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HughRistik 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: 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: DaFranker 04 January 2013 04:24:27PM 0 points [-]

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

* To the extent that there is indeed information contained in the smell as MugaSofer already said, and that making a correct judgment of this information is instrumental and valuable (i.e. "Wrong, I think, to a degree depending on how much them being right mattered.").

Comment author: MugaSofer 04 January 2013 04:00:20PM *  0 points [-]

If there is important information contained in said smell (for example, hygiene levels) then masking it would indeed be deceptive. If on the other hand some smells are simply disagreeable on their own, not evidence for disagreeable traits (EDIT: remember, adaptation-executors not fitness-maximizers,) then deodorant is not deceptive.

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: TheOtherDave 03 January 2013 07:01:49PM 4 points [-]

Completely agreed, though I do often wonder whether following both of your advices (that is, conditioning myself to pick the highest-EV profile picture just because it "feels right" rather than deliberately doing so in order to signal some attribute I think will cause people to behave in some way I want them to) leaves me better or worse off than just following your advice. (In practice it's mostly moot, since I don't bother to do the work of fully conditioning myself, but I'm still curious.)

Tangentially, the idea that it's OK to do something which has a consequence as long as I'm ignorant of that consequence is one of the most pervasive and pernicious moralisms I know of.

Comment author: MugaSofer 04 January 2013 04:05:27PM -1 points [-]

I'm sorry, are you saying that the claim that deliberately presenting false evidence in order to introduce noise into a signal, with the expectation that this will raise the chance of a substandard choice (of benefit to you) being made, is not immoral to some extent?

If you're claiming that humans don't value the truth, I would like to see some damn evidence; if you're claiming that false signalling is somehow less deceptive than verbal false signalling (lying) then I would love to see an actual argument in favor of that; and if you're just attacking me for making moral prescriptions then ... what the hell, seriously.

On the other hand, if you're pointing out that many "signals" are only such from an evolutionary perspective, and humans just like eg like big breasts without knowing why.

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: shokwave 22 January 2011 05:04:52PM 3 points [-]

Attended six schools, mostly. Threw myself at the popular cliques and remembered how I failed, didn't fail that way at the next school.

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: sark 22 January 2011 06:30:57PM 1 point [-]

But if that happens slow and more intuitively than the race is slow, and maybe even non existant.

Speed really isn't the issue. An arms race will create waste and inequality.

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

I think a typical person would be receptive to some of the PU techniques but not others. If as you say (I really need to educate myself on PU), most of it is obvious social skills then I don't think they would have any objection. Some techniques they might think 'unfair' or 'evil', in which case their deontological ethics already takes care of this not degenerating into an arms race.

So perhaps PU may be unfairly maligned. But I think when its techniques are presented in a non-PU context, most people already have the right built-in ethics to accept what is useful for themselves and reject what is on net harmful to all of us.

I guess it was kinda unfair for me to press this point about arms races. Because if I'm getting this right, it seems that PU serves more to help the socially inept achieve basic social functionality than keeping up with the sophisticated players in the field. This is an honorable effort.

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.