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The Social Coprocessor Model

22 [deleted] 14 May 2010 05:10PM

Followup to: Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome?

LW reader Madbadger uses the metaphor of a GPU and a CPU in a desktop system to think about people with Asperger's Syndrome: general intelligence is like a CPU, being universal but only mediocre at any particular task, whereas the "social coprocessor" brainware in a Neurotypical brain is like a GPU: highly specialized but great at what it does. Neurotypical people are like computers with measly Pentium IV processors, but expensive Radeon HD 4890 GPUs. A High-functioning AS person is an Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition - with on-board graphics!

This analogy also covers the spectrum view of social/empathic abilities, you can think about having a weaker social coprocessor than average if you have some of the tendencies of AS but not others. You can even think of your score on the AQ Test as being like the Tom's Hardware Rating of your Coprocessor. (Lower numbers are better!).

If you lack that powerful social coprocessor, what can you do? Well, you'll have to run your social interactions "in software", i.e. explicitly reason through the complex human social game that most people play without ever really understanding. There are several tricks that a High-functioning AS person can use in this situation:

  • (Most importantly) Find a community of others - who are trying to solve the same problem (Though be careful not to wind up with a group of people who have weaker social coprocessors and aren't doing anything about it, as you will tend to conform to this behavior). Having even a few friends who are in a similar niche to you is worth a huge amount in terms of motivating social pressure, as a sounding board to bounce ideas off, and simply for the instinctive feel of support that having a group of people "in the same boat as you" gives.
  • Cached answers - you can precompute the "right" responses to social situations. Probably the best example of this is the answer to the "buy me a drink" problem: you approach an attractive NT person who you might like as a future partner. After a short time, they ask you to buy them a drink. The logical answer to this question is "what kind of drink would you like?", because in most social situations where you want to build up a positive relationship with a person, it is best to comply with their requests; not creating explicit conflict is usually a safe heuristic. But this is the wrong answer in this context, and you can store in your cache of counter-intuitive answers. 
  • Scientific theories of social games - including game theory and especially signaling games, information economics and evolutionary psychology. Building on the "buy me a drink" problem, instead of simply storing the answer as an exception, you can use evolutionary psychology and information economics to see the underlying pattern so that you can correctly answer the "drink" problem and many other similar problems. The NT is using the drink request to solve a cheap talk problem - they don't really want the drink, they want to know if you have higher dating market value than them, for example higher social status, income, success with other partners, etc. This is because evolutionary psychology makes some people want high-status people as partners. If they just asked you directly for these facts about yourself, you would have a strong incentive to lie. So they make a request that is somewhat rude, where only a lower-status suitor who thought they were worth "sucking up to" would comply, and then reject suitors who comply. This is really a kind of screening, where ability to give the "right" answer plays the role of a credential. Neurotypicals play some devious games, and this is actually quite a tame example.
  • The wisdom of nature heuristic - the human social coprocessor is perfectly optimized for an environment that we are no longer in. The EEA has significant differences to the present environment: most prominently, we have police and laws so other humans mostly don't act on their desire to kill you. This means that you can get away with things that you have an innate fear of, and you should strongly distrust your fear of other people's disapproval. There are also some reliable proxies of fitness that are no longer reliable, for example height (can be modified by higher shoes - a trick that women have cottoned on to, but men are totally missing out on).
  • Neuroplasticity and desensitization - your brain is plastic: you can train it and you can desensitize yourself to situations that scare you. Desensitization relies most on objectifing and dis-identifying with your maladaptive gut fear of doing something scary, for example public speaking or attending a social function where you know almost no-one. Realize that your brain contains small, simple, dumb circuits that produce your emotions, and some of them are outright harmful to you. You need to ignore their output and expose yourself to the stimuli.
  • Realizing that your brain contains nonrational psychological variables - that can be reset, often through a process known as "self transformation". Examples include general outlook on life, confidence, self-estimated status, self-esteem, sense of "fun" and rational irrationalities such as vengefulness, honor and pride. Approaches to self-transformation include eastern-style "spirituality", "new age" positive psychology works such as Eckhard Tolle, and more mainstream self-help like Tony Robbins. Changing your use of self-talk and framing is critical to resetting these variables.

 

Comments (570)

Comment author: Wei_Dai 14 May 2010 07:41:35PM *  14 points [-]

What about the other side of the same coin: how can we get neurotypicals to use more of their cognitive resources to solve non-social (e.g., technical) problems? When I look at people who seem to spend almost all of their time and energy playing social games that largely don't matter, I can't help but think "what a waste."

To use myself as an example, I think I'm neurotypical, but lost interest in making friends and socializing in my teenage years due to negative feedback (not "fitting in" after immigrating from China and having different interests from my peers). As a result, I now have a lot more time to think about technical and philosophical problems. And while perhaps not quite GPGPU, I speculate that due to neuroplasticity, some of my neurons that would have gone into running social interactions are now being used for other purposes instead.

Comment author: Peter_de_Blanc 15 May 2010 02:21:56AM 15 points [-]

What about the other side of the same coin: how can we get neurotypicals to use more of their cognitive resources to solve non-social (e.g., technical) problems

Let's use them to simulate an economy!

Comment author: pjeby 15 May 2010 04:46:44AM 2 points [-]

Let's use them to simulate an economy!

LOLed and upvoted.

(Well, it was more like I made a wheezing screeching noise than an actual "laugh" out loud, but still...)

Comment author: HughRistik 14 May 2010 09:54:55PM 4 points [-]

What about the other side of the same coin: how can we get neurotypicals to use more of their cognitive resources to solve non-social (e.g., technical) problems?

I've thought a bit about this question, and what I've come up with so far is that neurotypicals will become more interested in developing technical abilities when doing so is considered cool, and all their friends are doing it.

Comment author: pwno 15 May 2010 03:11:45AM 2 points [-]

Since when do social games not matter?

Comment author: sketerpot 15 May 2010 07:15:12AM *  4 points [-]

When your utility function assigns little weight to them. Social games matter quite a bit to a lot of people, and less to others. I know that sounds almost tautological, but the point is that people differ here.

Comment author: HughRistik 15 May 2010 07:35:16AM *  13 points [-]

Even if you don't like or care about social games, other things you may care about can depend on them, such as:

  • Not getting bullied or pushed around by other people
  • Finding mates outside a narrow nerdy minority of people
  • Networking
  • Business and job negotiation

For social games to truly not matter, you need to have a very narrow preference set where you not only don't care for social games, but you don't need or want anything that can be achieved by them. It would be like not caring about money, and also not caring about anything money can buy you. It's possible to have that preference set; it's just a tall order.

A large amount of doors in neurotypical society are closed to you if you can't play social games at some level. I would speculate that for many people who think they don't care about silly things like social games, those very social games actually do impact other things they care about, and they are either unaware of that impact or in denial about it.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 15 May 2010 11:40:48AM *  21 points [-]

I think social games do matter, just not nearly to the degree that most people seem to think, judging from how they spend their time. I think the explanation for this is that social games mattered much more in the past than they do now, but most people don't realize this yet. And on the other side, there are a lot more opportunities for technical problem solving, which weren't available in the past.

  • Not getting bullied or pushed around by other people

I was bullied in school, but eventually graduated, and I don't think anyone tried to push me around after starting work. If they did, I would have complained to my boss or changed jobs. In a less mobile society, if you didn't know how to "handle yourself", you were probably stuck with low status for life.

  • Finding mates outside a narrow nerdy minority of people

Being single isn't that bad. I imagine it was a lot worse in the past, where there was much less you could do to entertain yourself.

  • Networking

I spent most of my spare time in college writing an open source C++ library, which led to plenty of business and job opportunities. I really doubt that I would have gotten more opportunities if I had spent most of my time socializing instead. I also didn't put any effort into networking after starting work, and I don't think that it's hurt me much.

  • Business and job negotiation

Looking back at my past job interviews, I now realize that when the interviewer asked me what salary range I was expecting, that was supposed to be the start of the negotiation. At the time, I just told them honestly that I don't know, and that I care more about how interesting the job is than the salary.

That was probably not optimal, but I don't think I was hurt too badly by my lack of negotiation skill. And the reason for this is that salaries and other prices are constrained by market competition, and markets are more efficient today than in the past, leaving less room for negotiation.

Comment author: Yvain 15 May 2010 11:50:18AM 12 points [-]

The comments to this post and most of the other literature I've read assumes that the problem with poorly social people is that they're afraid, not sure how to carry out a conversation effectively, or make poor decisions when confronted with social dilemmas.

Anecdotally, my experience isn't like this at all. I'm pretty good, maybe even better than average, at talking to people in one-to-one conversations, at home, at cafes, on the bus, before class, and pretty much any time other than at deliberately social events. But at bars or parties, the constantly shifting conversations of dozens of people trying to all talk to each other at once at a mile a minute, about nothing in particular, in a loud and overstimulating environment completely discombobulates me, and I usually end up either ignored, unable to break into a conversation more than once every few minutes, or just plain bored with having nothing to say but the same small talk everyone else is making.

Maybe I'm atypical of non-social people, but I also give a bit of credence to the possibility that all this "not knowing how to give the right reply in a conversation" stuff is what neurotypical people imagine being bad at socializing must be like, the same way hicks sometimes deal with non-English speakers by speaking English words really loud and slowly because they can't imagine what it's like to genuinely not understand English. But I'd like to hear from other non-social people to confirm.

(I got a 23 on the test)

Comment author: fiddlemath 17 May 2010 03:00:03PM 7 points [-]

For what it's worth, you've echoed my experience precisely.

It's easy and good to talk in one-on-one or small groups of people. It's also easy for me to speak publicly or in front of an audience. But interaction in strictly social settings - parties, bars, clubs - is almost painful. I don't know how to begin. The impression is just that of trying to start climbing a wall that admits no footholds.

I'm pretty certain I don't fall very far on the Asperger's spectrum. In particular, I can read body language and subtext pretty well, and I'm considerate of others to a degree I haven't seen in people I know who actually have Asperger's. I suspect that, as others have said, we're conflating distinct causes under a single banner.

Comment author: Airedale 15 May 2010 03:12:39PM 7 points [-]

What you're describing seems like the introversion/extroversion distinction, which is probably different from, although possibly overlapping and somewhat correlated with, the autism spectrum/NT distinction. The introversion/extroversion literature seems to capture the difference pretty well; just about everything I've read about introversion recognizes that introverts can be competent to excellent at one-on-one or small group socializing, but that they are probably less good and certainly uncomfortable in large group settings. But I don't recall reading much about introverts that suggests they're unable to read social cues (although they may have less practice at it as well as less interest).

I haven't seen a breakdown on introversion/extroversion numbers in the population (my own quick Google search found an article in the Atlantic with this passage: "How many people are introverts? I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or—my favorite—'a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population.'"), and as NancyLebovitz also suggests, I believe it varies between cultures, but what numbers I have seen seem to suggest that the percentage of people who fall more on the introverted side of the scale is probably considerably greater than the percentage of people who fall on the autism spectrum.

It's certainly possible that neurotypical people misunderstand autism spectrum people, and that extroverts misunderstand introverts (the Atlantic article makes that argument), but the autism spectrum descriptions about not understanding social cues seem to be getting at something real and different than introversion. Your description makes you sound like an introvert but not particularly far along (if at all) on the autism spectrum. It does seem like some of our commentary here may sometimes be casually conflating extroversion with neurotypicalness and introversion with autism spectrum.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 May 2010 03:35:11PM 3 points [-]

I didn't quite say that.

There's social pressure to be extroverted in the US-- but there are a lot of unhappy introverts. There's social pressure to be introverted in other places (Great Britain?), but for all I know there are a lot of squelched-feeling, lonely extroverts.

Comment author: JohannesDahlstrom 16 May 2010 09:22:48PM *  6 points [-]

Finns (disclaimer: I am one) are probably the archetypal introverts.

When a stranger on the street smiles at you, you assume that:

a. he is drunk

b. he is insane

c. he is American

d. he is all of the above

-- You know you've been too long in Finland when...

Comment author: whpearson 15 May 2010 06:07:46PM 4 points [-]

Alas no, there is no social pressure to be introverted here in the UK, at least not in my generation and younger. We have the same celebrity culture which idolises the loud and outgoing as does America.

Middle class, middle aged British people are a bit more reserved than the younger generation.

Comment author: Yvain 16 May 2010 03:19:31PM 3 points [-]

I live in Ireland, and the social pressure in favor of extraversion is at least as great as in the United States.

Comment deleted 15 May 2010 04:48:49PM *  [-]
Comment author: Wei_Dai 16 May 2010 02:25:04PM 14 points [-]

Once you tune your radio in, you may find such occasions more exciting.

For me, understanding "what's really going on" in typical social interactions made them even less interesting than when I didn't. At least back then it was a big mystery to be solved. Now I just think, what a big waste of brain cells.

Roko, do you personally find these status and alliance games interesting? Why? I mean, if you play them really well, you'll end up with lots of allies and high status among your friends and acquaintances, but what does that matter in the larger scheme of things? And what do you think of the idea that allies and status were much more important in our EEA (i.e., tribal societies) than today, and as a result we are biased to overestimate their importance?

Comment author: Blueberry 16 May 2010 02:50:20PM 6 points [-]

I mean, if you play them really well, you'll end up with lots of allies and high status among your friends and acquaintances, but what does that matter in the larger scheme of things? And what do you think of the idea that allies and status were much more important in our EEA (i.e., tribal societies) than today, and as a result we are biased to overestimate their importance?

Their importance is a function of our values, which came from the EEA and are not so easily changed. Those values, like wanting friendship, community, relationships, and respect, are a part of what make us human.

I actually don't interpret social interactions as "status and alliance games," which is kind of cynical and seems to miss the point. Instead, I try to recognize that people have certain emotional requirements that need to be met in order to gain their trust, friendship, and attraction, and that typical social interactions are about building that type of trust and connection.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 16 May 2010 05:22:54PM 7 points [-]

Most of what we call values seem to respond to arguments, so they're not really the kind of fixed values that a utility maximizer would have. I would be wary about calling some cognitive feature "values that came from the EEA and are not easily changed". Given the right argument or insight, they probably can be changed.

So, granted that it's human to want friendship, community, etc., I'm still curious whether it's also human to care less about these things after realizing that they boil down to status and alliance games, and that the outcomes of these games don't count for much in the larger scheme of things.

Comment author: Vladimir_M 16 May 2010 08:02:37PM *  5 points [-]

So, granted that it's human to want friendship, community, etc., I'm still curious whether it's also human to care less about these things after realizing that they boil down to status and alliance games, and that the outcomes of these games don't count for much in the larger scheme of things.

Well, is it also human to stop desiring tasty food once you realize that it boils down to super-stimulation of hardware that evolved as a device for impromptu chemical analysis to sort out nutritionally adequate stuff from the rest?

As for the "larger scheme of things," that's one of those emotionally-appealing sweeping arguments that can be applied to literally anything to make it seem pointless and unworthy of effort. Selectively applying it is a common human bias. (In fact, I'd say it's a powerful general technique for producing biased argumentation.)

Comment author: Wei_Dai 17 May 2010 03:26:05AM 5 points [-]

Well, is it also human to stop desiring tasty food once you realize that it boils down to super-stimulation of hardware that evolved as a device for impromptu chemical analysis to sort out nutritionally adequate stuff from the rest?

Not to stop desiring it entirely, but to care less about it than if I didn't realize, yes. (I only have a sample size of one here, namely myself, so I'm curious if others have the same experience.)

As for the "larger scheme of things," that's one of those emotionally-appealing sweeping arguments that can be applied to literally anything to make it seem pointless and unworthy of effort. Selectively applying it is a common human bias. (In fact, I'd say it's a powerful general technique for producing biased argumentation.)

I don't think I'm applying it selectively... we're human and we can only talk about one thing at a time, but other than that I think I do realize that this is a general argument that can be applied to all of our values. It doesn't seem to affect all of them equally though. Some values, such as wanting to be immortal, and wanting to understand the nature of reality, consciousness, etc., seem to survive the argument much better than others. :)

Comment author: Vladimir_M 17 May 2010 05:53:05AM *  3 points [-]

I think I do realize that this is a general argument that can be applied to all of our values. It doesn't seem to affect all of them equally though. Some values, such as wanting to be immortal, and wanting to understand the nature of reality, consciousness, etc., seem to survive the argument much better than others. :)

Honestly, I don't see what you're basing that conclusion on. What, according to you, determines which human values survive that argument and which not?

Comment author: Wei_Dai 18 May 2010 03:46:52PM 2 points [-]

Honestly, I don't see what you're basing that conclusion on.

I'm surprised that you find the conclusion surprising or controversial. (The conclusion being that some some values survive the "larger scheme of things" argument much better than others.) I know that you wrote earlier:

As for the "larger scheme of things," that's one of those emotionally-appealing sweeping arguments that can be applied to literally anything to make it seem pointless and unworthy of effort.

but I didn't think those words reflected your actual beliefs (I thought you just weren't paying enough attention to what you were writing). Do you really think that people like me, who do not think that literally everything is pointless and unworthy of effort, have just avoided applying the argument to some of our values?

What, according to you, determines which human values survive that argument and which not?

It seems obvious to me that some values (e.g., avoiding great pain) survive the argument by being hardwired to not respond to any arguments, while others (saving humanity so we can develop an intergalactic civilization, or being the first person in an eventually intergalactic civilization to really understand how decisions are supposed to be made) are grand enough that "larger scheme of things" just don't apply. (I'm not totally sure I'm interpreting your question correctly, so let me know if that doesn't answer it.)

Comment author: Vladimir_M 18 May 2010 05:50:25PM *  4 points [-]

Wei_Dai:

Do you really think that people like me, who do not think that literally everything is pointless and unworthy of effort, have just avoided applying the argument to some of our values?

As the only logical possibilities, it's either that, or you have thought about it and concluded that the argument is not applicable to some values. I don't find the reasons for this conclusion obvious, and I do see many selective applications of this argument as a common bias in practice, which is why I asked.

It seems obvious to me that some values (e.g., avoiding great pain) survive the argument by being hardwired to not respond to any arguments, while others (saving humanity so we can develop an intergalactic civilization, or being the first person in an eventually intergalactic civilization to really understand how decisions are supposed to be made) are grand enough that "larger scheme of things" just don't apply. (I'm not totally sure I'm interpreting your question correctly, so let me know if that doesn't answer it.)

Yes, that answers my question, thanks. I do have disagreements with your conclusion, but I grant that you are not committing the above mentioned fallacy outright.

In particular, my objections are that: (1) for many people, social isolation and lack of status is in fact a hardwired source of great pain (though this may not apply to you, so there is no disagreement here if you're not making claims about other people), (2) I find the future large-scale developments you speculate about highly unlikely, even assuming technology won't be the limiting factor, and finally (3) even an intergalactic civilization will matter nothing in the "larger scheme of things" assuming the eventual heat death of the universe. But each of these, except perhaps (1), would be a complex topic for a whole another discussion, so I think we can leave our disagreements rest at this point now that we've clarified them.

Comment deleted 16 May 2010 05:36:36PM [-]
Comment author: Wei_Dai 18 May 2010 05:56:05PM *  4 points [-]

What makes the desire to obtain high status within some small group a legitimate piece of Godshatter (good), as opposed to a kind of scope insensitivity (bad)? Or to put it another way, why isn't scope insensitivity (the non-linear way that a typical human being values other people's suffering) also considered Godshatter?

Comment deleted 18 May 2010 07:23:49PM [-]
Comment author: Wei_Dai 21 May 2010 04:58:44PM *  2 points [-]

Do we have a general criterion for deciding these things? Or is it still unresolved in general?

I think it's unresolved in general. I brought up scope insensitivity as a counter-example to the "Godshatter" argument, or at least a strong form of it which says we should keep all of the values that evolution has handed down to us. It seems likely that we shouldn't, but exactly where to draw the line is unclear to me. Still, to me, desire for high status in some small group seems to be the same kind of "crazy" value as scope insensitivity.

In this specific case, it seems to me that there are many aspects of social interaction that are zero-sum or even negative sum. For the purpose of Coherent Extrapolated Volition, zero sum or negative sum elements are like scope insensitivity, i.e. bad.

I wasn't talking about CEV, I was mainly talking about what you or I should value, now, as individuals. I'm not sure that positive-sum/zero-sum has much to do with that.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 21 May 2010 08:08:27PM *  1 point [-]

Deciding which psychological drives to keep, and which to abandon, is the same as figuring out full formal preference (assuming you have more expressive power than just keeping/abandoning), so there is no heuristic for doing that simpler than full formal preference. This problem isn't just unresolved, it's almost FAI-complete (preference theory, as opposed to efficient implementation).

Comment author: BenAlbahari 16 May 2010 07:47:53PM 4 points [-]

For me, understanding "what's really going on" in typical social interactions made them even less interesting than when I didn't.

Merely "tuning in" to a social interaction isn't enough. Subtextual conversations are often tedious if they're not about you. You have to inject your ego into the conversation for things to get interesting.

Comment author: Vladimir_M 16 May 2010 08:31:52PM 6 points [-]

Wei_Dai:

Now I just think, what a big waste of brain cells.

However, that's not how human brains work. It's not like someone who on an average day spends, say, eight hours doing intellectual work and four hours socializing could do 50% more useful intellectual work by spending 12 hours working instead of socializing. For the overwhelming majority of people, it's impossible to employ their brains productively for more than a few hours a day. You get tired and lose focus to the point where you're just making a mess instead of progress.

Similarly, if you develop skills independent of your main intellectual pursuits, it's not like they will automatically steal resources and make you less productive. Human brain just doesn't work that way. On the contrary, a suitable schedule of entertaining diversions can increase your productivity in your main pursuit.

Of course, there are exceptions. Some people really can spend nearly all their waking hours intensely focused and fully productive, without the need or want for anything more in their lives. However, this is a very small minority, even among people working in math, hard science, and technical professions.

And what do you think of the idea that allies and status were much more important in our EEA (i.e., tribal societies) than today, and as a result we are biased to overestimate their importance?

That argument can be used to deny the importance of absolutely everything you do. Unless you believe that some part of you came into existence supernaturally, or you're carrying some highly consequential recent mutation, absolutely everything in your thoughts and deeds is a result of some impulse that evolved in the EEA (although of course it might be manifesting itself in a way very different from the original in today's environment).

Comment author: eirenicon 17 May 2010 07:04:33PM *  1 point [-]

do you personally find these status and alliance games interesting? Why?

They're way more interesting than video games, for example. Or watching television. Or numerous other activities people find fun and engaging. Of course, if you're bad at them you aren't going to enjoy them; the same goes for people who can't get past the first stage of Pac-Man.

Comment author: Nanani 18 May 2010 12:51:52AM 4 points [-]

Terrible analogy.

Video games have a lot of diversity to them and different genres engage very different skills. Small talk all seems to encompass the same stuff, namely social ranking.

Some of us know how to do it but just don't -care-, and that doesn't mean we're in fact bad at it. I think that is the point this comment thread is going for.

Comment author: thomblake 20 May 2010 03:53:25PM 8 points [-]

Be careful when you notice more diversity in subject matter you're a fan of than in subject matter that you're not. I'm not sure if there's a name for this bias, but there should be.

Comment author: Sniffnoy 20 May 2010 06:03:57PM *  4 points [-]

I would expect this people are just more familiar with what they're a fan of, but it could also be related to outgroup homogeneity bias.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 20 May 2010 11:17:23PM 3 points [-]

That's definitely it. I suspect it's too much like work for most people to pay attention to the details of things they aren't fond of.

Your link is broken.

Comment author: CronoDAS 20 May 2010 11:22:36PM *  3 points [-]

My father disparages all video games as being "little men running around on a screen".

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 20 May 2010 04:58:31PM 2 points [-]

When you do that sort of thing to people, it's called stereotyping of the group you don't like. I don't know of a word for noticing distinctions in the thing or people you do like.

Comment author: SilasBarta 18 May 2010 01:00:25AM 8 points [-]

There's also the fact that video games ... have a freaking rule book, which tells you things that aren't complete fabrications designed to make you fail the game if you're stupid enough to follow them.

Comment author: Jack 18 May 2010 01:30:01AM 9 points [-]

I really like the idea of creating a video game with a deceptive rulebook.

Comment author: RobinZ 20 May 2010 02:55:12PM 13 points [-]

I thought for a bit that it would be interesting to have, say, a WWI game where the tutorial teaches you nineteenth-century tactics and then lets you start the game by throwing massed troops against barbed wire, machineguns, and twentieth-century artillery. The slaughter would be epic.

Comment author: Nisan 20 May 2010 06:27:15AM 2 points [-]

I really like this idea too. Portal does this to some extent, but the idea could be taken much farther.

Comment author: HughRistik 18 May 2010 02:08:37AM 4 points [-]

Not disagreeing with your general point, but...

...with video games, the printed, widely available strategy guides often tend to be lacking. For adventure games or Final Fantasy-type games, you can often get decent walkthroughs. But for many games, like say, Diablo II (thinking of the last strategy guide I read), the strategy guide sold in mainstream bookstores can't get you much farther than a n00b level of play.

To actually get good, the best thing to do is to go to online forums and listen to what people who are actually experienced at the game are saying.

In the case of both social skills and video games, the best way to learn is to practice, and to get advice from the source: people who already broke down the task and are experienced and successful at it, not the watered-down crap in mainstream bookstores.

Comment author: SilasBarta 18 May 2010 02:25:05AM *  5 points [-]

Right, but at least with video games, the rule book tells you what the game is, and what it is you're judged on. That gives you enough to make sense of all the other advice people throw at you and in-game experience you get, which is a lot more than you can say of social life.

Comment author: Nanani 19 May 2010 12:42:06AM 4 points [-]

You effectively answered your own comment, but to clarify -

Strategy guides on dead tree have been obsolete for more than a decade. GameFAQs is over a decade old, and it's the best place to go for strategies, walkthroughs, and message boards full of analysis by armies of deticated fans. People are still finding new and inventive strategies to optimize their first-generation Pokemon games, after all. Games have long passed the point on the complexity axis where the developper's summary of the point of the game is enough to convey an optimal strategy.

Your last paragraph is gold.

Comment author: Blueberry 26 May 2010 03:13:09PM 2 points [-]

This is something that's been discussed a few times on LW, but I don't think it's accurate. I don't think there are two sets of rules, a "real" one and a "fake" one. Rather, I think that the rules for social interaction are very complicated and have a lot of exceptions, and any attempt to discuss it will inevitably be oversimplified. Temple Grandin's book discusses this idea: all social rules have exceptions that can't be spelled out in full.

The status test (actually a social skills test) isn't to see if you fail by being stupid enough to follow the "fake" rules rather than the "real ones". It's to see if you're savvy enough to understand all the nuances and exceptions to the rules.

Comment author: eirenicon 18 May 2010 03:54:10PM 3 points [-]

It's a bad analogy because there are different kinds of games, but only one kind of small talk? If you don't think pub talk is a different game than a black tie dinner, well, you've obviously never played. Why do people do it? Well, when you beat a video game, you've beat a video game. When you win at social interaction, you're winning at life - social dominance improves your chances of reproducing.

As for rule books: the fact that the 'real' rules are unwritten is part of the fun. Of course, that's true for most video games. Pretty much any modern game's real tactics come from players, not developers. You think you can win a single StarCraft match by reading the manual? Please.

Comment author: Nanani 19 May 2010 12:21:14AM 6 points [-]

No, pub talk is not exactly the same as a black tie dinner. The -small talk- aspect, though, very much is. It all comes down to social ranking of the participants. In the former, it skews to word assortative mating and in the latter presumably toward power and resources in the buisness world.

If you have a need or desire to win at social interaction, good for you. Please consider that for other people, it -really- isn't that important. There is more to life than attracting mates and business partners. Those things are often a means to an end, and it is preferable to some of us to pursue the ends directly when possible.

The video game analogy is just plain bad.

Comment author: Mass_Driver 19 May 2010 02:28:29AM 5 points [-]

Once you tune your radio in, you may find such occasions more exciting.

What I usually dislike about the small talk game is that it's often played by people who don't know each other well and/or by people who are so conformist as to be intrinsically boring. It's one thing to measure alliances among fascinating, dynamic people who are out in the world doing and being things. I would be more than happy to listen to say, Dan Savage, Janet Napolitano, and Max Tegmark make small talk. Ditto people in their 20s who were correspondingly less accomplished but who look likely to get to that kind of exciting impact level later in life.

But when the people sitting around a table are pushing papers in (say) the finance industry by day, watching cable TV in the evening, having vanilla sex at night, and going to see a national rock band and a national sports team over the weekend, what's the attraction? Or when the people have all just met each other, and are making their strategic decisions about dominance and alliances based on nothing subtler than who they find attractive and who shares their opinion about a piece of pop-culture or current-events trivia? Why should I care how the alliances ultimately break down among a group of people who, as individuals, hold no dramatic interest for me in the first place?

I get that small talk can be practically useful, so I have successfully made an effort to acquire a moderate level of skill at it. But I don't see why I'm supposed to enjoy it, whether I'm at a pub or a black-tie gala award ceremony.

Comment author: pjeby 19 May 2010 04:57:46AM 9 points [-]

But I don't see why I'm supposed to enjoy it

Because people can tell when you don't, even if they're too polite to mention it.

That's why, btw, "How To Win Friends And Influence People" advises cultivating a genuine interest in people, and PUAs advise more or less the same thing. By becoming a connoisseur of the finer (in the sense of more finely-graded) distinctions between people, and cultivating your curiosity about "what people are like", you gain more enjoyment.

And genuinely enjoying a person's company is the hardest, most expensive signal to fake... which might be why people evolved to value it so much.

I know a couple who embody this principle, btw -- Garin and Vanessa Bader. I met them at a series of marketing workshops, actually. By their second time there, practically everybody would line up to talk to them during breaks. Not because they were presenters or anything, but just because they radiated such enjoyment to everyone they spoke with, that people could hardly help but want to spend more time with them.

The way Vanessa explained it to me, when I interviewed her for one of my own CD products, was that people are so constantly worried about what other people are going to think of them, that they no longer even notice. But the moment they encounter someone who genuinely accepts them as they are, without any judgment, they suddenly feel so much better that they can't help but want to be around you. So, she said, she and Garin just always acknowledge and accept everyone.

And that is the difference between these very charismatic (and fairly successful) people, and people who go around judging whether other people are living up to their standards. ;-)

(Fair disclaimer: I don't claim to have personally reached anything remotely near G&V's level of nonjudgmental acceptance, but I can definitely see why it'd be a good thing for me to aspire to. And I've occasionally attempted to practice it in specific situations, with some small success.)

Comment author: cousin_it 20 May 2010 05:54:58AM *  6 points [-]

But the moment they encounter someone who genuinely accepts them as they are, without any judgment, they suddenly feel so much better that they can't help but want to be around you.

Yes yes yes, a million times yes. This is so true for me. My (successful) attempts to modify myself to be more social were sparked off by meeting just such a person. It was a girl I met on the street three years ago. We started talking, then went to her place and spent the night talking. There was no sexual tension at all (though we did have sex much later), I just sat there thinking "holy crap, I've been sitting in a box my whole life, I have to learn this." It was absolutely glorious to feel not judged in the least. I have since learned to project a similar vibe when I try really hard.

Comment author: Nanani 20 May 2010 12:40:53AM *  2 points [-]

So, she said, she and Garin just always acknowledge and accept everyone.

Allow me to express polite but strong skepticism on this point. I would be very much surprised to find that they accept literally EVERYONE. Do they acknowledge panhandlers the same way as attendees to marketing conferences? How about leading politicians from the opposite party as theirs? Religious leaders from a different religion?

It's easy to say "just genuinely accept everyone" when you don't even see most of the people around you.

In fact, really acknowledging and accepting -everyone- would probably ruin them in short order as they would find all their time and resources wasted on people that they are quite right to filter. No one has the time and resources to -actually- do what they are advocating.

It's empty advice.

EDIT: fixed some typos after having a nice, stimulating cup of coffee.

Comment author: pjeby 20 May 2010 02:38:00AM 3 points [-]

Do they acknowledge panhandlers the same way as attendees to marketing conferences? How about leading politicians from the opposite party as theirs? Religious leaders from a different religion?

[shrug] I observed them at least treating wait staff, valets, hotel personnel, etc. with the same warm glow they did everyone else. Also, it's not like there weren't some obnoxious people at these conferences -- but even when they maintained their personal boundaries, I didn't see them get judgmental or even show any disapproval. They smiled just as warmly, and bid their farewells.

In fact, really acknowledging and acepting -everyone- would probably ruin them in short order as they would find all their time and resources wasted on people that they are quite right to filter. No one has the time and resources to -actually- do what they are advocating.

I didn't say they didn't filter people. They just didn't judge people.

In other words, they didn't confuse a conflict of goals with meaning that somebody else was bad, wrong, or unworthy for having those different goals, nor did they confuse accepting people with having to agree with them or give anything that was asked of them. They simply said "no" as warmly as they said "yes", and often with a sense of reluctance that made you feel as though they genuinely wished the no could have been a yes, but that alas, it was simply not to be.

Comment author: cupholder 20 May 2010 01:46:57AM *  2 points [-]

Allow me to express polite but strong skepticism on this point. I would be very much surprised to find that they accpet literally EVERYONE.

I doubt they meant literally EVERYONE. I'm guessing Garin and Vanessa just meant that they're in the top percent of non-judgmentally accepting people. Just as if someone says to me 'I get along with everyone,' I don't interpret it as meaning they get along with literally every single person on the planet, I interpret it as something weaker like 'Of the people I know, I get along with almost all of them, and have a good chance of clicking with random people I meet.'

You make a valid point that the comfort zone of even the most tolerant people is unlikely to extend to random panhandlers, and if Garin and Vanessa spend 99% of their time with self help gurus and marketing conference attendees, they're probably overestimating their acceptance-ness.

I don't think this is fatal to pjeby's main point, though; it sounds likely to me that a lot of people who dislike small talk could probably improve their social hit rate by turning up their acceptance-ness knob.

(Edited to fix Garin's (not Gavin's!) name. Note to self: read what's on the screen, not what I think is on the screen.)

Comment author: pjeby 20 May 2010 03:08:01AM *  2 points [-]

if Gavin [sic] and Vanessa spend 99% of their time with self help gurus and marketing conference attendees, they're probably overestimating their acceptance-ness.

At the time of those conferences, they spent 99% of their time on cruise ships, working as entertainers. So I they spent a lot more time with tourists and ship staff than with their internet marketing colleagues.

I doubt they meant literally EVERYONE.

And I find it difficult to imagine that they didn't mean it. I had the impression that for Vanessa at least (I haven't interviewed Garin for anything, at least not yet), it was a matter of principle.

I don't mean that they're saints or that I don't think they'd ever have a bad day and lose their temper or anything, but I do believe they sincerely look for the (potential) good in literally everyone they encounter, even if there's some distinct possibility that they might miss it or that it might not be there to be found.

Think of it like being a rationalist aspiration to always tell the truth and never self-decieve: setting that as your aspiration does not mean you always can or will accomplish it, but at the same time, it doesn't mean your aspiration should be downgraded to "being in the top percentage" of truth-telling and non self-deception!

Comment author: mattnewport 19 May 2010 02:38:47AM 4 points [-]

fascinating, dynamic people who are out in the world doing and being things

How do you think most of these people ended up in the position where people like you are aware of them as representing these traits? Very often it will have been in large part through greater mastery of social dynamics. Generally the best known/most successful people in any given field won't have got there purely through ability in their field but through a combination of ability in their field and mastery of the social dynamics of that field.

Comment author: Yvain 16 May 2010 03:18:31PM *  4 points [-]

So if I'm with a bunch of people from my class, and I already know who's considered "high status", and none of us have any major conflict of interest that would make us want to assess whether or not the others are allies or not, wouldn't we all just be broadcasting generic "I like you well enough and consider you pretty much an equal, except in the context of this and this and this fact which we already both know quite well" signals? Go to a party with thirty people, and unless someone's committed the faux pas of inviting my arch-enemy, I do this thirty times. If anything, this seems even less interesting than literally talking about the weather.

If you can recommend a good free source of information that explains this (or a book that's worth the money), even better.

EDIT: Yeah, what Wei Dai said.

Comment author: BenAlbahari 16 May 2010 06:11:59PM 11 points [-]

So if I'm with a bunch of people from my class ... and none of us have any major conflict of interest...

If you were a character in a sitcom I was writing, I'd have your dream girl walk in just as you were saying that.

Comment deleted 16 May 2010 05:30:16PM [-]
Comment author: Yvain 16 May 2010 09:39:26PM *  2 points [-]

This mirrors my experience, but then how come other people, whose lives are generally just as boring as mine, seem to like parties?

Comment author: NullA 15 May 2010 04:47:14PM *  2 points [-]

Your comments sound as if I wrote it myself =) But wait, do you have Asperger's? If so, I should really get checked.

Growing up, my social skills were fairly slow to develop, but at this point in my life, I've practiced enough to actually be quite socially savvy with people. I can easily weave humour, emotional intelligence, facial expressions, deep comprehension, etc into my conversations. I'm always making new friends.

But, I've never been able to handle environments with too much stimulus (bars/clubs), when someone's voice is overlapping with a dozen other voices in the room: I can't understand them. When there's constant noises, light displays, many events around me: I feel a sort of confusion / cognitive dissonance.

This is not a matter of introversion/extroversion in my case: my ability to comprehend people in these environments just drops. Sometimes to the point where I seem deaf. However in 1-on-1 situations, there's no issues. I can be quite extroverted, an initiator.

Comment author: Blueberry 18 May 2010 03:21:37PM 2 points [-]

But, I've never been able to handle environments with too much stimulus (bars/clubs), when someone's voice is overlapping with a dozen other voices in the room: I can't understand them. When there's constant noises, light displays, many events around me: I feel a sort of confusion / cognitive dissonance.

Doesn't sound like a hearing problem to me. It sounds more like you're easily overwhelmed, which is pretty common, and may mean you have a very very slight amount of sensory integration difficulties, which is one symptom of the autism spectrum.

Comment author: tut 15 May 2010 05:24:05PM 3 points [-]

... when someone's voice is overlapping with a dozen other voices in the room: I can't understand them.

If this is your only or primary problem I would recommend having your hearing checked before you start on the neuro stuff.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 May 2010 11:52:46AM 1 point [-]

Also, culture affects how social people are expected to be.

I've been in a discussion of introversion where it was clear that extroversion is much more compulsory in the US than in a lot of other places.

Comment author: neq1 18 May 2010 04:20:26PM 9 points [-]

The thing that I have been most surprised by is how much NTs like symbols and gestures.

Here are some examples:

  • Suppose you think your significant other should have a cake on his/her birthday. You are not good at baking. Aspie logic: "It's better to buy a cake from a bakery than to make it myself, since the better the cake tastes the happier they'll be." Of course, the correct answer is that the effort you put into it is what matters (to an NT).

  • Suppose you are walking through a doorway and you are aware that there is someone about 20 feet behind you. Aspie logic: "If I hold the door for them they will feel obligated to speed up a little, so that I'm not waiting too long. That will just inconvenience them. Plus, it's not hard to open a door. Thus, it's better for them if I let the door close." To the NT, you are just inconsiderate.

  • Suppose you are sending out invitations to a graduation party. You know that one of your close friends is going to be out of town that weekend. Aspie logic: "There is no reason to send them an invitation, since I already know they can't go. In fact, sending them an invitation might make them feel bad." If your friend is an NT, it's the wrong answer. They want to know they are wanted. Plus, it's always possible their travel plans will get canceled.

In each of these 3 examples the person with AS is actually being considerate, but would not appear that way to an NT.

Comment author: pjeby 18 May 2010 06:09:49PM 8 points [-]

In each of these 3 examples the person with AS is actually being considerate

I agreed with all of your comment but this: the person with AS is not "being considerate", when "being considerate" is defined to include modeling the likely preferences of the person you are supposedly "considering."

In each case, the "consideration" is considering themselves, in the other person's shoes, falling prey to availability bias.

Personally, I am very torn on the doorway example -- I usually make an effort to hold the door, but am very uncomfortable. I think it will help to remember in future that the availability bias of my own preferences shouldn't rule out being considerate of what the likely preference of the other person is... and to change my SASS rules so that I feel good about holding the door, so it's self-reinforcing.

Comment author: Nanani 19 May 2010 12:31:48AM 6 points [-]

It's worth pointing out that all three examples are highly culturally variable.

The "aspie logic" example behaviour is far more common where I live (urban Japan).

In the first, most people lack the facilities to bake, especially young adults in small apartments or dorms. Buying a cake is the obvious thing to do. That or taking the SO to a cake-serving cafe.

In the second, -no one- here holds doors for strangers. I had to train myself out of the habit because it was getting me very strange looks. Similarly, no one says "bless you" or equivalent when strangers sneeze. The rules of courtesy are different.

In the third, it's normal here to expect repeated invitations for any occasion. One invitation will be for show, so you invite people you don't expect to make it as well. The key is that people won't actually make plans to attend until two or more invitations have been received. (This is locally variable; some regions and demographics expect three or four invites. Think of it as a pre-event version of the British quirk where one says "We must do this again sometime" while having no actual desire to repeat the encounter.)

The bottom line is that the other person's expectations ought to be factored into the logic. Beware generalizing from a sample of one and all that.

Comment author: pwno 18 May 2010 05:31:15PM 2 points [-]

Your time and effort can be used to give status. By sending a reliable signal you've wasted time and effort for a friend, you're giving your friend good evidence they have some power over you - a feeling much sweeter than a store-bought cake.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 December 2012 12:33:02PM 1 point [-]

Suppose you are sending out invitations to a graduation party. You know that one of your close friends is going to be out of town that weekend. Aspie logic: "There is no reason to send them an invitation, since I already know they can't go. In fact, sending them an invitation might make them feel bad." If your friend is an NT, it's the wrong answer. They want to know they are wanted. Plus, it's always possible their travel plans will get canceled.

There's also a difference between Ask and Guess cultures in this kind of things.

Comment author: JanetK 14 May 2010 07:21:54PM 8 points [-]

I have had drinks with friends and friends of friends in bars, pubs and beverage rooms in UK, Canada and US. I am almost 70 years old. I have never asked for a drink, I have never been asked for one. If I saw this happen, I would assume that the asker either wanted to have a favour done for them because they were feeling low or was out of money. I would not suspect that it was some sort of test. I would expect the response to be buying the drink, making a joke about the request or avoiding further conversation (or maybe all of them). I am used to people buying drinks for one another in some situation but not asking for a drink.

In my experience, people are by and large not testing; they have good will towards others; and they like company. This includes Aspergers and NTs. Why start out suspicious?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 14 May 2010 08:11:03PM 4 points [-]

Then maybe it's a generation thing. I am over 50. La, what curious customs these young things invent!

Comment author: Divide 17 May 2010 11:58:18PM *  6 points [-]

This is spot-on. That's exactly how I do it, although I seem to have a good coprocessor for emotional empathy (tuned towards the opposite gender, no less), which does help tremendously; I only have to do social in software and while I'm rather bad at it, the empathy compensates for that and makes people more forgiving for miscalculations.

Consequently I tend not to like and avoid my own gender, because the empathy processor fails there and what's left is pure awkwardness.

That, or I'm just rationalizing over competition anxiety.

(EDIT: BTW, I got 32 on the test.)

(Another edit: in case it's not apparent, note that I strongly prefer the opposite gender for mating. And, well, for pretty much anything at all.)

Comment author: BenAlbahari 16 May 2010 10:14:07AM *  5 points [-]

It seems this post bundled together the CPU vs. GPU theory regarding the AS vs. NT mindset, with a set of techniques on how to improve social skills. The techniques however - and in a sense this is a credit to the poster - are useful to anyone who wants to improve their social skills, regardless of whether the cause of their lack of skill is:

1) High IQ
2) Introversion
3) Social Inexperience
4) AS
5) <Suggestions>

A combination of several of these factors might be the cause of social awkwardness. It's possible to place too much importance on looking for a root cause. The immediate cause is simply a lack of understanding of social interaction - the techniques will help anyone develop that understanding.

If you lack that powerful social coprocessor... [you will]...explicitly reason through the complex human social game that most people play without ever really understanding.

Some NTs are somewhat unconscious of the game, but that doesn't mean they don't understand it. I'd argue the most useful definition of "understanding" is that one's brain contains the knowledge - whether one is conscious of it or not - that enables one to successfully perform the relevant task. Any other definition, is quite literally, academic. Furthermore, I'd argue that those best at the game actually become conscious of what is unconscious for most people, such as the degree to which status plays a role in social interaction. This helps them gain an edge over others, such as better predicting the ramifications of gossip, or the ability to construct a joke. A joke that works well socially, often consists of the more socially aware person bringing to the surface an aspect of someone else's self-serving behavior that was previously just under the social group's conscious radar. It would be impossible to construct such jokes without a conscious understanding of the game.

(Most importantly) Find a community of others - who are trying to solve the same problem

If you want to learn social skills, hang out with people who have them. And it's not enough to just hang out - you have to enjoy it and participate. And to be frank, often the easiest way to do that is with alcohol. And don't assume you're so different to other people - why do you think they're drinking?

Comment author: SilasBarta 16 May 2010 01:07:43PM 6 points [-]

If you lack that powerful social coprocessor... [you will]...explicitly reason through the complex human social game that most people play without ever really understanding.

Some NTs are somewhat unconscious of the game, but that doesn't mean they don't understand it. I'd argue the most useful definition of "understanding" is that one's brain contains the knowledge - whether one is conscious of it or not - that enables one to successfully perform the relevant task.

I think the distinction can be helpfully represented in terms of my levels of understanding.

NTs understand social interaction at Level 1, the level at which one is capable of outputting the right (winning) results, even if that is due to an inscrutable black-box model contained inside oneself (which is the case here).

But there are higher levels to reach than that, and it is not an academic distinction. To advance to Level 2, you must not only produce the right results, but also be able to "plug in" your understanding of the social interaction domain to various other domains, and make inferences between them. And most NTs cannot do this: they get the results "for free", even (and perhaps especially) if they cannot derive these results as implications of other domains (or vice versa).

Roko's point, in turn, can be rephrased as saying that HFASes try to build up a Level 2 understanding directly, checking for cross-domain consistency before they adopt any rules; and that this is because their hardware doesn't feed them the correct black-box output, as happens in NTs. Further, inferences that HFASes make come from applying a more general-purpose "reasoning engine" to social interaction; to NTs, the inferences just look dumb, even if they can't explain why.

Someone with sufficiently advanced understanding will be able to connect the NT black-box model to useful models for everything else, explaining the basis for NT conventions. This can grow from an NT mind or a HFAS one, but they will take different paths.

In any case, there's a higher level of understanding to reach, even if a specific threshold suffices for some purpose.

Comment author: mattnewport 14 May 2010 06:01:35PM 5 points [-]

for example height (can be modified by higher shoes - a trick that women have cottoned on to, but men are totally missing out on.

As pointed out in several of the comments on that post, women do not wear high heels primarily to increase their height but rather to change their posture, gait and apparent leg length.

Comment author: [deleted] 15 May 2010 03:37:55AM 18 points [-]

On the coprocessor model itself -- the phenomenon we're trying to explain here is people who are good at analytical thinking but bad at social interaction. I really think there's a tendency around here to automatically identify that pattern with Asperger's, or with being at some point on the "spectrum." It's way more parsimonious to think of it as a result of specialization. If you're kind of good at (or interested in) analytical things, and kind of bad at (or uninterested in) social things, you'll specialize your own brain in that direction. It may even be in your best interest to specialize to some extent, to play to your strengths.

In fact I'd hypothesize that a lot of this specialization happens in early childhood, from rather small chance events like being an early reader, or being nearsighted. It's a little easier and more pleasant to sit still and read than to go out and play, so you start specializing from the age of three or so. Or you're Robert Louis Stevenson and develop a rich inner life directly because of childhood illness.

Children naturally play to their own strengths. They wear their favorite pathways down smooth, and ignore the thornier, more unpleasant ones. If you're a "systematizing" child, you'll do more and more systematizing, and it probably won't be until adolescence or adulthood that you'll want to go back and learn the skills that always felt unnatural. It takes a certain degree of self-awareness to go against the grain of your own nature. (Optimizing globally instead of locally, I think, is the appropriate metaphor.)

The thing is, "hardware" metaphors treat neurotype as static, and I think for many people it's more likely to be dynamic, and the result of a specialization process. It goes the other way, too: people who have much stronger social than analytical skills have probably put more effort into developing social skills, and then created a positive feedback loop of playing to their strengths. Sure, there are fixed brain differences on the extremes (autism or Williams syndrome) and a specialization process may well begin with a small fixed brain difference, but I don't think the fixed stuff explains the great human variation in social vs. analytical skills.

Comment deleted 15 May 2010 08:59:00AM *  [-]
Comment author: whpearson 15 May 2010 10:53:25AM 4 points [-]

I'd say there are different forms of nature that can lead to having a broken social coprocessor than just Aspergers. So I would be careful about generalising from your own example.

My social coprocessor isn't very good. I think it is broken in a different way to people with Asperger's though. I have no fear about going out to places where I don't know many people. I've gone out to night clubs, events, been travelling etc on my own. I just don't talk to anyone much in night clubs and I am only good at certain types of conversation otherwise. I completely fail at set jokes, amusing anecdotes or talking about my life in general. I am relatively good at self-deprecation, surreal improvisation and amusing comments on what is going on around me or the topic at hand. So I get by. I don't find generic conversation very rewarding in itself either. But it is expected when you are around people, so I tend to go into question asking mode if I get trapped in conversation with someone generic. If it is someone that does something that I don't know much about (even stuff like marketing which is antithetical to my nature), then I can maintain conversation fairly well. I'm just gathering data about the world.

And my goal at these events isn't to meet new girls (although I quite like flirting with (introverted) female friends); it is to dance or to get a feeling of being in a tribe. I don't really care about being leader of that tribe.

But I don't tend to get out much so I'm bad at social niceties like introducing myself or remembering peoples name. I also react poorly to people bitching about other people I consider in my tribe.

I know I am not typical of non neuro-typicals. But I thought I would give you a concrete example of someone who has trouble in social situations, but is non-aspergers.

I think a certain amount of my antipathy to PUA stuff is the same as if you started talking about football a lot. I don't really care and don't want to encourage it.

Comment deleted 15 May 2010 12:40:43PM *  [-]
Comment author: whpearson 15 May 2010 06:44:26PM *  9 points [-]

Imagine if someone came to lesswrong. He was very interested in winning and knew and applied a decent amount of probability theory. However he was only interested in winning football matches. He'd do articles on picking the optimal side taking into consideration fitness of players, opponents strengths, weather etc Also articles on picking the optimal training regimen to strengthen the right muscles for football and showing the bad heuristics other trainers use to pick training regimens.

Now I'd find it moderately interesting for a bit, despite minimal interest in football, but I'd get bored of it pretty soon, but I think I would be in the minority, People would lack the background knowledge to understand it (e.g. Golden goals, how long a football game lasts etc), they would find it boring. And they would probably voice their confusion and lack of interest, which I in turn would find boring. It would decrease the signal to noise ratio of the website.

I suspect something like that might happen if you use examples from the PUA arena. An example of what happens with a lack of background knowledge can be seen by RichardKenneway's thread. So while mildly interesting it has its bad points in terms of the level of discussion, and if you are somewhat autistic, you are likely to go on about it if at all encouraged! So you won't get encouragement from me.

There is a decent sub population of lesswrong interested in it, it would be ideal for a sub reddit. But spare a thought for those of us that are female or just not that into dating.

Comment author: Jack 15 May 2010 11:59:15PM 7 points [-]

But spare a thought for those of us that are female or just not that into dating.

There are females who are interested. And I don't just mean for academic reasons.

</heteronormativitypolice>

Comment author: whpearson 16 May 2010 11:20:43AM 3 points [-]

I suspect but can't prove that picking up girls as a girl would be different than picking up girls as a guy. Oh and that girls would have different problems with the picking up than men, even if it was the same process.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 May 2010 12:22:37PM *  9 points [-]

Self Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back-- an account by a lesbian of living as a man in four different male social groups. One of her experiments includes dating women, but I don't remember the details.

Comment author: HughRistik 16 May 2010 08:31:22PM 19 points [-]

I read Self Made Man a couple years ago, and I highly recommend it. The author is to be commended for such an extensive debiasing project. Vincent found living as a man to have a lot more challenges than she thought. I'll post some excerpts or articles about her that might be interesting for people here.

From here:

I caught one woman's eye and held her gaze for a second, smiling. She returned the smile and looked away. This was signal enough for me, so I stood up, made my way over to their table and asked them whether they wanted to join us for a drink. "No, thanks," one of them said, "we're on our way out in a minute."

Simple enough, right? A brush-off. No biggie. But as I turned away and slumped back across the room toward our table, I felt like the outcast kid in the lunchroom who trips and dumps his tray on the linoleum in front of the whole school.

"Rejection is a staple for guys," said Curtis, laughing as I crumpled into my seat with a humiliated sigh. "Get used to it." ...

On dates with men I felt physically appraised in a way that I never did by women, and, while this made me more sympathetic to the suspicions women were bringing to their dates with Ned, it had the opposite effect, too. Somehow men's seeming imposition of a superficial standard of beauty felt less intrusive, less harsh, than the character appraisals of women.

The women I met wanted a man to be confident. They wanted in many ways to defer to him. I could feel that on many dates, the unspoken desire to be held up and led, whether in conversation or even in physical space, and at times it made me feel quite small in my costume, like a young man must feel when he's just coming of age and he's suddenly expected to carry the world under his arm like a football. And some women did find Ned too small physically to be attractive. They wanted someone, they said, who could pin them to the bed or, as one woman put it, "someone who can drive the bus". Ned was too willowy for that. I began to understand from the inside why Robert Crumb draws his women so big and his diminutive self begging at their heels or riding them around the room.

Yet as much as these women wanted a take-control man, at the same time they wanted a man who was vulnerable to them, a man who would show his colours and open his doors, someone expressive, intuitive, attuned. This I was in spades, and I always got points for it. But I began to feel very sympathetic toward heterosexual men - the pressure to be a world-bestriding colossus is an immensely heavy burden to bear, and trying to be a sensitive new age guy at the same time is pretty well impossible. Expectation, expectation, expectation was the leitmotif of Ned's dating life. ...

Dating women as a man was a lesson in female power, and it made me, of all things, into a momentary misogynist, which I suppose was the best indicator that my experiment had worked. I saw my own sex from the other side, and I disliked women irrationally for a while because of it. I disliked their superiority, their accusatory smiles, their entitlement to choose or dash me with a fingertip, an execution so lazy, so effortless, it made the defeats and even the successes unbearably humiliating. Typical male power feels by comparison like a blunt instrument, its salvos and field strategies laughably remedial next to the damage a woman can do with a single cutting word: no.

From here:

Vincent even dabbled in the art of picking up women and agreed to wear a hidden camera for "20/20" during her exploits.

She was quickly reminded that in this arena, it's women who have the power, she said.

"In fact, we sit there and we just with one word, 'no,' will crush someone," she said. "We don't have to do the part where you cross the room and you go up to a stranger that you've never met in the middle of a room full of people and say the first words. And those first words are so hard to say without sounding like a cheeseball or sounding like a jerk."

Vincent encountered some pretty cold shoulders in her attempts at the bar, but she did manage to go on about 30 dates with women as "Ned," mostly arranging them on the Internet.

Vincent said the dates were rarely fun and that the pressure of "Ned" having to prove himself was grueling. She was surprised that many women had no interest in a soft, vulnerable man.

"My prejudice was that the ideal man is a woman in a man's body. And I learned, no, that's really not. There are a lot of women out there who really want a manly man, and they want his stoicism," she said.

Comment author: Blueberry 16 May 2010 02:55:05PM 1 point [-]

Yes, and girls would have different problems with picking up (and maintaining relationships with) guys, but the same general social principles apply. "PUA" is just dating and relationship advice.

Comment deleted 15 May 2010 09:12:11PM *  [-]
Comment author: whpearson 15 May 2010 10:14:08PM 4 points [-]

I have little problem with the way that Robin Hanson discusses status, signalling, and human interactions including mating. He doesn't give advice to the people on OB on how to pick up chicks though. If you are not interested in the practicalities it is enough to know that women test for a variety of personality and material traits in potential mates (with different tests dependent upon the women's personality). You don't need to know what tests go with what personality. Knowing that the majority of women like dominant, smooth talking, humorous men is useful in predicting what men will cultivate in themselves. But I don't need to know how to fake it.

Comment deleted 15 May 2010 10:24:10PM *  [-]
Comment author: kodos96 15 May 2010 10:26:40PM *  2 points [-]

I think it's the "faking it" part I and many other people find objectionable.

ETA: you edited this post after I replied, so I don't think my original reply makes sense any more....

Wouldn't it just be easier for you to ignore the posts that contain info that you don't personally need or want to know?

How is this different from "if you disagree with me, keep it to yourself"?

Comment author: Vladimir_M 15 May 2010 11:30:45PM *  15 points [-]

I think it's the "faking it" part I and many other people find objectionable.

This is where you and several other people here make a critical mistake. You view various aspects of human mating behavior exclusively in terms of signaling objective traits, and then you add a moral dimension to it by trying to judge whether these objective traits supposedly being signaled are true or fake.

In reality, however, human social behavior -- and especially mating behavior -- is about much more complex higher-order signaling strategies, which are a product of a long and complicated evolutionary interplay of strategies for signaling, counter-signaling, fake signaling, and fake signaling detection -- as well as the complex game-theoretic questions of what can ultimately be inferred from one's signaled intentions. Nobody has disentangled this whole complicated mess into a complete and coherent theory yet, though some basic principles have been established pretty conclusively, both by the academic evolutionary psychology and by people generalizing informally from practical experiences. However, the key point is that in a species practicing higher-order signaling strategies, signaling ability itself becomes an adaptive trait. You're not supposed to just signal objective traits directly; you also have to demonstrate your skill in navigating through the complex signaling games. It's a self-reinforcing feedback cycle, where at the end of the day, your signaling skills matter in their own right, just like your other abilities for navigating through the world matter -- and most things being signaled are in fact meta-signals about these traits.

Therefore, where you see "faking it" and "head games" and whatnot, in reality it's just humans practicing their regular social behaviors. You'll miss the point spectacularly if you analyze these behaviors in terms of simple announcements of objective traits and plain intentions and direct negotiations based on these announcements, where anything beyond that is deceitful faking. Learning how to play the signaling games better is no more deceitful than, say, practicing basic social norms of politeness instead of just honestly blurting out your opinions of other people to their faces.

Comment author: Clippy 16 May 2010 01:07:28AM 14 points [-]

I have a question, since you seem to know a lot about human sociality. What exactly is wrong with handling the dilemmas you describe by saying to the other humans, "I am slightly more committed to this group’s welfare, particularly to that of its weakest members, than most of its members are. If you suffer a serious loss of status/well-being I will still help you in order to display affiliation to this group even though you will no longer be in a position to help me. I am substantially more kind and helpful to the people I like and substantially more vindictive and aggressive towards those I dislike. I am generally stable in who I like. I am much more capable and popular than most members of this group, demand appropriate consideration, and grant appropriate consideration to those more capable than myself. I adhere to simple taboos so that my reputation and health are secure and so that I am unlikely to contaminate the reputations or health of my friends. I currently like you and dislike your enemies but I am somewhat inclined towards ambivalence on regarding whether I like you right now so the pay-off would be very great for you if you were to expend resources pleasing me and get me into the stable 'liking you' region of my possible attitudinal space. Once there, I am likely to make a strong commitment to a friendly attitude towards you rather than wasting cognitive resources checking a predictable parameter among my set of derivative preferences."?

Comment author: HughRistik 16 May 2010 01:54:10AM *  7 points [-]

Why is this being downvoted? Even those Clippy's proposed strategy doesn't work at all for reasons that Jack explained, he is asking an excellent question. For people (and AIs) without social experience and knowledge, it is very, very important for them to know why people can't just talk all this stuff through explicitly. They should be asking exactly these sorts of questions so they an update.

Upvoted.

Comment author: cupholder 16 May 2010 10:11:17AM *  7 points [-]

Why is this being downvoted?

A guess: because everything in quotes in Clippy's comment is a copy and paste of a generic comment it posted a week ago.

I don't actually know myself, though - I upvoted Clippy's comment because I thought it was funny. Copying an earlier comment and asking for feedback on it where it's semi-relevant is exactly in keeping with what I imagine the Clippy character to be.

Comment author: Jack 16 May 2010 01:35:05AM 6 points [-]

Saying this explicitly is extremely weak evidence of it being true. In fact, because it sounds pre-prepared, comprehensive and calculated most humans won't believe you. Human courtship rituals are basically ways of signaling all of this but are much harder to fake.

When human females ask "Will you buy me a drink?" they're testing to see if the male does in fact "demand appropriate consideration".

Also, relative status and genetic fitness are extremely important in human coupling decisions and your statement does not sufficiently cover those.

Comment author: Clippy 16 May 2010 01:59:16AM *  6 points [-]

That's a good point. Let me try a different one.

Let X be 'I am slightly more committed to this group’s welfare, particularly to that of its weakest members, than most of its members are. If you suffer a serious loss of status/well-being I will still help you in order to display affiliation to this group even though you will no longer be in a position to help me. I am substantially more kind and helpful to the people I like and substantially more vindictive and aggressive towards those I dislike. I am generally stable in who I like. I am much more capable and popular than most members of this group, demand appropriate consideration, and grant appropriate consideration to those more capable than myself. I adhere to simple taboos so that my reputation and health are secure and so that I am unlikely to contaminate the reputations or health of my friends. I currently like you and dislike your enemies but I am somewhat inclined towards ambivalence on regarding whether I like you right now so the pay-off would be very great for you if you were to expend resources pleasing me and get me into the stable 'liking you' region of my possible attitudinal space. Once there, I am likely to make a strong commitment to a friendly attitude towards you rather than wasting cognitive resources checking a predictable parameter among my set of derivative preferences.'

Then, instead of saying my previous suggestion, say something like, 'I would precommit to acting in such a way that X if and only if you would precommit to acting in such a way that you could truthfully say, "X if and only if you would precommit to acting in such a way that you could truthfully say X."'

(Edit: Note, if you haven't already, that the above is just a special case of the decision theory, "I would adhere to rule system R if and only if (You would adhere to R if and only if I would adhere to R)." )

Wouldn't the mere ability to recognize such a symmetric decision theory be strong evidence of X being true?

Comment deleted 16 May 2010 11:45:55AM [-]
Comment author: HughRistik 16 May 2010 01:08:24AM *  5 points [-]

Now I'd find it moderately interesting for a bit, despite minimal interest in football, but I'd get bored of it pretty soon

I understand this sentiment, but I'm not quite sure about your analogy between football and mating. Football is a sport; mating is a species-typical task. Articles on mating are relevant to a wider audience than articles about football. A better analogy would be between mating and another challenge that almost everyone deals with, such as akrasia.

Not everyone is equally interested in akrasia, but the community seems to find it worth discussing as an example of applying rationality to personal development. Why is mating different?

But spare a thought for those of us that are female or just not that into dating.

I see rationality as relevant for females to improve their dating and relationship success, also.

As for those who are just not that into dating, I think this population may contain heterogenous groups:

  1. People who are already in satisfying relationships

  2. People who genuinely aren't interested in dating, or in relationships that can be achieved by dating.

  3. People who want relationships, but aren't interested in the dating steps necessary to get there.

  4. People who want relationships and would want to be dating, but have challenges in those areas, and have suppressed or denied their desires.

For people in groups #1 and #2, I can indeed see how they would quickly become bored by discussions of rationality applied to mating, just as someone who has their akrasia issues handled would become bored by continued discussion of akrasia. Individuals in groups #3 and #4 might benefit from such discussions, even if they found them initially uncomfortable. It may be hard to distinguish people in the last three groups from each other.

Comment author: whpearson 16 May 2010 11:02:53AM 1 point [-]

Hmm, it might be worth doing a questionnaire to try and distinguish between these and find out the demographics on this site.

Questions about how well they interact with women etc.

The sorts of relationships I'm interested might possibly be achieved by dating/going to clubs. But most standard relationships don't appeal. There is a probability of low pay off for me for learning about standard techniques. I'm better off seeing if I mesh well with people on a shared task/problem.

Comment author: JanetK 15 May 2010 07:44:18AM 4 points [-]

Voted up. You got away from the bar room chat and said something about the heart of the post. I am sure that many people have their adult lives fenced in by decision about themselves taken in childhood. It is always a good idea to challenge yourself to overcome such fences.

Comment author: alexflint 16 May 2010 08:29:23AM 3 points [-]

In addition to "Find a community" I would recommend identifying people who behave as you would like to (whatever that may be) and trying to spend time with them. This lets you leverage the specialized hardware our brains contain for imitating others. In my experience it's much easier to copy an example of desirable behaviour than to construct it from a description or from EP first principles, particularly if the natural imitation mechanism is "overclocked" by conscious observation and noting of the behaviour one wishes to imitate.

Comment author: CronoDAS 14 May 2010 05:24:42PM *  3 points [-]

There are also some reliable proxies of fitness that are no longer reliable, for example height (can be modified by higher shoes - a trick that women have cottoned on to, but men are totally missing out on).

Not entirely, although there does seem to be some shame attached to doing this.

I do much the same thing by wearing hiking boots everywhere. They're waterproof, well-insulated for cold weather, and also increase my height more than sneakers.

Comment author: Mallah 15 May 2010 10:33:01PM 2 points [-]

Women seem to have a strong urge to check out what shoes a man has on, and judge their quality. Even they can't explain it. Perhaps at some unconscious level, they are guarding against men who 'cheat' by wearing high heels.

Comment deleted 14 May 2010 05:32:33PM *  [-]
Comment author: CronoDAS 14 May 2010 05:42:16PM 2 points [-]

Yes, cowboy boots have bigger heels, but are they waterproof and insulated? ;)

Comment author: sketerpot 15 May 2010 07:19:18AM *  1 point [-]

If I wore boots like that, I would feel obligated to also wear jeans, a button-up shirt, and a cowboy hat. Is this considered acceptable in most social situations?

Comment author: HughRistik 15 May 2010 07:39:48AM 1 point [-]

Jeans with a cool wash, definitely. Button-up shirt, sure, but you could swap in a nice graphic T-shirt instead. You don't need a cowboy hat.

Military boots are also good for a little height, and they are stylish and will go with just about anything.

Comment author: gwern 15 May 2010 06:11:33PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: RichardKennaway 14 May 2010 05:51:14PM 7 points [-]

After a short time, they ask you to buy them a drink.

I have never encountered or heard of this behaviour. I would be rather startled if someone I had just met asked me to buy them a drink. I'd guess they were too poor to get their own (and with all respect to poor people, my interest in pursuing a relationship with them would substantially diminish).

I can understand your explanation, but I would find an opposite explanation just as plausible (they are trying to determine if the cost of a drink is a mere trifle to you, hence buying them one = good).

Is this a culturally specific thing? Where is this action, with this meaning, a standard pattern of behaviour?

Comment author: knb 15 May 2010 11:36:25PM *  4 points [-]

I have never encountered or heard of this behaviour. I would be rather startled if someone I had just met asked me to buy them a drink.

Lily Allen has. The relevant section:

Cut to the pub on our last night out,

Man at the bar cos it was his shout,

Clocks this bird and she looks OK,

Caught him looking and she walks his way,

"Alright darling, you gonna buy us a drink then?"

"Err no, but I was thinking of buying one for your friend.

Comment author: thomblake 14 May 2010 06:02:12PM 4 points [-]

It seems very weird to me that this seems unfamiliar to you. It's a cliche in movies and the like.

Comment author: Blueberry 14 May 2010 09:50:36PM 2 points [-]

It's a cliche in movies but it's actually rare in real life, in my experience, except as a joke.

Comment author: Blueberry 14 May 2010 10:05:28PM 6 points [-]

I just realized that one person's joke is another person's status test, of course.

Comment author: mattnewport 14 May 2010 05:56:53PM 4 points [-]

Is this a culturally specific thing? Where is this action, with this meaning, a standard pattern of behaviour?

In bars and clubs in the UK, US and Canada at least.

Comment deleted 14 May 2010 05:56:17PM [-]
Comment author: RichardKennaway 14 May 2010 06:15:06PM *  5 points [-]

Never. That could explain it. I don't watch romantic movies either, or any TV.

So, how does the script normally play out?

  • "No."?

  • "No, we don't know each other well enough yet?"

  • "snort Too poor to get your own, are you?"

  • Ignore or somehow deflect the request and talk about something else?

  • None of the above?

If I had to guess I'd go with the fourth, but I'm only guessing.

ETA: I don't mind getting the karma, but I'm curious about why I'm getting several upvotes within minutes of posting this.

Comment deleted 14 May 2010 07:15:24PM *  [-]
Comment author: Jack 14 May 2010 07:47:32PM 3 points [-]

Well hang on. It isn't that simple. The man buying the woman a drink is more or less the courtship norm. They haven't actually stepped that far out of line by asking for a drink so the way you respond has to be calibrated to their status. If their status isn't that high and it was something of a gutsy move to ask for one, there is nothing wrong with letting them down softly with a "Nope. It isn't anything personal, you seem cool. I just don't buy drinks for women I just met" and you can segue into a conversation about how silly the norm is if you like. If the person has really high status then something more along the lines of lightly mocking them for being a spoiled brat who won't buy their own drinks can go over fine.

Comment author: Psychohistorian 14 May 2010 08:16:30PM *  2 points [-]

This was not a particularly constructive example to use in the original post, for several reasons.

There are basically two situations that lead to this: First, the other person is interested in you, but is somewhat awkward and uses this as a rather blunt test to measure your interest in them. Second, if person is not interested in you, but sees you as a means of getting a free drink.

As the latter tends to be more likely, and in the former, there are still ways you can show interest without buying them a drink, you should not buy them a drink. However, buying them a drink is not wrong insofar as no unpleasant social consequences result from it (as they might result from, for example, an unflattering comment about a person's weight or appearance). All that happens is you're out $3-10, depending on the bar.

It's also worth noting that with certain people and in certain circumstances, you may actually be seeking someone with the qualities indicated by this request. If I were a rich and not particularly attractive older man, and the subject were a much-younger and attractive woman, this comment may actually suggest we could establish a mutually beneficial relationship. Our response to the request is really a response to the person making the request, and your hypothetical assumes we should a negative response, which is generally but not invariably true. Your description of the

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 16 May 2010 03:56:33PM 4 points [-]

There are basically two situations that lead to this: First, the other person is interested in you, but is somewhat awkward and uses this as a rather blunt test to measure your interest in them. Second, if person is not interested in you, but sees you as a means of getting a free drink.

That doesn't cover Mallah's story. I think the free drinks explanation is largely a confabulation by girls who don't know why they do it.

Comment author: Psychohistorian 16 May 2010 11:04:40PM 2 points [-]

It covers the story up to the point of her not taking the drink. Perhaps she just wanted to see if she could. I agree that getting him to buy the drink may be more significant than actually consuming it. Or it could simply be a way of chastising someone she didn't believe should be talking to her. Or, perhaps, she simply forgot.

For practical purposes, she's not different whether she takes the drink or not. It's still a waste of money. If she didn't forget, it's likely she simply got a kick out of ordering some guy around. Not a situation I anticipated, but certainly deserving the same response as the selfish drinker.

Comment author: Psychohistorian 16 May 2010 10:55:54PM *  2 points [-]

Second, if person is not interested in you, but sees you as a means of getting a free drink.

I believe that covers that story perfectly. he approached an attractive woman, who saw him as a sucker who'd buy her an expensive drink, which he did, whereupon she promptly ignored him. If that's not exactly what I said, I don't know what is.

Comment author: kodos96 14 May 2010 11:22:41PM 1 point [-]

This seems very odd to me. You seem to be suggesting that this is the typical way a socially successful NT responds to being asked for a drink, and that just seems truly, bizarrely wrong to me. Where did you learn this? Is it a PUA thing? I'm not necessarily saying it wouldn't work - it might, in the same way that weird PUA crap like "peacocking" might work, but it definitely isn't normal behavior, even for NTs

Comment author: Blueberry 14 May 2010 11:32:39PM 4 points [-]

I'm confused why you think this is so bizarrely wrong. I mean, yes, some inexperienced guys are easily manipulated by attractive women, but I think that more successful and more experienced people would just make a joke of it, and not allow themselves to be manipulated easily.

And everyone "peacocks" every time they dress for an occasion or buy clothes because they like how they look. That's not weird or bizarre either.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 May 2010 11:37:04AM *  2 points [-]

Roko explicitly wrote about using a status-lowering level of teasing.

Part of the problem may be that a lot of play is inhibited attack, and it can be hard to judge just how much of a verbal attack is either intended or received.

Comment author: Blueberry 15 May 2010 06:08:33PM 17 points [-]

I think that the emphasis on status here is misplaced. Here's an analogy:

Imagine that you, dear reader, are very smart, and when you get into conversations about intellectual topics, people almost always say "Wow, you're smart," based on superficial indicators, and seem impressed. Now imagine that you meet someone who reacts differently: they take it for granted that you're smart, and actually try to engage with you intellectually, rather than being awed and amazed by your intellect.

Can you see that your reaction might be very different? You might be more likely to like and be interested in talking to this person, intrigued that they weren't so easily won over, and possibly a little motivated to prove your intelligence to them.

That's what's going on in the example with attractive girls, except with looks and sexuality rather than intelligence. It's less of a "Oh wow you have high status" reaction on the girl's part, and more of "Hey, finally someone who isn't a pushover just cause I'm hot. He might actually be fun to talk to." This is communicated all the time with little things like body language, the way you turn to look at someone, the way you stand, and how you speak. It usually isn't as direct as "Will you buy me a drink?"

Comment author: HughRistik 15 May 2010 06:55:14PM *  20 points [-]

Yes, I like this analogy between intellectual interaction and social (status) interaction. Both types of interaction have "I'll push you until you stop me" behavior, that would be considered offensive or attacking if it was manifested in the other form of interaction.

A common mode of interaction for intellectuals is to argue for positions that you aren't sure of in order to figure out if they believe in, or even to argue for positions that they don't believe just to play devil's advocate. These debate styles push against people, expecting them to push back, analogous to the social styles of many neurotypical extraverts.

Just as introverts on the autistic spectrum hate it when neurotypical extraverts try to turn everything into a status game, neurotypical extraverts hate it when autistic spectrum introverts try to turn everything into a debate.

In a group of neurotypical extraverts, saying something like "you're such a dork" to someone else is not necessarily considered rude or an attack. They expect the other person to handle it and fire back. Likewise, in a group of autistic spectrum introverts, saying something like "you're wrong" is not necessarily considered rude or an attack. They expect the other person to be able to handle it, and either defend or concede their position.

Both groups have different norms for showing assertiveness, and an assertiveness display in one group could be considered an attack if it was performed in the other group.

Comment author: Blueberry 15 May 2010 07:25:29PM 4 points [-]

Good point about "you're wrong," which has unnerved me a few times. Also, especially on this site: "you're unethical" or "that's unethical."

Comment author: Mallah 15 May 2010 09:38:54PM *  0 points [-]

I can confirm that this does happen at least sometimes (USA). I was at a bar, and I approached a woman who is probably considered attractive by many (skinny, bottle blonde) and started talking to her. She soon asked me to buy her a drink. Being not well versed in such matters, I agreed, and asked her what she wanted. She named an expensive wine, which I agreed to get her a glass of. She largely ignored me thereafter, and didn't even bother taking the drink!

(I did obtain some measure of revenge later that night by spanking her rear end hard, though I do not advise doing such things. She was not amused and her brother threatened me, though as I had apologized, that was the end of it. She did tell some other lies so I don't know if she is neurotypical; my impression was that she was well below average in morality, being a spoiled brat.)

Comment author: Christian_Szegedy 18 May 2010 12:30:10AM *  8 points [-]

In European bars or nightclubs, if (relatively) attractive girls ask strangers for drinks or dishes, then it typically means they are doing it professionally.

There is even a special phrase "consume girl" meaning that the girl's job is to lure clueless customers into buying expensive drinks for them for a cut of the profit. The surest sign of being a "consume girl" is that they typically don't consume what they ask for.

It's all about money, and has nothing to do with social games, whatsoever. They are not spoiled brats, but trained for this job.

I am not sure how common is this "profession" in the US, but in Europe it's relatively common.

Comment author: Nanani 19 May 2010 12:55:43AM 1 point [-]

Sounds like Cabaret Hostesses in Japan. They have male counterparts, too, but the female variety is a lot more common.

Comment author: khafra 18 May 2010 02:10:16PM 1 point [-]

It's common in Korea--they call them "juicy girls" (from the korean word for "please," roughly "juseo"). I've never seen it here in the US. I don't know why it doesn't exist in the US, the only other slightly relevant and consistent difference I can think of is the cultural attitudes toward tipping.

Comment author: CronoDAS 19 May 2010 01:44:38AM 2 points [-]

Well, there is this...

Comment author: Kevin 19 May 2010 01:40:47AM 2 points [-]

In the US the equivalent job is selling people VIP tables for bottle service.

Comment author: Airedale 16 May 2010 06:44:53PM 9 points [-]

I don’t like to go meta, but this comment and its upvotes (4 at the time I write) are among the more disturbing thing I’ve seen on this site. I have to assume that they reflect voters’ appreciation for a real-life story of a woman asking a man to buy a drink, rather than approval of the use of violence to express displeasure over someone else’s behavior and perceived morality in a social situation.

I’m also surprised that you’re telling this story without expressing any apparent remorse about your behavior, but I guess the upvotes show that you read the LW crowd better than I do.

Comment author: arundelo 16 May 2010 06:53:40PM 2 points [-]

they reflect voters’ appreciation for a real-life story of a woman asking a man to buy a drink, rather than approval of the use of violence

Correct in my case.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 May 2010 10:24:34PM 3 points [-]

You assaulted her because she asked for an expensive drink, you gave her the drink, and then she ignored you?

You say you don't recommend what you did, but I'm curious about why, considering that you seem to think she deserved it.

Comment author: Mallah 17 May 2010 02:21:04PM 4 points [-]

It was a single swat to the buttocks, done in full sight of everyone. There was other ass-spanking going on, between people who knew each other - done as a joke - so in context it was not so unusual. I would not have done it outside of that context, nor would I have done it if my inhibitions had not been lowered by alcohol; nor would I do it again even if they are.

Yes, she deserved it!

It was a mistake. Why? It exposed me to more risk than was worthwhile, and while I might have hoped that (aside from simple punishment) it would teach her the lesson that she ought to follow the Golden Rule, or at least should not pull the same tricks on guys, in retrospect it was unlikely to do so.

Other people (that I have talked to) seem to be divided on whether it was a good thing to do or not.

Comment author: pjeby 17 May 2010 09:45:55PM 40 points [-]

Other people (that I have talked to) seem to be divided on whether it was a good thing to do or not.

[Note: this is going to sound at first like PUA advice, but is actually about general differences between the socially-typical and atypical in the sending and receiving of "status play" signals, using the current situation as an example.]

I don't know about "good", but for it to be "useful" you would've needed to do it first. (E.g. Her: "Buy me a drink" You: "Sure, now bend over." Her: "What?" "I said bend over, I'm going to spank your spoiled [add playful invective to taste].")

Of course, that won't work if you are actually offended. You have to be genuinely amused, and clearly speaking so as to amuse yourself, rather than being argumentative, judgmental, condescending, critical, or any other such thing.

This is a common failure mode for those of us with low-powered or faulty social coprocessors -- we take offense to things that more-normal individuals interpret as playful status competition, and resist taking similar actions because we interpret them as things that we would only do if we were angry.

In a way, it's like cats and dogs -- the dog wags its tail to signal "I'm not really attacking you, I'm just playing", while the cat waves its tail to mean, "you are about to die if you come any closer". Normal people are dogs, geeks are cats, and if you want to play with the dogs, you have to learn to bark, wag, and play-bite. Otherwise, they think you're a touchy psycho who needs to loosen up and not take everything so seriously. (Not unlike the way dogs may end up learning to avoid the cats in a shared household, if they interpret the cats as weirdly anti-social pack members.)

Genuine creeps and assholes are a third breed altogether: they're the ones who verbally say they're just playing, while in fact they are not playing or joking at all, and are often downright scary.

And their existence kept me from understanding how things worked more quickly, because normal people learn not to play-bite you if you bare your claws or hide under the couch in response ! So, it didn't occur to me that all the normal people had just learned to leave me out of their status play, like a bunch of dogs learning to steer clear of the psycho family cat.

The jerks, on the other hand, like to bait cats, because we're easy to provoke a reaction from. (Most of the "dogs" just frown at the asshole and get on with their day, so the jerk doesn't get any fun.)

So now, if you're a "cat", you learn that only jerks do these things.

And of course, you're utterly and completely wrong, but have little opportunity to discover and correct the problem on your own. And even if you learn how to fake polite socialization, you won't be entirely comfortable running with the dogs, nor they you, since the moment they actually try to "play" with you, you act all weird (for a dog, anyway).

That's why, IMO, some PUA convversation is actually a good thing on LW; it's a nice example of a shared bias to get over. The LWers who insist that people aren't really like that, only low [self-esteem, intelligence] girls fall for that stuff, that even if it does work it's "wrong", etc., are in need of some more understanding of how their fellow humans [of either gender] actually operate. Even if their objective isn't to attract dating partners, there are a lot of things in this world that are much harder to get if you can't speak "dog".

tl;dr: Normal people engage in playful dog-like status games with their actual friends and think you're weird when you respond like a cat, figuratively hissing and spitting, or running away to hide under the bed. Yes, even your cool NT friends who tolerate your idiosyncracies -- you're not actually as close to them as you think, because they're always more careful around you than they are around other NTs.

Comment author: Vladimir_M 17 May 2010 10:36:59PM 12 points [-]

pjeby:

The jerks, on the other hand, like to bait cats, because we're easy to provoke a reaction from. (Most of the "dogs" just frown at the asshole and get on with their day, so the jerk doesn't get any fun.)

So now, if you're a "cat", you learn that only jerks do these things.

Your cat/dog analogy is very good, but this requires some extra elaboration.

As you say, in regular socializing, this "cat-baiting" behavior is characteristic of jerks and bullies; regular people will typically leave "cats" alone rather than provoke them. However, in male-female interactions in which the woman deems (consciously or not) that the man might have some potential mating value but requires additional assessment, or if she perceives that the man is actively trying to win her favors, she'll typically engage in some "cat-baiting" to test him for undesirable "catlike" traits.

There's nothing surprising there once you really understand what's going on; it's simply a regular way of assessing a potential partner's fitness. Sometimes this "cat-baiting" will be subtle and entirely unremarkable to the man, but sometimes it has the form of harsh and unpleasant shit-tests which can leave him angry and hurt, and which go far into the jerk territory by the standards of regular socializing. The latter will happen especially if the woman generally imposes high standards, or if the man looks like a poor prospect who could redeem himself only with some amazing bullet-dodging. (Hence guys who give off a "catlike" vibe often get the worst of it.)

For many guys, understanding this would, at the very least, save them a lot of pointless anger in situations like the one described above by Mallah.

Comment author: SilasBarta 17 May 2010 10:19:43PM 6 points [-]

Thank you, that was a very helpful explanation for me. It's posts like these that make me thankful you contribute here, even as we've had our differences in the past.

Reading it, I thnk I can interpret a past experience in a new light, in which I was, long ago, asked to leave a large NT-dominated club, for (what seemed like) kafkaesque reasons which were criticisms of my behavior they couldn't rationally justify. In particular, how I was told that far more people had a negative reaction to me than I had ever interacted with. I had heard third-hand (though from a trusted source) that it was because someone passed around a false, serious accusation that they never told me about.

But looking back, the explanation that there was a dog/cat expectation barrier makes a lot of sense of the way they treated me, which was not just vicious, but bizarre. (I think that NTs would agree that some my treatment was wrong, even from an NT perspective, but believe that the my reaction to it escalated the conflict, drawing out my different behavior.)

PS: Whoever voted the parent down, I request an explanation.

Comment author: Blueberry 18 May 2010 03:42:05PM 4 points [-]

PS: Whoever voted the parent down, I request an explanation.

Am I correct in thinking that sensitivity to a downvote like this is "cat" like?

Comment author: SilasBarta 18 May 2010 06:57:55PM *  1 point [-]

No. As I keep pointing out, there is a group of posters on LW strongly opposed to this frank discussion of the real governing factors behind sociality, such as those discovered by the PUA community. We need to have a similarly open discussion of what drives people who want to keep such helpful comments as pjeby's above from being made.

Since I'm not out to punish the comment, or feel threatened by it, but just want to understand the various positions regarding this issue, it is not "cat like".

It may be a moot point though, as I may have been mistaken in thinking that anyone downvoted pjeby's comment; I had voted it up, then shortly after saw it at zero. I inferred that someone must have downvoted and canceled my vote, but given the quirks we've seen with the codebase, there's a good chance it may have just been a case of the site briefly not reflecting my vote, meaning it's still possible no one voted it down.

Comment author: Blueberry 18 May 2010 03:41:09PM 5 points [-]

Really great post. I can definitely see some "cat" like tendencies in myself that I'd like to know how to change more, like getting irritated at things I see as rude. Any specific ideas on how to change that, or recognize when I'm overreacting, and when I need to speak up so as not to let people get away with treating me badly?

I would like to see more discussion of this on LW, as it applies across the board to all kinds of interactions, and I think it'd be very useful.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 May 2010 12:17:13PM 5 points [-]

Interesting theory-- as a catlike person, I'm passing it around to see if it makes sense to a range of people.

I suspect that a lot of social difficulty is caused by dog types who don't know how to dial it down with cats, or are so in love with their usual behavior that they feel they shouldn't have to. They aren't jerks (those who enjoy tormenting cats), but they can look rather similar.

Comment author: HughRistik 17 May 2010 10:32:50PM 4 points [-]

I think this situation falls pretty squarely into "two wrongs don't make a right" territory. The moral intuition is that a minor social infraction doesn't justify a violent response, even extremely minor violence. Even though you don't say so, perhaps that was a tacit reason for you to acknowledge it as a mistake.

I do sympathize with your frustration at encountering such naked privilege and entitlement on her part, and that you would want some sort of recourse. It's possible that such brattiness would cause her trouble in her future relationships with men, but that isn't even necessarily true. You can't really get recourse for behavior like this; you just have to shut it down when it appears. I think you've learned that lesson.

Comment author: Vladimir_M 17 May 2010 08:16:13PM *  9 points [-]

Other people (that I have talked to) seem to be divided on whether it was a good thing to do or not.

It sure was one hell of a low status signal. The worst possible way you can fail a shit test is to get visibly hurt and angry.

As for whether she deserved it, well, if you want to work in the kitchen, better be prepared to stand the heat. Expecting women you hit on to follow the same norms of behavior as your regular buddies and colleagues, and then getting angry when they don't, is like getting into a boxing match and then complaining you've been assaulted.

Comment author: Mallah 18 May 2010 03:48:57PM -1 points [-]

I don't think I got visibly hurt or angry. In fact, when I did it, I was feeling more tempted than angry. I was in the middle of a conversation with another guy, and her rear appeared nearby, and I couldn't resist.

It made me seem like a jerk, which is bad, but not necessarily low status. Acting without apparent fear of the consequences, even stupidly, is often respected as long as you get away with it.

Another factor is that this was a 'high status' woman. I'm not sure but she might be related to a celebrity. (I didn't know that at the time.) Hence, any story linking me and her may be 'bad publicity' for me but there is the old saying 'there's no such thing as bad publicity'.

Comment author: pjeby 18 May 2010 06:29:28PM 4 points [-]

Acting without apparent fear of the consequences, even stupidly, is often respected as long as you get away with it.

But you didn't get away with it.

Also, technically, you acted like a creep, not a jerk. (A jerk acts boldly, a creep is sneaky and opportunistic.)

Comment author: Vladimir_M 18 May 2010 03:55:00PM *  4 points [-]

Acting without apparent fear of the consequences, even stupidly, is often respected as long as you get away with it.

That's true only if you manage to maintain the absolute no-apologies attitude. If you had to apologize about it, it's automatically a major fail. (Not trying to put you down, just giving you a realistic perspective.)

Comment author: Airedale 17 May 2010 07:50:29PM 9 points [-]

I still don’t understand how she “deserved” to have you escalate the encounter with a “hard” physical spanking; nor do I understand how, if you spanked her in a joking context, you would consider it punishment or “some measure of revenge.” From what you’ve said, it doesn’t seem like you were on sufficiently friendly terms with her that the spanking was in fact treated as teasing/joking action; you previously stated that she was not amused by the spanking, her brother threatened you, and you apologized.

I’m certainly not trying to say that her behavior wasn’t worthy of serious disapproval and verbal disparagement. But responding to her poor behavior with physical actions rather than words seems at least equally inappropriate.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 17 May 2010 04:20:55PM *  1 point [-]

Thanks for the explanation.

Comment author: byrnema 14 May 2010 06:45:10PM *  1 point [-]

Indeed, this pattern seems totally strange to me. While on the dating scene, if a woman brazenly asked a man to get her a drink, I would consider it a test to see if he can handle assertiveness. That is, if he is fun and easy-going. If he said no, I would think she could consider him either not interested in her enough to part with a few dollars AND too cheap to satisfy a small request, or insecure about his status in the company of a woman. Hopefully, he would say yes, and they could enjoy a drink together.

Do men really say, 'no, I won't' and find success with that??

[Apologies for the editing and then un-editing; I commented naively and then realized I'm kind of over my head here with the inferential distance; culture and values-wise. I think things have changed since I was dating, or I noticed different things.]

Comment author: pjeby 14 May 2010 07:54:58PM 15 points [-]

I would consider it a test to see if he can handle assertiveness. That is, if he is fun and easy-going.

The above is correct but this part would depend a lot on how the "no" is delivered:

If he said no, I would think she could consider him either not interested in her enough to part with a few dollars (and too cheap to satisfy a small request), or insecure about his status in the company of a woman.

The real status test is about whether he considers his company to be as valuable as hers. If he complies with the request (without any quid pro quo), then he's ceded her the higher social status -- which was what the question was testing (either intentionally or unintentionally), in the common case.

Declining the request, reversing it (you buy me one), or insisting on a quid pro quo, are the only ways to maintain equivalent or higher status in the interaction (absent an ongoing equal relationship wherein the quid pro quo is assumptive). Also, skillfully handling any of these options raises the observer's estimate of your social coprocessor's power rating as well. ;-)

There are a wide variety of context-sensitive ways to decline or redirect such a request, depending on the situation and level of rapport of the conversation... from the polite to the downright rude, all of which can be functional if delivered with confidence. But certainly, "fun and easygoing" no's are possible.

(For example: pretending to misinterpret the request as an offer, eg. "Oh, yes please. That's very kind of you. I'll have a..", a playful, "Oh? And what are you going to do for me?", or even a humorous, mock-offended and effeminately-voiced, "Hmph! What kind of boy do you think I am? Are you trying to get me drunk and take advantage of me?")

As thomblake points out, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman"contains his story of finding out this counterintuitive fact - although the specific story involves calling a woman "worse than a whore" for getting him to buy $1.10 worth of sandwiches. She then proceeded to pay him back the $1.10... and then came over later to have sex with him.

In Feynman's second story, he asks “Listen, before I buy you a drink, I want to know one thing: Will you sleep with me tonight?” -- and gets a "yes".

Amusingly, the "Player Guide" (an open-source guide for beginning PUAs) isn't quite so bold - it only recommends asking for a french kiss as the quid pro quo. ;-)

Of course, all of these anecdotes and advice are subject to selection bias - i.e., to the mostly-NT women who show up at bars and ask men to buy them drinks. My guess is that most non-NT women don't ask guys to buy them drinks unless there's either an ongoing quid pro quo (i.e., "I'll buy the next round"), or they've consciously chosen to exploit the social dynamic for financial/alcoholic gain.

tl;dr: a man is generally best-off treating a request for a drink as a test to determine whether he has low enough self-esteem to believe he needs to pay for female company, and an opportunity to display an unruffled and socially-skillful response.

Comment author: [deleted] 14 May 2010 08:12:38PM 10 points [-]

Hang on half a second here. No more than 1% of Americans are autistic. (CDC estimates 1 in 110.) Autism is four times as common among males as females. This whole "NT" vs "non-NT" thing you're talking about is distinguishing 99.75% of women from 0.25%. I think this may be misguided. There are way more women who don't ask to be bought drinks than that.

Comment author: pjeby 15 May 2010 03:46:41AM *  6 points [-]

Hang on half a second here. No more than 1% of Americans are autistic. (CDC estimates 1 in 110.) Autism is four times as common among males as females. This whole "NT" vs "non-NT" thing you're talking about is distinguishing 99.75% of women from 0.25%. I think this may be misguided. There are way more women who don't ask to be bought drinks than that.

I didn't say that (most NT women) (ask men for drinks), I said (most women who ask men for drinks) are NT.

Given your statistics, this would be expected even if half of all women asked men for drinks, because then you'd have half of 99.75% of women being NT+drink.asking and half of .25% being non-NT+drink.asking.

That being said, I do not assume that non-NT-ness requires actual autism or even diagnosable Asperger's. High intelligence alone (IMO) qualifies one for being neurally "atypical" in my book.

Comment deleted 14 May 2010 08:25:20PM [-]
Comment author: HughRistik 14 May 2010 09:12:31PM 11 points [-]

Personality is a factor, not just attractiveness. Women who are some combination of the following don't engage in testing like this, or are less likely to do so:

  • highly introverted (Big Five extraversion has a social dominance component)
  • high in Agreeableness (Big Five Agreeableness has a submissive component)
  • highly sensitive
  • highly nerdy (though then we get into the question of how nerdy is non-neurotypical)
  • unsocialized

Sweet, sensitive, nerdy quiet types of both genders just don't like status games very much, and they tend to be bad at them.

The standard PUA model focuses a lot on women who do engage in testing and status games, because they tend to disproportionately encounter women who play them. This is understandable, but flawed.

Comment author: orthonormal 17 May 2010 10:15:52PM 1 point [-]

I think you're letting an instrumental approach to psychology affect your epistemic rationality.

Comment deleted 17 May 2010 11:10:42PM [-]
Comment author: orthonormal 17 May 2010 11:20:43PM 1 point [-]

Ah, then we have a miscommunication. I think it could have been worded better in order to avoid an unsavory misinterpretation.

Comment author: byrnema 18 May 2010 11:22:34AM *  8 points [-]

A woman asks a man for a drink at a bar.

The PUA theory explains this in terms of a status interaction. The woman is testing, 'is this man so low status he feels compelled or obligated to buy me a drink?'

I am wary of explanations based on status interactions. It is the kind of explanation that can explain anything and therefore nothing. Also, I am skeptical based on my sense of the woman's subsequent disappointment and embarrassment if the man says no directly -- this is not a test where the level 1 correct answer is 'no'.

Alternatively, there's the simplistic evolutionary explanation, that I present here as what I would use to explain the phenomenon to a true human-outsider. Asking a man for a drink at a bar covertly or overtly, and in general men buying drinks for women, is the first step in a courtship ritual in which the man is to display that he is a provider. Raising children is a big investment and a family will be successful if the man and the woman together provide for the family. The woman's investment is largely guaranteed by other mechanisms, so it is the male's investment that must be tested and assured.

When a woman asks a man for a drink, this is the modern equivalent of asking him to bring her an animal skin. Something of token value that is of some benefit to her. What happens next is variable and perhaps does depend upon status. The woman can signal that she is not a single-animal-skin female, perhaps because providing for a child is much bigger than a single-animal-skin investment. Alternatively, the female can signal loyalty (her test in the courtship game) and signal that in return for the drink, the man has secured her undivided attention (politely, for at least the length of time it takes her to consume the drink).

This is all level-1 interaction. Human beings are intelligent, and the interaction can go meta to level 2 or 3 or higher. A woman should have concerns about a man that will buy any woman a drink that asks him. If he is too nice (signals too generally that he is a provider) then you can predict he will be fixing Aunt Rosa's faucet when he ought to be changing diapers. Also, he might not be very smart, or too low status in the tribe to provide much for the family. Thus a man that can deflect the request in a humorous/intelligent way will be very attractive -- especially if it is early in the courtship (he will not provide indiscriminately to every female that asks!) and especially if he manipulates the situation to advance the courtship (he is intelligent and capable and interested!).

Level 3 or higher would be the man going meta about the courtship ritual itself. (Not feminist? Or commenting on how silly the norm is.) This can be very attractive because the man is signaling intelligence and a larger meaning-of-life potential value. This is someone you can talk to about whether you should have kids or not.

I would guess that if you are naturally successful with people of the opposite sex, you slide easily and naturally among these levels. PUA seems to recommend making it level 2 or higher. My preference in courtship would be level 1 and level 3 together: the drink and signaling at the meta level about intelligence and gender roles. Because real life is changing diapers, but it's valuable to have a mutual awareness that life is -- to some extent -- a set of choices.

My hunch is that Feynman had success with his rogue tactics because he was meta, and this is what the intelligent women attracted to his intelligence were looking for. His behavior, if given at level 1 or level 2, would flop disastrously.

Comment author: pjeby 18 May 2010 05:59:21PM *  4 points [-]

Also, I am skeptical based on my sense of the woman's subsequent disappointment and embarrassment if the man says no directly -- this is not a test where the level 1 correct answer is 'no'.

This is true -- but only because just answering "no" is a DLV - demonstration of lower value. It says that you're not paying attention, or that you're either stingy or you lack resources. (Also, the PUA model is basically if that the woman ends up feeling bad, you're doing it wrong. Feynman's "worse than a whore" story should not be considered a canonical example here.)

The big problem, though, with these hypothetical discussions is that they're abstract, and what is actually a DHV or DLV is going to depend hugely on body language, voice tone, and numerous other elements of context that are impractical to talk about in text like this.

Likewise, on the flip side:

Level 3 or higher would be the man going meta about the courtship ritual itself. (Not feminist? Or commenting on how silly the norm is.) This can be very attractive because the man is signaling intelligence and a larger meaning-of-life potential value. This is someone you can talk to about whether you should have kids or not.

The exact same words can still be a DLV, if they're uttered without social calibration. A guy who says these things while being in his head and not actually connecting with the woman in front of him, may well be seen as a self-centered jackass or a pompous twit.

It's not just what you say or how you say it, but the degree to which both show that you are tuned in and present to what is going on around you... especially what's going on with the person in front of you. Otherwise, it's still not expensive enough of a signal! (Secondarily, the inherent riskiness of the act implies your authenticity and courage -- more expensive, hard-to-fake signaling.)

Interestingly, I've seen that there is at least one PUA school ("Authentic Man Program") that has focused their training efforts on precisely these hard-to-fake aspects of signaling, to the virtual exclusion of everything else.

That is, they appear to focus on training men to be present and responsive to what is going on, while maintaining the integrity of their own mission or principles. And they claim that it is these qualities of presence, awareness, and authenticity that female status/value testing is really trying to measure.

(Side note of possible interest: they may also be the only PUA school that employs more female teachers than male ones - some of their workshop samples show panels of three or four women working with two male teachers, or pairs of women giving students feedback on their presence qualities, while the male coaches then just tell the guy what to do (mentally and physically) with the feedback that's been given. IOW, it seems like the women are used as experts on the female experience of the men, while the men focus on how those things are generated or experienced inside men.)

Anyway, their goal seems to be to train men to actually have these attractive qualities (and get rid of the beliefs and behaviors that interfere with them), rather than teaching all the ways the qualities can be signaled or faked, as other PUA schools do.

Comment deleted 18 May 2010 11:56:23AM [-]
Comment author: byrnema 18 May 2010 02:13:35PM *  6 points [-]

This is what I mean by status theories can explain anything: if buying the drink for the girl on average results in a good outcome, you could say that buying a drink on average raises your status in her point of view. If not buying the drink for the girl on average results in a good outcome, you could say that not buying a drink on average raises your status in her point of view. In either case, you assume rather than establish that higher status corresponds to the more successful outcome.

How do you know if "status" is a real thing if you can't measure it directly but only infer it from successful outcomes? The problem is that maybe higher status is redefined in each case as getting the good outcome, in which case "status" is just the property-of-resulting-in-successful-outcomes. Even if status is some external objective thing, if we don't know how to objectively measure whether it has increased or not, this is missing in theories based on predicting what happens if it's increased or not.

Later edit: I thought about it a little longer and my true argument isn't that good outcomes aren't correlated with higher status, I suspect they are. It's that the theory is missing where you predict which things will raise status and which will lower status. If not buying the drink helps, you deduce that this raised your status. But why should it have been raised? This last part is just filling in the blanks.

Comment author: pjeby 18 May 2010 05:36:37PM 3 points [-]

How do you know if "status" is a real thing if you can't measure it directly but only infer it from successful outcomes? The problem is that maybe higher status is redefined in each case as getting the good outcome, in which case "status" is just the property-of-resulting-in-successful-outcomes. Even if status is some external objective thing, if we don't know how to objectively measure whether it has increased or not, this is missing in theories based on predicting what happens if it's increased or not.

Some PUA theories use "value" and "compliance" as their currency rather than status. i.e., giving compliance implies the other person has value to you. This is at least marginally better, although as your previous comment points out, there are various levels and dimensions on which "value" can be measured.

There are PUA terms for value demonstration - "DHV" for demonstration of higher value, and "DLV" for demonstration of lower value. Self-deprecating behavior, deference, and compliance are DLVs, while confidence, humor, leadership, social proof (e.g. having friends or followers) are all DHV's. PUA's also attempt to tell stories that contain oblique references to things that imply value, by showing how you treat your friends and allies, protect your mates, and that you have other positive qualities such as openness to new experiences (implied bravery and resource/fitness surplus), etc.

Of course, at level 1 this is just boasting that you work out and have a fast car; so PUA's select stories that show these qualities implicitly, rather than directly boasting about them, so that the inferences are drawn subconsciously, instead of being presented on the surface for conscious dismissal.

(Btw, as with so many things in PUA, these concepts apply to other social interactions as well. A marketing message (or really, any story) is more effective when it "shows" instead of "tells" the things it wants you to conclude.)

Comment author: RobinZ 18 May 2010 05:47:53PM 2 points [-]

(Btw, as with so many things in PUA, these concepts apply to other social interactions as well. A marketing message (or really, any story) is more effective when it "shows" instead of "tells" the things it wants you to conclude.)

Related Less Wrong post.

Comment author: pwno 18 May 2010 05:45:12PM 1 point [-]

Another proxy for measuring status is how attractive you are to attractive women - given that the fundamental attractor is reliable status signals.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 18 May 2010 12:07:16PM 4 points [-]

It is falsifiable -- it claims that you won't get laid as much by failing shit tests as by passing them.

The explanation is fitted to the observations of the custom. It is therefore not supported by the observations. Had the observations been different, the explanation would never have been invented.

Comment deleted 14 May 2010 08:08:34PM *  [-]
Comment author: JohannesDahlstrom 16 May 2010 10:30:11PM *  2 points [-]

Later that night...

"So... you wanna come in for a cup of tea?"

"Ummm... okay, but just a cup of tea then."

"[mock relief] Phew, and here I was afraid you were trying to get into my pants!"

Comment author: thomblake 14 May 2010 06:50:23PM 6 points [-]

Feynman would end up with the woman buying him a drink.

Comment author: Jack 14 May 2010 07:30:26PM *  4 points [-]

Yes. Especially if success is partly defined by "not wasting money on other people". But even if it isn't. You have to be humorous about it but, yeah, the only time I would ever buy a woman I just met a drink is if it is her birthday. I'll also buy second rounds if the girl buys the first.

On the other hand this tradition makes going out to bars with my girlfriend a lot cheaper since she can just walk away for a minute and someone will come up to her and buy her a drink. After which she comes back to me, drink in hand. (ETA: Though, I don't think she's ever asked for a drink. She's much too nice for that. People just come up and offer.)

Comment author: CronoDAS 16 May 2010 08:37:29PM 4 points [-]

I've completely taken myself off of the dating market; I have nothing of value to offer anyone. :(

Comment author: HughRistik 16 May 2010 09:17:41PM 7 points [-]

Beware the self-fulfilling prophecy...

Comment author: CronoDAS 17 May 2010 07:09:39AM 2 points [-]

I'm just not in a place in my life where I'm ready to look for a romantic partner, and, to be honest, I don't think I'll ever be. On the other hand, I'm much less pessimistic about my prospects for being friends with women, though.

Comment author: Alicorn 17 May 2010 11:54:45PM 3 points [-]

I'll be your friend.

Comment author: CronoDAS 18 May 2010 06:37:44AM 2 points [-]

I'd like that very much. We live a bit too far apart to see each other in person, but we can be internet friends! :)

Comment author: Alicorn 18 May 2010 06:54:32AM 3 points [-]

Yay for Internet friends!

Comment author: Jonathan_Graehl 17 May 2010 11:45:36PM 1 point [-]

It's more impressive to me when someone is a true friend than a romantic partner. The romantic partnership (at least for a short time) has the tremendous advantage of running on an extremely powerful program of sexual desire. Of course, there's a similar drive for (the illusion of) friends and allies.

What you probably feel is that the women you encounter are unlikely to want or value you. You could change that (encounter different women; propose differently). It's fine if you don't want to, but be honest about what you want.

Comment author: Nanani 19 May 2010 12:33:43AM 1 point [-]

There's nothing wrong with not wanting what those around have to offer, either.

Comment author: loqi 18 May 2010 06:42:45AM 5 points [-]

I personally think you're doing the right thing, assuming your assessment is honest and not just a tool for beating yourself up. I've had a few friends who basically felt the way you describe, but compulsively pursued romantic relationships anyway, seemingly under some bizarre illusion that "catching" someone to dump all of their pain and "no one understands me!"'s onto would make them happy. They invariably ended up wasting their time and that of their intended partner.

If you can figure out how to be happy and fulfilled by yourself, you'll probably have something to offer to a sufficiently compatible person. And it's not like that effort is wasted if you never end up finding such a person.

Comment author: Blueberry 18 May 2010 03:29:49PM 6 points [-]

I personally think you're doing the right thing, assuming your assessment is honest and not just a tool for beating yourself up.

I personally can't imagine that kind of assessment being anything other than beating one's self up. Nothing to offer at all? Sometimes all people want is someone to listen and go for a walk with them, for instance.

Comment author: Blueberry 16 May 2010 09:36:21PM 2 points [-]

Even if you don't, maybe other people have something of value to offer you.

Comment author: MichaelBishop 16 May 2010 04:36:28PM 2 points [-]

the "totally missing out" link goes to the wrong place... should go here: http://meteuphoric.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/why-not-fake-height/

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 May 2010 04:57:00PM 2 points [-]

I believe our culture is an outlier so far as men dressing up is concerned. My impression is that in most cultures men and women do about equally elaborate display.

Colonial America is the only culture I can think of where men were dressier than women.

Comment author: Alicorn 16 May 2010 06:12:36PM 3 points [-]

This comment makes me want to sing "The Creation of Man" from The Scarlet Pimpernel. "La, but someone has to strike a pose and bear the weight of well-tailored clothes, and that is why the lord created men."

Comment author: [deleted] 26 December 2012 12:41:13PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: Vichy 15 May 2010 02:03:00PM 2 points [-]

It's really fascinating to me how someone with a list of Asperger's symptoms can so readily describe a lot of elements in my psychological life.

I have noticed for a long time that I tend to think about all sorts of things other people don't, and that I am just totally confused about other people's emotional responses.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 14 May 2010 05:41:31PM 2 points [-]

When you edit your post, there's a button that shows a green horizontal bar. Click that to insert a section break in your post. Only what's before the break will show up on "NEW".

Comment author: gwillen 15 May 2010 06:29:12AM 4 points [-]

I have seen this comment many times recently. It would perhaps be good if the posting box suggested doing this, or even insisted on it for posts over a certain size.

Comment author: SilasBarta 14 May 2010 05:21:10PM -2 points [-]

the "buy me a drink" problem: you approach an attractive NT person who you might like as a future partner. After a short time, they ask you to buy them a drink. The logical answer to this question is "what kind of drink would you like?", because in most social situations where you want to build up a positive relationship with a person, it is best to comply with their requests; not creating explicit conflict is usually a safe heuristic. But this is the wrong answer in this context, and you can store in your cache of counter-intuitive answers.

Warning: Some posters may regard this advice as an act of terrorism (in moral equivalence if not by that label).

Comment author: Rain 15 May 2010 04:48:12PM *  7 points [-]

The example that came to mind for me was, "''Sup?" which I used to hate with a passion, but I later parsed into a fairly complex, ritualistic phrase somewhere in the range of:

"Non-specific greetings to you. If we are both continuing on our paths, I expect similar non-specific greetings in return and indicate a slight preference toward the revelation of any bite-size knowledge you feel is important regarding your current activities or news that you feel I would be particularly interested in.

"If either one of us approached the other and stopped, this indicates anticipation of a slightly longer exchange, and I am querying the reasons for your approach or I am using a handshake protocol to determine if you have the current time-capacity and willingness to engage in a topic I consider interesting or important but for various reasons I do not wish to state outright, though with an equal potential that I am just bored and seeking non-specific social interaction."

Comment author: thomblake 18 May 2010 07:16:49PM 7 points [-]

Yes, this reminds me of when I finally grasped the usefulness of social protocols. I thought they were terribly stupid wastes of time when I was younger (say, till about age 22). Of course by then I learned what wonderful things network protocols were. Then I read a paper regarding Japanese culture that compared social protocols to network protocols, indicating that they were useful in much the same way. "The scales fell from my eyes" and I felt very stupid for not making the connection before.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 14 May 2010 05:47:07PM 5 points [-]

I recommend not anticipating the mistakes you expect people to make. I believe it makes updating more difficult.

Comment author: SilasBarta 14 May 2010 09:56:44PM 1 point [-]

Good point.

While we're on the topic of giving advice, I recommend that posters here not throw off strong Bayesian evidence that they hold a very adversarial position with respect to truthful, non-PC advice about the psychology of romance as it pertains to women. Had I lacked such evidence from posters, I would have also refrained from making the above post.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 18 May 2010 04:27:26AM 4 points [-]

Warning: Some posters may regard this advice as an act of terrorism (in moral equivalence if not by that label).

It is simply not accurate to imply that anyone here ever claimed that advising someone to decline buying a drink was morally equivalent to terrorism.

Comment author: gwillen 15 May 2010 06:33:00AM 3 points [-]

'Terrorism' is strong, but it is a pet peeve of mine when people present knowledge they know is contentious as though it were obvious, so this did annoy me considerably and lower my opinion of the poster. (I am more or less neutral on the question of whether it is good advice or not; I do not go to bars, so it does not affect me.)

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 18 May 2010 04:30:40AM 2 points [-]

it is a pet peeve of mine when people present knowledge they know is contentious as though it were obvious

Roko merely claimed the knowledge. He/she didn't claim that the knowledge was obvious.

Comment author: botogol 20 May 2010 09:31:42AM 1 point [-]
Comment author: Christian_Szegedy 18 May 2010 08:20:35PM *  1 point [-]

A somewhat related research, posted today on physorg:

http://www.physorg.com/news193408573.html

the original paper is at

http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0010670

The authors establish a parallel between the dopamine-system of highly creative people and schizophrenics. (Although, it's hard to tell from the paper whether these parallels are incidental, causes or consequences of similar brain mechanics.)