Of Exclusionary Speech and Gender Politics

by Eliezer Yudkowsky5 min read21st Jul 2009669 comments



I suspect that the ick reaction being labeled "objectification" actually has more to do with the sense that the speaker is addressing a closed group that doesn't include you.

Suppose I wrote a story about a man named Frank, whose twin brother (Frank has learned) is in the process of being framed for murder this very night.  Frank is in the middle of a complicated plot to give his brother an alibi.  He's already found the cabdriver and tricked him into waiting outside a certain apartment for an hour.  Now all he needs is the last ingredient of his plan - a woman to go home with him (as he poses as his brother).  Frank is, with increasing desperation, propositioning ladies at the bar - any girl will do for his plan, it doesn't matter who she is or what she's about...

I'd bet I could write that story without triggering the ick reaction, because Frank is an equal-opportunity manipulator - he manipulated the cabdriver, too.  The story isn't about Frank regarding women as things on the way to implementing his plan, it's about Frank regarding various people, men and women alike, as means to the end of saving his brother.

If a woman reads that story, I think, she won't get a sense of being excluded from the intended audience.

I suspect that's what the ick factor being called "objectification" is really about - the sense that someone who says "...but you'll still find women alluring" is talking to an audience that doesn't include you, a woman.  It doesn't matter if you happen to be a bi woman.  You still get the sense that it never crossed the writer's mind that there might be any women in the audience, and so you are excluded.

In general, starting from a perceptual reaction, it is a difficult cognitive task to say in words exactly why that reaction occurred - to accurately state the necessary and sufficient conditions for its triggering.  If the reaction is affective, a good or bad reaction, there is an additional danger:  You'll be tempted to zoom in on any bad (good) aspect of the situation, and say, "Ah, that must be the reason it's bad (good)!"  It's wrong to treat people as means rather than ends, right?  People have their own feelings and inner life, and it's wrong to forget that?  Clearly, that's a problem with saying, "And this is how you get girls..."  But is that exactly what went wrong originally - what triggered the original ick reaction?

And this (I say again) is a tricky cognitive problem in general - the introspective jump from the perceptual to the abstract.  It is tricky far beyond the realms of gender...

But I do suspect that the real problem is speech that makes a particular gender feel excluded.  And if that's so, then for the purposes of Less Wrong, I think, it may make sense to zoom in on that speech property.  Politics of all sorts have always been a dangerous bit of attractive flypaper, and I think we've had a sense, on Less Wrong, that we ought to steer clear of it - that politics is the mindkiller.  And so I hope that no one will feel that their gender politics are being particularly targeted, if I suggest that, like some other political issues, we might want to steer sort of clear of that.

I've previously expressed that to build a rationalist community sustainable over time, the sort of gender imbalance that appears among e.g. computer programmers, is not a good thing to have.  And so it may make sense, as rationalists qua rationalists, to target gender-exclusionary speech.  To say, "Less Wrong does not want to make any particular gender feel unwelcome."

But I also think that you can just have a policy like that, without opening the floor to discussion of all gender politics qua gender politics.  Without having a position on whether, say, "privilege" is a useful way to think about certain problems, or a harmful one.

And the coin does have two sides.  It is possible to make men, and not just women, feel unwelcome as a gender.  It is harder, because men have fewer painful memories of exclusion to trigger.  A single comment by a woman saying "All men are idiots" won't do it.  But if you've got a conversational thread going between many female posters all agreeing that men are privileged idiots, then a man can start to pick up a perceptual impression of "This is not a place where I'm welcome; this is a women's locker room."  And LW shouldn't send that message, either.

So if we're going to do this, then let's have a policy which says that we don't want to make either gender feel unwelcome.  And that aside from this, we're not saying anything official about gender politics qua gender politics.  And indeed we might even want to discourage gender-political discussion, because it's probably not going to contribute to our understanding of systematic and general methods of epistemic and instrumental rationality, which is our actual alleged topic around here.

But even if we say we're just going to have a non-declarative procedural rule to avoid language or behavior that makes a gender feel excluded... it still takes us into thorny waters.

After all, jumping on every tiny hint - say, objecting to the Brennan stories because Brennan is male - will make men feel unwelcome; that this is a blog only for people who agree with feminist politics; that men have to tiptoe while women are allowed to tapdance...

Now with that said: the point is to avoid language that makes someone feel unwelcome.  So if someone says that they felt excluded as a gender, pay attention.  The issue is not how to prove they're "wrong".  Just listen to the one who heard you, when they tell you what they heard.  We want to avoid any or either gender, feeling excluded and leaving.  So it is the impression that is the key thing.  You can argue, perhaps, that the one's threshold for offense was set unforgivably low, that they were listening so hard that no one could whisper softly enough.  But not argue that they misunderstood you.  For that is still a fact about your speech and its consequences.  We shall just try to avoid certain types of misunderstanding, not blame the misunderstander.

And what if someone decides she's offended by all discussion of evolutionary psychology because that's a patriarchal plot...?

Well... I think there's something to be said here, about her having impugned the honor of female rationalists everywhere.  But let a female rationalist be the one to say it.  And then we can all downvote the comment into oblivion.

And if someone decides that all discussion of the PUA (pickup artist) community, makes her feel excluded...?

Er... I have to say... I sort of get that one.  I too can feel the locker-room ambiance rising off it.  Now, yes, we have a lot of men here who are operating in gender-imbalanced communities, and we have men here who are nerds; and if you're the sort of person who reads Less Wrong, there is a certain conditional probability that you will be the sort of person who tries to find a detailed manual that solves your problems...

...while not being quite sane enough to actually notice you're driving away the very gender you're trying to seduce from our nascent rationalist community, and consequentially shut up about PUA...

...oh, never mind.  Gender relations much resembles the rest of human existence, in that it largely consists of people walking around with shotguns shooting off their own feet.  In the end, PUA is not something we need to be talking about here, and if it's giving one entire gender the wrong vibes on this website, I say the hell with it.

And if someone decides that it's not enough that a comment has been downvoted to -5; it needs to be banned, or the user needs to be banned, in order to signify that this website is sufficiently friendly...?

Sorry - downvoting to -5 should be enough to show that the community disapproves of this lone commenter.

If someone demands explicit agreement with their-favorite-gender-politics...?

Then they're probably making the other gender feel unwelcome - the coin does have two sides.

If someone argues against gay marriage...?

Respond not to trolls; downvote to oblivion without a word.  That's not gender politics, it's kindergarten.

If you just can't seem to figure out what's wrong with your speech...?

Then just keep on accepting suggested edits.  If you literally don't understand what you're doing wrong, then realize that you have a blind spot and need to steer around it.  And if you do keep making the suggested edits, I think that's as much as someone could reasonably ask of you.  We need a bit more empathy in all directions here, and that includes empathy for the hapless plight of people who just don't get it, and who aren't going to get it, but who are still doing what they can.

If you just can't get someone to agree with your stance on explicit gender politics...?

Take it elsewhere, both of you, please.


Is it clear from this what sort of general policy I'm driving at?  What say you?


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...while not being quite sane enough to actually notice you're driving away the very gender you're trying to seduce from our nascent rationalist community, and consequentially shut up about PUA... In the end, PUA is not something we need to be talking about here, and if it's giving one entire gender the wrong vibes on this website, I say the hell with it."

Very unfortunate that we are suggesting censoring a rather important and fertile topic that fits bang in the middle of the overcomingbias/lesswrong framework because:

  1. PUA related discussions are certainly of enormous practical importance; it offers enormous insight into the working of attraction, though I dare say folks at lesswrong may be able to push the frontier way more particularly with their knowledge of evolutionary psychology etc.

  2. PUA related discussions are all the more important and relevant to lesswrong since attraction is an area that conventional wisdom doesn't say enough about, in part due to political correctness.

  3. One thing I have really liked about lesswrong is its manner of addressing politically incorrect questions with honesty; and not having a long list of taboo topics.

  4. PUA tells us a nu

... (read more)

"But let a female rationalist be the one to say it."

this really bothers me.

Okay, sorry for the ambiguity here.

I'm not assuming that the hypothetical original denigrator of evolutionary psychology would react better to a feminine rebuke. I think this hypothetical person is lost to us anyway.

I think that someone who calls evolutionary psychology unfeminine, is insulting the honor of feminity - but it's not my place to say that. It's not my place to borrow offense, if indeed the honor of feminity has been insulted.

Someone who has actually, directly, personally been offended... can be apologized to, her offense has a limit because it's hers. Someone borrowing offense - how do they ever know when an apology is enough? They can always insist that it's not enough because they're not really the one being apologized to, and maybe if they accepted the apology, it would mean they weren't sufficiently virtuous enough in their offense.

It's sort of like how I'm willing to argue with genuinely religious people or Luddites but not with hypothetical religious people or Luddites being simulated by nonreligious people or non-Luddites, who can always refuse to be hypothetically persuaded because there is no limit to how unreasonable and evil the simulator thinks a theist or Luddite can be, in contrast to real theists and Luddites who think of themselves as the good side.

That is, in general, I don't like to borrow trouble - the first-order troubles of this world are enough.

I'm not assuming that the hypothetical original denigrator of evolutionary psychology would react better to a feminine rebuke. I think this hypothetical person is lost to us anyway.

I think that someone who calls evolutionary psychology unfeminine, is insulting the honor of feminity...

I agree that calling evolutionary psychology "unfeminine" because it "denigrates women" is bullshit. The truth about the human brain is not determined by our preferences. But failing to control for cultural influences in ev-psych-speculation is bullshit too. In fact, it's reversed stupidity.

Evolutionary psychology is about human universals and therefore should, in the ideal case, apply to all human cultures at all times. Exceptional cultures that deviate from the biologically determined base should be actively sought for and if found, explained. The pick-up-related speculation here (and on many other forums I've read; I'm not familiar with the PUA literature though) has considered only modern Western women (and to a lesser extent, modern Western men) and tried to explain their behavior by fitness arguments. Cultural explanations of behavior haven't even been considered, even thou... (read more)

2Alicorn12y...Is there some chance I can, like, deputize individual (amenable) males who I think have their heads on straight? This would make me feel less like I have to go on being the feminism police because I am one of a handful of people around here eligible (by your standard) and one of even fewer who also cares and is obstinate enough to speak up. Edit: Why does this apparently bother multiple different people that I suggested it? Edit 2 to address replies (thanks for the explanations): I was not suggesting that I should, upon seeing a sexism-related problem, call on these hypothetical deputies and collaborate on hammering the comment into oblivion. I meant that the hypothetical deputies would have the approval of me, a female, to identify things that are "insulting the honor of femininity" so that if this identification needs doing, it doesn't have to fall to me to do it. In my mental model, they'd do this on their own initiative, much as [anyone who I would select] already does; they'd just have the backing from someone with the anatomical credentials Eliezer wants to make this sort of call.
8RobinZ12yGiven the variety of ways people objected to "Sayeth the Girl", I suspect even firsthand "anatomical credentials" are ineffectual. I'm not saying I won't help call out sexist remarks, but that "how would you know that's sexist?" is a Fully General Counterargument you will face whatever reproductive system you have.
6Eliezer Yudkowsky12yThat's why I'm suggesting a policy which says "We want to avoid writing that causes women (or any other gender) to flee", rather than a policy which says "Sexism is a bad, bad thing." You don't need to know what's sexist. You just need to know what makes you personally (not some hypothetical average woman) want to flee.

A policy that says we have to carefully monitor our writing lest we scare someone away makes me want to flee.

I already carefully monitor my writing so that it reads properly for the intended audience. It's called "writing well". Sometimes "editing" specifically.

4RobinZ12yYou may be overestimating the effort involved here. I doubt you are in the habit of using - to draw an example from the French Revolution, as has been suggested - the phrases "clergy" and "enemies of the revolution" interchangeably, or any of the equivalent modern equivocations which can offend. If I were to try to make concrete rules, I would say to use the singular "they" or randomize pronouns for hypothetical persons, take care to be general when speaking in the second-person, and question any generalizations you propose not strongly backed by peer-reviewed evidence (particularly about nations and genders). That set of rules doesn't sound onerous.
4Furcas12yIt's not about the amount of effort it takes, it's about this whole mentality that when a certain turn of phrase or writing style risks 'offending' or 'scaring off' a person, the one who has to give way is always the writer, never the reader. In other words, it's assumed that the responsibility lies with the writer to change his wording, rather than with the reader to see past the offending words to the meaning behind them. The mentality described above is similar to the one that has forced anyone speaking in public to use the childish euphemism "n-word" instead of saying "nigger", even when it's obvious from the context that they're not expressing a racist sentiment. People will even say, "Hey, don't use the n-word, you racist!" They have to speak this way because, where the word "nigger" is concerned, it's universally believed that it's the speaker's responsibility to censor himself rather than the listener's responsibility to actually use his brain and understand what the other guy is saying. I think this mentality is lazy and anti-rational. The way I see it, if you're offended by the superficiality rather than by the substance of my words, it's your problem, not mine. Being able to overlook the surface of a message (and suppressing whatever feeling of offense it may have triggered in you) is an essential skill to a rationalist, and skewing the balance in favor of easily offended readers can only cause its atrophy. If you find the kind of monitoring Eliezer is advocating natural, go for it, but don't pester the rest of us about it.
6SoullessAutomaton12yBehold, the internet. It's full of people, and most of them have something to say. In a market of attention where people decide "should I bother to read this", the power is purely on the buyer's side. In other words, if you want to be taken seriously as a writer it's your responsibility to communicate [http://lesswrong.com/lw/jc/rationality_and_the_english_language/] effectively. As a group, we all share an interest in keeping the quality of communication on Less Wrong high.
2Furcas12yThere's a difference between communicating effectively and catering to hypersensitive nuts.
5MrHen12yI think we actually agree with each other more than it seems. I agree with the following: * Generally speaking, it is better to not offend than to offend * All other things being equal, use the non-offensive word * Worrying about not offending everyone is pointless and impossible * There is a line somewhere between avoiding potentially offensive words/language/topics and freaking out over every offense * Accept pointers about being less offensive when the less offensive route is rather trivial * Use common sense Do you disagree on any particular point? The details are up for grabs, but the gist sounds right to me.
4MrHen12yWhy is that? And, more importantly, if you are not willing to think about the community before clicking "comment," why would the community mind if you flee? Now, of course, "carefully monitor" is a bit relative. I would consider myself in thomblake's camp [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/z3s] in the sense that I already try to monitor what I write. I also appreciate posts that let me know I accidently offended someone. Hopefully I am not in the minority with either of those behaviors.
7RobinZ12yYou just need to know what makes you personally (not some hypothetical average woman) want to flee. This assumes two things. One: there being enough women available to identify the offputting behavior. Two: there being no men capable of identifying the offputting behavior. The first is false and the second offensive - and yes, offensive to me personally, as a black male social liberal. It's not the victim's job to fight unjust discrimination. It's everyone's. Edit: As Eliezer Yudkowsky points out, "discrimination" is an unfairly loaded term in this context. I shouldn't have used it. To reword: offputting behavior can be recognized by more than just those it would make uncomfortable, and it is, in fact, everyone's responsibility to avoid it in their own writing and to point it out in others. (With the caveat, as thomblake and Jonathan_Graehl observed, that offensiveness should not be pointed out where it does not exist, and overzealous policing should be discouraged as well.)
9Eliezer Yudkowsky12yBut it's not about discrimination. It's about providing a non-gender-unfriendly environment. We are not assuming the speaker is guilty - of sexism, of deliberate intent, of anything. We are not on a crusade. We are just trying to avoid that sort of speech in the future.
6thomblake12yTrue, but Eliezer's point is well-taken. One wouldn't want to defend hypothetical people that don't even exist.
1RobinZ12yWomen exist. Given that, your objection must be other than that expressed in the surface content of your words. Please make it explicit so it may be rationally discussed. In the interests of full disclosure and not being deliberately obtuse: I suspect you may be concerned that kneejerk censorship of remarks perceived to be offensive to a given group by those ignorant of the feelings of members of that group towards said remarks (a phenomenon often pejoratively referred to as "political correctness") would inhibit the free exchange of ideas to an unacceptable degree. I propose that a reason why you might be concerned in this fashion is because "offensive" looks like a chaotic feature of the environment [http://lesswrong.com/lw/wb/chaotic_inversion/] to you - the metaphor in this case being that of a minefield, with the pejorative political correctness being roping off the entire thing even though many topics you wish to discuss are within it. If that's your concern, stop it. It's not a minefield. If you want to avoid accidentally giving offense, all you need is empathy and education. And if you think you have those things but you're still accidentally offending people, you're probably wrong. Now let's start getting less so.
6thomblake12yThe "hypothetical people that don't even exist" would be "people who are offended by comment X". Given how often people are mistaken about what might give offense, it's easy for some crusader to start campaigning on behalf of someone who doesn't want or need their help.
4Jonathan_Graehl12yAnother critique of offense once-removed comes from the comedian Bill Maher. He rails against what he calls "feigned outrage", which he takes to be mostly to be aimed at establishing one's status as a defender of the weak. I don't think second-hand offense is all conscious signaling, but it's certainly sometimes inapt and even a little patronizing. I've complained about racist comments in various net communities I've been a part of, and been met with the excuse "you're not even Mexican, don't be so intolerant" etc. I don't mind leaving the "that's unfairly demeaning of X-people" argument as long as there are refutations available independent of that. But there are certain offenses which, when met with only silence, could result in every single offended person simply deciding that the community is not worth it, leaving without even a reply. That's clearly not the case re: the pickup teapot's tempest.
3RobinZ12yWhen we find such crusaders, we should criticize and downvote them appropriately. We should all avoid being ones ourselves. And, on a different note, we should establish a norm in which declarations of offensiveness require justification. None of these require that we restrict all complaints of offense to when we are personally insulted. That requirement would almost entirely eliminate complaints even in the face of endemic bad behavior, which is precisely what we do not want.
1thomblake12yI don't think we actually have any points of disagreement here.
7HughRistik12yHey, I doubt I have my head on straight, but if I see comments that display objectionable gender attitudes in my view, I will do my best to critique them. Here's an example [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/ykd] of how I've gone about it in the past. The goal was to point out the potentially objectionable implications of that post, and to do so in a way that might actually convince the other person rather than making them feel shamed.
5cousin_it12yI downvoted you because I believe mod power should never be centralized. Once you deputize four other people, you're able to instantly make any unfavored comment invisible; I wouldn't like any entity on LW (except maybe Eliezer) to have such power.
5Strange711yUnless, of course, anyone else upvotes the comment in question.
4bogus12yI downvoted you because you're endorsing overt factionalization of Less Wrong's userbase (again). As the previous discussion has shown, there's no shortage of people (male and female) who will take genuine offense at objectifying or otherwise insensitive language: we have no need for meat-puppets or "deputies". Edited to address reply: The only situation where Eliezer called for female rationalists to intervene was to debunk a hypothetical feminist commenter who took offense at eminently sensible things like, say, evolutionary psychology [1]. This is not at all the same as identifying genuine sexism concerns. [1] Which is ironic, since evolutionary psychology as currently practiced is full of baseless "just-so stories". It wouldn't surprise me in the least if some of these stories were genuinely problematic.
3SilasBarta12yOkay, anyone who ridiculed my remark [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/yn4] about the potential "special class of feminist censors", you may begin your gold-plated apologies ... now.
2thomblake12yDid you not read the rest of this thread? EY suggested that one might require certain 'anatomical credentials' (not his wording) to speak up, and Alicorn despaired that it might put an undue burden on her and asked if other people could help. Incidentally, insisting that people apologize to you is not good form.
4SilasBarta12yThat speaks to whether the feminist censors' existence is justified. That issue is distinct from my point, which is that Eliezer_Yudkowsky's proposal amounts to assigning feminist censors, which turns out to be an accurate assessment. You may have wonderful reasons for supporting this policy, but I was absolutely right about the implications of Eliezer_Yudkowsky's proposal, when others didn't see such implications. Perhaps, but so is: 1) Ignoring warnings that turn out to be correct. 2) Not apologizing for ridiculing someone who turned out not to deserve it.
2Eliezer Yudkowsky12yThe idea of deputies is... well... silly [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2008/10/academics-in-cl.html]... but I suppose if you actually were finding that it took up your time, then sure, I guess so. I'm hoping you won't have to do this more than once in a blue moon once we settle what the actual LW policy is. I have no idea. Those downvotes really should've come with an explanation.
7Jonathan_Graehl12yI have plenty of guesses, on the other hand, for the downvotes: 1) divisive langauge - there are those who "I think have their heads on straight" and everyone else, who is suspected of wrongdoing. probably more offense at being suspected than desire to behave brutishly 2) attempt to assume authority and power - unless your position is secure, or your proposal compelling, people will tear down and mock the young upstart 3) interpetation of "i think we should do this" as a call for votes 4) actual rational disagreement
1thomblake12yAgreed with EY. "deputize" sounds silly. And I think it's clear enough at this point that you don't need to take any action, as there are enough people being affected regardless of 'anatomical credentials'.
1nazgulnarsil12ythat makes a lot of sense. thanks for clarifying.
1d_m12yWhy do you think the comment bothers you?
2nazgulnarsil12ypartially because if I was a female rationalist it would be offensive to me that Eliezer assumes I would respond differently to the same comment simply because of the gender of the commenter. Just like it would be offensive to me as a black person if the LW community thought that I would only respond positively to comments made by another black person. there's absolutely nothing wrong with men making generalizations about women, nothing wrong with whites making generalizations about blacks or vice versa. allowing overly sensitive members of minority groups to dictate behavior is a waste of time.

if I was a female rationalist it would be offensive to me that

See... that's where I'm not willing to go, there. That is a hole with no bottom. There's enough real trouble in the world without borrowing imaginary subjunctive counterfactual trouble on top of that. If I really said something offensive to a female rationalist, a female rationalist can tell me so.

2d_m12yI'm not sure Eliezer qualifies as an "overly sensitive member of a minority group" but I take your point. I think he's making a pragmatic decision but we can disagree. In this particular case, I think Eliezer is arguing that the hypothetical woman who thinks all evolutionary psychology discussions are sexist is not a rationalist. As such she has no rationalist honor and would probably not respond as you (being a male rationalist) would. I think it's fair to give her (as a female assumed-non-rationalist) a little breathing room, which is what I think Eliezer is suggesting. I think this is consistent with his narrative of trying to recruit/grow the rationalist pool, and as such trying to be more tolerant/welcoming of people who may not yet be rationalists but are interested and learning.
2pjeby12yAnd you'd be wrong to be offended. Because as far as we know, humans can't reliably switch off the biases that would make them act irrationally in such a circumstance, and a rationalist should be humble enough to acknowledge when his/her brain can't be expected to do the right thing. That being said, I agree with your second paragraph: there's nothing wrong with making generalizations, per se. (Actually speaking about them, however, or otherwise revealing them to other persons, alas, is fraught with many perils.)

Agreed. So in short, when things go wrong, this should happen:

"blah blah blah"
"Hey, that's the sort of remark we agreed not to have around here"
"Sorry, didn't notice. Edit: bleh bleh bleh"

4Eliezer Yudkowsky12yPrecisely.
1SilasBarta12ySure, until it results in: "Women might be less willing to take dangerous jobs because in the EEA[1], there was less return to taking big risks." "Hey, that's disempowering to women and we agreed not to be like that here." "Sorry, didn't notice. Edit: Women can do every job a man can." [1]Environment of evolutionary adaptation aka ancestral (ETC wrong word) environment aka where most modern human psychology was molded
3Bo10201012yCome now. "Less willing to take risks" is a probabilistic statement, not a statement about every female or any individual female. To consider that disempowering is wrong (though some might mistakenly). I would encourage prefacing potentially mis-interpreted statements with a reminder genetic or evolutionary pressures do not determine any individual's behavior. It should be the responsibility of the person who presents a fact or theory to at least take steps to make sure it's not intentionally or unintentionally misused. If you discover something about ethnicity and IQ, or nurture and homosexuality, or anything else that's potentially explosive, you should be sure you make an effort to disarm the dark side from abusing it.
2SilasBarta12ySure, just like to consider it disempowering to say, "getting rich will get you women" is wrong. But you don't get to make that call. It will be up to the special class of feminist censors to (arbitrarily) decide what counts as "objectifying". Who can then use that power to taboo any argument they don't like, since that topic is "beyond the pale". Because who's going to stop them, right?
4Bo10201012yI understand your objection to granting immunity from criticism certain ideological preferences (and I didn't vote your comment down). However, my thought is that here at LW we can identify the difference between "women can't do the same jobs as men" and "many women don't do the same jobs as men, perhaps in part because of prehistorical environments." "Getting rich will get you women" isn't disempowering; it's just lame. "Research/theory suggests that getting rich will make you more attractive to potential mates, if you are male" is at least defensible.
2thomblake12yThat's a complete non-sequitur. The first statement is not the sort of thing we've been talking about, and its 'rephrasing' has an entirely different meaning. Are you just trying to keep this conflict going?
2orthonormal12yBy the way: ancestral environment.

What say you?

I agree, pretty much completely.

In general, I thought the recent discussions on seduction were beneath us. First I was put off by the de-personalization of people considered as sexual partners; and then I was equally offended by the undercurrent of "some people don't deserve (a high level of) sexual gratification, because they're not attractive enough" running through some of the indignant responses that I should otherwise have agreed with. For all the talk about "altruism" and concern for "humanity" in this community, there wasn't much of that spirit to be found anywhere in those threads.

Having locker-room discussions in public is low-status behavior. Now it is a debatable question whether we should go out of our way to signal high status. (I for one think the prestige of Overcoming Bias, run as it was by high-status folks like Robin Hanson and associated with no less than Oxford University, contributed in no small part to getting us this far, and is something we are in danger of losing to the extent we become perceived as a group of underachieving sex-starved male computer programmers in their twenties.) But I think most of us shoul... (read more)

So, yes, this is in fact an argument for a certain kind of political correctness -- just enough of it to avoid signaling low status if at all possible.

No no no. Discouraging topics with "low status" connotations (as opposed to topics which are politically divisive or needlessly exclusionary) is cowardly and epistemically dangerous. If we were playing a chronophone game, this would come out as "Let's not discuss Copernicus' theories: this should be a place where Jesuit scientists and philosophers can be comfortable".

Rationalists should win, and one can win big by seeing things that society at large dares not point out just yet.

If we were playing a chronophone game, this would come out as "Let's not discuss Copernicus' theories: this should be a place where Jesuit scientists and philosophers can be comfortable".

Nonsense. It was with the aim of preventing this misunderstanding that I suggested the Dawkins/Dennett test (apparently to no avail). "Low status" doesn't mean what you seem to think; it's not the same thing has holding a minority opinion. Galileo's status was quite high, which is why he was treated as a threat by the church rather than being ignored as a lunatic. A more appropriate chronophone rendering might be: "Let's make sure we wear our wigs and robes properly and have a Latin version ready to go ."

Finally note that I said "if at all possible". If for some reason a particular line of reasoning actually does signal low status but nonetheless needs to be heard, we have an escape clause. It shouldn't be used lightly, however.

6cousin_it12yFactual nitpick: scientific status doesn't imply sexual status, in fact I gut-feel the real-world correlation is negative when controlled for income, though of course I don't have enough data. Value nitpick: if we manage to find important truths at the price of collectively looking like sex-starved nerds, I for one am willing to pay that price. Those of us who aren't can always conceal their identities with nicknames.

if we manage to find important truths at the price of collectively looking like sex-starved nerds, I for one am willing to pay that price.

The question is whether that's necessary (or helpful) for finding important truths. You implicitly assume it is a required cost. More generally, is "writing in a way expected to alienate large numbers of people" a price that we must pay in order for our community to succeed?

Any pervasive trend that results in our community being the sort of place that a Dawkins or Dennett or Pinker would avoid is a trend that we should carefully analyze, and the burden of proof is correspondingly high to show that the net benefits of that sort of behavior warrant allowing it. I don't think anybody has shown that the sort of objectionable writing in question has such benefits or that there aren't alternate ways of communicating the same ideas without being alienating, the primary cost being some extra effort required on the part of the writer.

Put me in the camp of those who agree with avoiding exclusionary language (particularly sexist language), but who disagree with limiting or eliminating discussion of particular topics.

So far, the situation seems to be that some people who have detailed knowledge of the seduction community think that it is relevant to discussions of rationality.

Other people suggest that this topic may lead to low quality discussions, particularly due to the tendency of some people who discuss it displaying gender-related insensitivity. Consequently, some of this latter camp suggest limiting the discussion of pickup on LessWrong.

This view suggests that the difficulties in discussing pickup are so great that they exceed the benefits of discussing it, at least for now. I argue that this view is premature.

It is premature to assume that the pitfalls associated with discussing pickup and rationality are best dealt with by a moratorium on the topic. It is only the "best solution" in the same way that a police state is the "best solution" to crime: solving the problem, but at what cost? As I pointed out to Alicorn, some of the comments she protests met with vigorous disagreement, inclu... (read more)

2pjeby12yTo be clear, I also support not discussing it here, as long as the ban extends to making negative statements about it.

Eliezer, I think you're spot on here. I think objectification is both exclusion from the dialogue and being relegated to the status of an object, but I hadn't considered the first aspect to it before.

The PUA dialogue as a whole is unpleasant for me, as a woman, exactly because women are implicitly excluded as agents. I am bisexual and I would like it if more women were interested in me, so one would think PUA might be of interest. But PUA excludes me completely and alienates me. When I read about it, I realise with a horrified fascination that I am reading instructions for someone else on how to hack MY BRAIN for their own personal gratification.

Being "objectified" in the sense of being relegated to the status of an object implies that one neither needs nor deserves autonomy or agency. A person willing to employ pickup artistry or similar is revealing their opinion that women do not deserve full agency and/or the chance to make informed decisions in this arena, purely because the Artist disagrees with their probable decision. I believe that's why I and so many other women find PUA repulsive: it is an attempt to control us and dilute our autonomy.

And for the record, I am really interested in evolutionary psychology and don't understand how it could be offensive. It doesn't attempt to exclude or disempower any group to my knowledge - am I wrong? From my reading on the matter, it is simply one scientific approach attempting to explain and predict human behaviour.

(edited for clarity)

A person willing to employ pickup artistry or similar is revealing their opinion that women do not deserve full agency and/or the chance to make informed decisions in this arena, purely because the Artist disagrees with their probable decision.

Is a person willing to take a class on public speaking revealing their opinion that audiences do not deserve full agency or the chance to make informed decisions about what they're presenting in a speech? Should they not practice to make the best possible impression?

I realize there are schools of PUA that are based on trickery. However, the "direct", "natural", and "inner" schools of PUA studies deal only with what makes men more attractive to women, generally. That information is unlikely to be useful to you as a bisexual woman, but it is certainly not about treating women as objects. Some teachers (most notably Johnny Soporno) are quite explicitly about emancipating women from oppressive societal constructs around sexuality (such as the idea that having sex with more than one partner means a woman has no self-worth).

Still other teachers (e.g. Juggler) teach men how to make emotional connections in conver... (read more)

I have no problem with attempting to make oneself more attractive to other people or make the best possible impression. When you make a speech to a lot of people, of course you should practice it - but nobody in the audience thinks that you got up and ad-libbed it, just like nobody who sees me dressed up thinks I'm always going to look like that. We realise we're seeing your best effort, which acts as a signal of your valuation of the event or activity - we don't think that you're always like this, and the self enhancement is common knowledge.

Pick up artists are different. Let's break them into two groups: the outright tricksters and the "inner" school. We can agree, unless i'm very much mistaken, that the tricksters are clearly attempting to hack women's brains (ie with the little psychological games to make them look insightful or deep, with use of negging, etc) in an unethical way. Mystery is a good example of this. By "hack" I mean "influence in an underhanded way without permission" - if for example you managed to convince me PUA is good, you didn't hack my brain, you changed my mind.

But the inner school is also problematic, and I think you mis... (read more)

Let's break them into two groups: the outright tricksters and the "inner" school. We can agree, unless i'm very much mistaken, that the tricksters are clearly attempting to hack women's brains (ie with the little psychological games to make them look insightful or deep, with use of negging, etc) in an unethical way. Mystery is a good example of this

Agreed. Ross Jeffries and Mystery both explicitly belong to this school. However, the general trend in successful schools has been moving progressively further and further away from these approaches. Indeed, even Mystery is viewable as a step away from Jeffries' position - arguably most of the Mystery Method can be compared to a generalized pattern for "how to give a speech" -- i.e., this is the order of steps that people go through in becoming attracted to one another, so this is the order in which you should do things. You can discard all of the specific problematic techniques at each stage, and just use the stages themselves.

In fact, this is what the RSD people do - the company formed from the feud between Mystery and certain of his Project Hollywood brethren. They kept the logistics, and substitute what mi... (read more)

We both think it’s a good thing if men want to learn about how to be more considerate, more confident, and more comfortable around women – you were right to assume I agree here. I have no problem with your examples; in fact, I can tell you now I would probably respond well if a guy started a conversation with me about salad in a confident way. :D

You and I disagree about the extent to which the PUAs are teaching people that. You say that they are, and I believe your examples, but most of the sites I can find are all about sequences, “running game”, tricks, mind games, strategies, etc. They rank women from 1 to 10 and advise different techniques. So many of the websites I am seeing talk about women as though they're objects, not people - and simplistic, easily hackable objects at that. Press button X, the man is assured, and she is likely to respond with Y. I went back to look at them for the purposes at this discussion and I feel revolted all over again. The Mystery Method for example explicitly advises stimulating positive AND negative emotions in a woman, specifically jealousy and frustration, because that makes her emotionally vulnerable to male advances! Do you agree this is hi... (read more)

8pjeby12yYeah, I don't read most of those sites. As I said, it certainly can be considered selection or availability bias on my part. However, that being said, I must reject the idea that "PUA is bad" because some or even most PUA are bad. If most women have some disliked property X, it would be just as wrong for me to attribute property X to "women". Seriously, doesn't virtually every book in the "relationships" section of a bookstore (not to mention Cosmo) do just the same with men? If one of those books says, "Men need X in order to give you Y, so be sure to give them X", how is this actually any different? In truth, it isn't. Many men prefer to use language that sounds like they have control or mastery over a situation, and many women prefer language that sounds like they are caring or giving in the same situation. And, this language difference is independent of the person's behavior. There are women who can read that relationship book and use what they find to make men miserable, and those who want to know because they care. Same thing with men: there are those who learn PUA to get back at women and society, and there are those who genuinely want to relate better. And for the latter men, the language may or may not be a barrier. I personally relate better to materials that are about "this is what she needs/wants" rather than "this is what button to push", but usually even the button-pushers (among the professional trainers) will include some info about the need/want side of things. My impression is that the jealousy and frustration here is very mild, on a very playful level. After all, we are talking about two people who've just met a few minutes ago. If someone experiences real jealousy or frustration from a few minutes of Mystery's antics, I suspect they would not be able to handle a normal relationship very well... and not just with him! For the rest of your comment, I think HughRistik has done a good job of addressing your points. The touch issue, for exampl
8HughRistik12yYes. The rating system is controversial in the community, and many PUAs refuse to use it exactly because they see it as objectifying. The reason that it probably sticks around is that it happens to be useful: a woman's conventional attractiveness is a factor in how she has been treated by men, and the physiological effect she has on the PUA, both of which are highly relevant. Do women not realize what is going on when a strange guy approaches them? Are you against all hidden artifices in dating (including female artifices)? Or just some particular types of artifice? If the latter, what distinguishes the artifices that you find objectionable? The moral standards you are advocating seem potentially over-broad to me. The problem I have with the term "mind tricks" is that a lot of these behaviors are isomorphic to social behaviors shown by men who are naturally successful with women (which is not to say that I don't have a problem with some techniques, see below). The neg, and cocky/funny for instance. It seems counter-intuitive to hold that these behaviors are OK if you don't realize you are doing them, but not OK if you know how they work. Of course, you might see the neg as bad either way, in which case it sounds like the main problem you have is with the effects of the technique, not its covert nature. And indeed, I also have a problem with the neg. I think that the potential benefits it provides don't outweigh the potential discomfort or insult it can cause to the woman. Or though it might in some contexts, there are better ways to get the same interest without risking hurting her feelings. I think the seduction community as a whole is coming around to this view. Mystery had them believing that negs were practically necessary on highly attractive women in clubs, but eventually people discovered that there were other ways to get their foot in the door, so the neg could no longer be justified on the grounds of virtual necessity.
3Lightwave12yThe neg can simply be more on the teasing side than on the insulting side. I don't think teasing is all that objectionable.
7jfpbookworm12yPart of the issue is that, even when the hurt is minimal, it's a decision that one's own self-interest outweighs the harm to someone else, and as humans we're not very good at making that calculation objectively.
2Rachael12yExactly, thank you.
2HughRistik12yHi jfpbookworm, long time no see. I agree with skepticism when making decisions over whether one's self-interest outweighs harm to someone else, which is why in this post [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/z6d] I advocated weighing in the potential benefit to the other party also (emphasis added): I think I came by this way of thinking from reading Mane Hajdin's The Law of Sexual Harassment [http://books.google.com/books?id=PDzQyo5y1MAC&lpg=PA235&ots=I0pPxRAa1c]. He wrote an article in this book [http://books.google.com/books?id=4HdpN1xnl5EC&lpg=PA283&ots=vCY1NSkoD2&pg=PA297] that has some relevant comments (read page 297-299, though we don't get 298 in the preview): He then sets up three hypothetical advances: 1. 10% chance of success, 88% chance of mild annoyance, 2% chance of offense 2. 10% success, 89% mild annoyance, 1% offense 3. 11% success, 69% mild annoyance, 20% offense He says that advances #2 is obvious preferable to advance #1. As for advance #3, the relevant question to ask is: When pickup artists think about ethics, I suspect this is the kind of implicit moral framework they are using. Of course, all of these calculations have subjective factors, but they are better than nothing.
6HughRistik12yRachael, I think you raise some excellent questions about the ethics of social influence. Could you explain this without using loaded terms so I can understand exactly what your objection is? I'm glad you try to unpack "hack" as "influence in an underhanded way without permission", but "underhanded" is still a loaded term! My best guess is that you're saying that it's unethical to intentionally use a tactic of social influence that the other person doesn't understand and hasn't granted permission for. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) I would agree that such behavior is often creepy or distasteful, but I think calling it unethical would have results that are counter to our intuitions. Does it imply that if the other person knew what you were doing, then it would be OK? Or that if you didn't know you were influencing them, it would be OK? Let's look at an example from the feminine behavioral repertoire: push-up bras. Are these a hack into the male mind? Some males probably don't know what push-up bras are, or what their effect is, so they are being influenced by that "tactic" without their knowledge or permission. To avoid potentially banning large swathes of male and female mating behavior, I think we really have to look at the content of social influence techniques, not just at who knows how it works and who doesn't. I think what we should really be asking is: is the technique harmful, can the user of the technique reasonably be expected to know that, and can any potential harm be justified by potential benefits to the recipient of the technique? Are there any similar techniques out there that can accomplish the same result with less risk of harm? When looking at pickup techniques, I think we would see a whole gamut of answers to those questions.
3Rachael12yI think you’re right that we have to look at the harm and good of influence tactics. That probably would help us separate, say, wearing push up bras and learning how to be attentive and confident around women, from learning to put women down or make them feel negative emotions so they’re more vulnerable to you. I do think the permission aspect is still important, though, because otherwise it smacks of a kind of paternalistic approach – the male judges what’s good for everyone and then executes it, without checking with the woman if this is what she thinks is good too. Sort of “I should trick her into liking me because I’m a really swell guy, so it would be better for her if she liked me!” Because in relationships between people a lot of things are subjective and personal, this is an area where it’s reasonable that rational people’s estimations of what’s good and bad will differ. I don’t think permission is an issue when you’re self-optimising. So I don’t think it matters if men secretly take courses to be more confident and comfortable around women, or if women secretly wear push-up bras. I think it’s important when you’re trying to directly influence the other person, like with the PUA mind games and strategies for producing emotional vulnerability. Unpacking "hack" more is difficult, I guess "underhanded" would be "using a technique that is deceptive, dishonest, and potentially harmful". Except now I brought harm back into it so I'm not sure if that helps at all. I do think a hack has to be a direct influence on the other person, not an indirect influence, so that the self-optimising never counts as a hack. I realise the line between direct and indirect is difficult to draw here and it could take us a while to figure it out (if we felt so inclined.)
7HughRistik12yI'll probably need to do a couple posts to properly reply to you, but I like your idea of consolidating them into one thread. For others' reference, I'm also replying to this post by Rachael [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/zdj]. I do think we can say that if a form of influence is harmful and covert, then the covertness makes it worse. Trying to harm someone sneakily is worse than trying to harm them overtly. I still have trouble with banning covert methods of influence, merely for being covert, even direct influence. That's why I brought up the example of the push-up bra. It's not self-optimization, it's deception, and it's a direct attempt to effect male sexual psychology in a way that can "substantially influence" their behavior. To say that it is ethical suggests that certain types of deception can be justified. The use of covert influence techniques raises a question: if the person it was being used on found out later, how would they feel? In the case of push-up bras, I think the intuition is that if/when a man finds out about the covert technique, he will/should consider it justified, or at least excusable, if he understood the challenges women go through in satisfying men's sexual preferences for looks. Likewise, the intuition around a PUA a technique may be that if women discovered it, they would or should consider it to be justified, or at least excusable, if they understood the challenges men go through in satisfying women's sexual preferences (e.g. for masculine traits [http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2007/04/09/research-on-female-preferences-in-men/] , and see the Draco In Leather Pants TV Trope [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DracoInLeatherPants] for some less-empirical but more humorous examples of the dark side of female preferences). Furthermore, in both cases, the intuition may be that once the other person's stereotypical sexual preference is satisfied (e.g. looks for men, or masculinit
2thomblake12yNot that I'm arguing a normative point here, but I've always gotten the same negative vibe from public speaking classes (and rhetoric) as from marketing/PUA. But then, I've often been known to disregard relevant social skills.
7Nanani12yI had the same reaction of revulsion to PUA sites until I realized it only works when I let it, and I suspect the same for most women. PUAs work in singles bars and other places where single people go to interact with other single people. Girls go to these places when they want sexual attention; IE when they want to be picked-up. Sure there are accompanying reasons like drinking and dancing, but a woman who wants to avoid getting hacked by these techiniques has the very simple option of just not exposing herself to them. If one of these "artists" hit on you when you are not in a receptive frame of mind, wouldn't you just reject him? I certainly do. When you are in a receptive frame of mind, it is of course different, and that is when the PUA-stuff can hack you, so to speak, into accepting the advances of someone you'd otherwise reject. That is not to say these guys can just point a finger at you in the street and Bang. Long story short, he can't deny you agency unless you are already objectifying yourself.
3pjeby12yIf someone offers you a tasty dessert when you're hungry, is that "hacking" your mind, because you otherwise wouldn't choose to eat it?
5Nanani12yIf I'm in a bakery, they can hardly be blamed for offering me a cupcake. If I don't want the sweets, it is on me to avoid sellers of desserts. if I'm in a music store and someone offers me a dessert, I'm going to go "WTF" and leave before the weirdo with the candy starts doing something even weirder.
2pjeby12yMy point is about the "hacking" part, not where the thing is being offered. Let me rephrase. If a person deliberately sets out to make a tastier dessert, so that it's more attractive than competing desserts, how is this "hacking" anyone's mind? If it's more attractive, then it's more attractive! One can argue about whether it might be better from a health or finanical perspective to skip the dessert. One can even say that it's rude to offer a person some dessert in an inappropriate context. But none of these things have to do with how the dessert tastes, or the quality of ingredients used, or the presentation of the dessert on the plate. If the baker doesn't lie about what's in the dessert, and has gone to extra trouble to procure the finest ingredients, and make the best possible presentation... And if you choose that dessert because of these things, is that "hacking" your mind? Or just someone offering you a nice dessert? Your earlier comment implied that someone is "hacking" your mind, when all they've actually done is try their best to offer you a nice dessert. Whether you choose to indulge or not is still an essentially free choice, just like we are all free to turn down an actual dessert, no matter how tempting to our palates it may be. It seems wrong (to me) to imply that using better ingredients or presentation of a dish somehow equals reaching out into someone's brain and taking control of it. If it were, then we could turn around and argue that men have no control when they see an attractive woman... and I don't think any of us like where that kind of thinking takes us (e.g. burqas, to say the very least). (Footnote: is this comment insensitive to Muslims? I'm going to have to guess that religion is the one reasonably-safe whipping boy on LW, at least for the moment.)
4Nanani12yI see. Well no, -making- a more attractive dessert is not in any way hacking. PUA techniques that rely on maximising the man's attractiveness to women are not hacking her brain, they are life-hacks for him. These are not the techniques likely to be objected to, methinks. I think the improving-the-product aspect is eminently laudable. Self improvement is good. What does count as hacking is more along the lines of this: To push the bakery example; I do not like caramel, but let's say I go to a bakery intending to buy a banana muffin, but the charming presentation of fresh baked caramel ones, along with some tactics by the bakery employees, convince to buy a caramel muffin just this once. The tactics of presentation and salesmanship have effectively hacked my brain into going for a lower-order preference. It would take one amazing hack to make me eat a caramel muffin when I'm not hungry and not in a bakery, one that I suspect is not acheivable. I can say no to banana muffins, too. I don't mean to say that all PUA technique is fakery and salesmanship; rather I think that the sales-based portions are the ones that horrify women. Given that I don't find salesmanship horrifying when buying food or anything else, I've stopped finding descriptions of PUA work horrifying.
3pjeby12yIn all fairness, the consequences of choosing a bad "dessert" are probably much worse in the singles' bar than in the bakery, so I can certainly empathize with an intuitive horror of being "sold" something you don't really want in that context. Thanks for listening and being open-minded. I appreciate it.
1SoullessAutomaton12yIf someone who is trying to quit smoking complains about a craving, and you offer them a cigarette, are you doing them a favor?
1thomblake12yInteresting thought. I've never been to a "singles bar" or similar place, I think, and I wonder if the divide here was between people who go to such places, and people who do not.
6SilasBarta12yI can't understand your position. There are people who seem to reliably be able to (in a sense) "hack" women's minds ... and you don't want to know about it? Wouldn't you want to be aware of when you are tricked into wanting something that goes against your interest? ETA: I'm male, and I felt the same revulsion [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/ylh] at PUA discussions, but decided that it's all the more reason to learn about them.
7Rachael12yI see I didn't make myself clear on this one, sorry. I do want to know about it, and indeed I spent some time researching it when I first found out about it. But I find any discussion of it in the context of possibly trying to use it on women, or any attempt to optimise the process to that end, to be repulsive. I don't want to be in an environment where it is considered acceptable. I'm not against discussing it per se, I am against discussing it as an acceptable/admirable course of action or in a positive light.

I think anyone who feels excluded as a gender is not a very good rationalist, and therefore might want to shut up and study some more.

You are not your genetalia. Stop being a girl or a guy; put your rationalist hat back on. PLEASE.

For the record, I'm female and have been adversely affected by what other females have called objectification on this site.

4Psychohistorian12yHopefully this site is not strictly preaching to the choir. Someone who believes people here have good ideas and understands why you should probably be charitable to naive generalizations or somewhat offensive assertions made here will not have a problem occasionally running into them. However, it is not hard to imagine an individual unfamiliar with "rationalism" seeing a few too many posts on pickup artists and deciding their time would be better spent on another site.
1Nanani12yIf the person is familiar with PUAs, won't they just laugh and ignore the posts? That's what I did until this ugly gender/hormonal mess flared up.
4randallsquared12yAt current tech levels, I do not believe it will be possible for a rationalist to stop being a girl or a guy. Additionally, I don't know that it's even desirable for people to try to think only in a gender-neutral fashion, any more than it would necessarily be desirable for humans and Happies to try to think only in species-neutral terms.
9Nanani12yIt is desireable to think in a rational fashion. Prioritizing your gender is not rational, optimal, or desirable for pursuing rational discussion. Gender is salient and important in some discussions, but it is not the only salient part of your identity. I am amazed this even needs to be said, but here it is anyway: you don't have to stop thinking like your gender ALL THE TIME. Just ignore your hormones when they are not salient to the topic at hand, as surely you do any time you are not interacting with bedable members of the appropriate gender. Humans are meat puppets run by hormones, but at least we can recognize the hormonal signal and, you know, not respond when it's innapropriate.
5SoullessAutomaton12ySeconding this sentiment. Personally, I cannot even fathom why people seem to consider it an unusually significant part of their identity compared to other traits.
2orange11yIt might be considerate to realize that females do have a legitimate reason for why they are more salient to their own sex and issues regarding gender. More so than males. This is because society treats male-ness as the norm versus female-ness, which is treated as special. As a result, many females become VERY AWARE of the fact they are female, have female genitalia, are treated "differently" because of their sex. Perhaps a lot of this awareness is in fact, subconscious. But none-the-less, this results in a stronger identification with their own gender. Whereas males have less problem disassociating with their own genitalia. Becoming a good rationalist is a journey one takes, not something one "is" or "isn't". It is insulting to simply say "you're not a good rationalist if..." and then hold everyone to these standards. I'm not saying your end-goal isn't correct, but the way to attract people to a site like this is not to BEGIN by assuming everyone is a "good rationalist" but that more people start out as "bad rationalists" and attracting them might take different approaches than what is rationally optimal or acceptable to current members.
1Nanani11yThis comment was never intended to attract people to the site, so your last paragraph is not relevant. Please refrain from lecturing a female on what females do or do not do.
4thomblake11yI think that most of the discussion of content quality around here revolves around either community-building or effective rational inquiry. It is a valid criticism of any comment to say that it fails at community-building, though it's not necessarily a standard everyone needs to worry about all the time.
2orange11yPlease explain your second statement exactly. I don't see why you have this objection.
3Nanani11yYour comment begins "It might be considerate to realize that females do have a legitimate reason for why they are more salient to their own sex and issues regarding gender". In saying this, you are telling me (a female) that I need to realize something about females. This is questionable, at best, and is so regardless of your own gender. Then you conclude "... a stronger identification with their own gender. " to which I reply "Balderdash". Gender is a part of one's identity, obviously, but to say that women can't help but feel theirs is more salient is a broad-strokes over-generalizing statement that is ultimately as patroniaing as anything else that can or has been taken to be biased against women. It effectively says "Oh, women can't help but feel they are treated differently," and in doing so, treats them differently. Do you understand the objection, now? More to the point, my original comment was expressing that rationality is NOT a gender issue. I very strongly believe that to let gender issues interfere in one's goals, be they rationality goals or not, is a bad move. That is all.
3orange11yThe site lost my response; bugger. I have to object to your first objection there. What can you claim to know about the female sex in general solely based on the fact that you yourself are female? You are just a data point. So, regardless of your gender, I think it's fairly legitimate to say, "You need to realize something about females." That something -- whether females identify with their own gender more strongly than males -- is absolutely verifiable using scientific channels. The only thing that may be objectionable about my statements - is if they're flat-out wrong. But to remedy that is easy - just find the truth. Your objections threw me off. I could understand saying, "That hasn't been verified." But to say, "I'm a female, so you shouldn't lecture me on females" - something struck me as wrong about that. Can we agree on this or am I falling for bad logic? As for the last statement, I respect your belief that gender issues interfere with your goals. But the way you stated it in the original post was judgmental. You could have just presented a rational case for it. Or is that not the way things run around here? Is it better to insult everyone that doesn't think the way you do?
3Nanani11yWe can certainly agree on this point. Though I hasten to add that if you had indeed presented some sort of research, I would not have made the comment. Without objective fact behind it, it smacked of condescencion. I made no original post. I urge you to read the actual original post my comment was made to respond to, and the threads the prompted it. I will not be recapping the gender kerfluffle for you. Consider your bait safely ignored.
3wedrifid11y(The point is good but it is obscured by punctuation. Extra proof reading is recommended when potential readers do not have an incentive to be persuaded by your words.)
2thomblake11yYou could say the same thing about any bias. If it were shown that, for example, young people are more susceptible to confirmation bias, it would be useful for a young rationalist to know that, and it would not be a good objection for a young person to respond, "please refrain from lecturing a young person on what young people do or do not do." (and saying "You are not your age" probably doesn't help.) If you believe that letting gender issues interfere in one's goals is a form of bias, then you should believe it's precisely the sort of thing that we should be aware of, and your objection (if any) should have been that orange seems to be making a dubious claim, and he should have to provide experimental evidence to back it up.
0DragonGod4yThis is blatant identity politics, and if I could downvote, I would.

Disliking talk about PUA in a place like this is very ironic, as that's the best example of practical use of evolutionary psychology I can think of.

If we also start disliking behavioral economics as equally manipulative, we're running of real world examples.

As far as I can tell most people who dislike PUA techniques don't really understand them.

As far as I can tell most people who dislike PUA techniques don't really understand them.

Most people here don't understand them because they have this model in their mind that if you treat an attractive woman nicely, try to respect her desires and needs, perhaps compliment her, with the internal attitude that women should be "respected" she will respond in kind by respecting your desire to have sex with her.

They never test this model by going to a bar and trying to use it to achieve the goal of sex with an attractive woman. I know this, because if they had tested it even 3 nights in a row, they would have discarded it as "broken". I would love to go out into the field with 10 guys from LessWrong and alicorn to coach them, and watch them get rejected time after time by attractive women.

I would write a top level post explaining the techniques, the PUA model of the generic male-female interaction, the predictions it makes, and how you can go out and collect experimental evidence to confirm or disconfirm those predictions, but I think that I would not get promoted (no matter how good the post was from a rational perspective, measured in bits of information it conveys about the world) and not get much karma, because people here just don't want to hear that truth.

Do PUA techniques withstand the woman's reflection? Once made aware, do they acknowledge the effectiveness and accurately reaffirm their interest independently of the technique's effect? If incredulous, is her attention held after a demonstration on another woman?

If the answer is yes, that does a good deal in converting PUA from a ("dirty") trick (like Fool's Mate, in chess) into a valid strategy (like Sicilian defense). If you could demonstrate valid strategies, you'd get a lot more karma out of the effort.

If the answer is yes

For PUA styles described as "inner", "direct" or "natural" game, the answer is yes, since they all focus on making the man actually have attractive qualities (such as honesty, confidence, social connections, and emotional stability), rather than simply presenting the appearance of these qualities.

It's rather like "How to Win Friends and Influence People", in that respect. (Whose advice is to cultivate a genuine interest in other people, as opposed to merely faking an interest in other people.)

1astray12yI missed most of the PUA stuff, so bear with me a bit. Does "honesty" include averred intention? Does the "natural" style promote the mutual and explicitly acknowledged one night stand associated with PUA, or does it foster a "Relationship Artist"? Have discussions of the "inner" style conjured "ick" factors? Would continued discussions be frowned upon? (If yes, I think this is a more fruitful area for dissection.)
3pjeby12yYep. Different teachers promote different things. Daniel Rose, for example, says that one-night stands are stupid because you can't get the same physical or emotional intensity that you can with a longer relationship. Soporno doesn't seem to have an explicit duration preference, but implies that most of the women in his circle have been there for years, and that those who left because they thought they found "the one" are always welcome to return. But now I'm sitting here repeating stuff that really should be in a FAQ. You should probably just search for my previous comments about these teachers, or perhaps just google their stuff directly; my comments are based on free materials of theirs, as I don't actually spend any money on pickup stuff. I just read it for the articles, so to speak.

I think most of us here have had at least some exposure to the PUA worldview and a sizable fraction (including me) feels quite sympathetic to it. That said, I wouldn't want to see a toplevel post introducing the basics. There's already plenty of good introductory material elsewhere on the 'net, a couple clicks away. Our site will interest me more if it follows the general direction that Eliezer and Robin initiated at OB, not getting overly sidetracked into applied rationality topics like pickup, marketing or self-help.

4HA212yI suspect that efficiency is not necessarily the reason that many dislike PUA techniques. Personally, I don't particularly doubt that there are patterns for how women react to men (and vice versa), and that these can be used to have more sex. On the other hand, spiking people's drinks or getting them drunk can also be used for the same purpose, and that's commonly known as rape. Sure, there are ways to hack into people's minds to get them to do what you want. The fact that they exist doesn't make them ethically acceptable. Now, I don't know whether PUA methods are or aren't - but the fact that "the attitude that your partner should be respected" is seen as a negative thing seems to be pointing pretty clearly towards the no direction.
9Sirducer12yRight. But now we have an ontological problem: "hack into someone's mind" and "not hack into someone's mind" are not natural kinds. In any social, romantic interaction, there is some degree of mind-hacking going on. When a person spends all their time and energy chasing a member of the opposite gender who is not interested, what has happened is mindhacking. The pain of unrequited love is a result of asymmetric mindhacking. Love itself is symmetric mindhacking: you have hacked her mind, and s/he has hacked yours, and both of your implicit utility functions have been shifted to highly value the other person. What the Seduction community seeks is to allow men to create an asymmetric situation to cause a woman to have sex with them (and this is a place where some members of the community really do behave like assholes and not let the woman down gently afterwards, a practise know as "expectation management", though the community has built up a tradition of karma: we ostracise men who break the rule of always managing expectations and leaving the woman in a happier state than when we met her). The other major goal of the community is to allow the man to create a symmetric situation - which is usually achieved by first creating an asymmetric situation (male strong), and then gradually evening it out by allowing yourself to fall in love with the woman. Women who have been "screwed and left" by pickup artists feel good about themselves more often than one would naively expect - and this surprised me until I realized that if the PUA has demonstrated enough alpha quality, the woman's emotional mind has classified him as "good to have sex with even without commitment" because alpha-male sperm is so evolutionarily advantageous - if you are impregnated by an alpha male then your male descendants will have whatever alpha qualities he has - and will impregnate other women, spreading your genes.

I'll also say that insofar as women think that PUA "mind-hacking" techniques are black-hat subversions of female rationality, the most obvious solution I see is disseminating more information about them. Knowledge of these techniques would allow women to at least attempt to "patch" themselves, assuming they are open to the idea that they actually work.

For example, say I learn about negs. I can either think, "Oh good, it's fun to be attracted to guys, so I hope guys neg me effectively," or "I think it is immoral to neg girls, the world would be a better place if guys didn't do it, and individual guys who neg are probably not worth my time, therefore I will avoid them even if their techniques work and I find myself attracted to them."

Either way, I think I'm better off knowing about negs and how they work. (Apologies for a not very nuanced view of the neg, but it's not that relevant to my main point.)

I realized after I wrote this comment that I think learning about PUA is an excellent exercise in rationality for women in general and me specifically, since it exposes areas where I have in the past not always been aware of the reasons for my decisions.

I could see how women who believe themselves to be immune to PUA (perhaps because the are in fact immune), would not find the topic as interesting.

5Sirducer12yNo! NO! NO! Your long-term partner should be your soulmate, with a high degree of mutual trust and respect. But a woman who you have not yet had sex with is simply not going to respond well to you "respecting" her.

But a woman who you have not yet had sex with is simply not going to respond well to you "respecting" her.

Actually, people in general will be creeped out or think you're of lower status if you're too easily impressed, i.e. offer too much "respect" before they feel they've earned it. It's got nothing to do with gender, except insofar as low status-ness is unattractive.

I think that some people will easily misread your comment as implying that men should not respect women early in the interaction.

My guess is that you are actually trying to say something different, based on your use of "respect" in quotes: You are saying that women may not respond well to attempts by men to signal respect.

If you are saying the second thing, then I agree: it is important to hold respect for the other person at all points in the interaction, yet certain ways that society encourages men to signal respect are counterproductive and unattractive.

3taw12yThe subject definitely deserves a few top posts, considering how important it is, and how many misconceptions there are. You get positive expected karma for almost every kind of activity, and karma doesn't make much difference anyway, so I don't know why you're concerned about it.
1Lightwave12yYou can always write it up on another blog and link to it here. I'm sure many people would follow and comment on it there. I'd certainly be interested in what experimental evidence you propose to collect in order to really confirm or refute the predictions of the theory.
8eirenicon12yBut is PUA discussed here because it's a great example of evolutionary psychology in practise, or because this is a community of mostly single men who are interested in evolutionary psychology? I find neuro-linguistic programming endlessly fascinating and would love to see a good article on it at Less Wrong, but what are the odds that it will reference* pickup artists rather than, say, Derren Brown? The odds that no pop cultural references will be made are low. This *is Less Wrong.
5PaulWright12yI admire Derren Brown enormously for his cleverness, but he's not doing NLP (if indeed there's anything to do: an article which addressed the evidence would be good, I think). He just wants you do think he is. The bit at the end of the trick where he gleefully shows you how he did it using NLP to implant words in people's minds is itself misdirection. It's part of his act, as pretending to be psychic would have been back in the days when people kind of believed in that. Brown: "Years ago the issue was whether or not you told people it was psychic because people were prepared to believe in psychic ability--and how far down that road do you take them. Now we're in a situation where we're into pop psychology, and NLP, all these huge industries, and people are prepared to believe in that, and maybe in a way that's the new psychic realm." The whole interview [http://www.jamyianswiss.com/fm/works/derren-brown.html] the quote came from is worth reading.
2pjeby12yEspecially since it contradicts what you just said about Brown not doing NLP. From the interview: It struck me that the interviewer was really pressing Brown rather hard to say that things like NLP and hypnosis are shams and false, and Brown was pressing back rather hard with the idea that no, people can actually get some benefits from learning these things, they just won't be able to duplicate all my effects that way. Of course, I've seen Brown do certain things that are pretty much straight-up, textbook NLP or hypnosis with no real embellishing. For example, confusing a woman about what color her car is [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdlItEIj8bg] - a simple submodality anchoring belief-change exercise, straight out of the NLP textbooks, with no alterations that I noticed. And the one where he uses blank pieces of paper to pay for things as if it were money, he uses an NLP language pattern to prime the person at a critical moment with the idea that "it's good; take it". (Although I suppose you could say it's an Ericksonian hypnosis pattern; the NLP inventors certainly were among the first to document it, however.) That having been said, quite a few things he does are not NLP at all, or at least not any cataloged NLP technique I know of. In neither of the two cases that I just mention, did Brown draw any attention to the NLP aspect of the effects, either verbally or nonverbally. He provided no explanation at all for either, actually. (Maybe he only does it with techniques that aren't real NLP?) Anyway, I had to very carefully view the paying-with-paper footage several times in order to notice what he was doing, as he was telling different stories each time in which to embed the "it's good, take it" message, which was always timed to occur just as he was handing them the "money". (Of course, I also respect him for including outtake footage in the episode of him trying the trick on a suspicious hotdog vendor (whose English wasn't so good) and having it fail mi
1PaulWright12ySo, the context is whether it's ethical to let people believe they've understood how the tricks work when their understanding is that it's done with psychic powers or with NLP. There's also Brown's statement in Tricks of the Mind (see the Straight Dope article on Brown and NLP [http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2272/does-nlp-work]) that Given the way NLP is a "dirty word", I don't think Brown is doing whatever you find on NLP courses, or at least, he doesn't think it's quite ethical to let people think he is and as a result decide to pay for an NLP course. Whether there's anything to NLP is a separate consideration from whether Brown uses it on stage (except that if there's nothing to it, it's obviously not how Brown does it). On the wider question of whether there's anything to it, in the section on NLP in Tricks of the Mind, he says there's some valid stuff in NLP, but he was put off actually being an NLP practitioner by attending an NLP course where there was a lot of bunk mixed in with the valid stuff. The tricks where I've seen him "explain" how it was done using what I think of as NLP (although, as Brown says, he never uses that word) were the one where he predicted Simon Pegg's ideal birthday present (a BMX bike), and the finale of one of his stage shows, where the effect is that he predicts a word freely chosen from a newspaper which itself was freely chosen from a bunch of possible newspapers (I can't access the formerly working YouTube links for any of these, or indeed your own link, but that may be because I'm in the UK, so you might have more luck viewing them). In both cases, the "explanation" involved words hidden within sentences ("that would B-aM-Xellent present"). "Part of what I do" might mean that he does some stuff which NLP lays some claim to (telling people are lying by watching eye movements) and/or that his act includes him making it look like it was done using NLP :-)
1eirenicon12yWell, about fourteen lines later he starts talking about NLP again and says "I've taken NLP courses and learned some NLP" and "It's part of what I do." I do think it's all part of his act when he lets you in on the NLP "secret", but I think it's also part of the magic that he puts it out in plain view so that people say "ah, that's misdirection" and discard it. I think magicians have been using NLP much longer than NLP has been an acronym, and I think Brown uses it, along with a host of other methods. However, I think it is often mistaken for more fundamental (and tried & true) psychological techniques like priming. Thanks for the link.
4cousin_it12yI'd love to see a detailed text on Derren Brown because the Wikipedia article [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derren_Brown] about him is so intriguing.
3eirenicon12yMy favourite of his shows is his Channel 4 special "Messiah" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_%28Derren_Brown_special%29]. It's an extraordinary piece on confirmation bias, but worth watching purely for the entertainment value as well. Unfortunately, Brown declines to share his actual methods, although many can be inferred. [edit] Adding to this, Brown himself is a rare phenomenon: an entertainment celebrity who promotes overcoming bias. Since he appeals to a large audience, not just those who are interested in 'magic' or psychology, I wouldn't be surprised if his shows have caused a measurable increase of critical thinking among his viewers.
1Jonathan_Graehl12yI didn't get around to watching this until today, but having just finished part 3/8, I want to urge everyone to watch it and the end of part 2 as well [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnaG35Ed1TU&feature=related]; it was extremely moving and horrifying for me. It didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about what must necessarily be true about irrational believers, but it gave me a more detailed and authentic set of examples than I'd imagined. Of course, it does occur to me that some of his amazing feats may have involved a few less successful attempts that didn't make the cut - i.e. I feel like his success must be in some way exceptional or unusual (but probably it isn't).
1anonym12yGreat recommendation. Just watched it on youtube [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ02I6QyagM]. ETA: I'll be sharing that video with family members that I've had fruitless discussions with in the past on psychics, alien abduction, etc.. It's too bad that his programs aren't shown in the USA and his DVDs aren't available here for purchase. I wonder why that is? Surely not lack of interest, given that there are 5 times as many people in the USA than the UK. And the greater number (proportion?) of proudly irrational people in the USA would only ensure that any such program would be that much more controversial and thus that much more lucrative.
1pjeby12yOne could also reference marketing; there are two NLP-in-advertising blogs out there that I read, for example. (http://nlplanguagepatterns.blogspot.com/ [http://nlplanguagepatterns.blogspot.com/] and http://nlpcopywriting.com/ [http://nlpcopywriting.com/]). Both are pretty shallow, though, compared to, say, the stuff Frank Kern does. Kern sort of is to other NLP marketers as Brown is to other NLP magicians -- i.e., he disclaims any expertise in the subject, but wields it like a master of the craft instead of like a geek fascinated by the subject.

Funny thing that. Your mention of marketing gave me an instant "ick, sleazy" reaction. Does Alicorn feel the same way every time she sees mentions of PUA? If so, I can finally understand where she's coming from!

Funny thing that. Your mention of marketing gave me an instant "ick, sleazy" reaction. Does Alicorn feel the same way every time she sees mentions of PUA? If so, I can finally understand where she's coming from!

Be a rationalist and get over it, since it will inhibit your ability to accomplish "real world" goals like getting paid for your work. But more than that, it'll diminish your quality of life, by requiring you to avoid things that are just a normal part of life.

One reason I'm here is because I used to be the sort of person who got all squicked out by PUA and marketing and whatnot, before I realized that most of my "rationality" was being used in the service of justifying my pre-existing emotional reactions to things.

The thing that really opened my eyes about marketing was understanding that people want experiences, not things, and trying to get them to want what you believe they should want (vs. giving them what they actually want) is not really about being nice to them: it's just your ego talking.

This insight is equally applicable to marketing and PUA, as in both cases, the objection is, "but people shouldn't want that", whatever &... (read more)

8Alicorn12yI am extremely leery of rationalism being used as a reason not to feel things [http://lesswrong.com/lw/59/spocks_dirty_little_secret/]. I would just like to say that among the things most likely to make me want to scream at someone is when they try to give me what they think I want, or what they would want, or what most people superficially similar to me want, instead of what I tell them I want. In words. Out loud.
2Jonathan_Graehl12yI've noticed several instances of "that's so gross and low-class" signaling at LW, and agonized over whether it was worth pointing out (that it's signaling). I don't claim that the internal gross-out feeling is affected; I have had similar reactions all by myself, especially to pumped-up motivational speak on e.g. pjeby's site. I've decided it's still a valid signal, so I won't be bitching about it when I see it, and I'll continue to express disgust at trashy (even if effective) persuasion (I'm so sophisticated!), but I'll try to moderate my actual feelings of revulsion, so (I hope) I can evaluate the content more accurately.
2bogus12yRelevant post [http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2009/07/geoffrey_miller_2.html]. There is a huge difference between marketing communications which is the garden-variety sort of marketing you're talking about, and marketing research, which is about giving people the things they'll want to buy. (And not just what they say they want to buy, but what they'll actually put cash down for).
8Vladimir_Nesov12yNeither of which is, of course, the same thing as what they'll actually enjoy the most.

(This will be my first post on the current flamewar, which I've been hesitant to post on, for obvious reasons.)

Does Alicorn feel the same way every time she sees mentions of PUA? If so, I can finally understand where she's coming from!

If that's where she's coming from, it's a horribly wrong reason to exclude discussion of it. Whether or not PUA techniques repulse you, whether or not you'd be receptive to them, whether or not you intend to use them...

You do need to understand why such counterintuitive methods work, to the extent that they do in fact work. Otherwise, you have a huge hole in your understanding of social psychology, and are setting yourself up to Lose, whether your are a man or a woman.

For what it's worth, I also get a negative physical reaction from PUA discussion, though for very different reasons. I would describe it as a combination of hopelessness at my own ignorance, and refusal to accept that it could be true. In fact, the first time I'd heard about PUAs, someone referenced a related Feyman anecdote, and I rushed to look it up, and after I read it, I felt really, really, unexplainably miserable, almost giving up all hope. By itself, that almost made me ... (read more)

6conchis12yAgreed, but there's a world of difference between a post that discusses PUA techniques under the assumption that the readership is actively interested in applying them, and a post that discusses PUA techniques under the assumption that the readership is interested in learning more about "the enemy". In much the same way, there would be a world of difference between a post that gave advice on how best to convert people to Christianity, or to market the latest designer piece of crap, and a post that documented commonly used conversion or marketing techniques for the purposes of understanding how people can come to believe silly things or buy stupid products.
9SilasBarta12yI accept that, in the interest of good communication, people can do a better job with their tone and emphasis when they make PUA posts. The danger, however, is buying into this idea that you have to adhere to some vague feminist concern that can only result in good-intentioned male posters walking on eggshells to avoid saying the wrong secret phrases. While there are valid feminist concerns about objectification, this kafkaesque hypervigilance simply serves to enforce a very self-limiting mindset in posters. It wussifies them, in other words. I believe that has been my experience, having resolved at an early age to be supersensitive to offending women. I've certainly avoided it, but it's not very conducive to leaving copies of me in the next generation.
5conchis12yFeminist concerns are vague and the only possible result of thinking about them is "good-intentioned male posters walking on eggshells to avoid saying the wrong secret phrases"? I guess I can see how, if you don't understand the relevant feminist concerns, then they will seem vague, and that the effect of not really knowing what it is you're supposed to avoid could be quite frustrating. But I tend to think that vagueness, like probability, is in the mind, rather than being a property of the concerns themselves. If you do understand and appreciate such concerns, then it's usually not very difficult to avoid offending people - and even if you do end up accidentally offending someone, it's easy enough to just apologise after the fact, without it opening yet another front in the gender wars. Maybe this means that the feminists among us need to do a better job of communicating the concerns, but it would also be nice if attempts to do so didn't result in (IMHO pretty ridiculous) accusations of "kafkaesque hypervigilance". P.S. If trying to understand others' perspectives and attempting not to unnecessarily offend them means that I'm a wuss, then I'll wear the badge proudly. I can't speak for anyone else, but certainly hasn't affected my ability to leave copies of me in the next generation.
3Lightwave12yBut the thing is, we're interested in the truth. What you or anyone else will use it for is their own business. Our goal is not to filter out topics which could potentially enable marketers to sell more crap or something.
1conchis12yInteresting, I don't agree with this at all. Perhaps it comes down to a difference between those of us who are most interested in truth, and those of us who are most interested in winning. Insofar as anyone's utility function has a term for people-not-being-converted-to-Christianity, people-not-buying-loads-of-crap-they-don't-need, or people-not-treating-members-of-whatever-gender-they-happen-to-be-attracted-to-as-sexual-trophies, what others do with knowledge is their business. Which is not to say that they should somehow censor people who advocate such things; but I wouldn't expect them to sit idly by and pretend that they think these goals are all fine and dandy either.
1DragonGod4yI find this excessively repugnant. This "we know what's best for you"/"for you own good TM" attitude is very disturbing.
0entirelyuseless4y"what others do with knowledge is their business." Rather, they think it is, but they're wrong.
2Jonathan_Graehl12yI agree, but on the other hand, how important is the topic? We can rationally decide to lose the topic here on this ground: not everyone posting or reading has achieved perfect equanimity, but we can help them develop that quality more effectively by tricking them into thinking that we already have it (the illusion would be shattered in the type of failures elicited by each discussion of the sensitive topic). An absolute prohibition would be ridiculous, though.
3MichaelVassar12yHuh?!? Seriously, marketing seems sleezy to you but PUA doesn't? To each his own I guess. I really agree with pjeby below though.
2SoullessAutomaton12yI'm not even sure what relevant difference there is, the fundamental character of both seem pretty much identical to me. I'm curious why you have such different reactions to the two.
6Emile12yI don't think Eliezer is saying he doesn't like PUA techniques, but rather that the way they're brought up here can make women feel like they're not part of the intended audience - hence the Frank example, which shows a situation where those techniques could be discussed without giving off that impression.
9Eliezer Yudkowsky12yYup. Is there somewhere in the PUA literature where they tell you to, you know, notice the way women react to your speech? We're not talking about slavish adaptation here. We're talking about noticing.
8pjeby12yYes, it's called "social calibration", and from the way teachers go on about it, I gather it's one of the most difficult things to teach to someone who doesn't have it. By default, people pay more attention to their projections of what other people are thinking about what they're doing, than they are to either what they're actually doing, or how people are actually reacting to it. Of course, social calibration is even harder in a purely textual environment, especially one where it's easy to mistake one's conversation for a one-on-one interaction with the person you're directly replying to. Here, it can be almost as if you're having a nice little person-to-person chat in a noisy club, and then all of a sudden, the music goes quiet just as you're yelling (to make yourself heard to the person next to you) some embarassingly out-of-context thing , and then everybody's staring at you...
5Sirducer12yI don't want to have to be socially calibrated on LW. Social calibration for the seduction community has a very simple rule about talking about pick-up techniques: don't do it, except with other trusted members of the community. If someone outside the community brings it up, just don't mention it, because society has conditioned them to start going into a feminist death-spiral about it. So if I follow that rule, I will just have to not mention it here.
7gjm12yThat seems awfully close to "I want to act like an asshole on LW and not care what effect it has on anyone else". I hope that if you do then you'll get voted into the ground. I think that holding a belief of the form "You mustn't admit to X outside our inner circle, because the unenlightened have been conditioned by society to hate and fear it" should be treated as a warning sign that one might have been sucked into something unpleasant. I expect the members of various cults have similar rules. (Of course, sometimes it might be perfectly correct; see, e.g., Paul Graham's essay on what you can't say [http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html]. But my guess is that such occasions are outnumbered considerably by ones where the reason why you'd get in trouble for saying X in public is because X is stupid or unpleasant or something of the kind, and people who haven't been desensitized to it will notice.
2Sirducer12yFully general counterargument against any unpleasant truth.
3gjm12yThat sentence wasn't an argument. The two paragraphs containing the sentence do constitute an argument or something like one; they are not "fully general" in any sense that seems problematic to me. The most one can say is this: they claim that if a proposition is socially unacceptable to state then it's less likely to be true. I'm happy to stand by that: I think "unacceptable" propositions are less often true than "acceptable" ones. Do you really disagree with that? Incidentally, I wasn't primarily thinking of X as being a proposition but as a behaviour or an attitude. I bet that among, say, politicians, advertisers, tobacco company executives, television evangelists, there are common habits or ways of thinking that "of course we wouldn't mention in public -- they wouldn't understand". And that neither you nor I would be keen to defend those habits or ways of thinking, even if we're pretty sure we do understand them. For the avoidance of doubt, let me repeat something I already said. Of course, some "unacceptable" ideas, behaviours and attitudes are in fact perfectly sensible and are unacceptable only because of silly social traditions or whatever. I claim only that such unacceptability is a useful warning signal.
1thomblake12yApt simile. Noted for posterity.
2cousin_it12yI can't tell whether your comment was sarcastic or sincere. If the latter, the answer is: yes, oh yes. PUAs devote a lot of effort to reading female responses. But you aren't going to appreciate this noticing when you see it up close. Example (don't click, this is my last warning): Doggy Dinner Bowl Look [http://www.pualingo.com/pua-definitions/doggy-dinner-bowl-look-ddbl/].
2topynate12yWhat about women who dislike PUA techniques, them too?

Women are basically anosognosiacs about pick-up. In fact, I once discussed the efficacy of PU with a woman, and she started insisting that women couldn't possibly be that stupid. I had to remind her that she'd left her long-term boyfriend for a fling with afellow PUA a few months earlier.

Some women aren't. I know because I'm one of them. I've already commented on this subject, and my views haven't changed much since then.

While I'm open to the idea that discussing PUA on LW is a net loss, selfishly I want the discussion to stay because I find it fascinating. Since I know it works on me, learning about it helps me understand myself better and make more informed choices.

7orange11yPersonally, I think controversy is more interesting than not. The internet keeps proving this over and over again. So if you want to attract more females, KEEP TALKING ABOUT THEM. Getting offended is one way to get started on a rationalist path because it evokes an emotion. It evokes an inner-conflict. Which can result to greater self-understanding. Offending people is fine. Since it reflects more badly on the offensive person than on the offended person. It might even reflect badly on this community as a whole, but hey, if it gets people to start thinking, what's so bad? If it gets women to understand something about themselves? What's so bad? However I would try to balance it out by ALSO examining men in such a way. There's a lot of literature on PUA, and it is actively discussed here. Why not just find proven methods for attracting men and discuss them also? In a rationalist fashion, of course. If it offends the men on the site, then... all the better. Men need a wake-up call, too.
5Rain11yThe topic of PUA seems to suffer from the Streisand effect [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect] around here. Mentioning reasons people shouldn't talk about it gets people talking about it, as evidenced by this now quite long, and expanding, thread, and most of the previous threads as well. I deleted my initial comment here since I didn't want to contribute. Now I'd say to others that non-engagement may be a better strategy.
3Morendil11yRather than non-engagement, I would advise dependency management [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1s4/open_thread_february_2010_part_2/1mv4]: if there is a topic we find it difficult to inquire into, switch priorities to observing and discussing why we find it difficult to have the object-level discussion.
1Rain11yI think I can solve the mystery: people keep bringing up PUA because they like thinking and talking about sex and things related to sex. The only reason it "appears to be relevant" is this weak relationship to dark side epistemology that everyone keeps mentioning. But I haven't seen a 'dark side' discussion, separate from sex, in a long while. If politics is the mind-killer, then what is an even more fundamental drive?
3mattnewport11yI believe it was originally brought up in a discussion about instrumental rationality - applying rationality to achieve concrete goals rather than as empty discussion. It was in the same vein as Alicorn's luminosity sequence (applying rationality to improve life outcomes) as opposed to the more abstract discussions over things like Newcomb's problem. If rationality is supposed to be about winning [http://lesswrong.com/lw/7i/rationality_is_systematized_winning/] then it should be possible to use rationality to improve outcomes in areas of life that you place value on. Most humans place high value on sex and relationships and so instrumental rationalists will often be interested in applying rationality to improving outcomes in these areas. Do you disagree with some part of that line of reasoning or is it simply the specific approaches of 'game' that you disapprove of?
3Rain11yI think sex is worse than politics when it comes to mind-killing.
3mattnewport11yPeople undoubtedly have difficulty thinking rationally about sex but it does not suffer from many of the same mind-killing problems as politics. Instrumental rationality has very little use in the field of politics, other than obvious things like not voting and avoiding political discussion (unless you enjoy it for its own sake and don't make the mistake of thinking it actually achieves anything). The field of sex and relationships is much more amenable to the application or instrumental rationality in that there are things you can reasonably do that can impact your personal outcomes. There is very little most people are in a position to do to change policy. There is a great deal that individuals can do to improve their sex and relationship outcomes.
1Rain11ySo do you think we should also share masturbation and fantasizing techniques (self-actualization) instead of continuing to focus solely on interpersonal relations (collective action problems)?
4mattnewport11yIf someone had a novel application of instrumental rationality in these areas that solved a common problem I wouldn't object to them sharing it, though I have difficulty imagining what that might look like. I've always been more interested in the aspects of this site that focus more on instrumental rationality than in the abstract theorizing. I'm more interested in how to apply rationality to improve life outcomes I care about than in debates about what to do if Omega shows up with his boxes. I'm sick to death of discussions about Omega to be honest but I just don't bother to read them rather than complaining about people who do want to talk about it.
4NancyLebovitz11yI think you're assuming that the things you like will work across a wide range of people. Speaking as a woman who posts to LW, I'm not especially interested in PUA being discussed here unless there's some consideration of consent issues. Those consent issues actually have some parallels to FAI problems-- who decides whether someone is better off? By what standards? I would say that the equally offense-laden parallel for PUA would be methods for getting men to commit. I don't know whether they've been as carefully studied as PUA--- at a minimum, it's a harder subject because the cost of experiments is higher. There's an optimal level of controversy and offense for individuals (not necessarily the same for interest and for learning), and it probably isn't the maximal level. Because PUA comes off as dividing women into hackable systems and not worth hacking. If it's too accepted, it can make it seem as though talking to you isn't worth the trouble. "Talking about women" isn't enough. How they're talked about matters.
6AdeleneDawner11yThis is a really interesting point, actually. What is about PUA that makes it more concerning from a consent standpoint than, say, advertising? Both are manipulative, and I see considerable parallels between the two. (I find it hard to believe that the big advertising firms have put less effort into figuring out how to get people to do things than pickup artists have...) Should advertising to someone require their consent? Is there a significant difference between product placement in entertainment media and PUA techniques that are based on normal conversations, as opposed to PUA techniques based on being in a traditional picking-up-dates scenario, which seem more like standard commercials? What does consent even mean in the context of situations like PUA or advertising where the point of the manipulation is to get you to say yes? Is it even possible to require consent to that kind of thing, without just pushing the problem back a level and having the manipulators focus on getting you to give your consent to be advertised/PUA'd to?
6NancyLebovitz11yYou're considering whether advertising is problematic and/or should be legal without looking at whether people on the receiving end of advertising want it or benefit by it. If someone wrote in Less Wrong about successful techniques of advertising, and said it must be a good thing because people buy what's advertised, I don't think it would go over entirely well. Even before I'd read Rain's comment, I was willing to bet that most LWers limit their exposure to advertising-- not so much for political reasons or for fear of it, as just that it's low information repetitive input. I admit I'm generalizing from myself on this one, though it's worth noting that even the general public tends to avoid tv ads if they can. One thing that's clear from the akrasia and luminosity discussions is that not everything in people's minds can be relied on to make their lives better. It's reasonable to be concerned about inputs from people who are trying to influence your mind and have specific goals which do not include your welfare. In the case of PUA, saying that some women like that approach (which is true), or that PUAs mean well (which is neither trustworthy [1] nor relevant) substitutes for a general follow-up on how women who've been PUAd perceive the experience later,. At this stage, advertising may well be less effective than PUA-- for most things, it isn't personally directed. A small story-- I know a person who used to sell stuffed dragons, and she said she sold them by finding the little part of the potential customer which wanted one ot the dragons, and (by implication) getting that part of the person to make the decision. She didn't see any problems with that, but I later met someone who wouldn't go near that woman's table because of being afraid of getting talked into buying a dragon she didn't want all that much. Even if the sales effort had been more carefully constructed so that anyone who bought a stuffed dragon would not be capable of regretting it, there would
4komponisto11yAt the risk of being seen standing up for low-status males, I feel obliged to point out that that's not incompatible with "meaning well".
3NancyLebovitz11yIt's not incompatible with meaning well, but I wouldn't recommend taking their word that they aren't doing harm.
4mattnewport11yI don't think this holds true for me. I am somewhat selective about what advertising I attend to but I don't in general limit my exposure to it and I sometimes actively seek it out. I tend to skip over adverts when viewing TV on my PVR because they are of low average quality, high density and are generally interrupting something I was actually interested in. On the other hand I will sometimes watch adverts that catch my attention when skipping through either because they are visually interesting or because they are providing information about something I am interested in. There are a variety of adverts that I don't avoid and may actively seek out. These include movie trailers for films I might be interested in watching, adverts that are notable for clever or dramatic visuals and adverts for products I am interested in purchasing. I'm interested in visual media in general and so find both filmed adverts and commercial photography interesting from that standpoint when the quality is high. I have purchased a number of DVD collections that include the advertising works of directors - many of todays most interesting film directors started out in advertising and music videos (which are a form of advertising). I also have photography books that include commercial photography. In the age of the Internet there is a blurred line between advertising and product information and I'm not uncomfortable reading information in the blurred area, though I prefer clear disclosure of any commercial interests driving the material. I quite happily use a manufacturer's website as one source of product information for products I am considering purchasing though and I also find that third party reviews can be valuable even when it is disclosed that the product was provided free to the reviewer or that there are other reasons to treat the opinions provided as not entirely unbiased. In general I find advertising less problematic in terms of bias and manipulation than political speech or m
3SilasBarta11yIn the case of women using beauty-enhancing techniques (high heels, push-up bras, make-up, hairstyling), saying that some men like that in women (which is true), or that women mean well (which is neither trustworthy [1] nor relevant) substitutes for a general follow-up on how men who've been allured perceive the experience later. At this stage, advertising may well be less effective than sexy attire on women -- for most things, it isn't personally directed. ... If advertising becomes that effective, I don't know how this should be addressed legally or philosophically. I do think there are problems. [1] Some women start from a position of resenting men for not caring more about their personality.
9Tyrrell_McAllister11yI'm not sure that many would object to this analogy. It strengthens the case that sharing PUA techniques isn't an appropriate use of LW, just as sharing beauty-enhancing techniques isn't. It seems to me that the situation is pretty simple, for PU artistry as well as for advertising. Most PUA techniques that I've seen amount to efforts to persuade using Dark Side Epistemology [http://lesswrong.com/lw/uy/dark_side_epistemology/]. Bottom-lining [http://lesswrong.com/lw/js/the_bottom_line/] is rampant. For example, with " negging [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neg_%28seduction%29#Neg]", the PUA starts with the bottom line "You should feel self-conscious and insecure", and then seeks only evidence that supports this conclusion. Such PUA techniques should be discussed like any other Dark Side methods: with a view towards minimizing their use and effectiveness.
6SilasBarta11yI think I agree. My opinion is that LW shouldn't be for PUA/beauty tips or how-to's. But it would be appropriate to discuss why these methods work, under what conditions you'd want to resist them, and what countermeasures you can take. (And I suspect some don't even want it to go this far, or want to restrict PUA more than beauty.) So, IMO it would be appropriate to say, "This beauty/PUA technique exploits the psychological hardware in men/women for the following evolutionary reasons ... " But it would not be appropriate to say, "Here's a trick you can use to dupe men/women into obeying you/sleeping with you ..."
1JGWeissman11yHave there been actual discussions here about beauty enhancement techniques that we should worry about restricting?
5pjeby11yActually, the function of a neg is not to induce insecurity, but to disarm. Mystery's original goal was to create a method of seducing what he calls "exceptionally beautiful women", who are often surrounded by hordes of supplicant males flattering their beauty. The function of the neg in this context was to show that Mystery was not applying for membership in the woman's puppy dog pack, and thereby signaling a higher status than those other males, as well as indicating that she would need more than her physical attractiveness in order to interest him. It also served an additional purpose of preventing both the "target" and her friends (male or female) from being initially aware of his interest in her, to keep them from engaging in whatever stereotyped defensive behaviors they might have for discouraging people from hitting on her. The actual effect of a neg may include insecurity, but the intended effect is to make the PUA appear "hard to get", and therefore more attractive... even if only as a challenge to the woman's "game". Mystery's "jealousy plots" are a similar class of maneuver. In any case, outside the context of "exceptionally beautiful woman" (who knows she's desirable) with a pack of friends and/or "orbiters", the use of actual "negs" are counterindicated. David DeAngelo's "cocky funny", or RSD's "self-amusement" concepts are more generally applicable in such cases, and a neg is really just an intensified version of the playful teasing of those other methods, for a specific field of application. [By the way, this is not an endorsement of any of these methods by me, just an attempt to correct a (common) misunderstanding about negs. If you've watched Mystery's TV show, you might be aware that some aspiring PUAs are also under the impression that a neg is an insult to lower self-esteem... and you may have also seen just how horribly wrong things actually go when you try to use it that way. ;-) ]
3mattnewport11yI have no desire to minimize the use or effectiveness of techniques women use to enhance their beauty. Or were you not considering that a 'Dark Side' method? I think the 'Dark Side' sometimes gets an overly bad rap around here. I wish to understand the techniques so I can avoid being manipulated into doing things that are against my broader interests and I would prefer to see less use of dubious techniques for persuasion in discussions that are supposed to be truth-seeking but I wouldn't want to see all 'manipulative' techniques disappear completely. Sometimes I enjoy being emotionally 'manipulated', whether by art (movies, music, paintings, literature) or by deliberate suspension of disbelief in personal interactions. Being a rationalist should not require turning oneself and the world into the 'Spock' stereotype.
4Morendil11yThere are some PUA techniques, at least, which only work on people who are not aware of them. There's this funny passage in The Game which discusses how one group of guys is preemptively spoling another group's pick-up lines at a party, and later on something along the same lines happens to the protagonist (it would be spoilerish to give any more detail). By contrast I doubt that advertising agencies would suffer much if their techniques were exposed; the reason Avatar was so successful, I surmise, is simply that they saturated the public's awareness with it, which only required a large cash outlay. "Techniques which only work against you because you're not aware of them" is one of the reasons for the PUA's bad rap, I suspect. (There are others, such as insincerity, but that'll have to be for another time.)
4AdeleneDawner11yThis sounds intuitively like a good heuristic, but the underlying logic isn't obvious to me. Can you expand?
5jimrandomh11yAssume that when someone finds out about a technique, they judge whether they think it ought to work on them or not, and adjust their behavior accordingly. If a technique doesn't work when the subject is aware of it, that usually means that they would decide, for some reason, that they don't want it to work. So if a technique works only when the subject is unaware of it, then using that technique is going against their preferences.
2Morendil11yPretty much. I like to contrast this with the techniques I use in sales meetings to guide the sale toward closing, which I not only don't mind if my clients find out about them, I'm usually happy to feature them if the occasion arises. "Sales techniques" is something that seems cringeworthy to many people - I've had more than one person confirm that. One of the happiest find in my careers as a freelance was this set of non-manipulative sales techniques. Solution selling [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solution_selling] in particular was a watershed in turning me from an engineer into a (pretty successful) salesman while getting rid of any qualms I might have had about the transition. It helps a lot that what I'm selling is my own services and I happen to know what I'm good at; but that's the point of solution selling.
2orange11y"My opinion is that LW shouldn't be for PUA/beauty tips or how-to's. But it would be appropriate to discuss why these methods work, under what conditions you'd want to resist them, and what countermeasures you can take. (And I suspect some don't even want it to go this far, or want to restrict PUA more than beauty.)" To clarify, I was promoting discussing PUA under this context, not FROM THE LENS of a working PUA. Certainly Pickup Artistry should never be actively encouraged on this site - there are way too many sites that handle this better than this one. But to discuss PUA from an observer's lens - discuss its merits and its pitfalls - I don't see why this type of discussion would drive individuals away unless the majority of the discussion turned into nonsense. I think discussing PUA is going to attract a lot of individuals, and the right kind of individual. As long as the community continues to discuss this highly controversial topic in a rationalist manner, then other would-be rationalists are going to be find that unique and hopefully interesting. It's when controversial topics are viewed in a rationalist light that you truly shine a beacon declaring, "We are mindful. Not mindless." If the discussion truly devolves then it should be a banned topic.
1pjeby11yWell, whether it's been researched or not, it's certainly being sold [http://www.catchhimandkeephim.com/FCTC/]: On a side note... I actually was at a conference where the guy who writes the sales material for the above products discussed the psychology of their advertising methods for using women's fears of "dying alone" to drive sales, as an example for how to identify and exploit irrational fears in general. So yes, advertising is definitely researched at least as much as PUA, especially by PUAs-turned advertisers. ("Christian Carter/Catch Him And Keep Him" is a brand owned by the same company that owns "David DeAngelo/Double Your Dating" -- both are character/stage names, like "Sara Lee" or "Ronald McDonald". And the names are alliterative for reasons that were also discussed at that conference...)
3RobinZ11yI think the key question is the difference between visitors and regulars - we'd like more people to be active, not just show up. Does controversy actually bring in all that many people who stay? P.S. Welcome to Less Wrong [http://lesswrong.com/lw/b9/introductory_thread/]! Please feel free to introduce yourself in that thread.

People in general often misstate their preferences, or their behavior fails to match it. According to research summarized on my blog, both men and women do this, and women on average just do it more.

From Urbaniak, G. C., & Kilmann, P. R. (2006). Niceness and dating success: A further test of the nice guy stereotype. Sex Roles, 55, 209-224. (emphasis mine):

Weiderman and Dubois (1998) used behavioral measures to assess women’s preferences for a mate and found a discrepancy between self-perceptions and behavior, particularly among women. For both men and women, the physical attractiveness manipulation was the most important factor in predicting ratings of desirability. Men accurately indicated that the physical attractiveness of the targets was the most important characteristic that influenced their desirability ratings, whereas women inaccurately indicated that desired level of relationship commitment was their most important factor, when, in fact, it was one of the least important factors behaviorally. Sprecher (1989) found similar results, in that women inaccurately assessed the role of physical attractiveness in their own ratings of a target man. The women in Sprecher ’s stu

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1Tom_Talbot12yHave you ever learned a useful fact from the PUA discussions here?

Silas, you're spending too much time talking about JGWeissman here. In his last post he offered to drop all meta points in this discussion and focus on object-level reality. If you think you're right about the issues accept his offer and move the discussion there.

This particular post is moving into sarcastic flamewar territory.

I self-identify as a feminist but I'm troubled by a ban on discussing PUA techniques. In the discussions I've seen I've usually come down on Alicorn's side. But I wonder if the need to avoid language that is objectifying or excluding requires us to avoid the topic of pua/game in its entirety. That seems strange. The times I've seen complaints voiced have had to do with how the topic is brought up not the topic itself.

For example if someone says, "I think posters on less wrong don't value having sex with women." Or "here's how you can get women to sleep with you." then the sense in which female posters are being excluded is pretty obvious. But I don't see why a discussion of game needs to necessarily be done in this way. Its just that, unlike all the other subjects we discuss here, game isn't a typical topic in academia so the traditional ways of communicating methods and knowledge is "Here's what you do to bed women" rather than a descriptive account of behavior or an experiment. Obviously any account which attempts to predict the behavior of people will be objectifying-- but that isn't the problem. The problem is that as it is traditionally discusse... (read more)

9eirenicon12yWhat have we learned from discussion of PUA to date? I honestly can't say I've gained anything useful from reading about it, but then I've never considered using a pickup technique, either. The problem is that I haven't learned anything of other interest to a rationalist. If someone can offer what they've learned from talking about PUA on Less Wrong that applies to the art of refining human rationality and not simply picking up women, perhaps it's an appropriate subject. In that case, if someone writes a good article on PUA, I don't see a reason to ban it. I would expect to see it argued from a more credible perspective than anecdotal evidence and self-help books, though.
6AnneC12yThis. I'm not "creeped out" by people merely talking about PUA techniques, but I do find it boring, irrelevant, and pretty much useless in terms of any capacity to improve my thinking abilities. I don't think all examples / analogies used to make a point about rationality, etc., need to be things everyone can identify with (that would likely be impossible anyway), but PUA stuff really is sort of distractingly specific to the "hetero males trying to score hot chicks" demographic. I'd just as soon be reading about how to choose the best golf shoes.
2HughRistik12yOk, I'll try to put together a top level post.
7Eliezer Yudkowsky12yYup. But I have no confidence in the ability of bringer-uppers to dance through that minefield, and the whole topic seems eminently skippable.

I may be in the minority in this respect, but I like it when Less Wrong is in crisis. The LW community is sophisticated enough to (mostly) avoid affective spirals, which means it produces more and better thought in response to a crisis. I believe that, e.g., the practice of going to the profile of a user you don't like and downvoting every comment, regardless of content, undermines Less Wrong more than any crisis has or will.

Furthermore, I think the crisis paradigm is what a community of developing rationalists ought to look like. The conceit of students passively absorbing wisdom at the feet of an enlightened teacher is far from the mark. How many people can you think of, who mastered any subject by learning in this way?

That said... both "sides" of the gender crisis are repeating themselves, which strongly suggests they have nothing new to say. So I say Eliezer is right. If you can't understand the other side's perspective by now--if you still have no basis for agreement after all this discussion--you need to acknowledge that you have a blind spot here and either re-read with the intent to understand rather than refute, or just avoid talking about it.

1thomblake12yyou need to do some formatting on that link. looks like your (] got switched around.
1Sideways12yThanks for the heads-up. Fixed.

Power, yes. Her point of view not being relevant? I don't know, I guess it depends on how you treat your sister.

Remember, the claim of PUAs (who advocate such techniques; not all do) is that a large enough percentage of women responds well to such treatment and enjoy it. You may well be skeptical of that claim. I am skeptical that the percentage is as high as some PUAs make it sound.

If you disagree with the tactic, I suggest that you follow it down to the root and look at the premises, and what reasons PUAs have to believe that women are reasonably likely to enjoy this kind of treatment. If the woman's sexual preference is to be treated that way, then it's not treating her point of view as not "revelant," it the opposite: the PUA is taking into account the woman's point of view by giving her what she enjoys. Whenever we look at weird and wacky PUA tactics, we really need to be thinking about what responses PUAs have got from women that make them think (correctly or incorrectly) that such behavior is viable and reasonable. We cannot assume that such behavior is primarily driven by their own preferences, or that it merely a jerk-like imposition on the part of PUAs.

The fa... (read more)

5NancyLebovitz11yTentatively offered, but it's possible that if PUAs framed their recommended behavior in terms of "some women" or "many women" rather than implying that what they're doing works well with all women, there'd be a lot less social friction. This may or may not be something you want, but part of this conversation is why there are so few women at LW.
7HughRistik11yI would also like to see more rigor in describing the responses of different subsets of women. When PUAs talk among themselves, qualifiers do get to be a drag, even if a PUA has more complex views. I think more rigor would be worth it, and I find the tendency of PUAs to use language with negative implications annoying and socially unintelligent ("social intelligence" is a buzzword in the community).
8Airedale11yIn this regard, I found your comments elsewhere in the thread quite helpful to my understanding: and Similarly, I would suspect that a significant number of the women who post or consider posting here may also be closer in many ways to the 130 IQ thing-oriented male introverts. And not only would these women find objectionable some of the statements by some PUAs (of the sort you highlighted in the quoted paragraph, or even somewhat less extreme examples), but they would find this portion of some PUA terminology/attitudes particularly off-putting in that its portrayal of women appears to not line up at all with many of the traits of these Lesswrong-type women. Indeed a lot of what I have read does not appear to even acknowledge that women of other types exist. To the extent this lack of qualifiers has been imported into the limited discussion of PUA techniques on LW (which I think it has to at least some extent), then this may be part of why the discussion has met with resistance and offense.

Thanks, I'm glad you found my comments useful.

Similarly, I would suspect that a significant number of the women who post or consider posting here may also be closer in many ways to the 130 IQ thing-oriented male introverts. And not only would these women find objectionable some of the statements by some PUAs (of the sort you highlighted in the quoted paragraph, or even somewhat less extreme examples), but they would find this portion of some PUA terminology/attitudes particularly off-putting in that its portrayal of women appears to not line up at all with many of the traits of these Lesswrong-type women. Indeed a lot of what I have read does not appear to even acknowledge that women of other types exist.

Exactly. We are seeing two relevant categories of women that I will give the following labels to:

  1. "Atypical women." This category of women has a combination of the following traits: gender-nonconforming, thing-oriented, introverted, non-neurotypical. Highly intelligent people of both genders also tend to be gender-atypical. Women likely to be interested in posting on LW are likely to fall into this category. Feminists, queer women, polyamorous women, kinky women, art

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8NancyLebovitz11yThank you for working this out.. You may have no idea how crazy-making it is to keep hearing "we mean well to women" when the version of women described bears no resemblance to oneself. Note that atypical women have a long history (somewhat weakened by feminism) of being told that they should be typical women. And when I say long history, I don't just mean previous generations, some of it's still in play. And, while that post about PUAs as trauma survivors [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/1w0q] straightens out a lot about what's going on, it seems as though PUA is a bunch of tools for becoming more like typical men which simply make the PUA students' lives better, being more like typical women has a lot of features which atypical women feel strongly would make their lives worse. I'm not sure that "thing-oriented" quite covers the range of atypical women. I expect that I'd count as atypical, and I'm more word-oriented. "Not primarily people-oriented" might cover the ground better.
5pjeby11yI think that this depends a lot on what you mean by "model". If you mean their calibration of what specific behaviors (e.g. yelling, being silly, very aggressive, etc.), then yes, I'd agree -- it's calibrated for "club girls" and nightclub environments. But my observation is that the atyipcal women (whom I've pretty much exclusively dated) still respond to what the PUA's would call dominance traits -- just not the same signifiers for those traits. The main difference is that atypicals prefer you to show dominance over things other than them. (Except maybe in the bedroom, given explicit discussion and consent.) For example, having a purpose and sense of direction in life, knowing what you want, being decisive, etc. are still a factor in atypicals' attraction algorithm. Intellectual dominance, in the sense of being articulate, knowledgeable, insightful, etc. Not having these qualities tends to get you filtered out. Atypicals don't engage in status testing by being jerks (well, maybe some occasional sarcasm); they do it mainly by seeing if you can keep up with them intellectually -- can you match them, pun for pun, double entendre for double entendre? Do you get their obscure references? This is still status testing/flirting, just different. (Hm, actually, it's occurring to me that some atypicals I've known still had the whole orbiter hierarchy thing going on, and tended to end up sleeping with the highest-dominant jerks in their group... just reasonably intelligent jerks. This behavior pattern seems to be more correlated with whether a woman is found attractive by a lot of guys, rather than whether she's neurotypical per se.)
2thomblake11yAre you going to publish, or at least blog, on this subject? As someone who downplays the importance of gender, I would like to see my assumptions flipped on their head.
2mattnewport11yYou could probably make a living off that.
1Jack11yIt occurs to me that just as there are "naturals" that appeal more to typical women there are likely "naturals" that appeal more to atypical women. I never thought about it before since one usually measures one's attractiveness on the majority's terms but I might actually be a natural of the latter type and not have ever realized it until this moment. Strange.
0wedrifid11yI hadn't thought of it in that way either, but I think you may be right.
1wedrifid11yMost of of my female friends fit this category. I can emphasise with what they are saying, I grew up with sisters, after all, and at times didn't envy them their 'friends'. Then nature of peer competition is differentiated somewhat between the sexes and the gender-atypical women I know are poorly suited to it. But being male I actually find I have far less of that sort of trouble, given that I am not often a direct competitor. That and I have the opportunity to use innocent flirtation to release some of the competitive tension without zero-sum conflict.
1wedrifid11yFor that pair I'd be going with the whole 'being strongly correlated' thing.
4HughRistik11yYup, you are observant. Since poly women have more male-typical sexuality (polyamory, high sociosexuality) and nerdy women have more male-typical interests and psychology, I think I'm justified in locating the hypothesis of an underlying masculinization factor. This masculinization is probably biological (specifically, prenatal... and yes, I do have more research on this). I hypothesize that masculinization or feminization are some of the most important dimensions in personality and interests (which is consistent with mainstream psychology, though a bit non-PC) and I am working on figuring out the practical implications of those dimensions with respect to dating. So far, I'm ahead of the seduction community on this subject.
2wedrifid11yYour theories and (apparent) research match my own. As for practical implications of those dimensions, and how they apply to gender atypical people, my understanding is mostly procedural and intuitive abstractions. And my theories are biased towards practical implications for me that, while they look like they could be more generally applicable, may not be. Thinking other people are more similar to ourselves than they are is a typical human failing (right up there next to thinking we're unique, go figure). One thing I have noticed is that what is described as 'masculine and feminine' sexuality seems to be more than one distinct concept. Some of those 'polyamorous, nerdy women with male-typical interests and psychology' execute clearly female instinctive patterns in a masculine way. So a concrete minded person with basic competence from the seduction material would think 'masculine', someone with more experience, more curiosity or more IQ may burst out laughing as they see the same patterns play out in an entirely different way. And ya know, while it can be easy to learn the rules which work with the gender-typical stereotype, learning to interact with those with a more distinct psychology is just a whole heap more fun! It's more 'real'.
4mattnewport11yI rather doubt that. It is my impression that there are more female commenters on popular PUA blogs than there are here.

I think that the best heuristic is to look for bottom-lining. Have you decided on what you want to convince her of before you have determined what evidence you will selectively show her to bring her to that conclusion? If so, you might be practicing dark side epistemology.

This is an interesting argument, but I don't think that you can hold the same standards of epistemic rationality to matters of social perception. To a large extent, coolness, social status, and attractiveness are subjective qualities that depend on the perception of others. The Earth will not become flatter because you persuade a lot of people that it is flat, but if you can persuade a lot of people that you are cool, then you probably really are cool (general "you," of course).

There is nothing wrong with deciding in advance what "bottom line" conclusion you want people to hold about you (e.g. that you are cool, high status, or attractive), because if you successfully behave in way that influences people to have that perception, then it often magically becomes true, making your original behavior legitimate. Even if you are a shy person adopting that behavior for the first time. At least, it... (read more)

I'd like to see a more scientific study of what are the real triggers of the ick/"I'm offended" reaction. Perhaps collect all of the instances of comments that caused it and compare with a representative sample of non-icky/offensive comments?

The hypotheses I've seen so far are:

  • to be thought of, talked about as, or treated like a non-person (Alicorn)
  • analysis of behavior that puts the reader in the group being analyzed, and the speaker outside it (orthonormal)
  • exclusion from the intended audience (Eliezer)

Then just keep on accepting suggested edits.

Doesn't that assume that whoever suggested the edits knows what's really causing the ick/offense, which you just pointed out may not be the case?

8nerfhammer12yIs it out of bounds to consider plain and simple prejudice as the trigger? Disgust reactions are frequently based on prejudices that should be challenged and rebutted. People frequently describe male sexuality in strikingly similar ways to how prejudiced people describe (typically male) homosexuality. You know, it's disgusting, it's ridiculous, it's wrong in some indescribable way, it's threatening and dangerous in some abstract, unfalsifiable sense. Except it's not taboo to talk about male heterosexuality that way. Men are pigs, after all, and that they want to have sex is ridiculous and wrong ipso facto. We should question and challenge rather than try to rationalize these impulses. Maybe the validity of this kind of reaction shouldn't be automatically assumed. Maybe the icky wrongness is hard to articulate because you're trying to implausibly rationalize a slippery gut reaction, not trying to describe an elusive actual moral principle. Here's an interesting interview with Martha Nussbaum on related topics: http://www.reason.com/news/show/33316.html [http://www.reason.com/news/show/33316.html]
1thomblake12yOne of the (few?) areas where I would disagree with Nussbaum. She believes that ordinary human emotions are informative and should be taken seriously, with the special case that disgust should be ditched entirely, and I'm pretty sure there's at least an obvious tension there.
1nerfhammer12yI don't necessarily agree with Nussbaum, I just thought it was interesting and related. There is ample stuff that's perhaps more empirical [http://www.google.com/search?q=disgust+psychology+prejudice]
4Wei_Dai12yAlso, are there any papers on the evolutionary psychology of giving and taking offense in general? The closest thing I've found is http://www.slate.com/id/2202303/pagenum/all/ [http://www.slate.com/id/2202303/pagenum/all/], but that's a magazine column rather than a scientific study. I'd also be interested in any papers on the ethics of giving and taking offense from a consequentialist perspective.

I've previously expressed that to build a rationalist community sustainable over time, the sort of gender imbalance that appears among e.g. computer programmers, is not a good thing to have.

If by "over time" you mean a time frame in excess of a few decades, I'll point out that LW-style rationality is a large set of complex memes and that empirically, the best way to transmit such meme complexes is parent-to-child, which tends to work better with a viable breeding population.

(How's that for objectifying everyone here and all future potential members?)

5Eliezer Yudkowsky12yWorks fine as long as it doesn't objectify a particular gender... is what I think the rule is empirically.

I think an outright moratorium on PUA discussion is probably the most practical of the acceptable results.

As long as that moratorium applied equally to denigrations of PUA and related concepts, I'd be fine with it myself. Virtually all my comments on the subject are attempts to correct ignorance and stereotyping (or less often, to answer questions), so stopping the stereotyping would eliminate my desire to correct said stereotyping.

(Not that I claim to speak for anyone else's feelings about the matter. Just saying I'd be fine with a moratorium, because I'm not the one who keeps bringing the subject up.)

If I could rely on PUA-discussion-inclined people to confine discussions to non-depersonalizing ways of achieving their (not inherently immoral) goals, I'd back off.

It's a bit of a cliche, but I don't think techniques depersonalize people. People depersonalize people. It's a rare PUA technique that falls unequivocally into one camp or another, because people can do the same thing with different attitudes or for different reasons.

As far as "techniques" go in any case, some PUGs have said that, apart from honesty, confidence, and other "inner" issues, the... (read more)

While I am not a PUA enthusiast I suspect my description of human social behavioural patterns (including those you attempt to caricaturize here) would cause you to apply that label to me. As such I consider your comment offensive as well as ignorant.

"Modal," as in "pertaining to the mode."

Which kind of underscores your point in an odd way -- his observations were NOT based on "average" women at all, but on neurotypical extroverts of above-average appearance.

Yes, my broader point is that a lot of the observations of PUAs are based on the women they meet the most often. The type of women they meet the most often is club-goers of above average attractiveness. The average intelligence of these women is likely to be around the population average, they are probably above av... (read more)

8thomblake11yI'd be interested to hear them. I'm aware of the stereotype but not any evidence (other than perhaps dubious IQ data). Other than that, your comment matches my impressions. I have in the past seen nerdy friends of mine go to bars "to meet women", and had to ask, "Why would you do that? You'll just meet women who like going to bars!" Also, I've found that most people seem stupid, so I imagine if I were the sort of person who specifically aimed to meet lots of women, I'd likewise form the impression that most women are stupid. It seems like an easy mistake of generalization for someone with nerdy male friends and average female acquaintances to think "women are stupid"; there but for the grace of FSM go I.
2NancyLebovitz11yDoes nerdy = intelligent? Or (as I suspect) is nerdiness the only kind of intelligence of interest to most nerds?

It occurred to me some time ago that there's a lot I don't know about communicating with people, a suspicion I'm happily finding to be true. So I browsed reviews of some books on the topic, many of which said most books are basically just "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in different words, and figured I ought to go to the source even if I had this conception in my head of the book as highly manipulative.

Having read it I agree with Cyan's (best-of-all-possible-colors btw) and pjeby's statements, and thought I'd say a few more things and... (read more)

2thomblake12yPerhaps some of us object to its methods because it seems like taking advantage of people with a disability [http://isnt.autistics.org/].
3AdeleneDawner12yI think you've reached the point of diminishing returns on the strategy of posting that link. If you really find Amanda and Muskie's points compelling, why not make a top post about them? I'd certainly be interested in contributing to the resulting discussion.

Banning specific topics is probably a good meta-policy for the community: once anything associated with a topic starts to hurt the discussion, for any reason at all, without coming to a resolution, a "cool-down" mode can be switched on by adding the topic to a list of banned topics. This improves the forum for the coming months, and once the ban is lifted (there should be no permanent bans), the topic either loses its harmful qualities in the new context, loses attention of the community, thus causing no more trouble, or gets resolved after a fre... (read more)

3orthonormal12yI second this; I think that a moratorium (for a month or two) on PUA theorizing would be better for the LW community than either a permanent ban or the continuation of the currently-entrenched battle on it, either of which would probably drive away a number of valuable rationalists. (Goes without saying that bashing PUA theories would also count as trolling during the moratorium.) I want to see what the support looks like for this. Below is an informal poll: vote your preferred option(s) up and the karma offset comment down. EDIT: You know, Vladimir has a better setup: take his poll below and we'll count them up after a bit. I'm deleting the current poll setup, with nothing at more than +2; sorry if you'll have to revote. I'm keeping my "zero-boxing" comment, though.
4[anonymous]12yOPTION 2: Moratorium for 1-2 months on PUA discussion here. (Vote up if you agree; then please offset the karma below.)
3orthonormal12yEXTRA KARMA OFFSET: If you voted two suggestions up, you can use me to equalize the karma effect. Um... I zero-box on Newcomb's Problem!
1[anonymous]12yOPTION 5: No restrictions on PUA discussion at Less Wrong. (Vote up if you agree; then please offset the karma below.) P.S. Whoops! I knew I forgot one of the obvious options. Not intentional, I assure you.
1[anonymous]12yOPTION 4: None of those capture my brilliant idea! (Vote up if you agree; then please offset the karma below, and reply to this comment with your fantastic scheme for Less Wrong harmony.)
1[anonymous]12yOPTION 1: Ban PUA discussion from Less Wrong indefinitely. (Vote up if you agree; then please offset the karma below.)

I suggest we have a poll on how many people would like PUA-related discussion and how many would prefer not to.

You're probably being downvoted because rationality is not about what's a majority vote. You also missed the part where we want to be sensitive to non-majorities.

7gjm12yA vote could none the less be enlightening -- it might, e.g., reveal that there's a substantial minority of LW readers who really, really hate PUA discussion. Or that 80% of female LW readers don't mind it at all. Or whatever. It would be dumb to have a vote with the intention of simply doing whatever the majority prefers, but that's not the only thing one can do with a poll. You might notice that AnlamK didn't use the words "majority" or "vote".

Too many italics.

The conclusion was unclear to me.

The PUA bit ("driving away the very gender you're trying to seduce") doesn't follow because seducing women doesn't mean luring them to LW.

I liked orthonormal's take a lot more.

3knb12yYes, I can't imagine any nascent PUAs here are really interested in attempting a text-only seduction of distant, anonymous, females. If they are, they should probably try to attain some basic rationality first, and see why that plan is flawed. I apparently missed most or all of the PUA discussions here, but my guess is they were trying to discuss strategies--not actually attempting to seduce the women on this forum.
7pjeby12yActually, what happens is that "rationalists should win" usually ends up in someone using PUAs as an example of basic instrumental rationality being applied to winning, or examples from the field of PUA-teacher competition as to the success of visible criteria for rationality teacher awesomeness. This is then followed by various people (mostly men) denouncing the arts as evil or self-defeating, followed by other men defending them. Unfortunately, this is just as useless of an ongoing conflict as the gender wars; for the most part, the people making ignorant stereotype-based judgments about the pickup arts will no more be convinced by reason or facts than anybody making ignorant stereotype-based judgments about anything. So, I think I at least will stop bothering to answer such ignorance, though if somebody wants to throw together a FAQ page on the wiki, I might be willing to contribute to it. (Certainly, someone with more time is free to link my comments or use the text from them to create such a FAQ). We could probably generally use more FAQs that summarize the positions on various standard debates here, like the ones on True vs. Useful, Perception vs. "Reality", etc.
4cousin_it12yYes. Also, while the jury's still out on whether discussing PUA should be deemed offtopic, I consider it self-evident that actual seduction attempts in the comment threads should be downvoted to oblivion, or better yet never happen here. This would be like students using the "anyone got questions?" phase of the lecture as an opportunity for loud flirting.

Sounds good to me.

This is actually fairly similar to the comment I was thinking of posting, if the discussion headed in a direction that would allow it:

Assume that accessability is relatively isomorphic. I'm not sure if it is, but using that assumption seems to work in this case.

If you're designing a building, and want it to be accessable, it's a good idea to imagine it being used by people of varying abilities. Consider how it'd be used by someone in a wheelchair, someone who's blind and uses a cane, someone with a seeing eye dog, someone who's deaf, some... (read more)

Teenagers? Parents? What's with that?

The world is full of discussion clubs available to everyone. But virtually all the online communities I've ever liked have first thrived on exclusivity and early adopter bias, and then became utterly uninteresting due to dilution. I, for one, would volunteer to get banned and have read-only access to LW if this would increase the quality of discussion back to pre-gender-wars levels.

See, I'm precisely that math and code nerd that you stereotype. I don't want "accessible"; I want interesting, thought-provoking, mind-expanding. I'd like every post to include math and psychology references to follow into the maze, simulator programs to run and rewrite... If there's an interesting application of math to PUA, I want to see it and try it out, not be overwhelmed by a chorus of accessibility activists who can't even recite the formulas from memory, much less make sense of them. You want to talk gender politics because my choice of words offends you? Go back to your hole where other people's opinions matter instead of facts. I heard Facebook is a nice site - they even have special forums where you can argue about gay marriage.

Whew, sorry if that was inflammatory. I didn't mean you specifically; just a strawman I desperately want to knock down and forget the whole topic like a bad dream.

5AdeleneDawner12yI really need to find a way of making my 'if' statements more obvious. If you're interested in having a discussion that's accessable to a diverse group of people, consider following the above advice. If not, ignore it. I didn't comment one way or the other on whether or not the group should do so, and even commented negatively [http://lesswrong.com/lw/134/sayeth_the_girl/y4d] on the fact that Alicorn did. I'm not sure what to make of the comment that I've stereotyped nerds. I strongly implied that the topics here focus on the interests of the most common demographic (again, there was an 'if' in front of that), but you just said that you see that as a good thing, so I'm not sure why you're offended that I mentioned that it may be happening. I've also said nothing about word choice, mostly because I find feminists who take offense at word choice to be fairly confusing, and if I have to chime in on that issue, my comment will not be in support of them. ETA: I'm having a very bad brain day. I know this post is probably not as coherent as I usually try to be. My appologies if I put my foot in my mouth somehow.
2cousin_it12yMy apologies; I didn't read your comment as carefully as I should have before replying.
3AdeleneDawner12yDon't feel too bad, that kind of misreading happens all the time. It's almost certainly something about my writing style. :P
1AdeleneDawner12yI found a flaw in my post. There is not a dichotomy between valuing making LW more accessable and valuing other things, so the second sentence should read "To the degree that you value having a discussion that's accessable to a diverse group of people, consider following the above advice. In cases where other things that are more important conflict with that, ignore it."

Alternately, consider the rebuke you get for giving advice for being attractive to women that actually works.

You might want to rephrase that -- even knowing your overall position, I parsed it wrong the first time I read it. i.e., as "giving advice (for being attractive) to women" rather than "giving advice for (being attractive to women)". Your sentence is also unclear as to who is giving the rebuke -- the recipient or a third party -- although of course both are possible.

Actually, you can also get rebuked (or at least disbelieved)... (read more)

1SilasBarta11yThose are some good points about the attractiveness/ fashionability distinction, and I made similar remarks to a different end. I'll have to think about that. However, I can't but refer back to simple comparisons of the social reactions to advice, such as this: "If you want to appear more attractive to men, show cleavage and arch your back." --> "Duh, already know that, of course that's how men are." vs. "If you want to appear more attractive to women, act dominant by ordering her around, thinking of her like a disobedient child, and generally making yourself appear scarce and unavailable." --> "Shut up!!! Shut up, you F***ING terrorist! Women are NOT like that, you worthless misogynist! You should be RESPECTFUL and DEFERENTIAL and give them lots of gifts. That's what we want, chauvanist. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go meet my boyfriend, who is such a jerk to me. I hope he's not late ... again." Disclaimer: I'm not advocating the advice I paraphrased for men, but actual successful PUAs -- who would know what they're talking about -- seem to believe it, and the refusal to discuss such cases seriously is inexcusable.

I can't but refer back to simple comparisons of the social reactions to advice

Your comparison isn't fair -- compare mental manipulations vs. physical ones, and notice that "The Rules" were almost as controversial as "The Game". Conversely, you're not going to be declared evil if you tell men they should work out to get a certain chest-waist or shoulder-waist ratio that women find attractive.

Nobody cares that much about what men and women do to emphasize their physical attractiveness, or change in superficial behaviors to be more attractive. It's things that involve direct effect on the attractee's mind, or direct alteration to the attractor's body (e.g. implants, lifts, hair plugs) that produce the most impression of deception and manipulation, and thus the most excoriation.

Also, phrasing is very important. I could rephrase your controversial advice in a much-less offensive way thus:

"Women prefer men who are confident and know what they want. So be clear about what you want, and don't be afraid to tell them. They don't like it when men come across as needy or uncomfortable around women, so it can be helpful to think of how you might interact with yo... (read more)

9Jack11yI actually think your formulation is the better way to teach it, as well. This variety of bitter misogyny tends to leak out in a man's interactions with women even if he knows the right things to say. And women won't find it attractive. People aren't resentful toward their kid sister. A PUA's target audience might like hearing the objectionable version more but it won't be as helpful to them.
7RobinZ11yIn other words, you listed G as well as G* [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1ws/the_importance_of_goodharts_law/]. I mention this explicitly because I think this actually renders your wording importantly different from SilasBarta's. In the specific context of men-seeking-women that this advice was written for, a man who lies about what times he's free can make himself seem scarce and unavailable, whereas a man who actually has a crowded schedule will seem scarce and unavailable ... but only the latter has (or might have) the actual desired property.
1pjeby11yYep, that pretty much sums it up. Higher-status PU gurus advocate approaching G as much as possible, rather than faking G*. It's easier and more beneficial to your life to have more of a "life", than it is to fake having one in order to play hard to get. It's also substantially more beneficial to actually be confident, than to learn a zillion and one tiny behaviors that signal confidence, etc. That's only true if you view unavailability as a positive, rather than over-availability as a negative. A man who can simply avoid doing things that turn women off is still far ahead of the average man in attractiveness, regardless of the reasons or means by which he avoids doing those things. As it happens, unavailability is one of those characteristics women may deny finding attractive, because it's not actually enjoyable. (Note that we often behave as if we "want" things we don't actually like "having".) Yet, over-availability is a negative criterion that women don't deny is unattractive. It seems, though, that the thing that makes something "manipulative" or "deceitful" is whether the behavior is described in terms of things the subject agrees he or she would like, using "far" language, or things the "manipulator" would like, in "near" language. The objectionable PUA advice is very specific "near" instruction about how to behave in such a way as to meet the PUA's goals; my version was a mostly "far" description of "what women like/dislike". Similarly, I could take "The Rules" and attempt to recast them in a positive-to-men light, by saying that men don't want to be in a relationship with women who are clingy, desperate, or might be sleeping with other men... so if you're looking for a man who wants a relationship, do these things to avoid putting them off. (Of course, the truth is that both the Game and the Rules are pushing evolutionary buttons in the opposite sex that can hijack conscious intentions, AND contain elements that are consciously considered desirable. Th
2gensym11yThis is a really good point. Think like reality! [http://lesswrong.com/lw/hs/think_like_reality/] Behavior that pleases others and benefits yourself is virtuous!
2SilasBarta11yAll manipulations under discussion pass through the mind, so I don't understand the distinction mental vs physical. And, "The Rules" certainly hasn't gotten near the attention as "The Game", nor does it commit the sin of breaking from advice women already get. ("Hold off on having sex with a man" -- gee, I'm sure women aren't taught that, right?) So there parallel isn't nearly as strong as you claim. But that's not advice of remotely similar effectiveness: a) women rank looks as relatively unimportant beyond a certain point, and b) for a man, simply looking good is not attractive in that it does not, er, attract. You won't get approached by women just for looking good; women, OTOH, will be approached by men mainly on their looks. (ETA:) I'm not alleging deception or hypocrisy in those standards and judgments. What I criticize is the attempt to suppress and disparage truthful information about what criteria women are actually using. What goes on now would be like if men adamantly denied that breast implants have any effect whatsoever on female attractiveness, and that they're immoral, and pursued women with implants almost exclusively. (I know you disagree that this accurately characterizes what goes on, and my responses to that are elsewhere in this post. I just want to clarify what specific behavior I'm criticizing.) Not for "ordering them around", you didn't; there was no parallel in the advice you gave for that. More importantly, the good advice you claim women agree with is given side by side with the stuff that's completely ineffective and countereffective (gifts, admiration, letting her make choices -- which by the way does not contradict "knowing what you want"). How are men supposed to know which advice is deception and which isn't (or perhaps more politely, which advice reveals a lack of self-understanding / luminosity / going along with what one's expected to say)? Sure, but like above, they say the same thing about men doing the counterproductive stuf
8pjeby11yOh come now. It'll get you AIs and IOIs (Approach Invitations and Indicators of Interest), which are the female equivalent. (Of course, "looking good" includes dressing well and being well-groomed.) Yes there was -- be clear about what you want, and say it. This is merely one of the ways a woman would positively describe what you're calling "ordering them around". Both descriptions carry subjective connotations, without being a truly accurate low-level description of "confident leadership" behaviors -- and are equally biased. A truly neutral description of the behaviors in question would be much longer to write, since it would need to describe behavioral guidelines in much more detail. WTF does that have to do with this discussion? I didn't say men should try to learn PUA from women; there's a clear and obvious advantage to learning them from men (for the most part). (I'm skipping replying to the rest of your comment, because it's just more down the same sinkhole.) You seem to have confused me with the "PUA=bad" crowd, but nothing I said can't be found in PUA materials. I'm also not in favor of banning PUA discussion on LW. What I disagree with you on is the assertion of asymmetrical bias and social pressures for men and women regarding the "venusian arts". Most of the asymmetry you assert disappears when you control for physical vs. mental, male vs. female goals, etc. AFAICT, you are so stuck in anger about women, that you can't see just how symmetrical the situation actually is for them. Men don't give women good advice for what we want in long-term relationships, being just as likely to say we want one thing, but actually commit to another. And men are just as likely to be irritated when women point this out, as the reverse. ISTM that one reason you don't see this is that you keep talking about "beauty" techniques as the appropriate parallel to PUA, when that would only make sense if women's evolutionarily-assigned mating goals had to do with short-term
2SilasBarta11yI will start from your more personal remarks: What? Where are you getting you this? I've long known you were not part of the "PUA = bad" crowd, and that you're not in favor of banning. I would counterpropose that you're interpreting my disagreement and occasional impatience as hostility, and assuming it carries over to other areas. I'm going to delete the unhelpful psychoanalysis from the rest of these excerpts; they have nothing to do with the validity of my points and only serve to insult. If I'm wrong, let it be for some reason other than "Silas is a nut". Don't speak for me; I've never been asked, and, on principle, I would refuse to give advice if I knew it would be skewed. Again, speak for yourself -- if I feel social pressures that keep me from being truthful, I say so rather than perpetuate what I know to be wrong. I imagine that if I were a woman, I'd adhere to the same standard and expect no less out of others, male or female. Not really. I accept quite well that women usually aren't going to be drawing men in for short-term sexual interest. Nevertheless, part of the necessary steps in getting "shortlisted" for a long-term relationship is looks, which is why I claim the parallel holds. 'Cause it's a critical example of bias and poor specification of values, maybe? Now, for the rest: Female AI/IOIs, by design, have plausible deniability. One can only take them as definitive at one's own risk -- that breaks the equivalence. "I want beer" --> being clear about what I want, but not giving orders "Bring me beer" --> being clear AND giving orders I'll accept that full specification of which is okay and which isn't, is going to be difficult. Point taken, and I'll stop bringing it up. But on this issue, at least, you're going two far in blurring very different concepts.
7wedrifid11yEspecially since: "I want beer" (with a strong voice and expectant eye contact) --> Being clear about what I want and communicating that my mere wishes should implicitly be interpreted as orders. "Bring me beer" (lowered eyes, end of the sentence raised slightly in pitch) --> Making an uncertain claim about what I want, with a supplicating request for action.
6Airedale11yI believe I was in college when "The Rules" came out, so a bit younger than its target demographic, but I recall that there was quite an uproar about it at the time. There was a lot of criticism about the advice being manipulative of men, but also somewhat anti-feminist and representing a step backward for women. Heck, I even remember a series of Cathy cartoons dedicated to "The Rules," with the takeaway being part horror (I seem to recall Cathy's Aaaak!) , part fascination, part willingness to try it out because it just might work, or something like that. . . . and, ok, Cathy may not display perfect insight into the American woman's psyche, but it tends to get the big trends right, or at least did so in that era So, yeah, The Rules aren't the hip new thing right now, but in its heyday, the book got a lot of attention and a lot of criticism, and it also sold a lot of copies. I think it's a pretty fair comparison.
4Jack11ySorry if I'm piling on. I don't think anyone here is saying: "listen to the women, they always know what is best". Rather people are saying: "Hey men who know what women find attractive, you don't need to phrase your true advice in such objectionable language." Not to bring this back to object level but I'm not sure "ordering them around" actually communicates good advice. There are circumstances where taking charge is attractive but it isn't nearly as simple as "order them around" and I suspect whatever good advice is here can be phrased in a similarly unobjectionable way.
2wedrifid11yI wouldn't go as far as to support the (absolute part of the) first claim but I certainly support the second. I disagree. Naturally things aren't simple (simple isn't a Nash equilibrium in the dating game!) but 'ordering them around' is good advice, particularly to those who most need dating advice. That class of guys tends to associate receiving orders with resentment and so tends to have a failure of empathy when it comes to their expectations of how women will react to similar assertions. "Order them around" is what they need to hear while the more abstract "taking charge" crosses too much of an inferential gap.
3pjeby11yI've seen more than one bit of PUA literature cross this gap by carefully pointing out how behavior X might seem asshole-ish among men, but is in fact perceived as positive quality Y when received by women from men, and further pointing out that it's an error to assume this means one should act like an asshole in general. Certainly, I don't think teaching material should do any less. It's likely that a properly framed discussion here relating the venusian arts to, say the Dark Arts, advertising, consent, consistent decision theories, etc. would also need to discuss both sides of that perceptual gap, at least in passing. (Albeit without so much detailed how-to info in between.)
1wedrifid11yThat is a good way to teach it, even though it is somewhat of a lie (similar to teaching Newtonian physics). It usually isn't healthy to teach about things that are actually perceived as a negative quality by women can also give desired results to men. That darker truth is best left until after people have developed their social skills and let go of their tendency to bury their frustration behind a façade of righteous indignation.
2SilasBarta11yReally? Are we looking at the same forum? Because of all criticisms of PUA discussion, I never saw anything of that form -- most importantly, I don't remember acknowledgement that it is true (just as society in general won't admit it). Those who found it objectionable, like this characteristic poster [http://lesswrong.com/lw/134/sayeth_the_girl/], demanded much more serious straitjackets: That's way beyond, "hey, use less objectionable language when making these true claims about what women find attractive". Don't you think so?
3wedrifid11yAgree With What You Are Saying But Good Pickup Advice Would Recommend Ignoring That Frame Rather Than Validating It. (AWWYASBGPAWRITFRTVI?)
3gensym11yOr maybe the really effective thing to do is to know which type of behavior to exhibit when (so much of social skill is about context-sensitivity); all-out dominant behavior is more effective in some cases than all-out the other direction ('submissive' seems like the wrong term) or ham-fisted attempts at variation, so advice to adopt all-out dominant behavior, combined with the idea that the other sort of behavior is completely ineffective, persists among men who are less skilled and interested in those cases; and women introspecting on what they want get that they want both but don't get the context-dependence, or don't realize it needs to be said.
3wedrifid11yNo, but you are definitely not supposed to be bitter about it. ~1,000 times on OvercomingBias:
2Good_Burning_Plastic4ySpeak for yourself! :-)
1wedrifid11y[1] Which counts as sexual harassment, btw (unless you're really hot). Only in specific environments. And then, yes, the offence is mostly 'making sexual advances without being hot enough to get away with it'. Outside of a place where sexual harassment claims are an option it would instead just get demeaning looks.
7komponisto11yThe negative reactions may have to do with the fact that such advice -- and indeed, a comment like the above -- amounts to accusing half the audience of a very blatant form of hypocrisy. Obviously one should exercise extreme caution when making such an accusation, and it had better be backed up with some pretty solid evidence -- to say nothing of the pragmatic considerations of whether there is much to be gained by voicing such truths (if they are in fact true). Yes, lots of people probably don't tell the truth about what is sexually attractive to them. But if you go around saying "women are such hypocrites", it's understandable for a woman hearing this to take it as a personal insult. (If you didn't mean for her to be insulted, you wouldn't say it that way.)
3gensym11yWhat if you go around saying "almost everyone, whatever their gender, has poor insight into their preferences and responses"?
4RobinZ11yBy the way: Welcome to Less Wrong [http://lesswrong.com/lw/b9/welcome_to_less_wrong/]!
3HughRistik11yI summarized some of the research on stated vs. actual preferences here [http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2008/04/26/do-women-know-what-they-want/]. It seems to show that both men and women are often wrong about what they go for, but women may well be more wrong. However, I've only found a few studies like this so far, and I want to see more to feel confident about that conclusion.
6gensym11yI'm sure you can see that exactly one of those pieces of advice is ambiguous, and easily disambiguated as advice to engage in genuinely wrong behavior. I think that some sorts of people, which I would expect to overlap with the sorts of people opposed to pickup, tend to directly leap from a statement being potentially harmful to express, to that statement and its speaker being Bad. (Another example: statements about the basis of intelligence and race/sex correlations, with their genuine usefulness to bigots.) I don't think that this is entirely incorrect of them, either instrumentally or epistemically — such statements are Bayesian evidence of bad character, for both direct and signaling reasons. PS: Don't be so sarcastic.
2SilasBarta11yI accept that the advice I listed can be ambiguous. I also claim that a very large class of men has been so horribly misled by the official line on male-to-female interaction rules, that even the above advice, in its crude form, in its rank misogyny, would actually cause them to be more attractive to women -- which just goes to show the depths of their deception. Btw, what was sarcastic? Men who present the plain truth on this are the target of severe vitriol from women (even and especially those for whom it is true) and men who recognize its truth, but want to appear part of the "reasonable" crowd. My illustration of the vitriol is exaggerated, but not by much. And the misleading advice women promote does in fact mirror the official line (in mainstream books, advice from women, behavior taught in schools, etc.). What are you objecting to?
4pjeby11yAnd yet, you seem to object to framing the truth in terms that women usually like and respond positively to... which makes me wonder WTF your actual goals are here. Oh noes, people don't like language they don't like, and I am being forced to use the language of the oppressors in order to talk with them about anything. Help, I'm being oppressed! Damn, dude, this is like saying you ought to have the right to describe people using racial epithets, simply because the epithets are included in statements that are true, like "That [epithet] is wearing blue jeans." In NLP there's a saying that the meaning of a communication is the response you get. If you want a different response, try a different communication already, and stop bothering everyone with this low-status whining. It's a disgrace to everyone you claim to be speaking for, and everything you claim to be standing for.
3SilasBarta11yWhere are you getting that? I'm not objecting to framing the truth in a professional, reasoned tone. I'm objecting to your attempt to claim that two phrasings mean the same thing, when they really don't, thereby promoting a sort of uninformative politician-speak, as I explained here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/1vox] (and which you didn't address): You seem to really be taking the concept of "ordering a woman around" to mean so freaking many benign things that the term no longer has any meaning. Doing so voids the usefulness of words and cripples the ability to clearly communicate on the issues. "A man who knows what he wants, and isn't afraid to say it" does not, as you claim, equate to giving orders. And yet, PUAs do advise "giving orders", while an uninformed man who was simply told to "know what you want, and don't be afraid to say it" would not at all see how this means giving orders ... because the concept thereof isn't entailed by that advice! While a professional, uninflammatory tone is preferable, it should never delete the substance of the claim, but that's exactly what your supposed rephrasings do.
2Morendil11ySo, ignoring your caricature... On one hand we have advice that is about body posture, and on the other hand we have advice that is about persuading yourself of things that are not true, such as thinking of an adult human as if they were a child. And your question is why people react differently to either kind of advice, have I got that right?

I was under the impression that men both want a rather artificial appearance from women and despise women for their attention to the details needed to create it. I would be glad to find out that I'm mistaken.

I think it'd be more accurate to say that we prefer any makeup to look like the wearer just naturally looks that way, rather than like they made themselves up. (Since awareness of the makeup detracts from the immediate and visceral pleasure we'd otherwise receive from viewing an attractive woman.)

We also dislike it when the time spent on making up ... (read more)

2RobinZ11yYou mean an empire waistline [http://www.misfile.com/index.php?page=1070]? (I don't think I've ever actually seen one in person, but the description is eerily familiar. ^_^)
2pjeby11yYep, that's the term. I was more thinking of the lingerie term (babydoll), because my wife owns a lingerie store, works at home in the office next to mine, and I overhear a lot of stuff. (Yes, they make those hideous waistlines in lingerie, too. [shudder])
1NancyLebovitz11yI've heard about a study (sorry no cite) which found, not only that men think women with light make-up look better, but that those women look more natural. I may not be typical, but it doesn't feel like working on signaling if (as rarely happens), I fiddle with my appearance. It feels more like trying to get things "right", like something between an art and a craft. A goddawful thing I've occasionally run into from men is them boasting about how dangerous they are. I really detest it. I don't know if it turns off all women. Part of the problem is that I don't know how to evaluate it for accuracy. This makes it noise (and rather repetitive), not signal. Furthermore, I'm 4'11'' and not athletic. I haven't found people to be especially dangerous to me in general, but I make it through my life without needing to be scary. And I have the irrational impression that those guys are trying to prove that I don't scare them. Ick. I mentioned all this to a male friend, and he said that talking about how dangerous one is is normal male chat. If so, I'm glad I'm not stuck with it.
1mattnewport11yThis data point isn't terribly relevant to the question of whether signalling is the 'true' explanation for your actions - signaling is not in general expected to be a conscious motive for any given action. This would generally be an example of cheap talk [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheap_talk] rather than signalling. To the extent that women are attracted to 'dangerous' men (more accurately men who will be able to defend them and their children from harm and to dominate other men and so provide more resources) they will be attuned to signals that are hard to fake. Boasting is a cheap signal and may well backfire even on targets who are genuinely seeking the advertised quality. I assume you realize that your experience would likely be different if you were male?
1pjeby11yYou mean, better and more natural than women without any make up? I would guess that's probably a simple case of the halo effect at work, with "better" creating a halo inclining them to rate higher on "natural". But where does your learning of what's "right" come from? Don't women generally learn what's "right" in this area from other women? The PUA literature says this is true of all forms of male boasting, so presumably you're far from alone. It's rather like disinformation - if you want the enemy to believe your fake plans, you have to make the information more costly for them to obtain than just listening to a broadcast announcement. ;-) Wouldn't surprise me. Men generally do the stupidest things when trying to prove their bravery, get laid, or both. ;-) It might be more accurate to say that male chat involves posturing about one's prowess, which might be intellectual rather than physical, depending on one's circle of friends. (Of course, if you put it that way, "normal" female chat tends to be the same, just less overt, and more about social knowledge and status than individual ability.)

My point is only that the neg is an example of bottom-lining. First you decide that you will convince her of something that will have certain effects on her. Then you decide on the evidence that you will highlight to convince her of this.

I'm confused. ISTM that Mystery's primary intention (as stated very frequently by him) is to convey the message, "I am not like other men". Everything about his behavior and appearance is tailored to communicate that message, and as a result, it is true. He is not like other men, in his appearance and behav... (read more)

6HughRistik11yYour post is consistent with my understanding, also. Furthermore, Mystery's model of women is biased towards the modal female extravert. Since he based most of his understanding of women on his club interactions, he was vulnerable to the availability heuristic. (Look! We are talking about rationality and pickup!) It is indeed important to understand the modal/median/average women, but unless you actually want to date the type of woman, you need to understand other types of women, also. Yet the view of women in the community seems a bit over-homogenized towards the types of women that PUAs encounter most often. Furthermore, I think part of the reason that some PUAs sound cynical or patronizing when they talk about women is that PUAs are not the average male. They are probably higher than average in intelligence and introversion, yet they are comparing female extraverts of average intelligence to themselves and finding them lacking; this is an unfair comparison.
1NancyLebovitz11yAre the women they're attracted to of average intelligence? I can see arguments pointing in four directions. The 9s and 10s are of average intelligence-- it's the null hypothesis. They're smarter than average-- if appearing maximally attractive takes some skill (and it does), then g should help. They're less intelligent than average-- they've been coasting on their looks. They're of average or above average intelligence, but choose to appear less intelligent so as not to put men off.

And maybe you can take charge of some of the women who are already in your life so that they'll post.

I think maybe you're still confusing "take charge" with "make people do something they don't want to do", vs. "encourage people to do things they already want to do, anyway, or that will get them highly-valued goals." (i.e. the normal definition of leadership)

For example, I sometimes "take charge" by making my wife stop work to relax and receive a massage, when I know she's working too hard and wouldn't think to a... (read more)

5Morendil11yThis is only an aside, but if you go and dig for the origins and theoretical meanings of the phrase "alpha male" you'll find that the phrase carries much emotional baggage but doesn't seem to do useful explanatory work. I plan to cover this as part of my long-delayed post on "status".
1NancyLebovitz11yIf PUA was generally as you describe it, it might not be a problem. Does your wife also occasionally take charge of you in your best interests? You are judging PUA by its best. I'm judging it by what shows up here. I haven't gone looking for the most offensive bits. I grew up with a lot of "I just want you to be happy" combined with failure to listen. This is a major hot button for me, and I don't see any evidence that you (the range of PUA, not just the best) are careful about knowing whether you're overriding women in ways which are inconsistent with their interests.
7pjeby11yShe looks out for my interests, yes, but does not express them in a way that would match "taking charge". Instead, she... I don't know how to describe it in a way that doesn't sound weird or caricatured, like 50's TV housewives batting their eyelashes... gives me an idealized perception of myself to live up to, maybe? (This is probably another one of those areas where discussion of effective tactics for women to use with men would sound offensive to men when discussed in language that women could actually understand and apply, but would be baffling to women when described in terms that men would perceive as valuable/desirable.) Parents do that a lot. It means, "I just want you to do and be what would make me happy." And I used to do the same thing to my wife. As it happened, learning about PUA stuff was actually the cure for that, not the cause. In particular, it taught me to not interpret what she said in terms of what it would mean if I said it. PUA stuff, for me, is all about bridging the conceptual language barriers. I had a similar hot button myself, one which my wife eventually helped me overcome. Unfortunately, what happens with hot buttons like these is that we tend to project our own helplessness onto other people. For example, it took me forever to realize that, unlike my own past inability to say "no" to a request, my wife did not have the same problem... which meant that my continual avoidance of asking her for anything was unnecessary and harmful to our relationship. (Because of course, I still resented her for not doing any of the things I wasn't asking her to do!) So the problem I see with your statement, is that it presumes disempowerment of women -- that they're going to be overridden and led astray by bossy men who don't listen. And ISTM that this is more paternalistic and anti-feminist in its implications, than "taking charge" actually is. Have you considered the possibility that maybe you're projecting a personal feeling of helplessness
3NancyLebovitz11yThat's actually related to something I've been trying to frame for FAI-- using actual human friendliness as a starting point for some features we might want in an FAI. One piece is the question of how a "best self" for another person which is actually helpful is conceived. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In my experience, people can and do sometimes take advantage of each other-- there's such a thing as being socially outstrengthed. I'll take this under consideration. I certainly learned too much about helpless anger when I was a kid, and I'm quite angry now. It may be that you're right, and the only wrong with the situation is how fucked up I am-- or maybe your good will and perception isn't also quite as thorough as you think it is, or possibly the range of PUA includes worse than you want to believe of it.
3pjeby11yIn my expereience, this is due to over-restrictive SASS rules in the "outstrengthed" party, and can be repaired. (My wife and I have been doing extensive work in this area on ourselves.) Yeah, helpless anger's usually associated with status perception, i..e, being taught you don' t have enough importance to be listened to, paid attention to, etc. The key to resolving it is understanding that the reason you still feel like you have insufficient status, is because we internalize others behaviors' in relation to ourselves, to learn the rules for when to grant ourselves status. When it "clicks" that you can give yourself importance, it's possible to re-evaluate the rules you've internalized, and grant yourself status even in situations where you were historically taught that you were not worth listening to. Oh, I'm well aware of how far down that goes, even if I only looked at some of the bitterness posted here! I just don't like it when people who are arguing that you should say "some women" or "many women" don't also say "some PUA" or "many PUA". The arts have a LOT of positive things to teach men, for the benefit of men and women both.
2NancyLebovitz11yThe issue about helpless anger at my end seems to be that I'd have to believe I shouldn't have been hurt when I was mistreated if I could choose whether or not I'm angry. I actually have better resources now-- probably not as good as they should be, considering that I was screaming at a pocket the other day[1]-- but I also believe I was doing the best I could when I was a kid. I couldn't access choices I didn't know I had. I'm trying to be more careful about saying "some PUA", and I've been referring to it as a group of sub-cultures. You can grant accuracy, even to people who don't offer it. :-) The kind of thing I imagine when I hear about PUA is a woman I met some time ago-- she would love to spend some time by the ocean, but her husband doesn't like the ocean and isn't willing to have her spend time away from him. He'd taken charge to the extent that she's presumably never going to see the ocean again unless she outlives him in good enough health do it. He probably wasn't PUA-- this is probably from before PUA was invented. For all I know, she would prefer living with a man like that than someone who'd find a way to tolerate a trip to the beach, but speaking as a person who needs to see an ocean now and then, I find her situation horrifying. It may be a matter of, not just the way I react to PUA, but the way a lot of others do, but you write as though the best side of PUA is all that's real about it. Any thoughts on how women can distinguish early between "good guy in charge" vs. "bad guy bullying" vs. "average guy who's taking excessive advantage"? [1] I kept getting phone calls which consisted of a ring and then rustling-- and the "person" wouldn't get off the line when I hung up. After the first few, I was yelling and slamming the phone. It turned out to be a phone carried in a pocket where the autodial was repeatedly pressed by accident.
5gensym11yThis sounds really interesting, but I'm afraid I can't parse it.
3NancyLebovitz11yI was pretty close to incoherent when I posted that. I'm not sure whether I can make it clearer now, but I'll take a crack at it. I grew up with a lot of criticism, and I wasn't supposed to show anger at it. I also was harassed by other students at school, and told to just ignore it. In other words, they were under no obligation to control their actions, while it was my job to control my involuntary reactions. In addition, I realized recently that my mother modeled helpless anger herself. While she could pretty much get away with dumping anger on other people in the immediate family, she rarely got what she wanted from the people she was angry at, and it didn't seem to occur to her that the situation could be made any better. My current emotional reaction is something like if I could have prevented my anger at the situations I was in as a kid, I was obligated to to so. If I can prevent anger now, it proves that I was getting things wrong then, and I deserved the way I was treated. And at that point, I get angry again. I think that's what was going on when I posted-- the objective bit is that I felt very angry and was whaling away at my completely innocent keyboard. I don't know whether sorting things out more clearly to the extent that I have in this post is likely to do any good, but there's some hope. At least there's some handle on the confusion between past and present..
5pjeby11yFWIW, I've fixed similar patterns to this in myself by realizing that I actually did have the right to not want the (ciriticism, teasing, harassment), the right to act in order to stop it, the right to feel bad that it continued and no-one else stopped it, and the right to feel like a worthwhile person even if I fought back. Unfortunately, it's not easy to put into words how to create those realizations (and that was really just a summary, rather than the full list), but I can at least say that if it causes you to break down sobbing with relief, you're probably going in the right direction. The central process, though, is identifying which of your SASS needs were used to condition the learned helplessness, and then give yourself the right to meet that need in the circumstances where you were taught not to. For example, if you weren't supposed to show anger because your parents withdrew their acceptance of you, then you would need to give yourself the right to accept yourself when you show anger. And so on. Individual rules can be complex, though, and based on what you describe in your comment, I would guess you've got maybe 15-20 such rules you'd have to tweak just to get started. But it's definitely fixable. One book that may be of use to you is "Healing The Shame That Binds You" - it has an excellent set of examples of how shame-binds form, even though its techniques for fixing anything absolutely sucks. (Psychologists rarely aim anywhere near high enough in their standards for devising ways to fix things, IMO; my personal standard is that you should be able to change something in 15 minutes or so, if you know what you're doing and precisely what you need to fix. As Eliezer says in one of his stories, it only takes a few minutes to have an insight, if you have all the data)
0pwno11yI believe in maximizing the amount of resources I can from people, and therefore feeling I deserve what I plausibly can get -- but I don't see how that's a "right". I think what you realized is that you didn't have to deal with ciriticism, teasing, harassment, not that you had the right to not deal with those things.
2pjeby11yI'm using "right" in the sense that a programmer speaks of "access rights". An access right is the ability to do something, not moral approval. Rights in the sense I'm speaking of here simply refers to making a set of actions reachable in the brain's planning trees, if that makes sense. I've found, though, that asserting that one has the right to do something is helpful in imperatively making this connection in the brain, so that's the word I use. (It seems in many people to elicit an accompanying "territorial" emotional response, that may or may not be related to the mechanism used to mark actions accessible or inaccessible in the first place.)
2wedrifid11yYour honesty and self insight are refreshing to hear. I, personally, found it useful when I realised my anger was mine and I was free to be angry whenever I wanted and whenever it suited my purposes! I hope yours serves you as well as mine serves me at times. A useful advisor, anger, providing you can keep it aligned with the rest of you.
0NancyLebovitz11yHow did you come to realize that your anger was yours?
5wedrifid11yA difficult question for me to answer. It comes tied up with other realisations and beliefs: * There is no God, no rules for Right and Wrong written down in the fundamental nature of reality, no external standard. I need not bend my beliefs of what it it right and wrong to do and, more importantly in this instance, feel to anyone else. * There is no 'fair', no 'justice', except to the extent that I or other people who share similar preferences make it so. Other people may get away with insisting that what they are doing is Right, with the implication that you do not have grounds to be angry. They may be able to socially enforce the suppression of anger at their actions with clever reframing or outright force. But you need never subject your own feelings to their demands. You don't need permission to be angry. * I have anger for a reason. It's there to tell me when the outside world has hurt me in some way. When we choose to suppress anger it can deny us knowledge of what we want or need in a situation. For all but the most self aware individuals emotional instincts know more about what they really want than conscious beliefs. * Letting my anger be my own, rather than trying to insist it match an external tribal consensus frees me from attachment to things I can't control. Other people can be F@#&$ if they want to, and I can be angry about it if it serves my purposes. Sometimes it does. * Anger makes me think better. I am more focussed, extremely strategic and much harder to manipulate. It isn't a long term option but in the short term anger is damn helpful for me. It gets me out of bad situations and opens my eyes to all sorts of opportunities that I may otherwise have been too nice to acknowledge. (Contempt, on the other hand usually just gets me into trouble!) * Once I start allowing my anger to work with me rather than fighting it it doesn't have a destructive influence on me. It is like a trus
2NancyLebovitz11yDid you come to these realizations by thinking about philosophy, or by some other means? If it was by thinking about philosophy, how did you make the transition from abstraction to emotional change?
2wedrifid11yHaving the philsophy there in the background helped, but only in as much as it allowed me to better guide the emotional development that was happening at a more instinctive level. More to the point it allowed me to develop an alternative to the bullshit philosophy that was taught to me as a child. Since my hypocrisy muscles are weak that deveopment is vital. Let me be clear that some of the thinking that prevents healthy emotional development is that same thinking that would condemn PUA. You may disapprove. Swearing helped. Seriously. But that is me. I am male and all that testosterone pumping around in my blood makes a huge difference in how I go about emotional change. I also never lacked for what I'll call 'righteous anger', for lack of a better term. I could always get angry, and proactively so, with both bullying and bullshit. What needed to change was the suppression of selfish anger. The 'turn the other cheek', 'unconditional love', 'humility' kind of stuff. Since realising that is the sort of thing is actually bullshit used to bully people into compliance it qualified as a trigger for the outrage that I already gave myself permission to have. From there the process of expunging the undesired emotional habits was just a matter of time, counselling, hours in the gym and some martial arts practice. Your path is probably a different one to mine. I could tell you to watch 'Gladiator' and 'Fight Club' a half dozen times each but that is more of a male-typical approach.
3NancyLebovitz11yIndeed. I'm already capable of swearing. The recent thing which convinced me I have a problem is that area was feeling very upset for maybe half an hour for slamming the phone on a fundraiser whose project I strongly disagree with. It wouldn't have been awful if I'd said no thank you and hung up. It wouldn't have been crazy to lay out my point of view a little. But I didn't owe him a goddamned thing, and I don't think it made sense for me to beat up on myself for showing some spontaneous anger. I've seen Fight Club-- it seemed like such an unhappy movie that I'm amazed it was inspirational for anyone. On the other hand, it's been a while. Did the Fight Clubs actually make those guys' lives better? Would it help explain the PUA thing if I tell you that one of the things I need to work on is not being too concerned for guys' feelings if I turn them down?
1wedrifid11yIt does, and to be honest that (with girls' substituted) is still not a strength of mine either. I do it because I must, for my sake and theirs (if I couldn't say 'no' then I clearly couldn't say 'yes' to monogamy or even bigamy!) But it takes effort. The ironic thing is that PUA tactics are optimised for girls with strong boundaries in that area. That is, most of the techniques suggested are ones for dealing with the fact that attractive, highly socialised girls are habitually biased towards rejecting rather than reverse. (Even so, I can understand your wariness.)
0NancyLebovitz11yI'm strongly biased towards being nice or not giving a clear no, not towards accepting.
2arundelo11yHeads up -- I failed to parse
2wedrifid11yThat makes no sense. Edited to:
1pjeby11yGood guy in charge would find some way to get her needs met. Just not liking the ocean shouldn't count -- dude's not being much of a man, there. At the very least, he shouldn't have a problem with her going. Drawing the line between "bullying" and "co-dependent" is tough, though. There've been times in the past where my wife wanted to do something that I didn't, but she didn't want to go if I didn't want to come. (If I'd truly been taking charge at the time, I'd have gone with her, or helped her get the need met in some other way.) Who do you blame when both people in a relationship are dysfunctional? Most of the time, people end up in long-term relationships with partners who have complementary dysfunctions. I'd say that people in general should focus on getting rid of as many of their own dysfunctions as they can -- a functional person isn't going to get trapped by a bully or in their own co-dependence, and will rapidly ditch someone who doesn't fit. (I'm reminded of an early relationship of mine, when I was about 20, with a woman almost twice my age. I was infatuated, but I didn't have the same emotional maturity she did. She broke it off because the relationship wasn't [emotionally, long-term] good for her, no matter how much she enjoyed our good times. Someone with a level of dysfunction closer to mine or more complementary to mine would've been stuck with me, expecting that things were supposed to be that way.)
1wedrifid11y(I wish this was a post so that my vote was worth +10).

I think it's time to take a step back here: I stated a suspicion of a bias in one direction with regards to the "male side" and the "female side" of an issue as it appears on this site (and, I'd add, society in general). A suspicion, not something I could document my basis for forming. This is a low standard to meet.

In turn, you raise a reasonable question about why this hypothesis should even be on the radar (i.e. am I maybe privileging a hypothesis)? However, this is a less-than-2-bit claim. Given the topic matter, either there's ... (read more)

2thomblake11yI'm not sure that settles it.... "There is an object one foot across in the asteroid belt composed entirely of chocolate cake" is either true or it isn't - in the sense you used it, that's only a one-bit claim. So with "this murder was committed by Mortimer Q. Snodgrass, who lives at 128 Ordinary Ln." It may be relevant that it takes a lot more than two bits to specify your hypothesis in the first place.
1RobinZ12yThat assumes innoc...dagnabbit, why am I arguing about vocabulary? You're right, I shouldn't phrase it to present all gender-unfriendly speech as intentional. I'll edit in a disclaimer.

I suspect that the ick reaction being labeled "objectification" actually has more to do with the sense that the speaker is addressing a closed group that doesn't include you.

It would seem more accurate to say there are two seperate phenomenon. Using male-gender only pronouns or male-centered examples and hypotheticals doesn't seem to objectify so much as it seems to exclude.

Objectifying, as you allude to, is more related to Kant's good old categorical imperative of treating people as ends and not means. Statements that women (or sex with women... (read more)

The people that most object to paternalism are male nerds while the people that (I expect to) most approve of paternalism are conservative religious women.

Why those groups in particular? They are toward those ends, but I think I would have (maybe superficially/naively) said "radical feminists" and "conservative religious men", respectively. Don't necessarily disagree, but I'm very curious.

JGWeismann said:

I said women should be aware of biases they have that men will try to manipulate. That does not mean they have to resist it.

When you used the word "manipulate," I do see why Silas thought you were being judgmental and primarily advocating resistance. If you say you don't mean that, then I believe you, and I would prefer that the discussion move on to substantive issues, rather than what biases you might supposedly hold.

I think part of the problem in discussions like this is the word "manipulation," which different pe... (read more)

generalizations about individuals based on their ethnicity is clearly dumb. inquiring into broad trends that correlate well with ethnic divisions is interesting and demands further research.

we're at the dawn of understanding genetics. to preemptively decide that a branch of inquiry will not be allowed simply because our ancestors were ignorant douche bags is silly. as rationalists I'd say it's our job more than most to take a mature, level headed look at the data that emerges. things are really going to heat u... (read more)

1Fetterkey12yI understand this research, view it as important, and know several people who are working in this field at the present time. That said, the work of geneticists is quite different from casual social observations and generalizations. When I speak out against sweeping generalizations based on gender or ethnicity, I do not speak out against the geneticists.

you're attaching a bunch of words with negative connotation without actually telling what's wrong. we all make generalizations all the time. we can't interface with reality without making generalizations. if it is clearly wrong then you have the entire apparatus of social statistics to debunk.

I just can't get over the fact that there is an active discussion of professional Casanovas on a blog for hardcore pocket-protecting nerds. And from this discussion, it also seems that these Casanovas form a thriving community, like makers of miniature cars.

I can sort of see how a woman might find such a thing just a tad creepy. Like sleeping with a spy.

9nerfhammer12yIn many cases perhaps the appropriate action would be raise this woman's consciousness: men's sexuality isn't necessarily scary or threatening.
6Psychohistorian12yMethinks you underestimate the diversity of the readership here. Or, at the very least, you underestimate the diversity of people who can be described as hardcore pocket-protecting nerds.
1Jonathan_Graehl12yI also see the amusement value of the fact that there is a semi-cultish PUA subcommunity. It reminds me of people who regularly spend significant money attending real-estate conventions to receive advice on how to make big deals, yet have never made a deal in their life and possibly never will (this comes from a friend who has purchased, rented, and sold real estate, and thought to get some value out of said conventions). However, I hope your "just can't get over the fact" is for dramatic effect, because you really do need to accept the reality: they're rational, except they're suspiciously easily convinced that they really could be getting all the sex they want.

Here's the link, after a minute's effort. Wasn't it worth that?

You know what I think replacing 'ordering her around' with 'give orders' does? It gets rid of politician-speak. You are trying to embed a message in there, and it obfuscates the advice. (And this is just an example from a trend!)

I don't know what trend you mean or if there's a chain of things I've been doing wrong; I do admit that I didn't even notice that "order her around" and "give orders" were different phrases to begin with, since I kept lumping them together. Your distinction between the two is noted, and appreciated.

0wedrifid11yConsider the suggested trend to be "not being hyper-vigilant about differences like 'order her around' vs 'give orders' when the political context makes nearly anything an invitation to umbrage".

Right, they mean "acting as if." By the way, Silas summary of that advice is a tiny bit extreme. I do hear "be dominant," and I sometimes hear "give orders," but "ordering her around" in general is not something I hear so commonly. I do hear "treat her like your bratty little sister" sometimes.

If it were a discussion of "this is how human sexual attraction works", with a really general overview (that is, at least including a wide range of women's experiences as well as men's) rather than a "this is a discussion which is biased by men who are trying to get particular outcomes and are convinced that what's good for them is good for women or at least harmless to them", it could be useful..

Just to increase the range, check out Yes Means Yes. I'm not saying I agree with every word of it, but at least it's about attraction and cons... (read more)

So, the sound bite version is "To get a man to commit, be a tease?"

Only in the same way that the pejorative and inaccurate soundbite for PUA is, "To get a woman to have sex, be a jerk." There's an awful lot lost in both translations. ;-)

We're probably being too vague to evaluate this question. I read "order them around" and I picture men doing a lot of things that women probably won't find very attractive.

"Order them around" seems to be evocative of "Bitch, make me a sandwich!"

On what basis do you dispute that this accurately describes effective female-sexiness-enhancing advice? Sure, men would enjoy it if she used it get sexual favors ... but they wouldn't enjoy it if she used it to get them to do non-sexual favors (with a false hint of the chance for sex).

Are you saying that even known-false sexual attention from attractive females isn't enjoyed by men? Men pay for this at strip clubs and other places all day long.

women can easily get accurate information about how to get to this attractiveness state

I still don't see t... (read more)

2wedrifid11yI must emphasise that "but do not have sex as the goal" is a completely different issue to "they are about improving the attractor rather than manipulating the attractee". Having sex as a goal isn't manipulative. In fact, acknowledging that sex is a goal can make the approach far less manipulative than if a façade of political correctness is maintained but sex is still sought after.

We don't all try to make it look noble, though.

My impression is that by continuing to reply but dropping the posturing required to maintain decorum and expressing frustration rather than fully engaging in the business of clever re-framing you allow him to look noble at your expense. The unfortunate thing is that the actions required to look noble are usually at odds with actually being noble. To gain social reward, either don't engage (taking your initial positive impression) or ruthlessly battle for the moral high ground using (and bending) whatever tactics of debate are allowed by your tribe.

Your comment is non-responsive because I was (mainly) referring to cases where the man doesn't have advance knowledge of how much make-up the woman was using. In general, women aren't expected to disclose such a thing to men they've just met, and don't do it voluntarily. Hence why Morendil's claim

Because women make no bones telling men they're wearing make-up

is wrong.

Now, regarding your point:

I was under the impression that men both want a rather artificial appearance from women and despise women for their attention to the details needed to create

... (read more)
2pjeby11yMen also spend lots of time doing things that are more impressive to their peers than to women. I sometimes wonder if this is part of a price-fixing game of sorts, where both genders work to keep individual attractiveness close to some group mean, in order to prevent all-out, no holds-barred competition for mates. Perhaps we would expect to see some sort of slogan, promoting group loyalty over individual sexual fitness.... like, oh, I don't know... "bros before ho's"? ;-) Women don't have such a catchy motto, but the same idea is definitely in effect. Otherwise, PUA literature wouldn't need to teach strategies for the neutralization of jealous friends and giving women plausible reasons to "ditch" their girlfriends. I think these things are much more symmetrical than you are claiming, and that you're simply biased towards paying attention to the problems on the male side of the fence, without looking at how the same limits, penalties, stigma, etc. apply on the female side as well.
3HughRistik11ypjeby said: This is an interesting idea. I've observed that while there is a norm among men in mainstream white middle class culture that negatively judges men who put a lot of work into fashion and style, yet PUAs work a lot on their style, and it majorly pays off because it is a large factor in women's perceptions of male status (and therefore, attractiveness). It is probably a good thing for most men that the average level of style is commonly so low, and men aren't held to such a high standard for appearance. Yet the cat isn't quite out of the bag about how much style actually effects women's attraction, or some process is fixing the price. Knowing how powerful style is, I can't go back to dressing like a normal guy.
0NancyLebovitz11yStored riff: I think mainstream American culture encourages men to go way below the human norm for interest in how they dress. As far as I can tell, the default is for men and women to put approximately equal effort into how they dress.

It is evident that further conversation would be tiring and mostly ineffective for the both of us.

I'm not sure you're clear on what a null hypothesis is. Your statement sounds to me more like the wrong kind of humility.

we shouldn't treat race any differently just because people made stupid generalizations in the past.

If a topic tends to historically collect relatively more stupid generalizations than other topics, isn't it reasonable to keep a stronger default prior against such generalizations that aren't backed by data?

We don't have enough data to make the case for OR against any racism (biological differences -> behavioral differences)

So, lacking data, what is the null hypothesis?

2Jonathan_Graehl12yThat's an important point (that others' generalizations on race are suspect by default). However, I'm perfectly happy to consider appearance (including race) as a conditioning variable in my own thinking. I guess it might be smart to not admit this, but I think it's relatively uncontroversial amongst the mind-not-yet-killed. There are some reasons to distrust one's own baseline p(trait|appearance) estimates, other than the obvious (confounds, low sample size), say, particular personally experienced traumatic events, or exposure to explicit indoctrination on the matter. Most of us are not committing errors like: "in my experience, chinese people like chocolate ice cream more than strawberry, while everyone else prefers strawbeery; therefore chinese genetics code for chocolate-preference."
5SoullessAutomaton12yThe main problem is not that you can't, or even shouldn't, draw conclusions based on personal appearance. The problem is that obvious, superficial differences are very easily observed and remembered, and so seem to carry more weight than they deserve. For instance, upon observing one woman and three men exhibiting Annoying Behavior X, many will immediately go for "it must be a guy thing" rather than looking for more powerful explanations, for instance all four people sharing the same profession, or being from the same geographic region, or any number of even more subtle things.
1thomblake12yExample: xkcd [http://xkcd.com/385/]

Every non-Alicorn commenter "bothered" by it was only bothered because Alicorn claimed to be

Not true.

what's to stop them from using it as a "get out of justification free" card?

Common sense? And the fact that there aren't any censors?

The advice is to be nice, on your own accord, when someone points out that you're not doing so, if you feel like that's okay, and there's a way to do it without hurting the level of discourse. How hard is that?

4SilasBarta12yMaybe we're having different discussions here. I thought the discussion was about whether to make a certain topic off-limits for the site. Whatever enforcement mechanism for that decision is "the censors". And since the criteria for something being objectifying is still unclear to most posters (and it's unclear that Alicorn's position is even representative of women), any enforced restriction on future will appear just as arbitrary as the examples I gave above. Point being, it's a bad, bad path to go down. If someone's comment is Obviously Beyond the Pale and Driving Women Away, you should have to explain it to the commenter, not just rule it off limits.
3thomblake12yI think you're arguing against something that nobody has suggested. Eliezer has suggested a specific topic that he thinks is worth making off-limits on LW (maybe even temporarily), since it seems to bring us all off-track, just like he did with AI and the Singularity when LW started. He did not suggest that this should happen automatically every time someone thinks something is objectionable. Separate from this was the idea that if someone mentions to you that you're being inconsiderate and suggests an alternate phrasing that does not distort your meaning, it might be a good idea to fix it. In short, "don't be a jerk".
7SilasBarta12yDid you give any thought to how to "off-limits" decision would be enforced? From what I read, Eliezer_Yudkowsky was hinting that this be enforced by -5 downmods. So, there's a consensus to majorly downmod people violating that limit, with many members participating. ... and you're telling me this isn't going to be used against people arbitrarily, far outside the scope of where you think it applies? I guess I underestimated the inferential distance of what I was saying when I came into this subthread. Does that justify the downmods I've gotten, or are some downmodding for the wrong reason? The problem is that there is nothing close to a consensus on whether the statements in question are "being a jerk". Most people here still don't see how "be a millionaire to get hot women" is being a jerk. (Or they don't see how to generalize the prohibition on that statement, which amounts to the same thing.) We've also seen examples where Alicorn has suggested changes that do change the meaning, like "If I were a millionaire I'd have a gardener" to "...I'd have a garden", which is not the same thing. Put simply, giving in to this request to unquestioningly reword posts is not going to be limited to removing jerkiness, and it's definitely going to change meanings.
4thomblake12yHe wasn't hinting any such thing. He said explicitly that downvoting is sufficient, and there is no reason to go around banning anything. I didn't see any reason to read any more than that into it. He was reassuring any alarmists out there that nothing needs to be done at the level of admin-level censorship. Note: we can already downvote whatever we want! sigh The request is not to "unquestioningly reword posts". The request is to be considerate, and if everybody is telling you over and over that you're not being considerate and you still don't get it, then maybe you should just realize you have a problem and make suggested edits. We're not on some "slippery slope". We're not wielding banhammers or introducing official censors. There are no nazis with dogs dragging you out in the middle of the night. Eliezer just made a request that people make a genuine effort to be nice where possible, and let's not get into any affective death spirals.
1SilasBarta12yYes, the "hinting" was in reference to the specific level of -5, not the downvoting as such. -5 is the threshold for hiding from view, and shifts the comment to the bottom in the absence of (rarely used) changes in preferences. Geez. But we aren't officially encouraged to do it en masse on specific -- to become less specific -- topics! People are ALREADY being considerate, and this topic is NOT in reference to people who are being told by many that they are inconsiderate, but rather, being told by one person, Alicorn. The question, then, is whether to elevate this specific concern to something of an endorsed downvote policy, because hey, Alicorn might be representative of all women, please ignore the immense success of PUAs. If that's all you got out of it, let me remind you that policy debates should not appear one-sided, and politics is the mind-killer.
4thomblake12yThat's not true at all. If you think Alicorn was the only person bothered by this, then you haven't been paying attention to the discussion - lots of other people have weighed in on it. I was going to say something before she did, and for reference, I'm not a woman. I don't think this is just about driving women away from the site, because the issue was in danger of driving me away from the site as well.
4HughRistik12yCould you or someone else cite some specific examples of where discussion of pickup has brought things off track, and explain why this is worse than any other tangents we have here?

I find it virtually impossible to be offended by anything. The very concept of 'being offended' seems to indicate something of an ego-blow, or a status-puncture.

7Psychohistorian12yI strongly agree. Being "offensive" reflects poorly on the speaker, not me. Why should I get upset if someone else is stupid or holds beliefs I vehemently disagree with? Isn't that their problem?
5Bo10201012yI thought this until I encountered a jerk cop in the middle of the night. I was driving home on a basically deserted road, and he pulled me over and asked me whether I'd been drinking (which I've never done in my life), if I knew how fast I was going (yes, 10 under the speed limit), why I was following that other car so closely (what car? Almost nobody is out at 2 AM). I made a really dumb comment asking if he'd pulled over the right car, and then he gave me a ticket for tailgating (I guess his radar wouldn't have supported a speeding ticket?). I was mad (and felt powerless), but not offended. I got offended later when my friend behind me was also stopped and searched for weapons. Being young, male, and out at night was evidently reason enough for a traffic stop, which struck me as an offense and abuse of power. I learned a lesson, though - making a sarcastic jab does not win you more points in life. I stop to think before saying something when emotions run high.
3Emily12yI think perhaps there's a bit of a difference between "being offended" and "finding something offensive". "Being offended", to me, implies taking something personally as an insult or something of the kind -- as you say, an ego-blow. Being offended is pretty counterproductive, because if the other person meant to offend you, they've got exactly what they wanted, and if they didn't, your offended reaction will probably just upset them and not cause any useful change to their accidentally-offensive behaviour. Finding something offensive, though, is not necessarily counterproductive at all. If you find something offensive, you don't take it as a personal insult or ego-blow, but you point out calmly and politely why they other person's behaviour is alienating or unpleasant or potentially insulting or whatever the actual problem with it is. Maybe my labels for the two reactions are wrong, but this is how I think of it, anyway. I (would like to?) think I'm very seldom offended. But I point out when I find things offensive quite a bit more often.
1Alicorn12yThank you; this is much more eloquently put than I could have done. I am typically not offended, but I often find things offensive.

While this doesn't confuse me, I do find it confusing.

9pjeby12yWhile I don't find this amusing, it does amuse me. ;-)
6Jack12yFunny enough I just saw this comment in the recent comments section without reading any of the context. I took your comment to imply exactly the sort of distinction Emily explained. I figured that you were replying to to a comment which you managed to decipher despite it being from objectively confusing (equivocating, poor word choice, grammatically wrong etc.)
1eirenicon12yI tried to think of situations where this apparent rule does not apply. While this doesn't include me, I do find it inclusive. While this doesn't coerce me, I do find it coercive. While this doesn't illustrate me, I do find it illustrative. While this doesn't detect me, I do find it detective?

There have already been explicit bans on topics. In the early days of Less Wrong, there were bans on discussing the Singularity and artificial intelligence, for fear that without such a ban the conversations about these topics would overwhelm the fledgling site and create an undesireable skewed tone. The ban was lifted after a certain amount of time, when the tone was supposedly established.

If pickup artist discussion is creating a tone that is skewed in ways we don't like, it is not without precedent and not in opposition to rationality to end it.

I suspect that the ick reaction being labeled "objectification" actually has more to do with the sense that the speaker is addressing a closed group that doesn't include you.

(Note) This is veering off the gender topic and into the objectification topic.

Objectification holds more problems than exclusivity. I remember someone once walking past me with a book titled "How to Win Friends and Influence People". Apparently this book is extremely popular and one I never bothered to read, but I remember thinking that if you view friends as ... (read more)

Ironically, the book's advice is essentially to evoke in yourself genuine interest in what others have to say. You have to abandon the objectifying mindset to achieve the objective.

I remember thinking that if you view friends as something to "win" you are already on the wrong track.

The book was written two generations ago; "win friends" is just a semi-antiquated figure of speech. If it were written today, it would probably be called something like, "How To Make Friends And Network Effectively". Well, actually, it'd probably be called something a lot catchier, but you get my meaning, I hope. Language changes.

1MrHen12yGood to know, thanks.
5Psychohistorian12yThis is rather ironic, since the central message of that book is "be a genuinely nice and friendly person;" I have never heard it critcized as manipulative by anyone who actually read it.

The meaning of the communication is the response you get, ... By omitting the intended response from the discussion, it is you who are distorting the communication.

No, by casually equating means ("give orders") with ends ("a woman who feels she is with a confident man who knows what he wants") -- an equation you just now revealed you are using! -- it's you who's distorting communication.

So, why does it then surprise you if women feel excluded, when you are systematically excluding their goals and values from the discussion?

No, I'... (read more)

Just because your objection parallels my comment in form doesn't automatically make its content a correct refutation; and someone other than me has warned you that the tactic doesn't serve you particularly well.

Do you or do you not agree that "think of her as a child" involves changing your mental state, while "show cleavage and arch your back" does not?

Your reply above directs attention away from this difference and toward the supposed "history of success" of the first form of advice.

This is shifting the goalposts, if your in... (read more)

2SilasBarta11yI'm aware of how people get angry when their own argument methods are turned around and force them to think critically about the basis for their own beliefs -- though I don't think that's happening in your case. (The anger on your part isn't happening, I mean -- I do believe you are reflecting critically on your own beliefs, or at least are making a genuine effort.) The point of me mimicking your form was not to be cute (although that was a neat side effect), but rather, to show that a simple reframing of the issue -- by highlighting different salient aspects -- would reverse the "obvious" answer to your question. You claim advice about body posture to be benign, while believing false, offensive things is obviously bad by comparison. (The latter is a strawman of course: the advice is to, like an actor, go into a different mindset in order to have a generating function for your actions, which turns out to be preferable by the "target" of it. The advice is not to believe that adult women are disobedient children as if it were some more objective or universal aspect of reality.) Of course I agree, but this is a poor metric. Isn't it more important what the advice causes in the other party's mind? If "think of her as a child" generates actions, on my part, that the woman deems preferable, what does it matter that my mental state is changed? If a woman uses attire and posture that causes me to "think below the waist", isn't the impact on my mental state more important -- because of the diminishing of informed consent [1] -- than the impact on the woman's mental state? Because, as explained above, it's not apparent how that's a relevant metric or difference. If the advice actually benefits women, that should negate any objectionability of the advice that is grounded on harm to women. Failure to speak frankly about the commonality of the kind of woman benefitting, while instead giving full weight to the supposedly-universal preferences of the most vocal feminists ..

More explicit:

[What you were talking about] is a good way to teach it, even though it is somewhat of a lie (similar to teaching Newtonian physics). It usually isn't healthy to teach about [the other part of the asshole equation that is glossed over by that approach,] that things that are actually perceived as a negative quality by women can also give desired results to men.

There are two messages to convey:

  • Some things you (naive guys) think will be a bad experience for women are actually a good experience, healthy for them and perceived as desirable.
... (read more)

But I already agreed from the beginning that "how-to"s should be off-limits! So that's not a relevant test.

The question here is whether the cognitive bias issues related to male/female attraction (which could potentially inform someone wanting to increase attraction in others) are disproportionately stigmatized when they talk about female biases (which matches society's general tendency to let women be overt about effective ways to attact men beyond their natural beauty, but not men to attract women beyond their "natural" status).

Peopl... (read more)

4JGWeissman11yFine. Then write an article about PUA that is not a how-to, presenting the biases involved as something women should be aware of when they are approached by men, and see if that is still offensive. The point is to make a real comparison, to hold both sides of this issue, men manipulating women and women manipulating men, to the same standard. I am still not convinced there is any evidence for your suspicion. Everything you presented has been an apples and oranges comparison. The only data I have seen about an actually analagous pair of discussions is that no offense was produced in either case. I consider it rude and a distraction from the object level discussion that you are questioning my motivation.
2SilasBarta11yI guess I should have said more from the beginning: any detailed article about the bias will be usable as a how-to, by a sufficiently intelligent person. So why bother with the distinction, then? It's an issue of tone and etiquette. "Men are attracted to X for evolutionary reasons" is preferable to "Use X -- your ability to manipulate men will improve", even though the former is informative about the latter. So I think that for me to write a sufficiently elaborate article like the one you've described will provoke outrage, no matter how refined the tone. And I consider that a proper test, but I reject the constraint that the article have a deliberate focus on "this is evil, here's how to protect yourself". Attractiveness in women has effects on men's minds; must any discussion of make-up be prefaced with "make-up is evil, here's how to identify a woman's 'beauty-invariants'"? This just shows me the extent to which the bias I warn about is present in you, and why my allegation seems to bother you so much. "Manipulation" is a really big category, and we need to be talking about which kinds of manipulation are unethical and which aren't. The use of the term "manipulation" is followed up with an implicit standard of "behavior-altering actions I don't like", which are labeled "manipulation", while the ones you don't like "aren't manipulation because I like them". Make-up, hairstyles, bras, etc. are forms of manipulation. Why are those acceptable, but not e.g. "negging"? That's something you have to prove, not just assume. So when I see you automatically attach all kinds of negative features to bias discussions involving PUA, in order to count that as a fair comparison, that looks to me like you're trying to sneak in your own arguments by use of definition. And therefore counts as the very evidence of disparate treatment I warned about. I consider it rude that you ignore my substantiation of that suspicion, and a distraction from the discussion that we should be havi
4Morendil11yBecause women make no bones telling men they're wearing make-up, or had their hair styled, but for a PUA to explain that they are using "negs" specifically to deflate a good-looking woman's ego would ruin the effect. This is a case of the general hypothesis [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/1v9g] "manipulation is the use of techniques that wouldn't work if their targets knew about them". An interesting intermediate case is the padded bra: this is deceptive, hence arguably manipulative, and I would predict with some confidence that both women and men would look askance at the practice (and that they'd both consider padded shoulders somewhat lame), while a purely decorative bra is OK.
1wedrifid11yThe bra is one of the best inventions of all time. I encourage women (and I suppose males that way inclined) to make use of the technology to whatever extent pleases them or suits their purposes. Even more so if that purpose happens to include attracting me. I note, however, that for the purposes of this data point the supporting influence seems to be more important than the enlarging. My attitude to all other forms of manipulation is similar. I like people influencing me in a way that is beneficial to me and have a strong aversion to people attempting to influence me in a way that is detrimental to me. My hypothesis: manipulation works even when the target knows about them. This applies to negs and most other manipulation effects, particularly those that relate to attraction. Attraction isn't a conscious choice and conscious awareness of the process makes little difference.
1SilasBarta11y(That downmod wasn't me; I recognize when my objectivity on a thread for purposes of modding is compromised.) Well, actually, women will deny or refuse to talk about a lot of these. How many women actually tell men how much makeup they have on? How much "assistance" their bust has gotten? (ETA: I actually remember an ad campaign, possibly still going on, that encouraged women to lie about their age, because of the effectiveness of the makeup. It was actually phrased in terms of "Don't like about your age -- defy it!", accompanied by a scene with a woman getting away with lying about her age.) Also, I'm not sure your claim about negging is as obvious as you suspect. For one thing, how do you differentiate it, morally, from any kind of teasing? Or the negging that naturals do automatically without even knowing the term or the psychological dynamics of it? That's interesting. But while you're wringing your hands about this or that practice, the rest of the world has moved passed this debate and doesn't adhere to any kind of standard code on those issues. And women are still sleeping with, dating, and marrying those who use PUA techniques, whether they come naturally or not. (Maybe that makes them all rape victims? Who knows?) And these women and men are making more copies of themselves. I guess I should get back to the hand-wringing ...

I meant the former. Instances of objectification that, if described, sound like what has been described in certain threads. I have most certainly not been affected by the discussions on this site itself. I am not so thin-skinned as to feel objectified by words on a screen.

You claimed that the scene was only intended to reveal a fact about just one (presumably ultra-unique) character

No. I claimed that the scene is revealing of Elle's character and is not revealing of her entire gender. The very same movie, not to mention movies in general, contain other female characters who do not share her Cosmopolitan-topic obsession (the female professor; the rival; the woman she gives the magazine to); Legally Blonde also includes a horde of sorority sisters who are portrayed as being inch-deep replicas of Elle in everything except... (read more)

Every non-Alicorn commenter "bothered" by it was only bothered because Alicorn claimed to be

You're not listening. I was going to say something before Alicorn did. I was bothered.

What. The. Hell.

There have been a lot of comments lately about "feminists like Alicorn" and frankly based on my number of contributions to the conversation it would make a lot more sense to be talking about "feminists like thomblake".

If the women's magazine's cited by pjeby are representative -- and they are

Part of my day job is looking at e... (read more)

which was an attempt to illustrate the dangers of allowing your thought process to be driven by your emotions

Wow. That post was particularly hard to read, but somehow I got the impression it was about quite the opposite.

Emotions are powerful tools, and should not be undervalued.

2pjeby12yIt said that your emotions control your thought process. It didn't say that was a good thing, it said it was a fact. Nor are they to be used inappropriately. Negative emotions in lasting doses are likely harmful to your health, as well as to your rationality. Depressed people aren't thinking rationally.

I see here three different concepts to track:

  1. The literal thing the PUA's say.
  2. What the PUA's actually mean.
  3. What is actually effective.

It seems the Silas and PJ both think that 2 and 3 are the same or very close (the PUA's are right), but they disagree on what that is.

So I don't think PJ is trying to tell Silas to say the thing Silas believes 2 and 3 are in a different way, so much as disagreeing with Silas about what 2 and 3 are. It is a challenge to Silas' assertion that the thing PUA's say that provokes offense is actually right.

3pjeby11yActually, I'd say the four things to track (and this is actually simplifying a bit) are: 1. What the PUA's say, 2. The specific behaviors meant, and 3. Women's positive description of what perceiving those behaviors "feels like from the inside" 4. What's actually "effective", for some set of goals Silas claims that #1 is "the truth" and #3 is "uninformative politician-speak". I claim that omitting #3 from the discussion is (rightly) perceived as exclusionary and is therefore not a good idea. AFAICT, we both agree that #3 is insufficient information for a man to understand #2 without #1, but Silas appears to claim that #3 is actively misleading and contradictory, as well as unnecessary. I dispute this claim, however, since I found #3 to be of vital importance in translating #1 into #2, as well as being polite to include in a conversation for a general audience. Of course, there is still the possibility that we actually disagree on #2 -- in particular, it may be that Silas is correct in saying that #3 is misleading relative to his perception of #2. (In which case, I think he has a mistaken understanding relative to #4 -- or at least, the version of #4 that relates to my goals for relationships.) Whew. Complicated enough for you yet? ;-) To the extent Silas and I disagree wrt goals for #4, or what's actually meant by #2, the discussion is likely to be incoherent, so I suspect that may be the real problem. I've been attributing this incoherence to Silas being blinded by his emotions about the topic, but it's certainly possible that it's due to something else, such as a deeper disagreement on some premise we think we agree on.
2JGWeissman11yThis is an interesting point. I think that a factor in whether or not a discussion of the venusian arts is perceived as offensive, is whether the goals it claims (or is perceived) to achieve aligns with the goals of the target. The inclusion of your #3, while being inclusive in its own right, also serves to signal the alignment of goals.
0wnoise11yI suppose the proper adjective "venereal" has been too tainted by association with disease for anything but giggle-worthy use.
2JGWeissman11yMy use of "venusian arts" was adopting PJEby's vocabulary first? used here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/1vpa]. Yeah, I think it is good to stay away from the connotations of "venereal".
0Good_Burning_Plastic4yOTOH "venusian" sounds like it's about the planet.
1wedrifid11yI add: 1. The thing Silas means. 2. The thing PJ tells Silas he means. I claim: * The scope of things that PUAs actually mean is large. There is (necessarily) a lot of depth to the field. * The nuances of what is actually effective is large. There are many dynamics at play. Many actions that give results for many different reasons. * The scope of pjeby's model is far smaller and far more idealized than that of either all PUAs or reality. * In the context under contention Silas referred to advice that PUAs actually mean that is not fully represented by pjeby's idealized model. * What Silas is trying to tell PJ is that he doesn't wish to confine his expression to the set of expressions in pjeby offers, because he is referring to PUA advice and or elements of reality that pjeby's model neglects. * Getting to any real disagreement on the immediate topic would require pjeby to acknowledge the actual claim made by Silas. * If I were Silas I would not hold my breath.

It also doesn't quantise just how 'often' the obedience is given to that proportion, what the exact scope of commands over which such obedience is granted, what measures of age and or maturity allow the designation 'adult', which group of adults are those doing the obeying and what level of obsequiousness is expected during compliance.

Hopefully what were clear were the assertions:

  • Obedience of the kind described is in fact expected of adults at times.
  • Having this expectation has a clear influence on sexual attraction.

then they are acting, by intent, as paedophiles

It's a good thing the English language has a milder word for the milder fallacy: "paternalism". It's still a fallacy, though.

OK, we're at least getting closer to something concrete:

  • do you think neither of the above is about changing your mind
  • do you think both of the above are about changing your mind
  • do you think the polarities are opposite to the ones I'm assuming?

It seems to me that "think of her as a child" is objectionable for the same reason that "think of the moon as being made of green cheese" would be: the proposition in question is false.

Whereas showing cleavage and arching your back have no comparable epistemic content. There is no "true s... (read more)

3wedrifid11yIn the grandparent here I merely allude to the claim that humans cannot change their body language, particularly sexual body language without it being about changing their mental state. Body and mind are just too linked, such that advice about 'thoughts' is often intended to work by changing posture and vise versa. But this is tangential and not related to the actual disagreement I have with your argument. See earlier reply [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/1vrm]. You misunderstand the suggestion. Replace 'think' with 'treat her as though' (and don't leave out the 'disobedient' in either case) and I would expect the same (or a worse) reaction even though it completely avoids your technical epistemic objection. ETA: I deleted the grandparent before Morendil replied. Not because I don't support it but because I decided it would just be distracting. It was. ;)
3Morendil11y"Treat her as if she were a disobedient child" still strikes me as predictably objectionable, because the statement is being made about an adult woman, which should screen off obedience being an issue; obedience isn't expected of adults. The specific bit of PUA advice we're discussing here amounts to paternalism. Showing cleavage doesn't. This is why people - men and women - object to the former more readily than to the latter. (Some men may approve of paternalism, but they are just wrong.) What's so outlandish about all that?
1wedrifid11yI don't reject 'all that'. I did rejected a specific straw man [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/1voi] you presented for the reasons I have already mentioned and. I don't feel obliged to suggest that your claims here are outlandish since I am not particularly opposed to your overall position. That is, I think both you and Silas have valid points but I would not support either position as they stand, preferring a different emphasis (and a whole heap less moral judgement). (Allow me to engage in the obedience/paternalism subject in a different comment, since that moves us to a somewhat different claim, where the lines are not already drawn in the sand.)
2HughRistik11yThis is my view also. I agree with practically all your commentary on their discussion.

That's fictional evidence-- that is, not evidence at all.

It's not evidence but it is a good illustration that helps point people to intuitive understanding that they already have.

That's fictional evidence-- that is, not evidence at all.

The person who wrote that was pointing to the fiction to give a point of common reference for his observation of the dynamics between men and women, not using the movie as his evidence.

The author's observation (and mine) was that women tend to lose respect (and thus attraction) for a man who they can talk into delaying or abandoning things the man says are important to him. The movie version is just that idea writ large.

if done skillfully

That's the part that's really hard to communicate in a soundbite, or really to communicate verbally at all.

1wedrifid11yEspecially since 'do exactly the same thing but be two inches taller' can completely change the outcome. Sometimes it is best to just suggest 'err to the other side to what you are used to'. That makes the difference between what works and what doesn't much easier to spot so the countless subtle differences in context can be learned more readily.

Well, it wasn't clear to me -- especially since that would make it equivalent to men's false declarations of love or resources to get sex...

I agree about the equivalence.

And in both cases, the behavior is looked down on by society.

I suggest that the 'false declaration of love to get sex' is frowned upon far more than 'false hint of sex to get resources'. The treatment of the 'victim' in each case tends to be different too (the sympathy vs contempt balance is different).

I'm not sure which of Silas or your positions this claims supports since I'm not... (read more)

I'm wondering about this "taking charge" thing. Does it just apply when the woman isn't very sure about what she wants? Or also when the male overrides a clear desire of hers?

The main context it's discussed in is situations where no-one has expressed a strong preference. In the case of conflicting preferences, men are advised to be clear and non-deferential regarding their preferences, without necessarily "overriding" anything. The point is to show initiative and non-wishiwashiness, not to push people around.

What if the man take

... (read more)

Or also when the male overrides a clear desire of hers?

With trivial desires it probably applies. With significant desires not so much. The line between the two is probably fuzzy but has obvious extremes. How strongly the woman holds the desire matters too, I suppose. I don't know if I can say more without context: I don' t teach people how to be attractive so I'm not good at spelling all the intricacies out. I just know enough to make it work for me.

What if the man takes charge and turns out to be wrong about the outcome?

You'd have to be more specific but I suspect the outcome usually doesn't matter.

The evidence PJEby provides here seems to support symmetry in reactions to the two sorts of discussion.

Well, just like you can't update on hypothetical evidence, you can't claim your position is based on arguments you weren't even aware of until later.

I have updated my position, from suspecting symmetry as the default case, to having moderate strength belief that the symmetry holds, mostly as a result of Eby's description of the symmetry which is much better than I could have done at the start of this discussion. I am more interested in figuring out ... (read more)

On one hand, we have advice for male-to-female engagement that has a solid history of enhancing male attractiveness and which is enjoyed by females, and on the other hand we have advice that is about manipulating men's hardwired judgment mechanisms, thereby subverting their better long-term interests.

You've got this backwards. Manipulating a man's perception of attractiveness in order to secure short-term mating is in a man's (evolutionary) interest. Manipulating a woman's perception of attractiveness to secure short-term mating, on the other hand, is... (read more)

6HughRistik11ypjeby said: Nope, this is outdated. I'll try to return to it, but there are actually a lot of hypotheses that suggest that some types of short-term mating were adaptive for females. See the good genes hypothesis, sexy son hypothesis, and Hrdy's work on female choice. (Practically everything else you've said in this discussion is gold, btw, so I hope you'll forgive me for being brusque.)

And I'm frustrated by your refusal to assimilate the lessons of You are entitled to evidence, but not that particular proof.

That is a really weird response to my attempt to extract from your post a different sort of evidence than what I had been asking for.

I am willing to to consider arguments that the comparisons are reasonable. I have explained that I am willing to consider such evidence.

I do note, however, that the side by side examples of both sorts of discussion in the same tone and style, both provoked no offense.

I asked to you to extrapolate ou

... (read more)

I was contemplating your post, and thinking that there's no concept in the culture for a woman who successfully manipulates men into having sex with her, though there are concepts around "slut" for having a lot of partners. Or more partners than the speaker approves of.

"Manipulative bitch" would be generally be for a woman who gets men to spend more resources on her than is approved of. I don't think the women other than his wife that Tiger Woods had sex with would be considered manipulative.

4wedrifid11ySeductress? And what is the label used for women who sleep with married men? Something about 'family destroyer', I don't recall exactly. The difference seems to go along with the trend of 'sex for resources' in sexual relations. It is low status to be a female who gives sex for little return in resources while it is low status to be a male who gives resources without getting the sex that he desires. At the other side of the trade the 'player' and 'manipulative bitch' are of neutral or high status but also 'bad' and subject to intended social sanction by the one doing the labelling.
7cupholder11yHomewrecker? [http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=homewrecker] (I am not at all surprised that this has 4 pages of definitions on urbandictionary.)

Do you have the empirical data to back up your unqualified assertions?

I gave some: Google never returns more than 1000 hits. Therefore estimates orders of magnitude above 1000 (as in the case at hand) cannot be tested by looking at the actual number of hits returned: the two numbers have nothing to do with each other.

I do not know how accurate the estimates are, but a factor of several seems to be about right, as in the test you just made. I have also seen anomalies such as a search for X giving an estimate lower than for a search of X and Y, but never by orders of magnitude, that I've noticed.


2RobinZ11yI don't see why SilasBarta could not have merely said "female romantic biases". We don't talk about "useful halo effects", after all. The extra modifier only makes sense if you assume the audience wants to pick up women. Edit: The above is apparently mistaken - SilasBarta's correction [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/1vml?context=1#1vml] .
1wedrifid11yI wouldn't have used 'biases' either. That framing gives the wrong implications about where the actual 'bias' lays, conveying the impression that for some reason female attraction 'should' conform to some other ideal. I am more inclined to look at the bias that propagates the ideal.
3SilasBarta11yGood point also. "Bias" should be reserved for predictable deviations from accurate estimates, while the concept doesn't carry over here neatly. There are certainly biases in the sense that "negging you is not evidence that he's higher status", but then, women are not more "correct" for wanting high-status men, nor is it quite accurate to say that women consciously pursue status, which is only as true as saying "men want to spread their genes". Rather, evolution formed women's minds with preferences that are imperfect detectors of status. A woman may thus only want an "attractive man [that I have a bond with]", even knowing that the attractiveness is just an artifact of long-invalid built-in heuristics. (Just as men may merely want an "attractive woman", even though the judgment uses heuristics irrelevant to gene propagation in the present day).
0HughRistik11yI agree. I don't accept "biased" as a meaningful modifier to female subjective perceptions of male attractiveness. At most, bias could be ascribed to female perception about facts about men that might influence their perceptions of male attractiveness.
3SilasBarta11yAlright, that sounds creepy/sleazy/demeaning. Fair point. Let me explain why I chose that term: Like I said before, accurate discussions of biases can be transformed, by an intelligent person, into strategies to take advantage of others. This is sad, but it's the price you pay for accuracy. The harm is, however, substantially mitigated by the theory/practice gap that exists even for good theories. I could have said, less creepishly, "accurate female romantic biases", and that was my first choice, but it doesn't really capture what I'm referring to: no one objects to e.g., "women like gifts", but it's not very insightful into female psychology. What I want to refer to is the kind of things that are politically-incorrect to talk about, but are actually true and do reflect the functioning of female psychology. So I probably should have said, "real, female romantic biases that are taboo to talk about", but shortened it to "useful". In retrospect, that was unwise.
2RobinZ11yOh! You meant "important"! I fear I have done you a disservice.
2SilasBarta11yThanks, but I'm not sure "important" does it either. It is likewise important that women are often revealed to be biased estimators of the commitment of fathers they're not married to, but it is the psychological basis of the misjudgment I'm referring to, not its empirical regularity. In any case, don't let it bother you; any poor phrasing is my fault alone.


A man and a woman meet in a bar. The man is attracted to her clear complexion and firm breasts, which would have been fertility cues in the ancestral environment, but which in this case result from makeup and a bra. This does not bother the man; he just likes the way she looks.

I think that the best heuristic is to look for bottom-lining. Have you decided on what you want to convince her of before you have determined what evidence you will selectively show her to bring her to that conclusion? If so, you might be practicing dark side epistemology.

While that sounds nice in theory, it's not realistic. In all human interaction people try to present their best attributes first. This is normal and generally harmless. In fact, most people would find it quite odd if when someone introduced themselves they instantly revealed their majo... (read more)

3Cyan11yDark Side Epistemology [http://lesswrong.com/lw/uy/dark_side_epistemology/] is something you do to yourself; the Dark Arts [http://lesswrong.com/lw/62/defense_against_the_dark_arts_case_study_1/] are methods you use on other people (or they use 'em on you). Unfortunately, the names are similar enough and human memory is buggy enough that it's a name collision for most people.
4ata11yThat's why it was renamed anti-epistemology [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Anti-epistemology].
1Cyan11yAlas, the damage is done. Too bad we can't just update a DNS server-equivalent and have the change propagate to everybody's brains.

What leads you to make this prediction?

All three situations are roughly equivalent, in that someone is offered something that they are currently primed to accept for some reason, but that they would reject normally in a typical mental state.

Many people seem to consider this ethically dubious, especially when the one offering has participated in priming the offeree to be receptive.

1pjeby12ySex, dessert, and cigarettes are "roughly equivalent"? Remind me not to come over to your house for dinner. ;-) Edit to add: Wow, some people have no sense of humor. Or at least were unable to see past the humor to the actual point. That is, that it stretches the analogy too far to equate "emotionally complicated" and "fattening" with a dependency-forming drug that will then proceed to give you cancer and kill you. Bit of a negative applause light, eh?

Unfortunately, I expect this sort of thing to be difficult to deliberately test an individual on, because if someone goes in knowing what's being tested, or figures it out from the test, it's going to alter the results beyond use. Self-testing may not be possible at all.

I recall having read about blind studies being done on related topics but, alas, I am terrible about keeping organized links to such things.

I will just shortly pick up the pick up artist part of the article. I'm wondering whether there is any useful understanding about human cognition to understand - and whether that lesson is more gender neutral than people seem to believe.

I have a hypothesis that many of the things advocated by pick up artists work towards both sexes and that one of the primary issues is human as hierarchical and social animal and the allure of those above your perceived status.

Do we give different weights to opinion depending on the status of the one saying things? How much does this affect our rationality?

I heard you make an all-too-convenient claim about what you were, like, totally about to do before Alicorn jumped in and make the exact feminist claim that you were going to make

I sent thomblake a draft of "Sayeth the Girl" before I posted it and he offered to post something to the same effect in my place because he thought I would get more heat for it than he would.

I submit that the movie "Legally Blonde" is also not compelling evidence of how women think. I have no idea how to read that suggestion charitably.

2SilasBarta12ySo, one of the most-read women's magazines isn't suggestive of how women think, a major high-grossing film that describes Cosmo as "the Bible" and expects viewers to get the joke isn't suggestive of how women think, the success of PUAs isn't suggestive of how women think. Now, stuff that agrees with thomblake's noble defense of Alicorn ... that is the real evidence. Oh, and to the downmod squad: check out this comment [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/ylh] before you view me as just another bad guy on the other team worthy of lower karma. Any of you confessed that much with your name on it?
4Z_M_Davis12yI agree that Cosmopolitan knows a lot about how many women think, but this isn't the same thing as Cosmo being representative of women-in-full-generality. The qualifier really does seem important here. Compare: Sports Illustrated or Esquire know a lot about how many men think, but (I submit) we wouldn't want to say that these publications represent men-in-general. I mean, I would bet that most of the men here given their choice would rather read, oh, let's say, IEEE Spectrum. Considering that the linked comment presently has 9 points, I wouldn't rule out the hypothesis that your comments are largely being voted on by their perceived individual merit, rather than an aspersion cast upon everything you write as the words of a "bad guy."
2SilasBarta12yIt isn't necessary for the latter claim to be true to make my point. (See below) Let's go over this again: 1) Alicorn claimed that viewing women as something to "get" once you achieve a certain status, is objectifying and thus obviously beyond the pale. Not some idiosyncratic preference on her part, but something we really need to discourage, wherever it occurs. 2) Cosmo was brought up to show that, no, clearly women generally don't find it beyond the pale to think of other humans in exactly these terms. Even if Alicorn is bothered, it is therefore not the case that women agree with her, and this language is therefore not something we should worry about in terms of scaring away women. 3) Alicorn and thomblake go to herculean efforts to downplay the relevance of such an obscure, poorly-regarded publication as Cosmo. Now, your turn: 4) You say there's a difference between the kind of woman who reads Cosmo and the kind who reads (???), just as there's a difference between the kind of guy who reads Esquire vs. the guy who reads IEEE Spectrum. Now for the hard part! For this comparison to make any point in your favor, you need to show how there's a kind of language used in Sports Illustrated, etc., that most men here consider beyond the pale in its offensiveness, no matter who uses it. Can you do it? No? Then you don't have a point. Look again: the downmods are concentrated in this thread. Why do all my good posts just happen to fall in the other thread and accumulate upmods gradually, while the bad ones fall in this thread -- and get modded minutes after they're made. Oh, and go on up/down rollercoasters, apparently being defended by some people trying to restore sanity. While again, the other thread has no such rollercoaster effect. I avoid modding commenters in exchanges I'm directly involved in. I guess not everyone has that kind of restraint? (Alicorn, this is where you learn the dangers of unilateral disarmament.)
8Z_M_Davis12yWhile it's true that I probably can't find an example of something most men here would find "beyond-the-pale offensive," I don't agree that that's the correct standard to apply here. If I'm reading you correctly, you're saying that Cosmo is evidence that Alicorn's reactions are not gender-typical, and that therefore the fact that Alicorn was offended by some behavior, doesn't tell us that that behavior discourages potential female users. But the fact that P(Cosmo -reader|female)!=P(female|Cosmo-reader) does seem relevant here, because honestly, Less Wrong's potential female user base is probably not primarily composed of the type of women who read Cosmo; probably, it's primarily composed of women like Alicorn. We really are drawing from the tails here. I made an analogy: I said that mainstream women's magazines aren't representative of the women here, just as men's magazines aren't representative of the men here, and you seem to be pointing out that the analogy isn't perfectly symmetrical, saying that there's nothing in the mainstream men's magazines that would offend a majority of the men here to such a degree as Alicorn was offended by what she perceived as objectification, which you are saying is condoned by mainstream women's magazines. Well, I agree that the situation isn't perfectly symmetrical: gender issues are never perfectly symmetrical. But the analogy still seemed worth making. For what it's worth, I'm male, and I'm frequently offended or annoyed by mainstream men's culture claiming to represent the interests of men-in-general, when they certainly don't represent me.
3thomblake12yQuite a number of people already here agreed that the language was bothersome. How many people need to agree before it's a problem? It seems that we've already had a long enough discussion about it to establish that it's a volatile issue here already.
4Alicorn12yIt's not an uncommon practice to refer to this or that book or publication as "the Bible of X". The fact that Elle thinks Cosmo is the Bible of things relevant to her life is revealing of her character, not her gender.
1SilasBarta12yOkay, so now your position is that the makers of Legally Blonde were trying to portray Elle as a member of a tiny, outlier subculture that regards Cosmo as authoritative. And therefore expected the audience to laugh about "hah, that strange, tiny subculture that revolves around Cosmo!" rather than, "heh, women sure do depend on Cosmo a lot!" :-/ Like any bad lie, your position has forced you into defending ever-more-absurd positions entangled with it. Please reconsider.
4pjeby12yThis does seem a bit out of line to me. I dropped the whole Cosmo issue when Alicorn made it clear that she considers "getting" a man to be equally objectifying language. I'd sure hate to be on the receiving end of somebody browbeating me about Sports Illustrated being evidence of how men act, if it was something I personally considered reprehensible. Of course, in that case, I'd also happily admit that my disagreement with Sports Illustrated might put me in an atypical minority among men, and that therefore I might not be reliably considered to speak for my the majority of my gender in the matter. I might be able to claim to be more representative of male rationalists on Less Wrong (ha!) except for the fact that we're actually more different than similar... as are the female rationalists here, who've weighed in with a variety of opinions that are even more diverse than the male opinions, AFAICT. (Or at least, opinions that are less equivocal than the male ones.) All of which tends to support the contention that the only way to be considerate towards rationalists is on an individual basis. Heck, the male rationalists here have occasionally been at each other's throats about what constitutes appropriate courtesy for charitable interpretations of each others' theses. Rationalists, it seems, are a diverse lot, and respect has to go both ways. So it's probably better not to be the one who's escalating things.
3Alicorn12yYour first paragraph was merely presumptive, false, and ignorant. Your second was also accusatory and rude. Please reconsider. Edit: To go into more detail in case the above statements are not immediately obvious. I didn't say tiny. I didn't say outlier. I didn't even say subculture. The people who worked on Legally Blonde portrayed Elle as an individual woman who spends a great deal of time on the sorts of things Cosmopolitan is known to write about. She therefore refers to as Cosmopolitan as "the Bible", in much the same sense a cook might call The Joy of Cooking "their Bible". I think they're supposed to go, "ha ha, look at this wacky, silly, caricatured protagonist who thinks everything revolves around makeup and fashion and romance!" It's not clear if you think I have lied or just that I have said things that resemble lies. Still, such entanglement is not at all obvious to me, mostly because you made distant and unwarranted leaps from what I actually said to the funhouse mirror version of what I said.

The time at which this conversation stopped being useful (in my estimation) was about 20 comments ago. For all my progress in self awareness I am sometimes slow to remember my policy of non-engagement in dynamics I don't consider desirable. But eventually I remember. ;)

1pjeby11yISTM that it's a bit rude to lob an accusation of motivated ignorance, then decline to answer a request for information. Despite your accusation, I am indeed genuinely curious regarding how it is that you think I've misstated Silas's claims, since if I actually have, it is due to misunderstanding them -- and resolving that misunderstanding would be helpful in wrapping up the thread.
0Vladimir_Nesov11yPoor performance doesn't imply bad motives (and dually).

The advice "give orders" and applies even independently of knowing what you want.

If you don't know the desired end result, how can you possibly modulate your "giving orders" in a way that will produce that result, vs. another way that will produce the result of "creepy", "bossy", "socially inept", etc.? Merely saying to "give orders" without any indication of what you're trying to accomplish doesn't strike me as particularly informative.

If someone had told me to "give orders" without... (read more)

I do hear "treat her like your bratty little sister" sometimes. In other words, her point of view isn't relevant-- it's a power relationship.

Is that how you treat your bratty little sister?

The dynamic actually being referred to is a loving relationship where neither party takes the other too seriously, and where "big bro" is expected to look out for and protect "little sis", including at times possibly taking more care for her safety or long-term goals than she is, while not being moved by the occasional pout or tantru... (read more)

1NancyLebovitz11yI'm an older sister. My sister wasn't a brat, and I wasn't a bully. I did take a little advantage on housework, and I think she's still angry about it. However, I never tried to break down her self-respect. How flexible is the "bratty little sister" model for coverinig situations where the sister is right?
8pjeby11yWhat does bullying have to do with it? I've never seen anyone advocate breaking down a woman's self-respect, so I'm not clear on the relevance here either. Brothers and sisters can disagree, can they not? Sister isn't required to agree with brother, nor vice versa. Think of it this way: right now, you appear to think that the problem is that if the guy pushes one way, then she has to go along with that. Now, reverse the model: pretend that if she pushes one way, the guy has to go along with that. That's the mental model most men (AFC's or Average Frustrated Chumps in PUA lingo) have about relationships. By default, "nice guys" think they have to agree with everything a woman says. This is especially the case if the woman is attractive to them, and they really want her to like him. You might not think this is most men's model... but that's because most men don't approach the women they're attracted to in the first place! And the ones that do, tend to get written off as unattractive or not relationship material, precisely because they're too eager to please, doing too much, "well, what do you want to do?", etc. PUA appears biased the other way, because it's trying to train AFCs that they need to actually have an opinion of their own, and be able to maintain that opinion even when a woman they're positively infatuated with disagrees. Unfortunately, availability bias on the part of women means that you are going to think men are already too far biased this way, because the majority of the ones who come and hit on you in the first place are towards the further end of the wimpy-nice-confident-aggressive-asshole spectrum. PUA training is aimed at moving people at the low end of that scale towards the middle, not the high end off the scale.
0HughRistik11yIn my view, there isn't enough explicitly stated material on how to detect when the sister is in the right in PUA materials; some of my own thought processes on this subject is shown here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/1vwt]. I do think that many experienced PUAs do figure out better intuition about when the sister is being genuinely bratty, whether she is deliberately testing him or simply displaying her natural personality, or if she has some other motive, such as displaying serious objections or resistance to how the interaction is proceeding that require him to adjust his approach or back off entirely. This process of adjusting one's behavior based on the woman's responses is called "calibration," and it is hard to teach through explicit description (which is why experienced PUAs often roll their eyes at how beginners go through phases of weird or otherwise undesirable behavior until they learn the correct calibration and how to interpret the teachings of the community). Some experienced PUAs will apologize to women if they judge that they have badly "miscalibrated."
1NancyLebovitz11yIt's nice to see that PUAs are working on this angle. It's cheering to think that paying attention to what you're doing leads to more benevolent behavior. And it's very interesting from an FAI angle that calibration isn't programmatic. I've been trying to work up convincing arguments that an FAI will have to do ongoing attention and updating in order to treat people well. For anyone who prefers equal relationships (and I've seen some happy marriages which look pretty equal), even the experienced PUAs have awful defaults (it takes experience to learn to apologize at all, only some PUAs do it, and it's only for bad mistakes), and it's scary to think about the men who haven't done that much work. I think one piece of it is a cultural problem (maybe hard-wired, but I hope not) of figuring out how to apologize without it having the effect of grovelling for either person.

For anyone who prefers equal relationships (and I've seen some happy marriages which look pretty equal), even the experienced PUAs have awful defaults (it takes experience to learn to apologize at all, only some PUAs do it, and it's only for bad mistakes), and it's scary to think about the men who haven't done that much work.

Yes, it takes newbie PUAs time to learn to recognize when they have made social errors, and to learn which errors are bad enough that they should apologize for. But in this regard, PUAs are just the same as everyone else. They are just learning these social lessons later in life, while most people learned them through their normal socialization in childhood and adolescence.

Trust me, PUAs don't want to be going through trial-and-error to learn during adulthood what everyone else learned during puberty, but it's really not their fault that they have to do this. The typical reasons that they have ended up in this situation is because they got locked out of a normal social development by exclusion, bullying, or abuse by peers or parents during their formative development.

Sociologist Brian Gilmartin did a study of men with debilitating shyness in heterosexual in... (read more)

0NancyLebovitz11yThis does make more sense out of PUA. Thank you for posting it. Where you're putting the emphasis on the end state, I'm seeing a description of men who are barely capable of apologizing at all. I gather PUA is especially for men who feel they ought to be apologizing all the time. Part of what's going on here is group loyalty issues. My defaults are the ill-effects on women of harassment and abuse, and yours are men who got pushed to the bottom of the hierarchy. From my point of view, you see women as just the material for you guys to learn on. You mention that the quotes from the article are the extreme end of what PUAs at the extreme end of what PUAs have experienced. Would you care to give me some idea of the range? One piece is something which I probably need to work on. It's very tempting for me to see a creepy guy as really creepy all the way down, so that what seems like more attractive behavior is just a ploy. I'm willing to bet that PUA generally can't be framed as trauma recovery because you believe (perhaps rightly) that a man can't do well socially while admitting to that sort of damage. I'm wondering if "normal" people need to do this much damage for the sake of their own functioning. Cruelty seems to be strongly reinforcing for a significant proportion of people. I came at it from fat acceptance, but it was rather a shock to realize that my native culture is meaner than hell.

I gather PUA is especially for men who feel they ought to be apologizing all the time.

Yes, exactly. This is probably the bit that causes the most problems -- women think PUA advocates that all the jerky guys who already bother them become even jerkier, when it's actually about getting nice guys to stop being apologetic for even existing within the perceptual range of a female.

I'm willing to bet that PUA generally can't be framed as trauma recovery because you believe (perhaps rightly) that a man can't do well socially while admitting to that sort of damage.

Right - men are shamed for not being able to deal with it, in the same way that you were shamed for being angry.

That being said, PUA is framed as recovery, to a certain extent, but with a more positive spin -- "it's not about getting women, it's about becoming better men" is a common saying among people who've spent a nontrivial amount of time interacting with their PUA peers, or who're involved in doing training.

It's very tempting for me to see a creepy guy as really creepy all the way down, so that what seems like more attractive behavior is just a ploy.

If you look at what PUA training products are for sal... (read more)

I mean that since the men are strongly motivated by their own benefit, they are not likely to be careful in evaluating the effects of their actions on women.

I'm not sure about censoring, but I'd be dubious about a discussion of teenagers which didn't include any input from them, or where the adults insisted that their interpretation of teenagers' experience was complete and correct no matter what teenagers said.

6SilasBarta11yI think you have it reversed. Men, by and large, in this day are conditioned to be overcautious about violating the (feminist-slanted) expectations of their behavior in regard to women. And they ponder, and they fret, and they wring their hands about whether they're crossing the numerous lines. And women are repulsed by it, and turned off by it, and regard them as low status for it. What you tend to see is the sliver of men not trapped in this mentality as being way, way overrepresented in the dating pool, for obvious reasons. Because a man who is careful about avoiding leaving any crack in a woman's fragile self-image ... well, who wants to date that kind of wuss?
2Punk11yBut this is not a bias. The word "bias" means a factual error. Cruel or other-harming behavior is not described by the word "bias". Unless you think that there is motivated cognition rather than explicit cruelty going on. But it seems that the effect of debate is to challenge bias, whereas the effect of censoring debate is to perpetuate it.
0NancyLebovitz11y"Motivated cognition" is what I meant. Bias [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bias] has more than one meaning, and factual error caused by preconceptions is closer to the the common meaning, I think. At this point, I'm not sure whether I've called for censorship. I've mostly been saying that PUA puts many women off for good reasons, it's not that women don't know their own interests as well as PUAs do.

Same here. But this is so context based I sort of doubt a bitter near-misogynist who just started reading attraction advice would be able to implement it correctly. In any case if this is the behavior that "order them around" recommends why not say "Women find it attractive when men can confidently joke and be ironic about traditional gender roles without worrying about being offensive." And then give examples of this behavior and explain the counter-signaling going on.

Yes, counter-signaling is fun.

When orders are given sincerely, they are usually more subtle:

  • Call me.
  • Come hang out with us on Friday.
  • Hold my umbrella for a sec? (the words are an order by the tonality is a question)
  • Would you hold my drink for a sec. (The words are a question but the tonality is an order)

The purpose of such orders is not to control the other person, it is to signal status.

Another use of orders (and other forms of dominance) is a reactive one, specifically reacting to "bad" or "naughty" female behavior. I put those words in quotes because perception of what is "bad" or "naughty" is somewhat subjective. Anyone experienced with young women (at least in Western culture) knows that some female personality types sometimes engage in behavior with men that could be considered "bratty" or "naughty," by the standard of general cultural norms. PUAs hypothesize that these women do so consciously or unconsciously as a "test."

What many people reading about PUA techniques (either critics or newbies) don't realize is that a lot of the more controversial techniques such as dominance and status tactics are ... (read more)

6Jack11yI really enjoy your writing on this subject, it's informative and ethically enlightened in a way that most discussion of such topics usually isn't. Returning to subject of my parent comment is there any reason this same advice couldn't be communicated with "use imperative sentences" instead of "order them around"? The former seems both less offensive and less likely to lead to students being controlling (in a way that is poorly calibrated, unattractive and ethically ambiguous). I feel like it's also worth noting that none of those examples are particularly unusual things to say. Among groups of platonic male heterosexuals of approximately equal status saying these things is totally routine and doesn't even imply gaming or hidden agendas. The only reason it is meaningful advice for men trying to be more attractive to women is that the default behavior of so many men around women is to put them on a pedestal and start supplicating and self-flagellating. So some feminists are upset that PUAs are telling men to "order women around" when really a lot of the advice actually consists just telling them to treat women like the equals they are (I've said it before, treating someone as an equal doesn't mean being super nice to them and deferring to them when possible). Part of this is probably feminists not looking at the actual advice closely enough, but I don't think I could blame someone for thinking "order them around" implies something more offensive than "Call Me" (Do PUAs actually use the word "orders"? I don't recall seeing it anywhere before this thread. The advice is familiar just not the wording.) In fact, playing a status game with someone isn't really the power play our language makes it out to be. A lot of time status games are just sort of skirmish played out between equals. The winner doesn't really come out with significantly higher status, all they really get is something like a tip of the hat from those around them. This why, again returning to platonic ma
1byrnema11yI agree. I think this element is what made the interaction mutually fun and attractive.
3byrnema11yIt would be helpful to have been there, to hear the tone throughout the exchange and observe your body language together, but I believe the interaction you describe seems familiar to me. I agree she was testing you, and the outcome of the test was positive as she indicated by the affectionate body language of touching your arm. However, my interpretation of the test is more straightforward -- I'd guess she was just seeking affirmation that you like spending time with her. I've often noticed that social norms (like modesty) are relaxed among women with men, especially if the context is flirtation. Also if she was testing you, she might have felt justified in relaxing the norm in order to get a more dependable test result. I wonder to what extent generally, in male hacking of female social interaction with them, they're coming up with the correct behaviors with the wrong theories behind them. I think I would find the "bad news" poke you gave -- which, funnily enough, is an aggression I would have incorrectly interpreted as provoked by jealousy rather than a disapproval of her status grab -- more coy (and possibly more attractive) than a straight signal that you would be jealous and want her to hang with you. Instead, the counter-punch you gave signaled the desire to be with her without creating a request to contend with. It also seems attractive along the lines of a male acting more stereotypically male in an endearing way (jealous, and not admitting it). I think you could have also passed the test by a straight signal that you liked hanging with her: "No, don't hang out with him this weekend. Hang out with me." In this case, you would also be signaling sincerity and a desire for a relationship, which may or may not have been appropriate for either of you. If you guys are "just friends", then you could have the same response, but then I would expect you to overdo it a little until there is a laugh / affectionate punch on the arm.
1HughRistik11yI have more to say in response, but I will clarify one thing: the "bad news" jibe wasn't implying that it was bad news for me that she was hanging out with him, it was implying that it was bad news for the other guy that she was hanging out with. I think that implication came across, because of her response which was to claim that I would want to hang out with her (which as interpreted as "any guy would want to hang out with me, including you, which is why it's justified for me to so blatant assert that a guy is lucky to do so"). I'm not sure if that's why you interpreted my jibe as displaying jealousy; but if given my intended interpretation, I do agree that it could have subcommunicated jealousy, like a case of "sour grapes" on my part (which is slightly true, though not the primary reason for the jibe).
0byrnema11yYes, this is what I understood. Only because a jealous response seemed to be expected and solicited. So I predicted she would have interpreted the jibe as a form of sour grapes, as I would have if I was eavesdropping on the conversation. ("You're going to spend the whole day with him? ... Poor him!" is an appropriately funny and defensive jealousy response.) However, from your description of the interaction, I understood that you weren't actually displaying jealousy and she and I would have been somewhat mistaken about the initial effectiveness of her test. But then it lead to a conversation in which you did signal the desire to be with her, anyway.

ETR: Okay, let me tone that reply down.

Perhaps I should have instead disputed whether the 'topic matter' was 'given'.

Yes, that would have made your point responsive, and have prevented you from falsely accusing me of a basic error. Please exercise caution when someone's comment initially appears to you to be rather stupid -- you may need to look at the context some more.

I would not. In our society, a man who has many sexual partners is reverentially referred to as a "player" or a "stud", and a woman who successfully manipulates men is derisively referred to as a "manipulative bitch".

The appropriate comparison would be to a woman who gets men to spend resources on her with an insincere promise of sex.

And there is a vocabulary for such a case, though not as a term for the woman. Anyone familiar with "being friendzoned"?

It is quite possible that my impressions do you an injustice. I share them only to express empathy with Silas, who seemed to me to be getting frustrated in a way that seemed understandable to me.

Note that Google result counts on the first page of a search are approximate, not exact figures. On smaller result sets the actual count (as obtained by getting to the last page of the search results) can be close, or half, or even (that I've seen) a hundredth the approximated count. I would't conclude much of anything from the ratio of estimates with such large error bars.

3RichardKennaway11yThose aren't errors. If you repeat both searches with duplicates included, and go to the last page of results, you will find that Google is returning exactly 1000 for both. This is because Google never returns more than 1000, regardless of how many hits there are. Comparing the estimates is the correct operation.
2NancyLebovitz11yThat's worth knowing. Is there a source for non-obvious things about google searches?

That's why I ask what's going on. Because it's clear to me you're not just humbly asking for a little proof of the outrageous idea that men have a harder time discussing the nuts-and-bolts of attracting women. You're offended at the very suggestion.

I have already told you that your mental model of me is wrong. Update already.

So again, I'll ask: what's really going on here? What is it that makes this issue, and your belief on this issue, so important that you'll hound anyone who expresses any contrary reservations until they give you that perfectly par

... (read more)
2wedrifid11yI would consider an appeal to common knowledge adequate in this instance. While some could plausibly deny awareness that discussion of attraction (and social dominance in general) tactics are frequently taboo, an argument would be a sub-optimal context for Silas to engage in education on the subject. Since the topic so closely ties in with themes like 'near/far' thinking and related social-political biases it would be a post that would be worth Silas making if he has sufficient interest and some useful sources to draw from to signal credibility.

I reject the constraint that the article have a deliberate focus on "this is evil, here's how to protect yourself".

How did you get from "women should be aware" of the biases, to "this is evil"?

Mainly from your implication that the purpose of the article is that these are things that should be resisted and, in a perfect world, never done to begin with.

The constraint seems to fit with your standard:

My opinion is that LW shouldn't be for PUA/beauty tips or how-to's. But it would be appropriate to discuss why these metho

... (read more)

Could you elaborate on what you consider the dividing line to be? Is it merely the awareness of the target of the techniques being employed? I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that as a dividing line: I enjoy music and the effect it has on my emotions despite not being sufficiently knowledgeable about music to understand the mechanics of how to achieve a particular emotional effect. I am aware such techniques exist but I don't know the details. Similarly with female beauty enhancement. I'm more aware of the techniques film makers use to manipulate emotions because I have spent quite a lot of time learning about them but when enjoying a film in the moment I do not wish to consciously focus on them.

Afaik, woman either say they have fun doing it, and follow up with what's wrong with that?, or they say they're pushed into it because men want it. They don't say they're making men better off even if men say they don't like it.

So they're better at shielding themselves from awareness of its effect on men's psyches? What difference does that make? A lot of naturals do exactly what PUAs do; it's just that non-naturals don't naturally do it, and have to be explained the reason why it works. A woman who just "feels like" making herself beautifu... (read more)

I understand that. It's just a piece of data that seemed to support my suspicion that most of the argument is led by people who defend other hypothetical people, who may or may not actually exist. At least before this remark I thought Alicorn was one of the non-hypothetical offended people, but it turns out she isn't. Too much of searching for the offending statements is going on.

6Emily12yI don't know about Alicorn, but when I say I find something offensive as opposed to being offended, it's not that it has no effect on me. Whether you take it as a personal offence or not, being unthinkingly excluded from a group (/being thought of as a non-person by the group, etc) is not something that makes you want to remain or become part of it. It's a logical next step to suggest that what puts me off, as a long-time reader of OB, seems to have a reasonable chance of entirely putting off other women who stumble across LW, but even if you'd rather not take that step, the fact is that real, non-hypothetical people are put off by this stuff even if they aren't personally offended. I agree that tabooing "offensive" might be a good idea. Edited because I thought of a possibly-useful way of extending what Jack said. I do a bit of work as an editor/proofreader for another site. It quite often happens that I come across a sentence with tangled syntax or something that momentarily puzzles me. I have to go back and read it again or concentrate for a moment in order to understand what the author is saying. When I point this out and perhaps suggest an improvement, I occasionally get the response: "But you obviously figured out exactly what I meant; it must be understandable." Well, sure. I did figure it out. But you could give me an easier reading experience, avoid a potential stumbling block for others, and make your message a bit clearer by fixing up that sentence a little. Similarly, I may have got over the moment of feeling excluded or whatever with no harm done. But what's the point in obscuring your message with little things like that, even if it probably won't affect all of your audience, when alternatives are just as good?
1Vladimir_Nesov12yYou don't usually get flame wars over bad writing. That needs to be explained, and the cause resolved.
7Emily12yYou clearly haven't done much editing! :) I see your point, but I think it's fairly easily explicable and works in both ways. No one feels specifically excluded by poor syntax! In the other direction: pointing out that someone has written a sentence with twisted syntax can be perceived as an attack on their writing skills, but pointing out that someone has written a sentence that might be exclusionary to certain people can be perceived as an attack on their character. The impulse to be more defensive over the latter is understandable.
3SoullessAutomaton12yWhich could lead to interesting arguments if it wasn't intended as an attack on their character. I wonder if that's some of what was going on here?
5conchis12yFair enough. For my own part, I've generally found the focus on individual emotional responses (whether of actual members of this community, or hypothetical others) somewhat misguided. While we should certainly care about individuals' emotional reactions to what we write, I think there are bigger issues at play here too. There are statements and phrases that I judge problematic because they seem to reflect or promote conscious or unconscious attitudes or assumptions that I think are harmful to society in general. By way of example: * I would find the objectification of women [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13k/missing_the_trees_for_the_forest/yv6] problematic for this reason, regardless of whether reading objectifying statements actually offended anyone (though as it happens, I do have a negative emotional reaction to statements that I think reflect objectifying attitudes). * I find the use of masculine generics problematic because because it primes us to think in particular ways. My understanding of the relevant research* is that it's a fairly consistent finding that masculine generics (a) do cause people to imagine men rather than women, and (b) that this can have negative effects ranging from impaired recall, comprehension, and self-esteem in women, to reducing female job applications. (Some of these negative effects have also been established for men from feminine generics as well, which favours using they/them/their rather than she/her as replacements.) * There's an overview of some of this here [http://books.google.com/books?id=I700l3J0tZ8C] (from p.26).

I wouldn't call black people niggers in a sentence such as, "Niggers tend to be less well educated than whites", because that would clearly imply that I'm being racist (or a troll).

On the other hand, using 'him' instead of 'them' as a gender-neutral pronoun doesn't imply sexism. Maybe one day it will, but right now it doesn't. Anyone who is offended by this kind of wording is hypersensitive.

4RobinZ12yThe word "sexism" is a distraction here - what we are discussing is what makes people uncomfortable, and the rules I suggested are addressing actual things which have a track record of making people uncomfortable. To start with the example you give here, since you specifically state that it is mistaken: using "him" in a sentence primes the reader to assume the male, and is therefore intrinsically not gender-neutral. (I believe studies can be found to this effect, although as a mechanical engineer I do not know where to look.) Less rigorously, "him" as a default enshrines "her" as an exception, an aberration, rather than half the population of the globe. Finally, if you were to substitute race-specific terminology for sex-specific - as Douglas Hofstadter did in A Person Paper on Purity in Language [http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html] - the legitimacy of taking offense would be obvious. Similar arguments can be made with respect to hypotheticals in the second person - not everybody was working up the courage to talk to the girls in high school, even if you limit the pool to people who went to high school (I didn't). And generalizations about gender and nation (and race, and creed) are warned against because people are continually motivated to find evidence for generalizations matching their prejudices - meaning a lot of the evidence and generalizations you see are unmitigated bull. I chose these examples to enshrine in rules because these are the easy ones, the well-established ones, the ones which we rationalists should think of instantly when someone says "biases associated with prejudice". If you don't know about them, you need to learn.
1Furcas12yYour comment starts with, "what we are discussing is what makes people uncomfortable", but most of the rest of it talks about biases! Fighting people's biases is a good reason to pester them about wording things differently; I've never said otherwise. But then let's make it clear that's the reason we're doing it, and cut all the chatter about offending the hypersensitive nuts out there. As for Hostadter's essay, it doesn't work. All of his examples sound offensive to us because if they were introduced in a sentence in reality, we would have good reason to think that the person who spoke them is a racist. On the other hand, you can't rationally conclude that I'm a sexist because I wrote "him" instead of "them" two comments above. We legitimately take offense because of the implied racism, not because of the words themselves.
1RobinZ12yI thought that the extension from "implicitly excluding women" to "making women feel unwelcome" was evident. Likewise (often) from "drawing unjustified generalizations about a class of persons" to "making a class of persons uncomfortable". If it wasn't, I apologize - consider it hereby explicitly stated. As for Hofstadter's essay, it explores a world in which linguistic genders do not exist and linguistic colors exist instead. The author isn't racist, not in any strong sense of the word - the author is just following the standard convention of their hypothetical world by using "white" both as a race-specific and a race-neutral term. It's obvious that you have a visceral distaste for calling black people white "in reality", but given that - and this is the point of the damn essay - why do you consider calling women men acceptable?
1teageegeepea12yI recently read Jaquez Barzun's "From Dawn to Decadence", which includes a digression on the word "man". He notes that in its origins it actually is a gender-neutral word indicating person, with "woman" deriving from "wife-man" (man who is a wife). To use racial terms, this is not like appending "white" to words, because "white" means a color rather than person. It is like deeming non-whites "colored", however nonsensical the practice may be (as illustrated in the poem "White Fella"). I can't recommend the book as a whole, when I hear the word "culture" I reach for my gun.
3lavalamp12yI used to mention that derivation whenever the subject came up IRL (with the rather unfortunate gloss that therefore "man" really was gender-neutral and women should not feel left out by its exclusive use), until I realized that usage 800+ years ago has little to no influence on the current meaning of the word. No one ever noticed the fallacy, which is depressing now that I think about it. Don't count on others to fix your thinking is the lesson, I guess.
3RobinZ12yThe etymology of the word "man" is completely irrelevant to its present use. This isn't some obscure term like "ironic" for which it would be reasonable to claim that common usage is mistaken - this is one of the ten most common nouns in the English language. The common usage is as the only formal term for male human beings. Were this thread a discussion of the evolution of gendered terms in English, your remarks would be apt. Were it a novel argument in the dialectic of gender in English, your remarks would be apt. It is neither.

They have those?

There doesn't seem to be a "view results" button, and I don't want to vote again for fear of screwing with the results. How did the poll turn out?

1SoullessAutomaton12yI hadn't yet voted. Having done so now, the results are: * 43%: temporary moratorium (28 votes) * 38%: no restrictions (25 votes) * 9%: restrict to a number of threads (6 votes) * 6%: total ban (4 votes) * 3%: a marvelous idea which this poll is too small to contain (2 votes)

That's a reasonable starting point, but I think his argument about the prevalence of stupid generalizations about "people of race X", especially taken to wrongly prove "race X has more of a genetic predisposition for Y", suggests a convincing case against your stance, unless you only mean to "listen" with great discrimination.

Nah, I like free markets. My negative impression is more of an intellectual aversion to the output of Western marketing gurus like Seth Godin.

I completely agree. And I like your solution of not going meta and talking about the problem but just making concrete suggestions on the sentences in question. I tend to just downvote in those sorts of situations, but the more constructive response is to suggest a better phrasing.

to the extent that 'paternalism' implies 'when done by males' I would perhaps want to use a different word


(And "maternalism" when done by females? ;-))

I did not realize that NLP was involved in that trick, probably because I know little about it past the name (suggested remedy?).

questions that Brown asks at the beginning of that video

Which video?

1pjeby11yThe one I linked to in the grandparent comment [http://lesswrong.com/lw/13j/of_exclusionary_speech_and_gender_politics/ywu], which shows Brown confusing a woman about her car color [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdlItEIj8bg]. If you mean the paper-as-money one, that one is probably more accurately classified as a hypnosis trick using "quotes" to mask an embedded command ("it's good, take it"), although there are NLP books that explain/teach the same process. (You could consider it a form of applied priming, discovered by hypnotists and NLP people long before the modern studies of priming.) Do you want technical/theoretical knowledge or practical applications? There are zillions of practical application books, most of which contain considerable amounts of nonsense. Bandler and Grinder's books also contain lots of nonsense, but it's far more useful nonsense. (I think one even began by saying, "we're going to tell you lots of lies. None of them are true, but most of them are useful. And if you pretend to believe these lies, and act as if they're true, then your clients will also pretend to change. And if you pretend really well, they will continue to pretend to be better, for the rest of their lives.") Anywho, Structure of Magic I and NLP Volume I are probably the best books for getting the fundamental ideas/theories, and Using Your Brain For A Change contains the basics of the technique Derren Brown used in the car-color-confusion video. The "quotes" pattern and embedded commands (as used in the paper-money trick) are discussed in Frogs Into Princes and Trance-Formations. (All of the above are by Bandler and Grindler, or Bandler by himself, except for NLP Volume I which is by Dilts and others.)

Silas has repeatedly rejected the position you are ascribing to him and your continued misrepresentation is extremely poor form.

I imagine it would be, if I had any clue what you're talking about. But I don't.

1wedrifid11yYou make assertions about what Silas claims (see grandparent). Silas has told you that this is not what he claims (and I have reiterated it in his defence). You engage in straw man fallacies. I dislike this behaviour. You may disagree with the above, but to not have a clue what I'm talking about is motivated ignorance.

There are points in here that have value but they are not a reasonable (or particularly relevant) as a reply to the objection that Silas has made. Silas makes enough of a target of himself. You need not pad him out with straw.

I'm objecting to your attempt to claim that two phrasings mean the same thing, when they really don't

The meaning of the communication is the response you get, and the intended response to the behavior described as "ordering around" is that the woman feel that she is with a man who "knows what he wants and isn't afr

... (read more)
1pjeby11yBut omitting the part of the behavior that women do say they value, is the part that makes the language exclusionary, and provokes the objections and social stigma that SilasBarta claims to be arguing against. His thesis appears to be, "Most women (and some men) don't like it when people say truth X" - I am saying, "Most women (and some men) are generally fine with it when you also give sufficient information for them to connect truth X with their goal or value Y, and I see no reason to exclude that connective information... since it does in fact produce the negative reaction described."