the “steady relationship” market is already enough to give you a women to men ratio higher than 53:47

            Is a guy who has 6 “girlfriends” in 3 months in the steady relationship market or the getting laid market? How about those girls?

            Because they can all say they are in the steady relationship market. And we all know they are lying.

          • mdet says:

            We may have completely different conceptions of what problem we’re talking about.

            I’m thinking of guys in their early to mid 20s who are virgins and never had a real girlfriend. For the guys I’m thinking of, saying “Work on your confidence & social skills, find some club or social group where you can put yourself out there, and maybe get in shape and build some muscle” is probably enough to get them a date. Maybe they need to be told “Look in the ‘steady relationship’ market, not the ‘casual sex’ market, there will be less competition”. The problem is definitely not that there’s some huge shortage of women, they KNOW single ladies, they’re just not successful / too shy to try.

            It sounds like y’all are talking about some incredibly marginal group out there who don’t know any single women at all / would be incapable of dating any under any circumstances. That’s not a problem I’ve ever seen, and maybe you have, but I’ve been reading this whole thread with not-that group in mind.

            Edit: I cannot conceive of a situation like albatross describes below, where a 50 year old man gets remarried to his 25 year old assistant, being so common that 25 year old guys who are somewhat dateable, if not exactly top desirability, simply cannot find enough single women. I also don’t think single motherhood is quite so rampant that a high number of the single women they know already have kids. Maybe there are some neighborhoods where a sizeable number of women are married and/or have kids by 25, but not where I’m from

          • albatross11 says:

            An obvious complication here is that women also remarry after a divorce pretty often. I know a fair number of apparently happy couples where both the man and woman are remarried. This doesn’t play so well with the Catholic Church’s teachings, but it does decrease some of the effect that high-end serial monogamy has, assuming that the ex-wife of the top-5%-er gets remarried.

            Where that’s probably *not* the case is when the top 5%er divorces his wife at 50 and marries his 25-year-old assistant. His upper-middle-class 50 year old wife is quite likely to stay single, and the 25-year-old woman he has married won’t be marrying a 25-year-old man if they stay together.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I’m thinking of guys in their early to mid 20s who are virgins and never had a real girlfriend. For the guys I’m thinking of, saying “Work on your confidence & social skills, find some club or social group where you can put yourself out there, and maybe get in shape and build some muscle” is probably enough to get them a date. Maybe they need to be told “Look in the ‘steady relationship’ market, not the ‘casual sex’ market, there will be less competition”. The problem is definitely not that there’s some huge shortage of women, they KNOW single ladies, they’re just not successful / too shy to try.

            Your advice is fine, it’s the market analysis that’s off. Your advice is true REGARDLESS of market conditions. Even if EVERY guy was Brad Pitt looking, you could say the same exact thing: try to be more attractive, and don’t expect girls to just sleep with you because you aren’t hot enough to justify that (because EVERY guy looks like Brad Pitt, YOU aren’t that special).

            So you can’t use the advice as evidence of market conditions, even if it works, because it would work, again, regardless of market conditions.

          • The Nybbler says:

            For the guys I’m thinking of, saying “Work on your confidence & social skills, find some club or social group where you can put yourself out there, and maybe get in shape and build some muscle” is probably enough to get them a date.

            First of all, advice like “Work on your confidence and social skills” isn’t actually actionable. Second, even if this advice could work for some, it can’t work for all — that 115 to 100 ratio again. Third, it’s quite possible they don’t know any single women; they may not be in social situations where single women are present. And I don’t know if this is still true, but when I was that age, women tended to go from one relationship to another without a visible gap between them.

          • mdet says:

            Ok, so my understanding of what Fortaleza and Nabil are arguing is that the reason for the uptick in young men who are virgins is that so many women are married and/or have kids by 25 that there are hardly any single women left for any guy who isn’t at least middling in attractiveness, charisma, and/or wealth.

            Either I live in a tightly sealed bubble, or this is objectively false. I’m pretty sure that there’s an order of magnitude more 24-year-old virgins in the “spends more time playing video games than talking to girls” category than the “literally cannot find single ladies because they’re all off with Chad (or his 50 year old father)” category.

            Aaaand I’m just now seeing the “115 single men : 100 single women”. But googling for it, I can’t find a source. Literally everything on google is claiming the opposite problem — that single women are struggling to find single men. This site looked at the US Census data for unmarried people over age 21 and found that the national average was 85 men : 100 women, and the metro area with the highest men-to-women skew was Bakersfield, CA with 102 men : 100 women. I acknowledge that this is single-as-in-unmarried rather than single-single.

            Source for the 115 : 100 men to women ratio?

            Edit: Ok, This clarifies that when you break it down by age, there are more single men than women under age 35, but many more women than men over 35. This sort of supports the “50 year old man remarries to 22 year old woman” hypothesis, but I’m still having a hard time believing that there are *so many* men who are polygamous / serially monogamous as to deprive young men of dating opportunities, even after accounting for the number of guys who could reasonably get girls but are playing Fortnite instead, or are incarcerated

          • mdet says:

            My comment disappeared, so TLDR repost:

            I didn’t know/believe there were 1.15 : 1 single men to women until I found this. It’s a little difficult to interpret because it doesn’t give clean ratios like the above, but it basically says there are more unmarried men than women in each age bracket under age 35, and more unmarried women the older you get. The best rebuttal I can come up with at the moment is that, since women tend to marry men slightly older than themselves, we don’t need to have a bunch of 50 year old men remarrying 25 year old women to get this effect, just a 30 year old man marrying a 29 year old woman, and a 35 year old man with a 34 year old woman. That would give an extra single man in the 18-29 age bracket, but an extra single woman in the 35-49 age bracket. Men’s higher mortality rate explains the jump in older single women.

            If the large ratio of single men to single women is real, and not an artifact of looking at age by bucket + women marrying men who are a few years older than themselves, then fortaleza & Nabil’s arguments make much more sense, and no amount of “Get off Fortnite and go join some club where you can socialize in person” is going to fix the problem.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Second, even if this advice could work for some, it can’t work for all — that 115 to 100 ratio again

            I think this is a key point. At a societal level, the problem of inceldom is NOT because such men are “creepy” or out-of-shape or are too picky. At an individual level, all these things are important, but at a societal level there is a shortage of women combined with the female hypergamy instinct which will result in an inceldom problem regardless of the creepiness/fitnes/pickiness of men.

          • liquidpotato says:

            It’s well known that the reaction he gets will have much more to do with his physical attractiveness than his actual behavior.

            I think from now on every time I see something like this I will try to speak up because I think this is counterproductive, not true, and casts an unfair light on women.

            It is in fact the other way around. How a man approaches a woman has way more impact than his physical appearances. It is in fact the most important factor wrt to results.

            Some disclaimers. I am not in a relationship and has been single for a long time, but that has to do a lot more with my own hang ups over sexual intimacy than anything else.

            For the past two years I have been working on myself. Approaching people on the streets, which is about as public as it can get, both men and women. In this time I can count on one hand the number of times my approaches had been rejected, which is twice.

            (I don’t have successful dates after that, but the topic in question is just making an approach and having a conversation after)

            It is literally all in how we approach. Approaching from the front, a slight smile, and direct eye contact. A funny opner if I can manage it, but a straight open ended question works like a charm just as well.

            I really want to put to rest about the male physical attractiveness thing. It’s important to women, but not does not have nearly the same level of impact as confidence, a sense of humour, having our shit together, and the ability to listen and handle rejections.

            The importance of physical appearances go about as far as not looking like a creep. (Which generally comes down to body language)

            I have known short guys that have hot girlfriends, and height is just about the one thing that no one can do anything about. An overweight person still has some realistic way of loosing weight, but what treatment is there for being short that doesn’t involve really drastic surgery?

          • mdet says:

            My comment seems to have been eaten a few times, so I’m going to try again with no hyperlinks.

            All of my arguments were made under the assumption of an essentially 1:1 male female ratio (I’d heard that there are very slightly more men at birth, but that it evens out pretty quickly with men’s higher mortality rate). I cannot find a citation for the 115 single men : women. Everything I know points to the opposite: Googling for single men vs women ratio, nearly all the results are about single women who are struggling to find men. Men have higher mortality rates and much higher incarceration rates, both of which would take them out the dating pool. The majority of the single and virgin men I know are entirely dateable guys who just spend more time playing video games than face-to-face socializing, and most of the rest are guys who could be dateable if they got a little more confidence to put themselves out there, or had better social skills, or maybe got in better shape as well. The idea that there are so many cheating & polygamous men, or so many women dating men twice their age as to make it literally impossible for large numbers of single guys to pair up just sounds outlandish, especially since the kind of men who get around like that are generally with women who aren’t so faithful themselves either.

            Now I did find the 2010 Census data, suggesting that for people under 20, there are 105 total men : 100 women, and that this doesn’t reach 1:1 until age 30. I’m not saying it’s impossible that other factors couldn’t skew this further, but I just… still feel skeptical. I definitely cannot conceive of polygamous, etc. men playing so large a role that they outweigh video games & the internet for the reason why so many men are single compared to a generation ago. Yall have definitely swayed me from “inconceivable” to “hesitant” though.

            Edit: I guess the Pew Social Trends 2014 for “Record Share of Americans Have Never Married” lays it out explicitly enough, with somehow a 118 single men : 100 women at age 25. I concede.

          • Deiseach says:

            5-10% of men having 2 or more wives, with the second wife being considerably younger. Even that is enough to make life pretty bad for young men at the bottom who want a mate in their age range.

            But you are still not comparing like with like there; if there’s a small percentage of older (better off, higher status) men trading in their first wife for a younger version, that does not mean that if Thomas Bigbucks stayed married to his first wife, Joe Loner would have been able to date Mellie Newwife instead.

            Rich older guys are not, in the main, marrying plain dumpy average young second wives. If Joe is “at the bottom”, Mellie as Potential Second Mrs Bigbucks is probably still out of his league, even if she can’t snare Thomas. Unless you’re arguing that Joe is actually young, handsome, virile, of the same general social background as Thomas and only hampered by working as his assistant instead of being the owner and principal shareholder of Bigbucks Multinational – so we’ve got yer basic rom-com where the choice is between love or money, but that’s not real life.

            If Joe from the bottom really is looking for a date, he will not be looking for one in the same circles as Thomas from the 5% is looking when shopping for new arm-candy (for long-term relationship/marriage purposes; looking for an attractive fling is a different matter and can mean ‘shop girl or porn actress’).

            EDIT: Let’s take the forthcoming Royal Wedding (God save us all). It’s pretty clear Meghan Markle is marrying way above her station. But suppose Queen Elizabeth had put her foot down and demanded that no, her grandson would only marry at the very least the granddaughter of a duke – do you really think Joe from the bottom would have had a chance with her? Her first husband was this guy, so even if we shake our fists at all those dirty rotten rich older men marrying pretty young second wives, there’s no real reason to think that forcing them to remain married to their first wife or remain single would ease up the supply for less desirable men down the chain – unless there’s some kind of supposed knock-on effect where better status older guy can’t marry slightly lower status younger woman who then has to settle for same as her status younger man who won’t then marry/live with slightly lower status than him woman and so on down until we get the natural balancing of Wayne and Waynetta paired off?

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I think from now on every time I see something like this I will try to speak up because I think this is counterproductive, not true, and casts an unfair light on women.

            That’s funny, because I think it’s useful to know; correct; and casts an unflattering (but accurate) light on women.

            Let me ask you this: Do you agree that women sometimes complain about men approaching them under certain circumstances, for example while they are wearing headphones; or while they are on the elevator; or while they are working out at the gym?

            And if your answer is “yes,” do you think those same women would complain if a very handsome man approached them under similar circumstances, e.g. while they were working out at the gym?

          • fortaleza84 says:

            But you are still not comparing like with like there; if there’s a small percentage of older (better off, higher status) men trading in their first wife for a younger version, that does not mean that if Thomas Bigbucks stayed married to his first wife, Joe Loner would have been able to date Mellie Newwife instead.

            Sure, but that’s not how markets work. If Mellie doesn’t marry Thomas, chances are she will end up with someone slightly less desirable to her than Thomas was. “Jim Mediumbucks” And since Jim Mediumbucks is with Mellie, he’s not going to be with someone he would have found slightly less desirable — call her “Plain Jane.” So now Plain Jain is free to be with Joe Loner.

            Actually, there are probably a lot more than 2 or 3 intermediate steps. But the point is that the actions of people in one part of a market can and do indirectly affect people in other parts of the market.

            You can think of it like a game of musical chairs. If a person sits down and takes up 2 chairs, it means that an extra person is going to be left standing somewhere else, even if it’s not the person who would have sat in those particular chairs.

            If it’s common for a man who is 10/10 in terms of desirability to marry 2 or 3 women, those women cannot all be 10/10s — the mathematics won’t allow it. Some of them will have to be 9/10s.

            So where does that leave men who are 9/10? Chances are they will be with 2 or 3 girls who are 8/10. And so on down the line. Women date up and men date down.

            Anyway, this is all very simple mathematics that any literate person can and should be able to understand. The problem is the implication — that male incels are for the most part not subhuman swine. Which in turn implies that Women are not the Wonderful creatures that they (and society) like to think that they are.

            By the way, I’m still waiting for you to provide examples of your earlier claims regarding views of spinsterhood and the sexual marketplace.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Everything I know points to the opposite: Googling for single men vs women ratio, nearly all the results are about single women who are struggling to find men

            I think that has more to do with female narcissism and societal gynocentrism than reality. Generally speaking, those types of articles are by women in their late 30s and 40s who refuse to accept that women suffer a dramatic decline in sexual marketplace value around age 35. Chad has lost interest in them and other men are sexually invisible to them.

            I’m pretty confident that even in NYC which has one of the best dating markets for men in the entire United States, there are more single men under 30 than single women. And that if you add the requirement of childlessness, the ratio becomes even more skewed.

            It’s that it sounds like you’re saying that women collectively have standards for men that are both ridiculously high and ridiculously shallow, as if men don’t have similar attitudes.

            In terms of shallowness, there’s no question that men are at least as shallow as women. The difference is that society does not have a Men are Wonderful bias. Men regularly chastise each other and themselves for “thinking with their d*ck.” By contrast, when you point out that women are shallow, women (and White Knights) tend to freak out about it, deflect, attack you, and generally try to shame you for questioning the Women are Wonderful Party Line. Generally, you can get away with it only if you state it in abstract terms and are careful to emphasize that men too are shallow.

            In terms of standards, it’s true that “ridiculously high standards” is more of a female problem than a male problem, presumably due to the female hypergamy instinct. In fact, I saw a couple fascinating studies in which women consistently rated 80-90% of men as below average in looks.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Where that’s probably *not* the case is when the top 5%er divorces his wife at 50 and marries his 25-year-old assistant. His upper-middle-class 50 year old wife is quite likely to stay single, and the 25-year-old woman he has married won’t be marrying a 25-year-old man if they stay together.

            I actually know a couple like this in my neighborhood. The husband and wife are successful doctors with children. At age 55, the husband met a 28-year-old girl, left his wife for her, and had more children. The wife has tried to date, but the men she meets are pretty unappealing to her.

            My own wife is mystified that a woman who is a physically fit, successful professional in her 50s is having such trouble meeting a man. She has trouble accepting that career success + middle age has a vastly different impact on a woman’s romantic market value compared to a man’s.

            Anyway, situations like this are not uncommon; men have a strong instinct to engage in polgynous behavior if they can get away with it (and even if they can’t). Probably a lot more men would do it if the financial and social consequences were not so severe. And one of the obvious net effects of this type of behavior is to make life difficult for men at the bottom in terms of sexual marketplace value.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Deisach:

            It doesn’t matter that the rich old divorcees are marrying younger women that the low-status younger men wouldn’t have a chance with. Every young hot wife they take out of the dating pool results in a young high-status man who formerly had a chance with her, dating someone else instead. And the not-quite-as-high-status guy who would have been dating his new pick then picks someone else, and so on down the line, until you get one more guy who pairs with no one.

            Obviously it’s not exactly linear like that, but the pigeonhole principle holds: Since there’s already a shortage of women in the younger age brackets, then for every woman who marries up in age bracket, there’s a guy in the younger age bracket who will not be able to pair up with a woman in his age bracket.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            @Nybbler

            Thank you for putting it succinctly. What’s fascinating is that anyone would have difficulty understanding such a basic, common-sense concept.

            And I think it comes back to my original point. If we accept that in a general sense, incels are the victims of circumstance, the ugly conclusion is that there are innocent people who are suffering as a result of women’s shallow nature.

            People like to believe that the world is just; they also like to believe that Women are Wonderful. When evidence and arguments emerge that challenge these assumptions, it creates cognitive dissonance and many people suddenly have difficulty understanding the arguments, no matter how simple and logical they are.

            (To be sure, men are shallow as well, which also causes a lot of suffering. For example the man who becomes successful and dumps his loyal first wife in favor of some young hottie. The difference is that society can accept this negative aspect of the male personality and deal with it. By contrast, people tend to freak out when you suggest negative things about women.)

          • Deiseach says:

            that there are innocent people who are suffering as a result of women’s shallow nature

            Let’s see, there are a couple people on here maintaining that part of the problem of “not enough women to go round” is because some men are getting more than their fair share. Men who are between the ages of twenty and sixty are all trying to get twenty year old women, but it’s women who are shallow? Tell you what, how about you try convincing that “young high status guy” who can’t get the hot high-status girl he would otherwise have got because she’s the second wife of an older high-status guy to try courting the discarded wife? She may be forty but she’s available! What, you think that’s too old and not pretty enough? How shallow!

            If men are not shallow for having a limited notion of what is attractive in a potential mate, I don’t think you can say a woman is shallow for choosing between two potential husbands on the grounds of “oh both high status guys, one older and one younger, how do I choose – okay, older guy is more financially secure and established and can help me in my career”. If that’s shallow, so is “I should marry younger guy because he likes young blondes and luckily I just fit age-wise inside the window of nineteen to twenty-three that he will tolerate!”

            This is that rom-com notion I mentioned of “girl has two suitors, both high-status guys but one is younger and poorer; should she choose love or money; yeah we all say love because society has built up romantic love as the greatest good”.

            Okay, guys, then let’s put it in these terms: no no, you shouldn’t apply for that promotion/better job! You’re taking it away from someone who needs and wants it! Stick to your own level, or else we’ll have a lopsided chain reaction where at the very bottom Daryl can’t get a job flipping burgers because somebody who didn’t get that promotion they expected had to take it because you selfishly jumped over their head with your ‘better qualifications and experience’ than their ‘time-serving and waiting my turn’!

            Or maybe you could try “hey thirty-five year old guy, instead of trying to hook that twenty year old, here’s a thirty-five year old woman just divorced by her husband who traded her in for a twenty year old”. Men sticking to women their own age, wow what a revolutionary concept (because since reproduction is no longer the point of marriage – as same-sex marriage has told us – then ‘but men want young fertile women so they can have kids’ is an outmoded notion we should drop).

          • Aapje says:

            @Deiseach

            Fortaleza84 explicitly recognized that men are shallow too. His complaint is not that only women are shallow, but that it is not within the Overton Window to point it out and to tell women to cut it out, while making similar statements about men is within the Overton Window.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Men who are between the ages of twenty and sixty are all trying to get twenty year old women, but it’s women who are shallow?

            This statement – and Deiseach’s general attitude — is a good example of the type of nutty gynocentrism I am complaining about. Men and women are both shallow, but if you point out that women are shallow, the feminist freakout ensues. And in fact any evidence or argument which puts women in a negative light is immediately attacked.

            Fortaleza84 explicitly recognized that men are shallow too.

            Thanks, that’s correct. But for people like Deiseach, it’s almost literally unthinkable that women are not Wonderful.

          • Okay, guys, then let’s put it in these terms: no no, you shouldn’t apply for that promotion/better job! You’re taking it away from someone who needs and wants it!

            The two cases are not analogous. There is a fixed supply of women available for some man to marry. There is not a fixed supply of good jobs. If lots of men develop the abilities that get them good jobs—improved education, a work ethic, …—the number of good jobs increases.

            Which suggests that competition for mates may be the reason men are as concerned as they are with relative income rather than absolute income.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            The two cases are not analogous. There is a fixed supply of women available for some man to marry.

            That may be so, but I think there is a more fundamental flaw in Deiseach’s thinking (or lack thereof) which is that there is a difference between normative and prescriptive arguments. It’s one thing to observe the female hypergamy instinct (and the male polygyny instinct) and their consequences. It’s something else entirely to exhort people to behave in a certain way.

            Should people exhort successful/attractive men not to “trade in” their aging wives for someone younger? It’s an important question, but whatever the answer is, we need to face the reality that (1) men have this instinct; and (2) there are certain negative consequences from men acting on this instinct, in order to address the problem. And in fact there are rather severe social and financial consequences for a man who pulls this kind of stunt.

            The key point here is that just like men, women have certain instincts which can be destructive if acted upon. But unlike with men, society is reluctant to acknowledge and confront the darker side of female nature. No, people (especially women) insist that Women are Wonderful, and spin and deflect and dance around and attack anyone who observes this reality.

            Ironically, it would be difficult to come up with a better example of these sorts of antics than Deiseach’s postings in this thread.

          • Aapje says:

            @fortaleza84

            Please cut out the jabs at Deiseach.

          • Deiseach says:

            (A) person’s desirability for marriage depends a good deal on their fertility. Further, if a woman already has children, she is far less desirable as a marriage partner.

            Which if we’re talking about basic evolutionary drives should not be off-putting; a woman with children has demonstrated that she is fertile, can carry a pregnancy to term, and produce healthy children that will survive infancy.

            But yeah, we’ve had this conversation about men not wanting to raise another man’s child. Tough on divorced women and widows, I guess. But again, if the changing circumstances mean that your only available choices for women your own age are women with kids, then you had better settle for one of them. Otherwise you’re competing with all the other men for one of the twenty year old virgins and since there are going to be way more of you than of them, your chances are less.

            Half a loaf is better than no bread.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Deiseach

            Tough on divorced women and widows, I guess.

            Widows don’t rank all that low. The ranking is something like (in descending order of appeal):

            Never married, childless
            Widow, childless
            Widow, with children
            Divorced, childless
            Divorced, with children
            Never married, with children

            (This is just two dimensions, obviously.)

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Which if we’re talking about basic evolutionary drives should not be off-putting;

            This is wrong, but you are ignoring a more important question.

            Please quote me where I stated or implied (or assumed) that:

            (1) there have never been spinsters or women who were deemed unmarriageable,

            (2) there have never been women who wanted to marry and have families but couldn’t find or attract a husband; and

            (3) that any woman can have any man and as many men as she wants but a guy who isn’t a 10 in looks, wealth and what passes for status in his particular social circle has no chance at all.

            Failing that, please admit that I stated or implied no such thing and apologize for misrepresenting my position.

            This is the last time I will ask.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Posted before catching up on the comments.

            Liquidpotato, I think you’re pointing at something where the incel statistics look fishy.

            In a culture which permits informal relationships (including sex) between men and women (that is, not those parts of China and India where it’s pretty much marriage or nothing), “women” is isn’t the right unit. Let’s talk about women-weeks, or even women-hours.

            Even if you assume that women only want long term relationships with higher value men, a man who never has sex with a woman, or has never been kissed is not attracting women who want a short fling. women who want a little fun while their main partner is away, or are on the rebound, or who just want something different for a while, or revenge sex.

            Never is really different from “only adds up to one month per year”.

            It’s possible that incels started out not knowing how to make an approach. I don’t think they necessarily start out as awful people. Rodgers did, but there’s no reason to think he’s typical.

            ****

            Women Going Their Own Way are part of the situation, but I don’t know how large a part. There are definitely women on metafilter who are sick of men, and a lot of it seems to be housework/emotional labor issues. I on’t know whether WGTOW is in common use, I’ve seen them talk about Crone Island.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            fortaleza84:

            “And if your answer is “yes,” do you think those same women would complain if a very handsome man approached them under similar circumstances, e.g. while they were working out at the gym?”

            This is a hypothetical. I can imagine it being true, but I’m uncertain how common it is. And shouldn’t it be about men who are better-looking than what the woman usually attracts?

            As a general point, being a woman can be astonishingly much like dealing with telemarketers. Frequently in person. Some of whom are scary.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            I would imagine that a woman’s openness to being approached fluctuates, based on her mood. It seems likely that even in a bad mood, she would be unlikely to be rude to Brad Pitt.

            As a general point, being a woman can be astonishingly much like dealing with telemarketers. Frequently in person. Some of whom are scary.

            I would argue that the world would be a better place if women approached more often and men less, where more of the former would automatically result in the latter.

          • mdet says:

            Fortaleza says that society has a bias towards thinking Men Are Shallow, and Women Are Wonderful. Sure, ok, but in my book, the way to correct a bias like this isn’t to say “Actually, WOMEN are the shallow ones”, as you appear to be doing (ok, you criticize men in tiny parentheticals). The proper response is “People are complex, nuanced, and multifaceted, constantly struggling to balance a number of virtues and flaws”.

            I’m sure you’re aware of how a lot of people find that social justice arguments sound like they’re 95% personal grievance, 5% content, and that this only pushes people to automatically disagree with them, if only for superweapon reasons. You’re doing this exact thing, and then when Deiseach, myself, or others ask you to fix your tone, just dismissing it with “This just proves my claims about white privilege Women Are Wonderful, you can’t ever criticize white men women without people coming out the woodwork to attack you”. I’d probably have been much more receptive to your arguments if you weren’t basically saying things like “[Category that contains literally billions of human beings] are only defined by a few traits, they all only really care about a handful of things.”

        • Deiseach says:

          By the way, I’m still waiting for you to provide examples of your earlier claims regarding views of spinsterhood and the sexual marketplace.

          fortaleza84, are you asking me to prove that there have been unmarried women in the past? I’d like to be entirely sure I’m understanding you, because otherwise you seem to be expecting me to go “Snap, your tenacious grasp of logic and bulldog determination has caught me out, yes I admit it – I lied! Never ever in the entire history of the human race since we became what could be defined as human has a woman ever been unmarried or considered sexually undesirable, any woman who remained single did so because she had too many choices and didn’t want to stop banging all the hot young studs throwing themselves at her fifty year old feet, whereas those poor, exploited young men were left pining and lonely to die as unkissed virgins while the cruel matriarchs who ruled the tribe laughed and mocked them”.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            fortaleza84, are you asking me to prove that there have been unmarried women in the past?

            Lol, no. Here’s what you said before:

            What annoys me is that a lot of this arguing seems to presume that there have never been spinsters or women who were deemed unmarriageable, there have never been women who wanted to marry and have families but couldn’t find or attract a husband; that any woman can have any man and as many men as she wants but a guy who isn’t a 10 in looks, wealth and what passes for status in his particular social circle has no chance at all.

            I’m simply asking you to provide quotes demonstrating that posters are actually making these presumptions and it’s not simply a bunch of straw man you invented.

            I’m waiting.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            By the way, if any lurkers are reading this exchange, I don’t seriously expect Deseiach to back up what she is saying.

            The key point here is she (honestly) is annoyed but is unable to articulate the source of her annoyance. So she must rationalize her annoyance by inventing claims that nobody actually made.

            As someone who regularly discusses male/female relationship issues online, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. Almost all women — and a lot of men as well — have a a “Woman are Wonderful” bias. They react emotionally to any evidence or argument which puts women in a negative light.

            And that’s exactly the problem. Any evidence or argument that incels are for the most part decent guys who are victims of circumstances reflects negatively on women as a group and is therefore rejected. In a gynocentric society such as ours, it’s just really difficult to address predominantly male problems.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m simply asking you to provide quotes demonstrating that posters are actually making these presumptions and it’s not simply a bunch of straw man you invented

            How about every damn post you make about “innocent men suffering because women insist on being hypergamous”? After wading through as much of Elliot Rodger’s manifesto as I could stand, your comments sound very much in that vein.

            incels are for the most part decent guys who are victims of circumstances

            Define these circumstances. Some of these circumstances are “they need some practical advice on how to present themselves” which I think nobody is trying to deny as an attack on women to say that. Some of these circumstances are “guys with mental problems who need a lot more help and support before even trying to get a girlfriend because they can’t even manage their own lives”, and if that’s gynocentric then welcome to how it used to be for women in a man’s world.

            And some of the circumstances, to be blunt, are “you’re ugly and poor and boring and no, you won’t get the level of woman you want so you have to either settle or go without” and yes, some women have the same problem.

            What is your argument? Women should forget romantic notions and settle for “good enough, at least he doesn’t beat me”? Okay, sure! And men should also settle for “good enough, at least she’s not sleeping with the milkman”. But if you have an exaggerated notion of “if I only get the popular girl then my life will be like the movies where I get unconditional love and esteem and suddenly I’ll be so happy and fulfilled” – sorry, life is not like that and a lot – indeed, most – married or partnered people are going along with “yeah good enough, it’s okay, we’re doing fine, it’s not constant ecstasy but it’s normal”.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            How about every damn post you make about

            How about you actually quote me instead of just making stuff up?

            Just quote me where I stated or implied that

            (1) there have never been spinsters or women who were deemed unmarriageable,

            (2) there have never been women who wanted to marry and have families but couldn’t find or attract a husband; and

            (3) that any woman can have any man and as many men as she wants but a guy who isn’t a 10 in looks, wealth and what passes for status in his particular social circle has no chance at all.

            Failing that, please admit that I stated or implied no such thing and apologize for misrepresenting my position.

    • skef says:

      I would like to add a thought to this discussion partly in response to multiple sub-threads:

      There has been a lot of talk about how more “traditional” cultures (both ours in the past, and others in the present) handle this problem better, but I rarely see attempts to generalize about what’s going on in those cultures vs what’s going on with ours. It seems like getting at the general underlying phenomenon might help in thinking about what we might do, as opposed to just adverting to this or that particular strategy.

      I take the common thread to be: When some effort (perhaps by third parties) is put into identifying pairs that are basically compatible, and the members of the pair face social pressure to enter a relationship, they often eventually get to a point where they have a strong meaningful relationship — perhaps as strong on average as relationships that start out with passion.

      What seems to characterize the contemporary U.S. and many other western countries is the combination of: 1) not much pressure when it comes to particular couples (even if there is still quite a bit of pressure on people to couple generally), and 2) a media landscape saturated with depictions of very attractive (in all senses) people of both genders, which both partly satisfies sexual needs and implicitly sets an unrealistic standard. The result is an environment in which “settling” seems like failure, and many people who would eventually wind up in happy relationships either on their own initiative, or as a result of external pressure, don’t even attempt one.

      Heterosexuality — that is, the sexual dichotomy that characterizes the vast majority of potentially compatible couples — complicates this dynamic because on average straight men and women 1) find different kinds characteristics attractive or not, and 2) often take the different preferences of the opposite gender very personally. If attraction in both genders was primarily driven by physical characteristics, for example, “settling” could be more symmetric. But at least in our culture, the average preferences of the opposite sex have become extremely moralized. The failure to be self-perceived as attractive by the opposite standards develops into anger about those standards and the view that Things Shouldn’t Be That Way.

      I don’t have anything particularly helpful to suggest in response to the underlying problem right now, but this is the issue in a nutshell as I see it.

      • Randy M says:

        I think this is generally right on all points (and makes me sympathetic to feminist complaints about depictions of women as unrealistically beautiful, esp via photographic effects).

        If attraction in both genders was primarily driven by physical characteristics, for example, “settling” could be more symmetric.

        Sexual differences complicate it, but don’t necessarily make it worse; it’s possible for both parties to convince themselves that they are getting a good deal if the rate of exchange is a bit fuzzy, even if that makes “fair” sorting a bit more difficult. It helps that there are multiple factors involved, even if they aren’t uncorrelated, and people value them slightly differently. Not to say some people don’t have it all, but in the middle most people should be able to be satisfied on some criteria, though of course human nature and our culture can increase the dissatisfaction.

        • Aapje says:

          I think this is generally right on all points (and makes me sympathetic to feminist complaints about depictions of women as unrealistically beautiful, esp via photographic effects).

          True, although surely women are also presented with images of men that are unrealistic.

      • a media landscape saturated with depictions of very attractive (in all senses) people of both genders, which both partly satisfies sexual needs and implicitly sets an unrealistic standard.

        I don’t think it’s just the media landscape.

        Suppose you are hiring a woman for a position where she will be very visible to your customers—reception clerk at a hotel, for example. There is an obvious incentive to prefer an attractive woman. If everyone is doing that, high visibility positions will be selectively occupied by more attractive than average women, creating the illusion of a higher level of average female attractiveness than actually exists.

    • baconbits9 says:

      1. Reduce the stigma on masturbation
      2. Legalize prostitution

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Are the incels really afraid of masturbation?

        • Matt M says:

          No – but its still low status.

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t see how you could possibly make it high status. It’s trivially easy and does nothing for anyone else. It’s like making eating free donuts high status. Maybe you don’t think too poorly of the guy who takes a free crispy creme every day, but it’s hard to think well of it.

          • Matt M says:

            Neutral status would be an upgrade.

          • baconbits9 says:

            It should be no status, like using the bathroom. Almost everyone does it, and does it in private there is no reason for it to be low status.

          • Well... says:

            Pretty sure it’s already no status. In that Seinfeld episode, “The Contest”, Jerry said it’s part of the male lifestyle. Elaine did not contest the point. That aired in 1992.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        1. ‘Stigma on masturbation’ — This feels conceptually unsound. I can’t help but assume that pretty much everyone knows that masturbation is almost a universal at least for males and particularly those that don’t have partners.

        The stigma is more indirect, partnership is understood as being more of an accomplishment (and is generally regarded as being more fulfilling) and it naturally follows that there’s going to be a stigma around the sort of person that can *only* rely on masturbation. The only way to elevate masturbation is to somehow make it as socially and mentally elevating as the experience and capacity for actual partnerships which seems less plausible then fat acceptance.

        2. Elliot Rodger’s father claims that he actually offered to take him [the would-be shooter] to a Brothel, and Elliot was supposedly disgusted by the idea. As others have pointed out the Inceldom =/= orgasm deprivation. It’s more psychological than

        This is also why people that advocate drugging people into becoming disinterested in sex are risking throwing gasoline on a fire. (unless the idea is to solve the incel problem by drugging people into becoming suicidal rather than homicidal) Self confidence and Sex drive often go together.

        • baconbits9 says:

          1. ‘Stigma on masturbation’ — This feels conceptually unsound. I can’t help but assume that pretty much everyone knows that masturbation is almost a universal at least for males and particularly those that don’t have partners.

          This is a bad assumption, even for people who eventually find out there are tons of people who spend years not knowing. Someone who comes to the realization in college that everyone does it might have 5-7 years worth of guilt and shame stacked up for no reason.

          2. Elliot Rodger’s father claims that he actually offered to take him [the would-be shooter] to a Brothel, and Elliot was supposedly disgusted by the idea. As others have pointed out the Inceldom =/= orgasm deprivation.

          There is almost nothing that ‘society’ can do for the more difficult cases, but what can reasonably be done is not to structure things so that more marginal cases get pushed in that direction.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          I think there’s still some stigma on masturbation in the sense of “that’s just masturbation” is still a live insult– some activity done alone is compared to doing it with other people.

          • toastengineer says:

            I never saw calling an activity masturbatory as just an insult, usually it’s invoked as a metaphor; “you’re doing that just to relieve the symptoms of not ____ / give the appearance/feeling of ____ rather than actually ____.”

    • fortaleza84 says:

      It seems to me there is a difference between what will work on an individual level and what will work on a societal level.

      At an individual level, the idea of getting in shape, getting some good clothing, learning a little “game,” etc. is probably a good idea and will rescue a lot of guys who otherwise would have been incel. But none of this will change the fact that there is a shortage of young women; nor will it change the female hypergamy instinct. As a result, there will always be a lot of young men who will never ever find a young woman to be their girlfriend/wife.

      It’s kind of like advising a PhD student to start working immediately on publications; to network aggressively; to choose sexy, trendy topics for his work, etc. It’s good advice but it won’t fix the basic problem that there are too many PhD’s chasing too few academic jobs.

    • dark orchid says:

      I fully believe in the core of 2) insomuch as no-one has a right to sex or an obligation to provide it. I don’t think it would achieve anything positive by going out to their forums and shoving that in their faces though, but if it comes to a vote on whether there should be a “right to sex” I’m happy to be known to be on the “no” side. But 2) doesn’t exclude some form of 1) – if there are things you can do that make it more likely you’ll get consensual sex, by all means do them.

      3) I’m pessimistic about – traditional values won’t suddenly bring back all the factory jobs.

      My real suggestion is 5) though (because 4 is already taken in another post):

      There are different kinds of relationships, all of which I’d assume are basic human needs – community, friendship, really close friendship and (reminder that asexuals exist, but I concede that most of us are not) romantic and sexual relationships. Recognise that you’re optimising for overall happiness, and the best way to do that is not to focus exclusively on one potential contributing factor over which you have limited control in the first place. (Though perhaps don’t word it quite like this if you’re talking to the general public.)

      If you’re not gay then might not be able to satisfy your sexual desires with other men. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be friends, even close friends with other men, and if there’s something society can do it’s perhaps push back against the idea that close non-sexual friendships can’t exist between men or that hugging another man “makes you gay”. If we can somehow achieve this then there might be an almost limitless supply of cuddle for men. I’m happy to be corrected if this is wrong but I think I read somewhere online that touching and hugging among men was absolutely normal until around Victorian times.

      If someone has neither close friends nor any luck with dating, I’d advise working on the friends thing first. Not only in the sense of 1) but as a terminal value of its own – even married people are allowed to have friends! At the very least, you won’t be completely lonely in your search for true love or whatever. At best, it’ll improve your mood and social life to the point where you’ll be in a much better place than even Dan Savage could coach you to.

      • Well... says:

        I’m happy to be corrected if this is wrong but I think I read somewhere online that touching and hugging among men was absolutely normal until around Victorian times.

        I might be the bringer of happiness. I think I remember learning it was normal until the emergence of a homosexual counterculture in the 1920s or so. At that point straight men didn’t want to be confused for gay in a society that suddenly realized there were lots of gay guys walking around.

        From what I’ve heard it’s still normal for men to hold hands in parts of the Arab world, where being gay is a crime.

        • Aapje says:

          I might be the bringer of happiness.

          How so? Acceptance of gays is not going away. The desire of heterosexual men to be seen as potential partners by women is not going away. So is this going to change again?

          Perhaps women will stop assuming that intimate men are gay & dismiss them as potential partners in the future. However, I’m not seeing much change towards this at the moment.

          In general, men seem to be in limbo, being required to simultaneously be masculine and not masculine, like a superposed quantum state. Behavior that is strongly coded as non-masculine/gay, like cuddling other men, seems like a hard sell if it strongly reduces the chances of a more desirable kind of relationship (with a woman).

          • Well... says:

            How so?

            Because dark orchid said he’d be happy to be corrected about men holding hands being normal up until Victorian times, and I provided this correction by saying I thought it was normal through about the first quarter of the 20th century.

            The “happiness” thing was sorta tongue-in-cheek, playing on a figure of speech.

        • lvlln says:

          When I grew up in Korea in the early 90s, it was normal for boys to hold hands with their male friends. The last time I went back to Korea about 4 years ago, I recall occasionally seeing what looked to me were adult male friends walking with their arms linked.

          Korea has tended to be quite behind the USA in accepting homosexuals, but given the rapid pace of change these days, I don’t know if they’ve caught up by now. Regardless of whether it’s caught up yet, as it continues to progress, I wonder if that has led to stigmatization of male-male contact recently between friends as is normal in the USA, or if the norm of holding hands and the like continues to be strong.

    • Iain says:

      It’s interesting to look at the actual numbers as context for this discussion:

      After adjustment for marital status, there were no significant time trends evident in the proportion of American adults reporting past-year sexlessness. Among participants (age = 18–89 years), 15.2% of males and 26.7% of females reported past-year sexlessness while 8.7% of males and 17.5% of females reported no sex for 5 years or more. For both genders, past-year sexlessness was most strongly associated with older age and being currently non-married in the multivariable models. Among males, the multivariable analysis also showed that sexlessness was associated with providing less than 20% of the household income (OR 2.27). In female participants, sexlessness was associated with very low income, poor health, lower financial satisfaction, absence of children, and having conservative sexual attitudes (OR 1.46–3.60). For both genders, Black race was associated with a much lower likelihood of sexlessness among currently non-married adults. The purported detrimental impact of sexlessness on self-reported happiness levels was not evident in this large, nationally representative study after adjusting for sociodemographic factors. Sexless Americans reported very similar happiness levels as their sexually active counterparts.

      I don’t have access to the full article to see how it breaks down by age, though.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        paper
        raw data

        Under 25, 50% more men are sexless (1y or 5y, same ratios). 25-35, it’s about equal. 35-55, 50% more women are sexless. 55-65, 3x.

      • Aapje says:

        @Iain

        It seems extremely obvious that much of the long term sexlessness is at advanced age and mostly among women, who tend to outlive men, of course. Presumably the (very) elderly also tend to have lower libidos and also don’t suffer from status loss or an inability to have children due to a lack of partner, so many might not care that much.

        The solutions for the elderly who do want sex also seems fundamentally different in many cases than for younger people.

        • Iain says:

          As Douglas Knight says in the post above yours, men only have less sex than women until they’re ~25. I certainly hope that doesn’t count as advanced age.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            That’s an advanced age relative to the typical dating market exit.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            At 25 it is equal until 35, so it is definitely wrong to interpret my post as arguing that 25 is advanced age. However, I didn’t make my comment to argue about the flipping point at all.

            What I was pointing out is that the overall percentages are pretty meaningless to the discussion we are having, IMO.

          • Iain says:

            @A Definite Beta Guy:

            The median age at first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men.

    • achenx says:

      Interesting thread.

      Have to say I am really skeptical of your #1 there and many of the related replies. It just reminds me of the stereotypical movie scene associated with 80s/90s movies where the “ugly” girl takes off her glasses and lets her hair down and is all of a sudden “hot” and the guys can’t figure out what happened. My experience has just not borne out that attractiveness works like that. Is there really a large population of guys who would be at least averagely attractive if only they didn’t have a bad haircut or whatever? I mean a nice haircut doesn’t hurt, but it’s unlikely that that’s what’s holding you back..?

      Also as someone who didn’t get any dating advice when I was young, but managed to blunder into a relationship anyway, I am wondering how to give advice to my kids. It’s not all that far away for my oldest, so it’s something I want to figure out.

      • hls2003 says:

        I think the most common mistake related to #1 is that men, giving advice to other men, suffer the typical mind fallacy. If you postulate that attraction is significantly visual, as with most men, then making yourself more good-looking is the obvious step. And it’s not a bad idea! But if you postulate that women are less visually motivated, then the advice is more properly interpreted as doing things – not necessarily visual or physical things – that make you more precisely match women’s preferences. Some of those will be physical; it’s never a good idea to be the “smelly guy” so deodorant and hygiene are no-brainers; you can’t make yourself taller but you can make yourself fitter; you can’t make yourself handsome but you can become more content with and secure in your own looks (admittedly this is often harder than the physical stuff).

        So #1, in my mind, is less about lifting weights and using a particular brand of hair gel (though it probably won’t hurt on the margins), and more about being a person higher in the criteria that women like – which I tend to define as something like confident, secure, and competent, and which traits tend to reinforce each other as you become, e.g., more secure due to your competence, and more confident due to some success, and more competent as your more confident approach gets you more practice.

        It won’t get you any girl you want, but it might get you a girl.

        • Tarpitz says:

          Speaking as someone whose adult weight has been as low as 11 stone 7 and as high as 18 7, I can assure you that, at least based on my experience, that kind of change can make a large difference.

          Caveat: at the risk of sounding like a twat, I’m fairly handsome. It may be that weight loss has more leverage for those with reasonably attractive facial features.

          • hls2003 says:

            I don’t disagree. As far as I can tell, improving fitness is never going to be a hindrance, and may be a help. Certainly the less fit one is to begin, the greater benefit (including in dating) they will obtain from reversing the condition. Morbid obesity would fall pretty close on the spectrum to deodorant and bad hygiene, as a substantial pool-shrinker, and should be reversed if possible.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          The worst typical mind fallacy in all this is telling incels that they’d be better at attracting women if they were more respectful of women.

          This bumps up against the clear fact that there are a lot of men who despise and mistreat women while still being quite well able to attract women.

          Just guessing, but it may be that hating women from a one-down position (“poor me, it’s so unfair that women don’t like me”) drives women away, while hating women from a one-up position (“bitch, you can’t prove you’re good enough for me but keep trying”) can actually be effective at attracting women.

          It’s probably more complicated than that– a lot of abusive relationships start with enthusiastic courtship by the person who will become abusive.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The worst typical mind fallacy in all this is telling incels that they’d be better at attracting women if they were more respectful of women.

            Yes, this right here is the “raising them wrong” thing I’ve been talking about. Young men are taught by their single mothers and their female teachers that the most important thing is to “respect women.” If you respect women and treat them well, they’ll like you, including romantically. And this is not true. “Respecting women” isn’t in the top 5 for mate selection.

            What men need to do to attract women is to compete with other men and win. Look good and win the attractiveness competition. Acquire currency and win the wealth competition. Do sports and win the athletics competition. Play the guitar and win the coolness competition. Those things will get you laid. Winning the “respects women” competition will not*.

            I think part of the problem is that girls tend to prefer cooperative environments to competitive environments. As the schools are dominated by women, and society has put a massive focus on educating girls well, they have been suppressing male competitiveness in schools. So I don’t think the schools are going to be telling boys the truth any time soon. You can’t both suppress and encourage competitiveness at the same time.

            * Now, one should treat women well because one should treat other people well in a civilized society. But “respecter of women” does not add to a man’s sexual market value. “Disrespecter of women” doesn’t necessarily either, but the ding a man’s SMV takes for disrespecting women is much, much smaller than popular culture would have one believe.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Consider that the word “respect” can have multiple meanings. When you think of a man who describes himself as a “respecter of women” or whatever – what forms might that take?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            To me, a man who describes himself as a “respecter of women” pattern matches to Supreme Gentleman. That is, incel, or perhaps some sort of “male feminist beta orbiter” who is hoping that by being a good feminist ally he will get laid.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Or, someone not using those precise words. Imagine a guy who thinks it is super important for men to respect women, is full of venom for men who don’t, and is vocal about this. This hypothetical guy could fit several archetypes, each of which treats women differently.

            What I’m trying to say – I’m being kind of vague; it’s one of those “I definitely know what I’m trying to say” situations – is, this could happen: you tell a guy “respect women” and you mean “take women seriously, treat them like moral beings with agency”. Just from the words “respect women” he could run in several different directions. And some of those directions aren’t going to make women feel respected – but in different ways.

            As an example – there are guys who think of themselves as “respecting women” but their respect is entirely in the form of protecting women’s feelings; they are really treating women like children. (There are, to be fair, also women who demand to be treated in this fashion, while insisting they are in fact demanding something else)

            Or, for another example, look at all the guys who heard that women want “nice” and read “nice” as “spineless and passive” – then, when being spineless and passive turns out not to be attractive, they think “wtf? I’m being nice.”

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Sure, but whatever form “respect women” takes, it’s not high up on the list of things women find attractive.

            Also, criticisms of “he disrespects women” will only be applied to men a woman doesn’t like or doesn’t find attractive for other reasons. Young men hear this and think “oh, I need to respect women and then I’ll be liked by women!” When no, you need to

            1. Be attractive.

            2. Don’t be unattractive.

            And then your “respecter of women” status is irrelevant, as attractive misogynists get laid while unattractive Supreme Gentlemen do not.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Regardless, advice that could be interpreted several different ways, some of which will make things worse, is terrible advice. Every “school” of dating advice has some element that is dreadfully wrong and counterproductive, in some cases toxic; because each school follows from a different worldview and set of assumptions, it’s hard to integrate them together.

            This isn’t just schools of dating advice that are addressed to men, either; there’s dating advice that women get, and a lot of it is really horrible too.

          • Nornagest says:

            Socially inexperienced nerds often do this thing where they look at a confusing mess of stuff that society considers virtuous, pick one virtue that looks attainable, and resolve to embody it as hard as they can. Honesty’s a common one: everyone wants to be honest, but only nerds try to be the most honest person ever. This usually ends up looking kind of off-putting and self-destructive in practice, because the virtue’s come unmoored from the social context that makes it virtuous; then when the inevitable disaster happens, the nerd looks at the wreckage and concludes that the problem must be society’s lies, because honesty’s a virtue, right?

            Seems to me that your Supreme Gentleman is doing basically the same thing, just with “respect for women” substituted for “honesty”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            What are we using “Supreme Gentleman” as shorthand for? I mean, the originator, he hardly seems to have been a guy who embodied actual respect for women.

            A guy who respected women in the same way a guy with his shit more or less together respects men (or, a woman, a man) – taking them seriously if they’re someone to be taken seriously, speaking with them like an adult who can handle their shit, not tiptoeing around them, not assuming they don’t know what they’re doing them, overall, respecting a given individual or a group insofar as they’ve shown themselves worthy of that respect (and starting off erring towards respect with unknown people/groups)…

            Is that going to hurt his chances of success with women? Well, with some women, sure. Depending on what he’s looking for, maybe he’d be better off behaving differently. But I personally would rather limit my interactions with women who react badly to being taken seriously; I certainly wouldn’t want romantic interactions with a woman I can’t deal with as a real-deal equal.

            It’s just as true that some men react badly if you take them seriously – some guys prefer for you to kiss their ass to their face (imagine that’s physiologically possible) and route around their childishness when they’re not around, or whatever. You’re probably better off not getting involved with those guys, either – you wouldn’t want one as your business partner, say.

            Some people, regardless of gender, like being treated as though they’re little child-emperors: appease them, defer to them, but don’t take them seriously, and figure out where the vizier who actually knows what’s going on is. I don’t think treating people like this is legitimately respecting them.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m saying it doesn’t matter what “respects women” looks like. As soon as you’re measuring your sexual market value based on your “respect for women,” however you define it, you’ve lost.

            Conan O’Brien used to have a recurring character on his show called “The Loser,” and one appearance featured “The Loser on the Beach.” The Loser had brought a bag of hard boiled eggs with him to share, because, you know, everybody loves hard boiled eggs at the beach. “Respecting women” in order to find a sexual partner or girlfriend is the bag of hard boiled eggs on the beach. Nobody cares.

          • dndnrsn says:

            If you’re looking for a long-term relationship with someone you respect – if that’s an element of a quality relationship to you – tautologically, you’re not going to respect them unless you respect them (in the real sense, not child-emperor sense). Being in a relationship with someone where you’re constantly scaling stuff down to deal with them, so to speak, is best avoided.

            It might not make one better at attracting the women in the first place, and if you want to pick up lots of women in bars, who cares? Still – a good form of the advice can be helpful advice for a guy in his long-term relationship success; a bad form of the advice can be considerably detrimental.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that the word ‘respect’ should be banned from this discussion.

            These types of ‘respecting’ exist:
            1. benevolent sexism
            2. treating women just like men (but with vagina’s)
            3. acceding to the demands of a woman (or of women)
            4. recognizing that the other person is not great at demanding or verbalizing what they need & treating them in a way (that you think) is good for them
            5. standing up for yourself and making demands of your own

            Of course these are still merely categories, where the actual details can vary greatly. People can define the ‘correct’ level and type of benevolent sexism very differently.

            In general, both men and women can have very different personal definitions & can get very angry at people who operate based on other definitions, as they tend to consider their own definition to be unquestionably correct.

            I would argue that the culture and women themselves tend to teach to and demand from men that they do 1 & 2 & 3, but that women actually tend to respond a lot better to also doing a healthy amount of 4 & 5.

      • baconbits9 says:

        Have to say I am really skeptical of your #1 there and many of the related replies. It just reminds me of the stereotypical movie scene associated with 80s/90s movies where the “ugly” girl takes off her glasses and lets her hair down and is all of a sudden “hot” and the guys can’t figure out what happened. My experience has just not borne out that attractiveness works like that. Is there really a large population of guys who would be at least averagely attractive if only they didn’t have a bad haircut or whatever? I mean a nice haircut doesn’t hurt, but it’s unlikely that that’s what’s holding you back..?

        Typically there isn’t one issue, its not like you are a haircut away from being Brad Pitt, but if it knocks a few percentage points off the dating pool right off the bat and you have several features like this that could be addressed you could go from being a “no” to 99% of the women and a “maybe” to 1% to a “no” to 90% and a “maybe” to 10%. When you are talking about guys who might feel a huge amount better with sex once or twice a year that is a huge change.

      • Jesse E says:

        The advice isn’t so much, “cut your hair, exercise a little, and learn to wear deodorant more regularly and you’ll be swimming in women,” it’s “cut your hair, exercise a little, and learn to wear deodorant more regularly so you’ll have any chance with anybody you might be attracted too, assuming your standards aren’t completely out of wack.”

        • John Schilling says:

          But this advice is indistinguishable from “Just be yourself; the right girl will come along eventually”.

          It is completely unfalsifiable on any timescale shorter than years, it immediately deflects any question or claim to anything more to a token level or sympathy, it implies that it’s basically all the incel’s fault for not implementing the simple obvious fix and waiting for the result, and it allows the speaker giving advice to smugly disengage and spend the rest of their life believing they’ve done a good deed without having to actually do any work or confront their ultimate failure.

          Possibly “exercise a little…” is in fact marginally more effective than “just be yourself…”, but A: I’m going to guess that you haven’t done the sort of inquiry that would let you justify such claims at the margin(*) and more importantly B: I hope you can understand why the recipients of the advice will take it as little more than a blow-off.

          Offering to take them to the gym, would at least signal serious interest or concern.

          * Yes, it’s intuitively obvious to you that “exercise a little” works at the margin, so much so that only a fool would think it needs to be investigated. The “just be yourself” crowd feels the same about their advice

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Some thoughts about helping incels, and I admit I haven’t read the whole thread.

      It strikes me that their problem isn’t just their lack of sex/relationships, it’s that they react to their problems with hatred, despair, and resentment rather than looking into having the best life they can. This is a much more general problem than not having sexual/romantic relationships, and it was looking at incels which made me realize how much I’ve got the problem myself, even if it’s about somewhat different issues. I don’t think I’m the only person at ssc with a similar pattern.

      Related: Encourage people to look at how their online groups are effecting their lives.

      I’ve wondered whether there should be public service announcements along the lines of “Anyone who’s trying to get you killed is your enemy, even if it’s your commanding officer. Or your imam. Or the voices in your head.”

      Societal and long term: man who who don’t have a history of relationships with women are not a separate category of humans. Stop despising them. I really think being assigned low status has a lot to do with why some men identify as incels. If this change could be managed, I don’t know that if would do much for men who already identify as incels.

      • Aapje says:

        Good point. Given that we’re living in a society where assertiveness is more important than in the past, also for women, women (and men) may strike out in ways that are different, but that have a very similar cause.

        Perhaps a lack of assertiveness when asking for promotions, raises and such; or even more in general, a way of presenting that makes employers less likely to promote you or give you raises. Some people may naturally act in ways that make it attractive to put the person in a higher position and to give them more salary, others may learn it and some may fail to understand why they get passed by and get resentful.

        Perhaps some of the people who go on a shooting rampage at their office do it out of these kinds of resentments.

      • Baeraad says:

        Related: Encourage people to look at how their online groups are effecting their lives.

        Sometimes I think it’s impossible to have such a thing as a healthy online support group. No matter how much I sympathise with the starting point of one, it invariably seems to turn rancid and all about hating outsiders. I’ve seen it again and again.

        Societal and long term: man who who don’t have a history of relationships with women are not a separate category of humans. Stop despising them.

        Yes. This.

        In fact, “don’t shame people” is a pretty good principle in general. It never seems to do anything other than make the shamed people behave even worse.

        • Tarpitz says:

          I think I agree that shaming people is net negative, but I’m not convinced it has no positive social effects. For example, I suspect that a large part of the reason women are, on average, less overweight than men is that they are more shamed for being so. More-or-less by definition, the people who are harmed by fat-shaming are the ones who are fat in spite of the social stigma. The ones who would be fat were it not for said stigma are hard or impossible to identify, but they are at least plausibly benefitting from its existence.

          • albatross11 says:

            Is there any data that could let us know whether that’s true or not?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            You’re ignoring the cost, certainly in attention and effort and probably in money, in maintaining a lower weight than one’s default. Also, there are some risks associated with attempting to lose weight.

          • toastengineer says:

            More shamed, or more materially affected, because physical attractiveness is more of an asset to women than men*?

            (*whether it be because people value women less for other things, or just because being pretty is equally good for everyone but women are usually prettier than men can be)

        • Aapje says:

          @Baeraad

          Sometimes I think it’s impossible to have such a thing as a healthy online support group.

          The people who are most active tend to be the most upset/angry/resentful, because those emotions cause them to have much need for validation and such. So unless there is strict moderation by people who are very active, but not upset/angry/resentful, you’d expect the unhealthy discourse to dominate.

          In fact, “don’t shame people” is a pretty good principle in general. It never seems to do anything other than make the shamed people behave even worse.

          I disagree that it doesn’t do anything. People clearly often adapt their behavior so to not be/feel shamed. Of course, that isn’t the same as acting how the shamers want them to behave. Quite often people still do the thing that they are being shamed for, but then in secret.

          • albatross11 says:

            My mother in law (a retired psychologist) once quipped that the problem with group therapy was that the group was only as healthy as its least-healthy member. It strikes me that you’re describing a similar phenomenon.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          So you’re not big on Confucius’s claim that we should shame people’s bad behavior rather than criminalizing it?

          • Baeraad says:

            With all due respect to Confucius, yes, I must disagree with him there. I would prefer for it to go like this:

            Minor bad behaviour: tolerate it.
            Moderate bad behaviour: avoid the people who engage in it.
            Major bad behaviour: outlaw it.

            Shaming should never enter into it, except insofar as having people avoid you count as shaming.

            ETA: Actually, as far as philosophers go, on this one I refer you to my favourite Nietzsche quote: “Where one can no longer love, there one should pass by.”

        • gbdub says:

          I suspect support groups of any kind really only work while they maintain positive momentum focused on self-improvement. Once that momentum is lost, they turn into commiserating and then wallowing in despair, resentment, etc.

          Online groups are particularly bad because they will be dominated by the loudest most negative voices.

          I think there’s a very good reason support groups for things like addiction are led by sober addicts, and often assign sponsors who are former participants. You need that sort of strict moderation to keep the eyes on the prize.

          I imagine an addiction support group that was just a bunch of addicts talking about whatever they wanted would degrade pretty damn quick, and that’s what most incel forums are.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          “Sometimes I think it’s impossible to have such a thing as a healthy online support group.”

          I think I’m in a couple of them, but they’re more like “I’m having a hard time, say nice things to me” than “support my grudge against the world”.

          • Nick says:

            In her series on estranged parents forums, Issendai contrasts them with the culture of estranged adult children forums. I think it’s a good illustration of how one community can be simply reinforce all the worst habits and tendencies of its members, while another can be supportive while pushing for its members to actually improve their situations.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nick

            Now I really want to know whether those parents forums are more populated by women and those children forums more by men. My theory is that this is the case and that the observed patterns in large part reflect feminine and masculine ways of interacting.

            EDIT: My prediction seems correct:

            Many forums are entirely female, and forums with male members rarely have more than one or two, total.

          • Nick says:

            I doubt the adult childrens forums are majority male, although they may be more male than the estranged parents forums. Take a look at this list of quotes from adult children; do those sound to you like they were written by men?

            And I’m skeptical it even mostly comes down to gender differences in “ways of interacting.” I’ll give you the first one on that list (emotional support vs problem solving), since it’s my understanding that one does fall on gendered lines. But women are perfectly capable of e.g. noticing patterns of behavior, emphasizing consistency in their own and others’ narratives, and recommending scholarly research. I think the better explanation is that things like consistency, probing attention, and research are inimical to the fantasy worlds these parents construct, so these practices get no encouragement or reinforcement whatsoever. The children have no fantasy world to construct, so they have nothing to fear from others’ probing questions—especially if the advice following those questions is actionable and really helps.

          • Aapje says:

            I doubt that the children’s forums are 100% female, so one would expect those to be more masculine in nature.

            However, I agree that the differences in narratives probably plays a large role as well.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        This goes beyond online groups. Assuming offline groups even exist anymore. One reason I did not fall in to this trap when I was in college was because of the way I picked my social groups. I saw the neckbeards playing Magic: The Gathering at the student union and said “no. I’m not doing that. Nerdy and socially awkward as I am I am not surrounding myself with other people as weird or weirder than I am.” Instead I joined the College Republicans, dated a girl from there, met a guy who became a friend for life (and many years later introduced me to the woman I married), and tagged along with a guy I knew from high school who made cooler friends than I did. I joined their social group, and we went to parties where I met girls, or my friends got girlfriends and then I met the girlfriends’ friends, etc. I was the nerd of a group of normal people instead of one of a group of nerds.

        I have no idea how applicable this is after college, but for me, what saved me was I didn’t hang out with other people who had my same problems. I first befriended other men who didn’t have these problems.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          My first reaction was “But, but, Magic the Gathering!” and I don’t even like the game. I’m probably too influenced by nerd culture.

    • Garrett says:

      One thing that’s bothered me about point (2) is that a whole pile of noise in the healthcare debate in the US has been around mandatory contraceptive coverage. If nobody has a right to sex, why shouldn’t people who can’t afford contraception be expected to abstain? (I’m taking about birth control qua birth control, not eg. treatment for endometriosis). Alternatively, sexual intimacy is an essential part of being a human, and thus we should mandate the provision thereof to man who can’t get laid.

      • albatross11 says:

        I don’t think many people see mandatory contraceptive coverage as being based on (or implying) a right to sexual intimacy that someone else is obliged to provide, anymore than coverage for cholesterol-lowering drugs implies a right to eat fatty foods that someone else is obliged to provide.

      • Aapje says:

        @Garrett

        One way in which people sidestep that discussion is to talk about medical uses of contraception.

        Another way is to make a consequentialist claim (pregnancy is far more expensive than contraception).

        I don’t generally see people arguing for a right to have contraception because they have a right to have sex.

      • Deiseach says:

        I think the mandatory contraceptive coverage is not about the right to sex as such, it’s very political about what is now called reproductive justice. I’m the kind who would say to an unmarried woman “if you don’t want babies, don’t have sex” but you can imagine for yourself the kind of response that would provoke.

    • Zephalinda says:

      It sounds counterintuitive, but what’s the possibility we could come at it obliquely by offering more opportunities for mastery in other areas of life– especially, maybe, concrete material crafts and skills?

      Earlier discussions very helpfully established that incel angst is less about sex per se than about status (which gets widely mapped onto “sexiness” by the culture at large). As far as I can see, then, the angry incel’s onion-style structure of unmet needs goes:

      I NEED:
      SEX WITH GIRLS (as a proxy for)<–SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE (as a proxy for)<– SOCIAL STATUS.

      So interventions at the "social status" part of the chain would presumably work to somewhat lessen the urgency of that downstream need for sex/relationship with a desired partner. Unfortunately, feeling low-status is apparently inherently, biochemically stressful. And insofar as social status depends on evoking specific desired reactions from other people, it’s probably going to be really freaking hard to control. (That’s the “feeling cheated by bad advice/ even if I get a haircut, they still won’t date me” portion of the discussion upthread.)

      The question is, though, is social status the only form of status available, or does perceived status also draw on other forms of felt mastery, like, say, mastering one’s body, or mastering a physical medium like wood or stone? Christopher Lasch has a good argument that moderns become more narcissistically obsessed with social status the more they lose a sense of skilled control over their material world: as with children, fearfully trying to control relationships with others comes partly from feeling insecure about your ability to make it on your own.

      Historically, I can think of lots of groups of men (explorers, settlers, premodern soldiers, lumberjacks, pretty much all poor labourers) who were in the same unhappily-romanceless situation as incels, but who seem to have cheerfully gotten by on a combo of paid prostitutes and wanking. If those folks managed to be simply horny without the super-emo angst, rage and indignation over their lack of spontaneous validation from local females, then could the difference be that they felt comfortable in their bodies and their physical abilities, so they didn’t particularly need affirmation from girls to compensate? And should that mean that an incel who works really hard to win mastery of, say, woodcarving or stone wall building, etc., could expect to start spontaneously feeling less incel-y, even if he still can’t get the girl?

      • Aapje says:

        Historically, I can think of lots of groups of men (explorers, settlers, premodern soldiers, lumberjacks, pretty much all poor labourers) who were in the same unhappily-romanceless situation as incels, but who seem to have cheerfully gotten by on a combo of paid prostitutes and wanking

        And murder, rape, etc. Many also got in relationships with women if they encountered them.

        The crew of the Bounty were very happy when they had a long layover on Tahiti and could form relationships with the natives. So much so, that they refused to leave them.

        • J Mann says:

          Don’t forget opportunistic homosexuality!

        • Zephalinda says:

          The crew of the Bounty were very happy when they had a long layover on Tahiti and could form relationships with the natives. So much so, that they refused to leave them.

          But from that article, it looks like the men voluntarily left their Tahitian consorts…

          In their Bounty histories, both Hough and Alexander maintain that the men were not at a stage close to mutiny, however sorry they were to leave Tahiti. The journal of James Morrison, the boatswain’s mate, supports this

          …only to mutiny a few weeks out, in response to a combination of frank maltreatment:

          Bligh punished the whole crew for this theft, stopping their rum ration and reducing their food by half

          …and the lead mutineer’s feeling insulted, i.e. status hit:

          He returned to the ship with his task incomplete, and was cursed by Bligh as “a damned cowardly rascal”. …By 27 April, Christian was in a state of despair, depressed and brooding

          Altogether, seems like that particular instance supports the notion that status/dominance >> romance, not the reverse?

          • Aapje says:

            The mutineers returned to Tahiti on June 6th, where they took women on board for sex and men for labor.

            However, there were too few women, ultimately resulting in the murders on Pitcairn Island.

      • toastengineer says:

        I’m tellin ya’, the status thing is a red herring. The problem is that people have a hard-wired need to be around people who like them, and for a lot of people (such as myself) committing to a relationship partner is a hard requirement for life satisfaction, and people in general, especially younger women to less-attractive men, are extremely cruel to lonely people. After a couple years of being told to kill yourself every time you to try to talk to a woman it’s awful hard to not get a little resentful and/or wonder if there’s some kind of weird conspiracy going on.

        Sure a lot of these people would feel better if they could master a skill or otherwise accomplish something great, but that’s more because then you still have some small trickle of positive feeling and something approximating a point to your existence. I _have_ mastered a skill and accomplished things that people go “holy shit that’s cool” when they find out about it, and I’m still completely hollow inside. It poisons everything; every victory is hollowed out and every experience is ruined, because, well, what’s the point if it still means that no-one actually gives a shit about you.

        • Aapje says:

          You are actually pointing to something that may be far broader than just the problems of some men: meritocracy in general.

          Perhaps most people fundamentally have a need to be loved for who they are and not (just) for what they do for others & we are creating self-hatred, anxiety* and such in many, by focusing so much on the latter.

          Perhaps this plays a role in both causing high levels of depression and people pretending to be high in the meritocracy, by way of computer/mobile games and such, as the computers are not so demanding**, so it is easier to make them happy than other humans.

          * Because you may be doing things of value to others now, but one day you’ll be decrepit and demented. Or you can get a nasty accident tomorrow. Who will love you then if the love you get now is so conditional on your performance?

          ** Industrialization, the greater role of government and such has resulted in an environment where you get lots of stuff for your money, so it is very hard for people to compete. For example, in the past, upper class women would learn to entertain, by playing music, singing and such. Now it is nigh impossible for a partner to outperform Spotify.

          • powerfuller says:

            Perhaps most people fundamentally have a need to be loved for who they are and not (just) for what they do for others

            That dichotomy seems to cleave pretty close to a boilerplate observation of sex differences: women are loved for who they are (i.e. human beings with wombs, which is more to say what they are), while men are loved for what they do (i.e. provide provide). This has its downsides for both sides: women can’t do much to much to increase their innate “lovability,” but can’t really lose it through their own actions, either; men are born with no innate lovability, but can work to acquire some.

            This also reflects the difference between the archetypal mother’s love (unconditional, but signifying little beyond the maternal relationship) and father’s love (conditional, but lets the child gain self esteem for its behavior). I think people need both kinds of love to feel well-rounded, but that’s a slight insight.

            I wonder if the phenomenon of some men pining after their first love for basically ever (which seems to happen more often than old women pining for their first boyfriend? epistemic status here is very shaky) is related to this, as in: my wife loves me, but it’s obvious why; I take care of her and provide for the family, etc. etc. My first love loved me when I was a basically useless layabout, so she must have loved me for my personality or “true self,” not giving me a just reward for services duly offered.

            EDIT: Related, I would guess that reports of women’s happiness declining toward that of men is related their entering the meritocratic world outside the home (not that they were previously free of any kind of judgment, obviously). A boon to the ambitious, but rat race to most.

          • Zephalinda says:

            Perhaps most people fundamentally have a need to be loved for who they are and not (just) for what they do for others

            Or there’s the historically far more common, and arguably much more natural, third alternative: to decouple affiliation from love in the sentimental present-day sense, and just base it on one’s position (kin, locality, rank, past family alliances, etc.), so that for better or worse, you get born into a more-or-less prepopulated web of relationships and only get to make minor adjustments from there.

            Affective individualism (“chosen family” and “someone deciding to love me for who I am” and the like) isn’t the opposite of performance-based relationship meritocracy; it’s just an extension of it, involving the same type of atomized competition but with poorly-defined scales of interior merit/charisma/loveability being substituted for concrete external measures of economic value.

          • Anonymous says:

            @powerfuller

            That dichotomy seems to cleave pretty close to a boilerplate observation of sex differences: women are loved for who they are (i.e. human beings with wombs, which is more to say what they are), while men are loved for what they do (i.e. provide provide). This has its downsides for both sides: women can’t do much to much to increase their innate “lovability,” but can’t really lose it through their own actions, either; men are born with no innate lovability, but can work to acquire some.

            Reminds me of a saying: “Men are respected, but not valued. Women are valued, but not respected.”

          • Aapje says:

            @powerfuller

            Indeed, except that it is changing now. Men get less credit for what they do now, from potential mates, because women now have real careers too. Men generally think they deserve more recognition. However, women also get far less return on their sacrifices than they think they deserve, as men don’t value women with careers that much.

            So both men and women feel slighted by the other gender for not recognizing their sacrifices, only it happens at different times, because the high sexual desirability of young women deceives a lot of them into overestimating how much men want to be with them for what they do. So if they end up single later in life, when their sexual desirability declines, they get upset, when they figure out that their achievements count for relatively little.

            Men are more likely to feel upset earlier in life, when they are ignored despite not being total losers and having a decent job and such.

        • Zephalinda says:

          First: toastengineer, that does sound awful, sorry you’re going through that.

          Re:

          It poisons everything; every victory is hollowed out and every experience is ruined, because, well, what’s the point if it still means that no-one actually gives a shit about you.

          Genuine question: is it possible to parse out which portions of this feeling are owing to lack of intimate human relationship in general, which to lack of social validation, and which to lack of specifically sexual/romantic interaction with a desired partner?

          Like, if you picture your same self, but as a monk/a soldier/ someone similarly living cheek-by-jowl with other men, not necessarily in a context of deep attachment, but presumably with some low-level affection, frequent interaction, bodily proximity, and a feeling of knowing and being known… what percentage of the overall “celibacy angst” would you say that addresses?

          • toastengineer says:

            Enh, everyone goes through shit, some people have trouble living at all rather than thinking of a reason to.

            None of it I don’t think. I’ve never liked people or being around people (which is almost certainly part of the problem) and I’ve never had much desire for social validation; I went from being extremely low status (the ‘weird guy’ people all avoided talking to in school, followed by narrowly avoiding full-blown homelessness) to relatively high status (I’m respected by my coworkers at the kind of company where flashing your company ID can get you special treatment and I’m currently looking at buying a BMW…) and the transition hasn’t left me feeling much different aside from optimism about the future.

            Thinking about Being in a Band Of Brothers type deal doesn’t feel good. I mean, most of those things you talked about already sort of describe my day job, and I don’t get any fulfillment from work. I have absolutely no “friend drive,” the idea of being around people other than a woman I can be a husband to and children I can take care of just has no valence at all and never did.

            Mostly I either fantasize about either building a relationship/family or being a heroic martyr. I really don’t think I’d have a life that I wouldn’t rather have not lived unless I’d either spent my life in a happy marriage or done enough good that I could be satisfied having cared for humanity as a whole instead – and I don’t really care about being remembered, in fact I’d feel a certain sour grapes kind of pleasure in being remembered as a villain when in reality I’d saved the world.

            In practice the first scenario is many orders of magnitude more likely from an objective standpoint, but I don’t see any steps I can take that lead me any closer to it, so I’m going for the second one with the understanding that it won’t actually work but you have to pick a move even if your expected utility rounds to zero.

    • pjs says:

      This will seem creepy to those who think “incel”-dom is about lack of sex, but to others:

      Get a pet. Specifically, a dog. Be its best friend: walk it regularly, socialize it, love it. 10-20yr commitment, remember! Still, do it.

      This isn’t guaranteed to change your life for the better, but has a vastly better chance of doing so than “hit the gym” (which is great advice too: don’t not try this as well). It also falls into the category of things you absolutely must do for themselves, with no ulterior motive, but might, just by and by, help you meet more people (and in socially easy, ‘optimal’, ways.)

      • S_J says:

        As a related comment: if you have a dog, spend some time in the park with the dog (likely on a leash, per the rules of most parks).

        This may require lots of prep before acquiring a dog, as some parks are better than others for this kind of thing.

        And it will be much easier if your dog is of a type and personality that doesn’t cause random people in the park to think that dog might attack me if I approach.

        A person with a well-behaved dog is more likely to receive friendly attention than a person without any pet… at least, in a public park.

        Of course, this is not guaranteed. Random greetings in the park may not turn into anything long-term. And awell-behaved dog is the result of a non-trivial amount of time and effort spent training the dog.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Also, a dog isn’t a human partner, but it will help with some basic emotional needs.

    • cosmarchia says:

      The solution is pretty simple: revolutionary socialism.

      The inequities and pathologies that attend the present state of sexual affairs is the inevitable consequence of allowing sexual relations to be governed by the brutal competitive logic of the market economy. Any attempt to help the victims of this “market failure” within the superstructure that necessarily reproduces their suffering as a consequence of its being is futile. Just as the Great October Socialist Revolution negated and completed the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution, the abolition of the “incel” requires that we consummate the emancipatory promise of the stillborn sexual revolution by breaching the bourgeois limits in which it was conceived, namely by collectivizing the means of reproduction and imposing rational organization in place of predatory chaos to ensure an egalitarian, scientific distribution in accordance with actual need. Indeed, who better to illuminate the path forward than the Bolsheviks themselves, who gave so much thought to the nature of sexual relations in the new Russia? As the brilliant Soviet psychologist Aron Zalkind wrote in 1924,

      The Twelve Commandments of Revolutionary Sex

      1. Sexual life shall not develop too early among the proletariat.

      2. Thou shalt exercise sexual restraint until marriage, and marriage shall take place only upon full social and biological maturity (20-25 years).

      3. Sexual relations shall be the culmination of a deep and comprehensive sympathy and attachment to the object of thy sexual love.

      4. The sexual act shall be the final link in a chain of deep and complex experiences binding the lovers together at that moment.

      5. The sexual act shall not be repeated often.

      6. Thou shalt not often change thy sexual object. There shall be less sexual variation.

      7. Love shall be monogamous and monoandrous (one wife, one husband).

      8. Every sexual act must be committed without forgetting the possibility of conceiving a child – thou shalt always remember thy progeny.

      9. Sexual selection shall always be conducted along the lines of revolutionary-proletarian class objectives. Elements of flirtation, skirt-chasing, coquetry, and other particular methods of sexual conquest must not be introduced into love relations.

      10. Thou shalt not be jealous.

      11. Thou shalt not engage in sexual perversions.

      12. In the interest of revolutionary expedience, class shall have the right to interfere in the sexual life of its co-members; the sexual shall always be subordinate to class interests, never interfering with the latter, but shall always serve it.

      Sadly, vast swathes of so-called “progressive” opinion today object to this agenda, having being bribed by the present regime with the spoils of exploitation and with the license to engage in un-Marxist perversions, a privilege especially enjoyed by elite sectors like Hollywood. (Google “Pizzagate”.)

      Some may object that “incels” are too defective as individuals to be worthy of companionship. They would do well to remember that just as capitalism degrades the worker, so too does sexual competition degrades its losers. The task of the revolution, or any revolution, is not only to defeat its enemies and achieve victory, but to achieve the inner transformation of its participants into worthy revolutionary subjects.

      Incelitarians of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your virginity!

    • cosmarchia says:

      The solution is pretty simple: it’s called revolutionary socialism.

      The inequities and pathologies that attend the present state of sexual affairs is the inevitable consequence of allowing sexual relations to be governed by the brutal competitive logic of the market economy. Any attempt to help the victims of this “market failure” within the superstructure that necessarily reproduces their suffering as a consequence of its being is futile. Just as the Great October Socialist Revolution negated and completed the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution, the abolition of the “incel” requires that we consummate the emancipatory promise of the stillborn sexual revolution by breaching the bourgeois limits in which it was conceived, namely by collectivizing the means of reproduction and imposing rational organization in place of predatory chaos to ensure an egalitarian, scientific distribution in accordance with actual need. Indeed, who better to illuminate the path forward than the Bolsheviks themselves, who gave so much thought to the nature of sexual relations in the new Russia? As the brilliant Soviet psychologist Aron Zalkind wrote in 1924,

      The Twelve Commandments of Revolutionary Sex

      1. Sexual life shall not develop too early among the proletariat.

      2. Thou shalt exercise sexual restraint until marriage, and marriage shall take place only upon full social and biological maturity (20-25 years).

      3. Sexual relations shall be the culmination of a deep and comprehensive sympathy and attachment to the object of thy sexual love.

      4. The sexual act shall be the final link in a chain of deep and complex experiences binding the lovers together at that moment.

      5. The sexual act shall not be repeated often.

      6. Thou shalt not often change thy sexual object. There shall be less sexual variation.

      7. Love shall be monogamous and monoandrous (one wife, one husband).

      8. Every sexual act must be committed without forgetting the possibility of conceiving a child – thou shalt always remember thy progeny.

      9. Sexual selection shall always be conducted along the lines of revolutionary-proletarian class objectives. Elements of flirtation, skirt-chasing, coquetry, and other particular methods of sexual conquest must not be introduced into love relations.

      10. Thou shalt not be jealous.

      11. Thou shalt not engage in sexual perversions.

      12. In the interest of revolutionary expedience, class shall have the right to interfere in the sexual life of its co-members; the sexual shall always be subordinate to class interests, never interfering with the latter, but shall always serve it.

      Sadly, vast swathes of so-called “progressive” opinion today object to this agenda, having being bribed by the present regime with the spoils of exploitation and with the license to engage in un-Marxist perversions, a privilege especially enjoyed by elite sectors like Hollywood.

    • koek says:

      A massive response to everything in this topic.
      To be clear, when I refer to incels, I specifically refer to the toxic kind.

      the problem
      There was some discussion on how women choose their partners based on looks, money, etc. A ridiculous thought. I try to ban sugar from my diet, because I simply do not like what it does to my body. There is a cake shop near me with really high quality design cakes. I have looked at the window in admiration. But I still did not buy a cake. I simply do not want to buy cake. It is like that with girls. Given all the social judgement girls face, they need to be pretty hungry before they want a piece of cake. A friend of mine in the pick up community attributes his success to his clothes. If he gets laid in a red sweater then chicks dig red sweaters. If he gets laid in a blue sweater then the reason he got laid, was the blue sweater. I have tried to talk some sense into him, but he just won’t hear it.

      Individual preferences aside, women choose to sleep with men based on one criteria and one criteria only: sexual confidence. I need not explain how this creates vicious reinforcement loops. All other criteria do not come into play unless choosing from an otherwise comparable selection. If you have 0 sexual confidence, then no woman will do you (ignoring prostitures). At sexual confidence 100 a man has a lot of choice. It is of course impossible to prove, since results with women affect your confidence. I know men who are funny, handsome, in shape, well groomed, earn twice the national average and completely frustrated that women do not give them the time of day. So as many people have argued, the real problem is a lack of sexual self worth.

      Just reiterating some points I agree with: Being toxic and being unfuckable (as a guy) are not the same thing. Being toxic does not help, but is perfectly combinable with a good sex life, I am sure we all know examples. Yes having a good sex life does help (endorfins and stuff), it is part of the vicious feedback loop.

      why the ideas in this thread are beyond bad
      1) What is it with this obsession with haircuts and going to the gymn? That is advice you give to guys who are bad, not to those who are hard cases. Even then it is not very good advice. Who here actually thinks the guys in the incel reddit have not at least tried that? It is the first thing you do. Joining the incel reddit is what you do after trying all the advice people give you and realize the problem is not what you do, but who you are. The whole haircut suggestion sounds something like this to me:
      A: I want to learn to play the violin, but I get so frustrated that I am not getting any better.
      B: What did you try?
      A: I read about violins, I bought a couple of violins, I am on internet forums about violins and I subscribed to newsletters on the topic.
      B: You should try making a violin!
      A: I don’t think that will make me a good violin player.
      B: But it won’t hurt!
      If you want to get better at the violin, you need to start practicing and take classes. No matter how many concerts you go to, you will not become a maestro if you never touch a violin. Incels haze people who give this advice and although I do not agree with the tone, they are absolutely right. If you want to solve an issue, you need to aim directly for the core of the problem.

      To be fair, “practice talking to people” was mentioned and actually works, but for hard cases trying this will result in harsh reactions from girls which confirm their self image. They need a specialized approach that goes far deeper than the actions they take.

      2) they don’t have a right to sex => telling them this reinforces their negative self image
      3) To be even more unfair, other possibilities seem to be sex robots => reinforces the problem (no woman will voluntarily love you) Any solution that consists of government or social “goodwill” to give these guys sex will fail, because it reinforces the negative feedback loop they have about being unfuckable. Furthermore, you know, many incels actually could go to a prostitute if they wanted to. It is not like this would require government action.
      4) forced prescription of drugs that lower their sex drives => once again, it reinforces the problem

      Now I am not saying that we should compliment them and have a national holiday “happy incel day!”. If you know an incel personally, then emphasizing with them, confirming that it is not fair and that this does not predict their worth as a human being is a lot better. I will get to the advice that is effective later.

      analysis
      There is a lot of stereotyping when it comes to incels: incels are fat, ugly, poor, etc. I have spent a lot of time in the pick up community and I hear the exact same stereotypes. Anyone who has been part of the community will tell you that most of the guys there are pretty decent likeable people. They are a little more akward than average and yes, there are a few really weird people there, but they are far and few between.

      Incels have too high standards? Probably true, but it does not really start to matter until you actually have at least some options. Also, your standards go down as you overwin your fears of social judgement. Don’t confuse cause and effect. Oh and if you tell an incel “you need to lower your standards”, he will hear “you are not worthy of a good woman”, not recommended. “A lot of incels outright admit the idea of sex terrifies them and they just want a woman who is nice to them to cuddle and watch anime with.” A women to watch anime with? Okay, I take it back, maybe they do have too high standards XD

      Regarding the way society is structured. Don’t take the reasons incels quote for their problems seriously:

      “a few men take up all the girls”
      Don’t focus on this “problem”, I don’t think we make society better by making women so deperate for sex that they sleep with someone they find repulsive. Also, this will make the sex inbalance issue even more problematic (there being more man than women). Lastly, women will rather stay single than sleep with someone so far away from their desires. Yes, sex is currently more attainable for them, but it is not like all women are constantly overexerted by the amount of sex they have.

      If we all focus more on celibacy / traditional values, incels would not feel so left out. Yeah and apart from incels everybody would be sacrificing their sex life, fair trade right? How about if we all become celibates? Incels are no longer jealous and all of humanities problems solve themselves. Seriously though, have you thought about how many barriers women throw up when you want to have sex due to fear for social judgement? Saying you want everyone to focus on these things increases these barriers and will make it harder for everyone to have sex, not just incels. A better approach would be stop slut shaming and let women know that expressing their sexuality is appreciated. That way is becomes easier for girls to enjoy guiltless sex and men will have less hoops to jump through. Although this is more likely to benefit merely incompetent guys than hard cases, it does shrink the ravine they need to cross. I even think, without any evidence for the matter, that girls not getting orgasms, is in part related to them suppressing their sex drive. So even though most will blame the man for the problem, they actually have to take responsibility for a part of the problem.

      On the flip side, guys tend to ridicule other guys for their partner choices. This increases the social pressure on getting a hottie. I honestly cannot for the life of me approach a girl that is ugly but turns me on, my mind simply will not let me. I have far less inhibitions approaching a girl that is objectively a 9, even though I am not feeling it. I see this in the pick up community too. A lot of long termers are not in it for the girls. They just want to impress other guys.

      cropped here due to comment limit

      • koek says:

        Apart from barriers to sex, how well does having a father work? Depends on the father. Having a dad who is slightly above the sexual confidence cut off will not do much, having a dad with enormous sexual confidence will.
        I think what people are missing here is that children pick up on subcommunication. Even though he may be completely monogamous, sexual confidence will certainly shine through. Halfway there is enough to cover the rest with effort. At the very least halfway there does not make you a reddit incel. Yet, this is not very helpful. Are we forcibly going to cohabitate single moms with single men?

        Regarding picking up girls and being in a relationship requiring completely distinct skill sets; I would dare say, they are completely at odds with each other. Esther Perel has a nice ted talk on this.

        Most dating advise you see is wrong and often reduces your chances rather than increasing them. Effective dating advise is often highly controversial. How the government-mandated courtship rituals suggested are going to circumvent these pitfalls is beyond me. Incels need specialized advice and would not be targeted by government programs.

        The societal problem is a long term one. Basically anything that reduces a persons sexual or core confidence is a target. I hypothesize that risk factors are bullying, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional manipulation. Good stuff that you would already want to fix for other reasons.

        That does not help current generation incels. I would not even try to engage the group as a whole. It seems pointless to engage them in a place where the social mores are against you, but maybe I am too pessimistic.

        If you know an incel personally (hopefully not toxic) then there is a lot you can do (at the risk getting his bad vibes).
        1) Emphasize with the problem. Let him know that his value as a person is not determined by the arbitrary and flawed choices of women. Be careful not to be patronizing, they are allergic to this. Saying things like “you have value” is risky, because they might get defensive. A better option is to say that no one deserves to suffer alone as they have done. We were not built to live in isolation and it is unjust punishment. If he is toxic, this would be the moment to make a remark about that… Good luck with that one XD
        2) Tell him to stay away from groups of people with powerful convictions that enforce the exact same problem he is trying to solve. It will reinforce his self destructive belief system. (not recommended to post this in the reddit group itself)
        3) This is where the harsh and bitter truth needs to be said. You have one of two choices. The first is giving up, resenting yourself and others. How is that working for you? Changing your fate is extremely hard but not impossible. It means taking ownership of your problem and fixing it. You may get support from people, but no one will solve it for you, nor is it their duty. You will need to take a long term perspective and spend years of your life fighting it. Getting a haircut and going to the gym just ain’t gonna cut it, you already know this. You need to go to the depths of your soul and confront the very pain that is getting in your way. You will need to do the exact things that scare you, you will have to face the awkwardness head on. You will need to face girls over and over again and they will tell you over and over again that they simply do not want you. You will need to change the reward structure in your brain. Accept what girls are like and reward yourself merely for putting yourself out there. The reactions of girls are outside of your control. Don’t give your power away and let them decide what you are worth. You be the judge from now on.
        You will need to keep trying new things:
        + self help
        ++ affirmations
        ++ reframing
        + pick up
        + various forms of coaching
        + different types of therapy
        + ideas you havent even heard of yet

        And you will need to keep doing them even when they do not seem to be working. Things will eventually get better, but there will be setbacks that make you fall into despair again. The only way to defeat your inner demons, is by taking up the challange of a lifetime and never giving up. It is a bitter pill to swallow, it is by all means unfair, but these are the choices you have.
        Right now your mind if probably telling you that there is 100% certainty that is will not work, but is there really an absolute guarantee? Even if you know that you cannot win, what choice will you make? Give up? Or spend the rest of your life fighting, holding on to a glimmer of hope? What is it going to be?

        Even if they “give up”, they will probably think about it for a long time. If you intend to help him then you can tell him you will try to support him if you can, but be warned that he may have unreasonable expectations. He might get really needy for assistance at some point and resent you, if you do not give it. Also do not be too positive when relaying this message. That just alienates you from them and it shows you fail to understand what they are facing.

        Most of peoples problems are straightforward and the solution is simple, yet hard to do. Some examples:
        alcoholism => just stop drinking
        heroine addiction => just stop using
        recurring debts problems => stop spending money you do not have
        The love, sex and relationship problems are different, because there are so many opinions on what is causing them and like I said, most of them are wrong. For a guy to fix his dating problem, he needs to make a lot of choices that are controversial and counterintuitive. Yet the similarity lies in the fact that you biggest enemy is a part of yourself and it is a very powerful foe indeed.

        There is a caveat. The approach hinges on a catalyst. There are only 2 ways I have seen hard cases muster up the courage to walk the path of a man.
        1) a total breakdown: This is when someones life falls apart and it hits them so hard they realize they have to choose between either killing themselves or a life of struggle. The decision can go either way.
        2) a glimmer of hope: This is when an event takes places that teaches them the following very important lesson: “you can change”. It is sad, but a lot of these guys simple do not have a strong enough reference in their mind that shows them such a thing is possible. It is not surprising they fall into despair if they have simply never seen themselves overcome a deep psychological problem before.
        Without either of the two, talking to them is pointless. You will not reach them and they simply do not have enough leverage over themselves.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I think this is all really good advice. One thing I would correct is the whole “haircut and hitting the gym” thing is not simply because women like guys who have nice haircuts and who are fit, but that it is a way of boosting sexual confidence. “I know I look good and am sexually desirable because I have a good haircut, nice clothes, and am in shape.”

          Yes, there are men who still succeed via their overwhelming (and perhaps false?) confidence in spite of not having these things, but those are clearly not the people we’re talking about.

          ETA: Also, I disagree that anti slut-shaming efforts would help incels. All that would do is give girls more excuses to fuck Chad.

          • koek says:

            Fair enough, anything that raises your self confidence is a good thing in that situation. I will acknowledge that much. The main point still stands. We need to go deeper.

            Just to be clear. I never meant to say that incels will get laid (without improving themselves) if we stop slut shaming. From what I have read, they appear to be among the worst category (which is not helping them). Rather, that they need to solve 2 problems. 1) the way their own mind blocks relationships granting mutual satisfaction 2) the way the womans mind blocks relationships granting mutual satisfaction. If women feel more safe in expressing their sexuality freely, then that is one less problem for any man to solve. In other words their path is shorter and they will start having success sooner. This is important, since their journey means fighting for a long time, before having any real success. The chances are pretty real they give up prematurely because of it.

  4. drunkfish says:

    What’s the standard procedure, when designing a medical test, to determine the right tradeoff between sensitivity and specificity (where I’m picturing a tradeoff involved in choosing the threshold for a positive test or something similar)? This seems like an incredibly hard thing to do, especially because remotely rare diseases will lead even small deviations from perfect specificity to create high false positive rates. On the other hand, false negatives seem like they’d be incredibly dangerous. I’d imagine there’s some sort of standard for how to strike this balance, and there seem enough medically-informed people who hang out around here that I figure people might have insight.

    • rahien.din says:

      Epistemic status : professionally interested and partially-informed, but I don’t know if there is a standard industry line. Others may, and if so I am interested to read their responses.

      It depends on what you want to do with the test! If you are screening for a disease (testing a broad population for it without a high degree of suspicion for any particular individual), then you generally want your test to be highly-sensitive – or, better yet, you want your diagnostic likelihood ratio for negative results to be low. If you are looking to confirm your suspicion of a disease, you may want a different set of characteristics. Moreover, one must also consider the rates of harm and benefits in patients who receive treatment for the target illness. The goal of medicine is to provide optimal care, and this is not synonymous with optimal classification procedures. There’s a good description thereof in A primer on receiver operating characteristic analysis and diagnostic efficiency statistics for pediatric psychology: we are ready to ROC. J Pediatr Psychol. 2014 :

      Optimize Cut Score Thresholds for Decisions

      The next step is to select a cut score and evaluate the diagnostic efficiency statistics. The choice of optimal threshold depends on three sets of factors: (1) the intended use of the test, (2) the base rate of the disorder in the clinical setting, and (3) the relative costs and benefits attached to correct classification and errors. If the goal is to use an index test as a screener, then high sensitivity is more important than specificity, because the goal is to avoid missing cases that truly have the target diagnosis; and conversely, applications using the index test as diagnostic confirmation would put more of a premium on specificity (Kraemer, 1992). The base rate directly affects the overall accuracy of classifications, as well as the positive and negative predictive powers of the test, whereas sensitivity and specificity are algebraically unrelated to base rate (Pepe, 2003) (see Glossary as well). Positive predictive power describes the percentage of cases testing positive that actually have the diagnosis, and negative predictive power is the accuracy rate of negative test results. These are clinically intuitive and helpful rates, but they change as a function of the rate of the diagnosis (as will become obvious in the following examples).

      (For another description of that important principle – albeit in the venue of test interpretation rather than test design – see The threshold approach to clinical decision making. N Engl J Med. 1980.)

      Now, “A primer on…” describes the use of Cohen’s kappa to optimize these thresholds, but that’s not the only way.

      One good (and very prevalent) way is to use a receiver operator curve, which is a plot of true-positive rate vs. false-positive rate. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) Curve Analysis for Medical Diagnostic Test Evaluation. Caspian J Intern Med. 2013 briefly describes how to use the ROC to find an optimal cut off :

      In determining optimal cut off values, at least three methods have been proposed…

      The first method uses the square of distance between the point (0, 1) on the upper left hand corner of ROC space and any point on ROC curve ie. d2= (1-TPF)2+ FPF2=(1-sensetivity)2+ (1-specificty)2. In order to obtain the optimal cut off points, the square of this distance is minimized. In other words, one can calculate this distance for each cut off point in order to find the optimal cut- off value.

      The second method called Youden index uses the maximum of vertical distance of ROC curve from the point (x, y) on diagonal line (chance line). In fact, Youden index maximizes the difference between TPF (sensitivity) and FPF (1-sepicificity): Youden Index=TPF-FPF= Sensitivity+ Specificity -1. Thus, by maximizing Sen + Spec aross various cut-off points, the optimal cut- off point is calculated.

      The third method incorporates the financial costs for correct and false diagnosis and the costs of further work up for diagnosis. In fact, the consequence of each possible test outcome is ascertained to their costs and combining ROC analysis with utility-based decision theory can be used to determine the optimal cut point (26). For example, given a disease with low prevalence and high cost of false positive diagnosis, the cut-point may be chosen at higher value to maximize specificity while for a disease occurring at high prevalence and missing diagnosis has a serious fatal consequences, a lower cut-point value would be selected to maximize sensitivity.

      Another good way to optimize is to maximize your Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC). A worked example I have on hand : Mammillary body changes and seizure outcome after laser interstitial thermal therapy of the mesial temporal lobe. Epil Research 2018. The researchers demonstrated that if you take a patient with hippocampal seizures, and you ablate their hippocampus such that the mammillary body shrinks, the degree of shrinkage is correlated with the probability of seizure freedom.

      If we want to build a binary classification scheme out of those results (mammillary body shrinkage of at least ___% is associated with seizure freedom), we can graph the MCC as a function of our threshold. MCC seems to maximize at ~20% in mammillary body volume reduction, which corresponds to a sensitivity of 0.92 and a specificity of 0.88.

      Edit : less wall-of-text-y ; clarity

      • brmic says:

        Very good info, so I’ll just add 2 cents:
        – Never use the Youden index as it implicitly declares sensitivity and specificity to be equally important, and that’s almost never the case.
        – pAUC is often preferable to AUC in these cases as for practical reasons only a small range of FPR is of interest.

      • drunkfish says:

        Cool, thanks! More tests than I had realized existed, though not surprising I guess. I’m somewhat (but not really…) surprised that it sounds like there isn’t a single test that’s considered the standard to use. I guess context will determine what’s best, but it sounds like from your answer at least that there isn’t an answer to which test to use when? Whatever maximizes patient outcomes though…

        The point about the intent of the test determining how sensitive it needs to be/how non-specific it can get away with being makes a lot of sense, but means that I didn’t get the “this much sensitivity and this much specificity is what we require” answer I was hoping for. I guess it’s just more complicated thank that would allow…

        • rahien.din says:

          I guess it’s just more complicated than that would allow…

          Unfortunately.

          Mammograms (as you mention below) are good example. They are first-line in the appropriately-selected patient – for instance, screening for breast cancer in a 65 y.o woman. In contrast, a screening mammogram would be grossly inappropriate in a 30 y.o woman. But, if a 30 y.o woman detects some kind of breast lump on a self-exam, a mammogram might be helpful.

          (Note : I have nothing to do with testing for breast cancer. If someone knows better than I, CMWIW.)

          You should check out The threshold approach to clinical decision making. N Engl J Med. 1980. (Let me know if you have trouble with a paywall.) It’s a very good explanation of how to handle medical testing. I really think it might make things more clear.

          I would also encourage you to think of likelihood ratios instead of sensitivity and specificity. Whenever we perform any kind of medical test, we must start with our pre-test probability (mathematically speaking, our priors, and medically speaking, our clinical suspicion) and allow the test’s results to update/modify/refine that to a post-test probability. Likelihood ratios are how to do that updating in a precise way. They are medical Bayesianism.

          Likelihood ratios are calculated from sensitivity and specificity. Knowing how they are calculated can show you why a test with near-perfect sensitivity can still suck if it has really bad specificity.

          Likelihood ratios in diagnostic testing – wikipedia
          Likelihood Ratios and Diagnostic Tests (Bayes’ Theorem) – StatsDirect

        • US says:

          Some good comments already. I don’t know to which extent the following points have been included in the links provided, but I decided to add them here anyway.

          One point worth emphasizing is that you’ll always want a mixture of sensitivity and specificity (or, more broadly, test properties) that’ll mean that your test has clinical relevance. This relates both to the type of test you consider and when/whether to test at all (rather than treat/not treat without testing first). If you’re worried someone has disease X and there’s a high risk of said individual having disease X due to the clinical presentation, some tests will for example be inappropriate even if they are very good at making the distinction between individuals requiring treatment X and individuals not requiring treatment X, for example because they take time to perform that the patient might not have – not an uncommon situation in emergency medicine. If you’re so worried you’d treat him regardless of the test result, you shouldn’t test. And the same goes for low-sensitivity screens; if a positive test result of a screen does not imply that you’ll actually act on the result of the screen, you shouldn’t perform it (in screening contexts cost effectiveness is usually critically dependent on how you follow up on the test result, and in many contexts inadequate follow-up means that the value of the test goes down a lot).

          Cost effectiveness is another variable that would/should probably (in an ideal world?) enter the analysis when you’re judging what is or is not a good mixture of sensitivity and specificity – you should be willing to pay more for more precise tests, but only to the extent that those more precise tests lead to better outcomes (you’re usually optimizing over patient outcomes, not test accuracy).

          Skef also mentions this, but the relative values of specificity and sensitivity may well vary during the diagnostic process; i.e. the (ideal) trade-off will depend on what you plan to use the test for. Is the idea behind testing this guy to make (reasonably?) sure he doesn’t have colon cancer, or to figure out if he needs a more accurate, but also more expensive, test? Screening setups will usually involve a multi-level testing structure, and tests at different levels will not treat these trade-offs the same way, nor should they. This also means that the properties of individual tests can not really be viewed in isolation, which makes the problem of finding ‘the ideal mix’ of test properties (whatever these might be) even harder; if you have three potential tests for example, it’s not enough to compare the tests individually against each other, you’d ideally also want to implicitly take into account that different combinations of tests have different properties, and that the timing of the test may also be an important parameter in the decision problem.

    • skef says:

      rahien.din’s message has a lot of info, but I felt like it left out (or buried) the primary design factor.

      It’s fairly rare for there to be a condition that can’t be diagnosed with a pretty degree of accuracy. If the person is available to be tested, there is generally a set of tests that can be run (possibly multiple times) to arrive at a highly reliable conclusion.

      The kind of trade-off you ask about is therefore mostly a matter of “front-line” tests. And therefore the simple answer is: bias towards false positives, and follow up positive results with a more expensive and definitive test or tests. As long as the first test isn’t wildly inaccurate, you want to avoid false negatives as much as possible and funnel the positives into a more definitive test.

      • drunkfish says:

        Ahh fair that makes sense. I think vaguely the motivation for this question in the first place was the fact that I’ve started hearing a decent amount of discussion about how over-testing people is bad because of negative outcomes (especially financial) associated with false positives. I think I hear it mostly with regards to mammograms, but the logic seems to be “when a disease is rare enough, our imperfectly specific tests will always lose to Bayes’ Theorem”. Mammograms are obviously ~front-line, so I guess that means their goal is to be highly sensitive at the cost of specificity that other tests (biopsies?) will handle, but the fact that false positives are bad enough to justify sometimes simply not using the test it seems to imply that the tradeoff between sensitivity and specificity is really important, even at the front lines.

        • skef says:

          I believe the conventional wisdom is that the primary issue with “over-testing” is that it is difficult (and stressful for the “patient”) not to treat a disease once it is identified, and more testing leads to more disease identification prior to any symptoms. Some conditions are good to catch “early”, but others may be counter-productive to treat before they develop into something worse.

          So more testing leads to more treatment, which leads to more complications from treatment.

  5. Le Maistre Chat says:

    I take it y’all are familiar with the criticism of female characters being illustrated so that, while facing the viewer, they manage to show him both their butt and breasts?
    Well, here’s a children’s book about Goatee and Pismo, two real-life pet goats from California who learned to surf.

    • Randy M says:

      With most other mammals, the T&A usually line up anyway. Seems having the female turn around and look at the male attempted to be amorous is less objectifying all told.

    • Nornagest says:

      Well, that’s… distracting. I suppose they have an excuse in that goat udders always look vaguely obscene in real life (cow udders don’t, for some reason), but that shade of pink looks like it belongs on a baboon.

      • quaelegit says:

        Yeah I agree that was a poor color choice.

        Re cows: the prominent veins width size of my wrist that lead to the udders wig me out a bit. (This might just be dairy cows.)

  6. johan_larson says:

    What is the minimum number of national borders you must cross to travel by land from Buenos Aires to Ottawa? Assume all land and river borders are traversible.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I get 11, two ways.

      • johan_larson says:

        V trg gra obeqref, ryrira angvbaf. Ner lbh njner gung Netragvan unf n obeqre jvgu Oenmvy?

      • veeloxtrox says:

        I was able to get 10.

        Netragvan -> Oenmvy -> Pbybzovn -> Cnanzn -> Pbfgn Evpn -> Avpnenthn -> Ubaqhenf -> Thngrznyn -> Zrkvpb -> HFN -> Pnanqn

    • Iain says:

      Fun fact: if you want to do this, you’ll have to go off-road.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Are the crocodiles as bad as they say?

      • johan_larson says:

        That gap seems like some sort of failure of civilization. How did we manage to draw roads all up and down North and South America, but not through that bit?

        • Iain says:

          Environmentalists don’t like the idea, the locals don’t like the idea, and it apparently helps keep diseases (like foot-and-mouth disease in cattle) from spreading.

          Efforts have been made for decades to remedy this missing link in the Pan-American Highway. Planning began in 1971 with the help of United States funding, but this was halted in 1974 after concerns raised by environmentalists. Another effort to build the road began in 1992, but by 1994 a United Nations agency reported that the road, and the subsequent development, would cause extensive environmental damage. Cited reasons include evidence that the Darién Gap has prevented the spread of diseased cattle into Central and North America, which have not seen foot-and-mouth disease since 1954, and since at least the 1970s this has been a substantial factor in preventing a road link through the Darién Gap. The Embera-Wounaan and Guna have also expressed concern that the road would bring about the potential erosion of their cultures.

          Many people, groups, indigenous populations, and governments are opposed to completing the Darién portion of the highway. Reasons for opposition include protecting the rain forest, containing the spread of tropical diseases, protecting the livelihood of indigenous peoples in the area, preventing drug trafficking and its associated violence, and preventing foot-and-mouth disease from entering North America. The extension of the highway as far as Yaviza resulted in severe deforestation alongside the highway route within a decade.

    • SamChevre says:

      I guess 11, get 11 but have one wrong
      Pnanqn
      Rfgnqbf Havqbf
      Zrkvpb
      Thngrznyn
      Ubaqhenf
      Avpnenthn
      Pbfgn Evpn
      Cnanzn
      Pbyhzovn
      Rphnqbe Creh, Puvyr (frireny nygreangvirf-Oenmvy,Hehthnl)
      Netragvan

    • christhenottopher says:

      1. Netragvan-Oenmvy
      2. Oenmvy-Pbybzovn
      3. Pbybzovn-Cnanzn
      4. Cnanzn-Pbfgn Evpn
      5. Pbfgn Evpn-Avpnenthn
      6. Avpnenthn-Ubaqhenf
      7. Ubaqhenf-Thngrznyn
      8. Thngrznyn-Zrkvpb
      9. Zrkvpb-HF
      10. HF-Pnanqn

  7. johan_larson says:

    Reminder: a week from today we’ll start discussing Greg Egan’s novel, Incandescence.

    • Randy M says:

      I bought a copy for this, so it had better be good 😉

      • dodrian says:

        Ditto, though reading the first three chapters last night certainly piqued my interest.

      • J Mann says:

        I’m curious to learn what you thought, although I’ll save it for the thread.

        Personally, I’m somewhat glad I read it, but I have high hopes for the discussion, so hopefully I’ll come out of the week with a strong positive.

    • J Mann says:

      Thanks! I recommended Diaspora to somebody about a year back, but actually haven’t read any other Egan, so I’ll be glad to joint in.

      • quaelegit says:

        I adore his short story anthology Axiomatic, and Terranesia is also a lot of fun.

        I’ll try to join if the library has it or if I can overcome my stinginess to buy the $12 kindle version 😛

    • J Mann says:

      @johan_larson – how much do we need to have read, and do I need to have rot13 working?

      Thanks!

      • johan_larson says:

        You should have read the whole book. The discussion will be fully open. We will write freely about everything in the book, including potential spoilers.

  8. Chlopodo says:

    Are there any people here who would be unafraid entering [let’s say: alone and at night] a haunted house, or an abandoned mine that’s rumored to be haunted, etc.?

    I have an entirely materialistic worldview, and I am about as certain as I am of anything that ghosts, spirits, etc. aren’t real– but you could never, ever, ever get me to walk alone into a house purported to be haunted, at night, for more than maybe a minute or so. I think my behavior is mostly normal in this regard, and yet one occasionally sees videos taken by people (including believers in the paranormal!) who do seem willing to do these things… so I thought I might as well ask around, and see how other people think.

    • Nornagest says: