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SarahC comments on Scientific Self-Help: The State of Our Knowledge - Less Wrong

138 Post author: lukeprog 20 January 2011 08:44PM

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Comment author: [deleted] 21 January 2011 02:51:42PM 29 points [-]

I once had a friend tell me that he could sell me a $3000 vacuum cleaner.

"Really?" I said. "I don't think so. I know vacuum cleaners don't cost that much."

But he was certain of it. He'd sold dozens of these vacuum cleaners. His success rate had been tremendous. He believed they really were worth the money. The evidence really indicated that he could sell anyone a $3000 vacuum cleaner.

At this point... I really don't want him to try to sell me a vacuum cleaner. Or, in fact, to sell me anything. I'm scared he could get me to part with my money way too easily. That could be very bad for me!

Moral of the story: all charisma and salesmanship is, to some degree, a threat. Basically all people will be ok with "How to make a good first impression," but "Subconscious tricks to make everyone want to buy your product" is starting to sound a little sleazy, and "How to tap into neurochemistry to make your product addictive" is probably going to scare people. People get squicked by the thought of how World of Warcraft or McDonald's manipulates their reward circuits.

I think some analogous dynamics hold when the product you're selling is yourself.

Comment author: HughRistik 21 January 2011 08:05:30PM *  21 points [-]

all charisma and salesmanship is, to some degree, a threat

That's true. But when honest discussion of charisma is outlawed, only outlaws will have charisma.

Right now, a large share of male charisma falls into the hands of the "naturals." These men are disproportionately extraverted, oriented to short-term mating, and hyper-masculine / anti-social in personality traits. Of course, not all of these guys are assholes, and most of them probably aren't, but I think it's fair to say that they have a higher rate of assholishness. The only way to stop these men from commanding a disproportionate amount of female interest is to give more charisma to the guys who are more introverted, long-term oriented, sensitive, and prosocial in values.

To paraphrase William Gibson, charisma is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed. The only solution is to try to distribute it more evenly, and educate the public about how it works. In the case of male heterosexual charisma, it means educating the male have-nots, and educating women about what many of them respond to. This same principle applies to female charisma, of course.

Comment author: [deleted] 24 January 2011 03:58:47PM 5 points [-]

I agree with this.

My point was to explain why I think PUA gets a bad rap. Nobody wants to be bamboozled. Most of us who know a little bit about human psychology know we can be influenced and that influence, social skills, and charisma will always be important; only people who are very ill adjusted to the real world have a serious problem with this. It's a matter of degree. It's somewhat disturbing, I've observed, to realize you're being "played" by someone not entirely benevolent -- even more disturbing to realize how very easy it is to be manipulated into doing things that bring you no good and only harm. People are pretty frail vessels. It's understandable that they mistrust things that might take over their brains.

Comment author: SilasBarta 24 January 2011 05:42:07PM 6 points [-]

Think of PUA as makeup/breast implants for men. Does this make it less or more offensive? In what ways does the analogy break down?

Comment author: Nornagest 24 January 2011 08:04:25PM 3 points [-]

Since one of the more common criticisms of the PUA scene is that it perpetuates an oversimplified view of relationships wherein women respond exclusively to deterministic social signals, that analogy's not going to win you much goodwill.

There is a lot of PUA technique that amounts to an artificial means of improving unconscious or semi-conscious social signaling, and that strikes me as fairly inoffensive, but unless I'm one-minding badly here I don't think that part of the culture is a common target of criticism.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 December 2012 01:23:21AM 4 points [-]

There is a lot of PUA technique that amounts to an artificial means of improving unconscious or semi-conscious social signaling, and that strikes me as fairly inoffensive, but unless I'm one-minding badly here I don't think that part of the culture is a common target of criticism.

I think certain critics of the PUA culture don't even notice there are different parts to it, due to the outgroup homogeneity bias -- they just notice that certain PUAs say stuff they don't like, and generalize to PUAs in general. (The same thing happens to feminists.)

Comment author: SilasBarta 24 January 2011 08:59:53PM *  5 points [-]

Since one of the more common criticisms of the PUA scene is that it perpetuates an oversimplified view of relationships wherein women respond exclusively to deterministic social signals, that analogy's not going to win you much goodwill.

No more so than arguments for women using makeup or getting plastic surgery. Do these assume men respond exclusively to a woman's looks? Not really. It just says, do this, and more and better men will want you than before. Maybe other factors matter, maybe they don't, but this works, on top of whatever else might work. To the extent that PUA is offensive for insinuating women only care about a few metrics, so too are beauty products offensive.

There is a lot of PUA technique that amounts to an artificial means of improving unconscious or semi-conscious social signaling, and that strikes me as fairly inoffensive, but unless I'm one-minding badly here I don't think that part of the culture is a common target of criticism.

I'm afraid it is part of the criticism: people have this belief that social interaction should just come naturally and people shouldn't build models of it to understand it better -- so if you're a non-neurotypical, high IQ male, tough, you "deserve what you get", and any scientific approach to social interaction that is helpful to such undeserving males constitutes terrorism.

Comment author: MugaSofer 02 January 2013 11:32:58PM 1 point [-]

No more so than arguments for women using makeup or getting plastic surgery. Do these assume men respond exclusively to a woman's looks? Not really. It just says, do this, and more and better men will want you than before. Maybe other factors matter, maybe they don't, but this works, on top of whatever else might work. To the extent that PUA is offensive for insinuating women only care about a few metrics, so too are beauty products offensive.

Less people are offended by the claim that men care only/disproportionately about physical attractiveness than similar oversimplications of female preferences.

Comment author: MugaSofer 02 January 2013 11:27:58PM -2 points [-]

The obvious breaking point would be that breast implants, at least, are improving the trait directly rather than improving signaling of said trait. Makeup ... depends on whether men care about what you look like underneath, I suppose.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 02 January 2013 11:37:59PM 2 points [-]

I don't think there's a hard line between improving a trait and improving signaling of a trait in the context of dating. For example, I don't think there's a hard line between becoming funnier and getting better at signaling funniness, or becoming more social and getting better at signaling sociability.

The strength of the analogy to me is the idea that what is on the surface may not resemble what's below, and if men have a preference for real breasts over fake breasts for reasons that aren't related to how they look under clothing, then I think the analogy holds.

Comment author: MugaSofer 03 January 2013 08:42:59AM -1 points [-]

I don't think there's a hard line between improving a trait and improving signaling of a trait in the context of dating.

Or indeed any other context. Improving the trait itself generally helps with signalling, and people care about the signalling itself to some extent. Nevertheless.

For example, I don't think there's a hard line between becoming funnier and getting better at signaling funniness

The primary method of signalling funniness is to just be funny. Becoming funnier by, say, learning jokes would be roughly anonogous to brest implants, I think.

becoming more social and getting better at signaling sociability.

How does one "signal sociability"?

if men have a preference for real breasts over fake breasts for reasons that aren't related to how they look under clothing, then I think the analogy holds.

If, for example, men were only checking out your breasts in order to guage fertility, then implants that only impacted breast size would indeed be anonogous, and similarly deceptive (bad.)

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 03 January 2013 08:59:47AM 3 points [-]

How does one "signal sociability"?

This may not be a good example, but I've found that people who use things other than photos of themselves (e.g. anime characters) as Facebook profile pictures tend to be less sociable, so one way to signal sociability is to use an actual photo of yourself on Facebook.

Comment author: MugaSofer 03 January 2013 04:51:35PM -2 points [-]

If people were (even subconsciously) using your Facebook profile picture to gauge your sociability, and you deliberately changed it to signal you were more sociable in order to trick them into choosing you for something, then that would be Wrong, I think, to a degree depending on how much them being right mattered.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 03 January 2013 08:54:43PM 4 points [-]

So, I think part of being sociable means making people around you more comfortable in your presence, and if tweaking your Facebook profile picture has some part in that (which I think it does), then I don't see a hard line between that particular signaling decision and an actual increase in your sociability. The traits I signaled out above (being funny and being sociable) both themselves have some signaling component to them, so I think this observation generalizes to any social trait that has signaling components to it.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 January 2013 06:53:50PM 2 points [-]

By that logic, if you know people will judge you from the way you smell, you should never use deodorant.

Comment author: wedrifid 03 January 2013 06:42:26PM 3 points [-]

If people were (even subconsciously) using your Facebook profile picture to gauge your sociability, and you deliberately changed it to signal you were more sociable in order to trick them into choosing you for something, then that would be Wrong, I think, to a degree depending on how much them being right mattered.

This framing ('trick') and the moral prescription is toxic and amounts to demanding people to self sabotage and act incompetent at a critical social skill. People who lack the ability to compartmentalise such beliefs and implement them hypocritically should avoid such moralizing like the plague.

Choosing a profile picture that has positive consequences for you is almost always a good idea.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 January 2013 06:50:38PM 0 points [-]

Using a picture of yourself and other people would signal even more sociability.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 January 2013 11:09:49PM 0 points [-]

The obvious breaking point would be that breast implants, at least, are improving the trait directly rather than improving signaling of said trait.

Okay, make that push-up bras. ISTM that people object to them waaay less often than they object to PUAs.

Comment author: MugaSofer 04 January 2013 10:57:54AM 0 points [-]

I've seen people object to them, but it definitely seems an order of magnitude less than the reaction people have to PUA. Perhaps there are other factors at work here.

Comment author: wedrifid 03 January 2013 11:19:36AM 0 points [-]

The obvious breaking point would be that breast implants, at least, are improving the trait directly rather than improving signaling of said trait.

Human breasts---and in particular their maintaining significant volume even when not needed for feeding offspring---are very much a signal. It conveys information about fertility and health and, since it is significantly involved in intra-sexual selection, also information about the likely ability of prospective daughters and grandaughters to be able to attract quality mates with their breasts. Breasts implants break this signal. We can predict that if breast implants were free and available to all hunter gatherers that such tribes would soon evolve to be less attracted to breasts.

Comment author: MugaSofer 03 January 2013 04:58:54PM *  0 points [-]

Human breasts---and in particular their maintaining significant volume even when not needed for feeding offspring---are very much a signal.

[...]

Breasts implants break this signal. We can predict that if breast implants were free and available to all hunter gatherers that such tribes would soon evolve to be less attracted to breasts.

I understand there may be some debate about the actual purpose of breasts, which is why I phrased this as a hypothetical, but I think I should make it clear that the evolutionary pressures that led to men preferring breasts are separate to the question of whether men are actually evaluating fertility (or whatever) or simply enjoy large breasts for their own sake.

Comment author: wedrifid 03 January 2013 05:46:52PM *  2 points [-]

I understand there may be some debate about the actual purpose of breasts, which is why I phrased this as a hypothetical

What you did was make the following rather direct claim:

The obvious breaking point would be that breast implants, at least, are improving the trait directly rather than improving signaling of said trait.

There in fact isn't a clear breaking point between (some) PUA skills and breast implants. In the same way that breasts can be declared to be "an actual trait that is desired" as well as "a signal about other traits" the ability to perform social acts that combine dominance, humor, rapport and charm can be declared to be "an actual trait that is desired" as well as "a signal about other traits".

Of course there are differences between the two, and further differences between breast implants and makeup but the 'breaking point' most certainly isn't clear!

Comment author: MugaSofer 04 January 2013 04:33:51PM *  0 points [-]

I understand there may be some debate about the actual purpose of breasts, which is why I phrased this as a hypothetical

What you did was make the following rather direct claim:

The obvious breaking point would be that breast implants, at least, are improving the trait directly rather than improving signaling of said trait.

[...]

Of course there are differences between the two, and further differences between breast implants and makeup but the 'breaking point' most certainly isn't clear!

I guess I did phrase that too strongly, but adaptation-executors, not fitness-maximizers.

the ability to perform social acts that combine dominance, humor, rapport and charm can be declared to be "an actual trait that is desired" as well as "a signal about other traits".

Well, yes. As I said here, some traits may be (un)desirable in themselves as well as signalling other (un)desirable traits. The benefit of your signal could outweigh the harm of what you're countersignalling. My point stands.

Comment author: DaFranker 03 January 2013 05:15:19PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for saving me the trouble of having to refrain myself from entering Someone-Is-Wrong-On-The-Internet! mode and posting a poorly-thought-out response.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 03 January 2013 02:32:20PM 1 point [-]

Is there any research on how quickly responses like this decay (e.g. over generations) once the conditions that supported them no longer obtain? Some casual Googling got me nowhere, and I'm curious.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 January 2013 11:39:16PM *  0 points [-]

IIRC, pick-up artist Owen Cook AKA "Tyler Durden" in Blueprint Decoded (a PUA seminar that Anna Salomon and Alicorn liked) hypothesized that the reason men today like thinner women than they used to is that, thanks to breast implants, there are now plenty of big-breasted but otherwise very skinny women, whereas back in the day pretty much all women with big breasts had to be plump; but I doubt he was serious.

Comment author: wedrifid 03 January 2013 05:22:25PM 0 points [-]

Is there any research on how quickly responses like this decay (e.g. over generations) once the conditions that supported them no longer obtain? Some casual Googling got me nowhere, and I'm curious.

As far as I know there isn't research on humans about such significant traits. Especially not the highly unnatural case where the self sustaining momentum aspect is also removed. (If there was merely a change in environment then we would expect the adaptation to take longer because sexual selection for the sake of nothing more than more sexual selection of descendants.)

I know there have been studies on various creatures in labs and observation of the rate of adaptation of traits in wild populations of less-than-human animals. I have little idea how much information that can give us about adaptations in humans and don't know to what extent human changes have been analyzed.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 January 2013 11:29:56PM *  0 points [-]

Evolutionary-cognitive boundary confusion detected. I think there are plenty of men who don't even know that women with large breasts are more fertile, and even those who do still like large breasts when they aren't trying to have children. (And anyway, I guess a large part of what counts as sexy is cultural rather than hardwired, given that men in western countries nowadays in average like much skinnier women than men in western countries in the 1950s did.)

EDIT: Of course, not everything is either evolutionary or conscious; some preferences are learned but subconscious. I've recently noticed that ceteris paribus a women will look younger to me if she's wearing a nose piercing than if she isn't, and I guess that's because where I live nose piercings are very rare among women born until the 1970s but very common among women born since the 1980s.¹ This is not conscious as I wasn't even aware of this until recently, but it's most definitely not evolutionary either.


  1. I'm pretty confident it's a cohort effect rather than than an age effect, given that I see many more women in their 30s with nose piercings today than a decade ago.
Comment author: wedrifid 04 January 2013 12:12:31AM 0 points [-]

Evolutionary-cognitive boundary confusion detected.

False positive. But I've tired of this subject and will not go over it again.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 January 2011 04:16:44PM *  2 points [-]

It's somewhat disturbing, I've observed, to realize you're being "played" by someone not entirely benevolent -- even more disturbing to realize how very easy it is to be manipulated into doing things that bring you no good and only harm.

Correspondingly it is somewhat disturbing to realize that you've been unreflectively manipulating someone in a way that is not very benevolent at all, which is also surprisingly easy to do, especially in situations where you have a lot of leverage in shaping someone's personality. I suspect that assholishness is largely unconscious, consciously self-deprecated, and addictive because it consistently yields id-appealing super-ego-unjustified reward. In my experience females tend to be more reflective of and feel more guilty about analagous forms of manipulation (perhaps because of having more opportunities to be manipulative), but this is an anecdotal small sample size.

ETA: I think it's rather aesthetic how there are all these implicit humanistic stories between the lines of the cold analysis... it's like somewhat ambiguous abstract lyrics in music. "Oily marks appear on walls where pleasure moments hung before the takeover, the sweeping insensitivity of this still life."

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 03:17:18PM 3 points [-]

These men are disproportionately extraverted, oriented to short-term mating, and hyper-masculine / anti-social in personality traits.

I do not think this can be generalized that way. Naturally charismatic people can be long term oriented as well. And they surely also have their own shortcomings.

it means educating the male have-nots

Did you ever try that? If yes with what results?(My own experience lead to to completely stop trying.)

educating women about what many of them respond to

I would bet against that working. Did you try?

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 01:54:25PM 1 point [-]

I'm thinking prisoner's dilemma here. If we all hold back, wouldn't it be better for all of us? Of course, some people - the naturals, the PUA guys - are already ahead. But knowledge of the outcome should not change our decision (cf. Good and Real - ethics chapter). Or perhaps compared to the huge payoffs of getting laid/love, these marginal efforts into keeping up with the arms race are worthwhile?

Comment author: wedrifid 22 January 2011 02:58:30PM 10 points [-]

If we all hold back, wouldn't it be better for all of us?

No. Doing the mating dance well is fun for all concerned. Mutual self sabotage of social skills would leave us all 'settling' for mediocre, ineptly handled relationships.

But knowledge of the outcome should not change our decision (cf. Good and Real - ethics chapter).

I don't think this applies.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 02:22:29PM 5 points [-]

There is this tendency to treat PU as a separate magister. Similar to learning secret but effective magic spell in a world where magic is widely unknown. I think that view is severely mistaken. There are two important things to keep in mind: PU has a wide range of ideas to offer for all kinds of purposes. Sturgeons law still applies. Some of the more useful advice boils down to: 'be freaking normal'. Much of it is copied by observing other successful people. So called 'Naturals'. If you take ideas that are good anyway from the PU container you are not practicing an evil dark art. You are studying applied social science.

I think it is sometimes useful to look at the idea itself, not at its source, or the metaethic that generated it.

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 02:45:28PM 1 point [-]

Thanks. So I guess you are saying there is no arms race. Just naturals, and the socially inept?

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 03:09:02PM 6 points [-]

No! There very much is an arms race. (There were studies about how many man of each generation got to procreate.) You have the most beautiful women in relatively poorer countries. You have women in the industrial world complain about the lack of real man, and run to those of other cultures who are perceived as more manly. You have a few males getting most of the sex from active non-married female crowd, and you also have unhappy 40yo virgins.6 You need to be relatively better than those around you. Which leads to interesting results if you act in male dominated fields :-). Naturals are not naturals by birth. They develop and hone their respective skills at some point and get a lot of practice in it. Likewise being inept is not a life time curse. You can learn things later in life too, assuming there is useful material available. But you do not need to become a complete master of any particular domain. Just good enough to get what you happen to want.

The point i tried to make above was another one. If someone is incapable to speak correctly he can go to a doctor and train. If someone wants to improve his vocality he can take acting classes, learn the ways actors use to speak varied and understandable. Which is good. If you are unhappy with your social life you can do very much the same. If a PU book then tells you to take acting classes to learn to speak better it does not suddenly become evil advice. It is the same. Just from a different source.

Comment author: wedrifid 22 January 2011 03:14:28PM 5 points [-]

Naturals are not naturals by birth. They develop and hone their respective skills at some point and get a lot of practice in it.

This is worth emphasising.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 03:22:51PM 2 points [-]

http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

»The key to this mystery is to rephrase the question slightly. Why don't smart kids make themselves popular? If they're so smart, why don't they figure out how popularity works and beat the system, just as they do for standardized tests? .... The main reason nerds are unpopular is that they have other things to think about. Their attention is drawn to books or the natural world, not fashions and parties. .... Even if nerds cared as much as other kids about popularity, being popular would be more work for them. The popular kids learned to be popular, and to want to be popular, the same way the nerds learned to be smart, and to want to be smart: from their parents. While the nerds were being trained to get the right answers, the popular kids were being trained to please.«

Comment author: shokwave 22 January 2011 04:29:24PM 2 points [-]

Why don't smart kids make themselves popular?

Anecdotal evidence: I did. Maybe nerds stay nerds because they only profess a desire to be popular and don't actually hold it; maybe group distaste for popularity if it ever was achieved ("I wouldn't want to be popular even if I could be" sour grapes style) is also a factor. Maybe not being popular is a defining part of nerd; certainly I was not considered a nerd despite being smart and interested in all the same areas.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 04:37:29PM 1 point [-]

How did you do it?

I lacked the ability to recognize the underlying structures completely and utterly failed.

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 04:21:50PM 2 points [-]

Agree, but i think it's more peers than parenting, and more genetics than peers. Also I would not praise nerds so highly, the popular kids don't aim exactly to please, and the nerdy kids don't aim exactly to get the right answers.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 22 January 2011 03:34:16PM 1 point [-]

This is a nice explanation but it fails since in many cultures outside the US the popular v. nerd dichotomy doesn't exist or doesn't exist with nearly the same strength. In much of US culture and some other areas in the West there really is a stereotype that smart people are/should be unpopular.

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 04:24:20PM 1 point [-]

This doesn't seem to depend on existing social categories. Individual proclivities and social feedback seem to be enough. The stereotypes could simply be a reflection of the macro outcome of this proclivity-feedback process. Though admittedly in a conformist culture there is less room to deviate.

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 04:19:10PM 1 point [-]

My point wasn't that PU was somehow unique in its 'evilness'. I would disapprove of speaking or acting classes as well if most of it was simply positional. So no, not attacking solely PU here, just anything that is positional and causes more grief than joy.

I like wedrifid's point of these social games being fun. I somehow managed to forget that. But this needs to be put into perspective of the desired end result here. Most people I'm sure would enjoy the journey of social dancing along the way to the destination of getting laid/love. But most of the utility is derived from the sex/love, not the dancing. Bored lovers might complain that their relationship was getting stale, but they are already much better of than the 40yr old virgins.

Let's not forget that anything 'fun' probably indicates that it is a status game. Which means there will be huge inequalities. If the final result of this instrumental pleasure (which is not to say it is all that matters, just the magnitude of its importance) were getting sex/love or not, then I am certainly willing to compromise some of the social fun for more people getting the sex/love they want.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 04:35:15PM 0 points [-]

I think life is generally not designed as fair. But it is possible to change a part of your position.

But most of the utility is derived from the sex/love, not the dancing.

That can be changed. If sex alone is the goal, there is a trivial way to get it. Especially if your own hourly rate is high enough. But to get love you also have to offer the other person something. You will not get loved for your brain, or your collection of comic books, or your knowledge about human history or any other topic. You get love for a set of properties that can be surprisingly trivial. One thing I am interested in is what these properties are and how to develop them. But you really have to enjoy the trip itself, otherwise there is a high chance you become a very grumpy single. It is more fun to enjoy dates, or what ever social activity you choose to find your partners, than to see it as an annoying step on the way to your terminal goal.

Bored lovers might complain that their relationship was getting stale, but they are already much better of than the 40yr old virgins.

I doubt that for many cases. You find enough married couples where the partners at least seem to be worse off than even the 40yo.

then I am certainly willing to compromise some of the social fun for more people getting the sex/love they want

I do not think I understand the meaning here. Social games are not played consciously. You maybe saw the scene from A beautiful mind, where John Nash tries to do away with the social conventions and get down to business right away. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfS-8X8PNx8

Does not work.

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 05:02:48PM 0 points [-]

But to get love you also have to offer the other person something.

It is more fun to enjoy dates, or what ever social activity you choose to find your partners, than to see it as an annoying step on the way to your terminal goal.

You seem to simultaneously claim it is an arms race, yet imply that all the socially inept people need to do was to learn some social skills so that they can offer the other something.

I certainly agree that the horribly socially inept can learn to improve their social skills so that at the very least they get themselves across to the other person more effectively. Dating/flirting certainly does serve a practical purpose of letting us assess our compatibility, which besides being fun in itself, contributes to the relationship.

But if there was an arms race then this simply won't be enough. Past a certain point, the social maneuvering won't contribute to signaling anything relevant to compatibility anymore, and it will all be a zero-sum contest. Fun perhaps, but if so, then for its own sake only.

I doubt that for many cases. You find enough married couples where the partners at least seem to be worse off than even the 40yo.

Quick google search gave me at least this: http://spr.sagepub.com/content/22/5/607.abstract

I do not think I understand the meaning here.

I'd rather we relinquish some of the fun of the more sophisticated zero-sum dating/flirting techniques for more people actually hooking up with each other. (arms races creates inequalities)

Social games are not played consciously.

They don't have to.

You maybe saw the scene from A beautiful mind

That was a disaster. I don't recommend it.

If sex alone is the goal, there is a trivial way to get it.

I'm not sure if sex with prostitutes contribute enough to self-esteem/happiness. Anyone?

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 05:51:59PM 3 points [-]

Oh boy. What did I get myself into. From time to time I run into sophisticated arguments about relationships and usually fail to bring anything useful across. But I try anyway.

You seem to simultaneously claim it is an arms race, yet imply that all the socially inept people need to do was to learn some social skills so that they can offer the other something.

That is no contradiction. If you (in a very broad sense) aim to be the most sociable guy in the room, than the difficulty of that task depends on who you hang with. You can raise your own status to some degree with a few easy things. But that does not mean you are at the top. And then the average can shift. If more people go into actively raising their status you get a visible arms race for the top positions. But if that happens slow and more intuitively than the race is slow, and maybe even non existant. I think you do have to be better than the competition. But lots of the competition does not act.

it will all be a zero-sum contest I think status games pretty much are a useless contest in a productive view.

Quick google search gave me at least this As a sociable inept person you might have a higher risk to end up in a bad relationship. (This is just an estimate. Might be very very wrong.) If you get to choose between a bad relationship and eternal singledom I choose the former. Making a good relationship, and more so a consistently good one is something I strive to learn, but yet have no data on.

I'd rather we relinquish some of the fun of the more sophisticated zero-sum dating/flirting techniques for more people actually hooking up with each other. (arms races creates inequalities)

That sounds awesome. And I have no clue how to actually do it. Not even in theory.

Comment author: shokwave 22 January 2011 06:00:55PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure if sex with prostitutes contribute enough to self-esteem/happiness. Anyone?

Huge status hit is problematic. Maybe it is enough for self-esteem, but the hit brings esteem down again.

Comment author: wedrifid 22 January 2011 03:00:01PM *  0 points [-]

Thanks. So I guess you are saying there is no arms race. Just naturals, and the socially inept?

(He certainly didn't say anything remotely like that in the grandparent.)

Comment author: [deleted] 28 December 2012 01:37:14AM *  0 points [-]

If we all hold back, wouldn't it be better for all of us?

How so? The fraction of dating-age straight women who are taken at any given moment is nowhere near close enough to 1 that the competition among straight men is a zero-sum game. That would be the case if there many fewer women than men, but AFAIK the sex ratio is close to 1 among dating-age people. Making all men become more attractive by the same amount might well reduce the overall prevalence of involuntary celibacy.

Comment author: cousin_it 21 January 2011 05:25:35PM *  5 points [-]

When you're selling yourself, there's also an additional dynamic: Robin Hanson has argued that any method to win better mates than you appear to "deserve" genetically will be viewed as "unfair" by the opposite sex. For an example parallel to PUA, men may get squicked by this advice for women, even though they know it works.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 21 January 2011 05:45:05PM 8 points [-]

Does that advice really work? If a female acted the way that essay describes (especially in regards to keeping dates short and being rarely available) I'd just assume that they weren't interested but didn't have the guts to say so and move on.

Comment author: soreff 23 January 2011 04:30:46AM *  4 points [-]

Interesting question! Back in 1988, I met two women close to simultaneously. The one who made love with me is the one who I married. If the other one intended to be chased - well, she wasn't. "Hard to get" acted simply as a negative.

Comment author: cousin_it 21 January 2011 05:51:05PM *  4 points [-]

Haha, that's what many girls say about PUA techniques. "Wouldn't work on me!" Yet they work. Maybe we should get some girls' opinions about advice from The Rules: have they tried it? How effective was it?

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 12:54:40AM 28 points [-]

Certainly haven't followed it as a matter of conscious intent. I am pretty much only attracted to nerds (one of my personal rules, back when I was on the market, was that I would not date a guy who did not own a d20) and my reaction is that much of this is really horrible advice for the girl trawling the geek pool for a boyfriend.

For instance all the stuff about waiting for him to make the first move, expecting him to take the lead, etc, is just a recipe for two lovelorn nerds staring hopelessly at each other over the miniatures table (and never going any farther than that). I generally found it pretty easy to tell when a guy was into me, and I made some pretty blatant passes just to get the ball rolling.

For instance, with the man who is now my husband, I initiated our relationship by saying (this is a direct quote) "Hey, have you ever thought about you and me dating?" And I continued to take the lead in things like initiating our first kiss and the first time we went to bed together, because I knew I was a lot more experienced in that arena. On the other hand, most girls do like to be courted and I'm no exception, so there definitely was a point when I expected him to start taking the lead. But I didn't expect him to guess where it was. I told him straight up, "hey, I've kind of been the instigator up until now, but we're getting kind of serious and I'm not going to always be the one pushing our relationship to the next level. If we keep at this there are going to be a few milestones coming up--the first time someone says 'I love you' is the next one--and I'm not going to be the one to go first there, so, you know, just keep that in mind." So he was the one to use the "L-word" first, and he proposed marriage, and so forth.

We did end up having a fight on Valentine's Day, when I baked him cupcakes and he got me absolutely nothing, but the lesson I took away from that was not "dump him," it was "use your words." If I expect a present, I need to tell him, in English, that I want a present. Tone of voice does not count and neither does body language. He is not good with hints, even if they seem to me to be really, really obvious hints. He wants to do things that will make me happy, but he cannot be relied upon to guess what those things are. He and I are both much, much happier when I just tell him what I want.

So, "be mysterious" would have been terrible advice for me, and all that stuff about not signaling too much interest I think is counterproductive for "our kind" as well, since nerd guys often have a hard time picking up on it when a girl is flirting with them.

There are a few things in there that I think are useful. The old "never sleep with a guy before the third date" rule is one that I would probably endorse, except I would take out the "never." But in general I think being slow to jump in bed with people is a good, self-protective strategy for women. "Don't try to change him" is just good solid advice, and so is "don't date a married man." But yeah, I think for the gal batting her eyelashes at the company sysadmin, most of those rules are either not really applicable or downright counterproductive.

Which leads me to my objection to PUA stuff. I mean, a lot of it seems like harmless enough "Dumbo's feather" type stuff -- tricks to get shy guys to actually approach and interact with women in a way that signals confidence rather than desperation. I'm fine with all that and I can certainly see how it would be useful. But in the overarching philosophy -- it just seems like an incredibly alienating view of women. I know there's some lip-service to the idea of individual variation, but for the most part the PUA strategies encourage guys to see women almost like androids, all obeying the same script.

And from what I've seen of measurable differences between men and women, they exist as averages over large groups, but they are dwarfed by individual variances. Like, yes, men are on average taller and stronger than women. But Jill Mills could kick your ass. Women are human and as individuals we fall across the whole spectrum of human variance. All women are not alike, not any more than all men are alike.

So yeah, I don't have much trouble believing that PUA "works" in terms of helping guys pick up at singles bars. I'm a lot more skeptical that it "works" across a broader spectrum of experience. I have my doubts about how well it would work on nerd girls (I courted a few of them in my wild youth, too.)

And ultimately I worry about the damage that the PUA mindset does to relations between men and women as human beings--lord knows, reading Roissy's blog doesn't leave me with a lot of hope for the species.

Comment author: LauraABJ 23 January 2011 04:49:33AM 4 points [-]

You are very unusual. I love nerds too, and am currently in an amazing relationship with one, but even I have my limits. He needed to pursue me or I wouldn't have bothered. I was quite explicitly testing, and once he realized the game was one, he exceeded expectations. But yeah, there were a couple of months there when I thought, 'To hell with this! If he's not going to make a move at this point, he can't know what he's doing, and he certainly won't be any good at the business...'

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 05:24:03AM 19 points [-]

You are very unusual. I love nerds too, and am currently in an amazing relationship with one, but even I have my limits. He needed to pursue me or I wouldn't have bothered.

If I hadn't already had good evidence that he was crazy about me, I might have gone for more of that sort of testing, I don't know.

At the time I had this idea that I was going to be San Francisco's real-life superheroine. I would get a cape and a mask and call myself Mistra. I went as far as enrolling in a first-responder course and a Wing Chun class. I told Sam (now my husband, but at the time just a good friend) that he should be my sidekick, Fog Lad. He agreed to this plan. We started throwing around ideas for his costume.

Sometime after this it occurred to me literally in the shower that he must be in love with me, because I'm pretty sure guys don't agree to run around the city in tights calling themselves Fog Lad unless they are desperately in love with some chick.

So I told him I thought we should date, and then everything just went extremely well from there. Sadly, once we fell into bed together, we kind of got distracted and I stopped going to Wing Chun class, and San Francisco never did get its ace crimefighting team.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 07:03:00AM *  6 points [-]

That is just too adorable to be true! Tell me you made it up. If not, you may just have be the inspiration for the first romantic teen comedy superhero flick that is based off a true story!

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 04:57:27PM 6 points [-]

Tell me you made it up.

Nope, it's all true.

Comment author: zaph 25 January 2011 01:16:51PM 2 points [-]

The RomCom version of Kick Ass would probably do very well at the box office.

Comment author: [deleted] 24 January 2011 04:13:35PM 4 points [-]

Awesome.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:05:48AM 1 point [-]

But yeah, there were a couple of months there when I thought

A couple of months. Even that is a little unusual. :)

Comment author: LauraABJ 23 January 2011 05:13:53AM 3 points [-]

This is true. We were (and are) in the same social group, so I didn't need to go out of my way for repeated interaction. Had I met him once and he failed to pick up my sigs, then NO, we would NOT be together now... This reminds me of a conversation I had with Silas, in which he asked me, "How many dates until....?" And I stared at him for a moment and said, "What makes you think there would be a second if the first didn't go so well?"

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:23:41AM 3 points [-]

"How many dates until....?" And I stared at him for a moment and said, "What makes you think there would be a second if the first didn't go so well?"

By the ellipsis do you mean 'sex', and indicate that lack of it on the first date constitutes a failure? (Good for you if you know what you want!)

Comment author: LauraABJ 23 January 2011 05:26:44AM 3 points [-]

Yes.

Comment author: Blueberry 23 January 2011 02:18:24AM 4 points [-]

Great post. I loved your approach with your husband and think that in general, most people would be better off following it (especially women).

[PUA] just seems like an incredibly alienating view of women. I know there's some lip-service to the idea of individual variation, but for the most part the PUA strategies encourage guys to see women almost like androids, all obeying the same script.

Your objection to PUA stuff is based on a certain view of PUA I don't think is accurate. In fact, one of the most helpful things to me about PUA was the idea that each person has an individual set of "attraction switches" and it's just a matter of finding them. This freed me up a lot.

And from what I've seen of measurable differences between men and women, they exist as averages over large groups, but they are dwarfed by individual variances.

I don't really think this is an issue of the differences between men and women. In fact, I think most of the PUA ideas apply equally well to men and women, because they're observations on human psychology. PUA gets applied mostly to women because it's mostly men who go after women, not because women are so different than men. The relevant distinction here is "friends" vs. "people you are attracted to and want to go after" -- a lot of PUA advice consists of distinguishing behaviors for these two categories -- not men vs. women.

And ultimately I worry about the damage that the PUA mindset does to relations between men and women as human beings--lord knows, reading Roissy's blog doesn't leave me with a lot of hope for the species.

I'm tempted to say "but Roissy is an idiot who has nothing to do with PUA!" However, I'm wary of committing the One True Scotsmen fallacy, and I suppose I have to admit that there is a portion of the PUA blogosphere that is misogynistic. I don't think that his blog is representative of most of the valuable stuff in the PUA community, and in fact his blog has been described as more of a "men going their own way" blog.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 02:45:31AM *  2 points [-]

Your objection to PUA stuff is based on a certain view of PUA I don't think is accurate. In fact, one of the most helpful things to me about PUA was the idea that each person has an individual set of "attraction switches" and it's just a matter of finding them. This freed me up a lot.

Can you point me to a page that espouses that view? I googled for it and found this: http://www.seductionbase.com/seduction/cat/In_the_Middle/EC/218.html -- but it seems the opposite of what you're saying, as it's a list of "attraction switches" that will supposedly work for "most women." Now granted, they're all generically good things ("TRUST" and "CONFIDENCE" and "CHEMISTRY" are all fine things in a relationship, sure) but there's no mention of individual variation or any conception that different women may be looking for different things. Instead, the message is: flip these switches and "she's really going to be into you"! And then at the end the author writes "I'd love to see another list: of the switches to flip for a ONS [One Night Stand] -- the switches that over-ride the social programming and make her crave that adventure and abandon. " Like I said, it's women as androids. Flip the switches, override the programming, badda bing badda boom.

It just seems like a juvenile fantasy--women as sex robots, available to anyone who knows the override code. Not the kind of outlook that's actually going help a lonely guy make a genuine connection with a woman.

Comment author: Blueberry 10 February 2011 04:50:40AM 0 points [-]

Well, this kind of systematizing and abstraction is really helpful when you don't know what to do or how to start a relationship. And it's useful to have some defaults that work pretty well, most of the time, before you get to know someone.

I actually think that seeing women as acting based on a specific pattern, that has reasons behind it and that can be understood with time and practice, rather than a baffling and impenetrable mystery, is exactly what will help a lonely guy make a genuine connection.

Can you point me to a page that espouses that view?

there's no mention of individual variation or any conception that different women may be looking for different things.

I got the insight that everyone has different attraction switches from a conversation with someone, not a web page, and I'm not as familiar with what material is available online. However, HughRistik wrote two comments about this topic with a few links to pages that might be relevant.

Comment deleted 23 January 2011 05:51:27AM *  [-]
Comment deleted 23 January 2011 06:04:24AM [-]
Comment author: cousin_it 23 January 2011 06:07:48AM *  2 points [-]

Sorry. My comment wasn't very thought out, so I deleted it immediately after posting. I'd rather not be having this argument here and now.

Comment author: rabidchicken 24 January 2011 02:49:31AM 1 point [-]

I really wish your approach was not so unusual... You would be doing humanity (and nerds) a favour if you wrote your own guide to dating for women. I don't think one book would change the insanity of human interaction, but it would probably help.

Comment author: [deleted] 21 January 2011 06:22:54PM *  10 points [-]

I'm atypical, but here's my take:

Some of it is common sense (she who cares least wins; look your best; avoid certain "turn-off" subjects; have standards regarding hygiene and considerateness.)

Some of it sounds distasteful (withholding personal information and intimacy sounds like a bad idea for relationships, but then again I may tend to be too trusting. The focus on "closing the deal" by making sure you marry within two years of meeting someone also seems problematic. I suspect these people do not care as much as I do about intellectual/emotional compatibility.)

Some of it is frankly unrealistic (gifts of flowers are not typical in all social circles. Making the man pay for everything is not always practical.)

From what I've seen of "The Rules" it's structurally different from PUA. PUA has a lot in common with marketing, and also a lot in common with general social skills advice. "Rules"-style dating advice for women is generally not an exercise in teaching social skills to awkward women. It's more about being strategic at dating (an area of life where admittedly too many people refuse to even consider using reasoned strategy.) It's hard to see how you could test whether it works, though. To see if PUA works, just go out and see if you can pick up women. To see if The Rules work, you have to see if you can marry an (implicitly rich) man -- that's a much longer time frame and you don't get as many trials!

Comment author: Jack 21 January 2011 08:11:15PM *  32 points [-]

Someone needs to write a Romantic comedy/tragedy where two people fall in love but they can never get together because the man is following PUA and the woman is following The Rules. They keep rushing to be the one to end phone conversations and both are always pretending to be too busy to go out with each other. The woman won't have sex until she gets flowers and the man won't give flowers until they have sex. Since both methods work they just fall more and more madly in love with each other but can never tell each other for fear of seeming too needy or desperate.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 04:33:14PM 6 points [-]

If they were both following the online dating rules someone linked to earlier, it would all be over very quickly. Neither would reply to an email before at least 3 days have passed, but both ignore anyone who doesn't reply to an email within 3 days.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 24 January 2011 03:55:39PM 3 points [-]

Not showing too much enthusiasm sounds like a low risk low reward strategy.

Comment author: ata 24 January 2011 12:19:52AM 3 points [-]

Hmm. That sounds like dating is an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. (And PUA, The Rules, etc. are guides to defecting?)

Comment author: wedrifid 24 January 2011 03:44:43AM 1 point [-]

And PUA, The Rules, etc. are guides to defecting?

Well, at least the "delay reply to gain power" gambit is the rest vary. :)

Comment author: Zvi 25 January 2011 10:35:40PM *  2 points [-]

Any dating filter that doesn't filter out itself is clearly not a very good filter!

Comment author: JoshuaZ 21 January 2011 08:17:29PM 4 points [-]

A variant of this has been discussed in xkcd. I don't think that Munroe thought about the consequences as you have.

Comment author: Document 21 January 2011 08:34:21PM *  5 points [-]

It would be a bunch of girls playing hard to get, not returning phone calls, and a bunch of guys consequently moving on to other girls.

-- sockthepuppetry

Comment author: rastilin 23 January 2011 05:21:02PM 1 point [-]

That would end pretty quickly. PUA tells you to drop a woman if she seems cagey about going out or you're not making progress by the second date. It's very much a numbers game, there are tens of thousands of unattached women in even the smallest city and on average, 4% are willing to do anything without any PUA skills being applied; if it's not working out just give up and go find someone else.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 December 2012 02:20:22AM 0 points [-]

there are tens of thousands of unattached women in even the smallest city

Depends on what you count as a city vs as a town. A settlement of 60,000 will likely have about 30,000 women, about 12,000 of whom will be post-pubescent but pre-menopausal (and many guys will have stricter age limits than that), about 4000 of whom will be unattached.

Comment author: MartinB 24 January 2011 07:49:06AM 1 point [-]

Someone needs to write a Romantic comedy/tragedy where two people fall in love but....

Romantic comedies assume there is a predestined partner who one ends up with after a series of ups and downs and a big showdown. That is not so in real life where everyone just moves on after a while. The fiction of romantic movies can really hurt the expectations of reality. Maybe someday someone researches the effect of chick flicks on the amount of unhappy involuntary singles due to unrealistic expectations.

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 02:15:02PM 1 point [-]

Thankfully, our built-in (if imperfect) deontological-acausal ethics usually prevents that from happening to most of us.

Comment author: shokwave 24 January 2011 01:52:37AM 8 points [-]

The Rules is a filter women can apply to their dating. Being manipulated by, or at least not bothered by, certain things on that list (like double standards with responding), correlates strongly with desired personality traits. Most people will get bored with Rules-girls and move on. The ones that don't are far more likely to be the type desired. Assuming a dating woman knows what she desires, that is - I wager women using the Rules aren't as aware of what they are selecting for as pick-up artists are.

On PUA, the same thing applies: if you think those techniques wouldn't work on you, well, you're not the type pick-up artists are after.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 21 January 2011 07:19:41PM 1 point [-]

Part of what you label as common sense, avoiding certain "turn-off" subjects is on the list of things I don't understand. Why shouldn't people talk about their exes? Presumably if someone was an SO or close to being an SO then they were, you know, significant. Not talking about them places a substantial limit on what subjects the person is able to talk about. And are guys really so insecure that they feel uncomfortable just being reminded that the person they are dating has had other relationships?

Comment author: HughRistik 21 January 2011 09:22:38PM 4 points [-]

A big reason is that talk about exes can easily turn emotionally negative. Many mainstream people don't seem to be on good terms with their exes.

Comment author: lukeprog 21 January 2011 09:41:42PM 1 point [-]

Lol, I'm curious: What does "mainstream people" mean in this context? People who have romantic relationships that fail in a way that sometimes causes frustration and resentment?

Comment author: HughRistik 21 January 2011 10:06:55PM *  7 points [-]

Most gender-typical people. They have more drama. It's a lot easier for high IQ, gender-atypical nerdy folks with good impulse control to be on good terms with their exes.

Comment author: wnoise 24 January 2011 08:35:17AM 3 points [-]

Especially if their exes are also high IQ, gender-atypical nerdy folks with good impulse control.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 02:28:24PM 0 points [-]

One might think this is due to a lack of supply.

I see the emotional ups and downs of many people with more and more amazement of why anyone would want to life like that.

Comment author: rastilin 24 January 2011 06:55:43AM 1 point [-]

Aside from the possibility that you had a bad breakup and you end up complaining for several minutes, which isn't a good sign in a date. It raises the question of "What did those people find out about this person that I don't know yet that it caused them to break up with them.".

Comment author: wedrifid 24 January 2011 08:33:32AM 2 points [-]

And: "If he is bitching about his ex to me then chances are he would bitch about me to others too." Possibly applies even more for boasting.

Comment author: HughRistik 24 January 2011 08:20:27AM 0 points [-]

Yes. Complaining about your breakup allows the other person to locate and privilege various unsavory hypotheses about you which may or may not be fair. Don't let people do this. You aren't being more "honest" by giving people true information that will bias them.

Comment author: Jack 21 January 2011 08:04:56PM *  3 points [-]

31. Don't Discuss The Rules with Your Therapist.

Anyone read the book and can explain what this is about?

Is this like "Don't discuss Heaven's Gate with your family"?

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 21 January 2011 09:43:12PM *  5 points [-]

Sort of. I haven't read the book but was sufficiently amused to look this one up. They give three reasons: your therapist may think The Rules are manipulative and dishonest and dissuade you; your therapist may not realize how clueless and pathetic you are when you fall for a guy, if you don't have The Rules to protect you; you don't want to start debating this topic with your therapist, you'll lose your resolve to stick to The Rules.

Comment author: Zvi 25 January 2011 10:52:39PM 2 points [-]

I think it's more like "Don't discuss Zeus with your Rabbi."

Comment author: TheOtherDave 21 January 2011 05:39:45PM 7 points [-]

I wonder how this translates to the dynamics of communities where sexual attraction isn't constrained to opposite-sex pairings.

Comment author: cousin_it 22 January 2011 08:30:37AM *  2 points [-]

Very good point, I hadn't thought about that. Does there exist effective dating advice for gay people? It might be illuminating.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 22 January 2011 04:31:44PM 4 points [-]

Nothing I know of that's analogously mass-marketed.

Dan Savage is moderately popular in this space, but I suspect that he is to dating advice what talk radio is to political analysis: entertaining, vaguely topical, and mostly non-data-driven. Mostly his advice is to be attractive (exercise, grooming, etc.) and forthright (ask for what you want, walk away from what you don't want), which isn't bad advice as far as it goes.

More generally, there seems to be a sentiment in the gay male community that "playing hard to get" (which a lot of dating advice for het women seems to advise, and a lot of "dating" advice for het men seems to advise ways of neutralizing) is mostly a female thing, and gay guys simply shouldn't bother.

I have no particular reason to believe that this is <i>true</i>, though. In fact, I've seen enough queer men fascinated by the "is he or isn't he?" game with respect to attractive men of unspecified orientation that I rather doubt it. (I don't know if the analogous game is popular among queer women, though I'd be somewhat surprised if it weren't.)

That said, there was so much coyness ineluctably built into the gay dating scene by the fear of punishment for so long that I guess it's unsurprising that deliberate coyness is officially rejected. That rejection will probably fade as it becomes more and more taken for granted, as it seems to be becoming, that gay people can be publicly visible as romantic/sexual beings without risking assault or other forms of "reprisal".

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 04:24:11AM *  3 points [-]

For an example parallel to PUA, men may get squicked by this advice for women, even though they know it works.

That's an interesting list. A lot of those serve as general advice that tends to be given to guys too.

  • Always look great, whatever your income.
  • Never reveal information you don't have to. An enigmatic [man] drives [women] wild.
  • Try and stay in shape and involve some fitness regime at a gym.
  • Never be available when he wants you to be.
  • If he is available Tuesday, you are available Thursday.
  • Ensure you are a good kisser.
  • Never ever talk about previous [girlfriends], particularly their prowess in the bedroom. Your ex-[girlfriends] are your business only.
  • Never assume anything about your date until you choose to know him better. You cannot always tell by looking.
  • Never ever come across as too available or too desperate. [She] will run a mile.
  • If the [girl] in the corner is gorgeous, go get [her] and create the need in [her] for you. Never wait for [women] to come to you because you may watch [her] leave with someone else.
  • If you want a child, don't mention it on the first few dates.
  • Never ever criticize [her] mother unless you want to remain single.

Then there are some tips about evaluation strategies that guys tend to be warned to consider:

  • If any man shows the slightest signs of possessiveness or insecurity, run like the wind. Life is too short for boys.
  • If his shoes or hygiene are a disgrace, dump him.

(Yup. Shoes, and insecurity. Those two are the big ones in fashion and behavioral signalling respectively.)

Then there are others that guys are often suggested strategies for dealing with. (Such strategies vary rather a lot depending on individual identity, what kind of relationship is desired and pure arbitrariness.)

  • Let your man pay. If he is interested, he is interested enough to ensure you eat well and get home safely in a cab.

Often I'll do this as a hat tip to tradition or as a pure matter of convenience. It depends a bit on the girl. Sometimes it will pay for a meal then say, for example, that now she can take me and buy me icecream. With respect to the attitude conveyed in the above tip, if a girl does expect me to pay and conveys that then I expect her to do so from the position that it is a gesture that she appreciates, not her prerogative. I am not paying for her time, the transaction is 'time and company' for 'time and company'. She isn't a hooker!

  • Ensure you receive flowers. If he doesn't know what a florist is, dump him.

I like how the unreasonable tips come with "dump him" instructions. Dumping her would be hard work after all. Flowers are to add flavour of novelty within an established relationship and even then subject to preference.

  • Keep dates brief, but your men interested. Less is always more.

Yawn. Organising dates is a significant overhead. Short is the opposite of interesting to me.

  • Never ever sleep with a guy until he has fallen for you. Sex early in your dating game plan will ruin everything.

I have found sex too early in the relationship to sometimes be a mixed blessing. Primarily because it can sometimes cover over incompatibility or lack of other common interests. But I don't think that is what the tip is getting at (which is defintely squick).

  • Always keep a guy waiting and never turn up early. It is a lady's perogative.

I prefer to arrange meetings where no waiting for either party is required and there is a minimum of inconvenience if someone flakes. Apart from that there are all sorts of ways to handle this and other sorts of power play in a way that eliminates deliberate discourtesy while providing the best experience for both parties. That's where sharing strategies and successes with others who have found ways to handle a situation comes in handy.

  • Weekend shopping trips with girlfriends are sacred and not available for dates.

Sure, whatever. Just assume an approximately constant pool of 'asking out's with two or three potential times given for each ask out. Calibrate availability and acceptance accordingly.

From what I observe of my own behaviour in general, if doing something does not work then I go and do something (or in this case someone) else. Einstein would call that 'not being insane'.

  • Keep your man standing on quicksand by shifting landmarks and goalposts constantly.

I have fond memories of the time back in my teenage years when I realised that in dating, as in the rest of life, the only goalposts I have to worry about are my own. The approval of others is sometimes useful and sometimes it is fun to play other people's games. But other times it is more fun to reverse them or ignore them outright.

  • Never talk too much about your father and how your date measures up in comparison.
  • You may well have all the bodily functions of a man, just try not to demonstrate them early on.

(Whatever.)

  • Always reply to emails at least 3 days after receipt.
  • A man who doesn't reply to your email within 3 days should be ignored.

Now there is some real squick. My biggest peeve is bullshit double standards like that. Fortunately they are self screening once again.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 23 January 2011 04:41:44AM 4 points [-]

Some of these seem also just designed to cause maximum drama. Consider:

Let your man pay. If he is interested, he is interested enough to ensure you eat well and get home safely in a cab.

Many females I've dated get actively offended if I the guys try to pay rather than splitting the bill. And frankly, they have a right to be offended, giving the historical double standards that are associated with this sort of thing. That someone is trying to get females to insist on this while others use it as a test in the opposite direction? Yeah, this isn't going to lead to problems at all.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:03:13AM 12 points [-]

Many females I've dated get actively offended if I the guys try to pay rather than splitting the bill. And frankly, they have a right to be offended

I wouldn't want to deny anyone the right to be offended at anything they please but for my part I would bid them politely goodnight and delete their phone number. Getting actively offended over things that are not a big deal is a huge red flag. It indicates either specific emotional issues or a generally high maintenance personality. I'll leave those girls to you Josh. :)

Some sample sane responses in such circumstances:

  • No, we'll split it.
  • Hey, none of that, Neanderthal! (With a smile and or fake arm slap to indicate lightheartedness. Equivalent to assertiveness with humor.)

Ideal response:

  • Sure, but I've got the next one!

This follows from a general principle that a propensity for taking offence is an unattractive trait and an indicator of immature boundaries. If you want something different ask for it or actively make it happen.

Comment author: anon895 24 January 2011 01:19:11PM 0 points [-]
  • No, we'll split it.

From what I've read, being able to credibly offer a free meal is a critical tool in some men's dating arsenal. Changing it to "well, if you want I'll pay, but I'd be really grateful if you'd chip in too" could leave him substantially weakened. Her making decisions on his behalf and talking about them as a couple after one date also seems like a bad sign.

  • Hey, none of that, Neanderthal! (With a smile and or fake arm slap to indicate lightheartedness. Equivalent to assertiveness with humor.)

"Ha, ha! It's funny because she insulted me and dismissed my sex's relevance as economic agents!"

  • Sure, but I've got the next one!

"So just because I was curious enough to spend some money to get to know her better, suddenly I'm at her beck and call? What kind of spineless plaything does she see me as?"

...and that's one of many reasons I hope I don't need to date.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 January 2011 02:55:51AM *  6 points [-]

Wow. All those could technically be valid interpretations. That's where things like body language and confidence come in. There is something to be said for interpreting everything in the best possible light. Occasionally (dependent highly on context) even when you know they intended it to be critical. (Although in this case they didn't).

  • Hey, none of that, Neanderthal! (With a smile and or fake arm slap to indicate lightheartedness. Equivalent to assertiveness with humor.)

"Ha, ha! It's funny because she insulted me and dismissed my sex's relevance as economic agents!"

For my part I find the ability to mock tradition and culture without getting personally insulted by it kind of endearing. In this case, again depending rather significantly on cues in the context, I would quite possibly go ahead and be sure to open doors for her and move her to the side of the pavement farthest from the road. Because teasing each other is fun, life isn't meant to be taken seriously and, incidentally, because it would be role playing the masculine stereotype light-heartedly.

Incidentally I don't consider 'Neanderthal' to be an insult. Neanderthals were awesome. ;)

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 04:59:18AM 6 points [-]

Many females I've dated get actively offended if I the guys try to pay rather than splitting the bill. And frankly, they have a right to be offended, giving the historical double standards that are associated with this sort of thing.

I have to admit, when I was dating, I would always offer to pay half the bill -- but I never went on a second date with any guy who took me up on it. I know this goes against the general policy of forthrightness that I otherwise followed, and I can't really defend the practice rationally. It probably was an area where I was following drives I didn't fully understand, maybe something about finding a man who was capable of the old-fashioned, stand-up, protect & provide business.

In any case I would definitely advise men to offer to pay on the first date. I mean, don't insist on it, but showing that you have money, and aren't stingy with it, is generally an attractive thing.

Comment author: Alicorn 23 January 2011 08:12:46PM 3 points [-]

When my date pays for things/establishes a trend of paying for things, it gives me permission not to fuss about money. I am very, very inclined to fuss about money if any of the money involved is mine, so I find it a huge load off my mind. (I go on first dates prepared to pay half if my date seems to prefer this idea when I ask, but preparing to do that before every date with a person I intended to see regularly would be rapidly exhausting for me, so I'd be leery of going on dates-that-could-cost-money with someone who doesn't demonstrate an inclination to pay - though this doesn't preclude 100% of possible second dates.)

Example: I recently dated a guy who took me out to movies (he paid), and we were trying to think of something else to do besides see movies. I proposed snow tubing, but then discovered that the only snow tubing place open in the area which had a device to pull the tubes up the hill was expensive. I dithered to him about this. If he had said something like "don't worry about that, I've got it", we would have gone snow tubing. He did not, so we didn't. (This didn't preclude another movie date after this non-event.)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 24 January 2011 01:02:59AM *  7 points [-]

I think the relevant joke and intended consequences is something like:

  1. I insert an obvious derogatory remark about a tribal group you are very loosely affiliated with.

  2. Since I am closely affiliated with that tribal group, this comment acts as a countersignal and ironically signals affiliation with that group. This also works because the group in question has a history of countersignaling in this fashion and calling it "humor".

  3. Since a disproportionate fraction up LW readers have past or present emotional connections to that tribal group, this raises my status at LW.

  4. (Something else very Hansonian occurs here)

  5. Profit.

ETA: And actually, this post also signals affiliation with nerdy internet people. Now if only I can find a way to simultaneous signal with people concerned about FAI and signal affiliation with paperclip maximizers, then I'm all set.

Comment author: Nornagest 26 January 2011 07:07:45PM 1 point [-]

Voted up for being funny. This probably proves some kind of point, doesn't it?

Comment author: arundelo 24 January 2011 06:10:51AM 5 points [-]

This is a nice example of a division of labor based on relative strengths (at least when your partner does not happen to have a similar aversion). For me, such a division is preferable to the idea that roles in (heterosexual) relationships are determined by the sexes of the respective partners.

Comment author: Alicorn 24 January 2011 12:43:05PM *  1 point [-]

Yeah, I'd have similar preferences if I dated a girl. (I have been in relationships with girls, but never in the "we will go to a place and spend money on food/an activity" style of relationship.)

Comment author: rastilin 25 January 2011 10:44:03AM -1 points [-]

You mean the relative strengths of having money versus being a woman? I'm not seeing the division here.

Comment author: shokwave 25 January 2011 10:54:21AM 1 point [-]

The division is that Alicorn is not strong with money; she lets her date sort out the money because (while not necessarily strong with money absolute) they are stronger with money than her. Relatively, the date is stronger, so they do the labour of paying.

One possible reason for someone being strong with money is they have lots of it.

Arundelo is making the point that it could have turned out that Alicorn was strong with money and her date was not; in this case Alicorn would have paid. It was not a case of "man pays, woman doesn't." It was a case of "those who can most pay, pay."

Comment author: rastilin 25 January 2011 11:06:33AM *  1 point [-]

That's not the impression I got. The date ended up paying because Alicorn didn't want to, and the date not paying would have led to fewer dates. She stated she was prepared to pay half, not prepared to pay full like her date was doing.

(I go on first dates prepared to pay half if my date seems to prefer this idea when I ask, but preparing to do that before every date with a person I intended to see ?regularly would be rapidly exhausting for me, so I'd be leery of going on dates-that-could-cost-money with someone who doesn't demonstrate an inclination to pay

In the comment just next to mine, she says...

Yeah, I'd have similar preferences if I dated a girl. (I have been in relationships with girls, but never in the "we will go to a place and spend money on food/an activity" style of relationship.)

Which illustrates the reasoning behind PUA advice being to split the bill. It explicitly states that she should only bother spending time with you for your company. If the idea that you two would work out something that didn't involve spending money never comes up, then she just wasn't into you.

Comment author: arundelo 26 January 2011 03:13:41AM *  0 points [-]

The relative strengths of having money versus whatever Alicorn is strong at.

(To be precise, it's a matter of comparative advantage rather than strength, with the proviso that if Alicorn's partner is even worse than her at spending money, they probably won't do many spending-money dates at all.)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 23 January 2011 08:31:28PM -1 points [-]

When my date pays for things/establishes a trend of paying for things, it gives me permission not to fuss about money. I am very, very inclined to fuss about money if any of the money involved is mine, so I find it a huge load off my mind.

Resisting temptation to make obvious joke about your paternal ancestry...

Comment author: wedrifid 24 January 2011 12:04:58AM 0 points [-]

I've scoured the paragraph for possible allusions to make. None of the jokes I can construct are obvious enough to be particularly funny. Bother.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 24 January 2011 12:35:34AM *  4 points [-]

Alicorn is of Jewish ancestry on the paternal side. The real issue is that the obvious jokes just aren't very funny.

Comment author: Alicorn 24 January 2011 12:47:45AM *  -2 points [-]

I'm not even sure what the "obvious jokes" are given the hint about my dad's side of the family being Jewish.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:07:33AM *  3 points [-]

<indication of scorn for whoever it was who downvoted the parent for honesty and self awareness/>

Mind you the parent completely reverses the impression given by the earlier comment of "Wow, that's an attitude of the perfect girl for a nerd to be dating!"

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 05:28:56AM 3 points [-]

Mind you the parent completely reverses the impression given by the earlier comment of "Wow, that's an attitude of the perfect girl for a nerd to be dating!"

I know! I wasn't even aware of it as inconsistent at the time.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 23 January 2011 05:20:17AM 2 points [-]

Mind you the parent completely reverses the impression given by the earlier comment of "Wow, that's an attitude of the perfect girl for a nerd to be dating!"

Well, humans have lots of different behaviors and variation. It is extremely unlikely that anyone is going to be perfect. Moreover, everyone is influenced by cultural norms. As far as I can tell, that sort of thing is evidence more that people should try not to use any single warning sign as an absolute deal-killer unless it is very severe.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:43:33AM 1 point [-]

It is extremely unlikely that anyone is going to be perfect.

Naturally. siduri's earlier comment indicated that she was an extreme outlier in terms of preferences and and proactive forthrightness. This additional trait just serves as a regression to the mean.

Comment author: taryneast 24 January 2011 11:42:38AM 2 points [-]

I have never had a guy offer to pay for my dinner. I guess Aussie blokes just don't tend to do that kind of thing. I think that if anyone ever did - I'd be so surprised that I'd accept. I'd certainly be happy to pay for the next meal (or coffee or whatever).

I'm told that, during WWII, the American soldiers that were stationed in Australia cleaned up on the dating scene - because they happened to still use those traditional behaviours. ;)

I totally understand the inclination to get upset if being treated unfairly - but these days, I'm pretty sure that most guys that hold a door open for you are not doing it because they think I'm incapable of doing it myself... so I smile and say thank you, and make sure I pay it forward for somebody else next time I have the opportunity.

Comment author: khafra 25 January 2011 12:01:27AM 3 points [-]

It seems that, steadfast allies as American GIs may have been to the ANZAC forces during combat, on the home front they were ruthless-if unknowing-defectors

Comment author: MartinB 23 January 2011 06:13:17PM 2 points [-]

but I never went on a second date with any guy who took me up on it

I doubt you followed that rule consistently. It looks like to much of a unimportant minimal indicator that should be superseded by the rest of the date.

But if you poll enough women you will find many such statements that contradict with the ones other women give. Getting angry for paying the bill, getting angry for not paying the bill. Expecting him to hold the door. Getting angry holding doors for her. There is no standard rule set to follow. And i find it ridiculous how women (or anyone) expect others to just know what they want without ever bothering to tell them.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 07:02:46PM 6 points [-]

Another way of thinking about it might be that "paying the bill" or "not holding the door" are indicators of the man's personality, rather than terminal values of the woman. In this case, telling the man "I expect you to pay the bill" is counter-productive. It doesn't actually achieve anything the woman wants -- what she wants (in this hypothetical) is a man that would do this on his own. It merely eliminates "paying the bill" as a useful indicator of personality.

Granted, this strategy doesn't work well on a man who doesn't have an opinion on the matter and just wants to make the woman happy, but it's a plausible explanation.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 07:35:41PM 3 points [-]

I think a lot of women are looking for a man who can create romantic experiences, start to finish, for them. I think that's what the "bill paying" business is really about. (If it were about money you could just ask what he does for a living.) And it's fun once in a while when someone has orchestrated an entire evening for you and taken care of all the details for you. But if you expect that regularly and don't reciprocate... I guess I disapprove of that. It reduces him to "The Guy Who Brings The Fun Stuff."

Comment author: anon895 24 January 2011 12:19:10PM *  2 points [-]

I got a little angry reading that (didn't follow the original link), but I'm feeling too lazy to discard the post I wrote, so:

  • Never ever talk about previous [girlfriends], particularly their prowess in the bedroom. Your ex-[girlfriends] are your business only.

Thereby signalling to her (if she were rational) that she'll be equally a nonentity to you in a year, and/or (if you actively avoid the subject) that you handled your past relationships badly and are likely to do the same for your next.

  • Never assume anything about your date until you choose to know him better. You cannot always tell by looking.

If I had video of every time that was hilariously bad advice for me back when I still expected human statements to necessarily mean things, I expect I could make a substantially better contribution to this thread.

  • If the [girl] in the corner is gorgeous, go get [her] and create the need in [her] for you. Never wait for [women] to come to you because you may watch [her] leave with someone else.

This appears to be a disguised problem statement: "If she perceives you as pursuing her, she'll run a mile, but if you wait for her to pursue you she won't. Therefore, use magic." So glad I'm a lifestyle-aspie where the rule is "if you want something from someone, ask, if you don't think that'll work, offer something in exchange, if you don't have anything to offer, do without".

My imagined "stereotypical advice" version of that sentence is more like "If the girl in the corner is gorgeous, too bad. The girl who actually talks to you and affects an interest in you will be gorgeous too if you let yourself see it, and you don't want to miss out on her just because you're hung up on someone else that you probably didn't have a chance with anyway.

  • Never ever criticize [her] mother unless you want to remain single.

God, I love family-as-applause-light. Just seeing "criticize" and "mother" next to each other looks dirty. Mothers are sweet and upstanding ladies who work hard to take care of their daughters!

  • If his shoes or hygiene are a disgrace, dump him.

The lack of any definition of "disgrace" makes me want to look over the others to see if they fit the pattern of "blank canvas for the reader to project her already existing behavior on".

Often I'll do this as a hat tip to tradition or as a pure matter of convenience. It depends a bit on the girl. Sometimes it will pay for a meal then say, for example, that now she can take me and buy me icecream.

Should "it" be I?

She isn't a hooker!

Also love "hooker" as boo light.

I like how the unreasonable tips come with "dump him" instructions. Dumping her would be hard work after all.

Are you implying that the page is saying that men withhold flowers from women as a less hard alternative to dumping them directly?

Einstein would call that 'not being insane'.

...but probably didn't.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 January 2011 03:03:02AM *  2 points [-]

I got a little angry reading that (didn't follow the original link)

Just so long as you don't interpret it as avocation from me (except where explicitly indicated). It is, after all, a bunch of dating tips given to women and presented here because it may 'squick' guys. Mind you most of them did not squick me at all and even then it was just a "I wouldn't date her" reaction. But other people not getting offended at something is sometimes itself taken as offensive so I don't mind if you are angry at me too. :)

I know you mentioned that you hope you never have to date. For those that do date an attractive trait tends to be the ability to accept the dating patterns of the desired demographic without discontent. The signalling reason for this is obvious.

Thereby signalling to her (if she were rational) that she'll be equally a nonentity to you in a year, and/or (if you actively avoid the subject) that you handled your past relationships badly and are likely to do the same for your next.

I wouldn't call that rational. A rational girl would assume that I don't have my entire history written down on my sleeve for all to see. I don't speak of all the important things in my life in all conversations. I would call that girl 'paranoid'.

So glad I'm a lifestyle-aspie where the rule is "if you want something from someone, ask

Not a bad approach at all. Not universally effective but the screening/signalling combo would work well for some combinations. :)

My imagined "stereotypical advice" version of that sentence is more like "If the girl in the corner is gorgeous, too bad. The girl who actually talks to you and affects an interest in you will be gorgeous too if you let yourself see it, and you don't want to miss out on her just because you're hung up on someone else that you probably didn't have a chance with anyway.

In that vein the actual sentiment in the tip would translate to actively seeking out those other 'gorgeous', interesting/interested people too, rather than waiting passively.

God, I love family-as-applause-light. Just seeing "criticize" and "mother" next to each other looks dirty. Mothers are sweet and upstanding ladies who work hard to take care of their daughters!

'Applause light' is a little different from 'personal - don't insult'.

Should "it" be I?

No. Just no.

Also love "hooker" as boo light.

Framing, like it or not, is incredibly important when dating. A particularly aggressive framing of "If I do <date/kiss/sleep with> then I am entitled to <X> material resource>" is an indication that a certain kind of relationship will follow and to some extent the type of personality of the girl. Again, it is how it is framed that is important more so than who actually pays for stuff. It also depends what kind of relationship you want.

Some people in some circumstances are looking for a more overtly transactional relationship than a partnership - rich middle aged men having affairs for example. Which is somewhat different to the provider/dominant-partner role that a less aggressive expectation that he will pay may indicate.

Are you implying that the page is saying that men withhold flowers from women as a less hard alternative to dumping them directly?

Almost certainly. It's a male conspiracy. The CIA is probably involved too. And aliens. And if the flowers don't work the Tin Foil Hat will every time.

...but probably didn't.

No, quite probably not. The "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." attribution to Einstein is a cultural myth. But sometimes I humour culture on the little things. :)

Comment author: Zaine 15 April 2013 04:14:20AM *  0 points [-]

I prefer to arrange meetings where no waiting for either party is required and there is a minimum of inconvenience if someone flakes. Apart from that there are all sorts of ways to handle this and other sorts of power play in a way that eliminates deliberate discourtesy while providing the best experience for both parties. That's where sharing strategies and successes with others who have found ways to handle a situation comes in handy.

I had no idea such a thing were possible. Please share your strategies and successes for arranging those situations.

(I'm being purposely non-specific in the hopes of encouraging as much detail as possible; a good strategy for interviews and give-and-take, but for requesting particular information in an asynchronous exchange I'm unsure of its efficacy.)

Comment author: wedrifid 15 April 2013 04:37:07AM 0 points [-]

I had no idea such a thing were possible. Please share your strategies and successes for arranging those situations.

I presume wedrifid was essentially referring to making dates that were things you wanted to do anyway or meeting points where the waiting party has an alternative thing to be doing.

Comment author: Zaine 15 April 2013 04:51:45AM 0 points [-]

That was what I assumed, but to schedule a meeting where being late would not make the first arrival wait seems impossible to me. Perhaps a fair or festival? Those occur infrequently. A petting zoo? That's... not a bad idea, actually - but petting the animals would hardly be the main activity, and the animals could only entertain one for so long. At cinema one may feel to have been made to wait by seeing other tribes all around, even though the explicit activity is idle viewing. A talk? One may want to save a seat for the tardy party, but besides that a talk appears perfect.

Well, that's one "[meeting] where no waiting for either party is required...." I figured you or wedrifid might have a cache of events that fit that criterion and asked to hedge against figuratively 're-inventing the wheel'.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 15 April 2013 06:58:49AM 0 points [-]

I recommend sitting down and listing ten things you might do for fun, just because you enjoy them. Then look at that list and circle the ones that don't have a fixed start time (like zoos, fairs, festivals, museums, outdoor walks, amusement parks, beaches, etc. etc. etc.) If you haven't circled anything, repeat the exercise with another ten things you like to do. If the area where you live publishes a directory of local events, that's a useful place to start.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 December 2012 01:54:55AM 1 point [-]

Most of those don't offend me, and most of those that do offend me offend me because they're sexist, so I guess they wouldn't offend a counterfactual version of me who is more sexist. I suspect some of those are intended to be tongue-in-cheek. (But the one about e-mail immediately made me think about what would happen if both partners abode by it.)

Comment author: Will_Sawin 21 January 2011 10:33:54PM 1 point [-]

My reaction was that it's not very nice to intentionally titrate the time one spends interacting with me. It doesn't seem like anything else on the list is deceptive or otherwise squicky.

Comment author: wedrifid 22 January 2011 03:08:26AM *  0 points [-]

This is, of course, why 'self help' is best performed in communities where other people's agendas are not there to interfere with your progress. Given that success is for most part social and zero sum there will inevitably be epistemic pollution as a result of other people trying to influence your behaviour for their own purposes. Morality, after all, is mostly a tool used by people with (an appropriate kind of social) power to control the behaviour of those most vulnerable to its influence. (Note that sometimes it also serves a useful overall social purpose but it is not there to help you.)

Edit: If nothing else having specialised self help communities prevents every single remotely related conversation from ending up derailed into ethics.

Comment author: HughRistik 22 January 2011 06:51:05AM 6 points [-]

In my view, the problem isn't inherent in discussion of ethics, it's just that many notions of ethics (particularly in social interaction) are just hypocritical and wrong from the start. Basically, people's conventional ideas about "self", "authenticity", and "manipulation" are largely an ephemeral slave morality. (Sorry if I'm giving anyone inferential distance shock, but I've outlined this position in the past here in massively long comments that I'm too lazy to dig up.)

The problem with throwing out the ethical baby with the bathwater is that then it's hard to get help optimizing your self-improvement according to a particular vision of ethics.

Comment author: wedrifid 22 January 2011 07:02:45AM 1 point [-]

In my view, the problem isn't inherent in discussion of ethics, it's just that many notions of ethics (particularly in social interaction) are just hypocritical and wrong from the start.

I agree with you here and also note that what I am wary of is not environments in which ethical discussions take place but rather environments in which discussions pertaining simple instrumental or epistemic considerations are systematically diverted by ethical discussion or moral proscription. That is, it is what is lost and the implied introduction of bias into what remains that is the problem.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 03:47:53AM 0 points [-]

best performed in communities where other people's agendas are not there to interfere with your progress.

careful you who take advice from.

Comment author: wedrifid 22 January 2011 04:10:06AM 1 point [-]

careful you who take advice from.

Obviously. But your advice in this particular instance appears, shall we say, ambiguous at best.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 04:41:20AM 2 points [-]

Ambiguious posting is matter of habit for me. In this context: I experienced both growth oriented communities. And others that punish you for looking into improvement. Or people that give bad advice for all kinds of reasons. It was difficult for me to understand that this happens and why.

Comment author: wedrifid 22 January 2011 04:45:51AM 0 points [-]

Well said.