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Davorak 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: Davorak 24 January 2011 09:27:48PM 3 points [-]

And yet, it is denounced by almost everyone - perhaps because they're only familiar with mechanical, dishonest, The Game-era material? I dunno.

It is a matter of definition for many people including myself. The PUA techniques fall in to the category of manipulation. If a technique is not a form of manipulation then it is not PUA.

Which works great for my personal definition, but it does not line up how people practicing PUA define it right? What percentage of PUA techniques would you consider manipulative. Do you have a better definition for me to use?

Comment author: lukeprog 24 January 2011 09:32:00PM 2 points [-]

Do you consider Art of Charm's methods to be so manipulative that they fall within the category of "PUA" for you? If no, then that's a strange way to categorize the producers of the most popular PUA podcast. If yes, then I wonder what you mean by "manipulative." Art of Charm's methods are manipulative only in the sense that a woman putting on cute clothes and makeup and acting flirty and trying to be her best self is "manipulative."

Comment author: Davorak 24 January 2011 10:48:00PM 1 point [-]

Do you consider Art of Charm's methods to be so manipulative that they fall within the category of "PUA" for you?

I don't know because I do not know what methods they advocate. The video at Art of Charm does not seem to advocate anything manipulative and seemed like it had a positive message but that is the extent of my knowledge of them.

I was not categorizing anything or anyone. I was stating a definition that I and many other people seem to use regarding PUA a probably cause for it to be "denounced by almost everyone." I was offering an explanation. I then asked for your definition since there are many and yours different and currently unknown to me.

I asked what percentage of PUA techniques are manipulative because I wanted to know weather or not you consider manipulative techniques to be part of PUA material; eventually I would also like to know if you consider them valuable and a net positive, but the former is a large topic by itself and would need to be covered before the later could be discussed coherently.

a woman putting on cute clothes and makeup and acting flirty and trying to be her best self is "manipulative."

"makeup", "cute cloths", "acting flirty" do not manipulation make. Those same things can be used in a deception or manipulation though.

Comment author: HughRistik 24 January 2011 09:43:40PM 3 points [-]

It is a matter of definition for many people including myself. The PUA techniques fall in to the category of manipulation. If a technique is not a form of manipulation then it is not PUA.

This statement seems very a priori. What is your definition of "manipulation," and why do you say that PUA techniques fall into it?

Which works great for my personal definition, but it does not line up how people practicing PUA define it right?

I'm ready to taboo the word "manipulation," because it doesn't have a fixed meaning. Some people use it to mean morally-neutral intentional social influence. Other people use it to mean unethical intentional social influence. Others don't require intent in their definitions. The term invites equivocation.

In my view, I would use "manipulation" to mean unethical social influence, in which case calling any technique manipulative first requires that one show it to be unethical.

Comment author: Davorak 24 January 2011 11:03:44PM 2 points [-]

This statement seems very a priori. What is your definition of "manipulation," and why do you say that PUA techniques fall into it?

I did not.

I stated a definition that I am working from, then I would take the existing techniques described by others as PUA and decide weather or not I consider them PUA under my definition.

I did not take all techniques described as PUA by others and classify them as manipulative. This in fact is what causes PUA to be "denounced by almost everyone." I was offering a plausible explanation since lukeprog said he did not understand why people would do this.

Defining manipulation in terms of ethics just moves the problem from the word manipulate to ethics so all the definitions of manipulation in your post are inadequate to me.

How about deceptive or untruthful to obtain something wanted.

Comment author: HughRistik 24 January 2011 11:47:02PM *  4 points [-]

I did not take all techniques described as PUA by others and classify them as manipulative. This in fact is what causes PUA to be "denounced by almost everyone." I was offering a plausible explanation since lukeprog said he did not understand why people would do this.

Oh, I see. I thought you were asserting that position, rather than merely describing it. Thanks for clarifying.

Yes, I agree that one reason people denounce pickup PUAs is due to the non-rigorous folk-concept of "manipulation," whether that means. I'm sure it means something, and that it often does express some sort of valid objection... I'm just trying to find out what that objection is.

Defining manipulation in terms of ethics just moves the problem from the word manipulate to ethics so all the definitions of manipulation in your post are inadequate to me.

I agree with you that my attempted definition merely defers the problem. I would defend that deferral for two reasons:

  • When people say "X is manipulative," of social influence behavior X, they may often mean "X is unethical" (or more cynically: "I have an Ugh Field around X")
  • People might use "ethical" with more humility than "manipulative." People might be less likely to accuse behaviors of being unethical without explanation, while they have no qualms about making accusations of "manipulation" without explanation.

How about deceptive or untruthful to obtain something wanted.

This definition might capture some aspects of what people mean by "manipulation," but not others. For instance, I'll suggest that various forms of coercion would fall under the folk-concept of manipulation, even while being non-deceptive.

Whether that objection applies to PU is another question, of course. I think it's mostly overblown.

Comment author: Davorak 25 January 2011 12:20:07AM 3 points [-]

I'm just trying to find out what that objection is.

If a PUA technique is deceptive or untruthful then it deprives the person to be seduced from relavent information that could help them make a better decision. That is what I see at the heart of many peoples concerns, even if they are often not able to verbalize it.

Whether that objection applies to PU is another question, of course. I think it's mostly overblown.

You think that the objection that PUA techniques use deception or untruthfulness is overblown? Most men looking toward PUA are looking for something effective, so I would imagine that what are considered PUA techniques can be both deceptive or untruthful and the opposite because both can be effective(often for different goals and sometimes for the same goal).

Comment author: HughRistik 25 January 2011 06:08:42AM *  11 points [-]

If a PUA technique is deceptive or untruthful then it deprives the person to be seduced from relavent information that could help them make a better decision. That is what I see at the heart of many peoples concerns, even if they are often not able to verbalize it.

I think that's a plausible hypothesis about the "manipulation" objection to pickup. What I'm wondering is how those people are defining "manipulation."

You think that the objection that PUA techniques use deception or untruthfulness is overblown?

Yes.

I would speculate that the three main worries about deceptiveness and pickup are that (a) PUAs will lie about their relationship interest in order to trick women into sex, (b) PUAs will lie about their accomplishments, profession, and experiences, and (c) PUAs will be "putting on an act" socially and "acting like someone they are not." Do you think there are any other components to that objection?

(a) is probably just false, because PUAs don't advocate lying about relationship interest. Actually, PUAs are far more likely to display less relationship interest than they truly have, rather than more. There are various game-theoretic reasons why that can be a strong strategy, and I will make them more explicit if necessary.

(b) is false, except for white lies in routine-based pickup. Routines are hardly universal in the seduction community, and they are widely hated, even though some methods use them as training wheels. I discussed the ethics of white lies in routines in this post, where I argued:

Ok, then could you give me a specific example, other than one I've already stipulated (e.g. telling anecdotes about friends who don't exist during the first 10 minutes of conversation)? No, there isn't really a fight outside, and no, you don't really have a friend who is buying his girlfriend a cashmere sweater. But can't we excuse such white lies in helping people learn to socialize? Once a guy gets some social experience under his belt, then he will have entertaining anecdotes about friends that are actually true, and he will be as cool as those canned stories make him seem. [...]

I think that PUAs engaging in impression management, or even using scripts as a temporary measure to learn social skills, are not in the same moral category as substantive deception (lying about accomplishments, career, and income) or the same moral category as deception on a permanent basis (makeup, push-up bras). I think women should recognize that the intention of PUAs is not to deceive women about how they measure in qualities that women use to evaluate them, but to actually develop those qualities over the long term.

Although I'm personally not a fan of canned routines that contain factual untruths, I think such white lies (e.g. stories about imaginary friends within the first hour of conversation) could be justified on utilitarian grounds. The benefit of the user is high, because it keeps him in conversations that will allow him to learn social skills. The cost to people he interacts with is low. Furthermore, there is a benefit to women when he eventually learns social skills and discards routines, expanding the pool of datable men.

(c) is technically true, in that PUAs certainly do things that many people would call "putting on an act." In the past, I've argued that this judgment is unfair, because it presupposes a static notion of self and an overly restrictive and hierarchical notion of self-development. "Fake it 'til you make it" is a valid way of learning just about anything, and it gets unfairly hated on when applied to personal development. From the linked comment:

In my experience in real life, people who try to signal more social skills than they actually have tend to get seen through or make people feel uncomfortable almost immediately, or get believed on a permanent basis. While I think it's possible to hit somewhere in between, where people initially think you're cool and then later decide that you're a loser, doing so is hard, because signaling substantially more social skills than you actually have is hard.

I suspect that most of the time, the amount of social skills that someone can "fake" is about the level of social skills they could attain if they would practice a bit, get some good reactions from people, and believes in themselves. In some cases, merely one or two tries of a new social behavior with such positive results are enough to grant you that social skill.

Predicting how you would act if you were more socially skilled than you actually are, and pulling it off, is almost as paradoxical a notion as predicting what you would think if you were more intelligent than you actually are. To predict what the more intelligent / socially-skilled version of you would do, then you would need that level of intelligence / social skills!

Social reality doesn't work by the same rules as physical reality. Any notion of deception presupposes that there is some sort of truth being hidden, but often in the exterior social world and the interior world of self, it's hard to say what is true. You can partially change yourself merely by changing your self-narrative (to use Daniel Dennett's terminology).

Sorry to throw so much stuff at you all at once, but I hope the reasoning I've presenting in this post, and the linked posts, starts to show why I believe that the "deception" criticism of pickup is overblown. Let me know if you have any objections, or if there is anything that still bothers you (or might bother other people).

In my mind, the real problem with pickup is that some particular techniques and mindsets are toxic. Some techniques have a negative expected value. Some attitudes result in morally-neutral techniques being applied in negative ways.

Comment author: Jack 25 January 2011 06:43:22AM *  14 points [-]

Something I think a lot of people don't understand- particularly the type that stay in on a Saturday night to write critiques of PU- is that your average urban bar scene isn't anything like the real world. It's night time. Everyone is dressed and made up to look about as good as they will ever look. Everyone is drinking. In other words, nearly everyone is in costume and on drugs! The preferences people have in such circumstances only vaguely resemble the preferences they have during daytime hours. The whole affair is perhaps best described as a collective game of make believe where we all pretend to be sexy and cool and fun for four hours. It is theatre.

Of course viewing this near-mode orgy of cool and constant stream of negotiations to fulfill base desires is going to look perverted under the cool gaze of far-mode ethics. The denouncement of PUA deception under these circumstances feels a bit like denouncing self-awareness. Everyone sometimes pretends to be someone a little bit sexier and cooler than they really are- PUAs seem unique in that they do so systematically and self-consciously.

Now of yes, there are those who criticize the entirety of nightlife culture- often calling it 'rape culture'. And indeed, we should have well-embedded mental constraints on our hedonism to avoid doing things that are actually harmful. In this regard though, the sub-surface self-awareness that distinguishes the pick-up artist from the natural would likely be a boon.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 25 January 2011 12:55:20PM 7 points [-]

I've never heard "rape culture" applied specifically to bar culture. I've always heard it applied to the whole culture-- the implication is that there are pervasive ways of thinking which facilitate rape.

Comment author: Jack 25 January 2011 11:57:33PM 2 points [-]

Usually when I see criticisms of bar/party culture it is done under the umbrella of a rape culture critique. But yeah the term is very broad.

Comment author: HughRistik 25 January 2011 07:25:32AM *  7 points [-]

Something I think a lot of people don't understand- particularly the type that stay in on a Saturday night to write critiques of PU- is that your average urban bar scene isn't anything like the real world.

Right. And the people who regularly hang out in bar scenes are a different phenotype than people who don't. I tried to get this point across in discussion of pickup on a feminist blog, without much success. I ran into the silliest sorts of sophistry:

The big problem here, Hugh, is that PUAs don’t disproportionately meet women of any characteristic because people are not interchangeable.

I answered:

Of course PUAs meet women of particular characteristics more often! PUAs don’t meet women randomly. Do you really think that women who PUAs run into at clubs are psychometrically identical to women who stay home and read books?

and got this response:

I do. Most women enjoy both. We aren’t divided into the neat little category boxes PUAs like to put us in.

Statistical thinking fail.

Back to you:

In other words, nearly everyone is in costume and on drugs!

Yup. It's not only people with the most extraverted and primal phenotypes, it's those folks at their most extraverted and primal.

Now of yes, there are those who criticize the entirety of nightlife culture- often calling it 'rape culture'.

Could changing certain cultural norms around consent be a good thing? Yes. But I don't agree with scapegoating PUA in particular merely for copying prevalent norms, just because they were the poor fools to expose how the system works and how to operate within it.

Comment author: Jack 25 January 2011 11:59:54PM 2 points [-]

Could changing certain cultural norms around consent be a good thing? Yes. But I don't agree with scapegoating PUA in particular merely for copying prevalent norms, just because they were the poor fools to expose how the system works and how to operate within it.

In case it wasn't clear before: I agree and actually think the fact that that PU makes existing norms explicit is a really essential first step.

Comment author: HughRistik 26 January 2011 12:27:24AM 0 points [-]

Yeah, I was quite sure you would agree; I was just elaborating.

Comment author: [deleted] 25 January 2011 12:02:28PM *  16 points [-]

Actually, “pretending to be sexy,” aka projecting confidence, social dominance, good looks, etc., doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I know a lot of PUA focuses on stuff like that, and I think that’s great; I’ve seen it have a positive influence on friends of mine, and vastly improve their lives, without compromising their ethics. I think this sort of training falls under "self-improvement," and I think it's an unalloyed good thing, and from what I can tell, this is exactly what you've been teaching and promoting.

I’m bothered by what I think of as “compliance tricks,” which I’ve also seen recommended in a PUA context.

That is, when you get someone to do things that she doesn’t want or like, using commitment effects and manipulating her own guilt, awkwardness, and desire to please. Or playing on her insecurities so she doesn't feel she deserves to refuse. I’ve been on the receiving end of a mild version of this: it’s possible to make me do things that are bad for me just by being “dominating” and making me feel too awkward to refuse a favor. This is similar to the Milgram Experiment. People can be remarkably unwilling to say “No” to someone who expects to be obeyed, and people can be willing to harm others or themselves just to avoid a reprimand, a stern look, or social awkwardness.

A man who understands this can get sex just by using compliance tricks (especially if he uses them on an especially timid or docile woman.) He doesn’t necessarily have to be cool or charming – he can be unattractive and creepy – but he can make a woman feel bad about saying “No” very effectively if he’s good at psychology, and he can make her life worse. I think this is why there’s a lot of feminist talk about “No means no” and consent and so on – because women are socialized to try to please people and go along with others’ desires, and can be put in harmful situations by people who take advantage of their reluctance to give a direct “No.”

Maybe that in itself isn’t a crime; maybe unfulfilling, not-quite-desired sex isn’t the worst thing in the world; but as a general rule, I think compliance tricks are pretty disturbing. People have permitted genocide and tyranny -- and, less dramatically, ruined their own lives -- because they were too awkward or meek to say “No,” and someone took advantage of their meekness. The victim of a compliance trick bears responsibility for his/her weakness, but the instigator of a compliance trick is still doing wrong, in my opinion.

Comment author: Abisashi 25 January 2011 08:37:57PM *  4 points [-]

I think the term feminists use that you are looking for is "enthusiastic consent"; for the reasons you describe, "no means no" may be too limited of a standard at times for ensuring ethical sex.

Comment author: Tesseract 25 January 2011 08:46:32PM 3 points [-]

Minor error: judging from context, I think you mean the Milgram Experiment, which focuses on obedience to authority, and not the Stanford Prison Experiment, which is about how social roles affect personalities.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 January 2011 08:55:32AM 0 points [-]

fixed.

Comment author: HughRistik 31 January 2011 08:33:00AM *  4 points [-]

Continued from previous post...

I'm raising lots of questions, and I don't necessarily expect answers... most of them are rhetorical, because I know there isn't an easy answer. In ethics, it's easy to prohibit things, but it's hard to show the distinctions between what's prohibited and what's permitted.

People have permitted genocide and tyranny -- and, less dramatically, ruined their own lives -- because they were too awkward or meek to say “No,” and someone took advantage of their meekness.

It's correct that it's costly to someone if you destroy their ability to say "no." It's also costly to them if you destroy their ability to say "yes." Those costs aren't symmetrical, though the latter cost needs to be considered when calculating the expected value of advances. "Choice" doesn't just mean the ability to say "no," it also means the ability to say "yes."

The victim of a compliance trick bears responsibility for his/her weakness, but the instigator of a compliance trick is still doing wrong, in my opinion.

Lots of mainstream mating behavior by both genders has elements of compliance (e.g. "call me") that people are not always aware of. What if the initiator is genuinely unaware that their behavior might induce unenthusiastic (or unwanted) compliance? Check out this body language TV program where the expert remarks that women's accepting and rejecting behavior sometimes looks the same due to politeness.

How ethical responsibility should be divided is a good question. Clearly there is a responsibility that an initiating partner consider the other person's boundaries and ability to assert them, but there is also a responsibility of the receptive partner to assert their boundaries, since initiators don't have perfect knowledge of the other person's boundaries. The division of responsibility would depend on the sort of activity, and the context.

Given that women's boundaries and preferences have wide variation and conflicts, while men are expected to initiate under conditions of uncertainty, there's only so much that men can do to ensure that they initiate in a way that is both attractive and easy to say "no" to. This is not a system that we opted-into. Nobody came and said "please check this box if you would like to date a population of people who have a high rate or trouble saying 'yes,' and a high rate of trouble saying 'no'... and who typically expect you to initiate."

Men can be cautious, or attempt to read women's minds, and it's a good thing if they do. It's quite feasible to avoid running over women's boundaries... if you treat women like frail porcelain statues. Yet what percentage of women actually finds such behavior attractive? Does the possibility of a woman complying with an unwanted advance, without the guy knowing, mean that men need to treat women like frail porcelain statues by default?

At what point does men's caution turn into infantilization towards women, and at what point do we ask them to help with cultural change? At what point do we hold women responsible to assert their boundaries (particularly for advances that aren't aggressive, and where the guy might never know that she was just going along with it out of people-pleasing)? If less women had trouble saying "no," then men wouldn't have to initiate so conservatively. If less women had trouble saying "yes," then men could initiate cautiously without worry of being rejected because their advance was considered "wimpy" or otherwise unattractive.

Comment author: [deleted] 31 January 2011 01:22:58PM 7 points [-]

I hadn't realized that the fear of harming women could actually be that paralyzing in real life that it actually scares men away from getting dates at all. There's no reason men should have to bear that whole cost as some kind of precautionary principle. There are some ways in which the deck really is stacked against men, and I agree that it's unfair.

You have to understand, like Robert Hand "I have come up from a lower world and I am filled with astonishment when I find that people have any redeeming virtue at all." I'm used to my male friends talking about bedding unconscious girls and planning to screw my teenage little sister. The idea that someone could be so scrupulous that it hurts his dating prospects simply didn't occur to me.

And definitely I believe in putting more pressure on adult women to be more straightforward: say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. That takes character, though, and character takes time, and most women who hear something about "assertiveness" never really grok that this means "Yes, you should self-modify!" I'm in the process of trying to be more assertive -- and the trouble is, I get positive reinforcement every time I'm meek and deferent! Even people who verbally encourage assertiveness respond positively to self-effacing, timid people. So even this is a two-way street. If women want respect for our boundaries, we have to be more assertive. If it would be good for women to be more assertive, then everyone has to actually behave as though they prefer to be around assertive people.

It's hard to figure out where to draw the line ethically, when it comes to the compliance stuff. The David X tactic doesn't seem obviously immoral to me; I'm not sure I would mind if my male friends tried it on a woman; I can imagine some women falling for it and feeling really shitty in the morning, though. Is a man doing wrong if he makes a woman feel really shitty? I'm not sure -- it's just feelings, after all.

One way of looking at it: if a sleazy come-on is followed by a healthy relationship, who wouldn't forgive the sleazy come-on? If a man just does sleaze, all the time, and there's never any underlying goodwill, then I'm afraid I'm going to judge him negatively. Such people exist; you are obviously not one of them; but yes, they exist, and even despite the unfair structure of society, I'm going to judge them.

Comment author: shokwave 31 January 2011 02:37:23PM 2 points [-]

I hadn't realized that the fear of harming women could actually be that paralyzing in real life that it actually scares men away from getting dates at all.

To make matters worse, there is also the case of appearing to harm women. Even a false accusation of rape is a terrifying prospect for any man who isn't like the specified male friends you mentioned.

For some social environments, the cost of a false positive (you determine 'yes' when actually 'no') is way higher than the cost of false negatives. For many other situations, the cost is potentially lower. I don't see it here, but the failure mode in almost all social discussions I've had the misfortune of having on this topic has been to try and generalise a single behaviour for women or men over both situations.

Comment author: CuSithBell 02 February 2011 05:47:27PM 1 point [-]

Is a man doing wrong if he makes a woman feel really shitty? I'm not sure -- it's just feelings, after all.

?? As opposed to what?

Or is this sarcastic?

Comment author: HughRistik 02 February 2011 07:23:19AM 1 point [-]

SarahC said:

I hadn't realized that the fear of harming women could actually be that paralyzing in real life that it actually scares men away from getting dates at all.

I'm glad that I've been able to minimize the inferential distance. This feeling of anxiety is one reason why some men get sensitive or defensive in discussions about consent.

'm used to my male friends talking about bedding unconscious girls and planning to screw my teenage little sister. The idea that someone could be so scrupulous that it hurts his dating prospects simply didn't occur to me.

Ah, it looks like we are talking about different areas of the moral spectrum. Since we were talking about manipulation and compliance tactics, I thought we were talking about something a bit more subtle. Can someone give a concrete example of objectionable "manipulation" or "compliance tricks" that they have in mind?

And definitely I believe in putting more pressure on adult women to be more straightforward: say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no.

I do think it's a good thing if women are encouraged to be straightforward. Also, I would like to see women consider whether men following their preferences would be a good thing for other women. For instance, if you (general "you") are a woman who likes men to initiate when they could only be 70% sure you are consenting... is that really a good practice to encourage men towards? How will other women feel if guys act this way?

If it would be good for women to be more assertive, then everyone has to actually behave as though they prefer to be around assertive people.

Yes. And it's unfortunate that even women who like to communicate verbally about what they want are likely to run into men who have been trained by other women to guess rather than ask. Similarly, women who prefer to do most of the initiating themselves will often run into men who've been trained by other women to do most of the initiating.

As I've mentioned before, women's responses to men are like votes in a democracy. Some women are running a tyranny of the majority over other women in determining men's default dating behavior.

It's hard to figure out where to draw the line ethically, when it comes to the compliance stuff. The David X tactic doesn't seem obviously immoral to me; I'm not sure I would mind if my male friends tried it on a woman; I can imagine some women falling for it and feeling really shitty in the morning, though. Is a man doing wrong if he makes a woman feel really shitty? I'm not sure -- it's just feelings, after all.

That's my reaction, also. I think if a man knowingly does something that reliably makes women feel shitty, that's problematic. In this case, I guess we have to weigh the possibility of her feeling shitty with the possibility of her having a good time. I'm not sure what the correct weights are, or how to do that calculation.

My intuition is against this particular tactic, because I believe that there are ways to have women leave bars with you that are just as good, but which don't have potential downsides.

One way of looking at it: if a sleazy come-on is followed by a healthy relationship

As SilasBarta has pointed out, it's conceivable for men to use "sleaze" to get in the door with a woman, but then be scrupulous in gaining consent before actually having sex.

It's difficult to excuse a "sleazy" come-on ex post facto because it happened to result in a healthy relationship. Yet if the come-on has that result, that could be evidence that the come-on actually wasn't sleazy: the positive outcome is evidence (at least, weak evidence) against the potential harmfulness of the come-on.

Such people exist; you are obviously not one of them; but yes, they exist, and even despite the unfair structure of society, I'm going to judge them.

Sure. It's not them I'm trying to protect. I'm worried about the more scrupulous guys who might get caught by the sweeping language that is commonly used to criticize the sleazy guys.

Comment author: MartinB 31 January 2011 02:20:53PM 1 point [-]

The idea that someone could be so scrupulous that it hurts his dating prospects simply didn't occur to me.

Try reading NON-PU online tip sites for dating/romance and the like. The quite men do not make too many noteworthy appearances in real life.

And definitely I believe in putting more pressure on adult women to be more straightforward[....]

I wonder how that would work out.

Comment author: Oligopsony 31 January 2011 12:08:48PM 2 points [-]

I think these are all worthy questions, but I can't agree with the implication that this lessens (if that is the implication - my apologies if I have misread you) our concerns over compliance tricks. In particular I think the metaphor of "dividing ethical responsibility" is very bad framing: it allows discussions like these to turn into cheering or booing various possibly responsible groups, and moreover it doesn't even make sense outside of a punitive or compensatory context. What one should do is identify what's normative for every actor in the situation.

Removing someone's ability to say "yes" is bad; I don't think anyone disputes this. And one of the great ethical advances of the past half-century has been to increase people's, especially women's, ability to say "yes" in the sexual field. But I don't see any respect in which curtailing compliance tricks will seriously compromise anyone's ability to say yes. (I'm sure one could come up with particular side examples.) I'm not sure if this would be reading you correctly, but you might be saying that by respecting boundaries men make themselves unsexy, which curtails women's ability to say yes. I think that if this is what you're saying it's deeply incorrect; if men are making themselves unsexy, for whatever reason, that results in lost opportunities, but it's not actually curtailing anyone's ability to say yes that in fact wants to.

It's also true that compliance tricks are used unconsciously. If this is the case (which it is) we should critically examine our "autopilot" modes of interaction to see where we are in fact using confidence tricks, so we can eliminate them where possible and appropriate. (It may not always be appropriate: society depends on a great deal of soft coercion. Sexuality is one of the few areas I'd be a total absolutist about freedom, but that may be a question of terminal values.) Of course the fact that (at least some elements of) PUA openly rather than subconsciously use compliance tricks means the first half of the battle is won, and we just have to move on to making them (more) socially unacceptable (than they already are.)

If the choice really is between treating women as porcelain statues and accidentally raping someone, how could anyone treat this as a serious dilemma? As you note, forgoing a yes and forgoing a no have highly asymmetric costs. But SarahC is correct to say that confidence is not the same thing as manipulation. A confident, high-affect, charismatic &c. person can sedulously respect boundaries. Perhaps we're running into a purely semantic confusion and what I label "respecting boundaries" is not actually the same thing as what you label "treating women like porcelain statues" - perhaps you could operationalize the latter?

I agree that continuing the secular increase in women's (and for that matter, men's) ability to say yes or no, as is their wont, is an important social goal that will continue to benefit all parties (other than date rapists.) How to ensure that is a sometimes very complicated and sometimes very simple (don't engage in slut-shaming, don't use compliance tricks, &c) question, but one that's been addressed at length elsewhere.

Comment author: HughRistik 01 February 2011 08:25:18AM *  4 points [-]

Oligopsony said:

I think these are all worthy questions, but I can't agree with the implication that this lessens (if that is the implication - my apologies if I have misread you) our concerns over compliance tricks.

Thanks for helping me nail down what it is I am saying. I really appreciate it when people ask me to clarify, rather than jump to conclusions (and down my throat).

I actually don't know whether we should have less worry about compliance tricks or not, because I'm still not exactly clear about what "compliance tricks" means (same with "manipulation"). If any sort of mundane request falls under that heading, then perhaps we shouldn't be so concerned about all sorts of compliance tricks, because some of them are innocent. If "compliance tricks" refers to something more narrow and extreme, then we should be concerned.

My intuition is that there are problematic behaviors that could fall under "manipulation" or "compliance tricks," but I'm really not sure what other people mean by those terms in this discussion. No concrete examples have been given. I proposed one to SarahC (David X's "I thought you were adventurous"), but she didn't seem to think it was manipulative.

Removing someone's ability to say "yes" is bad; I don't think anyone disputes this.

Not explicitly, at least.

But I don't see any respect in which curtailing compliance tricks will seriously compromise anyone's ability to say yes. (I'm sure one could come up with particular side examples.)

That depends on what "compliance tricks" means. Any request could induce compliance. If you curtail requests, then it becomes harder for people to say "yes" if you don't ask. What distinguishes a "compliance trick" from a request that is not a "compliance trick?"

I'm not sure if this would be reading you correctly, but you might be saying that by respecting boundaries men make themselves unsexy, which curtails women's ability to say yes.

If a man respects a woman's actual boundaries, that's highly unlikely to be unsexy. The problem is that a man doesn't know where her actual boundaries are, at least not early on. Here's a concrete example of some women's potential preferences and boundaries around a kiss at the end of a date:

  • Sally prefers men to ask explicitly before kissing her
  • Jane prefers men to kiss her nonverbally, but to look for confirmation that she is moving in for a kiss
  • Roxanne prefers that men just kiss her without asking, or looking for nonverbal confirmation

Now, imagine that you are a man going on date. The problem is that you don't know whether you are dating Sally, Jane, or Roxanne. Well, you know the name of the person you are dating, but you don't know their preference set. You can guess, but it's, well... a guess. Early in dating, you don't know who the person in front of you truly is: you must aim your behavior towards a probability distribution of who that person might be.

Respecting Sally's boundaries isn't a turn-off if you are on a date with Sally. Sally won't be turned off by you asking for a kiss goodbye, but Jane and Roxanne will. In fact, they might find it unconfident, inept, or wimpy.

So, what should you do? With all the talk you've heard about vulnerability, people-pleasing, consent, etc... you might make the following conclusion (of course, I have no idea whether anyone would actually advocate such a conclusion):

It's more costly to a woman to attempt to kiss her without asking if she prefers being asked, than to fail to kiss a woman who wants you to kiss her without asking. You don't know which set of preferences she has. Therefore, as a precautionary principle (to use SarahC's term), you should treat all women as if they are Sally, and always ask.

This ethical argument is compelling, but it runs into major practical problems if women like Sally are in the minority.

I think that if this is what you're saying it's deeply incorrect; if men are making themselves unsexy, for whatever reason, that results in lost opportunities, but it's not actually curtailing anyone's ability to say yes that in fact wants to.

Ah, but whether someone someone wants to say "yes" can often depend on how the request was made. Making a request in an unsexy way makes it harder to say "yes" to. Getting concrete again, let's consider two ways of asking for a kiss goodnight at the end of a date:

  • "May I please kiss you goodnight, if that's alright with you?"
  • "Gimme a kiss goodnight..." or "Gimme a kiss goodnight?"

The second is probably harder to say "no" to. It induces more compliance, regardless of whether it is phrased as a question or an imperative. Yet the first way is probably harder to say "yes" to, for women who don't find that way of asking attractive.

It's also true that compliance tricks are used unconsciously. If this is the case (which it is) we should critically examine our "autopilot" modes of interaction to see where we are in fact using confidence tricks, so we can eliminate them where possible and appropriate. (It may not always be appropriate: society depends on a great deal of soft coercion.

That's correct. It's frustrating for me to watch people condemn PUAs for engaging in behavior that people in the mainstream do on autopilot. There should be more investigation into what sorts of social influence are ethical, but I am very pessimistic about getting mainstream people to disarm. A much more practical solution is to arm everyone with the tools to influence others, and resist influence. As you perceptively point out, even discussion of pickup is a step towards this goal.

Of course, I will suggest that there are plenty of commonly-used influence behaviors (including compliance-inducing ones) that would pass inspection. And I would question whether "soft coercion" always deserves to be called coercion.

But SarahC is correct to say that confidence is not the same thing as manipulation. A confident, high-affect, charismatic &c. person can sedulously respect boundaries.

Confidence isn't the same thing as manipulation, but there could be an overlap in the consequences. If our ethical principle is to avoid making advances that someone might unenthusiastically comply with, then avoiding confident behavior might well be better!

I'm sure that most people who advocate concern about female sexual vulnerability and people-pleasing don't want to imply that men have to relinquish confident behavior. But what exactly are the practical implications of that concern?

Perhaps we're running into a purely semantic confusion and what I label "respecting boundaries" is not actually the same thing as what you label "treating women like porcelain statues" - perhaps you could operationalize the latter?

I agree that these semantic questions are getting to the crux of this discussion.

A behavior that Sally might perceive as respectful of her boundaries (e.g. asking for a kiss) might leave Jane or Roxeanne feeling like you are treating her as a porcelain statue. Here are some other potential behaviors that lower the chances of unenthusiastic compliance:

  • Making advances only by tentatively asking questions in the interrogative tense
  • Never engaging in touch that the other person hasn't given explicit verbal consent to (including hugs, touches on the arm to emphasize a point, holding hands)
  • Never making any sexual advances at all that haven't been explicitly invited
  • Never making any requests at all, including requests for consent

I hypothesize that many women will find these sorts of inhibitions to result in stilted and unattractive behavior that makes them feel treated like porcelain statues (or conclude that the guy is wimpy, unconfident, or unperceptive of her nonverbal signals). Yet such behaviors do maximize the ease of women saying "no." So why shouldn't men be good little consequentialists and act like this? What percentage of women actually find such behavior attractive in men they are dating?

Comment author: HughRistik 31 January 2011 07:55:12AM *  5 points [-]

SarahC:

Actually, “pretending to be sexy,” aka projecting confidence, social dominance, good looks, etc., doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I know a lot of PUA focuses on stuff like that, and I think that’s great; I’ve seen it have a positive influence on friends of mine, and vastly improve their lives, without compromising their ethics. I think this sort of training falls under "self-improvement," and I think it's an unalloyed good thing, and from what I can tell, this is exactly what you've been teaching and promoting.

Glad to see that we are on the same page on this point.

I’m bothered by what I think of as “compliance tricks,” which I’ve also seen recommended in a PUA context.

PUAs indeed use some compliance techniques. Here are a few hypotheses why:

  • PUAs use compliance techniques because (whether PUAs realize or not) they induce vulnerable women to go along with sexual activity that they are unenthusiastic about, or outight do not want
  • Certain behavior that induce compliance are attractive to some women (e.g. dominance and status behaviors, giving minor orders)
  • For some women, a side effect of behavior that attracts them is that is also induces compliance. Therefore, you can test attraction by testing compliance as a proxy. Hence compliance tests like "give me your hand for a sec...", which could also be called "attraction tests."

I suspect that all these factors underlie the use of compliance in pickup.

That is, when you get someone to do things that she doesn’t want or like, using commitment effects and manipulating her own guilt, awkwardness, and desire to please.

We recently had a similar conversation on Clarisse Thorn's blog, discussing the case of the PUA David X, described in The Game p. 146:

His philosophy was to never lie to a female. He prided himself on bedding women by trapping them with their own words. For example, on meeting a girl at a bar, he'd get her to say that she was spontaneous and didn't have any rules; then, if she was reluctant to leave the bar with him, he'd say, "I thought you were spontaneous. I thought you did what you wanted."

Do I like this tactic? No. Can I imagine a woman find this manipulative? Yes. Can I imagine a woman going along with him out of "manipulation"? Maybe. Yet his "trap" is so transparent that it lacks the underhanded component many people associate with "manipulation." It's a lot easier to imagine a woman perceiving his approach as assholish. I can even imagine some women perceiving it as flirtatious.

I think this is why there’s a lot of feminist talk about “No means no” and consent and so on – because women are socialized to try to please people and go along with others’ desires, and can be put in harmful situations by people who take advantage of their reluctance to give a direct “No.”

As someone who has had to work a lot on my assertiveness, and who still sometimes has trouble saying "no," I sympathize. I've run into enough men with similar challenges that I am not convinced that "people-pleasing" behavior is heavily gendered. The difference is that men tend to end up in the role of sexual initiator, making the people-pleasing behavior of women more pivotal in sexuality.

The difficulty that some women have saying "no" needs to be taken seriously. Yet what exactly are its ethical implications? How do we define ethical disjunctions that don't prohibit any sort of initiating?

Unfortunately, it's quite possible that there is a nontrivial overlap between (a) male behaviors that some women find attractive, and (b) male behaviors that some women go along with out of vulnerability, difficulty saying "no," pressure, or people-pleasing. Some women have trouble saying "no," and other women have trouble saying "yes" (and of course, some women probably have trouble saying either). Some women prefer advances that other women have trouble saying "no" to. Some women prefer advances that other women have trouble saying "yes" to.

Imagine being a guy thinking about these possibilities... then try to go out on a date and make a move.

Women don't come with manuals describing exactly what sort of advances they find sexy, and what sort they comply with in order to people-please... so men have to guess. It's possible to make better guesses about women's sexual psychology, but that takes practice and experience.

For every male advance, we could invent a hypothetical woman who would have trouble refusing it. Make an assertive advance? Some women might feel pressured. Make an extremely polite and hesitant advance (even asking permission)? Some women might go along with it (without wanting it) merely because she doesn't want to make you feel bad.

This guessing requirement could cause a screwed up incentive structure. Imagine that 40% of women strongly prefer a type of advance that 10% of women have trouble saying "no" to. Ethics aside, the dominant strategy in conditions of uncertainty is to use that advance, which would be harmful to 10% of women. You could be a good person and not use it... but then you throw out 40% of women as dating options. Meanwhile, you sit and watch the guys who play the dominant strategy make out like bandits and surpass you in experience with women. Now imagine another type of advance, except that 75% of women strongly prefer it, and 5% have trouble saying "no." Then another advance, there 90% of women strongly prefer it, and 1% have trouble saying "no" to it. Or how about an advance that 99.9% prefer, and 0.1% have trouble saying "no" to; do men need to relinquish this one, too?

At what point are men allowed to get off that train of ethical thought before it reaches its destination of saintly celibacy? What's the cutoff point where a man has sufficiently minimized the probability of inducing a woman to comply with him sexually out of people-pleasing or difficulty saying "no"?

Reflecting on the massive diversity of female preferences and assertiveness about their boundaries can be frightening to many men. To my high school version, the thought of a woman having trouble saying "no" was so compelling that I never asked anyone out, at all (some people on LW might consider this idea a "basilisk").

Maybe that in itself isn’t a crime; maybe unfulfilling, not-quite-desired sex isn’t the worst thing in the world; but as a general rule, I think compliance tricks are pretty disturbing.

Some behavior under the label "compliance tricks" is disturbing. Yet it can be difficult to define where compliance tactics end, and normal social interaction begins. Furthermore, whether behavior is a "compliance tactic" isn't always an objective feature of the behavior: for many behaviors, it depends on the other person, and on context. As discussed above, women vary vastly in what behaviors compel them.

Is David X's "I thought you were adventurous?" a compliance tactic, or is it him being an obvious asshole, or is it flirting? Is "sit on my lap?" a "compliance tactic"? How about "call me tomorrow around 6"? Any type of request can induce compliance in someone with sufficiently low boundaries. How do we distinguish between unethical "compliance tactics", and ethical sorts of advances and requests?

continued...

Comment author: katydee 31 January 2011 08:23:42AM *  1 point [-]

I'm pretty sure that if you think the idea that people don't always have the same romantic ideas is a basilisk-level idea, you don't know what a basilisk-level idea is.

Comment author: HughRistik 01 February 2011 04:51:54AM *  2 points [-]

First, allow me to clarify that I'm not sold on any of the discourse about "basilisks." Yet since that word is so popular on LW, I decided to use to it to characterize an idea that has the capacity to destroy the quality of life of some people.

Your paraphrase of the idea ("people don't always have the same romantic ideas") makes it sound harmless. Here's how I put it originally:

Reflecting on the massive diversity of female preferences and assertiveness about their boundaries can be frightening to many men.

If the variance of female boundary-assertiveness (people-pleasing, etc...) is large enough, then X% of women may be vulnerable to complying with male advances that they do not want. This principle could be true of any advance that a man could make.

Even if X% is low, this notion is still highly disconcerting to some men, and can motivate some of them (e.g. my past self) to refrain from making any advances. For men who aren't significantly above-average in attractiveness, this usually means being alone. This outcome is severe enough that it overlaps with what some people on LW call basilisks.

Of course, my reference of that meme doesn't mean that I endorse it, nor do I want to shutdown discussions of these possibilities. Instead, I want us to examine these possibilities and articulate sexual ethics that make sense.

Comment author: MartinB 31 January 2011 11:05:13AM 1 point [-]

To my high school version, the thought of a woman having trouble saying "no" was so compelling that I never asked anyone out, at all

Related to the old problem of avoiding to asked women out that are in relationships, leading to the awkward »do you have a boyfriend« question. And all kinds of hang-ups when the girl mentions hers only late in the conversation or not at all.

Comment author: Zaine 15 April 2013 04:05:04AM 0 points [-]

This conversation on manipulation I have great interest in. Of course, since the word carries a lot of confused meaning for you, let us replace it with and discuss solely the following sentiment:

  • Making another think and or act in a fashion that directly results from an intentional behaviour or action of the Initiating Party. The Initiating Party (IP) accurately predicts that their initiating behaviour or action will effect a certain predicted fashion of thoughts or actions on the part of the Changed Party (CP). The IP continues to knowingly control the CP's: perception of the IP; thought patterns; and or actions and behaviour. The IP does not inform the CP that they are being controlled by the IP.

My main objection to the above is its dishonesty. Why do I value honesty? Honesty enables two parties to come closer to actually understanding each other - which is already impossible enough a task. I value these interactions (as they make me happy), and thus I value honesty.

Assume one enters an interaction wishing solely for company with another (hopefully interesting) human being - which, again, is the valued result.

In an honest interaction, Alice sends a signal (of any sort - though radio waves would probably not be received) to Bob, Bob responds, and Alice has interacted with Bob.

In a dishonest interaction between Alice and Bob, Alice sends a contrived signal to Bob, having predicted Bob's response, either receives a confirmation of their prediction or does not. In the former case, they have not interacted, but experimented. In the former case, Bob has interacted with Alice-attempting-to-subversively-control-Bob (henceforth false-Alice). If Alice desires an interaction with Bob, and Bob can only reach false-Alice, then Alice's goals are not being met.

Indeed, if Alice acts as false-Alice enough Alice may very well become false-Alice. However, Alice values interpersonal interactions. As false-Alice's interactions are either not interactions at all but rather experiments, or failed attempts to control another party, Alice does not wish to become false-Alice.

Why should Alice wish to act like IP?

Comment author: CCC 15 April 2013 08:59:53AM 1 point [-]

Why should Alice wish to act like IP?

Normally, manipulation has some sort of external goal. Alice does not manipulate Bob merely for the joy of manipulating Bob; rather, Alice manipulates Bob because she wants Bob to help her accomplish some sort of goal.

This is incompatible with entering an interaction wishing solely for company. If Alice acts like IP, therefore, this implies that she is either inconsistant, or that she has some other wish (for example, she may wish for the appearance of company).

Comment author: Davorak 25 January 2011 08:10:25AM *  0 points [-]

You are right there is too much to reply to at once, if possible lets keep the conversation a little more narrow from this point on or we are less likely to get any where.

Actually, PUAs are far more likely to display less relationship interest than they truly have, rather than more.

So this seems to fall under the category of deceptive. The PUA undertakes actions to make the other person hold a false belief for the PUA's benefit.

Comment author: wedrifid 26 January 2011 12:10:40AM *  5 points [-]

Actually, PUAs are far more likely to display less relationship interest than they truly have, rather than more.

So this seems to fall under the category of deceptive. The PUA undertakes actions to make the other person hold a false belief for the PUA's benefit.

Ha! You expected me to be only interested in a one night stand because I didn't act like an adoring little puppy on the first date. Now, since the sex was so great and we have awesome physical chemistry and emotional rapport I will call you up another time and see if you want to date again and maybe you will have to say no. You have fallen right into my trap. Mwaha. Mwahahaha!

Comment author: HughRistik 25 January 2011 10:47:36PM *  4 points [-]

I said:

Actually, PUAs are far more likely to display less relationship interest than they truly have, rather than more.

Davorak replied:

So this seems to fall under the category of deceptive. The PUA undertakes actions to make the other person hold a false belief for the PUA's benefit.

I guess you could call it deceptive (maybe). If so, it's an entirely justified and healthy sort of deception, so I have trouble labeling it "manipulation" due to the negative connotations of that word.

Many people hide their full romantic interest early in dating, because they don't want to reveal it until they think the other person has a good chance of reciprocating. Otherwise, they risk looking emotionally needy and clingy. PUAs aren't the only ones to worry about looking "clingy"; lots of heterosexual women have that exact same worry.

The fact is, early in dating, the other person does not have the right to expect you spontaneously reveal your full romantic interest when they haven't asked. People who are dating often develop feelings on a different time-table. If there was some sort of moral obligation to immediately reveal the full extent of your feelings, it would be too easy to prematurely ruin many potential relationships by forcing the DTR talk too soon (DTR = Defining The Relationship).

The counter-intuitive result is that even if you do have relationship interest, sometimes the best way to get into a relationship is to wait to show it. The dominant strategy is to limit the amount of romantic interest shown early in dating. Showing too little can be easier to recover from than showing too much too soon.

So is hiding relationship interest a "lie of omission"? The omission is only a lie if it would deceive someone of truth. Hiding relationship interest only deceives someone if they assume that displayed level of interest is your true level of interest. But if they don't make that assumption in the first place, then they won't be deceived. And many experienced daters will know that people they are dating might have good reasons to try and avoid signaling clinginess.

Broadcasting false romantic interest is much more likely to be harmful than failing to display true romantic interest. If you broadcast too much, the other person will often get uncomfortable and flat out dump you (especially women with men, in my view). If you broadcast too little, then the other person isn't forced to dump you. They can show their own romantic interest, at which point it becomes safe for you to reciprocate. Or they can just come out and ask your feelings via a DTR, giving you an opportunity to articulate your true level of romantic interest.

Yes, hiding romantic interest has the potential to deceive someone who isn't savvy about the game-theoretic incentives on you to avoid showing it. Directing lying to someone who asks by saying that you don't have romantic interest that you actually do have would definitely be deceptive (but even then, there might be a justification if you feel that the DTR is the wrong place to reveal your romantic interest). If someone directly discloses that they don't have romantic interest, and doesn't want to hook up with someone who does, and you hide your romantic interest while hooking up with them, that would be deceptive.

Yet outside these cases, limiting display of "true" romantic feelings is simply a commonplace and healthy relationship strategy for people of both genders. It benefits PUA who are looking for relationships, yes (PUAs who aren't would have no need to use it), but it also potentially benefits women who end up wanting relationships with them. I don't think avoidance of the appearance of clinginess early in dating deserves to be called "manipulation," nor need it be deceptive, and I don't think it's what people are thinking of who accuse PUAs of being manipulative.

Comment author: wedrifid 26 January 2011 12:33:24AM *  4 points [-]

Yes, hiding romantic interest has the potential to deceive someone who isn't savvy about the game-theoretic incentives on you to avoid showing it. Directing lying to someone who asks by saying that you don't have romantic interest that you actually do have would definitely be deceptive (but even then, there might be a justification if you feel that the DTR is the wrong place to reveal your romantic interest).

And in such cases directly lying tends to be a dominated strategy. A simple "I don't do Defining The Relationships on a second date." shows stronger personal boundaries, self awareness and a sense for the appropriate time for self disclosure.

An exception (a game where non-disclosure does not dominate explicitly lying about relationship preference) is possibly with particularly high status and gender typical women who operate at a level where verbal symbols used for purposes that are more or less divorced from application to mundane reality. In that case a "I'm not interested in a relationship" or "we're not going to have sex" can prompt an instinctive contrariness and an inclination to challenge your declaration.

Interpreting that level of signalling as 'deception' would be as absurd as interpreting a metaphor literally and dismissing a poem as a lie. It just isn't supposed to be a correct factual description.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 January 2011 07:33:57AM 0 points [-]

false, accept for white

Except.

Comment author: HughRistik 25 January 2011 06:47:17AM *  2 points [-]

Replying to your other point:

Most men looking toward PUA are looking for something effective, so I would imagine that what are considered PUA techniques can be both deceptive or untruthful and the opposite because both can be effective(often for different goals and sometimes for the same goal).

Yes, PUAs are looking for something effective, but that doesn't mean that they will use deception. There are two main barriers to deception:

  • It's not as effective as people think for becoming successful with women in general
  • PUAs have consciences and don't all believe that the ends justify the means

While we might initially think that there is benefit to males making substantive lies in dating and sexual success (e.g. lies about career, accomplishments, commitment, romantic interest), there are several significant pitfalls:

  • Even if she doesn't know, you do
  • If she finds out, there will be drama, which can be costly (both emotionally, or because it hurts your status in your social circle if others find out)
  • Lying isn't easy for everyone
  • Lying takes away from building self-esteem and self-confidence, while gaining sexual interest based on the truth about you builds confidence. Even if lying might help you with one woman, it will be an impediment to building self-confidence with women over the long-term which is an important component of sexual success.

Lying is an awesome strategy if you are a massive asshole with a high level of antisocial personality traits. But if you have species-typical levels of empathy, it's not so useful. Some people may stereotype PUAs as being highly antisocial con men, which might make lying a plausible worry. Yet the vast majority of PUAs don't fit that description (though I've met a few). PUAs with prosocial personality traits who attempt lying are probably hurting themselves far more than they are hurting women.

For people with prosocial traits, if they are in a situation where lying would be beneficial, there is a much better way to save the day: self-deception! That way, you get all the benefits of the lie, without the pangs of conscience, and you can defuse drama if the shit hits the fan. I don't think I've ever done this. But if I had, would I know? (Wow, the baby basilisks are really out tonight.)

Comment author: wedrifid 25 January 2011 07:31:54AM 8 points [-]

For people with prosocial traits, if they are in a situation where lying would be beneficial, there is a much better way to save the day: self-deception! That way, you get all the benefits of the lie, without the pangs of conscience, and you can defuse drama if the shit hits the fan. I don't think I've ever done this. But if I had, would I know? (Wow, the baby basilisks are really out tonight.)

The Hanson Basilisk.

On a related note I hold in contempt rules or systems of normative judgement under which an individual becomes penalised for becoming self aware or epistemologically rational. For example, when using an approach explicitly because you know that is how humans work is condemned as 'manipulative' while doing the same thing while lying to yourself about your intent is treated entirely differently.

Comment author: MartinB 25 January 2011 08:58:45AM 3 points [-]

There is a bias against learning some skills consciously. (While with others it is considered bad to have just inherited them.) Charisma and Money belong in one of those categories.

I see a few misconceptions coming up time and again in this discussion, and I do not see how to bridge the inferential distance towards them. The picture is all messed up with media, or mistaken samples.

I personally like being truthful. (For people who consider flirty behavior and various ways of joking lying I would need to go into a deeper explanation.) There is a lot of lying being done in monogamous relationships by both men and female. The PUA has his stack of books and exercises that allow the pursuit of a wide range of goals. Lying is not particularly necessary, and more complication than necessary. It is stressful and weak. Also one should keep in mind how many people are naturally successful in their social lives. Their numbers will out-weight the learned PUA people for many years to come. I see a greater problem in naturally charismatic people who treat their partners badly, than in a learned charismatic person who treats people well.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 January 2011 11:33:22AM 4 points [-]

Also one should keep in mind how many people are naturally successful in their social lives.

Where by 'natural' we of course mean "have developed skills, prestige and a social network through concerted effort during most of their waking hours from the day they were born". :)

Comment author: TheOtherDave 25 January 2011 04:46:55PM 1 point [-]

...and in some cases through the concerted effort of others before then.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 January 2011 11:42:30AM 0 points [-]

I see a few misconceptions coming up time and again in this discussion, and I do not see how to bridge the inferential distance towards them.

Let Hugh explain them. That seems to be the easiest way. ;)

I have to say, however, that as far as misconceptions and general nonsense this has probably been the most sane conversation that I've ever seen on lesswrong. More importantly what little insanity there has been has been cognitive more than political. Altogether promising.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 25 January 2011 12:38:42PM 1 point [-]

The most sane conversation you've seen here about PUA, or the most sane conversation you're seen here about anything?

Comment author: wedrifid 26 January 2011 12:48:20AM 0 points [-]

I have to say, however, that as far as misconceptions and general nonsense this has probably been the most sane conversation that I've ever seen on lesswrong. More importantly what little insanity there has been has been cognitive more than political. Altogether promising.

Catching up on overnight reading makes me tempted to retract this statement. :)

Comment author: MartinB 25 January 2011 09:08:54AM 1 point [-]

If a PUA technique is deceptive or untruthful then it deprives the person to be seduced from relavent information that could help them make a better decision.

What is your mental model on how people find partners, love, sex and what is your explanation of the data observed in other people - particularly hook-ups without extensive getting-to-know beforehand.

I am not asking in a rhetorical or socratic way, I really want to know. For my own mental model I tracked the development to some degree, and then tried to identify generalizable errors in my thinking, recently I started again to collect those of others.

Comment author: Davorak 25 January 2011 05:18:10PM 1 point [-]

I hesitate to enter into this conversation at this juncture because I do not see how it forwards the current conversation and I do not know why you want to know. Are you looking to compare your own models and improve them, or do you think you see a sign(in what I have written) that there is a flaw in my model that you understand because you once had it as well?

Comment author: MartinB 25 January 2011 05:51:13PM 2 points [-]

Both. I think you have a flawed model. But I concede that mine might be mistaken as well. However I am reasonably well convinced I have some correct views, otherwise I would not have them.

The statement above showed a view that I do not share, but had at some point, so I am curious in where it comes from for you.

As a general habit I try to get away from surface discussions and see which base convictions lead someone to have his respective opinions. That was probably described here somewhere.

Since this whole discussion is about social items, there is a lack of information on what experience each participee has. HughRisk has shared his background, but everyone else can be from any point of the possible experiences-cluster. I would guess we have some experienced people in here who draw from what there see, but there will probably be also some who draw from pure intellectualized models of how an interaction should happen without real world data to back it up.

Comment author: Davorak 25 January 2011 06:54:59PM 1 point [-]

I think you have a flawed model.

Since there has been essentially zero discussion of my models your confidence that you understand my model should not be much higher then a random individual.

The statement above showed a view that I do not share, but had at some point, so I am curious in where it comes from for you.

Are you talking about the following?

... so I would imagine that what are considered PUA techniques can be both deceptive or untruthful and the opposite because both can be effective(often for different goals and sometimes for the same goal).

This statement is the equivalent of saying:

Most people looking toward business are looking for something effective, so I would imagine that what are considered business techniques can be both deceptive or untruthful and the opposite because both can be effective(often for different goals and sometimes for the same goal).

Some business practices are deceptive that does not make all business people deceptive. Some PUA practices are deceptive that does not make all PUAs deceptive.

Am I correct in assuming that you had jumped to conclusions and believed I held a stronger view point then you now infer with the above these additional comments?

Comment author: MartinB 25 January 2011 07:35:29PM 2 points [-]

I didn't say I understand your model. I just mentioned that I might have an idea about it from what you said so far.

I meant the statement:

If a PUA technique is deceptive or untruthful then it deprives the person to be seduced from relavent information that could help them make a better decision.

I wonder where the 'relevant information' plays in, and how. And when the person to be seduced makes the 'decision' about it. The description gives the impression of a rehearsed ritual where all parties involved already know upfront what will result from it.

Most people looking toward business are looking for something effective, The comparison between business life and PU is not particularly helpful. Usually people do not approach their love life as a business event. And when they do bad stuff can happen.

This statement is the equivalent of saying: That makes me inquire about which PUA techniques you are referring too. As such the statement is trivially true.

Am I correct in assuming that you had jumped to conclusions and believed I held a stronger view point then you now infer with the above these additional comments?

I don't think so. But that is a common failure mode for me which i work on, so it might be true in this case. If so it is not with intention.

Comment author: wedrifid 26 January 2011 12:37:51AM *  0 points [-]

I would guess we have some experienced people in here who draw from what there see, but there will probably be also some who draw from pure intellectualized models of how an interaction should happen without real world data to back it up.

I'll add particular emphasis on and deprecation of the should when divorced from any appropriateness in the real world.

Comment author: shokwave 25 January 2011 09:59:35AM 0 points [-]

You think that the objection that PUA techniques use deception or untruthfulness is overblown?

I recall being surprised about how much of PUA is actually "be the kind of guy that girls want to sleep with straight away". Assuming PUA is deceptive seems like a common flaw in many peoples' approaches to condemning PUA; people are pretty good at spotting deception in the dating/pickup scene; without a further study of common or popular techniques I would be wary of assigning an equal prior:

I would imagine that what are considered PUA techniques can be both deceptive or untruthful and the opposite because both can be effective

Comment author: Davorak 25 January 2011 05:13:22PM 1 point [-]

To be clear I have not been trying to condem PUA.

I just starting examine a technique with HughRistik, do you categorize it as deceptive?

Actually, PUAs are far more likely to display less relationship interest than they truly have, rather than more.

Here

My response.