Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

HughRistik comments on Generalizing From One Example - Less Wrong

261 Post author: Yvain 28 April 2009 10:00PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (386)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: HughRistik 29 April 2009 06:58:23AM *  62 points [-]

I'm glad to see someone bringing up the topic of seduction, and how it relates to rationality, and how attitudes inside and towards the seduction community relate to rationality and biases.

I'm going to give a big warning to everyone on this topic. The seduction community is an expansive and heterogenous phenomenon. Unless someone has some experience of the community (say 30+ hours of reading of multiple gurus with different philosophies, and they have gone out and tried the approaches the community advocates or seen real pickup artists in action), then it is virtually impossible to understand what it involves and describe it in a way that isn't skewed.

Elana Clift's honors thesis is a good place to start.

Yvain, you are right to take the mass perceptions of people of each sex as evidence (though evidence of what is unclear, so far). Let me unpack a few things:

There are a lot of not-particularly-complimentary things about women that many men tend to believe. Some guys say that women will never have romantic relationships with their actually-decent-people male friends because they prefer alpha-male jerks who treat them poorly. Other guys say women want to be lied to and tricked.

There are guys who think like this, but not all pickup artists do, and probably most of the men who think like this aren't pickup artists. Here's my quick availability-heuristicky impression of what pickup artists think on these subjects, and whether or not these beliefs are complimentary, based on more than half a decade of involvement with the community:

  • Female attraction to male friends: Pickup artists typically believe that if a woman sees a man as "just a friend," then it is unlikely that this perception will change, and that his efforts are best allocated elsewhere.

  • Alpha males: Pickup artists typically believe that women are attracted to "alpha males." What "alpha male" means is subject to intense debate.

  • Lying and trickery: Pickup artists typically don't believe that women want to be lied to or tricked. Pickup artists do present themselves selectively and strategically. Yet the modal point of view in my experience is that lying and trickery are looked down on, and seen as antithetical to seduction. If a pickup artist isn't looking for a relationship, then he will try to make that obvious, or even state it explicitly.

Well, I'm afraid I kind of trust the seduction people.

It's good to see someone caring what pickup artists think, but I would take their views with a bit more caution for several reasons:

  1. The availability heuristic. The seduction community has a pretty good model of young female extraverts with average IQ, because these are the women they encounter most often. As you look at women who differ more and more from the average extravert, the prototype of the seduction community becomes less and less correct. This is a point where I agree with Alicorn. This doesn't mean that the community's advice completely ceases to work, but it requires modification. Women who are nerdy, systemizing, bisexual, feminist, or in alternative subcultures are wired differently. (And to tie in to your post, women with those traits are going to be bad judges of the preferences of typical women due the Typical Psyche Fallacy, which I think is a special case of the availability heuristic.)

  2. Naive realism. Pickup artists often assume that because a theory produces results, then it is true. This isn't necessarily the case. Pjeby has correctly described how correct-enough theories will often be useful without being true. Having a model of women that lets you predict the behavior of say, 30% of women better than chance is actually really good for a guy who is completely in the dark about women and their preferences and behaviors.

(I wonder whether more complex models would necessarily be more useful; I think this varies. When you are a beginner, it may be best to understand typical women, and then later try to figure out how all the outlier types of women work by seeing their similarities and differences from typical women. Ultimately, the model that is most important to have is the model of the type of women you are compatible with.)

When you put these two together, you get pickup artists running around with oversimplified-but-nevertheless-useful models of women, who start to get some better results, confirming their over oversimplified-but-nevertheless-useful models of women in their minds.

I figured this out because I view the empirical approach as the core of the seduction community's teachings, so I often try out stuff that my gut tells me and break the rules of what is "supposed" to work or not work.

As for how much the view of women in the seduction community is complimentary or true, those are topics I'll have to save for another time.

Comment author: dclayh 29 April 2009 07:52:14PM *  1 point [-]

Upvoted for spelling "extravert" correctly :)

Comment author: dclayh 03 May 2009 08:49:58PM 4 points [-]

Wow, I'm highly amused and somewhat surprised at the vitriolic reaction to this innocent little comment.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 27 May 2009 05:03:53AM 3 points [-]

Me too, but I think we should use extrovert now that it's in common use.

Comment author: MTGandP 27 November 2012 05:22:43AM 2 points [-]

Going back to ~1920, "extrovert" has been pretty consistently more popular.

Comment author: taryneast 25 July 2011 10:34:36AM 0 points [-]

Awesome comment - lots of good info here. Thanks.