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Small-Scale Question Sunday for January 22, 2023

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

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I don't know a HBD forum where to ask.

How strong are various MAOA alleles associated with criminal offending (chiefly, homicide and violent assault)?

Difference between 3R and 4R seems relatively minor and smaller than IQ~crime association. And there's 2R.

It also appears that a 1.5 repeat allele was discovered in Middle East countries.

Somewhat unrelated notice, the rare good faith answer to mentioning 2R allele I saw on reddit was like that:

"Yes, it's true that %X% are likely to have 2R allele, which increases offending probability, but then %Y% are more likely to have "crime alleles" in other genes, but they don't talk about it as much". I say it because some people think that it's in current environment that alleles "cause crime", but environemnt should be changed. And in a communist utopia prorper environment alleles don't have any effect on crime.

Can anyone recommend any good books about the 20th century overpopulation scare / population control movement?

I've been reading some books that touch on the topic (mostly in terms of its overlap with the eugenics movement), and a thought I can't get out of my head (which maybe I'll turn into a top-level CWR post sometime) is how similar it feels to the climate change movement today. It's largely forgotten today, but from what I can tell, it really penetrated the public consciousness in the 60's and 70's, and it was really treated as a crisis and an imminent existential threat. e.g. Paul Ehrlich predicted in 1970: "In the next 15 years the end will come, and by the end I mean an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity."

One aspect of the comparison I'm interested in teasing out some more is how the movement's opponents were treated. It seems critics of the climate change movement ("denialists") are shunned by the scientific community and vilified in mainstream media. Was it a similar case with overpopulation skeptics during the height of the movement, or was there more space for robust debate? I'd be interested in pointers to any prominent contemporary critics of the movement.

I read Merchants of Despair by Robert Zubrin a few years ago and while the crux of the book is an examination of what he calls "anti-humanism", the first several chapters discuss the population control movement in about as much detail as you could want without reading some ponderous academic work. It should be noted, though, that Zubrin's areas of expertise are aerospace and nuclear engineering, not history, and he's best known as an advocate for Mars colonization, so take that for what it's worth. The book is pretty good, though, and he does talk about climate change a great deal as being similar to the overpopulation scare. In other words, it seems to be exactly what you're looking for.

I believe some prominent contemporary critics of overpopulation as a crisis would include Malcolm muggeridge and the Roman Catholic Church.

A while back on 4chan, I saw an interesting quote from a book that said something along the lines of:

The larger a system is, the less diversity it can support. Something something, the galapagos islands have vastly more biodiversity than north America despite being much smaller

Now, I didn't save the picture, and it was photograph of a page of a book. I tried searching for "larger" "system" "less diversity" "support", but you know how terrible google is about finding anything that isn't an "approved" mainstream news article nowdays. I ended up finding a paper called Why do several small patches hold more species than few large patches? that was tangentially related, but it seems to be more focused on conservation. Any idea what I could search for to find more information about this as a general topic? I feel like this could "The larger a system is, the less diversity it can support" is a very interesting premise that could describe a lot of topics, especially sociological and economic topics.

I think a large area allows for generalist - specialist creatures. That's not a great term, but animals that evolve that can counter common survival strategies.

It's probably more clear if I give some examples.

Giant bugs are common on islands. At least until humans accidentally introduce rats. Then suddenly all the giants bugs are gone.

House cats are amazing at wiping out unique bird species.

Australia is famous for its large number of venomous species. It also doesn't have any mustelidae. Honey badgers would be very successsful.

Australia is famous for its large number of venomous species. It also doesn't have any mustelidae. Honey badgers would be very successsful.

I really don't think honey badgers will be able to evolve resistance to the entire palette of Australians venomous critters, much less come pre-equipped.

House cats are amazing at wiping out unique bird species.

House cats are really good at destroying wildlife overall. very efficient killers

Feral house cats, the ones who were born on the streets and raised by nature, are terrific at killing. Those raised in houses by humans are quite inefficient. especially those who know they have a home to return to, and food to eat.

Take care to spay or neuter your captive fluffy descendants of the beasts who hunted your ancestors. Those who can spawn will inevitably screw.

I suspect the disparity between island bird species vs continental bird species capacity to protect are much greater than between-cats attack capacity disparity.

If you know the thread title, or any sequence of words in the thread, you can search on the 4plebs archive website to try to find it.

The larger a system is, the less diversity it can support. Something something, the galapagos islands have vastly more biodiversity than north America despite being much smaller

As has been mentioned below, it depends what you mean by "more biodiversity". I seriously doubt this is true in an absolute sense - North America covers a much larger range of biomes than the Galapagos and therefore likely has a higher total number of species. On the other hand, the Galapagos might win out if you're measuring biodiversity by species per square inch, but that's to be expected given that the Galapagos is situated in a warm equatorial environment whereas North America is a much larger landmass that includes extremely cold northerly environments and contains biomes like taiga where biodiversity is generally low, so that drags down the average.

I ended up finding a paper called Why do several small patches hold more species than few large patches? that was tangentially related, but it seems to be more focused on conservation.

It makes sense that this would be the case. The geographical isolation of populations from each other allows for allopatric speciation, where two populations of the same species diverge because they get to develop in isolation without gene flow between the groups (example: the Abert and Kaibab squirrels). Populations being dispersed into several small patches of habitat as opposed to a few larger ones clearly helps enable this process.

the galapagos islands have vastly more biodiversity than north America

Is that actually true? And in which terms "more biodiversity" - more species in general, starting from Archaea and viruses up to primates? More species per square inch? Did somebody really conduct such a research? How did they count the species and what was the result?

This is a wild guess. But my intuition is that:

Let's model a system as follows.

  • There exists a space where multiple agents have to compete for some finite and some infinite resources.

  • Some of these agents spawn stochastically.

  • Agents can grow and die. (Assume some randomness here too)

  • Agents can destroy other agents and absorb them.

  • Agents have some kind of gravitational field, where a larger size is a competitive advantage.

  • The above feature ensures power law distributed size.

Leading to; In a large system, given enough time; Certain agents can gather such 'mass' that they just immediately kill or absorb any new agents that pop up. And they are disproportionately harder to fight against as time goes on.

Think monopolies, think mainstream culture, think religions. The system I intuited above can describe memetic systems at a certain level of abstraction.

Dumb question: the absorption of a water soluble vitamin is not affected if it’s taken with fat, right?

Unless you're chugging it with a liter of olive oil, I wouldn't expect it to make a difference myself.

What's the best way to copy long passages from a physical book?

Typing takes forever, so that's out. I've tried Googling a digital copy of the book, but a lot of times the books I read aren't scanned or are in the form of PDFs without copiable text. I usually usethe Google Lens function of my Camera app to grab text using OCR, but it's only about 95% accurate, meaning I often have to go back through and correct a lot of erroneous letters and punctuation. Is there a smarter way to do this?

You might be interested in the approach described in this blog post. TL;DR take a first pass with OCR and then pass it through GPT-3 with a prompt like "The following text contains typos; please fix them." The author claims it's very accurate (enough so to support a paid product), and I thought it was a pretty clever trick when I read about it.

This is awesome, thank you!

Good OCR (something like recent versions of Tesseract, see here for a good frontend, though using the cli on PDF files works great) and going through the output to find the inevitable mistakes is the fastest method in my experience. Typing it all yourself is less annoying but takes more time and isn't any less error prone.

You can also pay someone to do it if your time is worth too much.

using the CLI on PDF files

That might actually help quite a bit. Thanks, I'll check this out.

Depends on why you are doing it. If it is for reference and retention, you'd probably be best off taking a picture and then writing your own summary and thoughts than just typing it all out.

Type faster.

Been trying since middle school, I'm just a shitty typist.

Do you believe people here pretend to be smarter than they are?

I've seen many people in The Motte claim something along the lines of "that's basic" as if only high-brow discussions were interesting, or as if they were the arbiters of what's "basic" and what's "advanced", or even as if they completely understood the "basic" notion.

It's almost as if the opposite of bike-shedding was sought: everyone claims they want to discuss about the plans for a nuclear power plant (very complex), not the bicycle shed materials which are way too simple.

So everyone who aims to discuss about the nuclear power plant plans is rewarded (even if nobody really understands them), and everyone who wants to talk about something everyone can understand is punished (nobody wants to talk about what they can easily understand).

Do you believe people here pretend to be smarter than they are?

no, people here are as smart or smarter than everywhere else, even comparable to physics/math subs . Even smarter than comments on astralcodexten . It's not hyperbole.

no, people here are as smart or smarter than everywhere else

That doesn't prevent one from pretending. A person can be 130 which is way smarter than most people, and yet pretend to be 145.

maybe a little bit . It's hard to tell if someone is pretending to be smart or if they actually write/think a certain way as a natural disposition. With physics/math you cannot really fake it, but with writing the classic method is obfuscation and big words, but plenty of truly smart people write that way too .

In my opinion a good writer is able to explain complex concepts with simple words. Obfuscation is a sign that the person is signaling intelligence rather than truly displaying it--or that he/she is a bad writer.

It sounds like you have a couple questions rolled into one.

Do mottizens want to look smart? Sure, perhaps even more than the average person.

Do mottizens take deceptive actions to achieve this? Probably. I think that's pretty common in general, and status games apply here, too.

Do those actions include dismissing topics which are too low-status? Ohhhh yeah. I can't say how we do compared to the base rate, but it's certainly an appealing choice sometimes.

Now, for the kicker: how often is a dismissal based on complexity? I'm going to argue...not that often. There are a lot of competing reasons to dismiss a topic. It's simple, it's complicated, it's common knowledge, it's not widely known but should stay that way. Status games, strategic reasons, personal distaste--all bubbling under the surface. I don't think perceived complexity takes priority all that often.

I don't think perceived complexity takes priority all that often.

Which article would you bet receives more upvotes? 1) An article which is easily accessible by the general public, treats a simple common topic in a novel way, and has zero references to lesswrong-specific terms. 2) An article which is completely inaccessible to the general public, analyzes a complex topic, has a dozen lesswrong-specific terms, and references 4 lesswrong-like articles.

Genuinely hard to say. I’ve seen both do well and both do poorly.

That’s also not a very controlled comparison. What you need are two articles almost identical but for the lesswrong-bait. I’m not even sure it’s possible to keep two articles similar except have one completely inaccessible.

here is the most highly voted article in themotte.com's short history: https://www.themotte.org/post/335/six-months-in-the-life-of

What can we make of it? It's authentic, personal, and it shows effort and subject matter expertise. Text posts almost always do better compared to links, too. I think this matters more than smart/dumb, complex/simple, lesswrong references or lack thereof, left/right, etc. Theory-of-the-world articles tend to do way worse, maybe because they come off as pretentious or out of touch. Lesswrong is not as popular as often assumed.

Fair enough. I think article 1 would be trashed and article 2 praised, but that might be just my experience.

an article is trashed if the author comes off as arrogant and is wrong. The worst combination. It has nothing to do with the simplicity or complexity of the topic.

Which has nothing to do with what we are talking about. And the article being "wrong" is a subjective opinion which might itself be wrong.

If someone wanted to discuss the inns and outs of basic high-school algebra here I imagine they wouldn't get a great deal of buy-in. There are certain topics (usually around formal logic, math and computer science) that the Motte is drastically overrepresented in demographically. You can probably discuss a lot of very low-level things on a number of different issues that aren't well-known and get more interest.

Essentially quality posts on non-contentious trivial topics are going to be ignored by the community, the same posts on contentious trivial ones (trivial in the sense the majority of people believe they have an answer, largely culture war issues) will be feted, and quality posts on non-contentious topics that the community doesn't understand but has explained to them will likely be considered a standard for a quality contribution.

The world's best explanation on logical equivalencies and truth tables would be almost entirely ignored here, for example. It's a useful topic to understand but the number of people here who don't grok basic formal logic is probably very small.

Essentially quality posts on non-contentious trivial topics are going to be ignored by the community, the same posts on contentious trivial ones (trivial in the sense the majority of people believe they have an answer, largely culture war issues) will be feted

But that hasn't been my experience. The contentious trivial topics I've tried to talk about gather a lot of feedback, they are not ignored at all: they are lambasted.

The world's best explanation on logical equivalencies and truth tables would be almost entirely ignored here, for example. It's a useful topic to understand but the number of people here who don't grok basic formal logic is probably very small.

Yes, but this presumes that there is a formal logic, when in fact there's many formal logics. One user might say question X is trivial, but that's only in classical first-order logic, in other logics it might not be so trivial. See for example this entry in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Classical Logic, I would say it's anything but simple. And of course it has an entire section explaining this isn't the "one right logic", there's many critics and alternatives:

However, as noted, the main meta-theoretic properties of classical, first-order logic lead to expressive limitations of the formal languages and model-theoretic semantics. Key notions, like finitude, countability, minimal closure, natural number, and the like cannot be expressed.

I think it's clearly a fallacy to think that X is trivial because under a particular view (classical first-order logic) it is trivial. Just because something appears trivial doesn't mean that it is.

But that hasn't been my experience. The contentious trivial topics I've tried to talk about gather a lot of feedback, they are not ignored at all: they are lambasted.

Out of curiosity, what are your explanations (I presume you've thought about more than one) for the reception you tend to get in your posts?

I'm sure you've heard the idea that the LessWrong movement is a cult. I'm not going to claim that because I don't know enough about it yet, but it does have a certain feeling of that. I see a lot of self-referencing: many terms are used only within the movement, and many articles refer to other articles within, which in turn refer to other articles. Too many inside jokes.

So for an article to gain top-shelf status it seems it has to use so many inside terms--and preferably inside terms that in turn require inside terms to understand--that only people on the inside could get, not the "normies".

So a "normie" article would just not cut it, regardless of useful the insight, especially if the insight is accesible by anyone (the plebs). I guess elitist is the word.

There's also an element of converse error fallacy (I've seen that a lot): "this seems trivial to me (and I'm rather intelligent), therefore it has to be trivial". But simple does not necessarily mean trivial.

I want to write a whole article about this, but take for example Karl Popper's falsifiability principle: it's exceedingly simple and yet it's anything but inconsequential. I'm pretty sure if the principle hadn't already been laid out, it would have been dismissed in this forum because "it's trivial".

So for an article to gain top-shelf status it seems it has to use so many inside terms--and preferably inside terms that in turn require inside terms to understand--that only people on the inside could get, not the "normies".

So a "normie" article would just not cut it, regardless of useful the insight, especially if the insight is accesible by anyone (the plebs). I guess elitist is the word.

Can this be simply the case that what you're encountering is the intersection between novelty and community preferences?

For example:

  • blog post that satisfies the community's preferences and offers novel insights = much liked.

  • blog post that satisfies the community's preferences but offers no novel insights = mostly ignored.

  • blog post that does not satsify the community's preferences but offers novel insights = sometimes ignored, some times disliked.

  • blog post that does not satisfy the community's preferences and does not offer novel insights = disliked.

Let's take your idea about Karl Popper's falsifiability principle:

  • if you post a description about it on LW, I would imagine it would mostly be ignored. It does not seem to satisfy LW preferences nor is it novel.

  • if you post a description about it on themotte, I would imagine it would be read, but would garner few replies/upvotes. It falls into themotte preferences, but is not novel.

  • if you post an interesting, novel take about it on LW, I would imagine it would mostly be ignored, although you have a chance to hook someone interested in this type of stuff.

  • if you post an interesting, novel take about it on themotte, I would imagine you might get many replies and many upvotes.

  • blog post that does not satisfy the community's preferences and does not offer novel insights = disliked.

There's a difference between not offering novel insight, and not offering novel insight according to the person downvoting.

That's my whole contention.

Let's take your idea about Karl Popper's falsifiability principle:

I said "if the principle hadn't already been laid out", that means it would be novel today. If it were novel today, plenty of people would think that it wasn't novel. People make the assumption that simple concepts cannot be novel, because somebody intelligent surely must have already thought about it. Right?

So everyone who aims to discuss about the nuclear power plant plans is rewarded (even if nobody really understands them), and everyone who wants to talk about something everyone can understand is punished (nobody wants to talk about what they can easily understand).

There's a higher bar for talking about something everyone can understand given the fact that there are far more people able to spot errors. If I wanted to write a post on economic theory I'd expect every mistake I made to be exposed pretty quickly. With more complex or niche stuff the errors are harder to spot, there are fewer people who feel confident enough to call them out, and readers will feel like they're learning something even if they are unable to judge its quality.

Although to defend this place a bit, for people who want to discuss complex issues this place might be one of the few open forums on the internet where they can do so productively.

There's a higher bar for talking about something everyone can understand given the fact that there are far more people able to spot errors. If I wanted to write a post on economic theory I'd expect every mistake I made to be exposed pretty quickly. With more complex or niche stuff the errors are harder to spot, there are fewer people who feel confident enough to call them out, and readers will feel like they're learning something even if they are unable to judge its quality.

errors tend to be be spotted quickly here. There are enough experts of various subjects that the accuracy here is probably better than on reddit.

There is a very basic (heh) solution to this: just ask. Usually people here are very accommodating and are happy to provide simple explanations.

This presumes the people are actually more knowledgeable. If people are generally more knowledgeable than you, then simplifying a complex concept for you is desirable, but what if in a certain case you are more knowledgeable? In those cases simplifying complex concepts is just condescending.

Haven't you encountered one of those cases when you are in fact the one more knowledgeable and people here still act as if they know more than you?

Haven't you encountered one of those cases when you are in fact the one more knowledgeable and people here still act as if they know more than you?

No. As a general rule, people on the motte are more knowledgeable than me on any subject they choose to write about at length. That includes my own area of expertise. It's one of the reasons I come here.

I understand that, but generally implies that there has to be some exceptions.

I've been researching HBD for the first time lately.

Question: Could acknowledging HBD have any underappreciated benefits?

Although there is valid concern that it may be exploited by bad actors (such as white nationalists), the idea that intelligence being genetic (and therefore outside our control) could potentially reduce stress for Black Americans.

No more nagging from conservatives about pulling your bootstraps.

Not nearly enough effort, nor sufficient evidence or argumentation for the topic. Don't post like this. No, not even when you roll new accounts.

Maybe I just don't understand HBD but does accepting it mean giving up on looking for improvements via culture? If not then there's still plenty of room for nagging.

does accepting it mean giving up on looking for improvements via culture?

Not necessarily, but if you were looking for an excuse to give up, it's a fantastic and instant argument-terminating justification to do that.

Of course, it's worth noting that literally everyone accepts HBD on a who-whom basis; group-level biological differences are the current go-to justification to discriminate against men and anyone under 25 in the same way they were used to excuse racial discrimination 50+ years ago.

I believe the easiest counter-argument is that using scientific racism/sexism/ageism HBD to do discriminatory things has a dysgenic effect on that population; if you treat all a group's members to slightly below their average, it means that any individual with an objectively positive deviation from that average is not rewarded for that as strongly as they would be if the background assumption was that they were that capable in the first place, so the stupider members have less competition for resources (this same argument can be easily made for redistributionist policies in general, by the way).

Sure, this is complicated by the fact that financial/material success and odds of reproduction are inversely correlated- and the dysgenic effect of that might very well cancel out the eugenic effect the above should create- but I've never seen anyone seriously try to link the two, much less argue that's a global maximum for everyone involved. (The fact that "just tolerate the bad behavior so that the good ones get ahead enough to spur change" isn't costless, and the fact that yesterday's and today's death cults inherently cannot bring themselves to reward any reproduction, complicate things even further when it comes to whether one should over or under-subscribe to HBD.)

if you treat all a group's members to slightly below their average, it means that any individual with an objectively positive deviation from that average is not rewarded for that as strongly as they would be

this is complicated by the fact that financial/material success and odds of reproduction are inversely correlated- and the dysgenic effect of that might very well cancel out the eugenic effect the above should create

The actual problem with your line of thinking is that the post-Civil Rights level of preferential treatment (disclaimer: I hold that blacks in the US are, ceteris paribus, treated preferentially) did nothing to alleviate black dysgenics which surpassed white rate half a century back already, compounding the ability gap.

Does discrimination exacerbate dysgenics? I could just as well spin the opposite narrative, both in the manner you've suggested and by pointing to generic social-darwinist logic some Philosemitic people use to explain the excellence of Ashkenazim. In any case, the US is roughly a century removed from even beginning to craft policies with natural selection dynamics in mind.

HBD in its modern form can be traced to much-demonized Jensen's 1969 article "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?", which explicitly addressed cultural interventions that are informed by the reality of innate differences, instead of progressive nostrum that is throwing ever more money and white guilt at the problem and political power to their feet.

I have suggested one additional hy­ pothesis concerning the developmental rates of Level I and Level II abilities in lower and middle SES groups, as depicted in Figure 20. Level I abilities are seen as developing rapidly and as having about the same course of development and final level in both lower and middle SES groups. Level II abilities, by contrast, develop slowly at first, attain prominence between four and six years of age, and show an increasing difference between the SES groups with increasing age. This formulation is consistent with the increasing SES differences in mental age on standard IQ tests, which tap mostly Level II ability.

Thus, ordinary IQ tests are not seen as being "unfair” in the sense of yielding inaccurate or invalid measures for the many disadvantaged children who obtain low scores. If they are unfair, it is because they tap only one part of the total spectrum of mental abilities and do not reveal that aspect of mental ability which may be the disadvantaged child’s strongest point— the ability for associative learning.

Since traditional methods of classroom instruction were evolved in populations having a predominantly middle-class pattern of abilities, they put great emphasis on cognitive learning rather than associative learning. And in the post-Sputnik era, education has seen an increased emphasis on cognitive and conceptual learning, much to the disadvantage of many children whose mode of learning is predominantly associative. Many of the basic skills can be learned by various means, and an educational system that puts inordinate emphasis on only one mode or style of learning will obtain meager results from the children who do not fit this pattern. At present, I believe that the educational system— even as it fal­ teringly attempts to help the disadvantaged— operates in such a way as to maxi­ mize the importance of Level II (i.e., intelligence or g) as a source of variance in scholastic performance. Too often, if a child does not learn the school subject matter when taught in a way that depends largely on being average or above average on g, he does not learn at all, so that we find high school students who have failed to learn basic skills which they could easily have learned many years earlier by means that do not depend much on g. It may well be true that many chi­ldren today are confronted in our schools with an educational philosophy and methodology which were mainly shaped in the past, entirely without any roots in these children’s genetic and cultural heritage. The educational system was never allowed to evolve in such a way as to maximize the actual potential for learning that is latent in these children’s patterns of abilities. If a child cannot show that he “understands” the meaning of 1 + 1 = 2 in some abstract, verbal, cognitive sense, he is, in effect, not allowed to go on to learn 2 + 2 = 4. I am reasonably convinced that all the basic scholastic skills can be learned by children with normal Level I learning ability, provided the instructional techniques do not make g (i.e., Level II) the sine qua non of being able to leam. Educational researchers must discover and devise teaching methods that capitalize on existing abilities for the acquisition of those basic skills which students will need in order to get good jobs when they leave school. I believe there will be greater rewards for all concerned if we further explore different types of abilities and modes of learning, and seek to discover how these various abilities can serve the aims of education. This seems more promising than acting as though only one pattern of abilities, emphasizing g, can succeed educationally, and therefore trying to inculcate this one ability pattern in all children.

Part of the problem is that was integrated into the curriculum, as far as I'm aware, just without attribution. Education increases in rote learning and falls in g-loading (and simple IQ requirements), which narrows achievement gaps, technically – at the expense of people with «Level II abilities».

I'm not sure if this happens on the primary school level, though.

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HBD in its modern form can be traced to much-demonized Jensen's 1969 article "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Achievement?"

I'll have to give this a read sometime, thanks.

Part of the problem is that was integrated into the curriculum, as far as I'm aware, just without attribution. Education increases in rote learning and falls in g-loading (and simple IQ requirements), which narrows achievement gaps, technically – at the expense of people with «Level II abilities».

So would the ideal be a two track system which allows for the level I path without removing the option of level II style learning for those who are able for it? I wonder if this is how it works in Italy, I know they divide their highschools into academic, technical and vocational paths.

I think this is what naturally happens in practice with tracking – and in fact Jensen's two-tier conceptualization is too rough.

We just need to extend tracking downward and make it universal.

I mean you could at least get a reasonable cutoff where you can say "we gave this our best shot, no more improvements by throwing acculturation at the problem". Whereas blankslatism demands infinite sacrifices.

Maybe I just don't understand HBD but does accepting it mean giving up on looking for improvements via culture?

I would hope so. It is often overlooked that conservatives also adhere to the blank slate theory, but they attribute societal issues to factors such as education, families, and perceived laziness, rather than systematic racism allegations as is commonly associated with the Left.

Maybe it would get both sides to shut up, lol.

That's what I was thinking Thomas Sowell's Culture series of books (Race and Culture, Migration and Culture, Conquests and Culture) is a good example of this.

My understanding is that the big thing HBD proponents hope for is that it wouldn't end cultural solutions to inequality, but to change the moral valence of such solutions. It's the difference between "we should implement a societal solution because the playing field is naturally uneven" and "we should implement a societal solution because people are tilting the playing field".

Well, the obvious one is that if you acknowledge your weaknesses, you can better address them. For example, we all agree that boys are generally more aggressive than girls, and therefore benefit more from special instruction to control their anger.

As a hypothetical example, lets say you had a race of green people who were biologically adapted to utilization of violence, corporal punishment, and emphasis on the spoken word. If you wanted green people to have better quality-of-life outcomes in a technologically advanced liberal society, you would want to place special emphasis on teaching green children to suppress their emotional intuitions in favor of liberal platitudes. (I.E. Sticks and Stones...)

That is not, in practice, how it works out- New Orleans(but not local) blacks(but not Louisiana whites broadly) are widely viewed as a lost cause even by relative liberals involved in the administration of Houston because of the stereotype of them as green people.

American society has a hard time accepting innate inequalities in the first place. Take race out of it. Everyone understands that some people are stronger, smarter, healthier, etc than others. The "best" idea we came up with to deal with it is some variation of, "from each according to ability, to each according to need." Which isn't even that great an idea because it removes motivation from the equation and it means that if someone isn't getting what they need, it's considered the fault of someone who has ability but isn't chipping in out of greed.

Our second best idea is just to ignore it and pretend that success is a matter of virtue. A lot of our fables expound on the virtue of being smart, crafty, etc. But if intelligence is also just a matter of luck, where does that leave us? What virtues can we improve through culture/external forces and to what extent? What ideals do we want children to strive for which they can realistically improve on?

The thing that I would like to see as a society is intelligence being decoupled from morality. We seem to treat intelligence as something achieved through hard work and stupidity as a moral failing. While intelligent people often also work hard for success, many intelligent people are able to get by with less effort than someone with moderate intelligence. We need to decouple the idea that intelligence is equivalent to diligence or that stupid people "deserve" to be stupid.

This does not mean that we should expect or wish for equality of outcome between stupid people or smart people. I cannot imagine a society where that would work or even be desirable. There will always be high-consequence roles where you want the smartest person in charge, intelligence will always have an advantage in competition, and tying compensation with outcomes appears to lead to the best outcomes.

That said, I think our society has removed a lot of guardrails for stupid people while also adding a bunch of extra unnecessary pitfalls. Things like going from an extended family model to a nuclear family model to a single parent model has removed a lot of support that stupid people would have benefited from, while also leading to worse educational outcomes for children. Making cheap dopamine devices available to everyone over the age of three creates a time and opportunity sink.

HBD will only become NBD if we can figure this one out first.

Black Americans are not particularly stressed in the first place; and their problems are not explicable by being stressed out, and accordingly worries of liberals about their potential mental anguish as a result of some scientific paradigm change are on weak footing, and might just be projection born out of inability to conceive of other minds generally and engage with black people specifically.

On top of that, Science has shown that

Blacks and Whites tend to base their self-esteem on different domains and that the tendency of Whites to base their self-esteem on the approval of others provides a partial explanation for the Black self-esteem advantage.

In other words, white=cringe, black=based, in a pretty rigorous technical sense.

Accepting HBD as a valid explanation would have the benefit that, at least, such misconceptions would stop being instilled in the consciousness of Americans, generating unproductive guilt and mental disfunction among liberal white women, likely suppressing fertility and driving up antidepressant prescriptions. It would be an interesting focus area for Effective Altruists to explore, should their therapists allow it.

I do wonder if effective altruists are missing cognitive enhancement as a neglected area considering they're concerned with economic growth.

They might be, but the optics for the quick option are bad- amphetamines are generally illegal unless you convince a doctor you require them to function, and unlike weed, it's not something half the population is already using under the table.

It's understood that they're a treatment for mental illness and that doesn't have the same connotations as "now I can focus for 8 hours", and encouraging widespread use honestly might be a bad idea because if that happens you've created (a limited form of the) Deus Ex problem and it's something you might eventually have to take advantage of or else be left behind in work or school... so even if it's found to fuck with you in other ways you functionally won't be able to stop.

Technically speaking, tobacco does this too, but as far as I can tell widespread nicotine use is more anti-anxiety than anything. Still, the greatest human technological achievements were made when smoking among the US population was at an all-time high, so...

The underappreciated benefits is that: if HBD is true, then "invisible racism that everyone holds" stops being a reasonable explanation for why certain demographics are under-performing. Acknowledging HBD is (in my opinion) critical to reducing racial bitterness that the mainstream media has been trying really hard for the past decade to inflame

I'm a 27 year old kissless virgin. Part of the reason that I'm a kissless virgin may be that I want to find love and lose my virginity to the person I love, rather than have casual sex for the sake of it

My friend says women can tell if someone is a virgin, and that to wash off the figurative virgin smell, I should go have casual sex with women.

Assuming, for the moment, that I can achieve that with ease, is there any evidence that women can tell that a man is a virgin? How would they do so? Is a lack of confidence just being conflated with virginity here?

Like others say, women can't literally tell if you're a virgin (how could they?), but they can pick up on your 'vibe'. If you are insecure, it will reveal itself in subtle ways when you interact with women, which they can pick up on. Maybe getting laid would let you overcome the "I'm a virgin!" insecurity, in which case, it would indeed help you be more romantically successful. Not through some metaphysical sex magic, but by changing the way you think about yourself.

Also consider that you might have a fear of intimacy. Maybe you don't make romantic moves because you're afriad of what might happen, and justify this as "wanting to find love" and waiting for the "right time", which is a story you can keep telling yourself for years and years.

Models by Mark Manson is probably the best book on this subject.

Is a lack of confidence just being conflated with virginity here?

Yes.

If it helps, what it takes to have confidence is learning how to manipulate people you don't respect. Dating, in other words.

Bro that's absolutely not what dating is. You're not going to have a fulfilling relationship if you're just dating people you don't respect. The trick isn't to respect them less, it's to respect yourself more.

I've been with my partner almost fourteen years now, your concern has been noted.

If you want to be confident dating women, you have to learn to manipulate them in common ways. And when you learn just how common these ways are, it will make you respect the people it works on less. This will not be all women, but it will affect how you view them. LTR with someone you don't respect is a non-starter, I agree. The odds that everyone you date will be worthy of respect drop precipitously with each additional date.

Assuming, for the moment, that I can achieve that with ease, is there any evidence that women can tell that a man is a virgin? How would they do so?

The same way you can tell that someone is inexperienced in any domain I would imagine. But then again, it's not uncommon for sole guys to lose their confidence and go through dry spells where they give off the same vibe.

Exact same people people who shame you for being virgin, still would shame you "gee, he got his first sex at 27". Having sex a few times also isn't a working vaccine.

Less think about what people think of you, and do what you must do.

Given the way virgin is used as an insult on the internet, I think it's the conflation.

It's not quite a motte and Bailey but basically women can tell if a guy is unconfident and unassertive in exactly the way other men can tell. The only difference is other men don't care whereas most women will treat you differently in personal situations because of it.

Obviously nobody can actually tell if a man has had sex or not.

is there any evidence that women can tell that a man is a virgin

Unlikely as such, at least not until you get to the part where you are about to not be a virgin anymore. Definitely not by smell. But possibly by behavioral patterns you could be recognized as somebody who doesn't have a lot of romantic experience. Which of course technically not the same as being a virgin, and since at least for a male, literally nothing changes physiologically if you have had sex once, I don't think it is possible to recognize it as such by any means. But lack of experience/confidence definitely can be. I am assuming here you are a male and not a lesbian/bisexual woman, there I couldn't say anything at all.

As for "lose my virginity to the person I love" - I am not sure I am qualified to give advice here, but I'd say I am not sure it's worth it in general. Male virginity is not really prized that high in our culture (underlying reasons are, of course, biological but we turned them into cultural ones). On the other hand, the first attempts at sex, as many describe it, usually are not that great until you gain some experience and know what you're doing. If you're madly in love, it may be a part of an awesome process of self- and mutual discovery. On the other hand, it also may be frustrating and burdensome for both of you, especially if you both don't know what you're doing. It's ultimately your choice but I'd probably suggest not considering your virginity as too much of a gift to your future bride (most women aren't looking for it, unless for religious and similar reasons), and if you feel like having some casual encounters before committing to a more serious relationship - just do it.

As for "lose my virginity to the person I love" - I am not sure I am qualified to give advice here, but I'd say I am not sure it's worth it in general. Male virginity is not really prized that high in our culture (underlying reasons are, of course, biological but we turned them into cultural ones).

The intersubjective element isn't the only concern; there's also the personal issue - of regret.

There's some empirical evidence that males tend to regret the sex they didn't have, while women tend to regret the sex they did have (as you say, we come up with cultural justifications for this). Might want to factor in future regret as a cost of picking the wrong strategy.

I've seen other men in this position say similar things and I really wonder if they're just using a female regret-reduction model (especially when they're also passive - not a good male strategy).

If OP knows himself and regret isn't a potential issue...well then ignore the general tendency. But something worth considering.

Is a lack of confidence just being conflated with virginity here?

Yes. Or more specifically, not a lack of confidence per se, but the feeling that you are not where you want to be, you are not doing what you want to do, and you are not getting what you want out of life. What most attracts us to people is the feeling that they're doing exactly what they want to do, that they're in flow, slicing reality at the joints. Almost all nonreligious men in our society, and most religious men too unfortunately, want to get laid all the time with any available woman. So if one is a virgin, one is almost certainly not getting what one wants.

That's why sometimes virginity is perceived as a wildly unattractive feature. If you're doing it for religious reasons, then you're getting what you want, that's attractive. If you're doing it for non-religious reasons, no one will ever believe you anyway. You'll probably get a better reception among religious folk, which is where you ought to be looking for a similarly situated virgin bride anyway. {You'll probably have a lot of problems finding a true virgin among the religious anyway unless you're comfortable dating a younger woman.}

I just don't know any virgin women over age 25 who aren't religious, hideously ugly, or deeply unhealthy. Often multiple of those. If you're not looking for a religious woman, and a younger one at that, I don't see a path forward.

If you're not looking for a similarly situated virgin bride who will likely be a virgin for religious reasons, then I think you do have to question what the path looks like to being with the person you love.

I'm an awful degenerate. I don't think I could have seduced my wife if it wasn't for the yeo(wo)man's work other girls put in to to teach me what was what. The first time we were together was electric, and it's all flowed from there, we've been together ever since. Maybe love conquers all and it would have worked out even if I had been rather underwhelming in bed that first time, but maybe not. So when I look at how happy I am with my life and my wife, I think i should send a couple girls thank you cards.

I have no desire for the woman I'm with to be a virgin, but I suppose that I'd rather she not have high standards for sex, because I'm not sure I could satisfy her.

I don't have much to add in response, but I am grateful for every person who's replied to me so far. This is useful input and I appreciate it.

because I'm not sure I could satisfy her.

You absolutely can, and will, if you decide to. The standards for heterosexual men are barely above the floor, you have to limbo under that bar or trip over it to fail. While I hardly have perfect information, I'm perpetually shocked when I hear about what women out there tolerate. While I think your first time can be written off as a loss, and hell I tell any new partner going in that the first time together will probably be mid at best, you are not incapable of being a good lover in all likelihood.

Visit your local Hillel, say you're interested in getting in touch with the tradition, talk to people there. You'll probably get some guidance and maybe even a match. I'm not kidding, I've seen it happen.

For fuck's sake, you have a hereditary subscription to a superintelligent support network for autistic nerds, might as well use it once.

I'm not religious and I do not have the ability to support, nor any desire to have children. But I see your point.

Wait, can I visit a Hillel if I'm not in school?

Assuming, for the moment, that I can achieve that with ease, is there any evidence that women can tell that a man is a virgin? How would they do so? Is a lack of confidence just being conflated with virginity here?

They aren't smelling your literal virginity. They are sensing your lack of experience with everything that comes before sex. If you were some weird monk that took a new woman home every week, got all the way to the bedroom and then suddenly expelled the thot from your abode, no one would think you were a virgin until you finally got to the fun part and couldn't find where the penis goes.

Have you been actually actively looking for your love? Not just waiting for that divine maiden to cross your path one day? But trying to cross the path of every girl that looks like she might be what you're looking for yourself? Religious people marry young, you're losing time with every passing day.

I am actively looking, but I may not be doing so the right way.

I mean, if you were interviewing for a particular job, and you had never had any experience performing one of the duties listed in the job description, and the interviewers starting to ask questions of you about that duty or heaven forbid had you try to demonstrate talent, you might expect they'd notice your lack of experience pretty quick?

There's another idea that goes by many different names but one might need to 'demystify' the experience of sex in order to not be awkward when discussing the topic. You can study hard and understand it on an academic level, maybe even practice the mechanics of it, but that's like learning to dance with a mannequin. Or learning to box only against a bag. There are subtleties to handling another whole human being in the mix that can't be conveyed without actually doing it.

Note, I am 1000% NOT saying you should lose virginity for the hell of it.

Perhaps under one version of an ideal universe two virgins who truly love each other can go on a journey of sexual self-discovery together and thus forge a deep bond and comprehensive understanding of each other's preferences.

I DO think that's unrealistic unless you're actively part of a (probably religious) community that actively values and preserves the norms necessary for that to happen.

And, finally, if having sex is indeed a goal of yours (I assume it is) then if you want to have more of it you actually need to develop the ability to seduce a woman consistently, since it turns out most women don't give off "I want to bang you" signals constantly and the guy is going to have to put in enough effort to cross the threshold from "I am mildly attracted to you" to get there.

If you're bad at it, that by itself can be enough to repel a woman's interest. It's not that they're repelled because you're a virgin, you've just got no 'game.'

This is a something that can be practiced, but as a virgin, unless you're planning to practice it by getting a woman right up to the point where she wants sex but then backing down, I don't know how you can get good at it before meeting 'the one.'

I'm reminded of a (probably apocryphal, but does it matter?) story in how some erotica mag had a writer who wrote really hot stories, all the readers' favorites are from his pen. At some point there's a noticeable drop in quality, noticeable as in "readers note it and start sending in letters inquiring for the reason"; the editor goes to see the writer to ask what's the deal. Turns out the writer has lost his virginity; the stories just got too realistic to be good any more.

You're probably a virgin because you didn't try not to be a virgin. You're a long way from high school. I guarantee you, the standards to join the had-sex club are not high. It's nothing you're going to be shamed for except by people who want to shame you for other reasons.

Assuming, for the moment, that I can achieve that with ease, is there any evidence that women can tell that a man is a virgin?

By talking to you? Or by smell, or looking awkward or something? No, that's a trope from fiction. Be at peace.

In the last week I saw two instances of reddit comments that were unique in phrasing and almost identical. The first was in the same thread shilling some video game streamer, so that's not surprising, but the second was copying a comment from a three year old thread found via other discussions tab in /r/documentaries. Someone brought up a similar situation in a CW thread a few months ago but I don't remember it well. Anyways both comments were later deleted, and I only saved the second account name, a one year old account with only comments in the last week that just did the same^1 thing^2 today and most of its comments are copied from crossposts. Any guesses on the purpose of this?

Bots that copy old Reddit posts or old comments on the same submission have been around for years. There are ones that copy Youtube comments on a video into Reddit submissions of that video too, I remember a /r/videos thread where one of those attracted attention because the Youtube comment mentioned the current year and the Reddit comment copying it was in a different year. The goal is presumably to automatically create large numbers of spam accounts with a human-like history of upvoted comments to get past Reddit's anti-spam measures. The only new thing I'm seeing here is that it looks like they've worked in some program to rephrase the comment, maybe Reddit implemented some measure to detect the direct copies.

Garden variety karma farming? Generating pre-good standing and aged accounts for later sale?

Wait everyone is saying karma farming but why? There is no value to high karma accounts. Once you get above a low minimum threshold to post in a sub, there is no further value to more karma. It doesn't make one's content more discoverable.

There is value if you resell them. Some subs have high but hidden thresholds, especially for comment scores.

How much can you sell them for? What's the threshold? I feel like the threshold is low as is the resale value. It's pretty trivial to get big karma by just posting "orange man bad" level takes on a popular sub.

reposting old memes, reposting old links

It's so inefficient at increasing karma I had ruled out that possibility.

It is just karma farming by copying old comments. It's inefficient on a per-comment basis, but it can be automated and done on many accounts at the same time, so it works. It's a very common strategy that's been used by reddit bots for years. Another user noticed something similar a while ago.

I suspect the goal isn't to maximise karma, but generate a reasonable amount to make the account look as if it's owned by a real person.

Copying top comments is obvious and easy to see. Copying mid comments attracts less attention.

Posting only a handful of comments in the last week and taking so long to get to double digit karma is unbelievable too. Unless its behavior changes drastically I don't see how it can be worth selling or scalable as that would definitely attract notice.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are farming bots designed to look as human as possible, including posting at the average rate of a reasonable human. It may not be quite as fast, but it's easy enough to automate, and no reason you couldn't have a single bot run tens of thousands of accounts like this, so you might still get a reasonable number of decent karma accounts after a month or so.

Might be a more complex karma farming dynamic? Like most big subs require a minimum karma to post, so getting started might go that way?

So the root cause and "purpose" of homosexuality is still something that is debated all over the Internet on various forums. Some think it's parasites while others think it's to do with the genetic birth order.

Allow me to ramble thoughts that have nlgone through no epistemic rigor whatsoever.

I feel like homosexuality is correlated with a lack of thirst of competition. Homosexuals like to win but they want to win without a struggle. It seems to me that non-gay men LOVE to be engaged in competition.

Whether it's them participating themselves or choosing a side of people who are participating. I feel like non-gay men like the back and forth between opponents ALMOST as much as winning. When I say "like" I don't mean with a smile on their face but they have a somewhat weird tolerance for the ups and downs that come with rigid competition rather than trying to figure out a way to end the whole thing once and for all.

It would explain why gay men are found in careers that don't necessarily have the strictest of win conditions. (Fashion). This rigid competition only appeals to non gay men. Would also explain the gay men's lack of interest in sports.

I'm aware there is quite a correlation between testosterone and how competitive a man is, but there are gay men with extremely high testosterone (thick beards, thick body hair, lots of muscle mass, aggressivell, violent) but still don't necessarily enjoy competition the way non gay men do. I wonder if the thirst for competition is asomewhat separate variable by itself.

Interestingly enough the most prominent gay business man in the world (Peter Thiel) wrote a book called "Competition is for losers".

Sorry for bad English I'm not a native speaker.

It's an interesting theory, but I have to question how many gay men you know and thought hard about in the process of writing this. Or rather, probably, how many hot, upper class gay men who live in urban centers. Homosexuality is not experienced as fleeing from competition, but as a constant state of competition. If one becomes gay to escape heterosexual competition, it is out of the frying pan and into the grindr. Anecdotally and stereotypically, it is gay men who put more effort into their appearance, gay men who are in better shape and less likely to be obese, gay men who are more likely to choose hobbies that partners might like over vagina-drying hobbies like vidya games or arguing on obscure internet forums.

I would also point out that entertainment fields that gay men dominate, fashion and theater, are as or more competitive than fields straight men dominate, athletics and video games. The win conditions may seem less legible to you, but that makes them no less real to those participating. But materially, economically, there is only so much room at the top, and the bottom gets nothing out of it in fashion.

But more importantly, sexually, the vast majority of heterosexual men are monogamists, while gay men are much more likely to be open see also, all studies put it at 4-5% in straight couples and 30-50% in gay male couples. Moreover, two thirds of men are married, while only one out of every ten homosexuals jumped the broom. Monogamy is sexual socialism, polygamy is sexual capitalism. In a monogamous relationship, competition may be fierce initially to get a partner, but after that you have a secure long term partner. If you let yourself go, if you stop romancing your spouse, if you form unattractive habits; then social shame and government policies act to keep the couple together, or at least to make it inconvenient to exit. In a polygamous relationship, you are an at-will employee. You never stop competing, if you ever lose your edge, you'll lose your spot to a fresh applicant. The rewards scale differently. In a monogamous relationship, however hot I get the reward is the same. In a polygamous relationship, the hotter I am the more sexual partners I can have.

So I guess I just don't see it, in terms of how gay and straight men actually live their lives and fuck. As I get older and I interact with more people I actually find that homosexuality confuses me more and more. When I was a kid and it was just a political issue, and I knew perhaps a half dozen gay men, it was easy to buy into simple explanations like genetics or "helper-in-the-nest" or hormone wash (or, for that matter, sin). Now, with experience, no explanation on offer really satisfies me. The epicycles-type mental explanation I'm working through is that what we bunch under the heading "homosexuality" is actually a big pile of different phenomena from diverse causes, but that's probably just a lack of understanding rather than a sophisticated understanding.

The epicycles-type mental explanation I'm working through is that what we bunch under the heading "homosexuality" is actually a big pile of different phenomena from diverse causes, but that's probably just a lack of understanding rather than a sophisticated understanding.

Where can I read more about this?

I wrote a prior comment in an SSS here. In general, just read all the comments on here, and think of all the different activities we put under the heading "homosexuality" and figure that maybe the act of men having sex with men might have multiple causes. Dudes might fuck dudes for different reasons at different times in different places. Trying to come up with a single cause of all those things is like conflating wage theft, embezzlement of corporate funds, armed robbery, burglary, running a ponzi scheme, shoplifting at self checkout, lying on your tax return, and creating a false will for a relative, and selling used cars with bullshit "warranties" that don't cover anything; and then looking for a "theft" gene that unites all those disparate kinds of thieves.

Or, possibly the entire structure of male competitiveness is for the benefit of women, and when you aren't sexually attracted to women, there is less need for competition.

All that said, this seems very anecdotal. I'd be interested in rates of amateur sporting participation by demographic. I'd expect lesbians to have higher participation than straight women, and gay men less than straight men, but who knows? And are gay men more competitive than gay women?

All right, reading this feels like you're kind of pointing to some interesting observations but have come to different conclusions than I have. As a gay man I have complicated feelings about the matter but let me try to unpack some of your points from my perspective. This is going to be really long and informed by a ton of personal anecdotes combined with pop psychology that I literally just made up from my own experiences, so if anyone objects they can feel free to share their experiences instead, but otherwise here goes:

First of all I want premise this with a certain framing that I don't think many people are privy to, even among gay men and certainly not more broadly understood outside of gay circles*. That is to illuminate the dynamic of being a "top" or "bottom." Now, I was misled by this premise for years, believing it only referred to the sexual position of each partner during anal sex: The top puts his penis in the bottom's rectum. This is the broadly accepted and understood meaning in American mainstream society today. And according to your shiny mainstream LGBTQIA image, the top/bottom dynamic basically ends there.** But outside of that narrow American perspective on homosexuality, these terms are more loosely interpreted: In many languages, the terms for top and bottom are more translatable to "active" vs "passive," (aktiv vs passiv in German) for example. And indeed, at the end of the day, what determines who is the top and who is the bottom in a homosexual relationship has literally nothing to do with self identification as a top or a bottom: this sorts itself out naturally. There will always be one partner who is more dominant and one who is less dominant. Any third party can see this. It is strange and disorienting to see a bigger, stronger, taller guy be bottom to a smaller, weaker, shorter guy. It happens but it is weird. It is basically against the way of nature. Homosexual relationships that last are nearly always ones where the top has legitimate, physical, material claims to being the top over his partner. Gay relationships always fail when the bottom is sick of being the bottom, or he believes the top isn't worthy of being the top anymore, or the top starts doubting his ability to be the top.

From my experience, what I've outlined above is exactly how things play out, constantly, even though no one parses it into plain english the way I have. Basically, all gay men exist on some hierarchy or spectrum, that is sort of opaque to each of us at first, but that always sorts itself out in the realm of sexual play. The more dominant man will always become the top to the more submissive man, regardless of who's trying to put what body part where. Bad gay sex is when a submissive man tries to top a more dominant man. You can put up with being a bottom for a man who deserves it, but to be made a bottom of a man who doesn't deserve it, is horrible and degrading beyond the regular degredation of bottoming for a man who you do respect.

I'm rambling a bit so let me get on to some direct responses to what you've written now that I've gotten my own framing out of the way.

I feel like homosexuality is correlated with a lack of thirst of competition. Homosexuals like to win but they want to win without a struggle. It seems to me that non-gay men LOVE to be engaged in competition.

Here I get to talk about my observations of straight men, which have really enlightened me greatly about myself and about other gay men. Straight men are motivated to reproduce. But evolution has complicated things: It wants the most fit males to reproduce. So straight men must compete for the right to reproduce with women. It is not that straight men "LOVE" to engage in competition, it is that straight men WANT to engage in the competition, and believe themselves worthy of doing so. Now, an anecdote. When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I saw a pornographic film of a man having sex with a woman for the first time, and this video really shocked me. I saw how huge his penis was, compared to my 8 or 9 year old penis, and how his body was so much more mature and fit than mine, and at that moment I was sort of "cucked" out of ever wanting to compete in the sexual arena with women. I thought, there's no way, this dude is obviously way more fit than I am to reproduce so I better just not even try. Having sexual energy in abundance, and mortified that I'd never be able to compete in sexual competition, I began rather to see myself as an object of sexual desire and tried to repress my masculine urges as I was so unconfident with my own ability to compete with them that my ego couldn't bear being rejected as a male. So I was drawn to conceiving of myself as a bottom, to be used as the sexual gratification of other men- because at least then my ego wouldn't be damaged when I tried to compete with other men.

Near the end of my 20s this role began to really grate on me. I was frustrated in love and sex; I would date many older men, who I was drawn to because it was easier for me to respect someone with more experience than my peers. But I didn't respect them particularly at the end of the day because I didn't see them as good enough to satisfyingly top me. So none of those relationships ever went anywhere. But I also dated a handful of men who were my age or a bit younger, and I always dragged them out, never going anywhere with them, and I never understood why until I realized that at the end of the day I wanted to be a top but was worried about rejection from these guys. In these relationships I was basically their top but too scared to actually make a pass at them because I was afraid of being rejected by them. I spent a few years at the end of my 20s not dating anyone, because I was tired of playing the bottom role and hadn't yet realized my desire to play the top role. Finally I did some self reflection and came to the realization that what I wanted was to be respected and play a top role in a relationship and once I got over my fear of being rejected, and accepted that I'm actually valuable and worthy of being someone's top, I've had much much more fulfilling relationships with men and dating is much more gratifying.

In summary, I'm trying to say that straight men perceive themselves as being a good fit for reproduction. They are driven to compete with other men to reproduce. In a way, my ego was too fragile to risk the rejection of women so I decided not to compete with other men for sex with women. It's as though part of my brain thought I should instead, seek the role of the female, and become the object of men's desires.

More directly:

Gay men are afraid of losing more than straight men. Our egos can't bear to be rejected by women so we create a new game within our own minds where we can become the object of affection of other men, who we know are horny so it seems impossible to lose.

I feel like non-gay men like the back and forth between opponents ALMOST as much as winning.

Actually, the most gratifying gay sex you can have, in my experience, is when the bottom is trying to do his best to be the top but the top is always secure in his position and brings up the bottom to his level but they both know who's in charge. Which echoes the back and forth you are describing here. But is this type of gay sex super common? Not really, in my experience. Usually it's the sort of safe sex where the top and bottom agree beforehand which position they're taking, and then they just do that, without any play or experimentation. It's better when the bottom can try to push the limits of the top, and the top is secure enough to be like, yeah dude you like that and play into it, while maintaining his status as a top. If a bottom tries to top the top and wins, it's gross and bad because the top has been degraded and the bottom feels bad about it too.

The point I'm trying to make here is that gay men probably aren't really predisposed to this sort of back and forth competition, but it is very gratifying when it happens in a good way where both partners are secure and enjoying themselves. Does straight sex have a similar dynamic? I'm curious to know.

It would explain why gay men are found in careers that don't necessarily have the strictest of win conditions. (Fashion).

I have a degree in fashion design and I don’t know what you mean by this. The fashion industry is extremely competitive.

"Competition is for losers"

At the end of the day, the barrier for gay sex is so insanely low that any “competition” that happens is purely elective. Like, as long as you aren’t aiming to top a guy way above you on the totem pole, i.e. your expectations aren’t totally unrealistic, you can get laid with little to no pushback from your partner. So if you’re competing as a gay man, it’s either because you’ve realized that it can be fun, or it’s because you’re a loser trying to top someone way out of your league. So I can see where Peter Thiel is coming from with that book title, but the underlying logic isn’t the same for straight men.

*Though sometimes I wonder if some Ayn Randian type cynical old women could sus out the top-bottom dynamic as I've laid it out in this post. I'd love to hear more straight people's takes on homosexuality as the echo chamber of gays talking about gays can really leave me feeling insane.

**I believe this is meant to empower people who play the bottom role in homosexual relationships. I personally find this role degrading for long term situations but pointing that out is extremely unpopular politically and risks the entire scheme of homosexuality imploding on itself, if every bottom decided to see their role as degrading, so I guess it's really best if all the tops just shut up and act like it's not degrading to be playing second fiddle to a fellow full grown man, but I digress.

Since this has gotten AAQC'd, I'd caution that while it's a very fun kink, it's not universal, and even for the people with the kink it's not constant. There definitely are people who see top/bottom solely through dominance hierarchies (and, I'll admit that 'dude who wins bet/wrestling/game/has a bigger dick tops today' has an appeal personally), but there's also vers pairs where people trade off who 'has' to top this time, and power bottoms, and ultra masc tops with role reversal kinks, and other kinks that don't really fit into it (eg, I've also got a liking the punchline 'this ain't a rollercoaster), and I know of some of those sets who are pretty happy with their relationships and sex lives. And there's other people who just prefer frottage, exchanging oral, whatever.

((And then there's people who'd prefer to sub but can't bottom for anal over medical reasons or just don't get as much stimulus from it; prostate and anal stimulation doesn't work the same for everybody.))

It's certainly common, and in some demographics and environments a wide majority. And there's some physical reasons (not that dissimilar from the straight version!) that make it more tiring and more difficult to do all the moving while bottoming. But at the same time, it's not so universal a law of nature that you should be surprised by examples outside of its case.

I think your later comments go into this a bit, but

Though sometimes I wonder if some Ayn Randian type cynical old women could sus out the top-bottom dynamic as I've laid it out in this post.

It's probably the majority take among fujoshi; I don't think it takes a lot of cynicism or age.

In the furry fandom, Maririn's probably the best-known (out, cis) female artist that focuses on M/M stuff and has a lot of comics available, but Rukis Croax does a lot of (good) writing, both porny and otherwise, and it's not accidental there. In fandom circles, it's common enough that when tvtropes talks about modifying character heights to fit the stereotypes, they're really not exaggerating. For more 'conventional' gay-porn-by-women, Iron Spike's Smut Peddler stuff favors it at length, though I don't think exclusively. Sometimes that reflects the sorta gay guys that they're working with (or selling to), but there's a not-entirely-unfair criticism that it's often a way for the bottom to feel more resonant to a lady who's reading or writing along with Mr. Hitachi.

Which probably says a bit about what extent het relationships have some overlap. The "girl looks for guy at least six inches taller than her, who's a breadwinner and physically strong and sexually forward and who she feels is worth letting dominate her" is absolutely a trope. I'd give the same caveats -- it's not the only approach -- but it's very much the mass market fantasy.

I believe this is meant to empower people who play the bottom role in homosexual relationships. I personally find this role degrading for long term situations but pointing that out is extremely unpopular politically and risks the entire scheme of homosexuality imploding on itself, if every bottom decided to see their role as degrading, so I guess it's really best if all the tops just shut up and act like it's not degrading to be playing second fiddle to a fellow full grown man, but I digress.

To an extent, but "submissive and breedable" as an joking-not-joking insult is pretty common, and 'everyone' knows what it's implying. There's nothing about losing a fair competition that has to be degrading. And there's a lot of people find being pleasantly beaten as part of the point, in ways where 'bottom-as-breedable' would be a lot more fun than... uh, a lot of the prep work.

I think it's more that it is useful to distinguish between someone that wants to get dominated, and those who want a 'free prostate example', even if in practice there's a pretty wide amount of overlap. But there's a lot of reasons to not want to air that laundry in front of the hets.

What do you think of this article?

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/05/the-kingdom-in-the-closet/305774/

tl;dr "All" gay people in Saudi Arabia are bottoms and act effeminately, and they pick up straight men to penetrate them in hook ups. And from other research I've done, outside of the modern west and outside of situations where there are just absolutely no women around anywhere for extended periods, most homosexual relations are like this. Bottoms don't want to be tops, and tops are only doing it because it's harder to find a woman to hook up with.

Do you have any sexual desire for women? Does seeing a conventional attractive naked woman do anything for you?

That's a great article, thanks for linking to it. Actually, homosexuality in the Middle East and Islamic cultures (and Greece) has been really interesting to me and something that I've been trying to demystify for myself and that has informed a lot of my viewpoint above.

For context, I'm a white American but I've spent a small amount of time in Greece, Turkey and the UAE. So by no means am I an expert, but during my travels I have dated and interacted with men and have had some really interesting experiences. The messaging we hear in the west, over and over, is that the Middle East is extremely homophobic, that they stone gays, throw them off buildings etc.. But in my experience, men in Islamic cultures are even more predisposed to homosexual behaviors than men in America or Europe are. I believe it's a combination of men from the Middle East being more egoic and drawn to gratifying their ego in a more shameless way than we are raised to do in the West*, and the natural consequences of a highly gender segregated society where the rules around heterosexual sex are very strict. As you've gestured at, it seems that a sort of makeshift "prison sexuality" abounds in the Middle East. And it is overt: in one instance, my cab driver was hitting on me, he was not shy at all; I refused his come ons because it was weird even though I did find him hot. I went to a restaurant and the guy I sat next to gave me his number and halfway through our meal his friend showed up who was definitely a homosexual, and there are entire areas of Dubai where 95% of the people you see on the street are men. Indeed, I've been all over the world and never experienced more men hitting on me randomly than in the Middle East. I can only imagine that homosexual behavior abounds in these areas, but to identify as homosexual is where people in the ME/Islamic cultures draw the line.

tl;dr "All" gay people in Saudi Arabia are bottoms and act effeminately, and they pick up straight men to penetrate them in hook ups.

That's not exactly how I would characterize the gist of the article. The conclusion I drew was that basically, gay identity is a western/globalist import, and the identification of an individual as a homosexual, itself, is what people object to in these cultures: whereas the pre-globalist position in the Middle East is that you're just a regular person like everybody else who happens to have same sex habits sometimes. And frankly I think this position is so much more relatable to my experience. I'm not gay because I was just born this way, I'm gay because I looked at straight sex, and couldn't conceive myself as having sex with a woman, but I can't escape the allure of sex so I am drawn to performing sex in a way that is unaligned with straight sex: basically I want to do the same thing that straight people are doing, but I'm a man attracted to men so it's going to look different. This is all a bad, rambling version of the point Foucault is trying to make when he pointed out that homosexuality changed in Western society from being a thing people did to something that people are, and that Islamic societies are still operating on the earlier "thing people did" version of the concept, and the "thing people are" version was helpful for gays in the west but has unintended consequences for people when they get imported into other cultures.

So: It's not that all gay people in Saudi Arabia are bottoms, and act effeminately, it's that there are certain people in SA who are adopting western/globalist concepts of what homosexuality "is" and "looks like," interacting with the "straight men" who are really just the old school pre-globalist guys who sometimes have homosexual relationships, but that don't identify with a "gay" label.

And from other research I've done, outside of the modern west and outside of situations where there are just absolutely no women around anywhere for extended periods, most homosexual relations are like this.

Yes, precisely. But actually, it also operates like this in "situations [with] absolutely no women around." (not sure if that's what you meant to say?) Indeed, I think the situation is even more pronounced in "prison gay" situations.

Bottoms don't want to be tops, and tops are only doing it because it's harder to find a woman to hook up with.

I suspect that many bottoms do want to be tops but are afraid to try. But it's more complicated than that. I think most guys aren't total tops or total bottoms, I for example prefer being a top especially in LTR situations but at the same time if there's a guy who I think is really hot I really don't mind if he tops me if he's confident and really able to do it well. Tops topping men because they can't find a woman seems plausible as I've stated above.

Do you have any sexual desire for women? Does seeing a conventional attractive naked woman do anything for you?

No. When I was very young I would masturbate to images of naked women but I rather quickly realized my attraction was really only to men. Recently I have gotten in the habit of watching straight porn occasionally, but only when it's bisexual or cuck porn where the male is the focus. I like to see beautiful women for aesthetic reasons outside of porn but I have no desire to pursue them. I could imagine having sex with a woman if I really believed she liked me, but I can only ever see this happening realistically in a desert island situation where there were no men for me to sleep with instead.

*and also, perhaps, a predisposition to homosexuality/pederasty: See Richard Burton's concept of the sotadic zone: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Francis_Burton#Sotadic_Zone

Fascinating stuff. A lot of what informs me was reading Different by Frans de Waal, which is a biological look into sexuality/gender and compares the human experience with chimps and bonobos, as well as this excellent page about the science of gender and sexuality. Quoting one part:

To study childhood gender nonconformity, researchers have conducted retrospective studies, which interview large numbers of gay and straight adults about their childhood. UCLA psychologists interviewed gay men, lesbians, straight men and straight women (198 in each group), recruited from the general population; and they found that those adults who remembered playing baseball between the ages of 5–8 included 57% of the straight men, 49% of the lesbians, 28% of the straight women, and 19% of the gay men (Grellert et al., 1982).49 A more recent study looked at how consistently pre-gay boys differ from pre-straight boys in Turkey, Brazil, and Thailand; and researchers here found that pre-gay boys were less likely to be interested in sports and more likely to associate with girls and girls’ activities than pre-straight boys (Cardoso, 2009).50 More ideal (but harder to do) are prospective studies, which begin with children as children and then follow them into adulthood. The best-known study of this kind was done by UCLA psychiatrist Richard Green (1987) between the late 1960s and early 1980s, which included 66 feminine boys and 56 other boys, matched for other variables. Most of the feminine boys would have preferred to have been girls, some even appearing transsexual, while the control group was generally selected (i.e., not necessarily for being “masculine”). Green interviewed the children and their parents during the boys’ childhood and adolescence periods. At the end, he found in the “other” group (the 35 whom he was able to follow to the end) all turned out heterosexual. However, among the 44 markedly effeminate boys (whom he was able to follow to the end), 33 became homosexual or bisexual, and 11 heterosexual. Although some of the feminine boys did turn out to be heterosexual, still in 75 percent of these boys a marked femininity in childhood was a predictor of homosexual or bisexual interest in adulthood.51

All of the homosexuals already being effeminate in childhood strongly makes me think men being exclusively attracted to other men is caused by some early biological process, possibly genetic but likely because of low testosterone during certain stages of pregnancy. There is also research into domestic sheep showing that about 8% of males will exclusively mount other males, they aren't interested in females, and that this may also be caused by a certain brain region not developing properly because of lack of testosterone during a certain stage of pregnancy.

But what you've said has given me a lot to think about. I think it's obvious the full reality of human sexuality is very complex and far from solved.

Does straight sex have a similar dynamic? I'm curious to know.

Power dynamics are weird. Or at least they are to me.

For the longest time I'd assumed that gay men engaged in a pragmatic and egalitarian division of the passive and active roles so that both people get a fair turn. Because in my mind a kind of intuitive equalising game-theoretical situation would develop where neither would be content to get the short end of the stick over and over and would simply leave. I was surprised to find out that the model is wrong, and that, as you confirm, the active and passive roles rarely swap over. I was more surprised to learn that apparently the passive role is predominant among gays. They're not struggling to find someone to fuck, if anything there's a surplus of those, they're struggling to find someone who'll fuck them. (Apparently a similar situation is common in BDSM communities). As a straight man this is an unfamiliar dynamic. The active and passive roles tend to play out naturally in straight sex. I'm often left wondering why a partner is out of breath afterwards when she's put in about 80% less exertion. If I was holding out for a woman who took a physically dynamic role in sex I'd be setting myself up for disappointment. Women's sexual passivity is such a commonly shared assumption that they frequently criticise men for not knowing where the clitoris is while also neglecting that they've got both hands free should they care to look for it themselves. Men however have to be reminded not to touch themselves in situations that aren't even sexual.

I'm not sure that I expected it to be greatly different on account of the inherently active-passive roles but it's still a disappointment when you grow up fantasising about something vaguely "lady in the streets, freak between the sheets" where the woman can match your sexual dynamism and you find out it's more like "passive in the streets and between the sheets". (And then you look around and notice women pathologically attributing their passivity to men, and that this itself is a manifestation of passivity....)

To formative childhood experiences, even when I was very young there was an intuitive specialness to attractive women. Men were background noise. Big powerful man? I suppose it would be good to be someone like that. Small wimpy man? I suppose it would be worse - unless he has an attractive wife. Image of a woman in a flattering outfit? Entrancing. A naked woman? That felt like discovering magic. If I'd seen a full on porno I would have thought the male lead was incredibly enviable rather than psychologically threatening, you know, if I'd thought of him at all. Reframing the social dynamic as one where you give up and compete with the woman to win the man is incomprehensibly gay. Horny straight men know that horny gay men exist. We know that Grindr exists. Some of us even know that the gay men who exist are keener to get dicked than do the dicking, and that there's a common gay fantasy for seducing straight men. We prefer getting rejected by women.

Getting back to competition informing orientation, the flip side of competition isn't limited to withdrawal. There's also cooperation. I lost 90% of interest in competition just as I hit puberty because that age was when sports stopped being a cooperative activity to generate the most fun and became a narrow contest solely to make number go higher than opponent, which as I saw it sucked all the fun out. And to be clear this wasn't a rationalisation to deal with being bad at sport, I was consistently among the first picks for any team sports and chose to drop out of playing for the school team. While I lost interest in conscious competition I still developed a typical pubescent boy's interest in women. I went and found the fun in drugs and music instead, and the sexual interest was (un?)satisfied with porn. I would have been better served if I'd had it explained to me that I could have competed against myself to achieve objective improvements and crucially that those improvements would in turn have afforded me better opportunities in the realm of sex and dating. Sadly/gladly I was in my late 20s when PUA evo-psych gave me a model that explained the world in a way that better mapped to reality than the blend of romantic stories and latent cultural feminism I'd been brought up with (women don't like arseholes, The One exists, be a modern man, it will happen if it's meant to be, etc).

For the longest time I'd assumed that gay men engaged in a pragmatic and egalitarian division of the passive and active roles so that both people get a fair turn.

There are gay relationships where they trade roles sometimes, but it's kind of just a nice thing for the top to do, or something to add excitement to the relationship, but you have to maintain the power dynamic at the end of the day or the relationship is going to fall apart.

I was more surprised to learn that apparently the passive role is predominant among gays.

I would say it depends on who you are and where you are. If you're 6'2 and 300 lb of muscle, everyone's going to look like a bottom to you, and you're going to look like a top to them. It would be degrading to you to be topped by 95% of the guys you meet. But if you're 5'2 120 lb and fem, trying to top, 95% of the guys you meet will be unwilling to be topped by you. Most guys fall in the middle, and younger guys tend to be more bottom and older guys tend to be more top. I don't think it's true that there are always more bottoms than tops, but it may be true that there are more men who see themselves as bottoms or are afraid to top.

Reframing the social dynamic as one where you give up and compete with the woman to win the man is incomprehensibly gay.

This made me laugh. Yeah, I know, I guess I'm trying to elucidate the more base situation that informs my homosexuality versus any straight man, and the best I can do is point to the fact that I'm afraid to compete with men for female attention so I want to compete with women for male attention instead

Does straight sex have a similar dynamic? I'm curious to know.

Don't worry, all sex is gay sex. (There was a post making this point for marriage a while ago; I can't find it, but I assert the same dynamics are at play here- there's nothing inherently valuable about roles aside from the fact they solve the 90% case and paper over certain kinds of badness in relationships per the below.)

Every straight sex-haver whose personal values lend themselves to having good sex say it is; I'm pretty sure this is universal across not only any and all types of sex, but all relationships in general. (Interestingly, all of the "I'm glad I lost my virginity at 12-14 to someone much older" that comes from certain gay celebrities appear to be pointing at this; I very much doubt they'd be singing the same tune if the sex was bad. People are usually too distracted by object-level details to notice this, though.)

but the top is always secure in his position and brings up the bottom to his level but they both know who's in charge

In my experience it also takes a certain kind of person to be able to do this in the first place: either you have it, and any sex you have is going to be good... or you don't, and it's bad (and you have to paper over its badness with drugs, kinks?, money, social/personal obligation, etc.). "Lie back and think of England" and "give seldom, and above all, give grudgingly" are memes for a reason... of course, the one that good people tend to have good sex is also such a meme and it's still possible to have bad sex if you're either bad at it, or your whole... person thing falls apart as soon as you see the hole of goals.

It's probably also the case that not all people that can trigger the relationship-glue behaviors; you have to actually manage to inherently like them rather than just wanting them for their whatever-it-is.

I once met an older man who didn't quite have it right: he really wanted to be this in talk, but he just wasn't in action. That relationship developed the same fault lines that you can see in some straight relationships; the girl/bottom really doesn't want to commit but doesn't communicate that clearly, the guy/top pours more material into the relationship and ends up resenting the girl/bottom for it, the girl/bottom feels obligated to put out and the sex is bad, and the cycle continues until something permanently breaks it. Of course, it wasn't a relationship I went into with that goal, but maybe the fact I'm capable of tolerating that suggests I'm not straight enough to properly answer this question.

(As an aside, it's weird that nobody actually talks about relationship failure modes... maybe they do, and I just don't notice it, but most people don't think about this either because it came naturally to them in an environment that wasn't "top bad"- most people 40+ had this, but anyone younger very much did not, because they can benefit from it, or just don't/can't think about it as hard in general.)

Finally I did some self reflection and came to the realization that what I wanted was to be respected and play a top role in a relationship and once I got over my fear of being rejected, and accepted that I'm actually valuable and worthy of being someone's top

This also mimics straight-top (male) personal progress. This takes longer when the social conditions are literally just "top bad".

I personally find this role degrading for long term situations but pointing that out is extremely unpopular politically and risks the entire scheme of homosexuality imploding on itself, if every bottom decided to see their role as degrading

Yes; you're absolutely right- it would destroy the entire scheme of homosexuality in the exact same way, and for the same reasons, that feminism-as-expression-of-"man-bad" destroyed heterosexuality.