In another discussion going on right now, I posted this proposal, asking for feedback on this experiment. The feedback was positive, so here goes...

Original Post:

When these gender discussions come up, I am often tempted to write in with my own experiences and desires. But I generally don't because I don't want to generalize from one example, or claim to be the Voice of Women, etc. However, according to the last survey, I actually AM over 1% of the females on here, and so is every other woman. (i.e. there are less than 100 of us).

My idea is to put out a call for women on LessWrong to write openly about their experiences and desires in this community, and send them to me. I will anonymize them all, and put them all up under one post.

This would have a couple of benefits, including:

  • Anonymity allows for open expression- When you are in the vast minority, speaking out can feel like "swimming upstream," and so may not happen very much.

  • Putting all the women's responses in one posts helps figure out what is/is not a problem- Because of the gender ratio, most discussions on the topic are Men Talking About what Women Want, it can be hard to figure out what women are saying on the issues, versus what men are saying women say.

  • The plural of anecdote is data- If one woman says X, it is an anecdote, and very weak evidence. If 10% of women say X, it is much stronger evidence.

Note that with a lot of the above issues, one of the biggest problems in figuring out what is going on isn't purposeful misogyny or anything. Just the fact that the gender ratio is so skewed can make it difficult to hear women (think picking out one voice amongst ten). The idea I'm proposing is an attempt to work around this, not an attempt to marginalize men, who may also have important things to say, but would not be the focus of this investigation.

Even with a sample size of 10 responses (approximately the amount I would say is needed for this to be useful), according to the last survey, that is 10% of the women on this site. A sizable proportion, indeed.


In the following discussion, the idea was added that fellow LWers could submit questions to the Women of LW. The women can then use these as prompts in their narratives, if they like. If you are interested in submitting questions, please read the guidelines below in "Call for Questions" before posting.

If you are interested in submitting a narrative, please read the Call for Narrative section below.



Call for Narratives

RSVP -(ETA- We have reached the needed number of pre-commitments! You do not need to fill out the form, although you are welcome to, if you like) I think we need to have at least 6 people submitting narratives to provide both the scope and the anonymity to work. So before I ask women to spend their time writing these, I would like to make sure we will get enough submissions to publish. If you are going to write a narrative, fill out this (one-minute) form in the next couple days. If we get at least 6 women pre-committed to writing a narrative, we will move forward. I will PM or email you and let you know. If, in a week, we have not had at least 6 commitments, I will close the form.

Submissions- Feel free to submit, even if you did not RSVP. (that part is just to make sure we have minimum amount of people). Just send me a pm, dropbox link, or ask for my email. I'll add more information to this, as it gets worked out. 

Although the discussion that spurred this idea was about "creep" behaviors, please don't limit your responses to that subject only. Feel free to discuss any gender-related issues that you find relevant, especially responses to the questions that are posted in the thread below by your fellow LWers.

The anonymity is to provide you with the opportunity to express non-self-censored thoughts. It is ok if they are half-formed, stream-of-consciousness writings. My goal is to find out what the women on this site think, not nit-pick at the writing style. I don't want to limit submissions by saying that they have to have hours spent on formulating, organizing, and clarifying them. Write as much as you like. Don't worry about length. I will write tl;dr's if needed.

How I organize the submissions in the final post depends strongly on what is submitted to me. Separate out things that you think are identifiable to you, and I will put them in a section that is not affiliated with the rest of your submission.

Submissions are due Sept 25th!

Security- I am willing to work with people individually to make sure that their narratives aren't identifiable via writing style or little clues. Discussions that are obviously written by you (for example, talking about an incident many LWers know about) can be pulled out of your main narrative, and placed in a separate section. (reading the original exchange on the topic will clarify what I am trying to explain)

Verification- Submissions must be linked to active LW accounts (i.e. older than a week, more than 50 karma). This info will only be known to me. When possible, I would like to have validation (such as a link to a relevant post) that the account is of a female or transgendered user.  



Call for Questions

Feel free to ask questions you would like answered by the women of LW. To make everything easier for us, remember the following:

1) Put questions in response to the comment entitled "Question submissions"

2)Due to the nature of this experiment, all questions will automatically assumed to be operating under Crocker's Rules.

 3) Please only post one question per comment!

Upvote questions you would like to see answered. The questions with the highest amounts of upvotes are probably the most likely to be answered (based on my model of fellow LW Women).

New Comment
374 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:39 PM
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Would we have a better idea of how to frame this information if we also did Anonymous Narratives of all LWers?

I think it would be nice to have both female and male (separately) answers to this question:

"What topics (if any) have you considered posting about (or replying to), but then decided not to because of fear of gender-specific negative response or attention?

More generally, it would be useful to know where people have ugh fields discussing something on LW. Not just because of their gender, but also because of their political opinions etc.

That is a great idea! I think you should do it!
Sure I'd be willing to do it, but I'll wait first to see if enough people think it worthwhile.
It could be very worthwhile, but I doubt that anonymity is possible for longterm frequent posters. Writing styles are too distinctive.
If it would be of value, I'm willing to contribute my time to rewriting submissions (i.e. writing new, parallel texts with the same content but completely new phrasing). I could try to make a point of writing in a style unlike the original, or in the same style for all stories, etc. English is not my native tongue. I would preserve the intent and content of the submissions, but I can't promise the quality of the writing itself won't suffer. OTOH, this might further obscure the true author Of course, the rewritten versions would have to be approved or further edited by the original submitters, and I would not know myself who submitted each response. Would this help?
Doesn't this same problem apply to Narratives by Women? Also it is one that wouldn't apply to a different set, feedback by new users and lurkers which might also be valuable.
Yes, it would apply to Narratives by Women, too-- I just answered when the idea occurred to me.
I don't think it's a great idea. I don't think it was supposed to be.
Ok noted. I wondered what kind of anon feedback we would get to the site from the regular users in general since this is something we haven't ever done before. Many individuals here have requested anon feedback for themselves and apparently found it worthwhile. Also I wondered what kind of selection we'd be seeing, since obviously there will be systematic differences between those who send annon narratives and those who don't. I'm not sure what you mean by this.
I think, the users and the groups of users may be fun. Even too much fun for humans like us and those topics would consume disproportional amount of the LW's time-space. It's just a temptation which is better to avoid, I think.

UPDATE- We have reached eight precommitments, which I think is enough to go ahead and start writing. Please send your submission to me by September 25 (two weeks from today)

I just submitted now - hope that's ok! ETA: ciphergoth can verify that I'm female if necessary. ETA2: I did not mean submitted - I meant I just filled in the precommitment form! Sorry, my brain is clearly failing me :(.
Yes, quite alright! The form was solely to make sure we had enough women interested in writing that it would actually maintain anonymity. Also, I use it to send people my email, so they can get a hold of me that way, if they prefer. Any LW female can send in a submission. Also, if you want to submit, but want to be double-blind (i.e. you don't want me personally knowing what you wrote), you can forward it to another female LWer, to send to me. (if you trust them to forward it without reading it)
Retracted. Completely wrong idea.

the account is of a female or transgendered user

Buh? Are you saying "cis female user, or trans female user" or "female user, or female-assigned-at-birth trans user" or "female user, or trans user of any gender and sex" or is that a leftover from editing or what?

The latter.
"Latter" for a list of more than two is the same as "last", right? Google is unclear.
Yes, I meant it as the last option

How much to point to specific instances/individuals?

I was asked by one of the participants as to what the policy is on singling out specific instances or individuals. I told her I would ask the community, and get back with her.

So, on one side, we don't want to use anonymity as a platform for safely attacking others (her words). On the other side, we don't want to censor out too much actual data. Also, I don't want women to feel isolated, if they think they are the only one who has a problem with an individual, but just because no one speaks up.

Some option... (read more)

Low info but safe. Transparent. Reasonable, but potentially drama inducing. Not cool.
I endorse this, contingent upon the list being stored in a Lisa Frank binder.

Question Submissions

Feel free to ask questions you would like answered by the women of LW as a response to this comment.

Remember, Crocker's Rules will apply for the answers, and one question per comment, please!

Can you describe some occasions you met a new male friend (who you didn't previously know) at a social event, lesswrong-related or otherwise, and how it wasn't creepy, and what was fun/interesting/good about it.

This is a gender-neutral example, but one of the best ways to forestall stress/creepiness when meeting new people was pretty well summed up by a PUA. He suggested setting up a time by which your conversation has to end when you start it. ("Oh, I want to make the next bus, but I've got five min"). One thing that is stressful about being approached by someone you don't know, especially if they seem a little off is having to simultaneously carry on a conversation and try to plan an exit. If you set up an exit when you approach and precommit ending the conversation then (unless you both are in the middle of something quite interesting) it's easier to just be present for the conversation.

When I first went vegetarian as a teenager, most other teenagers' reactions were along the lines of "Oh, that's nice" or "I love to eat animals! They're delicious! I'm going to eat a hamburger right in front of you! Ha!" A friend introduced me to her boyfriend, and my vegetarianism came up. He immediately asked, "What do you do for protein, eat a lot of peanut butter?" I remember being impressed that even though he had no interest in being vegetarian himself, he could think from my perspective and notice a practical implication of my choice without passing judgement on it.

I meet most people on the Internet or by their having swung through my house while I was in more of a group living situation, but awhile ago I visited a minicamp and met a bunch of people, some of whom I hadn't known before. I'll use Andrew Critch as an example. I'd been hearing for a while from Anna that he wanted to meet me and kept missing me. (This was relevant for two reasons: a) he was not making meeting me his life's mission or he could have done it much sooner, b) Anna seemed to like him and think we should talk). We had a conversation about miscellaneous topics ranging from the tree we were sitting under to his school stuff. I inquired about his schedule and dietary preferences so I'd know when to invite him to a dinner party. Eventually it got dark out where we were and we were being bitten by mosquitoes, so we went inside and dispersed - we both had other people to talk to.

How do you think LessWrong does at productive discussion of gender issues (when discussed) compared to other communities you have experience of that have a similar gender ratio (eg the Science Fiction community)? Do you think the LessWrong community would benefit most from a higher, lower, or about the current frequency of such discussions?


How do you think LessWrong does at productive discussion of gender issues (when discussed) compared to other communities you have experience of that have a similar gender ratio (eg the Science Fiction community)?

I think LW mistakes "not a screaming flamewar all or most of the time" for "productive conversation." It's certainly true that LW is more civil about things. But that civility seems overrated, too -- someone with little or no stake in an issue can often discuss it with far less emotion than someone with a lot of stake in it, precisely because of that differential. That doesn't mean the former party is more likely to be objective or make the right decision; the norm just acts as a filter for certain kinds of personality, or for the ability to make your feelings and preferences sound smart. If you look at similar discussions that have been going on recently in similar spaces (LW is not alone here; the SF and atheist subcultures have been in the middle of a similar round of topical debate), things are noisier, and often a great deal more vitriolic -- but I'm not sure what's been gained here, that isn't being gained in those places. I don't think LW as a community has generated any special insights here.

Really? It seems that keeping yourself in system 2 mode would lead to better reasoning on such matters. Certainly I don't feel particularly rational when frothing at the screen and TYPING IN CAPS LOCK.

Yeah, no. I've watched perfectly calm and reasonable-sounding people sincerely debate whether some group of other people (queer folks and disabled folks come to mind) have a right to exist that should not be overridden in favor of euthanasia to satisfy their own utility functions. I've watched this happen in the halls of supposedly respectable institutions while members of the group under discussion protested outside.

The people going "Hey, this is really fucked up that our right to exist can just be casually debated with or without us in a mainstream, powerful institution, and our not raising a fuss about that is apparently more important to people than the actual suggestion" weren't polite or unemotional, but they did seem to understand the situation for what it was a whole lot better than the folks inside. I'm not sure I want to be around people who can't perform that kind of sanity check on occasion.

7Scott Alexander11y
What's the alternative to rationally debating ideas that violate our moral sensibilities, assuming some people hold them? Is it to declare with 100% certainty that any idea that violates our moral sensibilities is false? Is it to say that maybe there's a small chance that ideas violating our moral sensibilities are true, but even so we must never discuss them so if they're true we're out of luck and will never reach that true belief? Is it to say we may discuss them, but not rationally - that is, we must let the screaming protesters into the debate so that they can throw eggs and mud onto the debaters because that will improve the quality of discourse? Also, I bet (and correct me if I'm wrong) that whatever debate you've watched was not about "Let's round up the [Other Folk] and execute them." My guess is it was either about allowing them voluntary euthanasia, allowing abortion or infanticide on the part of their parents, or ceasing to specifically allocate scarce health resources to them. That means that what we're really talking about is "Any idea that can be massaged into sounding like an idea that violates our moral sensibilities is 100% certainly wrong, or should never be discussed, or needs more egg-throwing."

What's the alternative to rationally debating ideas that violate our moral sensibilities, assuming some people hold them?

When inviting a guest speaker for an honorarium to hold forth in front of an audience on a subject that affects few or none of them directly, and just giving them that platform without any semblance of discourse apart from taking questions at the end...yeah, I'm gonna say "Rationally debating ideas that violate our moral sensibilities" is not what was going on. Doubly so since in many cases those ideas actually affirm the moral sensibilities of some fair portion of the population.

Also, I bet (and correct me if I'm wrong) that whatever debate you've watched was not about "Let's round up the [Other Folk] and execute them." My guess is it was either about allowing them voluntary euthanasia, allowing abortion or infanticide on the part of their parents, or ceasing to specifically allocate scarce health resources to them.

Yeah, you're wrong -- we're talking about folks who honestly and straightforwardly suggested it was an ethical good to terminate the lives of these people which they felt either had no value (usually through "gentle&quo... (read more)

You're right, I apologize.

(although to be fair, you did say you watched "calm and reasonable people sincerely debate this" and that people were objecting to it being "casually debated", so I don't think it was my fault for assuming it was a debate rather than one person going on about it unopposed.)

Now I'm very curious what exactly was going on, although I understand if you don't want to look like you're pointing fingers at specific people.


Upvoted for owning up to it.

(although to be fair, you did say you watched "calm and reasonable people sincerely debate this" and that people were objecting to it being "casually debated", so I don't think it was my fault for assuming it was a debate rather than one person going on about it unopposed.)

Yah, I'm not being very clear with that, though it's at least partly because I'm just generally underslept and sick, and have been for a couple of months now, so it's hard to "say what I mean" rather than "verbalize something that's more on-target for what I mean, than not." (Gotta love autie language brain...)

Some of what I'm referring to is just conferences, symposia, guest speaker talks or, yes, actual debates, usually hosted at an academic institution that I or someone I knew was attending. I was particularly uninclined to take anybody's word for much of anything at the time, and insisted on looking into it a bit myself before really trying to interpret what they were upset about .

Some of it is just random discussions with other people over the years, both on and off of LW.

Wait. You've heard people proposing to gently euthanize queers? Can you say in what country and decade, if you don't want to give too much information? I can't see the mercy-killing crowd going against queers, nor the gay-murdering crowd preferring gentle methods to hanging. I'm also surprised people are still openly supporting involuntary euthanasia after WW2. Forced sterilization isn't even done on whole groups anymore since the seventies.
US, this decade. They weren't euthanasia advocates per se, they were various flavors of fundamentalist in some cases -- but they were polite, non-frothing, non-raving flavors of fundamentalist. I think the last actual legally forced sterilization in the US was in the early 80s, in Oregon, although some states did keep the laws on the books after that (they simply didn't use them thereafter).
I would find that much easier to believe if I saw non-hearsay evidence -of people advocating euthanasia of queers, in the US, this decade) - either texts written by those people, or a video filmed from a cellphone, or a summary of their position from a reputable institution or something. (unless you're talking about Wesboro Baptist Church, or anonymous posters on a forum)
According to Largent's "Breeding Contempt" (following Robitscher), all sterilizations in the US in the 70s were in Virginia and none were in the 80s. There are reasons to believe that these are undercounts and earlier Largent had claimed that Oregon had sterilizations after 1965, but as far as I can tell, the widely reported 1981 date stems from a hospital striking the procedure from its books a couple years before the state changed its laws and has nothing to do with actual sterilizations.
Largent's story doesn't accord with testimony from those who were charged with destroying the records of the Oregon Eugenics Board, or the widespread nationwide practice of sterilizing Native American women in BIA hospitals for other procedures (which is barely touched on even in other scholarly treatments of the general phenomenon). The book might sound persuasive to you, but it's not true.
Could you give a more specific citation about Oregon?
Very tricky due to internet sources aging, but here's a snapshot of an article discussing that testimony.
I don't see where that supports (unless your disagreement with Douglas_Knight is about something else now)
What do you mean by "testimony"? I don't believe anyone was charged with destroying records.
The term "testimony" doesn't only refer to legal proceedings.
... I am confused.
Since Jandila seems to have evaded questions on the claim about euthanasia advocates and the claim about legal forced sterilizations in the eighties, I'm inclined to assume those aren't exactly true, or at least are somewhat exaggerated or deformed. (though in this specific case, she's probably talking about hypothetical anti-gay-rights activists or something that aren't particularly euthanasia advocates, but are advocating euthanasia of queers or something; so there's no inherent contradiction, I just suspect it didn't happen as described)
Are you familiar with Not Dead Yet?
[Off-topic discussion taken offline.]
Sure, system 2 can make mistakes. Though it is not uncontroversial to classify all the instances you point to as mistakes - I'm thinking pro-abortion people, and Peter Singer. But in any case, the question is whether it is in general more prone to them than system 1, a questions which requires data rather than anecdotes. However, I'm willing to bet the angels of our better nature show through more when we're thinking than when we're not.
I think that change is a long process. It's probably not yet possible to see whether the more overt conflict in other venues pays off better than the more polite style at LW, or vice versa. Also, rationality might be a confounding factor. It's possible-- not guaranteed-- that the group norm of paying attention and updating will have good results, even if it's much slower for highly emotionally fraught issues than for procrastination.
It's certainly perilous to make too much of an analogy, but when I look at the broader history of social justice movements (at least in the US), it's not obvious to me at all that keeping to a majority idea of polite gets much done. It's fashionable for white people who didn't live through, say, the black Civil Rights movement to talk about MLK vs Malcolm X, as polite vs confrontational (hell, that conception of them has become a mass media archetype -- see Professor X vs Magneto in the X-Men franchise, or virtually anything else that deals in discrimination against fantastics), forgetting how much confrontation King and his followers actually engaged in.

it's not obvious to me at all that keeping to a majority idea of polite gets much done.

The idea of observing norms of behaviour isn't to "get things done", it's to reduce the damage when what you want is the wrong thing. I'd much prefer both my communists and my liberals be peaceful than both be violent. Yes, maybe it might be better if the good guys were confrontational and the bad guys meek; but for the good of the tribe, we should avoid killing for the sake of the tribe. You cannot run an algorithm "violate social norms when I'm right" - you can only run "violate social norms when I think I'm right".

Personal advances should constrained by social mores and individual rights so as to reduce damage when the subject doesn't appreciate them. Even if you're sure you're right you should still ask for premission; even if it were the case that not obeying social rules (e.g. being creepy) got more done.

Yeah, see, part of the problem here is that you appear to consider making noise a really good indicator of being willing to kill for the sake of the tribe.
No (though it obveously constitutes at least weak bayesian evidence), that wasn't my point at all. My point was that the reason you should obey social norms in controversial situations applies in both cases. Equally, "making noise" is to minimise that which I am objecting too. Talking politely, quietly, slowly, with a smile makes noise, but is normally fine. I do object to Malcolm X, though.

Equally, "making noise" is to minimise that which I am objecting too. Talking politely, quietly, slowly, with a smile makes noise, but is normally fine. I do object to Malcolm X, though.

Yeah, see, the discussion you were replying to was about whether it would be useful to have confrontational or non-calm comments in discussions, one reason being that listening only to calm people might mean hearing only one side of the story, because it's easier to be calm if you have little to lose (because you're on the more powerful side), and another reason being that the truth may be confrontational, so hearing only non-confrontational comments may lead you to miss it.

In the comment you were originally replying to, Jandila was arguing that MLK tends to be cast as non-confrontational, vs. Malcolm X as confrontational, in young white people's discourse today, but that in fact MLK and his followers were quite confrontational. Thus, looking at history, non-calm confrontational speech seems like a reasonable tool if you want things to change something for the better, even if the people who would be the target of that confrontational speech misremember the actually-society-changing civi... (read more)

No, I was just pointing out that the same argument applies to both violence and impoliteness. Making an analogy between X and Y does not mean that one thinks that X and Y are the same in other respects. (also how can the truth be confrontational? maybe we're using the word 'confrontational' in different senses (or, god forbid, using the word 'truth' in different senses) but it seems like only agents or utterances can be confrontational.)
One thing I seem to notice is that the more confrontational people are used by the less confrontatioanl ones to intimidate their opponents while they offer acceptable terms.
There's confrontation, and then there's confrontation. I see a difference between "We will make it emotionally and/or financially expensive for you to not change" and describing people as white devils. One sort of confrontation is based on the premise that people can change, and the other is based on the premise that they won't and/or can't.
The problem I'm seeing, broadly, is that white people can't necessarily always tell the difference between the two. Even when it's couched in positively obsequious language there's a decent chance of that. I'm not exaggerating here; some white people now think it's racist to even mention racism. Most white people (certainly a lot of them here in this site) are highly resistant to the idea that racism even exists in this day and age, or that it's anything other than a strictly defined "paying attention to racial differences." You can't meet everyone halfway here, because they're either unable or unwilling to reciprocate. It's not about reaching out to people and persuading and convincing them, at that point -- it's about not letting the fact that you can't stop you from addressing your actual situation.
I don't think people can reliably tell the difference between the two, probably especially when they feel they have higher status than the person being addressed. At the moment, we're getting a variant of the problem in regards to gender. Who decides the emotional significance of a statement? What tool can you use? Emotions are a rubber ruler, but what else could be available? This being said, I don't think the problem is completely unsolvable. Social justice as currently practiced is probably not going to be the last experiment in working on it. What do you mean by "actual situation"?
I'm looking at what you said here, and the paragraph I wrote whose format it echoes, and I can't help but think we're talking about two very different things. The person whose emotions were touched off by it. Easy, right? The question I'd be tempted to derive from your connotation here is more like: "Who gets to decide which interpretations of those reports-of-emotional-significance are being proposed as the priority for the purposes of conflict resolution and communication?" (My answer to that is "the question is slightly broken", but I'm about to head out so can't give you the preferred reframing right this moment). Oh, definitely not. It has plenty of its discontents, even within the movement, who aren't satisfied with the tools and methodologies available, its failure modes, and so on. That's being actively discussed in many spaces, I've observed.
Some of us even object to "white people"!
Depends who you're speaking to, and why. To a significant extent, the "confrontational" approach wasn't about asking for change, it was about "consciousness raising" - debiasing the self concepts of black people, fixing learned helplessness, constructing the conceptual framework to experience white supremacy as racism rather than having internalized it as legitimate. And, to my mind, the assumption white people "won't and/or can't" change was well calibrated. Political anti-racism succeeded somewhat in shoving the Overton window off avowed racism and completely off avowed segregationism. Every variety of disavowed racism remains politically viable (examples: border fences, "illegals", voter suppression laws) or even politically unassailable (examples: the drug war and its disproportionate criminalization of black people, police casual violence against black people, felon disenfranchisement coupled with the above, lack of reparations). "Color blindness" has been shown to be a cause of / form of racism, but it remains the default "liberal" position in white dominated culture.
The war on drugs is a tricky one-- I'm against it myself, but I've seen black people be in favor of it, and in favor of closed borders. too. Neither the war on drugs nor severe border restrictions (which I'm also against) are overtly racist the way Jim Crow was, and that makes them harder to fight. It's much easier to frame the war on drugs and border restrictions as the sorts of thing a normal government ought to do-- some combination of help and punishment and keeping people who don't use drugs safe for the war on drugs, and safety and control for border restrictions. Something got accomplished to lower the racism level in the US, even though much less was accomplished than either of us want. I'm inclined to think that the real problem is that we have no idea how to reliably get people to be less prejudiced, and institutional problems will get re-established as long as a lot of people want them to persist. This isn't a counsel of despair-- it's a recommendation to keep trying to figure out what might work.
I would't really call "police casual violence against black people" "politically unassailable".

Can you describe some occasions when a woman was creepy towards you at a social event, lesswrong-related or otherwise?

This almost never happens to me. I can only think of one example, which was mostly obnoxious and only mildly creepy. I went to a party where there was only one other woman present. She was strangely warm with me and asked me lots of personal questions. When I got up, but was still well within earshot, she started asking my husband the same questions about me ("where did you two meet?") He said, "You just asked Julia those questions. You already know the answers." She said she was interested to hear the differences, but it felt like she was trying to catch us in some kind of deception. Then she drank my beer.

At least it wasn't her milkshake?

At a science fiction convention, there was a question about enough car space to get a party to a restaurant, and a woman kept saying that I could sit on her lap.

At a later convention, she upgraded a hug (I can't remember how consensual the hug was) to a kiss, and I threw her out of my life.

Marginally creepy but much less serious for me-- an older woman who would keep touching my hair (more dramatically curly at the time). The experience was more weird/dissociated for me than upsetting, so I didn't do anything about it. I actually didn't even think of it as possibly part of a larger social pattern until I read many accounts by black people of white people insisting on touching their hair.

I'm white and this seems bizarre to me. Like, extremely weird. I'm sort of creeped out just knowing about it.
I've noticed some clusters of people thinking that touching other people's hair is okay (they usually ask strangers first), but I haven't been able to pick up on what else those clusters have in common.
Now that I think about it, a couple days ago I saw a group of white girls practically interrogating these two black girls about what they did with their hair. My own reaction was more along the lines of "oh, curly dreadlock braid thingys" and then I moved on, so I couldn't figure out why they were so (rudely) curious (they were so aggressive with their questions that my first thought was actually that the white girls were trying to bully them, but then that didn't make sense for other reasons). I concluded that it was more about those girls being extremely curious about a different type of hairstyle, which it technically was, but I meant that in a sense more about function and structure than about race and the hair itself. I feel weird when I think about this. I think it's because I'm trying to use my brain to model an interest or value that I've never had or noticed before and that I have a difficult time empathizing with a fascination for something unusual like this. It feels like something warm and fuzzy is scratching the top of my head. Confusing..........
Me, too. When I grasped that hair touching was a thing, I actually wondered if my family had assimilated into mainstream American culture as much as I'd thought. (Eastern European Jewish, and my great grandparents came here in the early 1900s.) However, I think it's more reasonable to conclude that this is something that only a tiny minority of white people do, but there's enough of them that black people are reasonably likely to have had the experience or to know someone who has. I've also heard that demands to touch hair or touching with no preliminaries are somewhat likely to happen to white redheads.
Textures are fascinating. I like touching people's hair in general; it's neat as long as it isn't full of goop. (I ask first.) So far this hasn't happened to come up with any black people except one I was dating whose hair I could consequently touch very incidentally, but yeah, this is supposedly a thing and it would make me nervous about asking a black friend if I could touch their hair.
Try to Feel It My Way, a book about touch-dominant people-- those who have touching as a major way of relating to the world.
I have no idea what you look like, but despite that I just had a mental image of you looking absolutely enraptured staring at someone else's hair, and playing with it sort of like a cat might (I have never had a cat). This amused me a lot.
I'm sure I've cat-batted hair in the past, but I'm more likely to braid it or just pet it. (Cats are known to bat at my hair, though!)
To clarify my reaction: I don't find anything wrong with it. It just seems really arbitrary, and slightly like a violation of personal space (even if you ask) although that one doesn't really bother me. I find it unusual and surprising, more than anything else. My reaction was along the lines of "Wait, what? Why would you want to touch my hair?".
A lot of people like being petted. Enough people and enough liking that I'm confused that it doesn't seem to be a normal thing, like hugs. Edit: Maybe because it's kind of hard to pet someone who is petting you? Hugs are typically reciprocal.
Sure. I've just only seen or heard of it done with intimate couples. I've never seen it done with strangers. It seems like a couple steps above hugs on a scale of casual intimacy, to me, if I can just invent a scale out of thin air and proceed to give no reference points to guide how you'd evaluate that sort of thing.

The following is my personal experience only, and does not negate the feelings and opinions of those with different experiences.

I have almost never felt creeped out by a female. Even if they are overly huggy or complimenty, it tends to lack the predatory or aggressive/disrespective vibe that makes me feel creeped. Or rather, it doesn't cause in me a reaction of feeling predated. At worst, I feel mildly uncertain.

I can only think of one time when I ever felt creeped out by a woman. It was a couple years ago, so my recollection is not the best, but to the best I recall: We had only been talking for about a minute or two, when out of nowhere she says something along the lines of "So, are you interested in women?" It was ugh-y.

As a straight-leaning female myself, who's good at social cues, I do get to be more huggy and complimenty with people, without having a significant chance that I am going to creep anyone out.

I do think I might have once mildly creeped a fellow LWer though. We had recently met for rationality camp, and she made a comment that I had read as being insecure about her appearance. My reply was along the lines of "Seriously, when I first saw you I thou... (read more)

I remember being hit on by girls (we were teenagers at the time) who didn't understand boundaries - they would try to make me try women, or try to extract kisses from me. Being persistent about what they want while ignoring the fact that what I wanted was in conflict with their desires is what was creepy.
I haven't ever felt a woman was creepy. Creepy essentially translates to unwanted (perceived) sexual advances, and, now I'm going to sound super-creepy myself, but I've never /not/ wanted a woman to come on to me. Like, obviously I don't think about it all the time, but it's always a welcome surprise if it happens. I don't have any exceedingly unattractive female acquaintances though. I would imagine this would be different if I was straight. An example of creepy female-female interaction would be the way Amy often acts towards Penny on TBBT.

Can you describe some occasions when a man was creepy towards you at a social event, lesswrong-related or otherwise?

Unfortunately, this one illustrates that there isn't a hard-and-fast creepy definition. I was at a party, and a man was there who had been showing social but not physical interest in me was there. I was sitting on an empty sofa and he sat down right next to me so our sides were touching, which I found creepy.

But later in the evening a higher-status and more attractive man did basically the same, and I was pleased rather than creeped out. So the creepiness of an action depends on how much I like the person who does it.

Ironically, I'm now friends with the first man (who no longer hits on me) and not with the second (who has probably forgotten I exist.)

So the creepiness of an action depends on how much I like the person who does it.

I think this is a very important sentence. It illustrates how typical, colloquial usage of the word "creepy" can run afoul of the fundamental attribution error.

I don't think that sentence can be successfully said outside LW, but not because of the FAE, more like the Just-World Fallacy and Appeal to Consequences. It would go something like this:

1) In a just world, behavior standards would not vary for men by status or attractiveness (because in a just world they would all have equal status and attractiveness, or women would not be moved by status or attractiveness).

2) Therefore, unhappiness-avoiding behavior standards should not vary by status or attractiveness (contrary to the actual fact that in an unjust world, some things will make (some) women feel uncomfortable/unhappy only if the man's attractiveness/status is below a (varying) particular level).

3) Therefore, a woman who admits that behavior X would not make her feel creepy if a sufficiently more attractive man did it, is being unfair to lower-status men, is wrong to label the behavior "creepy", cannot justly blame the lower-status man for doing what would be okay for a higher-status man to do, is just being shallow, is applying a double standard, etc.

4) It's impossible to have an explicit social standard for men which says, "If you think you're in the upper 20% ... (read more)

Yes, typical human hypocrisy. Not problematic for the average joe.
I don't think that it's necessary to resort to this type of hypocritical normation. You can have the explicit rule: "Don't do things that will typically generate negative feedback when you do them." Assuming that you can read feedback (which may be admittedly a problem for some people), after some calibration you would effectively avoid creeping people (except when you encounter unusual individuals, but you can always blame them for having abnormal standards).
See also: the subsection on “new Puritanism” in the SIRC Guide to Flirting.

At a subculturey party, I made friends with a girl, and when I had to leave I went to say goodbye to her and ask her for a hug. She was talking to someone else who I didn't know at all, and after I hugged her, he went for a hug too. He was too close for me to think of a way to evade him beyond the overtly dramatic "ducking and dodging", so, what the heck, it was just a hug. But then instead of just hugging me he did a weird thing where he alternated the relative position of our heads a couple times. Then he kissed me on the cheek.

I still didn't know this guy at all, so, maybe that was a weird cultural thing or something, but I said "I was not comfortable with that, you shouldn't do that". Still could have been an innocent misreading, if he'd let me go and said "sorry" that would have been the end of it, but instead he said, "Well, I'll probably never have the chance to do it again, so that works out" - which made it Decidedly Sketchy and not-OK; kissing people who don't want to be kissed is not ever a case of things working out, trying to laugh off someone's discomfort is not cool, and the fact that he said this anyway cast all of the things he'd already done that were sketchy in a retroactively worse light.

(This is by far the sketchiest thing that has ever happened to me at a subculturey meatspace event, to be fair. Next closest thing was when I had to verbally signal the end of a hug and the guy let go instantly and apologized, and that's the only other thing I can think of.)

I (male) felt similarly weirded out when a European woman greeted me this way (I was also unaware of the custom at the time). What you mentioned in the first paragraph is mostly culture shock thing, though what you mention in the second paragraph is characteristically male sketchiness.
I should point out that I do not know this guy to actually be European or anything. It happened in America, I did not detect an obvious accent when he spoke (though the environment was noisy), and when I later learned his name it didn't sound foreign.
This made me 100x happier about our first interaction at the Irvine meetup with Yvain and co... Fanfiction chatting cooler than all other types of chattery :)
The face-side-switching kiss sounds like how women in parts of Europe often greet each other, but for a strange man to do it is definitely weird (especially given his vile response afterwards).

Not that weird; Frenchmen will usually greet women by kissing them on both cheeks, though we usually know that Americans are prudes and don't like that (also, we do it when saying hello, not goodbye).

(I agree that the ensuing behavior definitly puts this in "sketchy" territory)

I have never felt creeped at a LessWrong event. There are other problems arising from social awkwardness, though. Here's an example:

A fellow LWer and I were discussing a mutual LW passing acquaintance. I mentioned that I had read him as cold and aloof. He didn't really respond any time I had tried to engage with him. My friend responded that his read had been that he was a warm, but shy person. Further discussion led us to the realization that because this person was attractive, well-dressed, carried himself well, and elsewise high-status, I was interpreting certain responses (monosyllabic answers, not really looking at me, or engaging with me, etc) differently.

If I was trying to engage with a person who presented as being more socially awkward, and they gave the exact same responses then I would have read that as being signs that they were shy and/or I was intimidating them. I would have adjusted, raised my patience level, and try to draw them into a one-on-one conversation. However, because this particular person managed to give off a superficial appearance of being socially skilled, I read the same responses as being aloof, cold, and dismissive. (which is what they would b... (read more)

This confirms every fear about the convoluted and thin line between being stiffly and unnaturally standoffish and creepy that's ever kept me from going to a dance class. I'm quite positive I would spend the first few classes being told to just loosen up a little, to not be afraid of my dance partner, finally try really hard to do that--and forever earn a reputation as a creep. Please don't read this as a rebuke or admonishment; I'm actually glad to know that my fears were well-founded; and learning to dance isn't really that important to me.
As a guy, I don't think it's that bad. If you cannot avoid holding your partner, and you don't feel comfortable with it, or you worry that your partner won't feel comfortable with it, there is a well-tested set of ground rules to tell you what to do. Basically, each dance will have a standard "frame)," which is how the dancers should (according to various formal groups - the more formal the dance lessons, the more likely this is to actually be an element of the lesson) be positioned relative to each other. If this isn't made clear, nobody will think you're silly if you ask.
It's really not that hard. I did not mean to make it sound complicated. Basically, any thing they teach you in the dance class is fine. If you see people blues dancing or something, don't attempt to copy their dance moves with a random follow during a random song. Don't get drunk. That's pretty much all it takes.
This might not fall under the "anything is easy to the person who does not have to do it themselves" rule, but it fits the pattern.
Well, you could try learning as a follow to start with, and get a sense of how leads act. This might be awkward if you're really tall, though, and would make it slightly more complicated to invite people to dance.

One general point: while "mansplaining" is not part of my vocabulary, I've looked into whether the word might be about something real, and I've noticed that on NPR call-in shows, men are more likely to take up the very limited amount of time by explaining things that people already know.

This leads into a specific issue: I've had a few instances of men explaining feminism to me and my not liking the experience at all, and I think I've figured out the issue. It's not that they're men, it's that they show no signs of hearing what I say on the topic, and I've seen this from men who are reasonably capable of listening most of the time.

An example of creepy even though it wasn't a sexual approach: a man telling me about how it's a fundamental male thing to protect women from violence. I had two issues-- men actually aren't very good at it (consider that wars frequently happen in places where women are living), and he was twice my size, talking about violence, and completely spaced out. I wasn't afraid on the "get out now" level, but I was spooked.

Interesting. I've had similar conversations with men - where they are intent on explaining stuff instead of listening too - but not very often with women. When you say that "it's not that they're men", do you mean that it's as often women as men, or just that being a man is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for this behavior? I'm assuming the second, please correct me if that's wrong. A few hypotheses: 1) Men like to be dominant, and that means being the explainer, not the explainee, no matter whether they know what they're talking about. 2) Men like talking more in general, so they are more likely to explain things that are obvious or wrong. 3) Men are worse at listening. 4) Men and women both do this, but men are more obvious about it. #1 is almost certainly true. Men and women IME also seem to have different average preferences about the appropriateness of interrupting, talking over someone, saying flat-out "you're wrong." I don't think #2 is likely, but I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again (though hopefully less wrong). I don't have an opinion on #3. Listening (and being curious about what other people think) in real time is definitely a learned skill for me. I've definitely had a bunch of conversations where people said things that sounded like listening, without giving any sign of comprehension. I'm not sure if men or women do this more often, but it is weak evidence for #4.
I meant that being a man is neither necessary or sufficient for the behavior., and also even though I don't think I've run into that behavior from a woman in person, I'd still find it almost as annoying. I haven't been checking on the gender/topic combinations which make it hard for me to get into a conversation so I don't even have the beginning of a theory. My tentative theory is that feminism is makes some men more anxious, so that if they're talking rather than intimidated into silence, they'll be more compulsive. Along the same lines, they may be hoping they've finally gotten it right, and don't want to put even more work into it. However, I don't have a lot of samples, and I'm guessing.
So you mainly notice this in conversations about feminism?
I've noticed a specific pattern in conversations about feminism. There are certainly people who take over conversations on other topics as well.

What topics (if any) have you considered posting about (or replying to), but then decided not to because of fear of gender-specific negative response or attention? If there any specific question you'd be interested in participating in a future discussion upon, on the same anonymous lines as this one?

I post more in PUA and gender type threads than I otherwise would because I worry about the male response to this question. Also, I find people are more receptive to my statement of pro-PUA points because I can include female-centric anecdotal evidence, and I have a feeling that men talking about PUA and gender differences is a massive ugh field.

I would love to be proven wrong about this, if guys want to answer this question.

I'd be interested in knowing more generally how many people refrain to post or reply about potentially mind-killing topics in general because they (think they) are in a group underrepresented on Less Wrong (e.g. conservatives or theists).

I'm neither a conservative nor a theist, but I often feel rather underrepresented here. I tend to refrain from posting, period, because of the general sense of how that goes; I usually go through a bit of a cycle where I won't post at all for a while, then find some random, pretty neutral thing I feel prepared to comment on intelligibly, then get drawn into whatever userbase-splitting argument is going on recently after it's been a while (this part mostly happens if I've been low on spoons, am feeling irate, or just generally am not feeling much impulse control at the time). Part of this is just that I'm not very good at arguing-as-a-skill; I've noticed that even when correct I'm fairly easy to outmaneuver because that particular approach to language is fairly alien to me (probably to do with some of the neurological blah).
Ditto. And then certain types of misogyny or other dumbassery will end up making me rage-quit for a month or two, where I just no longer feel any desire whatsoever to participate, beyond maybe a media post.
I don't think I've ever feared a gender-specific negative response when posting on LessWrong, though I also deliberately use a gender-neutral username.
I post less to PUA/genderthings type threads than my naive inclination would be. Part of this is the (good thing) that there are some people around who sometimes find these threads before I do who I trust to say sane things, many of whom are better at keeping their cool than I am. Part of this is the (bad thing) that I expect to be attacked when I do post, via generalization or just insensitive badgering (and also by voting). While in such threads, I make a general policy of withholding some relevant personal information, even when I think it could make me more convincing, because I don't want to paint more of a target on myself, or risk the greater emotional fallout of even that not being persuasive.
None. I have far too much self-confidence to be scared off for that reason. I can deal with the frequent disagreements but it took me a looooong time to become comfortable with that. I was people-pleasing and at first I couldn't tolerate the experience of causing or persisting with disagreements because I didn't like making others uncomfortable. I had to train myself to deal with that but I'm good at it now. I have to wonder how many other women would find it hard to put themselves out there and take all the resulting criticism. If women often have a preference for supportive environments, that may be part of the reason for the gender ratio being skewed.

How aware are you of the gender or sexual orientation of other LW participants? Do you mentally assign a gender to each LW user whose comments you read, or who replies to you? Do you often get it wrong, and do you care when you do? Do you react differently based on the gender of other commenters? Does it differ from what you've experienced in other online communities?

Note: LW discussions where the gender of the participants is explicitly mentioned, or which are about gender themselves, don't count.

I try not to form opinions about people's gender unless it seems indicated by something they say or their username, and I try not to actually pronoun anyone with a gendered pronoun unless I am pretty sure. (I think I've been mistaken once or twice even then.) To the best of my knowledge, apart from pronouns I don't handle posters differently based on gender except insofar as I have different priors on them having had various experiences.
I'm the complete opposite to Alicorn, so I though I'd just pop in and say. I don't just keep track of gender, but also any other characteristics like age, occupation, nationality; personality etc. While I find it ok to just type like this on the internet, I find it much easier to actually communicate with people. Knowing these sorts of details help me interpret tone, which I think is a vital part of conversations, and the lack of respect for which often a source of internet conflict. I respond differently to aggression, for example, from high-testosterone males to females. Having more accurate priors of the person I'm talking to also lets me decide if an argument is a lost cause, helps me choose between ambiguous interpretations, and assists me in making the most palatable presentation of my point.
I'm not a woman, but... As for gender, I start with an about 90% prior probability (from the last survey results) that they are male, and update it according to what I read (most often the username alone is enough to bring the posterior to epsilon or 100% minus epsilon). As for orientation,I don't really care: I know EY is straight but he'd like to self-modify to become bi, and I think Alicorn is bi and lukeprog is straight but I'm not fully sure. That's it. I have read by comments by others mentioning their orientations but I can't even remember them. As in aliefs? Usually but not always. (And sometimes the alief is wrong. For example, there's a LWer who, despite having an obviously feminine username, comes across to my alief system as male (not sure why) and there's a Wikipedian (with an apparently feminine username, but he has explained that it's actually a Latin neuter plural and he's male) who comes across to my alief system as a female -- likely because of his username and because of the dingbats such as smileys, heartsuits and musical notes he uses to express his mood. I even called him 'she' by accident a couple times.) I try not to. And in discussions which don't have anything to do with gender I think I almost always succeed.

Can you describe some occasions you met a new female friend (who you didn't previously know) at a social event, lesswrong-related or otherwise, and how it wasn't creepy, and what was fun/interesting/good about it.

I met some really neat girls by visiting the minicamps. They were friendly and most of them liked Luminosity. They were pretty huggy, but didn't make a big deal about it (didn't hold on too long or tense up strangely). (One of them wanted my autograph.) Despite the fact that I am Internet Famous and whatnot, they all clearly had other things to do too and could talk about other topics besides that, which was relevant; I was able to freely circulate through the parties/groups/whatever arrangement people wanted to be in and steer conversations around as easily as I can with people who I already know well.

In discussions such as these, how do you prefer that the community refers to its female members? Do you like when female community members are called "women"? "girls"? "females"? Do you actively dislike any of these options? What is your opinion on gender-neutral pronouns, and what do you use for the third-person-singular-neuter? I'm also interested in any other observations you've had on the linguistics of gender.

I have a purely idiosyncratic, aesthetic distaste for the words "women" and "men", so I use "girls" and "guys", occasionally "boys", sometimes "males" and "females", if I'm being a little silly "dude" and "lady". I do sometimes use "women" and "men" when talking in a more formal register.

I like Spivak pronouns when talking about specific gender-unknown individuals where "they" is ambiguous or strange-sounding.

I hate being mispronouned. (I wouldn't mind if someone Spivaked me, but I'd then inform them of my gender.) I hate it even more when people think I'm being ridiculous for hating it.

In general, I prefer "women". If it's a far view discussion, then "females" is ok with me as long as it's paralleled by "males". I don't like "girls" being used to refer to adult women. I use the singular "they". I don't mind invented pronouns. I get annoyed at male pronouns used to refer to people in general and still get startled at female pronouns used to refer to people in general.
I tend to prefer women. "Girls" often feels a bit demeaning, especially when contrasted with "men" or "guys". "Females" sounds like somebody's trying to lend their remark a little too much apparently-biological weight. I like gender-neutral pronouns when they're handy, for people who want them, or for the generic case. I used to be a bit mixed on which one sounded good for just general conversation, but after reading the Eclipse Phase RPG I pretty much stopped having any sympathy for the idea that "singular they" is awkward. It flows very well for me and sounds quite natural, and it's a common term in English so there's no trouble with inflecting it. They, them, their.
It's problematic that there isn't really an age-indeterminate female pronoun to act as a counterpart to "guys," since a not-insignificant fraction of our members are still in their teens.
What about 'gals'? While it's technically just a form of "girls", it's used contextually similarly to "guys".
Only when it's used at all, which is far less often than 'guys'. Yes, it's true that it's a distaff counterpart to 'guys', but so is 'dolls', and would you seriously propose unironic usage of 'dolls'?
I suppose that is indeed a word that exists. Having grown up in the Northeastern U.S., it's not really part of my active vocabulary.
"Women" and "females" are both fine for me. The worst thing is when men are referred to as "men", and women are referred to as "girls" in the same discussion. No. "Girls" is only ok when referring to children, or in very casual use to refer to a group of female friends. i.e. "Hey, going out with the girls tonight?", or if the male pronoun in that situation would be "boys" or "guys". If a discussion is going on about gender, as long as no one uses "girls", I don't like when someone brings up "Hey, you should use the term "women" instead of "females"" (or vice versa). It reads as just another way to get the discussion off-track from the important issues.
On a related note, I generally either use the neutral form of the word, or put a note about how even though I used the masculine form I don't like patriarchy. It's just sometimes a hassle to neuter everything, and I like going with the tradition of using the masculine form because I've already internalized it. But I don't want it to feel like I'm overlooking women's concerns. Anyone here dislike that?
I've found that it's possible to avoid gendered pronouns with a little work. You may find that practice helps. If they can't be avoided there's always "he or she", possibly alternated with "she or he". For what it's worth, I don't like male as the default human. It's very far from the worst thing ever, but I recommend avoiding it.
The singular "they" is grammatically correct and requires less effort than "he or she" or alternating "he" and "she". The generic "she" isn't gender-nuetral, but I think it's fine to use when everyone else is using the generic "he". Like affirmative action for pronouns. I usually use "they", but whenever I see an animal and I don't know it's gender I call it a "she". Because most people will call the animal "he" and I want to counter-act that.
So, specifically, if I used the masculine form but then also put down a note about how I don't like patriarchy, would you would still feel bad or think I'm supporting bad assumptions? The note thing is what I generally do in the status quo, and what requires the least effort on my part. I can understand if you would still feel bad, I just wanted to make sure you saw the note caveat I mentioned because you didn't mention anything about it in your comment.
I actually either missed the note caveat, or else didn't mention it because I don't think that sort of note helps. The thing is, I still have a mental habit of seeing male as default human-- I'm not just hoping to get rid of that in my own mind, I'd really prefer it if the meme of male as default human isn't spread.
When guys use the word "girls", it makes me wonder if they're teenagers who still spend most of their time with girls. "Females" reminds me of scientific studies... I use it myself if "women" doesn't fit, but due to the association with test subjects, it sounds a bit dehumanizing at times. I like "women" best. I don't like that we have to use gender pronouns so often, and I wish we had something that never sounded awkward and fit every circumstance. When being gender neutral, I use they/them/their, and may jam them in even if they sound a little off.

Remembering Asch's conformity experiment:

What statement would you expect the majority of responders to say, that you disagree with?

I don't know about majority, but I suspect at least some people will say that (the contemporary sort of) feminism is good, which I disagree with.

Not so much in sentiment, because I have reasonable-ish consequentialist ethics, which ends up at most kinds of equality (and pretty much every kind of equality of opportunity). I just find feminism as much of a mindkiller as any other kind of politics. Reading feminist websites makes my brain go ARGH in the "why can't you see how little sense you are making?!" way, so I try not to. There have also been instances on LW where gender discussions just turned into a mess of irrationality.

I wish we could discuss everything in the sensible, factual, case-by-case way that LW recommends. So much of feminism's concerns are easily dissolved, and really not worth turning into a soldiers on one side or the other thing. -Isms are the mind killer, I guess?

(disclaimer: Less Wrong does gender discussions better than a lot of places. I just wish we were better.)

"Death is a bad thing." I find death aesthetically pleasing as part of the great circle of life, and I also feel that the earth is overpopulated enough as it is. I bring this topic up because it's been noted that females, even rational ones, are often opposed to cryonics. I'm female, and I'm opposed to cryonics.
I wouldn't call myself "opposed" to cryonics (the concept of medical suspended animation strikes me as mostly a convenience if you can get it to work, and interesting for potential social implications), but I do tend to think it's overly-boosted here. After a thorough review of the actual work done by the major players in the field (a concise history of which reads like the script to a Coen Brothers movie), and looking over the biological x-factors involved vs the typical understanding of those x-factors here, I just don't find the case compelling. The idea's neat, but it seems like the cryo-boosters here are settling for a business/cultural model rife with consistent bad decisionmaking, built-in overconfidence (including in their messaging), a severe professionalism deficit, and not incidentally a long and sordid history of laziness, incompetence, and actual fraud.
The standard reply to this is a reversal test. What's your reply to that?

"Overpopulated" seems to already reply to the reversal test (i.e. yes, the population should be reduced). The reversal test might apply to a different claim that the current population is all right and shouldn't be increased further.

In the grandparent comment, the reversal test might apply to lifespan (the relation of lifespan to population is not completely straightforward if we control other parameters such as birth rate).

I should have elaborated more. The reversal test I was thinking of was "if the problem is overpopulation and death's a good solution to it, should we be killing people?"
Except that most people have a deontological objection to actually killing people, so even if lucidian didn't think we should be killing people, it wouldn't necessarily imply contradictory beliefs (or rather, the contradiction comes from contradictions in deontology, not anything related to cryonics).
9Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
It is fair to observe that when somebody claims that their utility function says one thing but their deontology prevents them from following up, that is at least suspicious for one or the other being not-fully-motivating, not-fully-thought-out, etc.
I agree, but deontology is well-known to be a problematic but widely-held philosophy, which should explain away the observed inconsistency (e.g. desires could be consistent but deontology prevents the desires from being acted upon). I think that the proposed alternate test of asking about slowing down longevity research should reveal whether there is a further inconsistency within the desires themselves.
The question is why the deontological concerns are motivating. If they are motivating though a desire to fulfill deontological concern, then they belong in the utility function. And if not through desire, then how? An endorsed deontological principle might say 'X!' or 'Don't X', but why obey it? Deontological principles aren't obviously intrinsically motivating (in the way anything desired is).
Following deontological concerns can be instrumentally useful for biased finite agents:
Right. I was thinking of "death" as having status quo ("natural") death as the intended interpretation, which seems to exclude this possibility as stated, but allows a version where we prevent future attacks of status quo death by e.g. stopping all medical research (not just anti-aging research).
In this instance, I don't think the reversal test will establish much. I imagine that most who hold a belief similar to lucidian believe that there is a population homeostasis, or at least upper bound, which is determined by Earth's resources' ability to accommodate human existence. If this homeostasis or upper bound is exceeded, either Earth's resources' ability to accommodate human existence must be improved, or humans must be killed. I imagine those I previously identified would favor the former. The former could be achieved by ceasing pollution, disbanding mass cattle and feces pits, and investing in research investigating ways to remove airbourne methane as well reducing existing environmental damage. This route may prove more laborious than genocide or random en masse killings, but preferable nonetheless.
Errrrrr... I think Athrelon was referring to gender related issues, actually. I don't mind terribly much that you commented here, except that no one else has answered Athrelon's question with that relevant stuff.

Do you find the LW males - those for whom you feel you have a reasonably good model - on average to be more openly status-oriented, competitive and aggressive concerning their rationality expertise, compared to your female LW acquaintances?

No, but I think my female LW acquaintances might as individuals object more to being described as "status-oriented, competitive and aggressive concerning their rationality" than my male LW acquaintances.
Datapoint: I'm female, and I'm paranoid about becoming status-oriented and competitive, so I try to cull any behaviors in myself that I'd classify as "showing off". I feel like I brag too much and worry constantly about being or becoming arrogant.
I notice about equal proportions of my male and female acquaintances/friends showing this kind of fear of being seen as showing off. It seems like it's perceived as a much more attractive trait in women, so people create two categories to describe it: shy, insecure, awkward girls, and beta, submissive, loser men. [Note that I think this kind of behavior is perceived as a subset of beta-malehood, not the whole thing.] My shot-in-the-dark theory is that men nearly always prefer to be described as aggressive, competitive, forward &etc, while for women there are serious tradeoffs in being perceived as such. I have an intuition that's not generally explicit that acting shy, nerdy and awkward is the best default behavior for me, and acting assertive and making strange claims is best for when I can reasonably expect to get away with it. So this intuition seems to categorize Spock Rationality as belonging in the first category (kind of like how hot girls memetically do countersignalling by saying they play video games) and actual rationality as belonging in the second. I also notice that nearly everyone I know who's referred to themselves as shy, awkward, or insecure behaves, well, not shy once you get to know them; this suggests that my intuition is pretty widespread. When it's written out like this it's an obvious simple utility calculation - which action will result in me winning most often if I take it every time in situations like these? - but I don't have a good model of what the standard male version of this utility calculation is.

This is fascinating. I agree that it's safer for a girl to act shy, awkward, and insecure, especially when first meeting people, and that agressive, competitive behavior is frowned upon. However, I feel like there's a happy medium between these two poles. Is it possible for a girl to be confident, forthright, and assertive, while remaining respectful and cooperative? That is the ideal towards which I strive.

Actually, I'm quite meta-self-conscious about my lack of self-consciousness. I'm neither shy nor insecure, and I worry that I'm violating some unspoken social rule of girlhood with my excessive self-esteem. For instance, I've had multiple exchanges of the following variety with male friends:

Him: You're very pretty.

Me: Thank you.

Him: What? You're not going to argue with me? But all girls deny that they're pretty.

I refuse to submit myself to this cultural meme of denying that I'm pretty. First of all, when a guy says "you're very pretty", I interpret it to mean "I find you very pretty", and who am I to argue with his perceptions? Secondly, many of my male friends have complimented my appearance, and I'm too much of an empiricist to deny that I'm pr... (read more)

I agree with almost all of what you've said here, except for the idea that taking the middle way is correct in this instance. Also, let it be stated in advance that anything I say about my behavior patterns, social strategies and so forth is noticed in hindsight. I am not actually a Machiavellian mastermind who plots every interaction to maximize for making you all my slaves. (Of course I am telling you the truth. I am your friend. ) My favorite approach to social tactics is taking the Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres route: I perceive that people are generally trying to box me into a social role, namely self-consciousness, and it feels from the inside like my options are to allow this and be shy and uncomfortable, or rebel against it and be angry and uncooperative. Usually noticing those two choices causes me to pick the first, then the second in frustration, then the first because I want to be conciliatory, &etc. Or... I can weird their paradigm. I can do this in many ways, but there are two I seem to choose most: 1. Vacillating confusingly between acting shy, uncomfortable, innocent, stupid and generically cute, and acting energetic, forward, eccentric and Michael_Vassar-ish. Note that when doing this I don't necessarily take hits to my well-being or attack that of others, because when performed ideally both social roles feel like fun games. This can be described as going the fae route and is only suitable for use in the short term and preferably in settings with several other people, because otherwise it's just glorified gaslighting unless I know exactly what I'm doing. 2. Making goddamn everything explicit. If I don't like a thing, I say, calmly, pleasantly, that I don't, and offer solutions or ask the other person to help me come up with solutions. If I like a thing, I say I like it. This doesn't mean telling everyone about all of my thoughts, but it does mean not stewing on a discomfort or distress, and trying to never subtly intimate things about my me
I hope you eventually found the Game blogs where women are people too! I tend to find that confidence is fine if you can consciously signal "you are higher status than me, I respect you, I won't upset your authority and hey look how mysterious and pursuable I am. Also I'm not at all annoying", which is a large part of what being shy is good for. If you can game their System 1, then confidence is better than shyness for properly engaging with the actual person.
I'd be interseted in Game blog recommendations. I'm trying to put a bit of time into researching it.
MMSL (for male-dominant LTRs) and Hooking Up Smart (for college dating) are fairly good in content and basically non-offensive. One of the authors is married to a reasonably rational woman and the other is a reasonably rational woman, so neither do the "assume women aren't agents" thing.
It's just as much general psychology, but I really like what I've read of The Rawness, especially this sequence (link to last post) that among other things harshly criticizes (one large high-profile memetic clade of) pickup (in part 4).
I have a pet theory that humans are attracted to generally autonomous behaviour, about which I'm no longer confident, but think is a cool theory anyway. Autonomy is also in some ways dependent upon confidence. I share this as I thought it would be a useful data-point to use in alleviating your self-consciousness self-consciousness.
I also just say thanks to compliments :). I remember being told years ago that it puts the other person at ease. Now I'm wondering if people prefer women to dispute compliments. I used to be very argumentative, mostly about politics. At the time, I thought that my friends and the guys I dated found it appealing, but I don't know now. I've stopped being as argumentative, partly because having an aggressive, polarising debate where the aim is to win has been less appealing recently. But also, I made a new group of friends, and I think being argumentative was encouraged less in that group - at first some people disliked me for being argumentative. I think that had an influence.. I've often wondered if people would have reacted differently if I'd been male. You must have high self-esteem if you could read Roissy at all! I tried looking at his blog yesterday - if I started reading it regularly it would have crushed my (reasonably high) self-confidence quite quickly.
I don't have any female LW acquaintances.* *who I interact with regularly enough to answer this question.
I don't have enough interaction with female acquaintances yet.
What is your evaluation of your own introspection abilities? (More precisely, how often do you consider the motivations for your emotions, attitudes, tone of speech, etc, and are you successful.) I'd also like to ask this to the men.
Measuring the success of introspection (as in epistemic success, as opposed to instrumental success) runs into a Wittgensteinian problem heavily. That is, it is ‘As if someone were to buy several copies of the morning paper to assure himself that what it said was true’.
I usually measure my success by whether I can predict my system 1 responses to a situation ahead of time. The point is to model myself properly anyway. Also, my OH can read me like a book. We mutually developed the me-trospection so we checked reads with each other.
Could you please explain this sentence?
We learned to read my mind at the same time, so could tell if at least one of us was wrong, by differing. Also we're not the same person, so rationalising in different directions means we were rarely both the same kind of wrong.
I have a difficult time answering this. I analyze my current motives and mental states and actions in depth, constantly. But I don't spend very much time reviewing my past emotions or actions unless it becomes obvious to me that I made a mistake somewhere. I feel as though I should probably change this.
I am Luminosity Girl! Wheeeeee! (Tone of speech in particular I don't think I have special control over.)
I introspect almost constantly, and try to keep a detailed archive of my thought processes so I can trace how my beliefs and opinions have evolved over time. I've found introspection extremely effective, especially when I discuss the results of my introspection with various analytical friends.
Okay, then... Usually, several times per week. I can seldom find good ways to test my introspection, so I don't know.
Well, introspection tells me I'm smart, cool, generous, and good at introspection. Am I really? Let me check... yup.
Would you be interested in having regular "Woman Oriented" threads (such as this one)? If so, how often? I'll set a range from once per month, to once per year. (My experience is that every time a rationalist gathering becomes at least 50% female, conversation inevitably turns to Optimal Bras (braspace is large, and the optimal choice is highly situational.) or BC.)

Would you be interested in having regular "Woman Oriented" threads (such as this one)? If so, how often? I'll set a range from once per month, to once per year.

Oh please no! Don't institutionalize gender drama. Women may make use of the fact that they also happen to be real people and write what they want to say in the "open thread" that is already created once a month. If their sex happens for some reason to be relevant to what they wish to say they can make note of it in the comment in the same way that people can write about their nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation or hair colour.

Voted up because it was a reasonable question. I don't think it needed to be voted down as though it was a campaign.
I feel no need for women oriented threads, myself. However, I feel it's really important to work out dating and gender ratio issues. We've needed an open line of communication about that for a long time. As far as timing is concerned, why make it scheduled? Say something good when you have something good to say.
Didn't see this before, but I would like that. It looks like it's not that popular from the upvotes to wedrifid's comment below, but perhaps people wouldn't have a problem with, e.g. once every six months?
What factors would tend to give you a bad impression of a community, either online or in person? (That's sort of two questions, but they're related)
Online: systemic irrationality. Systemic self-reinforcing irrationality. That's why I hang out here :P In person, a mass lack of social skills make events unfun. Groups are much easier to get along with if they contain a reasonable mix of extroverts and introverts (read: at least two people who act like each).
I've discovered that there are a few things that can scare me away from an interesting place: * Dysfunctional behavior. A lot of people who have sharp minds don't always apply that in the emotional realm and their behavior shows it. There's a difference between harmless instances of social skill failures and a complete failure to develop as a human being. I don't think "irrationality" covers it. I'm speaking more of a lack of moral maturity. The creepers who think the world revolves around them and the various kinds of dysfunctional behaviors that result in people hurting each other emotionally. I was recently disappointed with the amount of dysfunctional behavior I discovered in a group that I liked and have not been back for some time. * Elitist behavior, or seeing a bunch of people commit social suicide by smearing the group as "elitist" in public. I considered quitting LessWrong because of that. I decided to stay a bit longer because there's a possibility that the pro "elitism" people will see the error of this and there are enough good things about the group that it seems worthwhile to see whether they reconsider.
What proposition affirmed in The Sequences do you find least probable?
What do you think the LW community does right? What good experiences have you had?
People have been welcoming and not sketchy at my local meetup. I look forward to going there. I'm pretty constantly aware that I'm the only or one of the only women there, but I don't feel that other people treat me differently because of it. Sometimes I enjoy the gender ratio. My college and most of my jobs were mostly-female, so being in a mostly-male space is novel and interesting. But I also really enjoyed it when a new woman joined the meetup, because it was nice to feel there was someone a bit more like me (female, with good social skills, smart but not a programmer/scientist).
The unbalanced gender ratio in the atheist/skeptic/rationalist spheres (and the science/programming spheres, more generally) has negative effects on both genders. Women may feel objectified and marginalized, while men may feel romantically frustrated and hopeless. These reactions can lead to mutually defeating behavior. Typical responses - for women, abandoning those spheres; for men, acting inappropriately toward women - only widen the gender divide and make the problems worse. I am interested in working toward better outcomes for both genders. My question for the women of LW is this: what specific advice do you have, for either gender, that you think will improve the situation? How confident are you that your advice will be helpful, and on what evidence do you base that confidence?

For women: you have a great deal of control over how other people react to you. You can take some responsibility for how you are perceived.

personal anecdote: I'm a female maths undergrad, and most of my social circle is male. First term there I concentrated on making friends, so I adopted casual, unisex clothing styles. I attracted male attention only when I dressed in a stereotypically girly way for fancy dress parties and social events.

Second term I was on a mate hunt, so I overhhauled my wardrobe and started wearing skirts and behaving in a mate-attracting way. According to my now OH, that's when he "realised I was a girl".

So basically if you don't want men to view you as a potential mate, it's helpful to not act like one. Think hoodies and ill-fitting jeans. And if you have got attracting mates in the back of your mind, and your body language shows it, then you shouldn't be surprised if men notice you.

Second piece of advice for women where it applies: tracking your menstrual cycle is the easiest first step towards luminosity. Different hormones induce different kinds of bias, and also prompt changes in body language and attitude, which may cause people to react differently. The effects can then be harnessed or corrected for.

For women: you can control how other people react to you. You can take responsibility for how you are perceived.

This is an overgeneralization. There are ways to improve the odds, but no guarantees.

Agreed and edited.
Another problem that I can see is that if I dress in attractive clothes and start dating someone, they might not want me to start dressing in unflattering clothes after we start dating (esp if looking like a girl is part of what attracted them to me). I either have to disappoint my new partner and wear baggy clothes, or to continue wearing flattering clothes and continue to deal with guys perceiving me as available. ETA: I tend to go for guys who have a sense of style (not always, but often) and I'd be disappointed it they started wearing baggy jeans and hoodies because "now I have a girlfriend I don't have to make an effort."
There are other ways of deflecting male attention. If you're at a social event alone, instead of signaling 'I am not a potential mate', you could signal 'I am in a monogamous relationship and my boyfriend is higher status than you'. It's a bit harder, and I'm still working on it, but certainly possible. It's more frustrating for the guys though.
I'm curious what would signal this. If I can't interpret these kind of signals then I'm in trouble.
Erm, there are obvious ways of doing it. I tend to just drop my boyfriend into conversation as often as it is appropriate, and make sure I mention him in contexts such as "oh he's really good at such-and-such".
Okay, that seems obvious now that you've mentioned it. I started to try to think of all these abstract things, and I could only think of maybe showing off jewelry that was supposed to imply you're in a relationship. I was thinking about more subtle things, and I couldn't really think of anything, so I was wondering if maybe I was just missing something.
A very expensive ring on your left fourth finger/heart-shaped jewel hanging from your necklace/etc.?
boyfriend != husband
So what? Some dating-but-not-married-nor-engaged couples wear such jewellery too. EDIT: and if you forgo the ''is higher-status than you'' part (which for certain values of ''status'' would mean you come off as a gold-digger) you don't even need it to be very expensive, and even a picture of the two of you kissing as the wallpaper on your mobile phone would suffice. (If they know you know they know you have a boyfriend --even if he's not higher-status than them-- and they hit on you anyway, they lose plausible deniability all the same.) EDIT 2: On reading chaosmosis again, I realize it's a male and he's asking about how to find out if a woman has a boyfriend. If so, the answer is ''You ask them.''
I tend to prefer to wear flattering clothes, whether looking for a partner or not, because they make me feel more comfortable/confident. It's possible to wear clothes that are flattering, but not sexy, I think. Maybe I need to work on this more.
It depends on what you mean by flattering. If you want to emphasise a feminine figure, then that's always going to be sexy I'm afraid, so you'll probably want a different approach for deflecting male attention. You can, however, get well-fitted jackets, shirts etc in good materials that don't cinch in at the waist, and trousers cut straight to deemphasise the rear if you merely wanted good quality clothes. Look for the androgynous style fashions from the last couple of years.
For a female? No, it really is not. But just in case I misunderstand what you mean, care to tell the difference between flattering and sexy? Or link to a couple of pictures of each type and we can let the males here provide feedback on whether what you consider simply flattering is also sexy.
One classic example of flattering but not sexy is coloration that suits you - if you have fair skin, blue-green eyes and salt and pepper hair, a light grey and sage green jacket is going to be flattering, but can range freely from not sexy to sexy.
Not sure of this. A large, colourful wool sweater can be flattering for certain women, but it's not particularly sexy (in my eyes at least).
I'm not confident of it - I'd like it to be possible! I think workwear (suits etc) is probably the closest thing to it, but even that's often made quite sexy.
I share your dreams of living in a should-universe :)
Mostly I'd like to have a solution that doesn't involve me having to wear uncomfortable and unflattering clothes :)!
Comfortable is easy, comfortable but flattering is harder, comfortable, flattering but not sexy is harder still. Also, I suspect that when women say "comfortable", they often mean something other than what straight guys mean by the same term. For example, many women would say that wearing basic sweats and a hoodie in public is uncomfortable.
Um, high heels?
Sorry, I meant "clothes that I feel uncomfortable in," not "clothes that are physically uncomfortable." I would feel uncomfortable/less confident in sweats and a hoodie. I appreciate it was the wrong choice of words.
This strategy makes a lot of sense, but I wonder whether it's applicable to professional settings. Jeans and a hoodie don't just signal nongirliness; they also signal casualness. Does anyone know of equivalently gender-neutral clothes that are appropriate for formal settings? Or is it unnecessary because the formality prevents people from making unwanted advances anyway?
I don't have much experience of professional settings, but from my knowledge of women's clothing: you can get tailored shirts in fairly male cuts and straight-leg trousers or long skirts that don't hug the figure. I'd imagine one would be received differently for wearing a very modest shirt and trousers combo vs a v-neck blouse and pencil skirt. In most places, I think it's now acceptable for women to wear a tuxedo for black tie, if you go to that kind of thing and feel that cocktail dresses attract too much attention. Alternatively, keep a modest dress in your wardrobe.
It's worth mentioning that even in quite progressive circles, women in traditionally male-style suits tends to cross into that transgressive genderfuck aesthetic. There are a small but significant number of men and women who are really into that, and as a result I imagine this plan would backfire quite badly.
Right, ok. The question is then if these people are sufficiently less common and/or less annoying than men who give unwanted attention to feminine women to make it a worthwhile plan for avoiding attention nonetheless. The exist many situations where there are a significant number of people who react in a way that might be considered undesirable to feminine women. Also, if breaking out of gendered roles is a big problem in some workplaces, there are ways to dress very modestly while still looking feminine.
I'm not suggesting the general idea of dressing gender-neutral isn't a good one; I am largely un-knowledgeable on the subject and can't really comment on that aspect of it. But a woman wearing a suit in a cut traditionally for men carries connotations a naive wearer may not be aware of. It's a bit like wearing a collar. It has a specific meaning in BDSM subculture, and signals membership to that group. Someone naively wearing a collar is going to get a lot of unwanted attention at a social gathering. Wearing a suit isn't quite that specific, and doesn't belong to a specific subculture, but if your goal is to not have people come up to you and start talking about sex, it's going to fail in a whole bunch of ways.
Ah right, I see what you're saying there. I have loose women's jeans and I have men's jeans and agree that the implications are rather different. In this instance I was intending to convey the "modest, but nevertheless womens" trouser suit, as exemplied in these links, rather than "a suit that looks like a mens suit".
What prompted me to respond was the "tuxedo for black tie" comment. For business-formal, there's obviously a variety of tasteful and subdued options. I don't believe there's such a thing as gender-neutral evening wear.
Oh! Ok, fair enough, that makes even more sense. Though I think that's much less of an issue now than it would have been 5 years ago, because ladies tuxedos have been incredibly trendy for about 2 years now. I normally dress very feminine and I still have a couple in my wardrobe. Obviously most of the examples given are still styled in the "sexy" direction, but it's easy to modify that into positive "stylish" but negative "sexy" (by, say, ditching the high heels and switching the short skirts and tight trousers for flowing skirts and palazzo trousers). It would be like if collars suddenly became fashionable, and celebrities started to wear them to red carpet events all the time.
For men: Consider the women in the subculture "male for all social purposes" and seek romantic interests elsewhere.

I've only ever seen one case of a man who'd previously had a rationalist mate going back to nonrationalist mates afterward. The reason why the gender skew of our culture is a mating problem for men is that once you go rationalist you don't go back.

"Go to the physics department, find a woman you consider attractive, point her at HPMOR, and see if anything develops" sounds like more useful advice to me.

For (straight) men who insist on dating externally, asking a woman whether she would prefer a certainty of $500 or a 15% chance at $1 million seems likely to be a surprisingly good filter on potential mates. I didn't believe it either as first, but I've verified that many women, and in at least one case a female grad-student doing advanced math homework, says she would rather have the $500; while every woman I've tested inside our community - regardless of her math/science/economics level or her ability to talk glibly about explicit rationality - takes the 15% chance at $1M with a puzzled look and 'Is this a trick question?'

I've only ever seen one case of a man who'd previously had a rationalist mate going back to nonrationalist mates afterward.

I have dated rationalists and gone back. Rationalist subculture affiliations count very little to me. It doesn't make people all that rational and does make people more annoying when they are, in fact, being irrational. I do enjoy having some shared interests with those I date but honestly I'd assign more 'attraction' points for a fitness obsession, enjoyment of games (board games, cards) or, say, medical knowledge than "being a rationalist".

The reason why the gender skew of our culture is a mating problem for men is that once you go rationalist you don't go back.

That sounds like an argument that one shouldn't date a rationalist even when an attractive option is willing and available. You don't want to permanently degrade your future options for (possibly) short term pleasure with what is immediately before you.

"Go to the physics department, find a woman you consider attractive, point her at HPMOR, and see if anything develops" sounds like more useful advice to me.

If you say so yourself!

I don't know, if a woman had tried that wi... (read more)

Would it be useful to distinguish between rationalist subculture affiliation and habitually rational?
I think this is a useful distinction. I care much more about "habitually rational" than "subculture affiliation," when it comes to social interactions.
Probably. In this case it is the subculture affiliation that matters---given the context of considering what strategies to use in response to the gender imbalance therein.
I think a statement more likely than "once you go rational you can't go back" is "once you go luminous you can't go back". I think my OH has expressed something along the lines of it just being too much effort when he considers dating someone who can't just tell him if they are having system 1 issues.
Should rational men take into account when considering very long term relationships with women that the women are likely to remain physically and mentally healthy longer than the men are, with the effect being amplified if the woman is younger than the man? If that factor is considered, then independent good sense is very valuable. To make it more specific, it's highly likely that in a very long term heterosexual relationship, the woman will be wrangling medical personnel for the man. Of course, it's also pretty likely that at some point, the man will wrangling medical personnel for the woman, just not as likely. Numeracy level of both marriage partners has a large impact on lifetime savings
-1Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
I hate to No-True-Scotswoman you but I can't help but wonder exactly how rational she was - the cases I know have all been drawn from either East Coast or West Coast whole communities with corresponding personal transmission of skills.

I hate to No-True-Scotswoman you but I can't help but wonder exactly how rational she was - the cases I know have all been drawn from either East Coast or West Coast whole communities with corresponding personal transmission of skills.

Enough that by my best estimate based on what exposure to and information that I have about those communities she could easily soar to high levels of status within either (take that either way). Probably collecting an arbitrary sized harem in a matter of weeks.

Rationalist skills are impressive and sometimes convenient for lovers to have but again, I'd be just as impressed with and drawn to an interested prospective mate with Taekwondo or Jujutsu skills who was willing to spar with me. I'm reasonably aware of what I look for in a companion and a lover and that which is required to be respected as a rationalist just doesn't happen to be near the top of the list.

I actually suspect there is an element of in group bias at play here---the same bias I see in my Christian friends and relatives who tell each other how much superior other Christians are as friends and romantic interests.

I actually suspect there is an element of in group bias at play here---the same bias I see in my Christian friends and relatives who tell each other how much superior other Christians are as friends and romantic interests.

I've noticed a pretty strong in-group bias in myself WRT Less Wrong.

You two are so cute when your argue!!!

For (straight) men who insist on dating externally, asking a woman whether she would prefer a certainty of $500 or a 15% chance at $1 million seems likely to be a surprisingly good filter on potential mates. I didn't believe it either as first, but I've verified that many women, and in at least one case a female grad-student doing advanced math homework, says she would rather have the $500; while every woman I've tested inside our community - regardless of her math/science/economics level or her ability to talk glibly about explicit rationality - takes the 15% chance at $1M with a puzzled look and 'Is this a trick question?'

I have a (male) friend who answered $500 to this question. He teaches math (at the middle school level). It was a sad day.

8Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
Of course it's not just women! Women (outside the community, that is) are more likely to respond that way than men, but that's from a study on both risk aversion and hyperbolic discounting which showed that "Women can't take small risks and men are creatures of the now", with both effects diminishing as scores on the Cognitive Reflection Test increased. I now wonder what would happen if I asked a man on the street to choose between $500 immediately or $1 million in 10 years (= 113% annual interest) - a version that extreme wasn't in the original study, just the extreme version of the risk-aversion Q. I wouldn't expect it to work, but then I wouldn't have expected it to work with risk aversion either!

I would expect that to depend a great deal on their confidence that you would in fact provide $1 million in ten years.

Likewise, the original question depends on their confidence that you're not overestimating/lying about the probability they will get the $1,000,000.
Yes. EY's introduction of "immediately" is what changes the equation for me.... I might well choose $500 in my hand right now over the promise of $1million in ten years, whereas I probably would not choose the promise of $500 in an hour over the promise of $1 million in ten years.
Would you also choose $1 million in ten years over $1000 in an hour? And would you choose $1000 in an hour over $500 right now? If the answer to both questions is yes (and I think both are reasonable) then we may have an example of circular preferences on our hands.
Probably. Ooh. That's a toughie. I suspect in practice it depends critically on all kinds of subliminal aspects of the situation... that is, which way I choose can probably be manipulated by the exact choice of words, what the person is wearing, yadda yadda. My guess is that I choose $500 right now for most versions of the choice, but $1000 for a substantial minority.
Single point of evidence- I would have to fight my inner self REALLY hard to choose the 15% chance at a million. (Inner turmoil!! Logic says Do Thing A, but I really Don't Want To!!). OTOH, the million in ten years is intuitively obvious to me and choosing it would be what I would've done even PRE-rationality.
This. True for both genders.
8Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
Yep, though it's weaker evidence to observe that (straight) female rationalists don't go back when they can have their pick of mates and/or an entire harem by staying. Actually, I have seen a couple of cases of women using their newly acquired Sanity Attractiveness Points(*) to pull in hot guys they want from outside the community, though in both such cases they still had rationalist mates on the side. (*) = According to the one woman whose case I know in detail, this is apparently a pretty strong effect - a female from within rationalist culture, dealing with a guy from outside rationalist culture who has an unmet need for sanity, may appear unto him as a Goddess. Sort of the dating equivalent of what happens when people with unmet needs discover LW or read HPMOR.
I wonder what effect rationalist culture has on the attractiveness of guys who date outside the community. Are they more or less appealing than non-rationalist guys?
Now that is a strategy I can endorse. I could believe that.
Ah, yes. I completely agree, and should clarify what I personally mean by "rationalist". I care less whether they are (already) a part of the community, especially considering that the community in this city consists solely of people that were brought into it either by Jesse or myself. Those "guy(s) from outside rationalist culture who has an unmet need for sanity, [she] may appear unto him as a Goddess."--Yeah, that's true, and I just consider them to be "Rationalists Who Don't Know It Yet."
7Paul Crowley11y
I would be curious to know how people answer given the opportunity to spend $500 on a $1M/15% lottery ticket.
That depends a lot on the nature of the lottery. If it was a typical lottery that for some reason had a 15% chance to win, a $500 ticket would not be worth it as all, since thousands of people would win and split the prize amongst themselves and the expected value would be much less than you would assume at first glance. If it's just "spend $500 for a 15% chance of gaining a million," though, I'd take as many tickets as I could get!
Yes, that version seems much less problematic, and I think the average person might be in favor of buying infinity tickets.
I might actually not want to buy one. (When no loss is involved I take the chance at a million.) I might want to buy five, or go in together with several friends on one.
9Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
(instantaneous reflex activated) What if I gave you $500, then asked you if you wanted to spend it on the ticket? I'd also like to know whether some unexpected expense, like needing a $500 dental crown, would change your mind about accepting the free $500 instead of the free ticket.
If you gave me $500 and then immediately alerted me to the availability of a ticket you'd probably catch me before the $500 entered the "my money" mental bin, because I'd still be a little confused about why you randomly handed me $500 and expect to have to give it back. Risks of medium-sized unexpected expenses like that are already factored into how conservative I am about handling money on this scale, so I don't think that would have an effect.
While I understand the sentiment, the physics department will not usually have a significantly higher volume of women than the local rationalist/etc. group.
7Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
As long as it's got at least one lady who hasn't already been recruited, what difference does that make?

I actually dislike the focus on pulling in people from physics/computer programming/math. As Dreaded_Anomaly mentions, these are fields which have just as bad of a gender ratio as here. As long as we continue focusing on those fields, I don't think the gender ratio problem is going to get much better.

Also, I don't think there's anything inherent in rationality that means that it requires physics/programming/math types. But I think our current community is generally set up in a way to self-perpetuate that.

I can understand that STEMM types might more frequently lean towards rationality, which is why recruiting from there is often a suggestion. (If you have a .5 probability that a random intelligent STEMM person would be amenable to rationality, but only a .2 probability that a random intelligent person of another field would be, for example.)

A way to get around that: Personally, I've found that anyone I have a match of >94% on OKC has a high probability of being the aforementioned Rationalists Who Just Don't Know It Yet. I myself was "recruited" this way. Dated someone from OKC (We no longer date, but are still REALLY good friends) who I was a 99% match with, and they pointed me toward HPMoR, then LW, etc, all while modeling "proper rationalist behavior" in our discussions. I think that's all that it takes, often, to get someone interested in rationality (once you filter for interest, whether you use okc for this or not)

7Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
Agree that the OKCupid technique probably works too. But I wasn't suggesting that we put up broad recruiting posters in the math department to solve the gender ratio thingy; I was suggesting that rationalist men seeking convertible mates try to date mathematical women. As Lucas observes, our community is still small enough that this provides a relatively large pool.
Good point! I understand what you are getting at. So long as it is also understood that mathematical does not necessarily equate to rational, and that rational does not require a person to be mathematical, etc.
What is the extra M for? Googling yields a band.

Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Medicine

Really? Back when I first joined I wouldn't have been surprised by this, but they've fiddled around with the match algorithms since then, and 94% matches have gone from extremely rare compatibility to fairly trivial (and yes, I've checked against people whose match values I knew from before the algorithm changes to make sure it's not just a result of a larger userbase.) These days, I could browse through a considerable number of people with that match rating before finding anyone I would expect to relate to.
A useful corollary of the last point is that anyone with the HPMOR tag on their profile is likely to be a very high match :)
On an individual level, this will work fine for a few people. It makes a difference, though, if everyone tries that specific strategy. The strategy will lose its effectiveness quickly, and the overall effect on the gender divide will not be very large. Trying to bring more women into the relevant spheres is clearly a big part of the answer. However, simply moving women from one low-density area to another doesn't seem very productive to me.
It is true that you receive dimishing marginal returns whenever you try to import people. Even if we were to use the largest available population sink, eventually we'd run into limits. The larger the population sinks you use, the less it has been filtered, so while your returns diminish more slowly, the effort required at the outset is larger. Given the small size of our group, physics departments are more than large enough population sinks for the forseeable future.
Mine takes the 15% chance. She does not grok even very simple 'formal systems' though: she flunked bookkeeping in high school and once asked me how much .5 is, guessing that it meant one fifth.
If you really need the $500, why throw that away for a one-off, low odds chance for more? The first $500 almost certainly has greater marginal utility than the second, and possibly more than the next 1,999 put together. And that's assuming the offer is totally legit, which is not very rational.
Sure, if they're to starve (or freeze to death) within the month if not for this money, then certainly: accepting the bet would then become a 85% chance of death vs a 15% chance at a million. And rejecting a 85% chance of death is reasonable, even in the face of a 15% chance at a million. But relatively very few of the people offered the choice would really be so much in need. There's no point in finding ways to excuse simple irrationality by bringing in extreme scenarios that would justify it in some implausible cases....
Simple irrationality would be taking the implausible scenario both seriously and at face value. A priori, the likelihood of someone honestly offering you money for nothing is extremely low, as is the likelihood that they even have a million dollars to give away. If you don't take the scenario seriously, it's just a case of guessing the teacher's password. If you do take it seriously, it would not be rational in most contexts take the offer at face value, in which case "$500 now" has about as a good an expected pay-off as any, and at least provides guaranteed evidence of the offer's legitimacy.
At this point you're just using pedantry to dismiss the very concept of hypothetical questions. The question is simple: What option you would take with the mentioned choices at hand as a given situation: Whether you'd prefer the certainty of 500 dollars or a 15% chance at 1 million. As simple as that. You really don't have to estimate how unlikely you're to be given this option in reality. That's why it's called a "hypothetical" question. And the question is likewise not about what you would do if you were in danger of starving to death. Just what you would do. You're free to offer a conditional response (e.g. "I'd choose the 15% chance at a million, except if I was dead broke and in danger of immediate starvation), but just claiming that all possible responses are equally valid, regardless of conditions, just won't fly. I'm tapping out.
I am a girl and I approve of this suggestion. I'll also note that LW has been very good about this in all of my experiences here (discussion forum, IRC, and meetups IRL).
But I like dating subculture boys. Also, the bisexual one I see sometimes would not be deterred by considering me male for all social purposes.

But I like dating subculture boys.

And yet for all your interest and your polyhacking I suspect that you and those like you just don't have sufficient time or sexual and romantic interest to satisfy the demand. (My apologies if I have underestimated your enthusiasm and endurance!) This inflates your value and means at a grossly simplified level that for a given level of attractiveness a male that doesn't qualify to date you within this culture may attract women outside the subculture as attractive to you. Those that do qualify to date you could expect general population dating opportunities with women who are even sexier than you, or better at sport or who perhaps have neck-down alopecia.

I'm sure you'll not be lacking for available, interested males. Unless all the males started looking elsewhere and didn't notice that the incentives at the margin had changed. They'd also have to resist any overt advances you should happen to make!

Also, the bisexual one I see sometimes would not be deterred by considering me male for all social purposes.

Of course bisexual males also have more potential romantic interests, not being limited to the scarce female population. Perhaps that means this 'avoid scarcity' principle doesn't even need special case treatment for bisexual males. Homosexual males on the other hand may get all confused if they try to implement it!

I have evidence-based insight into the gender ratio issue. Although it is not a solution, I think it will help everyone understand the problem better. I have some unpleasant news which is related to IQ (and LessWrong has a higher than average IQ according to the member surveys). There's something up with genetics and intelligence that goes like this (references included): Although men's and women's IQs are the same on average, there are far more gifted men than women. The explanation is that high intelligence is due to a mutation. Men are more affected by mutations. Therefore they are about twice as likely to get both beneficial and detrimental intelligence mutations, which is why they are unbalanced for gifted populations but even out in population averages. "Diseases inherited in an X-linked recessive pattern mostly affect males, because a second X chromosome usually protects females from showing symptoms." (From: How Are Genetic Disorders Inherited?) See also: Mensa's demographics page where they report a 33% female : 66% male ratio (for the top 2% in IQ). I've heard it reported by people with very high IQs that the higher the IQ range, the worse the gap is. This may be true if higher IQs require multiple mutations. If refining rationality, science, etc. or the specific forms of these that interest LW members tend to appeal most to people with high IQs, this ratio is probably, unfortunately, going to affect groups like these whatever you do. Of course, if the male to female ratio is 2:1 in Mensa (unsure what their average IQ is, just that the minimum is the top 2%) this means there's probably room for improvement. However, short of genetic engineering or brain implants, the gender ratio problem is likely to persist for high IQ groups like this even if a perfect strategy was used for making women feel more comfortable. If the important thing is to be able to have children one day, then creating or using a service for finding intelligent women who are willing t
To clarify, I asked for evidence-based advice in order to avoid the useless platitudes that are usually offered in such situations. Bad advice is worse than no advice at all. I appreciate your honesty on the subject.
If men think more like economists than women, then what explains this difference?
Brain differences are nowhere near the entire story. There are so many different chemicals that can be floating around in your brain at any given time. Oxytocin might give you some insight here. They've done studies that showed that this hormone increases things like trust, trustworthiness, generosity, empathy and morality. This same video explains that testosterone increases selfishness and punishing behaviors. Different sources say different things about how oxytocin affects each gender, but there's a theme where they're saying the women either have higher oxytocin or stronger reactions to it or that testosterone interferes with it, etc. Essentially the message in the theories is "Women more frequently act on the influence of oxytocin". Here is what this is like for me: Imagine, for a moment, feeling ten times less selfish (the video says men have 10x the testosterone, not sure if our subjective experiences correspond exactly, but that's my guess for the following hypothetical scenarios). Now imagine being high every time you do something nice. For me, this means the world feels beautiful, I feel secure and peaceful, and I feel satisfied in a way that nothing else can match. Imagine someone doing something bad to you. Imagine you're not even selfish enough to be angry. I don't always stay calm, but the things that don't make me angry might surprise you. Now imagine feeling sorry for the person instead of worrying about yourself. This is what it feels like to be me. People like me have to work hard on developing rational self-interest. You've probably wondered about the phenomenon where a lot of women get attached to an abusive man and keep trying to love him into being a better person even though he's abusing her. I haven't had problems saying no since my early twenties, but it took work to learn to be strong enough to say no and be firm. These hormonal differences may explain that. I
In the brain females have more nerves (white matter), and males have more glia (grey matter); this doesn't mean much, though. Glia react to neurotransmitters, which means they may have processing capabilities as yet unknown; considering this and humans' neuroplasticity, nothing can be reasonably inferred from this distinction. That's the only physiological difference of the cortex between sexes, as far as I'm aware.
If you are correct, then brain physiology doesn't explain the difference. So then, what does? I ask the question because I have a suspicion that whatever causes women to think less like economists than men also makes them less likely to join communities like Less Wrong. I, myself, do not have a good answer to this question. Furthermore, I suspect that until we do have a good answer to this question, our strategies for increasing the proportion of females on Less Wrong will be ineffective.
Please conduct yourself to this comment, as I think it will serve as a response yours as well.
The only macroscopic physiological difference (as far as you're aware). This is not very informative; we wouldn't expect to know about the vast majority of possible differences.
This assumes there are any innate differences; the only other difference I neglected to mention is hormone balances. Hormones, like neurotransmitters, can affect the way humans think - besides the reproductively relevant hormones, I am not familiar with any specific differences in hormone balances between sexes (as I haven't yet studied hormones in detail). Brain plasticity is such that experience, particularly experience during rapid brain development (birth to ~12), can effect physiological changes in the brain. The surveys the paper you linked analyse were of men and women with varying levels of education in a Western society (America). They found that the gap widens with higher reported levels of education. The economists at GMU who wrote the paper suggest that men learn more about economics per year of education, as they have more interest in it than women. The question the economists investigated was not "Why is it that in populations of females and males with equal levels of education in economics, females still know less than men?" Indeed, their not even subtly suggesting that is an issue among economists implies there is no economics knowledge gap between male and female economists. The GMU economists attempted to analyse existing, previously gathered survey data from 1996. Speculation: This data may no longer be representative of the survey population. The question the GMU economists did analyse was: "Why is it that, in our general Western populace (of America), females do not share the same opinions as economists about the issues on which they were surveyed in 1996, to a greater degree than the males of that same survey do not share the same opinions as economists about the issues on which they were surveyed in 1996?" Speculation: Whatever differences of interest that spurred men in 1996 to learn more about economics than females in 1996 existed, the differences were caused by cultural influences rather than innate physiological discrepancies betwe
They did say "as far as I'm aware."
What tricks do you use to control yourself while tripping when you dont have people you trust to help you? I have a inkling that the reason I have a harder time teaching role play control to girls is somewhat to do with gender roles but insofar I've failed at deducing why.
I don't do a lot of role-playing, don't know what tripping is (though I can guess) and don't know why someone would need to trust someone to help with it.
Basically... You dont need someone you trust until you start doubting yourself and losing control. Role-playing is just a technique of letting your body play a role instead of losing that control. Thanks for the response :)
To learn how to trip more safely and more productively I highly recommend this book: I have no idea what "role play control" is. The whole mindset of "tricks" to "control" yourself is generally counterproductive for tripping. Instead one should do their best to ensure a good set and setting, have a sitter and then "let go" and make themselves open to the experience.
I like letting go completely, but I have tricks in case I need to use them in dire scenarios. For instance my friend henri was thought looping quite badly a couple of weeks ago. I was able to get him on a bike and moving and calmed him down almost immediately due to his large muscle memory in that regard. Role play control is just a fancy way of getting someone into a familiar role while they are in an unfamiliar mental state to help them relax and let go. I have trip sat many times sober and many times while tripping on low doses and each time I have found it easier to help people with overly intense experiences using that technique. The last time I completely let go on a trip I was on ~5g of mushies and I thought I was having a heart attack at one point but it was quite enlightening and I experienced ego-loss like never before. I can definitely support the mindset of ensuring a good set in setting I just also accept the occasional need for dealing with people tripping too hard to be quiet.
Do men and women suffer from the same cognitive biases (and to the same extent)?


[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
What's happening?
Move along; nothing to see here.
Viliam said that this question would better be addressed as a survey and Jayson agreed, then they both deleted their comments for some reason.
That's a really, really big question. I think if you want a good answer to that, we'd need to do a study. I'm deeming that outside my ability to determine with a worthwhile level of accuracy.
Just think of it as an invitation to share your priors.
There has been some talk of male-specific (or male-biased) rationalist failure modes. What failure mode would you most like to warn a new female LWer about as she learns more about LWian rationality?
What software feature (or policy) would you like to see added to the LessWrong forums and up/down vote system? (There may or may not be a gender difference in perceived value of proposed features. I don't know. That's why I'm asking.)

I'd like an option to hide all karma scores. There's two reasons for this:

  • I worry that by seeing the karma of a post before reading the post, I will be unfairly biased toward or against that post. I'd really like to make up my own mind about these things before seeing what the community has decided. I'm pretty sure my opinions change drasticallly based on the opinions of the group I'm in, and this seems counterproductive for rationality (although very useful for social cohesion).

  • I'm embarrassed to admit that karma scores affect my emotions a lot. Each time I lose a karma point, it's like an emotional punch in the face. If someone politely disagreed with my post, I would not have this reaction. If someone violently disagreed with my post, I'd either be slightly upset, very amused, or both. But when I lose a karma point, I feel intense shame. Also, when I gain karma, I feel intense pride. When I post here, I feel like I'm talking to "win karma", not to engage in an interesting discussion with thoughtful, intelligent people. This isn't a motivation/reaction I like to have, and that's why I almost never post here, and instead spend all my time on IRC. Basically

... (read more)

There is a browser extension called the anti-kibitzer that will, among other things, hide karma scores on comments/posts.

=O Thanks muchly! I'm trying it out right now. It doesn't seem to work properly, but perhaps I'm doing it wrong; I'll play with it more.
it might be worth it for you to explore why this happens, by trying to trace the hidden logic leading to this emotion. This might help in other, real-life situations when a similar emotion happens (whether they are related or not to the silent public disapproval with no recourse that downvoting is usually perceived as).
For a quick fix to the own-karma problem, get the firefox Stylish extension and add this stylesheet: @-moz-document domain("") { span.label, span.score, span.monthly-score { display:none !important; } }
If you add .votes to that selector, then you also hide the points on comments and posts. I.e. @-moz-document domain("") { span.label, span.score, span.monthly-score, .votes { display:none !important; } }

Trn (a comprehensive system for managing long discussions which was used on usenet and was never rewritten for the web). I'm expecting an age difference on this one, not a gender difference.

Up-down karma vote histories.

However, I'm fine with anonymous voting. I think we'd get even more conflict and less good voting if votes had names attached to them.

Built-in polling would be excellent, preferably with some way of handling whether people's poll answers were correlated. I don't know whether most polling systems have this-- the only one I've used is livejournal, and it doesn't.

3Paul Crowley11y
Oh Gods yes, I wish for Trn, or better still, Gnus.
I want more support for the public votes feature (I want it to work backwards and on comments). I'd also like built-in polling support.
I'd like a policy change: Due to the widespread elitism or appearance of elitism, I am very concerned. People in the outside world aren't going to make distinctions between a group of people who call themselves "elitists" for harmless reasons versus people who believe they're "better than others" and are therefore entitled to special treatment or to make exceptions to the rules for themselves. It's also a weird surprise because it's in direct conflict with the site's vision - to spread rationality. Spreading rationality necessarily means transmitting it to people who are not good at rational thought, because focusing on transmitting it to people who are already good at it does not qualify as "spreading" it. Imagine going into a room full of strangers and announcing that you are an elitist. Does this strike no one else as socially inept? Yet here we are in public, and people are announcing to the world of strangers that we are elitists. I don't like being smeared as an "elitist" by these people, I know the world will see me as guilty by association. The rest of the world isn't known for being rational. If they see a group of people calling themselves "elitists" they won't stop to make distinctions. They'll just err on the side of caution by assuming you guys are a bunch of overbearing jerks. This is about as smart, in my view, as going back in time few hundred years and claiming to enjoy casting magic spells. It doesn't matter if you're referring to an RPG game, you just invited a witch hunt. Maybe you guys figure anybody intelligent will agree with your attitude. No. It's a perfectly constructive use of one's intelligence to take measures to avoid committing social suicide. That this group allows itself to be associated with the term "elitism" - that nobody moderates those comments and that they're being voted up to the sky - is a public relations disaster waiting to happen. At first, it didn't even occur to me that the people here might not realize that. That's

You're over-reacting to one comment, which made its point well despite using a word you disapprove of. It's not as though Less Wrong identifies itself to the world at large as elitist (although some people, and indeed some users here, may describe it that way).

Furthermore, a policy of "not using the word "elitist"" is completely orthogonal to a policy of "not being abusive to lower IQ people". What makes you think the latter is necessary?

Going into a room full of strangers and announcing I was a socialist, or an egalitarian, or a libertarian, or a conservative, etc. would be socially inept. In fact, announcing I was a human or a carbon-based lifeform or a biped would be socially inept too. It's nothing special about elitism.
Is "elitism" perhaps a particularly bad word in the US but not other parts of the world? For example I've always found the accusation of US politicians being "elitist" as mildly confusing, like something that just wouldn't happen in my countries political discourse.
I'm new to less wrong so my opinions may not be seen to count as much as more regular users. But anyway, I definitely think the voting should be anonymous in order to avoid petty conflicts. I also think there may be some flaws in the voting system. While I think it is a good thing that long time users and regular contributors to less wrong as well as interesting and insightful comments are recognised and rewarded for their input with karma points I feel there may also be some downsides: For example in some situations people may want to say something that conflicts with the opinion of the majority of users commenting on a thread but decide against it due to the prospect of being down voted (as well as comments). I noticed that in this thread alicorn said she had felt this way about commenting on threads about gender issues. Also if someone decides to say something controversial anyway (compared to other attitudes on the thread) this may get down voted and become invisible. I think this is bad because it is preferable to have a variety of views represented on any thread or the discussion may suffer due to one sidedness. I have read before that people tend to seek out those who share their view point and ignore opposing opinions but i think it would be better to have a debate when such situations arise rather than completely sidelining views that we don't agree with which is a danger with the down voting system. Of course it is a different case when a comment is unacceptable to the standards of the community by being obscene etc but that could be dealt with by the "report" function. I don't think the up/ down vote system should be abandoned but maybe some modifications could be made.
Do you like being treated as a celebrity in threads like this because you have boobs or would you prefer if people stopped obsessing over what sex you are?

Actually, I have run into enough guys who treat me like I'm the last woman on earth because I'm a female nerd that I've developed an aversion to anything resembling that type of behavior. I was understanding about their enthusiasm at first, because I want a nerd, too, but it just doesn't work to date someone when they're acting like you're their last chance. They want to move too fast, they create expectations, they become biased and won't hear me when I talk about things that may be incompatibilities. That intensity throws a wrench into the process of getting to know someone. I grok their sense of necessity about being careful in how they present themselves, and I approve of this thread (There are a lot of things I wish I could say to guys - we need to communicate, and I have been wishing for an opportunity to do that), but on the individual level, I am easily spooked by signs of early attachment, overly optimistic probability estimates about us working out, and impatience to see signs of an established connection. I go on the alert for these signs of irrationality if a person treats me "like a celebrity" or similar. For the record none of the questions in this thr... (read more)

I am easily spooked by signs of early attachment, overly optimistic probability estimates about us working out, and impatience to see signs of an established connection. I go on the alert for these signs of irrationality if a person treats me "like a celebrity" or similar.

I can certainly understand how these behaviors would be incredibly unattractive, as well as representing 'red flags' indicating potential future complications in any relationship that is formed.

A corollary from a male perspective is that someone strongly predisposed from past experience towards seeing these signs of desperation and supplication can themselves make dating a drag. If ambiguous situations (or sometimes arguably non-ambiguous situations) are likely to be interpreted as motivated by weakness/low status/desparation/worship then avoiding such outcomes requires running far more strict, aggressive and constrained 'game' just to break even. Ultimately that lack of respect is just a huge turn off for me and one of the first things that'll make me think 'next' and move on to the next option.

You really made me think, Wedrifid. I chose not to respond to you right away because I wanted to avoid jumping to the conclusion that I'm doing everything right. So, I made myself go think it over. Before you said this, I thought I was being patient enough with ambiguous "signs" and tolerant enough of harmless lapses in social skills. I've done a lot of emotional support for people who have problems, so I'm pretty confident that my tolerance of harmless social mistakes (as well as my ability to spot false positives on my creep radar) is well beyond adequate for dating nerds and misunderstood gifted people. But signs only seem ambiguous to me if I realize that they're ambiguous. Are the signs that I think are unambiguous actually ambiguous? I don't know... I think the best approach is to develop a greater tolerance for them. So, I've got a goal now of "Be strong enough that even when guys do these things, I don't feel stressed out." Of course, tolerating these problems endlessly would lead to doing a lot of hand-holding, which would be draining, and that's not emotionally sustainable for me, but maybe a three strikes rule would be a good idea for me. That'd probably give a functional guy enough time to gain my trust in his sanity. Patience... yeah, I think I could use more. And, you know, even if I have adequate patience and my tolerance of eccentricity is very high and I'm doing a good job of telling the difference between ambiguous and unambiguous signs of dysfunction, if guys are expecting me to be impatient, intolerant and judgmental, that's no good. I could lose a lot of opportunities because of their baggage due to the skewed gender ratio. I'm not sure what to do to counteract this. You know, maybe we just need open communication. Like "Hi, I know there's a gender ratio issue, it's stressing everyone out when we try to date each other, why don't you and I just talk openly about these problems as we get to know each other?" That seems counter-intuitive on th
I upvoted this post because it does a good job at presenting your perspective as a woman in such interactions. However, I don't think it displays a lot of empathy or understanding for the other perspective. I'm not necessarily concluding that you lack such empathy or understanding, but I don't see it in this post. For example, this sentence: This is not a very good model of nerdy guys who come on too strong. From their perspective, you (as a woman in a largely-male group) have many more romantic prospects than they do. They can't afford to wait and take things slow, because there's always someone else who is more assertive or has better timing. It's a scenario they've personally observed over and over again. Now, obviously it's detrimental for every guy in this situation to reason this way, as you remark: It's actually a very good example of the tragedy of the commons. Individually, going after every woman they meet seems like it should improve their chances; collectively, it ends up driving women away and reducing everyone's chances. We would expect rationalist/skeptic/etc. guys to figure this out, but they often don't. Why is this? Try to imagine being completely romantically alone, through no choice of your own. Imagine this not over the course of weeks or months, but years or even decades. Not one date, not one kiss, hardly even any fun, flirty conversations with interesting, attractive people. This is the stark reality for many nerdy guys, and they often feel powerless to change it. So, yes, oozing desperation is not a good romantic strategy, but it's not just due to simple social ineptitude or inexperience. While the nerdy guys are trying to keep in mind how women feel when they're constantly pursued (and this is something at which many of us can improve), women should please keep in mind just how lonely and desperate it can feel on the other side.

The reason I didn't focus on empathy in my previous comment is because I didn't see any reason to think that would be useful to you guys. In my view, we have problems that empathy can't solve. I see now that it would probably be good if I detail some of my empathetic experiences because there's a need to feel like women care and also explain why empathy can't solve the problems I listed. So I did both.

I met a really sweet guy on a dating site that I have things in common with and we started having wonderful conversations. Then I started to notice Asperger's symptoms. Instead of rejecting him immediately, I started giving him information about how he was coming across. We both decided that we were not romantically compatible (for unrelated reasons) but we talked frequently over the next year or so, and I kept giving him information to help him socially. I care about him a lot and it makes me sad to think of him ending up alone, so I helped as much as I could.

I make a point of letting guys know if they make a mistake, with few exceptions. If they seem beyond helping (the occasional crazies), I may back away slowly and vanish. If they send me a message on a dating site that i... (read more)

Thank you very much for the thorough reply. I understand your position and experiences a lot better now, and I think we are broadly in agreement about what needs to happen on each side. I recognize that understanding alone is not going to solve these problems, especially in individual cases, but I think it's an important component for longer-term improvement. Judging from this post, you clearly do have empathy, and I could not reasonably ask any more in that regard than what you have already demonstrated.

Dating isn't charity work. If you go on dates and do what is, roughly speaking, the opposite of what works, you will probably fail.

If the girl you are dating is feeling particularly generous she may be willing to give you a reference to a guide on dating skills and tell you to "quit being a pussy", giving you a chance to have more success with the next woman that you date.

These are correct statements about the present. They are not very helpful for improving the future and solving the collective action problems that have led to this point. I have not said that dating should be charity work. I only think that dating could be a little more charitable. Epiphany's follow-up comment pretty well illustrates what I mean.
I disagree.
What is it that you would like us to do with this information?
Incorporate it into your models of such guys. I think this can help moderate problems such as being "easily spooked" and "cutting it short to prevent dysfunction." Instead of thinking that this guy is just too clingy/creepy/codependent/etc., dig a little deeper. If the flirtation or relationship just isn't going to work, then so be it, but we can at least strive to leave things a little nicer than how we found them. If I, as a guy, try to give other guys advice in these matters, it just seems like I'm trying to create a competitive advantage for myself. I am trying to promote mutual understanding so that communication between the genders works better. I never have and likely never will experience being in such high romantic demand, so I have no visceral feeling for how women feel in that situation. The best I can do is to keep in mind what I've been told by women whenever such a conversation occurs. On the flip side, most women in rationalist/skeptic/etc. groups have never experienced such prolonged romantic isolation. If we want to increase group conscientiousness of issues which can drive women away, understanding needs to flow both ways.
I could pause before attaching labels, but I don't think arbitrary guys who I don't enjoy interactions with ought to get particularly much attention in the form of "digging"; that doesn't make sense to me.
In the context of Epiphany's post, these aren't arbitrary guys:
I don't think I would enjoy a prolonged period of having to manage someone's desperation on the expectation that there is an otherwise functional guy under all of it. Plenty of guys come functional out of the package, so the opportunity cost of a lot of dysfunction-fussing-with is high. But your advice could be good for people who like fixer-uppers; it's probably safer and more productive than trying to tame a sociopath or something.
Well, this conversation has managed to go right around in a circle: Also, turning "dig a little deeper" into "a prolonged period" seems uncharitable.
Well, yes. I do in fact have many more romantic prospects than a bunch of the guys I know. Should I act like that is false? Prolonged beyond what is enjoyable, or required for me to achieve a comfortable level of confidence that it's not going to become enjoyable soon.
If you read it in context, that means: "the ones who do seem compatible have problems like the above" You can be dysfunctional and incompatible, which is a fail. Or you can be functional and incompatible, also a fail. Or you can be compatible and dysfunctional, still a fail. The only thing that's not a definite fail is compatible + functional.
Probably feel good about never having to be in this exact situation? I doubt that he implies that he deserves a pity lay. He can probably afford to pay for a professional escort once in a while, one of the solutions advocated by Dan Savage.
It would be lovely if you'd point that kind of thing out to the nerdy guy. One problem with being a nerdy guy is that a lack of romantic experience creates a positive feedback loop. So yeah, it's great to point out what mistakes the guy made. See Epiphany's comment here. (I have no doubt that you personally would do this, I'm just pointing this out for future reference. You might not remember, but I've actually talked to you about this positive feedback loop over IM before. I complimented you for doing something which would go towards breaking the cycle.)
Give them a link to a dating skills guide and tell them to quit being a pussy.

It's not really flattering (or, as Captain Hook would say "I want no such compliments!"). Being sexually harassed is not empowering, and trying to troubleshoot it isn't invigorating, it's just useful. I'm glad to help people avoid pattern matching to behaviors that look like threats/seem condescending/just aren't fun, and I think it's appropriate to spend a little time discussing them.

I wouldn't want this topic to keep seeding new threads the way the Endless September discussion did, but I don't think starting the discussion dooms us to that fate. And if you're worried about that threat, start another quite interesting thread on a different topic.

(For those not familiar with the reference, it's a fun one.)
Some of each. I like attention, and bringing up my gender is a great way to get attention, because many people are interested in the rare female perspective on various LW topics. (It seems, though, that the attention I seek and receive on LW regarding gender is unrelated to my boobs.) When I don't want gender-related attention, I simply don't mention my gender; having a gender-neutral username is nice. Sometimes I like participating in discussions about gender/PUA/etc. without revealing that I'm female.
Why do you think those are the only alternatives? Or an especially interesting pair of alternatives? I've assumed that daenerys gets karma and attention (at a fairly ordinary level) because they're a good poster about difficult topics.

I've assumed that daenerys gets karma and attention (at a fairly ordinary level) because they're a good poster about difficult topics.

I had understood the questions to be abstract and anonymised, not to daenerys.

Fair point about the question being more general than I took it to be. However, that makes it seem even weirder to me. Would you care to write about why you chose those alternatives?
I suggest availability bias because they are the two extremes of a simple spectrum of "pay no attention to women's sex... pay lots of attention to women's sex". It feels natural to think in these terms, even when I'm aware that actual behavior mostly lies between the two extremes, varies a lot for the same person, etc.
I get so much free Karma for being a girl that it's making my dopamine system short out good sense sometimes. Karma is majorly addictive. I keep coming back to this topic because I'm getting so much of it. I also think it's rather unfair that I often get way more karma for saying the same stuff as a man does, but with a "feminine anecdote" or "feminine caveat". My model of LW would have a very critical argument with a man trying to make evopsych arguments with nonobvious generalisations, but a post I make about it where I explicitly signal femaleness would get upvotes. I think it's tremendously unhelpful that just signalling being a girl gets a post more karma (though I can understand that we want "more of this" as in women posting, I personally end up doing "more of this" as in signalling being female). My system 1 is just flat-out addicted though and doesn't even want me to complain.
Is this comment intended as snark?
The wording of the question is problematic, because (a) it sounds snarky, and (b) it is trying to produce a specific answer. See, for example: Please try to use a more neutral tone when asking questions. It will yield more (epistemically) useful answers.
I also was offended both by the wording of the question, and by the "here are the answers that I would respect" follow-up.
It feels like not but trolling.
It is a sincere question. And I suspect I'd actually respect either an answer that the emphasis on sex and gender drama is tiresome or that the extra attention is flattering and empowering. EDIT: The edit to the parent changed the meaning of my response. I'm glad I looked back. I should have quoted.
Would the answer to your question influence whether you see this call for narratives as being useful or not?
It would have some influence. And I'm curious about such things.
To be clear, before editing my question was: Is this comment intended as snark or is it a genuine question? Sorry. I thought I edited it quickly enough that you would only see the edited question :). I certainly edited it before I saw your reply.
Understood, I realize making the meaning of my reply too highly dependent on unquoted context makes the meaning my comments fragile. I'm surprised I forgot to quote, actually.

Question submissions

Do you like being treated as a celebrity in threads like this because you have boobs or would you prefer if people stopped obsessing over what sex you are?

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

Why would the women of LW be particularly positioned to answer that? BTW, I'm afraid the answer is “You can't” -- assuming black holes do maximize entropy and the second law of thermodynamics. (I'm not a woman, FWIW.) ETA: Upvoted anyway, because now I'm also curious to know what they'd answer.

EDIT: I think I see your point. Should I tell you my guess about what your point is via private message?