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I'm glad to hear the 1-10 scale is out of favour. I don't care how useful it is. :)

“Do women not realize what is going on when a strange guy approaches them?”

When a guy comes up to me, no, I don’t know how to instantly differentiate a nice guy who wants to make conversation with me from a “nice” guy who wants to subtly insult me to make me emotionally vulnerable.

“Are you against all hidden artifices in dating (including female artifices)? Or just some particular types of artifice? If the latter, what distinguishes the artifices that you find objectionable? The moral standards you are advocating seem potentially over-broad to me.”

On reflection, I’m not against all hidden artifice – as I said in my other reply to you, and this I think is also clear from the comment you're responding to now, what I don’t like is the hidden attempt to directly influence the other person. If a person chooses to act such that the other person is completely unaware that actions are being performed on them, and these actions can substantially influence their behaviour, I think that is morally problematic.

So, Ido see the neg as bad either way! That behaviour is wrong whether you are taught to do it by Mystery, or you were just born with the innate ability to put women down to further your own gratification. It’s also covert either way, the only way I would consider it non-convert is if a guy came up to a woman and said “would you mind if I subtly put you down?”. Other seduction techniques are overt: “Can I buy you a drink?” “Can we go somewhere more private?”. Those are fine. I'm not asking for super awkward overtness - there's a set of social conventions people have in place to avoid that (ie "do you want to come up for coffee") and the conventions are common knowledge. But I definitely find the clear harm more objectionable than the covertness - I do still object to the covertness, as I explained in the previous paragraph.

Possibly it would be easier if we had one thread going so either in your next reply or my next reply perhaps we could try to combine both.

I think I agree with most of this. I did like the comments pointing out that we can be offended by having our status raised, but actually I think in that situation we're really offended on behalf of someone else when their status is lowered. Someone who puts down jewish people in front of me offends me because I object to the lowering of jewish people's status, rather than the raising of my own relative to them.

However, people also use the term "offended" when they're angered by something they think is morally wrong. So for example "I am offended by the idea that Nazi Germany is a desirable place/time to live." I don't know how that fits in here or if we could consider it a misuse of the term.

I want to note though that I was not at all offended by Summers' comments about women in science. I am a female economics undergrad and research assistant who fully intends to become a professor. But I (mostly) agreed with him and defended his comments - perhaps they were clumsy but they were not sexist or demeaning to women. I wouldn't have defended him if I felt he treated women as objects in his comments or excluded women from the intended audience.

I think you’re right that we have to look at the harm and good of influence tactics. That probably would help us separate, say, wearing push up bras and learning how to be attentive and confident around women, from learning to put women down or make them feel negative emotions so they’re more vulnerable to you.

I do think the permission aspect is still important, though, because otherwise it smacks of a kind of paternalistic approach – the male judges what’s good for everyone and then executes it, without checking with the woman if this is what she thinks is good too. Sort of “I should trick her into liking me because I’m a really swell guy, so it would be better for her if she liked me!” Because in relationships between people a lot of things are subjective and personal, this is an area where it’s reasonable that rational people’s estimations of what’s good and bad will differ.

I don’t think permission is an issue when you’re self-optimising. So I don’t think it matters if men secretly take courses to be more confident and comfortable around women, or if women secretly wear push-up bras. I think it’s important when you’re trying to directly influence the other person, like with the PUA mind games and strategies for producing emotional vulnerability.

Unpacking "hack" more is difficult, I guess "underhanded" would be "using a technique that is deceptive, dishonest, and potentially harmful". Except now I brought harm back into it so I'm not sure if that helps at all. I do think a hack has to be a direct influence on the other person, not an indirect influence, so that the self-optimising never counts as a hack. I realise the line between direct and indirect is difficult to draw here and it could take us a while to figure it out (if we felt so inclined.)

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

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

We also disagree about the touching example. This isn’t about touching in a “courteous way”, this is about touching in a strategic way in order to get her to let her guard down, and to trust you, or even to subconsciously conform to your wishes (ie firm hand on the small of the back). That’s a hack.

The third thing I want to address is your public speaking example. As I said before, this differs from PUA because everyone realises what is going on. The artifice is on the surface – if a public speaker convinces me of something, it is with my permission. The PUArtist intends to hide the artifice, to convince a woman to sleep with him or lust after him without her realising he is using mind tricks to do it. The hiding of the artifice is not always successful, but that doesn’t matter: the problem here is the intention to deceive, the intention to trick a woman into feeling something. That’s why the PUA tricks have more mind-hacking power than asking an audience how they’re feeling or to raise their hands: the participant is not supposed to be aware they’re being played, so their guard against it is unlikely to be as strong.

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

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

But the inner school is also problematic, and I think you misrepresented them. I have no problem with people trying to teach other people to be more attentive, more able to reveal themselves, more considerate. This is purely optimising yourself rather than attempting to optimise the other person. But the inner school still includes techniques to optimise/hack the woman, for example the systems of how to touch women casually so that they "feel safe" or ways to elicit "indications of interest" from women. I don't see how that's any different from the tricksters. For example, Juggler says: "You can figure out what IOIs you want and then 'trick' or command them from girls. " He even says men should "Tell her to sit with the proper posture" or get "her" to "accept your commands" by starting small and then building up. (

To me the inner school is fundamentally the same as the tricksters, except it adds in a component of self-optimising as well as the manipulation of the woman - that makes it less wrong but certainly not right.

I see I didn't make myself clear on this one, sorry. I do want to know about it, and indeed I spent some time researching it when I first found out about it. But I find any discussion of it in the context of possibly trying to use it on women, or any attempt to optimise the process to that end, to be repulsive. I don't want to be in an environment where it is considered acceptable. I'm not against discussing it per se, I am against discussing it as an acceptable/admirable course of action or in a positive light.

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

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

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

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

(edited for clarity)

The problem is real. I am a 21 year old woman and an aspiring rationalist, and my friends are mostly women and some are also aspiring rationalists. We find much of the conversation about women on this site so off-putting that I for one have never commented before. I read Eliezer's work and enjoy it very much indeed, which is why I stick around at all.

I am simply astounded at the men here confidently asserting that they aren't alienating women when they talk about "getting" "attractive women" and speak of women as symbols of male success or indeed accessories for a successful male. This reduces me and other females (including female rationalists) to the category of a fancy car or a big house, and I feel humiliated when I read it.

I am fully aware that some men think this way, and that in certain social scenes almost all the "players" in the social "game" see it this way. If getting ahead in a social game like that gives you loads of utility then thinking of women in this way might be rational. But if you would derive more utility from having long and close relationships with female rationalists, you might like to know that female rationalists will be less likely to seek out your company and attention if you persist in that attitude.