All of HughRistik's Comments + Replies

On the whole it seems that intelligent folk really are significantly more moral than the majority of humanity

That's been my observation, also. But if it's true, I wonder why?

It could be because intelligence is useful for moral reasoning. Or it could be because intelligence is correlated with some temperamental, neurological, or personality traits that influence moral behavior. In the latter case, moral behavior would be a characteristic of the substrate of intelligent human minds.

To a certain degree, different brands of feminism could function as different parties (certainly in academic feminism they do).

You are quite correct. There are large disagreements and fissures within feminism. These disagreements might not be obvious or cared about by non-feminists (similar to how many feminists don't recognize the differences within MRAs and PUAs). See out-group homogeneity bias.

As you also observe correctly, there are some common premises (and biases) even within these different groups of feminists. Although there are widely varying f... (read more)

So, what would be an example of a "gender politics" that is "liberal" and "progressive", but not represented by any "party"?

The men's rights movement and pickup are both gender politics movements. Some segments of those movements are "progressive" (defined later), and some are not (just like feminism: some of it is progressive, some of it is not). These movements are not "parties" because they have very little political power. Feminism has quite a lot of political power.

First, some definitions.... (read more)

But is feminism unusually biased for the level of its status?

I'm not sure.

If feminism weren't occupying that position of status, some other ideology would be, and I wouldn't expect this other ideology to be less biased.

An alternative is that feminism would share space with other gender political ideologies in liberal political dialogue. Just like both liberalism and conservatism share status among different parts of the population, feminism would share status with other gender political movements.

Unfortunately, in white middle/upper class, educated... (read more)

At this point, we probably have to pin down the meanings of "feminism", "liberal", and "progressive" a bit to make some progress. So, what would be an example of a "gender politics" that is "liberal" and "progressive", but not represented by any "party"? All "liberal gender politics" are going to look similar in some ways just in virtue of being liberal gender politics. You are evidently claiming that the only actual liberal gender politics is contingently feminist (in the de dicto [] sense), but that feminism is not among those features that it has just in virtue of being liberal gender politics. I'm trying to delineate which features you'd say that liberal gender politics has qua liberal gender politics, and which you'd say that it has only contingently.
To a certain degree, different brands of feminism could function as different parties (certainly in academic feminism they do). A Christina-Hoff-Sommers-esque conservative feminist is unlikely to agree much with a Dworkinite radical feminist. For instance, "rape is a subset of violence with no particularly gendered component" and "rape is the natural outgrowth of a culture in which women's subordination to men is eroticized" are two substantially different positions (both of which I disagree with).* Admittedly, the average person is not particularly clear on the distinct branches of feminism; hell, there is still a widespread belief that radical feminist means "a feminist who's really extreme" as opposed to a distinct framework of theories and political beliefs. And even among the different groups of feminists there are usually some common premises (gender being at least partially a social construct, men being privileged over women, etc.). That said, I too would like more variation in the gender politics space; some groups (most notably, men) are distinctly underserved by the current gender discourse, and more competition in the marketplace of ideas can only be a good thing. :) *I am somewhat cheating here by picking an issue on which there is a lot of disagreement among different branches of feminism, as opposed to (say) the gender gap, in which the primary disagreement is between feminists who do and do not suck at math.

It's true that there is a lot of painfully bad epistemology in feminist discourse. However, the proportion of bad epistemology is typical of most human discourse concerned with advocacy.

That's true. As far as ideologies go, feminism isn't that bad. It's really in a similar category to men's rights, and pickup. Mainstream politics (democrat vs. republican) are at least as ideological, and religion and multi-level marketing organizations are much worse.

What makes feminism special is that in white, middle / upper class society, people often don't look on f... (read more)

Among all similarly-biased ideologies (similar in degree, not necessarily in direction), feminism is unusually high-status. But is feminism unusually biased for the level of its status? It doesn't seem to me that it is. If feminism weren't occupying that position of status, some other ideology would be, and I wouldn't expect this other ideology to be less biased.

Part of what's been going on is that your advocacy has left me feeling as though my fears about PUA were being completely dismissed. ... I don't know if it was unfair of me to assume that you hadn't performed a moral calculus--

On LW in general I've spilled gallons of ink engaging in moral analyses of pickup, and of potential objections to pickup techniques. In my PUA FAQ, I made a whole section on ethics. In general, I have trouble reconciling your above perceptions with my participation in pickup discussions on LW.

But my memory of those discussions isn... (read more)

That's one of the best sentences I've read today, especially given what the title of this website is.

Hi daenerys! Welcome to the PUA Moderates club.

Nancy, I'm a bit confused by your comment.

From my point of view, the PUA believers have the advantage at LW

What does "PUA believer" mean? Out of the folks who discuss pickup positively on LessWrong, I doubt any of them "believe" in it uncritically. However, they may feel motivated to defend pickup from inaccurate characterizations.

I do not see people who want to discuss pickup in a not-completely-negative way on LW as having an obvious advantage. The debate is not symmetrical. Anyone who can be painted as a defender of pickup is vul... (read more)

This is very much a first attempt at answering these matters. I think more honesty on both sides (and you've made a good start) will help. Part of what's been going on is that your advocacy has left me feeling as though my fears about PUA were being completely dismissed. On the other hand, when you've occasionally mentioned some doubts about aspects of PUA, I've felt better, but generally not posted anything about it. I may have said something in favor when the idea of "atypical women" (more straightforward than the average and tending to be geeky) was floated. I'm pretty sure I didn't when someone (probably you) said something about some PUA techniques being unfair (certainly not the word used, but I don't have a better substitute handy) to women who aren't very self-assured, even though that's the sort of thing I'm concerned about. Thanks for posting more about what's going on at your end. As for stigma, I actually think it's funny that both of us feel sufficiently like underdogs that we're defensive. From my point of view, posting against PUA here leads to stigma not just for being close-minded and opposed to rational efforts to improve one's life (rather heavier stigmas here than in most places), but also for unkindness to men who would otherwise be suffering because they don't know how to attract women. I don't know if it was unfair of me to assume that you hadn't performed a moral calculus-- from my point of view, the interests of women were being pretty much dismissed, or being assumed (by much lower standards of proof) to be adequately served by what was more convenient for men. Part of what squicks me about PUA is that it seems as though there's very careful checking about its effects (at least in the short term) on men, but, in the nature of things, much less information about its effects on women.

How can we reduce this polarization?

Maybe by moderates coming out of the closet, so to speak?

Hi, my name is Daenerys, and I have ambiguous views about PUA. My initial reaction was "Ew! Bad!" but after reading the debates here, talking with a friend, and learning more elsewhere, my views towards it have softened. I still do not think that all of it is 100% ok though. It is a complicated issue with many facets.

Mainly I wish it wouldn't hijack non-PUA discussions. I am seriously close to just starting a PUA discussion to keep all this stuff in one place, but I guess I feel if anyone should do it, it should be the mods.

PUA Moderates of the World, Unite!

It should be, but compared to women, most men are relatively less offended at the slur. Double standards; go figure.

As a contrasting data point, my contrarian group blog started during that time, and we are still going, with more readers than ever. Apparently there is a niche for people who are interested in mostly dry, slightly polemical, relatively rigorous discussion of gender politics.

I've looked at your blog. You seem to be spending a lot of effort to bend over backwards to PC orthodoxy, the "No Hostility" threads being the most blatant examples of this. Also, your posts also have an almost apologetic undertone, as if you believe you need to apologize to feminists for criticizing them.

There are men who chose women who mistreat them, sometimes one such woman after another, but I've never heard anyone say "men prefer bitches".

I think the hypothesis would be that women choose men who are "jerks" partly because they are jerks, while men choose women who are "jerks" because they just don't care so much about personality traits, and/or despite those women being jerks.

Examining this hypothesis would require an operationalization of "jerk."

Wouldn't it, though? I wish that would happen, and I wonder why at least a sketch of a definition hasn't emerged yet.

and then dividing them into several categories:

Traits that are indeed actively attractive to women, or some subset thereof.

Traits that are neutral per se, but have a positive correlation with others that are attractive, or negative correlation with others that are unattractive.

Traits that are unattractive, but easily overshadowed by other less obvious (or less mentionable) traits, which produces striking but misleading examples where it looks like the "jerk" traits are in fact the attractive ones.

Here's a couple more:

  • Traits that are neutral

... (read more)

IOW the reason jerks are more successful might be that they cockblock other guys. It makes perfect sense to me and, in retrospect, I'm surprised that it took so long for someone to hypothesise this.

While mean sexual value is an important concept, as lukeprog points out with my graph, sometimes it is not relevant. The relevant metric of success in attracting people is something like "being over a cutoff of attractiveness for a subset of the population that you desire and that you can find, and where you don't face a punishing gender ratio in that niche."

For instance, regardless of your average attractiveness, you could be doing great even if 0.1% of the population is attracted to you, as long as (a) you know how to find them, (b) they fit your criteria, and (c) there isn't an oversaturation of people like you that you're competing with.

This is taking the unfortunate/entitled/nice/beta/shibboleth-of-your-choice males' complaint too far at face value - i.e., that they are sexually unsuccessful on account of being kind and prosocial.

I used to believe this, but after doing some research, and further experience, I changed my mind.

First, the available research doesn't show a disadvantage of altruism, agreeableness, and prosocial tendencies for men.

I used to experience agreeableness and altruism as disadvantages. Now I experience agreeableness as sometimes a big advantage, and sometimes a mo... (read more)

I suspect that while dark triad traits are desirable to women, they aren't the only desirable traits. As you said, research shows that agreeableness and altruism also tend to be attractive, and conscientious and agreeable men tend to be better dancers, and thus more attractive. (quick google search) I suspect that there are multiple types of attractive men, or you can still possess all these traits. Then again, it is important to know how the dark triad is measured to begin with. I am not sure if this is the actual test, but it looks legitimate. While saying disagree to all or most of the questions that measured lying and callousness, I still managed to score high on Machiavellianism and above average in Narcissism. (low on psychopathy) This also calls into question how "dark" some of these traits are, since outside of psychopathy, the other questions were related to self-esteem and a desire for influence, which isn't inherently evil, and can still coincide with agreeable and prosocial personalities. []
I said [], which was given some implicit endorsement (I think):

I have appreciated your non-contentious handling of these subjects, both here and elsewhere.

I have to second that. NancyLebovitz comes across as positively sane and relaxing to converse with (and read) - a valuable and somewhat rare trait in this subject area.

Many people are in debt. If you are, then your net worth is less than $191.

Why would people downvote this? Isn't it both correct and obvious? It also has fairly significant implication as to the extent of the applicability of the simplified model.

DH7 should be kept internal, at least at first. Being misinterpreted as trying to construct a straw man when you've been trying to do the opposite can derail a conversation. To actually believe that you've made a steel man, not a straw man, the person you're arguing with would have to admit that you've created a stronger argument for their own position than they could.


DH7 is of limited use in an adversarial debate, unless your opponent is open-minded. It could convince fence-sitters, but only if they are open-minded.

The problem with DH7 is that it... (read more)

You need to be sure that your rebuttal applies both to the argument they have presented and to the steel man argument you have constructed (which you can spell out or not, depending on context), and ideally to any men of straw or steel others are likely to construct for themselves on hearing your opponent's argument.
I think it bears repeating that this matters if you're trying to win an adversarial debate, but not so much if you're trying to learn the truth of the matter.

I think you were on the right track with the word "quirky." It was the OkCupid article's game theoretic hypothesis that I was objected (referenced by avoiding people "inundated with messages" in your comment).

Gotcha. I saw their game theory as justifying why people think quirkiness is (sometimes) attractive, not something people are consciously doing.

Flirting. Through painful trial and error, I've found that my hunch that a woman likes me is almost always wrong. Someone will be flirting very heavily with me, and I'll think "there is no way in the world she's not into me", and then it will turn out she will not be into me.

Another possibilities behind this, in addition to Vladimir_M's excellent hypothesis:

There is a small percentage of women who look like they are flirting with everyone, even though they are merely being friendly.

If 5% of women are flirtatious with no attraction, they could... (read more)

and rather than a supermodel who must be inundated with messages, it's someone quirky whose average rating is only a 3 (and thus approachable)

That's the hypothesis that OkCupid advanced: game-theoretically, it makes sense to go for people you are strongly into who other people aren't into. But there's a problem with this hypothesis: it could turn out to be true, but right now, it's sort of silly.

  1. It's unnecessary. Look at some normal distributions, and it's easy to see that having a high variance of attractiveness is sufficient to explain high positive
... (read more)
Emphasis mine. Is there a difference between this and "quirky"?

I agree. Failing to recognize sex differences in attraction (particularly greater female selectiveness and preferences for behavior and personality traits) will sabotage males, and leave females turned off and creeped out.

Like wedrifid, I test as an ENFP on online tests, but if I answer questions like I would have if I hadn't learned social skills, I come out as an INTP. The INTP profile I mentioned is freakily accurate, and not just in a horoscope type of way.

Wow! All that compresses down to just four bits!

I think you are laboring under a slight misapprehension about personality research. Myers-Briggs isn't solid science. The eneagram isn't solid science.

Your understanding is consistent with mine. Myers-Briggs is really frustrating, because some of its ideas are anecdotally compelling (Introversion vs. Extraversion, Thinking vs. Feeling), while others are esoteric (Judging vs. Perceiving and Sensing vs. Intuition). At least on the types, INTP probably refers to a real phenotype (which is common on LW), but I don't know if any of the other type combination... (read more)

Myers-Briggs ultimately derives from the psychodynamic theories of Carl Jung, who was himself an INTP. Thus, it makes sense that INTP roughly corresponds to an actual personality type; Jung simply described himself, and then turned to his existing theories to explain away why he was the way he was.
And this is the central point of the whole thing. They aren't meant to represent a deep meaningful biological reality. Just clear correlations that are useful.
Just wondering, are you generally classified as INTP? I've noticed that people consistently put in one of the types are more likely to think that their type is real.

Very well, I concede that there could be more powerful self-aware plays.

It might be possible that flirting is more useful for negotiating short term sexual encounters, but I think there are still applications for long term relationships. For example, flirting can help determine whether your senses of humor are compatible, which could important for a long-term relationship.

Although you might not care much about the information conveyed through flirting, your prospective partners very much might. Flirting will give them a lot of information about your character and social experiences, which they could find useful for determining their desire for a relationship of any length.

All long-term relationships start off being short-term.

I haven't noticed a correlation between flirting and the kind of humor that is compatible to my own sense of humor, but again, it might be there. For me, however, one of the issues I actually actively look for when meeting a new person and considering a relationship with them is whether or not they are inclined to flirt. If someone flirts with me, it is generally a detractor and both she and I are probably better off not pursuing anything further, again except possibly for short term sexual interests. If someone else cares a lot about flirting (perhaps legitimately) that is usually a signal that I am not a good match for them. It would be the same if our first conversations focused heavily on NASCAR or high-end fashion... these are signs of a mismatch with my own personality and flirting is among them (though of course not the most telling or severe sign).

The way I experience a distaste in flirting is that it seems annoying and counterproductive to beat around the bush.

I see flirting somewhat differently. Flirting gives an opportunity for both partners to showcase their social skills and gain information about what they each respond to sexually, and what sort of relationship they might have if they were to embark on one. It's like a mutual interview. Flirting will help your potential female partners determine what kind of guy you are, and if they are into you.

Flirting can often be direct, even though it... (read more)

I agree there can be useful information conveyed through flirting, but my experience is that flirting does not usually correlate with the factors that I want to gain information about prior to making a dating decision. On the other hand, if I were interested only in brief sexual encounters, then flirting might communicate information about whether I will enjoy a person's company in the short term. I don't usually seek that, but can see how it would be useful for people who do.

And if she does understand then I will not judge her for being obnoxious, just for being obnoxious but ineffective.

Ah, but who says she is being ineffective? That depends on her goals (see my reply to the parent). If her goal is to piss off Bob, and/or make him feel guilty and/or make his start getting apologetic, then she is already doing well. She's already got him to admit that he has done something wrong without making any explicit accusations (assuming he is being sincere, not sarcastic). Who says her goal is relationship harmony? Some people prefer drama.

Humans were selected for having reproductively successful relationships, but not all successful mating strategies involve harmony.

Me. You will notice (or, rather, I would usually expect HughRistik to notice) that the quote is explicitly conditional on the technique being a an overt self aware strategy. And I really do assert that if I was a self aware scheming manipulator that I could do better. Frankly it is an amateur move. A more talented or more experienced bitch (using the term in a technical sense to whatever extent that is possible) would sneer at the though of being so crude. I agree. War, rape, infanticide, murder and even being a pain in the ass are highly viable strategies. Learning how to be a pain in the ass productively is a highly recommended life skill.

Why are you not equally cynical about Alice's motives?

That's a good question. Here is my cynical analysis of Alice's potential psychology. I think there is a lot of room to read a power-play on Alice's part (though that says nothing about whether it is justified or not).

Unfortunately, Silas' original example is under-specified, so there are many different situations that could lead to it, or potential power plays on both sides. I'm going to make a guess that the scenario (in Silas' imagination) occurred because of something Bob did or didn't do that Alice didn't like.

Alice is fuming, and she very much wants Bob to know. She feels that Bob should know better. That's why she won't tell him what it is. She wants him to figure it out for himself, and apologize to her. If he asks what is wrong as if he doesn't know, and she ha... (read more)

Incidentally, I offered these interpretations because they were the right answers in particular instances where a girlfriend said "nothing" when there obviously was something. At least these are plausible interpretations if I believe our later conversations about why she said "nothing". For these explanations the line by line interpretation is a little different-- she is upset enough that it is hard not to show it or perhaps she is torn about whether or not to show it. Perhaps she just wants Bob to feel a little bad about it. Perhaps Bob is more observing than we have so far given him credit for. When she yells at Bob in her last line she is yelling at him because she is annoyed by his instance on talking about it, not trying to be obvious about being hurt regarding the object-level matter. I suspect Silas may have posted the comment without knowing or having a specific intended reading. Or he might be speaking as someone who has been a Bob in the past and genuinely isn't sure how to interpret Alice. I also think by rendering Alice's motivations explicit where making her too calculating. I suspect "nothing" often comes out just because it seems like the easiest thing to say at the moment not because of any well thought out strategic considerations. I agree your interpretation is plausible, though.

I think sam0345 may be exaggerating with a projection of -10, but I think he isn't exaggerating when he suspects that there are examples of academic unreliability that would be unfeasible to discuss on LW, even though I am a bit more optimistic about what LW can handle than Vladimir_M, for instance. It would be a bad mistake to even attempt to collect evidence on some topics.

I'm a psych junkie, and by following certain online debates and reading journals, I've run into several topics where peer-review studies that aren't publicized contradict the public st... (read more)

It is difficult to continue this conversation productively because the nature of your claim is such that you will not want to give examples to back it up or to clarify what you mean. The only solution that I can think of is to continue the conversation via private messages. I publicly promise to keep the contents of such a conversation private. (I also extend this offer to sam0345.) ETA: My impression of you from reading your comments leads me to expect that such a conversation would be dispassionate and to-the-point.

When any group is being sufficiently totalitarian in the name of lofty ideals, I support comparisons to other totalitarian groups, which may include the Nazis and the Soviets (among others). I believe that such comparisons can help us learn from history. Of course, the subject of such comparisons will always be both quantitatively and qualitatively different, but the Nazis and the Soviets provide intersubjective references points for certain political ideas gone wrong.

Of course, it could be more rhetorically pragmatic to swallow these analogies even when accurate depending on the audience.

This reminds me of the People's Republic of Tyranny Trope (TV Tropes warning).

All sorts of self-interest, repression, and tribalism gets justified by the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality. It seems that a large amount of aggression has been promoting by groups styling themselves as anti-oppression movements. I recently wrote an article about the modern notion of "social justice", which is beginning to show similar sorts of newspeak, in my view.

I think it's a matter of Schelling Points. For many people, their self-interest will gradually increase in an interaction with you in subtle ways (e.g. being late for things, being flaky on plans, being dramatic/insecure/tactless, etc...). They will slowly try to structure the interaction around their needs, until they run into a boundary set by you. I think this sort of behavior is totally normal for many personality types, male or female. I think the only types of people who don't do this kind of thing are some types of high-IQ nerds, introverts, and peo... (read more)

I've seen some such discussions get quite bad but I've seen others where apparently calm rational discussion took place.

That's my experience, too. I have seen progress being made in some of the discussions about gender, even though they can be frustrating. But perhaps I'm focusing on the exchanges that I was involved in.

Also the topics you are interested in. Ethical issues related to gender are of particular interest to you so a conversation being derailed to ethical considerations are less pointless to you than to some.

PUA/Feminism are inherently somewhat political, especially when they are viewed as opposites.

Arguably, they aren't opposites, because they have significant overlap on certain dimensions. I've argued that a lot of pickup techniques are actually compatible with feminist values.

Then there are folks who criticize both feminism and pickup for being overly pandering to women:

PUA theory takes the extreme position that men are usually to blame for lack of success with women. This of course complements

... (read more)

If I was reading the thought experiment correctly, the aliens are only allowed to let people die and then eat them. So the aliens wouldn't be causing any patients to die who wouldn't have died anyway. If the aliens were allowed to eat humans before they died, then that would change the whole example and make consequentialists even more pessimistic.

It wasn't specified that they died of cancer, but yeah, my misreading, thanks.

Then I have an "easy" patch: let the entity that does the spotting and killing be incorruptible and infallible. Like, an AI, an army of robots, or something. With that, I don't see any obvious flaw beyond the fact that, with this level of technology, there are very probably better alternatives than transplantation. But the idea of creating a machine for the explicit purpose of killing people might be even more creepy than the police state we're vaguely familiar with.

I suspect that the space of killer organ-transplanting AIs programmed by human... (read more)

Plenty of people survive cancer. The specific cancer patients the aliens eat might have lived if not for the aliens.

This doesn't fix the problem; it only changes the location. Giving your national medical association the power of citizens' life and death is almost as bad as giving it to the government.

People won't be afraid in hospitals, instead they'll be afraid in their homes. They will have an incentive to try to hide from anyone who might be a doctor, or to kill them preemptively.

This policy would be a declaration of war between doctors and citizens. I can't see the consequences going well.

Then I have an "easy" patch: let the entity that does the spotting and killing be incorruptible and infallible. Like, an AI, an army of robots, or something. With that, I don't see any obvious flaw beyond the fact that, with this level of technology, there are very probably better alternatives [] than transplantation. But the idea of creating a machine for the explicit purpose of killing people might be even more creepy than the police state we're vaguely familiar with. Compare with the comment I saw somewhere with this dilemma: * (a) Let the aliens that happen to visit us cure cancer, except for 1 random patient out of 100, that they will let die, then eat. * (b) Just let the aliens go, never to be heard of again.

As far as I can tell, this would have no bad effects beyond the obvious one of killing the people involved - it wouldn't make people less likely to go to hospitals or anything

No, but it would make them afraid to go outside, or at least within the vicinity of police. This law might encourage people to walk around with weapons to deter police from nabbing them, and/or to fight back. People would be afraid to get genetic screening lest they make their organs a target. They would be afraid to go to police stations to report crimes lest they come out minus a... (read more)

Not to mention an incentive to self mutilate. That is, to do damage to oneself such that the organs are no longer desirable but which leaves you better off than if you'd been harvested. Give yourself HIV for example.

Check out Male, Female by David Geary. It's more rigorous than the Red Queen.

Within the sort of of communities where polyamory is popular, I don't think it will be a big problem for the mating market. There is some evidence that highly intelligent people are more androgynous. If so, then sex differences may be less sharp between intelligent people, which anecdotally makes sense. If intelligent people are less gender-differentiated in general, then perhaps their sexual preferences are more similar, too. If there are less sex differences in mating preferences, then there is probably less sex differences in selectiveness and less hype... (read more)

When you put it this way it sort of sounds like poly nerd communities are/could be a coping strategy for the 'losers' of female hypergamous mainstream dating. Like, if we're worried about negative externalities from male losers in an increasingly non-monogamous (i.e. deregulated) sexual marketplace then a poly community where men outnumber women and women correspondingly have more partners than men seems like a decent idea.


Seems pretty obvious that hypergamy is what poor women do in societies that only let them gain control of resources through marriage. It's a rational adjustment to a sexist, unequal society, not some sort of instinct.

This is a hypothesis worth investigating, but how much data seems to support it? The research I've read supports the existence of hypergamy in both modern societies, and in pre-agricultural societies without high levels of gender inequality.

The Dalmia study cited on Wikipedia supposedly doesn't find women "marrying up,&... (read more)

They don't care about status so much?

My previous flippant response misread Jack's comment

One assumes- but why? Surely there are just as many poor Indian men who can't dream of being independently rich by their own effort, shouldn't they be marrying the daughters of footballers?

Don't poly folks want to feel special to their partners?

Yes. Which is part of why I allow competition. Personally, I find it easier to feel special when I know that my partner has other options, but still chooses to spend most/all of her time with me. I want my partner to be spending time with the person (or people) she is best matched with, even if it's not me. But if it is me, then I feel great, especially when I see my partner dropping one of her other options in favor of spending more time with me, or telling me that she enjoys spending time with me more.

That is a new, interesting perspective to me. Thank you for joining in. (Thanks to all the poly folks who have been replying to me. Very cool, very helpful.)
But the reality is that they always have other options.
To be perfecly fair, from my relatively brief poly experience, there is also the other half of the coin: the disappointment of not being the one said partner choses, the potential jealousy (irrational, but, undenyably not exactly an emotion that can be controlled at will), and, as Alicorn's post highlighted, the fear of losing said partner -breakups do happen, and, in relation to another post, the situation between a mother and her sons is quite different because that bond does not fit this particular requirement-.

lukeprog doesn't need food; he needs subscription access.

That seems like it should go on a Luke Muehlhauser Facts page...

Certainly everyone could be pigs. But are they? Moral philosophy is heavily based on human intuitions. The fact that other people feel differently from oneself is (at least weak) evidence against one's own moral theories. There are many reasons to doubt moral prohibitions that are being slung around in public discourse about sexuality.

Declaration of morals is a social act. Isn't it a jolly coincidence how our promotion of certain morals just happens to make us look and feel better than other people? Isn't it convenient that morality gives us excuses to der... (read more)

Well, based on your accurate description, it would be pretty surprising if most of them didn't get morality grossly wrong.
This would have been the best post I've seen on this site in months... if it wasn't wasted as a mere comment!

Short version:

  • There are patterns in human sexual behavior and preferences that are perceivable anecdotally, or discoverable through research. These patterns can be used to make useful predictions.

  • In order to create a certain outcome, it helps to fulfill the criteria necessary to produce that outcome. There is a strong incentive to self-modify towards traits that are attractive to the people you want to date, unless such self-modification is sufficiently costly in terms of time, money, ethics, and sense of self.

  • Be as pragmatic as you can let yourself

... (read more)
Can't see why everyone else couldn't be pigs. "Slaves are people" was a true positive.

It seems like we do have some areas of agreement, and I'm going to focus on the areas where our perspectives are different.

I absolutely agree. But I don't think it was necessarily good for him or for the people he encountered...

He seems to think his exploration had positive consequences for himself and for others, given that he has written this post. His perceptions may not be correct, but they are all we have to go on.

I can't say what the effects of his behaviour were, are, or will be. But I can say that I would be very insulted if he had tried such

... (read more)
First and foremost, the shifting of conversational topics, I would find very insulting. If you can't talk to me normally without desperately reaching for conversational topics, maybe we just shouldn't be talking. Secondly, I would probably list intentionally avoiding conversational topics like politics. If you're not a blue or a green, I'd love to talk about politics with you. (And if you are a blue or a green, I don't really want to talk to you at all...) And if you don't like talking about politics, maybe we shouldn't be together, if I do. Third, is probably this business about "emotional momentum". I had no idea what that even meant when I read it. I'm still not sure I do. I have never considered what "stage of conversation" I'm in. If I think of something that's relevant, I say it. It generally works pretty well for me. I had no objection to the quote, but to the rest of it. The rest of it makes it seem like lukeprog's only goal is sex, particularly the words "totally works" and "optimized". Ultimately conversation should flow, regardless of who you're talking to. If it flows, you don't need to worry about stilted rules like this, which is the primary source of my objection. I wouldn't want to talk to someone constantly worrying about what to say next - it would seem very forced, I'm sure. As a sidenote, and perhaps I'm alone in this and perhaps I'm not, it's hard to tell - I am massively introverted. I don't know if that is a source of difference or not (I would imagine most other LWers are as well) but I thought I'd throw it out there.
Perhaps it's useful to note that all of lukeprog's "tactics" look to me like normal socialization or extensions thereof? Tailoring one's subject matter to one's audience is very normal. Avoiding esoteric or controversial topics with people one doesn't know well is a simple logical extension of this. The "when flirting" qualifier is relevant in that it implies a new acquaintance; different heuristics apply when dealing with people one knows more about. This is a fairly basic social skill. (By which I mean that it's applicable everywhere, not that it's trivial to learn. Possibly also noteworthy: The definition of 'correct emotional momentum' can vary from group to group and situation to situation.) Body language is important. Signaling that one is in a socially-interactive mode when that's true is good practice. Nonverbal communication conveys a lot of information. Treating that communication as real is generally wise. I'd question the assertion that people don't notice these changes of topic, but this kind of behavior is quite normal in most real-time conversation contexts and will generally not be questioned unless it appears to be malicious. Also, to make it perfectly clear: I'm not talking about flirting, dating, or any other romantic or pickup context with any of the above - I don't have (or want; I'm asexual and a-romantic) enough experience to do so. I'm talking about normal, peer-to-peer socialization.

It sounds like you and lukeprog are doing a lot of the same things, and have the same skills... the difference is that you managed to attain these skills without needing to study them so much. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I'm sure there are people who might work as hard as lukeprog, and still not attain the results in dating that either you or him achieve, because they are starting off as more unattractive and socially impaired, or they don't learn quickly.

I know fashion well enough to turn heads when I walk down the street

If you're turning hea... (read more)

Upon reflection I was overlooking a few different sources of sheer luck that are pretty important; e.g. for some reason I excelled at picking up 8.5-9.5s when I was lucky enough to meet them---perhaps because they were invariably smarter than the many 7s who for some reason I generally didn't do well with, or 'cuz they invariably had less friends than nearly another type of girl for some reason? Anyway, it wasn't obvious to me before that 1. decent looks, 2. very high intelligence iff clothes are high quality, and 3. confidence around 8s and 9s are all traits that can be genetically gifted to you, and that their combination in a single person is more than just additive. Obvious but non-obvious. Thanks for the even-handedness as always, HughRistik.
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