Archive for the ‘Observation’ Category

I had to take a break, for work reasons. I’m 6 weeks from a major deadline and have been running on all cylinders. The blogging has been put on the back burner, and my mind is mostly elsewhere right now.

Sometimes I find myself in a state of utter doubt and agnosticism. I’m not talking about religion, but life in general– beliefs, values, ideals. I step back from cocksure arrogance to deep introspection and questioning. It’s not a problem– it’s a good thing– but it makes it difficult to write with authority.

This difficulty provides an interesting insight into our society. We overvalue confidence, not just from writers and opinion people, but in general. Confidence is usually a good thing, but sometimes it isn’t, and when it’s not, it fails us badly. The 2007-08 stock market crash was brought about my overconfident traders, rating agencies, and investors. It wasn’t a shock to anyone who knew much about financial markets. Yet people were surprised when the market tanked, having bought into the lies of overconfident bullshit artists in finance and real estate.

Look at the popularity of characters like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Bill O’Reilly. Although their views match those held by many within their target demographic, it’s not their ideology and opinions that make them cultural “forces to be reckoned with”. It’s the confidence with which they say, not what they say. The same is true of large-company CEOs. For the most part, it’s not their executive vision or managerial skill that makes or breaks their careers. It’s the confidence that they project.

Of course, no discussion of overconfident bullshit peddlers is complete without discussing the phenomenon of “game”. Roissy defines game as “psychosocial dominance”. That’s a reasonable working definition, but I’d call it, instead, “sociosexual confidence”. Game is the ability to project confidence in a sexualized social environment. Confidence in other areas of life is neither necessary nor especially relevant. Most “nerds”, for example, exhibit strong cerebral confidence, reasonable social confidence in general, but a lack of sociosexual confidence. This, more than “social ineptitude”, as most nerds are socially normal, prevents them from getting women.

Confidence is a good thing, usually, but why is it a requirement for certain interactions? Answer: many, if not most, people are very weak. They get their opinions from the loudest and most authoritative-sounding source. Unsure and confused about sex, they sleep with those who are able to convince them that others find them desirable. Unaware of what’s worth doing and what’s not, they would rather have 9-to-5 jobs that are an extension of the school-driven “here’s work, now do it” model than accept that they’re out on their own, left to figure things out for themselves. (Note: you’re on your own even if you work for a large company and have a boss; you also have a boss even if you work for yourself.) We all need motivation, but weak people tend to lack the ability to generate it intrinsically; they get it from the confidence of others.

As for strong people; are they always confident? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is no. Strong people tend to be confident, but not uniformly, and not naively. For example, those who are highly intelligent (intellectually strong) tend to have cerebral confidence, but are not always completely sure of their knowledge. Some of the smartest people I’ve known have been the most humble. I would say, in general, that strong people tend often to be self-aware, which makes them often confident in their ability but without assumption of superiority, dominance, or infallibility. Thankfully, most of life admits a middle ground. For example, it’s possible to believe that one is capable of fulfilling a job without assuming that it will be easy and require no effort. It’s also possible to believe that one is generally intelligent without assuming that one is always “the smartest guy in the room”.

However, with sociosexual confidence, I’m not convinced that most people perceive a middle ground, which we’d consider “high beta”. To be seen as “alpha” requires the overreaching, aggressive, and unrealistic style of confidence. It requires an unfounded sense of superiority, which the more sensitive and introspective people can’t feign.

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I’m frankly sick of the phrase “bitch shield”. Let me offer an analogy. A man of inherited wealth and privilege is exceedingly arrogant and rude to other people. He treats waiters and doormen like garbage, calls people of less means “plebs”, “proles”, and “poors”, and he holds and expresses the attitude that those of less means are subhuman, lazy, and cowardly. He is either blind to the fact that he has had an atypical and easy life, or justifies the fact on the grounds that he is simply better.

It’s not difficult to imagine a person like this. There are a lot of rich assholes like him out there. Let’s go ahead and further assume that he can “flip the switch” on his obnoxiousness. Around his father (who has the power to “cut him off” from his trust fund) he’s polite and seems outright submissive. When trying to impress a girl, he’s charming. Around the three or four friends he has, people he’s known since prep school of similar backgrounds, he’s fairly down-to-earth.

Let’s go further and assume that you’re of average means, and that this guy has just treated you like dirt. Understandably, you dislike him. One of his friends excuses his behavior. “He’s not really such a bad guy. The obnoxiousness is just an act. That’s just his rich shield. If you can prove your status to him, he’s actually a decent guy.” How would you respond?

If you’re like me, your response would be something like the following: “What? I have to prove my status to this prick? No thanks. ‘Rich shield’ or none, he’s shown himself to be an unlikeable asshole.”

The same goes for the bitch shield. A woman with a “bitch shield” is not a nice person who happens to carry a miserable demeanor around, as if it were some sort of tactical accessory. She’s a contemptible bitch, plain and simple, and she deserves to be called such, to her face and behind her back. No excuses. So let’s retire the concept and excuse of the “bitch shield” right now.

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It’s well-known that well-educated black women tend, on average, to have far better personalities than their white counterparts, despite facing tougher odds on the dating market. On the whole, they’re an exquisite and underrated group. There are a lot of cultural reasons for this and, subjectively speaking, some aesthetic ones too, but I’m going to explore an altogether different explanation.

I had an insight, about a week ago, when I encountered this Roissy post on an OkCupid study of race and reply rate. Black women get a substantially lower reply rate than women of other races: 34.3%, as opposed to 42.1%. Among men, whites get the highest reply rate– 29.2%. In fact, the only race-pairings where women reply more often involve black women, and there’s a 6%-gap between BW -> WM (32% reply rate) and WM -> BW (38%). As this study is controlled for facial attractiveness, and OkCupid is predominantly a site for educated, upper-middle-class people, it’s unlikely that there’s a nonracial (e.g. socioeconomic) component to this. Very unfortunately, some people just seem to be nervous about dating blacks.

On a side note, it’s interesting to note the American attraction to Middle Eastern women. White men, in the US– and speaking in very broad terms– are wary of blacks and adore Middle Easterners. In Europe, whites are wary of Middle Easterners (well, specifically, Muslims) and adore black women. All this shows is that mens’ supposedly purely aesthetic tastes in women are actually quite culture-bound.

I don’t mean to trivialize the severe social injustices inflicted upon American blacks by comparing them to the relatively mild ones that American men face today, but there are similarities between what these groups face on the social and dating markets. To be feared and distrusted because of one’s physical presence is something that most blacks, and most men, have faced, and also something most white women have never directly experienced. The bastardization of feminism that has metamorphosed into outright man-hating depicts men as violent, oversexed, unattractive, and unrefined– similar to American racism’s caricature of black people.

On the dating market, women generally have more value than men (as OkCupid’s differential in reply rates shows) but this is not nearly as true of black women, who exhibit a male likelihood of receiving replies. Let’s combine this bit of data with something most men have observed. Good-looking men, usually, aren’t douchebags. Some are, but nothing about the experience of a “7” male is inherently corrupting. “Alphas” are douchebags, but those are a different set entirely; I know of plenty of seriously handsome men who have excellent personalities. Good-looking black women, as well, usually have great personalities. They’re funny, sweet, feisty, and virtuous. Among white women, it’s less common for one to be gorgeous and have a great personality. Average-looking, shy women are often very sweet, but the “bombshells” are often intolerable.

In fact, the correlations between attractiveness and personality seem to be different not only in magnitude, but in direction, for black and white women. Black women generally have better personalities as they are more beautiful, intelligent, and educated– in other words, as their “market value” climbs. White women tend to get worse as their SMV increases into the 7-10 range. Let’s explore the reason for this.

I’m going to pay homage to the crude practice of numerically rating attractiveness in order to make an assertion. The “sweet spot” of attractiveness that is most conducive to having a great personality is 6-8, for most racial/gender categories. I’ve rigorously defined these numbers (see the link) so that this represents the 72nd to 94th percentiles. This definitely seems accurate for men; most of the great guys are in this range, with men in the least desirable third being too bitter, dismal and defeated to be enjoyable company. Black women, in my estimation, are penalized half a point by the sexual market, putting this sweet spot up to 6.5-8.5 (78-97th percentiles). White women, on the other hand, get a 2-point bonus. In other words, we can expect the white women with the best personalities to be between 4-6, or the 43rd and 72nd percentiles. Beyond that 72nd-percentile mark, there is a precipitous drop. Thus, we’d expect that men within the 70-85th percentile range of sexual attractiveness to be the most unhappy, struggling to earn respect and decency from comparably attractive counterparts, often forced to choose between a great personality and a (moderately) beautiful woman, when they feel like they should have both. Indeed, this is the range of men in which the aggrieved “beta” males tend to reside.

We’re talking in aggregates here, so exceptions obviously exist. There are “9.5” white women who are not haughty, of course, and there are average-looking men and black women who are. However, I think this SMV-derived explanation of the bearing of race and gender on certain social and sexual behaviors has a lot of validity.

That said, SMV is far from the only factor. Culture is also important. Asian women (who, if the concept of “race” still exists in 50 years, will be considered “white” by then) also get a 2-point bump, but a lot of them aren’t nearly as entitled or nasty as their white counterparts. The “sweet spot” of 6.5-8.5 among black women and 4-6 among whites seems to be 4.5-7.5 among Asian women. The reasons for this come from Asian culture and values rather than SMV. But culture is complex and qualitative, and much more difficult to analyze than the crude, blunt numerical instrument of SMV.

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Imagine the following. A man enters a bar, not seeming the slightest bit intoxicated. However, he’s extremely belligerent, in what appears to be a rehearsed and calculated manner. He deftly points out social and sartorial gaffes in others, even when they don’t exist. “Look at this guy’s huge watch! Where’d you get that, a clown auction?” He sneers and insults other patrons without provocation. When another man is speaking with the bartender, he uses his superior stature to interpose, “drinkblocking” the other man with no apology. “I’ll have two Buds, please.” The bartender asks the obnoxious man, “Just what do you think you’re doing here?”

His reply: “I’m here to make friends.”

Bartender: “You’re not achieving that tonight.”

Respondent: “I’m demonstrating high social status, that I don’t give a FUCK what these losers think. That will make them want me in their company. It will make them like me.”

Bartender: “No it won’t. Go away.”

This exchange seems ridiculous. Everyone knows that this person is only making enemies. His search for friendship will fail, and he probably won’t make a single person like him. Only the most infantile would be impressed by his behavior. He’s creating annoyance and discomfort for other people.

Yet, in modern dating, this sort of audacious mean-spiritedness would qualify as “game”. The combat-dating scene encourages people to behave badly, in order to project status. This exists on both sides of the gender divide. There are boorish men who create havoc on the bar scene, and women who obnoxiously refuse to return calls. The extent to which these methods are successful is irrelevant. From a head-in-the-clouds perspective, it seems like people are doing it wrong.

The long-term purpose of dating is to find love, at least for anyone with a serious mind about relationships. Loveless relationships are pointless, and dating gets old quickly enough that mature people don’t do it for fun. So dating is an interview for love, such a chimerical juxtaposition of concepts that it’s difficult to believe it works at all.

No one has figured out “how to find love”, and it’s almost impossible for anyone to develop expertise in the searching practice, as a person retires from the game after one true success. On the other hand, all of us have ample experience with what does not work. Combat dating, it seems, should be in that category. There’s nothing loving or affectionate about “Game”; in fact, the whole concept makes the process seem utterly sterile. What should be a loving caress is given the name kino. Bizarre. If combat-dating methods work, they really shouldn’t.

So why do people do it?

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