XBTUSD on his first non-monogamy experiences

XBTUSD has a follow-up post, which will make sense in the context of his earlier post.

TRQ asked about my first experience with non monogamy where I was with a girl who was not my partner.

I started to move into ethical non-monogamy (ENM) by changing the structure of the “dating” phase of relationships. Where I live, everyone assumes everyone is seeing/fucking other people until an explicit define the relationship (DTR) conversation happens. A clock starts running when you know that past a certain point, even though it was not made explicit, if your girl found out you were sleeping with another girl, she’d be angry even if technically she had no right to be (girls don’t readily accept emotional contracts). I started making the implicit contract we all sign (when we start dating people) explicit. I’d tell girls right from the starting point (first date) that I only wanted to be in non-monogamous relationships and that I didn’t want to be in any sort of committed relationship at the current moment. I like to call most relationships with an implicit contract “escalator” relationships: men know that once they start dating a girl the clock starts ticking and the girl will try and move you up the escalator as quickly as possible:

non exclusive → exclusive → meet friends → boyfriend → meet family → move in → marriage → children

Women compete for status by their ability to extract resources from high status men, and therefore it’s socially desirable to compare where they are in the relationship escalator with their friends, and in turn men throughout the years have come up with every possible way to drag their feet and slow this process. Women lose status when they can’t get you to the next step in a socially acceptable amount of time because time is the most precious resource a woman has. In the same way companies have “title” inflation to keep dumb millennials around without paying them more, men have used “title” inflation in a relationship context to keep women around longer by giving them new titles that come with no true concessions and resource investments on our part. Amongst Gen Z “exclusive” but not in a relationship is now a thing?

How can you exit this whole maddening structure? Give women the information, let them take responsibility for their choices. Rather than living in the world of don’t ask don’t tell about the other people we all know we’re seeing, I started being explicit about exactly what women could expect from me, and it was life changing. In many ways, I wasn’t doing anything that different than anyone else does when dating where I live, I was just being candid about it.

The first true extra partner experience I had once I was in a committed non monogamous relationship was actually initiated by my girlfriend (we can call her Sarah). Sarah had the highest sex drive of anyone I had ever been with, and was very sexually open. We had talked about having a threesome with a girl but she had said she wasn’t attracted to girls. She was a big drinker, and generally (like most people) became much wilder when she was drinking. One night I was at a big outdoor EDM show, rolling (MDMA) with a big crew of people and her and one of my female friends (Corey) just started making out. Corey was married to another friend of mine (Andrew). Andrew and I chatted and agreed we were both down to have a foursome. We went back to our place and had the standard hetero foursome where everyone fucks but the two dudes don’t touch each other at all. Andrew was cool with it but was slightly nervous so a lot of it was Corey and Sarah hooking up and us watching. I felt no fear/disgust/nervousness but rather was super turned on by the whole thing. I think a big part of it was that I knew everyone so well. It was hard to imagine feeling threatened by the interaction. A week later we all got together and debriefed and everyone agreed they had a great time. No latent jealousy, misunderstandings etc. Continue reading “XBTUSD on his first non-monogamy experiences”

XBTUSD on his non-monogamy experiences

Reader and regular commenter XBTUSD sent this essay on his experiences with non-monogamy and related topics.

I’ve been exploring the non-monogamous world for around seven years and have had a myriad of experiences pretty different than TRQ’s, and I hope sharing them might be valuable to his audience: I really respect the community he’s built [editor’s note: community of lunatics?], his writing style, and the quality of the discussions in the comments section. Maybe my experiences can serve as a useful counterpoint to TRQ’s and we can compare and contrast.

I first heard about ethical non-monogamy (ENM) at work, teaching a room full of people when my high school girlfriend called me (she had become a close friend after we stopped dating) to tell me about the threesome she’d with her new boyfriend. I was in my late 20s, had never had a threesome or even come close, and was thrilled to hear that this type of thing was happening for real. She’d recently moved out to SF and had gotten immersed in the ENM/psychedelic/tech scene out there, and her and the BF were exploring ENM. She’d always been one of the most sexually open women I’ve met—in high school, we used to go to concerts and have competitions to see who could make out with the most people—so none of this shocked me. The part of the story that did surprise me was that for the month following the threesome, they’d been having the best sex of their lives. This was a huge shift for me in terms of what I saw as possible.

Continue reading “XBTUSD on his non-monogamy experiences”

Non-monogamy and polyamory’s dark sides

Bo Winegard tweets,

Educated elites who believe that polyamory can be practiced and enjoyed by most of the population remind me of the math professor who believes differential equations are within the grasp of anyone who makes a serious attempt at learning.

There exists compelling research that normative monogamy is beneficial and leads to myriad positive social externalities.

Polyamory is fine as a niche relationship modality, practiced mostly among the extremely WEIRD [Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic].

He’s right, particularly regarding people who want real families (a topic we’ll come back to in a moment). Despite what you’ve read here, I buy this Bo Winegard argument… we’re also not willing as a society to have an honest conversation about what’s happening below the IQ median. The people driving the conversation at the top really don’t have any idea what’s happening down there, and choose deliberately not to. They don’t really understand what it’s like to not have the cognitive capacity to get top-end jobs or have the conversations non-monogamous people need if their relationships are going to survive.

Nash follows up with…

“Burning Man style: POLYAMORY is more standard than monogamy. Men get the variety they want. They think sharing their women and it’s a ‘form of love evolution’ (they are no longer jealous), but what is happening is it pretty much destroys most of those relationships.”

“In ‘Burning Man’ it’s fine to take off your clothes and dance around really sexually. If you were at your grandma’s house having dinner (or around children), and you did that, would it ‘open everyone’s heart?’ Or would it create a fiasco? It would create a fiasco.”

Those are from David Deida talks. Deida’s more right than wrong, right now… poly/open is a fiasco in all instances except, basically, as casual sex, which is how I do them. Some light swinging can work too, especially in very long term relationships (that get stale and need some more heat). A very small number of people can really do them as described. Mostly, “poly” and “open” are about rationalizing casual sex (which is how I use it… because it’s a form of normalizing and institutionalizing casual sex for me, I don’t get caught up on the terminology). In that post from two years ago, Nash said, “for me the ‘poly’ community is a fucking mess. I live in CA and I am surrounded by these folks… and it’s an ugly shitshow. I watch guys ‘try’ this all the time, and they are a fucking sad bunch, mostly.” “Mostly” he’s right. The guys doing this at the higher end are also focused on one guy and two women, and they often don’t highly advertise what they’re doing. Most top guys don’t want to advertise what they’re doing. A lot of chicks also don’t want to come out as sharing a guy with another chick.

Poly and open are (mostly) a disaster for people who really want families, cause kids are challenging enough w/o all that adult drama. For most people, in effect, poly is a way to f**k around, avoid commitment (avoidant attachment styles are everywhere in open relationships), and enjoy sexual novelty… things I have tended to enjoy… most guys don’t want to raise another man’s child (and won’t) and most chicks aren’t eager to raise another woman’s child (but might if the guy is good enough). People in “poly” relationships who think they’re going to “have a child” together usually discover that infants and toddlers are a lot of work, reduce the amount of sex had (for a couple years), and are a lot less “fun” (though often joyful…). So… there’s a strong tendency to split. Find someone new, unencumbered. Repeat this process enough and you get the epidemic of lonely old people we see in western societies. Even married couples tend to have problems adjusting to kids. The woman’s body often goes to hell, for months if not forever… having kids is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but almost no one will do it for kids who aren’t theirs. A lot of women also peak in their late 20s and men in their late 30s, so there’s that mismatch, which can fuel jealousy. Some people out there appear to experience no or very little jealousy… with the Internet, they can find each other and also proselytize for open relationships, in a way that wasn’t possible before the Internet. The Internet lets us learn things and share them widely and also anonymously, and we can learn things we’d never publish in a newspaper or say on TV. 

In my own case… I’ve liked f**king around… and as I point out in the book, “open” relationships, “poly,” sex clubs… they’re a way to f**k around while retaining the girl, or the primary girl, cause most girls will want to define the relationship with the guy they’re f**king, relatively quickly. They’ll want to “lock him down” if you prefer that terminology (I often don’t, but girls use it). This is a way to keep a girl around, offer her super exciting experiences, but still have some of the prowl. For a guy who wants to be a player, this can be a powerful ideology and frame. I don’t want to pretend it doesn’t have huge costs, though. Many “poly” advocates are simply delusional about its costs, particularly in terms of family and children. Human societies are organized around family and kinship for good reasons. We’ve spent the last bunch of centuries trying to reorient around strangers and material goods. This has some good things associated with it but it has some costs, too. We’ve decided to elevate the individual over the family or community… which has some nice features… and some bad ones… we’re almost never willing to even state directly that this has happened.

There’s an argument kicking around the evolutionary biology communities, that intelligence didn’t really evolve to solve problems or be objectively “right,” but to form group coalitions and support a given narrative. That may be why “intelligent” people in an IQ sense may be better at self-delusion and maintaining narratives than less intelligent people. We see this especially in places like politics, where most people prefer tribe to knowledge. High-IQ poly people can convince themselves and sometimes others of their narrative, without having the desire to question their own narrative or discover what’s “underneath” it. The higher their IQ, the more “reasons” and rationalizations they can come up with. And many of those reasons are real… in specific circumstances. 

Poly is probably bad for societies, because it creates male winner-take-most systems. But as people become more individualistic and ever-less connected to family and place, we’re seeing the rise of alternate relationships styles. Like old-school Roissy used to say, “enjoy the decline.” Or figure out how to make it work. And there are also plenty of chicks out there who aren’t participating in the modern mating game… but they’re not the ones on the apps, out in bars, etc. They’re probably already in a relationship and meet men through family, school, and friends. They’re the girls who, if you’re not serious about a relationship and family, will disappear right away. Who will stick around if you’re not? That’s where the game comes from.

 

What does “quality girl” mean?

Online, there is endless discussion of how to seek out and identify “quality” girls, whatever that means… “quality” in a girl is tricky, since most girls, like men, have some good and some bad points. A lot of guys who think they want “quality,” who say they want “quality,” really want to convert a hot sexually adventurous slut into a housewife (rarely works well, but give it a go if you like… please don’t come whining to the Internet if it doesn’t). If you go for girls who are -1 or -2 relative to you in sexual market value (SMV), you can probably get a girl who will invest heavy in you… if she’s not that hot, though, you won’t want her. A lot of guys “want” a girl who is hot, a sex fiend (for him and him alone), absurdly loyal (perhaps not demanding fidelity in return), mentally stable, has even-keeled personality, and perhaps has other desirable traits too. Girls who combine all those qualities are not that common, and they tend to have a lot of suitors to choose from. This is the male equivalent of women who want a guy who is over six feet tall, makes a lot of $$$, has good social skills, prioritizes her and her attention needs, etc. etc. These guys too exist, but in small numbers, and they tend to have lots of options, which they often like to exercise, vigorously and horizontally.

Sometimes vertically, too, for the sake of variety.

A lot of girls aren’t honest about what they really want… superficially they say they want a “relationship” (with a top guy, which is unstated), but in reality their behaviors indicate they want to get f**ked a lot (by a hot guy, or when they’re horny). “I got drunk and it just ‘happened'” is not the statement of a girl who really wants a relationship. Thing is… a lot of guys aren’t honest either. A lot of guys aren’t truly working to improve themselves, and their results are consistent with that. I tweeted a while ago, “most guys don’t really care that much about getting laid.” If they do, you’ll see them quit video games, prioritize the gym, eat no sugar, and do the other things common to guys who get laid, as opposed to guys who don’t, or guys who say they want to but don’t align their behavior with that stated want. Continue reading “What does “quality girl” mean?”

Sailor socialist girl doesn’t care, and it’s not about economic systems

The conversation in the last post turned towards what “socialist” and “feminist” identifying girls mean… and the answer is usually, “not much,” because most conversations are about expressing feelings and hierarchy… the number of “socialists” who even understand what that entails is minimal. When she says she’s a socialist, she’s expressing what she sees as a “caring” underlying value and framing you as “uncaring” by comparison. The number of people interested in ideas is small. A lot of male nerd engineers treat all conversations like engineering problems and consequently don’t get laid much because their engineering mindset, while important at school and work, repels feelings-based women.

When she says she’s a socialist… she doesn’t really care.

She’s not a policymaker.

Her vote doesn’t make a big difference in her life.

There’s a big gap between any functional country and Venezuela… it will take a really long time for any functional country to hit Venezuela or Soviet Union or Cuba levels… she wants to feel good, to feel taken care of, to make other people feel like they’ll be taken care of… Mark J says in the comments, “Debating Western girls like this, (usually white, middle class with a college education paid for by daddy who I guarantee you made his money in a very unsocialist fashion, is a waste of time.) The only appropriate response is to ignore her or ridicule her.” I disagree a bit… “ridicule” never changes minds and doesn’t get guys laid… “ignore her” makes more sense, particularly for a guy looking to get laid, not teach basic economics.

Continue reading “Sailor socialist girl doesn’t care, and it’s not about economic systems”

Curiosity leads to sexual freedom… and threesomes… and storytelling

I was reading a good book about storytelling, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, by Brian Glazer (the hollywood producer) and a journalist named Charles Fishman (red pill dad on storytelling). It’s narrated by Glazer… and he has good advice for players… like, “Most of the best things that have happened in my life are the result of curiosity. And curiosity has occasionally gotten me in trouble. But even when curiosity has gotten me in trouble, it has been interesting trouble.” I should list some ways curiosity has gotten me into interesting trouble, but a look through the archives will yield a cornucopia of material… when “Libido Girl” first proposed a sex party to me, I was curious, and many years later I am still involved. Glazer says he is “not the least bit embarrassed to ask questions.” A guy should be the same, although, with girls, it’s often better to make statements or assumptions. Don’t ask, “Did you get a job making coffee because you like coffee?” Instead, “I bet you got that gig so you can flirt with the sexy customers.” As the conversation evolves some questions are fine & normal, but too many questions to an unresponsive girl feels like an interview. Some girls, however, are bad at flirting and non-responsive… but if she keeps complying despite being boring, you might find her complying all the way into bending over for you.

Continue reading “Curiosity leads to sexual freedom… and threesomes… and storytelling”

“Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga:” the uncanny valley

Eurovision Song Contest” is a cute movie, I laughed at some of the scenes, but it’s a socially uncanny valley movie, and the uncanny valley thing but one thing gnawed at me… the leads are way too old for the roles. So old they feel weird, but in a revealing way… the plot of the movie has Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as a platonic singing duo, with Ferrell also trying to deal with his father’s disapproval, and McAdams trying to sexually entice Ferrell, since Ferrell is, as in most or all of his roles, asexual or sexually uninterested in women (a fantasy many guys who lack masculine identity and play too many video games have). Farrell and McAdams are having problems characteristic of the 16 – 24 year old set… the teens and young adults who haven’t formed proper identities yet and who are trying to make it in the arts business… and the movie is ambiguous about the age of the characters, but come on. Even with surgeries and procedures Ferrell and Rachel McAdams are ridiculous.

I checked and McAdams is 41, so she’s on the verge of infertility if she’s not already infertile… she’s way too old to be chasing a man-child. What’s her sexual past like? If she was 19 we could see her as a late bloomer but few hot or once-hot women age 30+ have no sexual past. Ferrell is 53… and still in his father’s shadow…? Has he not managed to evolve at all as a man? Ferrell, like Adam Sandler, specializes in man-child roles but even man-child actors must eventually move out of those roles. Ferrell and McAdams are in the social uncanny valley because they’re middle aged playing roles appropriate to teens and young adults, but their many cosmetic procedures also make them look unnatural, even with hollywood lighting and makeup. All acting is playacting but they feel off, even though they are funny. In the movie they have not managed to move past the problems that 20 year olds have and that is revealing about our society as a whole, which deifies youth and leaves little role for anyone who has left that period. Continue reading ““Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga:” the uncanny valley”

Red Scare podcast girls on real sex

I was listening to one of the Red Scare podcasts, I think this one, and it’s amazing how on-target so much of it is regarding how sexuality really works. One of the hosts said, “Feminism’s all about being in denial,” about your sexuality and sexuality desires… it makes me consider, how many chicks are figuring this out? Lots of them will admit as much in private but not in public, for fear of the feminist social media mob. If feminists were as drawn to the squat rack as they are to baselessly attacking others, they would have boyfriends. It’s like the old days in the Soviet Union, when everyone knew the truth privately but was afraid to admit it publicly. Modern feminism is a con… one of the hosts says, “I’ve taken the red pill on feminism a long time ago.” So Red Pill language is permeating the mainstream. One of them says, “Getting hit by your boyfriend feels good…. Well it doesn’t feel good but it makes you feel alive.” I like the distinction… is “alive” good? Sometimes. Sometimes maybe not. They get the ambivalence and ambiguity in sex and sexuality, something that’s almost entirely missing in the hysterical media world, where all women are innocent victims and all men evil predators.

In reality… there are few victims or true predators… a lot of women have decided that the inept stance that women are irrational is somehow desirable… exactly the opposite stance of the feminism in the 50s – 70s, when women wanted to be seen as being as capable as men. How many women have secret housewife fantasies they won’t express? I’ve heard those too, stated quietly.

Back to sex, one of them says, “I love getting restrained and getting the menace of violence.”… I keep saying “one of them” because it’s hard for me to figure out who is who… they both sound f**kable, could be wrong here… yet for men the lesson is, “BDSM skills matter.” That should be the new Twitter hashtag. I have another post about women’s love for BDSM that I forgot to put up… it’ll come…

Another time one says, “10 years ago I might’ve still been a yuppie.” I dunno, you kind of have to be a yuppie to afford big cities today…

I have talked about Red Scare a little bit before this, and I have been getting messages about it, and about how approving of it is somehow bad, cause it’s hosted by women, or some of the thins they say aren’t true… I disagree that some disagreement removes all value or truth… look, there are various things I disagree with them about (capitalism is awesome and the reason they have a podcast instead of being forced to toil in potato fields or factories, and also Bernie is economically illiterate and unfit to lead the country, or be more than a gadfly…), BUT: they have something interesting to say, particularly about culture, culture’s intersection with politics, sexuality, and male-female relations. It’s also important to not live your life in an echo chamber… we need to be able to disagree but be smart about it… most people can’t move on from their black/white thinking. Having something to say is compelling in an era of morons mindlessly repeating garbled angry formulas they learned fourth-hand from braindead tenured humanities professors.

If you listen to red scare, call her daddy, and joe rogan… one thing they all have in common is that they’re not having the standard media conversation. Read the new york times (and its analogues) and watch the standard news programming (and their analogues), and they’re all stories about bullshit “oppression” olympics, how bad women have it (nonsense… women are protected and supported by men), how white people are (somehow) bad (despite building modern civilization), how men are evil and women are saintly, etc. All of it is, basically… bullshit. There’s some hard news sprinkled into the “news,” particularly for scientific stories that don’t have immediate political ramifications, but a lot of the dominant media narrative(s) are so incomplete as to be wrong… and most people know it. The differences between men and women are obvious from everyday life… they can be exaggerated too much, yes… an individual man or woman may deviate a lot from the norm… but come on, look around at every day life. Get off the jerk-off Internet. The dominant media narratives and their more crazy online cousins (jezebel, for example, or gawker before it went kaput) are bankrupt. BUT… there is also a right-wing version of many of these, in the form of fox news and talk radio, and you know what? It is EVEN WORSE than the NYT, the PMC, academia, etc. It is totally fact free, and reality free. It has some online conspiracy theories wings too. Yuck. People who are not idiots avoid idiots. When we see these big media companies being full of it, we get the crisis of the authority and the revolt of the public that we are seeing.

So red scare, chd, rogan, eric weinstein (the Portal)… I don’t agree with any of them 100%… maybe not even 50%… yet they are all having interesting discussions, at times, outside of the mainstream narrative, and engaging a popular audience, like I am not, because I am writing and most people are illiterate. We can choose to break free of the “official” narrative. I think all four big podcasts have disagreements with one another… but all of them are more interesting and honest than say most of the new york times’s reporting on sex, feminism, men/women, etc. And people (including me) are responding to the “lower / very low bullshit” element.

To the extent red quest has readers… it has readers because what I have to say is somewhat interesting/plausible while also not being part of the standard media narrative, OR part of the standard-media-crazy-counter narrative (Fox News is far worse than the NYT, despite the NYT problems). Let’s look at one version of a different reality… I have NEVER seen anything in the media even remotely like the free sex party book. Never, not once, and I read a lot, more than I should, and I listen, too. If you are aware of anything like it, please leave a comment… I have read Troy Francis’s book by the way and it’s neither detailed nor terribly accurate. The book I put together is 50K words on how this world works. It is far too incendiary for mainstream publishers but also too complex and complete for the reddit/twitter crowds, which can’t understand or digest any idea that is longer than a few sentences. The book is based on analysis more than feelings and for that reason it doesn’t fit into the social media world.

I have seen NOTHING in the media that sounds remotely like the CHD girls. The closest thing is probably mid ’00s Tucker Max, who wrote from a man’s perspective and is also too old to be of interest to most college girls / post-grads working their first jobs in the big city and experimenting with f**king all the hottest dudes they can find. Those girls barely read. Or, the slightly older women who are thinking about what comes next for them… they are probably not the CHD audience but might be the red scare audience… still like f**king and being hot, but they know having a baby is the better/smarter life course… there is much to say here… and the mainstream media is saying very little of it, for the most part. Feminist journalists and university professors are mostly spinsters and are trying to glamorize and valorize their own foolish spinster decisions, while ignoring the gaping hole in their soul that everyone else can see.

So… I’m interested in people who are thinking something, and thinking something that is 1. smart, 2. different, and 3. real. Even if I disagree with parts. I am net pro Rollo Tomassi, despite the qualifications I have stated, because he is having a conversation that is mostly not being had elsewhere. He is often 3/3 even when I disagree. The university/new york times narratives… are often 0/3 (ouch). Not smart, not different, not real. The red scare thinking is often 3/3, or 2/3. If your reply is “don’t listen to girls…” I don’t know what to tell you. “Modern feminism is bad” does not equate to “all women or bad…” judge the ideas… also, do you exist in the real world? Lots of women are smart/intelligent/interesting/etc. If you haven’t figured that out then you are either 1. messed up/inexperienced or 2. you are not surrounded by good people. People image match and if they think you are messed up, they will justifiably avoid you.

Normal men like women and normal women like men… I can’t believe that statement is worth making… it’s out there at the extremes where you get problems. The NYT hates men now and that’s one of its narrative problems. There are also some number of genuinely bad dudes out there… not the majority but enough to be worth noting. The NYT conflates “they had drunk sex and that’s obviously rape” with guys who stalk chicks and do other truly bad things… I have seen it… heard about it… etc. Smart women prioritize their families for lots of reasons… one is that their fathers and brothers will help with male predation. If a woman is being stalked by some guy, staying with one of her (male) family members who owns a firearm can make sense, for example. Chicks are always at risk of predation… though modern culture and police forces mostly protect them from it… which is why the leftist anti-police rhetoric is often ridiculous… which is not to say there are not many problems with police… police shouldn’t murder people… we need a lot of changes in policing. It’s not “police bad civilian good” though. Or the other way around. It’s in the nuance.

So I view red scare as being able to speak to contradiction and complexity… even when I disagree with it, like I sometimes do… and contradiction and complexity are part of the human experience. They are mostly erased from the dominant media narrative, sadly. Re-injecting them is good. Most normal women do not like where the feminism industrial complex has gone, treating women like children or like men, when most women wish to be women. Many guys have not learned to be men and have to seek lessons in masculinity from strangers online, because they don’t get it in schools or from their fat video gamer fathers. The feminist nanny worldview can be challenged thanks to the Internet… and that is what we are seeing happen, thankfully.

So… if you have something interesting and different to say, say it… I want to hear it… I just don’t want to hear surface-level thinking, or bullshit. This blog is for saying something that I see no one else saying, something that is (I hope) tolerably intelligent and also true. No journalist is telling this story, so I decided to tell it myself. Red scare… is telling stories that other people aren’t, and that’s why I listen. Selectively, and rarely if ever to every episode, but enough.

I also admire the chicks doing Red Scare cause they’re pretty anti-fragile… they get attacked by dipshits on Twitter… and then they fire back… they’re not part of the university-industrial complex, so they’re not worried about being fired by some archaic dipshit institution that’s desperately scared of its own clients (“students”). Listening to people who often have something to say and who aren’t dipshits… it’s refreshing, you know?

If I had less to lose I’d start a podcast about game + masculinity… but, unlike the red scare girls, I want to maintain relatively mainstream employment. In another universe I’d find some girl to start a NSFW onlyfans with and be a dirtbag podcaster… troll feminists relentlessly… truly enter the gig economy… truly embrace hedonic degeneracy… learn how to synthesize mdma from the dark web… oh g-d, the depravity… I think I would combust… but I’ve thought about it… truly embracing the dark lord figure… podcasts today can be like the angry metal bands of the ’80s or the hippies of the late ’60s… I’d probably destroy myself in the process… yet it’s possible that I’ve maybe considered it once or twice… instead I do red quest, writing in an age where people have lost the ability to read and think… twitter and universities are like tentacled mind viruses flaying the ability to think clearly… yet Twitter and some podcasts are also where some free speech lives.

Why you can’t trust drug claims, and what that says about the ability to trust in general

This is an even nerdier piece than usual, and it’s fundamentally about trust, verification, and science… try reading the Peaches saga for something fun, sexy, and actionable…

Game is an open field: it has few definite answers and doing it poorly has few short-term consequences. Drug development is different: it has more definite answers, although the answers happen amid a lot of noise, and has many important short and long-term consequences. Politics is closer to game than to drug development, but it’s not a perfect overlap, since failing or succeeding at game has a strong impact on a given individual… while most political opinions are meant to signal tribal allegiance, and being wrong has little impact on the individual. In the last three+ months there have been lots of dumb claims about how hydroxychloroquine “obviously” works.. and yet we’re still looking for that evidence, which seems less and less likely to exist. The more interesting preliminary commentary was out there, best summed by Derek Lowe… April 6, March 31, April 16… no bullshit and written by someone who knows a lot about drug development… his comments about preliminary studies with small sample sizes are accurate… the early studies showed that hydroxychloroquine didn’t seem to badly hurt anyone (good), but we have law of small numbers problems. The smaller the sample size, the easier it is to find a significant effect through chance. An early and bogus French study was done by a guy who is, to put it uncharitably, frequently full of shit. Yet a lot of guys writing in the game / red pill / right wing worlds went for him. Why?

Those guys often don’t know anything about the field and, in addition, they don’t know what they don’t know. Lots of drugs look promising in vitro or in murine/ferret/etc. models, then fail in humans. Evaluating data from coronavirus is tricky, because most people do recover. It’s possible to give 20 patients the drug and then see most of them recover, because they were at the stage in the disease where they were poised for recovery anyway. These kinds of problems are how and why double-blind trials showed up in the first place, to distinguish cause from effect. These are also the kinds of problems that lead many people to falsely believe in all kinds of cures for colds and flus that were on the verge of clearing up anyway. By now, we know that a large and real trial from the UK with 11,000 patients found no benefit to hydroxychloroquine. France has also suspended trials like this one. A trial of 821 patients didn’t show hydroxychloroquine acts as a prophylactic. Yes, there was a study published in Lancet that was withdrawn due to phony data: but other data is consistent with the “no benefit” hypothesis. In other words, the guys you read on Twitter proclaiming that hydroxychloroquine is an easy win were all wrong, and they were wrong in predictable ways.

A little knowledge is dangerous and most of the people on Twitter know zero about statistics or the history of drug development… they make the same mistakes homeopathy people do. Their conspiratorial mindset flares up. They have no skin in the game: they’ve heard of Nassim Taleb but failed to internalize his lessons. If their recommendations turn out to be correct, they announce how right they were. If their recommendations turn out to be false, they say nothing, or cite the one “maybe” weasel word they used, somewhere. If you can’t trust them on something that has known correct answers, how can you trust them on things that don’t?

Meanwhile, people with skin in the game know that most drugs fail. Twitter has its uses but taking drug recommendations from it is nuts. Then there are Twitter exchanges like this one:

Stedman may know something about men and women (a field with limited opportunities for falsification), but he doesn’t know shit about complex systems or about drugs, and he too doesn’t know it. He doesn’t want to learn, either. People have been trying to get Vitamin C to do something for decades (seriously, Linus Pauling initially made up the idea that vitamin C helps the immune system). Chaga is fine but it’s also been relentlessly studied. He’s a sort of Gweneth Paltrow and Goop for the red pill set: mostly harmless but also overconfident and making unbacked medical claims, relying on the ignorance of his followers. But if he’s wrong about something that can be falsified… what else is he wrong about? He’s also a conspiracy theory guy. And he has a large enough platform that he should try harder not to mislead his readers.

On Twitter, the ignorant are often loud and the most knowledgable often quiet. The ignorant have nothing at stake. Sometimes they are right, too, which is gratifying, when it happens. But what general lessons should we draw?

People are susceptible to showmen. Arguably the game is about becoming a better showman (Mystery was literally a showman: a magician). But the natural world doesn’t care about the show, like the human world does. It’s very reality-based. When dealing with women, some men fail to realize that the show can be more important than the reality, under current social and cultural conditions. When dealing with the human body as a system, the show doesn’t matter… the reality does.

There is a problem, I forget the formal name of it, in which people who have expertise or intelligence in one field, think they know all fields. Their knowledge or expertise doesn’t transfer, though. It’s limited. That’s one way people who are otherwise smart, make stupid mistakes. Stedman doesn’t even realize that what he’s pitching has a long history… he’s making a common mistake but doesn’t know it, and, when I pointed out that he’s wrong, he ignored and muted me. Fine. In terms of the drug world, politics makes people stupid and, oddly, people who know that then accuse others of it, not realizing that they themselves are subject to the challenge.

Meanwhile, here is yet one more piece, an older one, about HCQ not working in late-stage patients, which matches doctors’s anecdotal evidence. That HCQ wasn’t working well in moderate and severe cases became apparent by late March/early April, yet we still saw many on Twitter touting its efficacy… how many docs are writing to game, red pill, or far-right twitter… probably not a lot.

There is an interesting question in why otherwise smart people fall for myths, conspiracy theories, etc. I don’t think the whole answer is there, at the link, and I don’t have a full answer, but self-deception seems to be super common. Stedman falls for it. So do many others.

A gear switch. In game: it’s very tempting to lie to yourself first, but guys do well if they do one of two things: lie to themselves to the point of incredible, delusional confidence (“frame” if you prefer that term), OR be relentlessly honest with themselves about their strengths and especially weaknesses. The human propensity to lie to ourselves seems strong, and in medicine this seems like a particularly powerful tendency. We like to see patterns in randomness. Small parts of humanity have spent the last few centuries trying to learn how not to lie to ourselves. The internet does lots of good things, but it also allows the ignorant to be amplify their ignorance, without realizing their own ignorance.

One logical counter is to say, “Experts have their own problems,” and that’s completely true: but experts being wrong is notable and intersting, while non-experts being wrong is the norm, and many of them don’t even know what they don’t know.

It’s possible that the thousands of people wrongly amplifying their messages will learn something from this… but more likely they won’t. We have centuries of knowledge about how to test drugs already, and one more example of being wrong probably won’t convince anyone, anymore than the homeopathic holdouts can be convinced. Ignorance is the human condition, knowledge the exception. Game is one kind of knowledge, but it’s an imprecise kind. You can be great at game, or a great showman, and know nothing about scientific or technical fields.

There are problems with how to test drugs and other health treatments in the United States… but the noisiest people haven’t been repeating them, mostly. Their knowledge level doesn’t extend that far, and something closer to the truth, doesn’t make it to tweets.

We probably won’t learn much from the hydroxychloroquine debacle, since the people falling for it mostly aren’t or weren’t doctors prescribing medications. Everything I wrote above about statistics and drug development is well-known to people who work in drug development or have learned about drug development and how it works. Everything I wrote above about those topics will probably never be known to people with no skin in the game, no knowledge of statistics, and no downside to being wrong. They were wrong yesterday and will be confidently wrong about something else tomorrow.

Knowing what is really true is hard, which is why it took humans so long to build the civilization we have today. Most of our existence has been spent in superstitious blather. That tradition continues in homeopathy, anti-vaxers, and Twitter.

Most people who think they have secret knowledge are deluding themselves.

In some fields, there is a definitively right answer and a definitively wrong answer. When guys wander into these fields and say things that are likely wrong, or at least unwise, there is a tendency, maybe unfair, to denigrate their knowledge in all other fields.

It’s good to know when you’re part of a show and when you’re part of the study of reality… and a lot of guys online don’t distinguish between the two. Trusting noisy Twitter has its dangers.