This is an experiment to use polls to tap into the crowd knowledge probably present on LW.

This is your chance to ask your multiple choice question you always wanted to throw in. Get qualified numeric feedback to your comments. Post fun polls.

There are some rules:

  1. Each poll goes into its own top level comment and may be commented there.
  2. You must at least vote all polls that were posted earlier than you own. This ensures participation in all polls and also limits the total number of polls. You may of course vote without posting a poll.
  3. Your poll should include a 'don't know' option (to avoid conflict with 2). I don't know whether we need to add a troll catch option here but we will see.

If you don't know how to make a poll in a comment look at the Poll Markup Help.

This being an experiment I do not announce it to be regular. If it is successful I may. Or you may. In that case I recommend the following to make this potentially more usable:

  • Use "Polling Thread" in the title.
  • Copy the rules.
  • Add the tag "poll".
  • Link to this Thread or a previous Thread.
  • Create a top-level comment saying 'Discussion of this thread goes here; all other to-level comments should be polls or similar'
  • Add a second top-level comment with an initial poll to start participation.

EDIT: Added recommendations from KnaveOfAllTrades.

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What percentage of people do you think will answer the first option?


Discussion of this thread goes here; all other top-level comments should be polls' or similar.

Threaded comments:

What does "troll catch option" mean? And when you said 3 was to avoid conflict with 1, do you mean avoid conflict with 2?

"Troll catch" is the the black swan/strange/fun/unusual option you add to give trolls something to feed on and thus avoid polluting the poll with. The example is slashdot where you can vote without even being registered and you usually see an option like "I don't X you insensitive clod".

I corrected the numbering (was due to reordering the rules).

What is your opinion on the variability hypothesis that males generally have a larger biological variance than women in most traits, and that in particular this applies to intelligence, and explains in part why there is a gender imbalance in the sciences? [pollid:584]

There are three parts to this question, and I recommend asking them separately.

Also, Coscott can put multiple polls in the same comment, saving on space. I would do this myself, rather than hinting that Coscott should do it themselves, but I don't know whether Coscott really means "biological" when they write "biological", as opposed to meaning e.g. "genetic" or "innate".
0Scott Garrabrant10y
I don't see how replacing biological with inate or genetic changes the question. Describe a position for which the word choice matters. Also, you can rewrite it if you like, and I will retract my version. I assume any way you phrase it will get me the data I want.
Someone might believe in the causal graph (male students implicitly expected by their peers, teachers and family to study sciences, while female students aren't) → (female students having lower science knowledge) → (fewer women in the sciences). If one thinks about it, this causal chain implies a biological difference between male students & female students. Knowledge is stored in brains, so a difference in knowledge implies a difference in brains, which would be a biological difference. But this biological difference wouldn't necessarily be an innate or genetic difference. Were the causal graph correct and sufficiently complete, the male-female knowledge difference would be a biological but non-innate difference generated non-genetically. So someone believing in that causal graph would say "yes" if asked whether the difference were "biological", but "no" if asked whether it were "genetic" or "innate".
0Scott Garrabrant10y
Although I question if that is worth it since several people already answered.
In the spirit of crude empiricism, I'll give it a go anyway and see what happens. Poll: what probabilities do you assign to the following statements? Men generally have a larger variance than women in most traits. [pollid:585] Because of genetic differences between men & women, men generally have a larger variance than women in most traits. [pollid:586] Men vary more in intelligence than women. [pollid:587] Because of genetic differences between men & women, men vary more in intelligence than women. [pollid:588] Men vary more in intelligence than women, and that contributes non-negligibly to gender imbalance in the sciences. [pollid:589] Because of genetic differences between men & women, men vary more in intelligence than women, and that genetically-driven difference in variance contributes non-negligibly to gender imbalance in the sciences. [pollid:590]
You haven't learnt Yvain's lesson! You need to be super clear and explicit about whether you want answers as percentages, or as values between 0 and 1! Otherwise you get an unexploitable mish-mash.

If I am reading the less wrong comment formatting page correctly, using poll:probability (with brackets) will force responses to be between 0 and 1, to avoid this. (And Upvotes to whoever put strict input limits on a free text field! As a person who handles raw data, I often don't see this, and it should be encouraged when performed.)

It doesn't avoid the problem if people want to vote with a percentage < 1%, and try to do so with a 0-100 value (e.g., .5 meaning .5% rather than 50%).
Very good point. I had not thought of this earlier, but it is entirely correct.
This has taught me that I find it more intuitive to think in terms of conditional probabilities than marginal probabilities.
"Too much Patriarchy bullshit in the data to tell". There are very strong indicators that discrimination is going to hurt your career prospects in the sciences quite badly if you happen to be in possession of two X chromosomes. Number of widely cited papers needed in order to be awarded tenure, pay at a given level of qualifications, ect.. And even if you have not read those studies, the fact that this happens is blatantly obvious to anyone that is not both male and fairly oblivious. This is quite sufficient to explain the disparity all on its own. Any underlying "biology" is utterly swamped in significance by this. Also, the balance of probability is that any given woman you encounter in the sciences is at least one out of smarter, more stubborn or just flat out much harder working than her stature in the field would indicate. Often all 3. Getting anywhere against the weight of discrimination and discouragement requires you to be an outlier to start with.
Does Patriarchy explain the left tail too?
You mean the bit where boys are more likely to get into academic trouble ect? Heck yes. dont mistake patriarchy for a system that actually helps men - it is a social pathology and not kind to either gender. At all. It contains ideas about identity and status that can and will fuck you. The bad boy trying to be cool by blowing of class and acting out against authority didn't come up with that set of behaviors de novo.
Seems that we have learned that P(A&B)<=P(A). But I wonder whether we have an anchoring problem here. I myself used round numbers and notice that the median is a round number and that the probabilities go down in steps of 0.05 (and the mean follows suit almost linearly). If anything the compound probabilities should show more or less geometric progression. Anchoring to one of the values and then just roughly correcting for the difference in phrasing will not work (i.e. don't add any precision). Do I notice this correctly? Can this be fixed? How?
I rated the second question as more likely than the first because I think "most traits" means something different in the two questions.
0Scott Garrabrant10y
OK, I guess I'll keep mine up too to since anyone reading this far might as well just vote on both

I answered "other" because I haven't studied the matter enough to have a strong opinion.

I answered "other" because I don't know about variance, but I'm reasonably confident that even if there is a biological variance, it's not the primary reason that there's a gender imbalance in the sciences.
Coscott's question does say “in part”. (That's why I answered ‘yes’.)
Same - I've heard of it before and it seems plausible to me, but I don't know enough to confidently say I "believe" in it.
Me too: "other" meaning "I don't know enough", in contrast to the other options that are variations on "No one knows enough".

Other: it's a huge mish-mash of interactions between different things in biology (hard-wired impulses that are different between sexes, AND the fact that male have only one X chromosome leaving to more recessive stuff), cultural stereotypes, game theory, patterns of social interaction - even if I had a clear model of the network of the causal relationships between all those factors, I still would find it hard to say whether under that model "variance in intelligence is caused by biology" would count as true or not.

7Scott Garrabrant10y
This post has gotten 4 down votes. I am not sure if those are signalling: "You should have organized the question better." or "You should not ask questions which provide evidence of the fact that lesswrong is sexist." or "You should not ask polling questions about beliefs on something like this, because it doesn't given any good evidence about the truth of the claim." or something else I assume it is the first one, but I am not sure.
"I believe that there is a biological variance in intelligence and insufficient information to allow for accurate qualitative analysis." Your null hypothesis of each question assumes the difference, if present, will favour males; regardless of the theory's specifics, if you wish to gather fully rounded data on the opinions of your population, you must needs allow for that in the questions. If there's a theory that blue is finest on a Winter's day, and you wish to find out what people think of it, you must counter the inherent priming of the theory by including such options as, "Blue is finest on a Summer's day," and, "Blue is never the finest during day"; think of what the theory tries to answer. In these cases: the intersection of biology and intellectual variance between the sexes, and at what time is blue finest on Earth (you also may include, "Blue is finest on a Winter's day in Greenland, but in Madagascar finest on a Fall's day.")

I'd rather you answer these each on their own rather than trying to derive (if it's even possible) some from the others, so that the results aren't contaminated in that way by the order in which I've asked them.

Probabilities for this are from 0 to 1; 0=zero chance, 1=certain.

P('Qualia of purple' is a coherent and meaningful and non-epiphenomenal concept | 'Qualia of consciousness' is a coherent and meaningful and non-epiphenomenal concept) [pollid:742]

Likelihood of same event, but conditioning on negation:

P('Qualia of purple' is a coherent and meaningful a... (read more)

Taboo coherent and meaningful and non-epiphenomenal.

The observation that many people claim that god exists, is positive evidence that god exists, i.e. P(God exists|Many people claim god exists, other background information) > P(God exists|Not many people claim god exists, other background information).


Given all other information, what is the likelihood ratio of the observation that many people claim that god exists, with respect to the hypothesis that god exists? I.e. what is the ratio: P(Many people claim god exists|God exists, other observations) / P(Many people claim god exists|God does n... (read more)

The observation that many people claim that Vishnu exists is evidence against the proposition that there is no god but Allah. But the observation that many people claim that there is no god but Allah is evidence against the proposition that Vishnu exists. We could try to factor this as "a divine being exists" vs. "that divine being has properties X, Y, and Z", but different traditions don't even agree on what a divine being is. Mormonism and some Dharmic traditions, for instance, consider that humans could be reinstanced as divine beings after death, whereas most Abrahamic traditions do not.
I think you messed up the second poll item; don't Bayes factors run from 0 to infinity? Not 0-1. Anyway, I strongly believe that people claiming there is a god is indeed a great deal of evidence for it, in the same way that being told 'China' exists by a lot of people is a lot of evidence that such a place exists. Of course, afterwards, when you start digging into their reasons for believing in god, all the other gods they didn't mention to you but that still other people believe in, etc, then you start to undo it.
I used the likelihood poll type I found on this page hoping (and I was aware it was hope and did worry it might be broken!) that it would work properly. I did see it says 'probability', but does it actually insist on a zero to one value, or are you guessing based on that it says 'probability'? (I actually found it difficult to answer my own question so only answered the first question so far so have not tested the second poll.) I'll look at making a third poll of a different type in case the second eats positive evidence.
Well, if you try entering, say, '2' and hitting Enter, it emits a little red error message: "Probability must be between 0 and 1".
Ah! I only skimmed the page I linked and confused likelihoods (which are probabilities) with likelihood ratios (which are...ratios).
I see. I wonder if the aliases should just be deleted from the help page? There's no real need to have a bunch of aliases for a poll-command, and as you demonstrate, it's possible to read the page and not realize they're aliases rather than differently-typed polls.

Sorry I made a mistake, I'll repost the poll.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

Polls are almost useless for researching anything but the opinions of the population that takes the poll.


All the information you can gain from them factors through "the opinions of the population that takes the poll".

If you poll people about the likelihood of pixies, I guess you can learn something about their beliefs. You will learn nothing about pixies, though.

Well, people are more likely to believe in pixies in worlds with pixies than in worlds without pixies. It's just that your prior is so low that even the posterior will be negligible.

As long as their beliefs aren't totally independent of the facts, those beliefs will constitute evidence (one way or the other) of the facts. Thus learning their beliefs would be informative about pixies.
Learning their beliefs would be informative about something. Do a mental experiment, replace pixies with Jesus.

Learning people's beliefs about Jesus is informative about Jesus, it's just you already know that a lot of people believe in Jesus so there's very little new information.

1. Do you dispute the truth of the sentence that precedes the one you quoted? Here it is again: "As long as their beliefs aren't totally independent of the facts, those beliefs will constitute evidence (one way or the other) of the facts." 2. Replacing "pixies" with "Jesus" should not change whether people's beliefs are informative about Jesus. It may change the degree to which their beliefs are informative, for the reason /u/RowanE mentioned. 3. I am not suggesting that learning people's beliefs about pixies would be incredibly informative. I am only suggesting that it would be more informative than not learning about such beliefs. 4. Here's a thought experiment I often find helpful, tailored to the pixie-belief question: If your answer is no, then we can conclude that you really do consider people's pixie-beliefs to be completely devoid of information about the reality of pixies. But if you would open the envelope, can't we conclude the opposite: that you consider their beliefs to be entangled with the truth, however tenuously? (I like this thought experiment because in the past it has helped me see when I am believing in belief instead of, as I had supposed, just believing. I think I starting doing it after reading this 2011 Yvain post.)
That's because I already have strong opinions about pixies. If I polled people about something which they knew well and I knew badly, then I would learn something about whatever it was.
How do you know they know it well?
Should probably distinguish between voluntary-response and randomly sampled polling...
I answered "no" assuming that "the population that takes the poll" means literally "the people that take the poll". I probably would have answered "yes" had I considered it to mean "people similar to the people that take the poll (in some relevant way or ways)".
You may have missed the word almost. :-)
No “I don't know” answer?

I got the idea for this from two recent comments: Team Red/Team Blue and my feedback for ialdabaoth) so I will start with a poll for the former:


I hesitate to ask this clarification because I don't want debate to take over the thread -- feel free to ignore this if it seems likely to have a poor cost-benefit ratio.

It is my impression that team red seems to allow for qualitative variance among males in mating behavior ("alphas" v "betas", dominance v. prestige behavior, etc.) but expects that all women dance to basically the same biological piper. My own experience suggests that some women behave just as team red predicts, and some women do not. This leaves me a bit puzzled how to answer this question. On the one hand, team red is probably describing something real. On the other hand, I think there is qualitative variance in women's mating instincts (not sure if I would go so far as to say "individualism"), and that men who do not follow team red's advice can still succeed with the "right" women.

Is that answer you would consider "parts of both"? In my personal behavior, I'm clearly on Team Blue....

Within the Redpill ideology, the female equivalent of alpha/beta is slut/prude. They claim that just like women have short term relationships with "alphas" and settle down with "betas", men don't mind having flings with "sluts" but would rather marry a sexually inexperienced woman. Conversely, they claim that while "betas" give out attention indiscriminately and fail to acquire sex (the "friend zone"), sluts give out sex indiscriminately but in the end fail to acquire commitment.

(The above does not reflect my own views and I personally think that the language they use is in very poor taste. I also think idea as a whole is wrong about gender and human instincts, but bears just enough superficial similarity to how some humans behave under some conditions to be compelling to some people. )

I can't speak for the Redpill ideology, but in my experience the alpha/beta terminology is well applicable to both sexes. I know some women who are (very clearly to me) alpha females in the direct terms of status and domination, and I know some women who are beta females and are cooperative, preferring to be led, even submissive. That distinction doesn't correlate with the slut/prude dichotomy. In more general terms, the Blue and the Red positions are described in the {grand}parent post look like extremes on a continuous spectrum to me. The problem with the Red team is that it treats individuals as fungible: provide the right signals and it doesn't matter who your partner is. The problem with the Blue team is that it ignores the underlying mechanisms -- you just click together, it's magic, don't ask how it works. For example, it seems reasonable to me that for a successful relationship people do need to "click" together (Blue), but whether they do click is determined partly by what they are, what image they present, and what signals they send out (Red).

in my experience

Sure, it's quite possible that people have a stable preference for dominant/submissive behavior in social interactions. I think that's a fairly uncontroversial thing to posit.

The problem with the Blue team is that it ignores the underlying mechanisms

That's probably because the "Blue" side is not actually a monolithic, self-aware school of thought. "Blue" is an exonym created by Red to describe the amalgam of conventional wisdom and pop-feminism to which they construct themselves as opposing (analogous to how "Cathedral" is not a monolithic, self aware group, but an exonym created by reactionaries). In reality, pop-feminism and conventional wisdom doesn't often bother delving into evo-psych and thinking about sexual the seeming lack of specificity inherent in "click" is not in opposition to anyone, but simply the result of not having adopted a position on the matter.

The problem with the Red team is that it treats individuals as fungible: provide the right signals and it doesn't matter who your partner is

Well, personally I think the additional, and more pressing problem with Red is that it is factually ... (read more)

That doesn't seem to be so. Conventional wisdom has TONS of heuristics about sexual strategy. The real problem is that these heuristics are just a bunch of separate pieces of advice so they tend to contradict each other and in general lack any coherence or structure. In that sense I agree that the Blues have not "adopted a position on the matter", but instead they propose a large variety of inconsistent positions. I think it's pretty obvious that this depends. It seems to me that there is a subset of people for whom the Red approach works well (there is some self-selection here as well) and there is a subset of people for whom it doesn't. I agree that the Red claims about their "truths" being biologically hardwired and universal to all humans are... excessive :-) That's not a good way to formulate a problem. Any specific individual isn't much interested in the "average, generalized case", s/he has more or less specific preferences, and using any techniques selects for people who respond to these techniques. To give a crude example, flashing a Rolex, keys to a Lamborghini, or talking about your private jet is an excellent signal to "induce attraction" from a very specific kind of females. If you're interested in this specific kind it's a good technique. If you're not, it's not.
Sure, and there is a subset of people for whom Blue conclusions works well, and for whom Green conclusions work well. Just because the conclusions work for some people in some places, doesn't mean the premises are actually sound. Following bad premises will eventually lead to suboptimal outcomes. Accepting false premises based on conclusions that by chance happen to be instrumentally useful in some restricted cases is considered dangerous for very good reason.
I am not particularly interested in debating whether the Red map matches the territory well or not, but note that in your post you make strong claims -- that Red techniques succeed only "by chance" and even that temporary success "will eventually lead to suboptimal outcomes". Beware of the Typical Mind fallacy.
Just to clarify, by "sub-optimal outcomes" I didn't mean that you'll end up unhappy in your romantic relationships (which I agree would be a case of typical mind fallacy). I was referring to sub-optimal outcomes in domains unrelated to sexual strategy. Also to clarify, the "by chance" refers to the general case of theories which come up with techniques that sometimes work for reasons that may or may not be what the theory says, not to Red/Blue specifically. If you mistakenly model all women as identical to this specific subset and behave accordingly, you'll create sub-optimal outcomes in a global sense. (For example: What does having this model mean for how you treat women colleagues, coworkers, or students? How you treat daughters?)...note that the Red I've experienced does advocate that its model is true in the general case, rather than for a specific subset (they even have a name for it - "AWALT - All Women Are Like That") Of course, you could still argue that "optimal outcome" in this domain is specific to who you are...but typical mind fallacy doesn't matter with respect to terminal preferences and values. I don't want a society where people are treated that way, especially not from a young age. But in general, stepping back from this issue specifically...I just think it's bad epistemic hygiene to judge models by the apparent usefulness of the techniques which they suggest, especially when the fact that the technique is effective was well known before the model was generated.
I disagree. I think that judging models by the success of their forecasts in empirical reality is precisely how they should be evaluated.
Why? Doesn't that mean you'll end up accepting all manner of placebo and frequently misunderstand the reason that something works? You're mis-paraphrasing "forecasts", where I just said "techniques" in general. I think the distinction between pre and post hoc is important here. If they are actually forecasts (as in, the prediction was made after making the model) then it does lend some credence...but if the model was made post-hoc of seeing certain techniques work and observing certain trends, as is the case with most of what we are talking about, it's another matter entirely.
The fact that I want to judge models by their effectiveness in the real world does not imply that I have to be stupid about it. The Red models make forecasts: they tell you what to do and what results to expect, all in the future. That's usually called historical data on which the model is based (or fitted) :-) But is it your contention that Red techniques (regardless of whether the underlying Red models are correct or not) actually work? You seem to have been saying that they don't.
We all try to be stupid about it, but all sorts of biases will begin coming into play with nebulous criteria like that. A model based on historical data becomes more trustworthy once it makes a prediction in a novel scenario. If the Phlogiston model tells you to predict that fire goes out when airflow is restricted, it doesn't increase the model's impressiveness because Becher knew that fact before he made the model. Yes, I was sort of saying that earlier when I was talking about generalities. But I am also in agreement with your previous statement, that they work for a subset of people who have certain goals.
That looks like a general argument against any kind of empirical testing. You join the Red team, go out to a bar, meet a girl you've never seen before. That is a novel scenario -- the alternative is to accept that the Red techniques work because of biological imperatives hardwired into all human females, something I think you'd be loath to do. And not to accuse you of rationalist sins, but do you think there is some motivated cognition going on?
Red Theory: Go to the bar wearing a suit and rolex because it signals wealth and status, find a girl and take her home. Make an advance. She'll act reluctant at first, but she's just testing your dominance so you should make another attempt later on. She'll rationalize it later in the morning - you have to provide plausible deniability, so she can pretend that "it just happened" and enjoy herself without feeling like a slut. She'll be attracted to your willingness to assert your desire. Blue Theory: The display of wealth did catch her eye - she was raised in a traditional manner and wanted to settle down with someone who could provide, and she'd always had a thing for suits. However, once she got back to your place, the woman really didn't want to, but she felt awkward, was alone with a strange man, and was too tipsy to make good decisions. She just wanted to get the situation over with and go home. She regretted playing along with it and not giving a more clear denial the next morning. Her self esteem lowered as a result of the encounter. The above scenario plays out repeatedly in clubs and bars everywhere. Same sequence of events, and same predictions about what will happen...but very different underlying models of what is happening. Why should Red get to be the privileged hypothesis about what's really going on here? Especially when Blue seems more in line with what people say they have experienced in such situations? (Also, "a technique produces the results it has produced in the past" is not the same as "empirical testing of a hypothesis")
What exactly did she go "back to your place" for? What were her expectations at the moment she said "OK, let's go to your place"? Really? That just casts women as helpless powerless victims. Sure you want to go in that direction? So, what's the Blue hypothesis? Why did the woman go back to his place? Why did she consent? Which falsifiable (in the Popperian sense) assertion about what really happened can Blue make? You know about selection bias, right?
Sort of, yes. I think a large segment of humanity (women and men) are hopelessly unable to assert their own preferences, and if an assertive person tells them to do something, they just sort of...go along with it. This is even more apparent when alcohol is added to the mix. You don't even need to go so far as the Milgram experiment - humans are shockingly (pun intended) compliant to much weaker forms of authority. The aversion to conflict can override a lot of other preferences. It's kind of disappointing, but that's just how humans are. And that's before you add in complications relating to impulse control and people's short term vs. long term preferences. However, it's not really victimhood I'm describing here - what I described isn't quite at the point where I'd call it a crime scene. I'd say it's primarily a mis-communication of preferences between two parties, fueled by hyper-assertiveness on one end and conflict-aversion on the other.This is the reason that feminists advocate much stronger forms of communication and consent. Yes, but it would be foolhardy to ignore available evidence in favor of some hypothetical speculation about what the evidence that slips my notice might be. In any case, this seems like the sort of scenario where I'd advocate everyone err on the side of caution by making sure to get verbal consent in the absence of strong, insistent application of social pressure, and most importantly to take reluctance at face value.
Well, that's interesting. To hell with who gets to screw whom -- what do you think about social and political implications of this? This approach basically says that democracy cannot be anything but a sham, for example. It also heavily implies that people need a benevolent philosopher-king to rule over them. If a "large segment" of people have, basically, reduced capabilities, what does that imply about their rights? Oh, come on, the common use of the word "victim" nowadays (especially in the SJ circles) has nothing to do with crimes and legality in general.
Pretty bleak. See: Third Reich. But I don't see how knowing that humans are vulnerable to do things they don't like when authority tells them to means we should have more central authorities - there's some inferences you've made that are opaque to me. If anything, I would think it means we should be all the more suspicious of authority and vigilantly maintain egalitarianism. (Of course, if you're somehow guaranteeing that they be benevolent and competent philosophers to boot, that does seem pretty good...) I don't think there is any need to adopt any other group's broadened usage of "victim" here?
Well, should we stock on ammo and beans, then? Your premise is that a "large segment" of people is basically incapable of this, and even if it gets suspicious can be just intimidated and shouted down into submission. That's a non sequitur.
I don't mean this as confrontational way, just an observation: there's this pattern of where I write something, and then you respond as if I wrote a subtly exaggerated version containing some additional points which I didn't actually write. This comment really typifies the tendency. Just because I think many humans have a weakness for obeying authority and avoiding conflict (do you actually dispute that?) doesn't mean I think society is going to collapse as a result of this tendency Just because a lot of drunk people at a night club are often pressured into making quick decisions they regret later doesn't mean that no one is capable of questioning authority and standing up for themselves. Maintaining egalitarianism means preventing people from systematically exerting power over one another in a way that significantly overrides each others preferences, and that's not a non sequitur.
Yes, I find it an efficient way to gain understanding of other people's positions. Basically, if you make a point, I don't know -- and I lack a proper word for that -- how far are you willing to take it. So I sharpen that point and repeat it back to you. There are several possible outcomes. One is that I misunderstood you and what I repeated back to you isn't what you meant. Another one is that yes, you are fine with the "sharpened" point. Yet another one is that the sharpened point goes too far so you want to define a boundary beyond which your point doesn't apply. In any case I understand your point much better. I don't have in mind a collapse. I have in mind a totalitarian state. Isn't that, essentially, what government is?
As far as I can tell, the main function of democracy is to prevent the power structure from dramatically violating the citizen's preferences. Totalitarian rule doesn't have that feature, creating a higher risk of it becoming an unpleasant to live in, as well as unstable. Yup. There's a balance to be struck between facilitating centralized organization and decision making, which involves a top down structure, and preventing top-down coercion. I think we're reaching realms of political science which are outside the domain of things which I know about / have thought about enough about to speak confidently.
It was a nice arc from PUA techniques to viability of sociopolitical structures :-)
Did the sides in this debate suddenly switch in these last two comments? I thought you were both making really good points above, and then got lost here at the end. :P Oh well, I gave y'all some upvotes.
My last comment was referring to things in general, rather than the Red/Blue issue * L had pointed out that there is a subset of people for whom Red works well * I said that Red, Blue, etc... referred to models of reality, and the accuracy models should be judged by the evidence supporting those models, rather than the apparent usefulness of the associated techniques. (Example: If someone said aspirin cured headaches by chasing away evil spirits, we shouldn't take the fact that aspirin cures headaches in a subset of cases as evidence that there are evil spirits being chased away.) I further said that making this mistake would lead to sub-optimal outcomes. * L pointed out that what is sub-optimal for me is not necessarily sub-optimal for others. I also agree with L's assertion that neither of us is defending a fixed position, though I don't think that was the reason for your confusion?
Maybe? :-) I think we were discussing the issue, not defending fixed positions.
Fair point :)
There are at least 5 reasons why Team Red is not fond of this argument (often deriding it with the acronym NAWALT). 1. Taken literally, it is seen as pedantic, much like the guy who insists that every statement of the form "men are stronger than women" be followed by the suffix "on average". Of course in a planet of 3 billion women there are going to be some exceptions; that's not an interesting observation. 2. If women have less biological variability than men (see Coscott's poll above), we would expect a single mating behavior model to have greater predictive power among females than among males. 3. The prior probability that a particular woman does not follow the Team Red model is not seen as good. Powerful evidence is needed to overcome it. 4. The man who brings up this point is often talking about his sweetheart, and will thus be unable to analyse the relevant evidence in an un-biased fashion. 5. Because the consequences of assuming a woman does not follow the Team Red model when she does are so terrible, a man is better off provisionally assuming that all women operate under the Team Red model.

FWIW, reading that first link has made me less sympathetic to Team Red. I'm assuming you consider that blog to be a strong exemplar for the team or you wouldn't have chosen it; to me it reads as dripping with contempt for women and makes me take the idea that Team Red is engaged in dispassionate analysis less seriously.

On point 1, to clarify -- my experience (and no, I'm not literally talking just about my own relationships) is that we're talking about about at least a substantial minority, not rare exceptions. I also don't think the behaviors in question are scalar; it doesn't make sense to talk about them "on average" unless you're making a fairly uninteresting point about the modal woman, where then non-modal women are qualitatively different.

On point 2, again, the reason women are thought to vary less than men is that they have two copies of the x chromosome. It's a principle roughly similar to the difference between rolling 2d6 and 1d12; you expect a lower standard deviation in the former. And again, there's no reason for this to predict that women would be homogenous in their mating strategies.

Point 3 is basically assuming the conclusion.

Point 4. Not in this case.

Point 5. The comment you link to contains numerous inaccuracies about US divorce law, as is pointed out in that thread. Aside from that, what Lumifer said.

The reason women are thought to vary less than men is because that's what nearly all the statistics say. There is a fairly straightforward ev-psych explanation for this. As for the mechanism, there is no consensus on it and it's not at all clear that the mechanism you describe is the only (or even main) one.
The only statistics I've actually seen addressing sex differences in standard deviations from the mean are IQ, height, weight, and life expectancy. Do you have links to studies from this perspective on other traits? Without disputing the fact that evolutionary psychology may correctly explain some things, the problem with ev-psych exlanations is that they can explain anything. Just as you can finance pundit diametrically opposed stock market data and they'll find some way to fit both sets to their theory, and armchair evolutionary psychologist can explain any behavior in ev-pysch terms, correct or not. Being able to offer a mechanism is, in my view, rather important for corroboration.
Um, no. Yes it's possible to rationalize anything if one is creative enough, this isn't limited to ev-psych, but just as some arguments are better then others, some ev-psych explanations are better then others, and this one is pretty straightforward: namely since the number of children an individual female can have is much more limited then an individual male, it makes sense for females to use less risky, i.e., lower variance, strategies. Hence, we should expect males to have a higher variance in most traits unless there is some reason for that particular trait to be selected otherwise. Um, in fact in this case a single mechanism would be evidence against the ev-psych explanation, which predicts evolution to arrange this for each trait in whatever way it happens to stumble upon.
That may or may not be so, but ev-psych explanations are no more than post factum just-so stories, nothing but handwaving. They are useful to humans because humans have a need to have things explained, but they are not science.
Honestly, your comment appears to consist of a bunch of non-sequiturs. In case I'm missing something could you explain whether you think this is equally true of any evolutionary explanation. If not what's so special about ev-psych?
Basically, yes, "evolutionary explanations" are narratives and not science.

Taken literally, it is seen as pedantic, much like the guy who insists that every statement of the form "men are stronger than women" be followed by the suffix "on average". Of course in a planet of 3 billion women there are going to be some exceptions; that's not an interesting observation.

One thing I've noticed is that, whereas zero-article plurals in English are usually taken to only refer to central elements of a category (“ducks lay eggs” even though male ones don't) in descriptive statements, they often aren't in normative statements (say “ducks aren't allowed here”). Therefore, claims like “women are X; therefore, women shouldn't be allowed to do Y”, insofar as “women are X” would normally be taken to refer to typical women and “women shouldn't be allowed to do Y” would normally be taken to refer to all women, sound a lot like fallacies of equivocation to me.

Or maybe the claimers do not believe that every rare exception warrants a deontological obligation to create an entire legal/social/institutional framework to acommodate it, regardless of consequences such as horrible inefficiency, toxic social pathologies, or the abandonment of vitally important Schelling fences (I am reminded of a comment on Steve Sailer's blog: "The military is too male. I don't have a joke, I'm just really in awe of that phrase. I'm thinking about the length of a journey that a culture must undertake in order for that to stop sounding crazy.")
If that's their argument, I'd rather they stated that explicitly, rather than relying on the ambiguity of generic plurals. (And in certain cases I can't see what's wrong with just using the same legal/social/institutional framework that already exists for men. “After all, we are a university, not a bath house.”)
The consequences you linked to are exactly the same for assuming a woman follows the Team Red model when in fact she does not.
Refusing to marry a woman who wouldn't divorce you anyway? I can see that consequences of doing that are also bad, but “exactly the same” sounds like a stretch.
No, failing to sustain a satisfying relationship because you are giving your wife what you assume she should want, except that she actually doesn't.
I also already wondered if there is an analogue to the Alpha/Beta distinction in women.
There definitely are alpha and beta women, but it is not about slut / prude dilemma. Imagine a group of young people discussing what to do, for instance which movie to see. If an alpha woman says, she wants to see Titanic, suddenly several men want to see Titanic, even though it seems disproportionate, if we have known those men for longer and are aware they do not generally like this type of films. Then a beta, or rather omega women says, she wants to see Matrix and is ignored. What makes an alpha woman become alpha ? Confidence certainly helps, there is an analogy to PUA teachings. Women magazines recommend that all the time. Alpha woman probably does not behave in so strongly dominant manner, as is suggested by PUA for men. But still, she is somewhat dominant. I guess so. You tell me, boys. Beauty helps a lot, too, although there is anecdotal evidence, that bad looks can be overcome. Now I start feeling lost as I am writing this, so I am leaving my theory incomplete.
No. That doesn't sound right. We are no looking for Alpha<->Omega i.e. graduation of success at dominance. We are looking at genuinely desireable (for men) but orthogonal properties in woman. Men: Alpha = Capability to control others, Beta = capability to provide and care for children Women: Alpha = Beauty?, Capability to influence others?, Beta = Health? Practical intelligence?
"Genuinely desirable" seems like the problem here, in that it's conflating base sexual attraction with a more pragmatic evaluation of someone's prospects. Beta males certainly have many admirable qualities; they're reliable productive and civil, usually friendly and loyal as well. But those qualities, while again being very important, are simply not attractive. Alpha males, on the other hand, are really quite a menace. The Dark Triad traits which make them attractive also mean they are shiftless and poor contributors to society, at least for the most part. Hence the pattern of "Alpha fucks, Beta bucks." Women want to get the Alpha but will, if forced to by circumstances, trade sex to Betas for resources / security. In that context, female "Betas" would be the low-risk women men settle for reluctantly while "Alphas" would be high-risk women who are highly sought after.
Any examples ? Even fictional evidence ?
Can you rephrase? I don't understand what this means.
Basis is the interpretation of Alpha/Beta citend by Viliam_Bur from e.g. here: Where Alpha and Beta traits are orthogonal and both independently desirable (not Alpha good, Beta bad). I am am correspondingly looking for alike orthogonal traits in women that are both independently desirable for men. Candidate womens traits could be: * Beauty, Health * Practical intelligence * Ability and willingness to care for and foster offspring. * Capability to influence others (corresponding to male Alpha trait) * Sexual willingsness The questions is: Are these actually clustered into two orthogonal features? I cannot see such a clustering. And I also see no clear evopsych reason for it.
Ah, I see. Well, I can come up with pairs of orthogonal traits, but I don't know why would you call them Alpha and Beta. These terms are pretty solidly associated with dominance/status. But if you want to make up an orthogonal pair, sure: Alpha = sexiness, ability to turn heads on the street, good in bed, bombshell. Beta = keeping house, being a good mother, a good cook. The parallel is that Alpha qualities make you noticed and attract potential mates while Beta qualities keep them over the long term.
Evo-psychologists distinguish between short-term and long-term mating strategies for women, but, as far as I can tell, they attribute the difference more to environmental cues than persistent traits of particular organisms. I'm not very confident that my recollection\impression is accurate though, so don't update much without double-checking.
In popular culture there the "The Rules" which get's often cited as a analogue to PUA practices. It contains such rules as: "2. Don't Talk to a Man First" 1. Don't Call Him and Rarely Return His Calls 2. Always End Phone Calls First" There are also other cultural difference between woman. In the social justice warrior camp you find individuals who argue that any physical touch from a stranger that isn't explicitly announced to be welcome is inappropriate. If you go in a Yoga class, I think you find plenty of woman who don't have a huge problem with physical touch provided it's done in an aware manner. Those woman care much more for emotions and how it makes them feel than for following mental rules about what kind of touch is allowed in what circumstances. They totally believe that they should be legally able to hire an employee based on the advice of a tarot reading or intuition instead of a specific intellectual analysis of the merits that a person has. But I don't know how many of that type are active on Lesswrong.
For game-theoretic reasons, nobody can actually follow this strategy. The equilibrium would end up as ring ring Man: "Hi" Woman: "Bye."
Just adding a data point that I have a similar experience. Some women are like textbook examples of the Team Red theory. Other women are not. Some seem to fit the model partially.
I was tempted to vote "makes no sense at all". I did not because I've had far too many experiences where I dismiss a colleague's idea as being the product of muddled thinking only to later realize that a) the idea makes sense, they just didn't know how to express it clearly or b) the idea makes practical sense but my profession chooses to sweep it under the rug because it's too inconvenient. On Stackoverflow and LW I see the same tendency to mistake hard/tedious problems for meaningless problems and "solve" the problem by prematurely claiming to have dissolved the question or substituting in a different question the respondent finds more convenient. Some questions really are meaningless or misguided. But experience has taught me to usually give questions the benefit of a doubt until I have enough background information to be more sure. So, I played along and gave the technically correct answer of "I'm parts both". Come to think of it, "Red/Blue makes no sense at all" is not even a valid answer to the question. The question did not ask whether it made sense. Such a meta-question should really be a checkbox orthogonal to the main poll question.

Come to think of it, "Red/Blue makes no sense at all" is not even a valid answer to the question. The question did not ask whether it made sense.

There's such a thing as a question that rests on invalid assumptions — the classic example being "Have you stopped beating your wife?" when addressed to someone who never did (or never married a woman). As in that case, questions can be used to sneak in connotations — the classic example is asked by a politician to his rival in a public debate, for the purpose of planting suspicion. The sage Hofstadter writes that "mu"#.22Unasking.22_the_question) is the answer to this question.

It sure looks like the categories being presented here introduce a lot of assumptions and connotations, though they are obvious enough that I would not use the word "sneak".

Here are some analogous questions to illustrate the problem. In each case I take the question to be of the "radio button" format — an answer is a choice of exactly one of the presented options.

"Are you a Baptized Fooist, or hell-bound?" This question assumes that people naturally split into Fooists and those who are going to hell. Eve... (read more)

Come to think of it, "Red/Blue makes no sense at all" is not even a valid answer to the question. The question did not ask whether it made sense.

"Red/Blue makes no sense at all" means "I reject the framework within which you are asking this question".

I picked Team Blue because it's the one I find it easier to emotionally identify with, but I do agree that Team Red's claims apply to most people. I just object to the connotations that (depending on which individual Team Red member you listen to) people who are outliers are ipso facto inferior, or worse that they don't exist and people who claim to be ones are lying or confabulating.
This seems ambiguous to me, I can interpret this both as asking whether I believe Team Red/Blue memes are correct about the population at large or whether Team Red/Blue memes apply to me specifically. Could you clarify?
Yet another ambiguity is that both "teams" have a mix of descriptive and normative ideas, and some people might believe that descriptive components of Red memes are closer to being true but that normative components of Blue memes are closer to being ethically correct (what people should try to be). Or conceivably, the opposite, but since Blue memes are more idealistic and Red memes more cynical it is unlikely that anyone takes this position.
For example, I lean towards simultaneously agreeing with both the descriptive claims in this and the normative claims in this.
Neither? I intended it to mean whether you'd consider yourself part of the corresponding 'faction' - provided such a faction makes sense to you. After all that what was meant in the post, or? Anyway the poll is screwed now.