I disagree with the idea that men are especially attempting to manipulate. No matter what Roissy says, both sides of the mating game have tried since the advent of higher brain functions to influence the desire of the other side. Smells (perfume), colors (makeup), shapes (clothes), sub-communicate and influence a lot more than some pick-up lines, no matter what the intentions behind the lines were.

There are plenty of places (like cliffslist.com and others) where men come to discuss these techniques, just like women do. Dating is the ultimate sales call; the best customer is the one that sees through it.

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Roissy is correct about some women, but not others. He uses screening techniques to maximize his success, but the women he seduces are not indicative of the female population as a whole.

How is this unscientific? When you do an experiment don't you try to control for extraneous variables? If you want to look at nuclear fission do you assume it ought to work the same for every isotope of every element, or is it worth doing some purification first?

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Pete: Could you please list the mainstream-science-endorsed programs that have had the success that Mystery has had in teaching men to be seducers?

Mystery got results that academics could not. If they were somehow more scientific than him, they should have "beat him to the punch" a long, long time ago. But where is the book or program that e.g. Neil Strauss could have discovered that would have led to the conversion in his life that he got from meeting Mystery?

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Science seeks to understand the world (or in this case, what women want). The seduction community seeks to understand how to seduce women. The problem is, their models don't need to have predictive power over all or even most women, whereas scientific models should be as broadly applicable as possible.

How much of the community's processes are devoted to screening potential seductees? Screening should increase the chances of any manipulator succeeding, but it is not something desirable in scientific models.

Which of the following seems the most likely to you?1) Roissy is correct about all women, and common knowledge and practice is flat-out wrong.2) Roissy is correct about some women, but not others, and he's too narcissistic to admit it.3) Roissy is correct about some women, but not others. He uses screening techniques to maximize his success, but the women he seduces are not indicative of the female population as a whole.4) Roissy is wrong about all women, and common knowledge is more accurate.

I vote for #3 (and ok, maybe a little of #2 too).

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Second, you will be impressed with the extent to which the community is based on science.You mean, not based in science at all? No, I'm rather not surprised. (Or do you, for instance, know the effect size and level of statistical significance that these techniques achieve?)

The magician Derren Brown is a master manipulator who also says he uses "neurolinguistic programming". He does his magic routine, gets people to pick the right card or tear off the right piece of newspaper, etc., to great applause. Then he shows a quickly edited-together set of clips from his routine showing that he dropped "suggestions" or used words that sounded strange but were clearly pointing toward getting the marks to make the right choice. He claims that these suggestions forced the marks to go along with the trick in just the right way.Except... the manipulation has succeeded if you believe that "neurolinguistic programming" is really how he did it. He is in fact just another magician, doing the same tricks people have done for centuries. He's just putting a new spin on it that makes people fall for it - it's not magic, it's "science".

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I'm late to the party... as most cool people usually are.

Anyways, great point in that in the ecosystem of ideas, the most prevalent will be those that replicate, not those that are true. This means that the most successful advisors will be those whose preachings resonate the most with the advisees pre-existing opinions, i.e. "truth-soundfulness." This explains a lot of probably false, yet still popular beliefs, from The Word of Oprah to the prevailing diet wisdom of less calories in + more calories burned = less fat.

Any rationalists who haven't already should take a glance at the seduction community, i.e. roissy's blog linked above. For one, whether you are repulsed by it or not (and as good rationalists we shouldn't discount something just because it brings a bad taste to our mouths, right?) it is very informative for anyone interested in the upheaval the dating world is going through right now.

Second, you will be impressed with the extent to which the community is based on science. Unlike most targets of self-help, the community is composed of high-IQ, rational men who (implicity or explicitly) understand the power of the scientific method and have harnessed it to empower themselves in their dealings with women. The commumity holds in low regard the theorizing or supposition of techniques and ideas that have not been examined empirically ("field-tested" in the lingo) and emphasizes the importance of testing ideas for effectiveness before accepting themas effective.

Third, the advice offered by the community is for the most part counter-intuitive to men in our society. Tease women. Don't pay for dates, don't buy drinks. Resist exclusivity and commitment, even if these are what you truly want. So if the advice runs counter to our preconceptions, that dismisses the telling-us-what-we-want-to-hear theory, leaving the-advice-is-damn-good as a strong contender.



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The master manipulators are the people most likely to be claiming that they are honest and fair.

Jonny Fairplay, from the 'Survivor' TV series, comes to mind again.

This guy's my role model man.

Hee, hee, hee

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After browsing Roissy's blog, I think his views are the product of serious selection biases. His experience with women seems to be from those who fall for "game". While I'm sure this is a significant number of women (I don't doubt it works well for many men; we've all seen it in action), I kind of doubt its even a majority in the upper intelligence ranges. His thesis seems to be that women are either incapable of or unwilling to cooperate in the prisoner's dilemma of dating (or perhaps that they are, but that men are better off not cooperating anyways). I'm surprised more women don't find his blog more insulting for this reason.

It seems to me that without more rigorous study, we should trust "common knowledge" over the unscientific opinions of a manipulator. Surely it must be very important for a manipulator to select his targets well. We may get better "mirrors" from manipulators who don't have that luxury (waitresses, car salesmen, etc).

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@Robin Hanson: In case can take my word for it: I have been a professional manipulator myself. I used to sell newspapersubsciption on the street in college for a year. Cialdini's book is right on (pregiving, social proof, consistency). I was most surprised by these facts:

1. Words don't matter much. We called it "Talk, tone, stance". Emotions are infectuous.

2. It's far easier to sell to the opposite sex.

3. In rural towns selling is easier.

Note that even the most succesful salesman landed no more than 15 subscriptions in 7 hours. I guess that once you get someone to listen, your odds were 5% of success. Manipulation is clearly an uphill struggle. People from the seduction community would probably agree.

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@Hopefully Anonymus: Read "Influence: The psychology of persuasion" by Robert Cialdini. He is a professional social psychologist who spend years working undercover in 'manipulator' jobs like salesman and waiter. He combines it with empirical studies. His book is a standard work in marketing literature.

He discovered 6 principles of persuasion who rely on strong heuristics and biases:

Consistency: Like "Foot in the door".Reciprocation: Give a little then take a lot.Social Proof: People want what others want.Authority: The dentist selling toothpaste, experts are usually right.Liking: We concede to those who are like us.Scarcity: If it is expensive it must be valuable.

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"How can we find the most frank inside accounts of how we are successfully manipulated?"

Consider Ian Rowland's book on how professional magicians "cold read."

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I woke up last Sunday and decided to set off the causal chain of events leading to this post. TA-DA !

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Guess I was doing it wrong too...

I payed too much attention to, "frank romantic advice could be especially disturbing," and not enough to, "these may be advisors telling people what they want to hear."

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Okay, I read both. The accuracy of these various dating dictums seems like things that should be investigated by social scientists (and I'm sure have been to various degrees). So Robin, what's the results of these investigations? Links to them?

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A lot of manipulation advice is about how to find people to manipulate, not about how to manipulate general people, and thus might not reveal general truths. I find that quite likely about these two examples, and sales more generally.

Where can we find advice on manipulating people without filtering?From RH's list of manipulators, bosses seem like the best bet.

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Ten jillion points to Nancy Lebovitz.

Also, is there any reason whatsoever to believe any of these tactics from either side actually work (and hence to believe that they'll give one insight into oneself on the theory that they'd work on oneself), aside from a bunch of random anecdotes? What's that old line: "the plural of anecdote is not data?"

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