You should always listen to Balaji S: though he has little to directly say about the game, he has much to say about the nature of reality and much else that is game adjacent. Today, in Bitcoin, China, the “Woke” Mob, and the Future of the Internet, he speaks to the rise of networks and networked cities and states as a means of resisting the totalizing impulses of centralized, coercive states. This gets me thinking about the “woke” world that hates and feminizes men, despite despising, on a dating and mating level, the feminized men who result. If you buy into woke and being a p***y, you won’t get laid, and yet many guys seem to buy into this nonsense and indoctrination, and a larger number of women claim to want p***y guys while f**king typical hot, successful guys. What’s going on with the guys who buy the woke narrative? Could be that most guys don’t care about getting laid—or is it that getting laid in 2021 is really hard for most average guys because they don’t get it how it works and how to make it work for them, and for that reason either don’t try very hard or quit? Yours truly, however, still does try, and still feels some impulse to resist the ubiquitous media nonsense that celebrates failure and weakness instead of winning and strength. What is to be done?
The State of Affairs should be assigned reading to guys thinking about marrying but also to guys who want to be players… Esther says, “Whether we like it or not, philandering is here to stay. And all the ink spilled advising us on how to ‘affair-proof’ our relationships has not managed to curb the number of men and women who wander.” I beg you not to despair, but to contemplate the truth of that statement and think about it before you consider marrying some woman: fidelity is temporary, but some other dude’s baby is forever. What should we do with this knowledge? Consensual non-monogamy is one answer, one that I’ve elucidated extensively, probably tediously, since Perel says “infidelity has a tenacity that marriage can only envy.” Speaking of infidelity “also plunges us into today’s culture of entitlement, where we take our privileges for granted.” She says “entitlement,” but “narcissism” would be a truer, more accurate word: the ocean of attention available to women on Instagram loosens whatever bond to a man any individual woman might once have had. All her exes live in texts, waiting for her to resurrect the affair: social media dissolves the bonds of marriage and affection like strong acid dissolves metals. Women know it and will, in private, admit it… an individual man cannot keep up with the man parade on her phone, with her ADD mind as it flicks and scrolls and fantasizes. What are you going to do with this information? If you’re like most men, you’re going to ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, like most people pretend that growing atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions somehow won’t affect them… the past year has demonstrated the human organism’s capacity for denial, which knowledge cannot seem to staunch. There is “more freedom, as well as more uncertainty” today, but most countries fight against standard DNA testing at birth.
You can be the guy she cheats on, or the one she cheats with. Which do you prefer? Choose?
Esther says, “Affairs are a pathway to risk, danger, and the defiant energy of transgression.” And chicks are addicted to those dopamine hits today, just look at a chick on her smartphone social media apps for confirmation. Then try to have a detailed conversation with her about… any topic, really. See how deep her knowledge goes. See how committed she is to deepening it. Some chicks learn things, most don’t… but they love the excitement and are addicted to excitement in a way that inhibits long-term relationships, which can’t be adequately exciting to a girl whose imagination is formed by Instagram. Long-term relationships don’t look like what’s on TV or social media, and narcissism poisons long-term relationships. In May 2020, I wrote about How I see dating, girls, COVID-19, and the quarantines, right now, and suggested most girls would get quarantine boyfriends (QBFs): as vaccination finishes off the pandemic, it’ll be interesting to see how many of the QBFs survive re-opening. Quarantine relationships have been very real world, and not grandiose in the way girls have trained themselves on the media to dream.
Esther speaks indirectly of Red Pill and seduction when she writes, “Truth can also be irrevocably destructive and even aggressive, delivered with sadistic pleasure. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen honesty do more harm than good, leaving me to ask, Can lying sometimes be protective?” Learning some of the things I have learned may have been destructive and aggressive: did they do more harm than good? Probably not: but I am irrevocably changed by them, and I have heard from guys who have been changed by reading this. For the better? Maybe. We should be thinking about the truth more seriously… Esther says, “We have long known that one moment of lust can leave a legacy for generations. For much of history, the inevitable consequences of adultery were illegitimate children.” They still are, something that implies we should have standard genetic testing at birth. For a modern man, you never know… Esther tells many stories, like,
When Shaun found out that Jenny had been sleeping with a fellow PhD student, he felt like years of unconditional support had been repaid with a slap in the face. “I managed to stop myself from kicking the shit out of the guy, but just barely.” Instead he called her parents (less dangerous, more damaging) because he felt they needed to know who their daughter really was. “I worked so hard to give her everything she wanted—to let her leave her full-time job to get that expensive and useless PhD in medieval history.”
“Beta male” is not my favorite term but it applies here and this book is full of beta males like Shaun. There isn’t much to say beyond “Don’t be Shaun,” something you already know. Women often say they want domesticity, only to find that it kills their libidos… Esther talks about a man named “Don” who is “by no means the first man or woman to come to me to carp about sexual ennui at home.” Esther says many of those having affairs find them “a form of self-discovery, a quest for a new (or a lost) identity.” A “good” woman, Priya, who is having an affair, is seeing “a crisis of identity, an internal rearrangement of her personality. In our sessions, we talk about duty and desire, about age and youth.” For men the important lesson is that even the “good” ones might be ready to have an affair, you don’t know until you try. This girl, who I slept with, coded as “good girl” in many respects. Some of RPD’s field reports concern married chicks, although I don’t remember which ones he’s identified publicly as being married. Another woman says,
“My husband hasn’t been able to get my juices flowing in more than a decade,” Allison exclaims. “I was thirty-five and convinced there was something medically wrong with me. In all other ways, we share so much. He’s my best friend, my copilot, and from the outside, we look perfect. Then Dino showed up, and with just a few words and suggestions, he did what all the lubricants and toys had not been able to do for me. It was an amazing feeling—as if he activated me.”
Of course it’s the husband’s fault, for Allison, because the man bears the burden of performance. If you marry a woman, you’re setting up to be paying alimony and “child” support to an Allison. Esther says “the overfamiliarity that develops when intimacy and closeness replace individuality and mystery” makes women less eager to f**k. Yet that is often what needs to happen to have kids: so women get the kids they think they want, and are then primed to have an affair. Crazy! In an affair, “There is certainly no risk of the overfamiliarity that comes from sharing a bathroom for decades. Mystery, novelty, and the unknown are built in.” She says it again, “the over-familiarization of an intimate partner spells disaster for sex. The person becomes divested of his or her erotic identity. The relationship may be very loving, affectionate, and tender, but it is devoid of desire.” Consider separate bathrooms. Bedrooms, if you can afford them.
In my view, more married couples should try sex clubs and LSD, leaving the kids with the grandparents for the LSD f**k weekend. In addition, both men and women should quit simple carbs and let the kids be feral and independent, and not indulge helicopter parenting.
I want to be fair, like blindfolded Lady Justice, and there are stories of men who are mean, as well as different sorts of beta guys, for instance, “Isabelle can count on one hand the times she and Paul have had sex during their ten-year marriage, and she doesn’t have to use all her fingers. ‘Within weeks of our wedding, he lost interest.'” That’s no doubt fine for some people but it wouldn’t work for me, and Isabelle is justified in whatever she does… if he’s a guy won’t f**k a woman, she’ll find some other guy who will, and that is fairness.
The book unfortunately wastes a bunch of time talking about gay guys, who are irrelevant for straight men, because gay men are incapable of monogamy and most of them acknowledged that (there are a few exceptions, as there are with any such large group). Gay men also can’t get pregnant or impregnate another man, so they’re safe from that. It’s not hard at all to learn about gay male culture, just ask any gay dude, they’ll tell you that monogamy isn’t a thing, not really. Gay men prefer f**king more men to less and their partners want the same.
I wrote about The State of Affairs in 2018. For players the key takeaway is, “So what if she’s married? She might be bored. Take a chance.” Women have already tacitly given themselves permission, and Esther gives them an ideology about why it’s good.
This short piece about hot chick Julia Fox is more revealing than it should be,
An older sister in one of those households worked as a dominatrix. “She would look at herself in the mirror, with the fish-nets and the PVC and the platforms,” Fox said. “And, in the back of my mind, I always knew it was an option.” In her last year of high school, she said, “I answered a Craigslist ad, when they still had the adult section, and I biked over after school and got the job.” A long-term romantic relationship with a wealthy older man, a client, followed. “I used to pray all the time that a guy would come in and take me away, and then it happened,” she said. “We were together for five years. He wanted me to marry him, and I loved him so much, but he wanted me to wear, like, Ralph Lauren Purple Label and Tory Burch. I felt like I was always playing a part.”
We get the normalization of sex work. But we also see a common bit of female fantasy, one that is nonetheless rarely represented in the media, that a man “would come in and take me away.” She’s young and hot, so she reaches out, and he does: such is the power of young hot female privilege. The writer doesn’t contemplate what happens to young guys in the same perilous circumstances… to most women, guys who they deem below them don’t exist, except as service workers, and as the people who keep their computers and phones working. Fox says, “In my personal life, I’m not having, like, crazy-wild sex.” She might be right, might be wrong, might have her internal compass set funny… she has a “five-month-old son, Valentino,” but we learn nothing at all about the father. To the chick writer and to Julia Fox, whoever inseminated her might as well not exist???
This is the middlebrow worldview, today. Sex work is good, fun, and liberating. Men are sources of cash and, should a woman need it, some semen. Being hot means a chick’ll make it in this world. The family is dead and unimportant. In current cultural conditions, is this wrong? Not, “should it be wrong?” but is it wrong? Julia says of sex, “It’s a necessary bodily function.” Yeah, cause for a hot chick, it’s available on demand, but, for the rest of us: the game. Love it or hate it, it is here, tantalizing you, to master the secrets of the p***y.
Your choice is to struggle, or die. I choose struggle. No one is going to come in and take me away (unless it’s to the gulag, for wrongthink).
If you are wondering whether Julia Fox is smart overall, listen to this podcast, and your questions will be answered. You will also discover real-time narrative formation for chicks… the podcast message is, “There’s never been a better time to be a player”… or a worse time to be a provider. Which will you be?
“The [male] feminist” is solid reading about a guy who needs a dad or uncle or male cousin to take him aside and tell him to stop being a p***y. Much of what we perceive as social or gender dysfunction is actually, at its heart, family dysfunction and disintegration, and, because of families are smaller and more fractured than they used to be, we don’t know how to become adults, which usually also means “how to become a man” or “how to become a woman.” “The [male] feminist” is most notable for the absence in it, because there’s no mention of this guy’s father or uncle. Where are they? Does his uncle not exist? why not?
There used to be a guy who kept a blog named Goldmund, for example, who, whatever his flaws, talked a lot about his older male relatives and how they influenced his development. Unfortunately his blog has been effectively abandoned… but he’s one of the few guys I’ve seen talk seriously about family and family influence. A lot of “how to be a man” and “how to be a woman” are best conveyed by aunts, uncles, older cousins, those relationships. Default_friend tweeted the other day that she learns a lot from her mom and grandma (can’t find the tweet at the moment), which may help explain why she thinks modern feminism is re/tarded. Camille Paglia writes about the same in her books and essays, about the vital role extended family play in development.
Who or what replaces family? Schools, bureaucracies, ideologies. Except none of those replacements work, it’s like trying to live off McDonald’s and fast food: even if you’re technically alive, you’re barely living. In “The [male] feminist,” the guy absorbs an ideology pitched by power-hungry bureaucrats. The story is exaggerated for effect, I understand that, but normal guys, as they get older, they understand how to discard bullshit that doesn’t work. Even the pathetic snake guys who embrace “I am a feminist” as a way to get laid in high school or college, almost always quit at some point. You get old enough to see an ideology doesn’t work, you quit it. The most interesting part of many stories isn’t what’s in them, but what’s missing.
Chicks aren’t attracted to vulnerability, and the story’s narrator goes around with his belly exposed to every chick he runs into. Chicks like guys they can be vulnerable with, but not guys who are vulnerable. Or the guy is vulnerable is a minor way, like, “I am afraid of heights.” Or maybe, “My ex was super hot but also hurt me badly.” Your hot ex (social proof) hurt you, and now I, a lady, can heal you with my magic pussy? That’s minor vulnerability. Major vulnerability is something like outright incompetence. Competence is attractive to women, which is why effective men work so hard to develop it.
Lots of red pill guys get that masculinity is earned, not given, and that’s why so many primitive tribes have intense male initiation rituals. Femininity is given, not earned, just by going through puberty. That power must be learned to be wielded well, to be sure, but it’s there by showing up… something the male feminist in the story misses.
I don’t remember how the exact conversation went, but Short Dancer admitted that she slept with an incompetent guy her age (who I knew slightly) right before I started f**king her. The guy got her by virtue of proximity and luck, but he lacked masculinity identity and had no one, from what I can tell, to teach him about it. Then I got with Short Dancer, who was diplomatic, but also basically said that he lacked adequate aggression and masculinity. I thought the guy was okay, and if I’d been able to see a way to help him I would have, but, due to some other circumstances, there was no real way to do so. Maybe losing Short Dancer to an older, more masculine guy taught him something important. He seemed like a guy who might identify as a male feminist, although I never heard him actually do so.
Personality Girl and Default Friend have a hilarious podcast with Delicious Tacos, a podcast covering many topics, including how women don’t (maybe can’t) understand what life and horniness as a man is like, alcoholism, writing, groupies, face, sociopathy, work, and Houellbecq (the key philosopher of the last 50 years, no one else who hasn’t done pr0n counts). My replies are disjoint and won’t make sense without listening to the podcast.
Hot, emotionally mature girls aren’t on the market much and aren’t drunk or snorting coke. Guys with alcohol or substance abuse problems are attracting girls who will accept those, and it’s dangerous to draw conclusions from that biased sample… I try not to generalize too much about women based on the women I’ve been with in the last ten years, because most of them are at the very least curious about or accepting of non-monogamy, while women who want a conventional family and children aren’t going to put up with that shit. Delicious Tacos lives in L.A. (all the normal girls stay out of California). The conversation is a very big city conversation, cause normal girls who want a husband and family live in the midwest, or Texas, or Florida, or any place that it’s possible to live a middle-class existence and have a family… they’re not in the big famous cities. That’s where the sluts are, and the people who can’t afford to have kids, so they might as well do all sorts of weird sex things. I’m one of them, I’m talking about my own here, but I’ve also spent lots of time in smaller cities where women in their 20s walk around with their children in strollers and their husbands next to them. Most of them are 10 – 40 lbs overweight, which is gross, but that’s where they are.
Despite all that I have a piece coming up in the next month or two about how I was dumb to not have figured out mdma earlier in my life, cause, used judiciously, that’s where many of the easy lays are. Lots of hot chicks lack personality, or drive, or the ability to admit the sex they want and get it, and need some external aid to get there. Trying to talk to a lot of hot girls age 18 – 24 isn’t easy, cause their knowledge base consists of inane gossip and an interest in drinking and drugs. That’s it. It’s hard to build commonality from that. Solution? A lot of conversation that uses The Game + insinuations of drinking/drugs now, or in times to come. I should’ve learned this earlier… in many ways I’m a slow learner.
Very true: pussy begets more pussy. Absolutely. Sex clubs are apotheosis of this. DT gets this. He says something like, the difference between 0 pussy and 1 pussy is a million times greater than 1 and 2, and pretty much everything in game is about moving from 0 to 1. Red Quest might be less interesting cause it’s mostly about moving from 2 to a million, via sex clubs + non-monogamy.
Agree that guys who get a lot fuck a lot of chicks, almost all of varying quality levels.
Delicious Tacos should get a counseling degree and do counseling for men. He’d be great at it, and he’d get out of the corporate grind office job, become more of a prophet than he already is. I’d refer guys to him. “You want to get laid, get your life in order? Talk to this guy, Delicious Tacos.” Would he be popular, though? Most therapists seem to need to take 20 sessions to get to the obvious, because they have to wait for the person they’re talking to to get to the idea on their own… I think Delicious Tacos would be like, “Your family’s fucked up, go learn the deadlift, and get in touch with your feelings that way.” If more guys mastered the deadlift and pullup we’d have less need for therapy.
His voice is peculiarly similar to mine, as are many of his life experiences, although I’ve never had alcohol or substance abuse problems… although I have been accused of being a sex addict (DT discusses “sex addicts” on the podcast). I don’t think I am, though, because I usually have some standards, and after I get my fill I go read a book or whatever.
He says that he used to get groupies when he showed his face… but then he sadly got doxxed… I’ve speculated to other guys that, to build a bigger following it’s necessary to show some proof-of-lay and become a public figure. Krauer and Tom Torero did that. Andy from Kill Your Inner Loser has done the same. I don’t think I care enough to want to take red quest to the next level that way, but it’s useful to hear ideas echoed. Like Balaji says, “we’re going to need to build a pseudonymous economy, where over the medium to long term, you separate out your real name, your earning name, and your speaking name. And in fact, you have multiple earning names and multiple speaking games, just like you have multiple usernames at different sites.” Balaji goes on,Continue reading “Delicious Tacos talks to Personality Girl and Default Friend about getting laid and other things”
The Internet lets people indulge in wild fantasy, and Twitter is more like World of Warcraft than is commonly assumed: this effect might also be more pronounced in “smart” people than dumb ones. Being smart, or high IQ, isn’t a shield from this effect either, and if anything it may make you more susceptible to these effects. Being rich also insulates a person from the effects of excessive fantasy: the richer we are, the more we seem able to indulge fantasy, because our base human needs are met.
To be good with women, you should be able to suspend disbelief and create an alternate reality, for women to step into, but that skill can be dangerous in regular life. Or useful. Along with suspending disbelief, rock-solid frame helps a lot with women, and thus the emphasis on bringing the woman into your world and worldview. Some guys seem to forget that that frame is a creation, and they carry it through on everything, even when it’s not correct.
Political science geekery ahead… if you want actionable stuff about the game, though, we have that too… but politics is also a form of game theory, like the game itself.
The U.S. looks insane to the rest of the world because of some apparently minor political structures that over-power rural states and under-power urban ones. If you read The Federalist Papers (don’t worry, you won’t), you’ll see the concern about balancing powers among states expressed repeatedly. A quick history lesson: the American Revolutionary War (or “The war of the ungrateful colonists” depending on where you are) lasted from 1775 – 1783, and at the end of if the U.S. states created a joint and ineffective government guided by a document called the Articles of Confederation, which didn’t allow for sufficient coordination among the states; that ineffective document led to the creation of a Constitutional Convention in 1787, and the ensuing document was eventually ratified by the states in 1789.
Way back then, smaller states were worried about being bullied by larger states, and, to prevent that from happening, and to prevent the usurpation of the presidency by a tyrant, the U.S. Senate was designed to give each state two senators, irrespective of the state’s size, and the Electoral College was created to put a barrier between the possibly tyrannous will of the people and the power of the presidency.
The world had very little experience with democracy back then, and the states’s representatives were more like start-up founders than CEOs implementing a mature business process. They had no idea what the f**k they were doing and did the best they could with the limited experience they had at the time. Those features may have seemed good in the agrarian period when they were created, but since then the Electoral College has shifted from “stop tyrants if necessary” to “vote according to the vote of the people of a given state.” In modern presidential elections, that means only a handful of states matter, and the votes in those states count for far more than the votes of other states. At the same time, the ratio of the population of the smallest states and largest states has grown enormously. Montana has just a million people in it, and Idaho has just 1.7 million, while California has 40 million. Yet Idaho and Montana between them have double the Senate representation California does. A fairer alternate Senate system might have two senators per state, and distribute those senators by state lines whenever possible, but also attempt to use a non-partisan commission to distribute senators. In a system like that, Idaho and Montana might have two senators, but California, Texas, and New York might have 3 – 4 senators (getting us closer to the “one person, one vote” ideal).
Instead, we have a system in which some rural votes are far more valuable than other rural votes. It’s also proven to be internationally true that, the more urban an area is, the more it votes towards the left. But the U.S. has a peculiar system that disproportionately empowers rural areas, and that’s had big international consequences over the last 20 years.
“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”
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.
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… he’s also posted some goofy shit like this), 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.
Update, January 2021, see The most stridently asserted opinions will disappear down the memory hole.