To the extent that PUA skills increase unconscious signals that women find attractive, it may have a net benefit for women by upping the typical attractiveness of the dating pool, as Sarah points out.

Yes, excellent point. But the reason is not, as you think, because PUAs are duping women. The reason that PUAs provide a net benefit for women is that over time, they actually grow into men who fulfills women's criteria. Although beginners start out with "fake it 'til you make it," experienced PUAs eventually do come to hold the qualities that lar... (Read more)(Click to expand thread. ⌘F to Expand All)Cmd/Ctrl F to expand all comments on this post

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they actually grow into men who fulfills women's criteria

This paper says that creep recovery depends on having a relaxation time fast enough to offset the effects of the ageing process.

0Douglas_Knight9y Let me give an example of PUA manipulation that is not of the form "fake it till you make it." You seem to be taking the position that there's no such thing. I'm rather surprised by that, since I thought that you had rather mixed feelings about PUA. Maybe I'm confused about your position because you're only addressing the question of whether such manipulations are good for women; I will not judge this example, but it definitely comes across as manipulation and thus I expect provokes negative reactions, which is the question at the very top of the thread. A common piece of advice is to take a girl to several different locations to create the illusion of having known each other long time to make the girl comfortable. If this were just the physical advice, it would probably elicit positive reactions ("how to show a girl a good time"). Even if we drop "create the illusion" and just say that this is more effective than compared to time than one might expect, such direct effort at internal state is called manipulation.
1jacob_cannell9y Deliberating sending out signals that match women's unconscious detectors for high socioeconomic status is duping in a sense, in a similar sense that makeup is duping. You could say that the signals themselves are the criteria, but even a peacock's tail is a health indicator to a degree. I contrast that with actual active duping - bullshitting. The socially reality a PUA constructs can be based on blatant factual errors, and this is exactly the duping of the second type that I was discussing. A more novice PUA may use canned material and routines to fake a level of social status and charisma that the PUA does not actually possess. That is duping in the weaker sense of 'false signaling'. Duping in the stronger sense is outright dishonesty. A PUA who spins amazing stories about being an independent film director and movies he has made blah blah but in fact is a dental assistant or something. PUA then convinces a women that he has a genuine interest in her. If she then later sleeps with him, it would be based largely on a false image and false pretense. That is the dark arts bullshit and dishonesty I was referring to. Obviously PUA-dom is a diverse and broad set of folks, and most aren't like that. But some are, and this is the aspect of PUA that women dislike. A PUA's behavioral standard shouldn't change just because of the PUA label - a guy who engaged in the above would be generally considered a douchebag by most people - PUA or not. I suspect it's a little more complex than that. A guy who is really into PUA is probably not at a LTR stage in his life. But of course not all women are looking for that either.

More art, less stink: Taking the PU out of PUA

by XFrequentist 9y10th Sep 20103 min read636 comments


Overview:  This is a proposal for a LessWrong Pick Up Artist (PUA)-like sub-community; PUA without the PU (get it?)1. Members would focus on the deliberate practice of social artistry, but with non-mating goals. Origins and intent of the goal are discussed, possible topics for learning are listed, and suggestions for next steps are solicited.


The PUA Community began decades ago with men that wanted to learn how to get better at seducing women. As I understand it, they simply began posting their (initially) awkward attempts at love online. Over the years, they appear to have amassed a fairly impressive set of practical knowledge and skills in this domain.

I admire and applaud this effort. However, my ability to meet women is not currently a limiting factor in my life satisfaction. In reading some of the PUA literature, I was struck how often different authors remarked on the unintended side benefits of their training: better relationships at work, better interviewing skills, more effective negotiations, more non-pickup social fun, better male friendships, more confidence, etc. These guys were able to make major strides in areas that I've struggled to improve at all in...  without even bloody intending to! This struck me as an something worth taking very seriously!

I find it alarming that such a valuable resource would be monopolized in pursuit of orgasm; it's rather as if a planet were to burn up its hydrocarbons instead of using them to make useful polymers. PUA ought to be a special case of a more general skill set, and it's being wasted. I say that my goals are noble, and as such I should have the opportunity to sharpen my skills to at least the keenness of a PUA master!

Statement of Purpose:

The purpose of this post is to open discussion on how to construct a community of developing social artisans, modeled after the useful components2 of the PUA community. If there is sufficient mass, the next goals are probably sussing out learning methods and logistics.

The mission of the hypothetical community will probably need to be fleshed out more explicitly (and I don't want to be too prescriptive), but pretty much what I was thinking was expressed well by Scott Adams:


I think technical people, and engineers in particular, will always have good job prospects. But what if you don't have the aptitude or personality to follow a technical path? How do you prepare for the future?

I'd like to see a college major focusing on the various skills of human persuasion. That's the sort of skillset that the marketplace will always value and the Internet is unlikely to replace. The persuasion coursework might include...

  • Sales methods
  • Psychology of persuasion
  • Human Interface design
  • How to organize information for influence
  • Propaganda
  • Hypnosis
  • Cults
  • Art (specifically design)
  • Debate
  • Public speaking
  • Appearance (hair, makeup, clothes)
  • Negotiations
  • Managing difficult personalities
  • Management theory
  • Voice coaching
  • Networking
  • How to entertain
  • Golf and tennis
  • Conversation

You can imagine a few more classes that would be relevant. The idea is to create people who can enter any room and make it their bitch. [emphasis added]

Colleges are unlikely to offer this sort of major because society is afraid and appalled by anything that can be labeled "manipulation," which isn't even a real thing.

Manipulation isn't real because almost every human social or business activity has as its major or minor objective the influence of others. You can tell yourself that you dress the way you do because it makes you happy, but the real purpose of managing your appearance is to influence how others view you.

Humans actively sell themselves every minute they are interacting with anyone else. Selling yourself, which sounds almost noble, is little more than manipulating other people to do what is good for you but might not be so good for others. All I'm suggesting is that people could learn to be more effective at the things they are already trying to do all day long.

Word! [EDIT: We need not be bound by this exact list. For instance, there is no way I'm going to be doing any golfing.]

I've met people who were shockingly, seemingly preternaturally adept in social settings. Of course this is  not  magic. Like anything else, it can be reduced to a set of constituent steps and learned. We just need to figure out how.

Next steps:

I have a rather long list of ideas ready to go, but they made this post kind of awkward. Plus, Scott Adam's post says much of what I was trying to get at. Let's just start the conversation.

So, what do you think?

1 I have nothing whatsoever against the majority of the PUAers with whom I've had encounters, and the title is just meant to be funny. No offense!

2 The mention of PUA drags along several associations that I want to disavow (think anything obviously "Dark Arts"). I considered omitting the fact that much of the intellectual heritage of this idea is the PUAers to avoid these associations, but I couldn't think of another way to tie it together. This idea owes its genesis to the PUA community, but the product is not intended to be its exact replica. Undesirable elements need not be ported from the old system to the new.