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Anatoly_Vorobey 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: Anatoly_Vorobey 21 January 2011 04:37:08PM 6 points [-]

I have in mind, of course, what is probably the most successful and effective body of self-help expertise ever devised

How do you figure? Do you have any evidence?

Comment author: Vladimir_M 21 January 2011 07:19:19PM *  6 points [-]

Yes, but unfortunately not in a form that could be presented convincingly in a blog comment. It's mostly evidence from a mass of observation and anecdote, and the relevant facts I have established are indeed consistent with (and often successfully predicted by) these principles. More evidence also comes from their consistency with the facts about human nature and social dynamics I have observed in other areas of life, as well as the evident (to me) mispredictions and errors of logic and fact committed by pretty much all other popular sources of advice about the problems in question, especially those that, in contrast, enjoy mainstream respectability.

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 23 January 2011 01:06:37AM 7 points [-]

Fair enough. I was just thinking that "ever devised" is a tall order, and perhaps you're not casting your net wide enough when thinking about it. For example, consider books of manners in general, or correct behavior for women in particular, in the 19th century, when they were ubiquitous, and apparently very useful due to increased social mobility. Or Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends etc., which probably outsells all PUA material by a wide margin. Is it possible that some of these have been more successful and effective?

Anyway, thanks for satisfying my curiosity.

Comment author: Vladimir_M 24 January 2011 08:54:26AM *  5 points [-]

These are indeed good examples, especially the first one. It is possible that by some reasonable measures of effectiveness some of them might be ahead. So yes, I agree that I might have cast my net too narrowly.

Comment author: HughRistik 24 January 2011 05:50:26AM 0 points [-]

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a good book for general social skills, but it just doesn't sufficiently cover sociosexual dynamics, particular gender-specific behavior and preferences. It's like taking an excellent algebra book to your trig class.

The book is unlikely to substitute for pickup, though it could be a complement, and some PUAs do read it. We should never expect gender-neutral advice to be sufficient for those who have difficulty attracting the other gender or understanding their psychology.

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 24 January 2011 09:50:10AM *  6 points [-]

Well, when it was written, there was no dating scene in the modern sense, and most PUA recipes made no sense. The sociosexual dynamics were all different.

Naturally, Carnegie's book wouldn't work as a guide to pickup, but note that I suggested it to Vladimir_M not as a contender to PUA in terms of pickup effectiveness, but as a contender to PUA in terms of "self-help" effectiveness, generally speaking.

Comment author: MugaSofer 02 January 2013 07:15:01PM -1 points [-]

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a good book for general social skills, but it just doesn't sufficiently cover sociosexual dynamics, particular gender-specific behavior and preferences. It's like taking an excellent algebra book to your trig class.

How to Win Friends and Influence People was being discussed in the broader category of self-help, compared to PUA, not promoted as a "substitute for pickup"

Comment author: fiddlemath 27 January 2011 05:46:23PM 2 points [-]

Yes, but unfortunately not in a form that could be presented convincingly in a blog comment.

Please try? If not in a blog comment, maybe a top-level post or a discussion post - or, if you think LW would react badly to the topic, in a blog post somewhere else, with a link?

I ask for two reasons: a) I'd like to be a little more certain that there's truth in PUA before I incorporate yet another heresy into my worldview, and b) for your own sake, it's immensely clarifying to reify any "mass of observation" into explicit claims with explicit accounts of your evidence. I've found (b) immensely helpful before; it's helped my clear away cant that I didn't know I labored under.

In fact, I suspect "this is a bad way to express my knowledge" may be a mental stop sign here, as I know it's been for me in the past. Similarly, "This summarizes my experience," full stop. It's hard to argue with, so it's hard to make clear in your own head.

Comment author: Vladimir_M 27 January 2011 06:34:45PM *  2 points [-]

b) for your own sake, it's immensely clarifying to reify any "mass of observation" into explicit claims with explicit accounts of your evidence. I've found (b) immensely helpful before; it's helped my clear away cant that I didn't know I labored under

I agree. However, the problem is that for reasons you'll probably understand, I'm not sure if I want to write too much about my personal life in public comments on the internet. It's very hard to write about such things without letting into the public more information than is desirable or prudent.

Fortunately, I am not the only source on this topic. I recommend that you look at the comments left in this thread (and many other ones you'll easily find by googling) by the commenter HughRistik. He has much more expertise than me in this area and has written a great many lengthy comments about it, all very well written and argued.