Sunday, February 07, 2010

The new dating game

In case you are unfamiliar with terms like (no, this has nothing to do with portfolio theory): alpha, beta, neg, PUA, AFC, and chick crack, read the excerpt below. The photo above is just one of many from the site Hot chicks with douchebags. More details in this Wikipedia entry.

I spent my late teen years at an approximately all-male university near Los Angeles, so I endured way too much time at bars talking to women like the ones described in the article below (in case you are wondering, I had a very good fake ID, but that's another story). I remember a weeknight (happy hour!) at a club in Glendale, with a French guy (grad student, I knew him from the gym) who is now a professor of bioinformatics. I was just a kid -- all the women there were much older than I was. Pierre, I'll call him, had just finished dancing with a modestly attractive blonde and sat down at the bar with me. Are you really interested in her? I asked*. He winked at me and mouthed a single word: Practice :-)

The evo-psych explanations given below date back at least to Caltech guys (anthropologists of the LA singles scene) of the 1980s, and probably much earlier.

* Modern lingo: Would you really hit that?

Weekly Standard: ... In the late 1990s, Mystery developed a precise and exacting “algorithm” of moves and routines—pre-scripted lines to be practiced in the field—that are virtually guaranteed (according to Mystery at least) to lure a female into your bed after just seven hours in her company from a cold turkey meeting in a public place. ... The fundamental strategy is to “demonstrate higher value” (DHV, another Mystery acronym), to appear so fascinating that the woman will want to prove her worthiness to you, not the other way around. You don’t buy her a drink; you offer to let her buy you one. You don’t give her your phone number; you get her to give you hers, in what Mystery calls a “number closing.” If she asks you what you do for a living, you don’t mention the drone desk job that you actually hold down; you tell her you “repair disposable razors” (the choice of a Mystery disciple). You “peacock” (yet another Mystery coinage), which means donning outlandish, attention-grabbing attire. Mystery’s signature peacocking wardrobe includes a black fur bucket hat and matching black nail polish and eyeliner. On The Pickup Artist, he sported a seemingly inexhaustible supply of exotic headgear and man-baubles.


If it all sounds cheesy, tedious, manipulative, obvious, condescending to women, maybe kind of gay, it’s because it is. But here’s the rub: This stuff works. If you think men who peacock look ridiculous and unmanly, click onto the photo-website Hot Chicks With Douchebags, where spectacular-looking babes hang on the pecs of preening rednecks and “Jersey Shore”-style guidos sporting chest-baring shirts and product-stiffened fauxhawks. Watch the video “Learn Enough Guitar to Get Laid” on YouTube (three chords, max). In June 2005, Craig Malisow, a reporter for the Houston Press, trailed 24-year-old Bashev, a Bulgarian-born graduate student in engineering at Rice University and self-styled pickup expert, to a series of bars and clubs in Houston. Bashev had no intention of telling the 20-something HBs he met that his day job consisted of working with multivariable calculus. Instead he pointed to his shoes and informed them that he was a “foot model.” Then he launched into his canned opener: Did they think reality shows were “really real”? Sure, two groups of females on whom Bashev tried that line rolled their eyes and smirked, but three bars (and the same routine) later, he was relaxing in a lounge chair reading a shapely brunette’s palm (chick crack plus “kino,” a Mystery-ism that refers to getting a woman to crave your touch), and soon enough “her fingers were gently grasping the backs of his wrists,” Malisow observed. Within minutes, Bashev had not only number-closed but gotten a date for the following Wednesday.

Pickup mentors are relying, consciously or sub, on the principles of evolutionary psychology, which uses Darwinian theory to account for human traits and practices. Robert Wright introduced the reading public to evolutionary psychology in his 1994 book, The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are. He summarized what biologists had observed in the field: that among animals—and especially among our closest relatives, the great apes—males often fight each other for females and so the most dominant, or “alpha,” male has access to the most desirable, and perhaps all, of the females. But it’s the female of the species who ultimately makes the choice as to which member of the pack she will deem the alpha male. “Females are choosy in all the great ape species,” Wright wrote. He also noted that, for example, a female gorilla will be faithful—forced into fidelity, actually—to a single dominant male, but she will willingly desert him for a rival male who impresses her with his superior dominance by fighting with her mate. That’s because, as Darwin postulated, evolution isn’t merely a matter of survival of the fittest but also of the replication of the fittest, “selfish genes,” in the words of neo-Darwinian Richard Dawkins. Driven by instinctual desire for offspring, male primates chase fertile females so they can replicate themselves, while female primates choose strong males on the basis of survival traits to be passed on to young ones.

Evolutionary psychologists like David Buss in The Evolution of Desire (1994) and Geoffrey Miller in The Mating Mind (2000) have elaborated on these theories, arguing that the human brain itself, with its capacity for consciousness, reasoning, and artistic creation, evolved as an entertainment device for male hominids competing to impress the females in the pack. Dennis Dutton’s new book, The Art Instinct, makes much the same argument. Evolutionary psychologists postulate that the same physical and psychological drives prevail among modern humans: Men, eager for replication, are naturally polygamous, while women are naturally monogamous—but only until a man they perceive as of higher status than their current mate comes along. Hypergamy—marrying up, or, in the absence of any constrained linkage between sex and marriage, mating up—is a more accurate description of women’s natural inclinations. Long-term monogamy—one spouse for one person at one time—may be the most desirable condition for ensuring personal happiness, accumulating property, and raising children, but it is an artifact of civilization, Western civilization in particular. In the view of many evolutionary psychologists, long-term monogamy is natural for neither men nor women.


Evolutionary psychology also provides support for a truth universally denied: Women crave dominant men. And it seems that where men are forbidden to dominate in a socially beneficial way—as husbands and fathers, for example—women will seek out assertive, self-confident men whose displays of power aren’t so socially beneficial. This game of sexual Whack-a-Mole is played regularly these days in a culture that, starting with children’s schoolbooks and moving up through films and television, targets as oppressors and mocks as bumblers the entire male sex.


Living in the New Paleolithic can be hard on women, many of whom party on merrily until they reach age 30 and then panic. “They’re at the peak of their beauty in their early 20s—they’re luscious—but the guys their age don’t look as good, so they say to themselves: ‘Why do I want to get married?,’ ” notes Kay Hymowitz, a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, who is writing a book about the singles crisis. “Then they get to age 28, 29, and their fertility goes down and they’re not quite so luscious. But the guys their age are starting to make money, they look better, they’ve got self-assurance, and they’ve also got the pick of the 23-year-olds.”

Some argue, though, that it is actually beta men who are the greatest victims of the current mating chaos: the ones who work hard, act nice, and find themselves searching in vain for potential wives and girlfriends among the hordes of young women besotted by alphas. That is the underlying message of what is undoubtedly the most deftly written and also the darkest of the seduction-community websites, the blog Roissy in DC. Unlike his confreres, Roissy does not sell books or boot camps, and his site carries no ads. He also blogs anonymously, or at least tries to. (Purported photos of Roissy circulating on the Internet show a tall unshaven man in his late 30s with piercing blue eyes and good, if somewhat dissolute, looks.) The pseudonym Roissy derives from the chateau that was the setting for sadomasochistic orgies in The Story of O, the French pornographic classic of the 1960s which featured a beautiful young woman who couldn’t get enough of being violated and flagellated by masterful men. Roissy maintains that he is not an S&M-fetishist but picked the pseudonym because “chicks dig power.”


“The sexual revolution in America was an attempt by women to realize their own [hypergamous] utopia, not that of men,” Devlin wrote. Beta men become superfluous until the newly liberated women start double-clutching after years in the serial harems of alphas who won’t “commit,” lower their standards, and “settle.” During this process, monogamy as a stable and civilization-maintaining social institution is shattered. “Monogamy is a form of sexual optimization,” Devlin told me. “It allows as many people who want to get married to do so. Under monogamy, 90 percent of men find a mate at least once in their life.” This isn’t necessarily so anymore in today’s chaotic combination of polygamy for lucky alphas, hypergamy in varying degrees for females depending on their sex appeal, and, at least in theory, large numbers of betas left without mates at all—just as it is in baboon packs. The aim of Mystery-style game is to give those betas better odds. ...

Related: NYTimes on dating and gender imbalances on campus.


Sherri Nichols said...

Did you notice the group of people missing from this article? We have the alpha men, the beta men, and the hot babes. That's my problem with a lot of the evo-psych stuff: it seems to ignore the vast quantity of women, who aren't hot babes, and maybe don't act and think like hot babes.

Steve Hsu said...

PUA theory is (operationally) meant to apply to the women you are likely to encounter at, e.g., a bar or house party. It's one thing to say that Game works (statistically) in the pickup environment, it's another to make broader statements about society as a whole.

I believe the weaker claims about the effectiveness of Game, but don't accept all of the "beta revolution" claims about the imminent demise of civilization as a consequence of feminism.

HybridHacker said...

Very interesting. You might like the opinions on relationship choices and evolution in this thread: (Best Natural Physique?, via BodyRecomposition Support Forums) |

Anonymous said...

Nice analsysis of The Weekly Standard article. Also it was good to learn about the Caltech roots of some aspects of Game.

Regarding your point on the "Beta Revolution", this has happened once before. The fruit of that revolution was called monogamy/marriage.

What we need now is a new civilizational model which will repress neither men nor women. I don't know what that new model will look like, but I can tell you that the current state of affairs, no pun intended, isn't very good for marriage-minded men. Here is an article talking about the legal risks of marriage as it stands now:

Steve Hsu said...

Just to clarify: I doubt there is any direct connection between Caltech guys looking for girls in LA and modern Game, but the same evo-psych observations were definitely made at the time!

Max said...

Steve I think you are spot on about over extrapolation on whole society as whole. There are non hot babes women as well -but given that more females are centered around median IQ its a given that there are a lot less intelligent women for high-IQ betas

If you read HBD blogs you d think that many people overdramaticize demographic situation, but its clear that overall we have decline in smart population and over breeding of average and below average. With selection based mostly on primitive fitness strategies (such as looks and testosterone)

The "imminent demise" of civilization is not a catastrophic event, but slow displacement of smarter population with primitives. Look at demographic statistics smart people are below reproduction rates for every single category (with few trace exception such as orthodox jews)

feminism is just another facet of the problem, not the root one and not the single one

It makes me wonder sometimes whether africa at one time was populated by smart people who were eventually outbred .

Anonymous said...

Max says: "feminism is just another facet of the problem, not the root one and not the single one"

Max you are onto something. There is nothing wrong with feminism in itself, but the problem arises when the pendulum swings too much in the other direction into outright MISANDRY.

To standardize on these terms, I see a continum as follows:


In the days of the "Scarlett Letter" the pendulum was no doubt on the left side of the spectrum. These days it has swung right through the middle but it didn't stop there, and the pendulum is pretty much somewhere on the far right side.

(Note: I am not using Left/Right in the usual political terms, just in terms of this continium chart).

On things like Divorce Laws, Father's Rights, Paternity Fraud, etc the pendulum is clearly on Misandry. On things like Men's lifespans being 7 years shorter than women's but there being no equivalent "Men's Health Deptartment" at the federal level compared to being 3 for women, the pendulum is again standing at Misandry. On Prostrate Cancer receiving half the public research funding of Breast Cancer even though it kills in exactly the same ratios, again the pendulum is somewhere on the far right.

To learn more about misandry, I recommend this article from The Futurist ezine titled The Misandry Bubble:

Luke Lea said...

Was Richard Feynman a pioneer by chance?

The Asian of Reason said...

Asian males have a horrible tendency to trend BETA. On average, they have higher voices, scrawny and short bodies, and lower self-esteem. On top of that, some Asians cannot metabolize alcohol (Asian glow), which is a sure path to betadom.

Dating said...

What we need now is a new civilizational model which will repress neither men nor women.

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philomena Prass said...

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