Friday, October 21, 2011

Ignorance and the Art of Observation

Admitting to myself that I do not know much was a huge relief. For years I had assumed that I had most of the answers, and I held on to that belief like a child with a blanket. It took a great deal of conflict between my beliefs and reality for me to finally see that I was full of shit. I read somewhere that confusion is the beginning of understanding. I would say that recognizing that confusion is the beginning. It certainly was for me.
Accompanying that relief was a growing sense of curiosity. If there is more than one way to be happy, then what are the possibilities?If my failure to attract girls and live a happy is based on a incorrect understanding, then tossing that model is the first step to obtaining what I want. This is why mistakes rarely bother me. The fact that I make mistakes means that I am learning. Even with my minimal efforts to change I have seen success. But none of it would have happened had I not been willing to make mistakes.
"I don't know" has become a personal mantra. If I consider every approach an experiment where I do not know the outcome, then I have no reason to become emotionally attached to what happens. Most importantly emotional detachment allows me to observe myself.
A few weeks back I had the pleasure of a confrontation with a feminist. She was a 5 and I was not interested. I sat next to her in the reading section at Barnes and Noble because I needed the power outlet. She was using it to power her laptop. I was intent on minding my own business. Despite my attempts to ignore her she kept talking to me, so I gave up trying to read and engaged her. I was curious. It was an opportunity to practice and learn.
She was more than willing to do the majority of the talking and as soon as I asked what she was doing she was off. She explained that she was looking for work and that no one was hiring. She was an English major and I took the opportunity to gently tease her that it was "shocking" that an English major could not get work. She seemed a little miffed at my teasing and asked what my degree was in. I told her that I was I programmer, but that I did not have a degree.
I said: "Yeah, I am smart enough to learn on the job", throwing a little arrogance into the mix.
She said: "Wow, you're not shy."
I shrugged and said: "Yeah, not very much."
I asked how many jobs she had applied for. I was a decent number and she complained and blamed the difficulty on the need to know the right people. Specifically she complained that she could not get a job because she was not LDS. She asked if I was LDS. I said that it was complicated. Curious to see how she would react I told her about the polygamy I was raised in. She was a bit shocked and asked how I felt about polygamy. Would I practice it? I said that there was a small possibility, but that it was unlikely (again I wanted to see her reaction). At this she became offended and stopped talking to me. But only briefly. She tried to convince me how awful polygamy is. She called the practice disgusting, that it was unfair to the women, that it was impossible for someone to spread himself among multiple women, that a man could never know his wives in a polygamist relationship the way the a monogamist man could, that it should not be allowed. I listened but after I explained that I had no problem with the practice. I asked her if she agreed with gay marriage. (At this point she confirmed that she was a feminist. She said that she did and that it was different situation than polygamy. For the first time in the conversation I became slightly confrontational.
"So you feel that one group of people should be allowed to pursue what makes them happy, while another should not be allowed?"
She reiterated her previous argument and explained that it was different because a gay couple could get to know each other in a way that a polygamist relationship could not. She tried again to convince me and when I did not budge told me that I needed to travel so I could see other points of view. She said that her summer in Italy gave her a larger perspective and that I could benefit from it. Then she played the education card. She said that I thought the way I did because I was uneducated.
"What makes you think I am uneducated?"
"You don't have a degree."
"Since when does a degree equal education? I know people who have degrees but are total idiots."
She took this personally. "Are you saying I am an idiot?"
"I don't know you well enough." I said.
"How are you educated if you do not have a degree? She asked.
"I read. A lot."
"Like what?"
"Science, history, math, Newton's Principia, mostly novels. I never did finish the Principia though." I said. This quieted her down and she tried a different tack:
"You are part of the problem, you know."
"How is that?" I asked.
"There are a lot of computer science majors with a degree who are in competition for your job. It is not fair that people with a degree have to compete with people like you." She said.
I said: "That is not my problem. Its not my fault I am smarter than them."
She got pissed and said she could not talk to me anymore, she had to get back to work. She was about to start up again when my party showed up and I left with them.

Throughout the entire conversation I was motivated almost exclusively by curiosity. I had no investment in the outcome. If it had been less hostile the outcome would only be different in that I would have forgotten within hours. But because I had no investment I was able to observe myself and learn several things:
-Feminists get pissed about polygamy. Not surprising, and definitely something to bring up if I ever want to get a feminist riled up.
-I need a stronger more aggressive frame. I was too passive.
-When I answered her question about my education I was playing into her frame, in fact I played into her frame several times. During the conversation I could feel that answering the question the way I did was BETA. Making that mistake was valuable since I need practice catching those moments.
-I was honestly surprised that she took my comment about idiot degree holders. I knew that women take things personally but this was unexpected. It was directed at her at all but she took it that way regardless. I will keep this in mind as another tool to rile girls up.
-The arrogance was overstated. I could have been more subtle about it with a similar effect.
Most importantly I did not care about the outcome. If she had not talked to me I would have done nothing to strike up a conversation. I truly did not care. That attitude is something I want to transfer to interactions where I want something from the a girl. Because I had no emotional investment in the outcome, nothing she said could make me feel worse about myself. Later, I thought about what she said and realized that I would have been justified in getting very offended. During, it did not even cross my mind. My most successful approaches have always had this in common: the outcome was trivial. Once I cease to care I am free.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, the idea that it's not fair that those with degrees have to compete with you seems odd, as if a degree means you're entitled to a job. But I suppose it's partially a result of her own frustration and partially a product of the entitlement culture we live in.

I've been helping to interview programmers at company for the last few months, and although I haven't yet seen anyone without a degree, the mere presence of a degree is meaningless. I've seen plenty of applicants with their BS or MS who, despite having just spent 4+ years studying it, don't seem to know much about programming. I shudder to think that some of these people are going to be (or already have been) writing software that goes into real shipping products.

Oh, and one formatting nitpick: Adding an empty line between paragraphs would make this easier to read.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. And the background details of the story are also quite interesting. Connecting dots, so to speak.

VD said...

Good observations. You're correct about the frame, as you could have easily gone for the jugular. Did she think Steve Jobs was uneducated? Bill Gates? They don't have degrees, after all.

The other important thing is to recognize the way that she kept coming back to you after you "offended" her. Remember, being offended is a precursor to a woman being attracted. It is a positive sign, because "offensive" men are not invisible to women the way most men are.

The reason you felt your answers to her question were BETA was that you were permitting yourself to be qualified by her and allowing her to set herself up as your judge. Reframing and refusing to answer is always better than obediently answering like a good little boy.

Anonymous said...

Vox, for reference (okay, for shits and giggles), how would you have responded to some of the questions?

Stingray said...


I can guarantee that this girl is still thinking about you and it will be a conversation that she thinks about for some time. And the kicker is, she won't know why she keeps thinking about it, because she genuinely thinks she doesn't like you. "So . . . why can't I stop thinking about that day?!"

Even though you may have made a couple of mistakes, she will remember you. That alone means things went well.

VD said...

1. What's your degree? "I have several." I wouldn't say what they are, but change the subject my interests. If she presses, just say that you went to "a decent school" and tell her she should apply for a job at Gitmo.

2. "Wow, you're not shy." This calls for humor. Me? No, I'm terribly shy. Compared to some people I am a dainty flower. Perhaps tell a story about an outrageous friend who is very unshy that may or may not be true.

3. "Would you practice polygamy?" Of course! How are you ever going to get good at anything if you don't practice. I'm starting at threesomes and working my way up.

See how it works? The point is to constantly kick her out of her frame. It's a very different value balance to have a woman telling you about her hypothetical interest in threesomes versus defending yourself against her accusations that you are uneducated.

For example, when asked about what I've written when someone finds out I'm a writer, I don't start telling people that I've published 7 books, ten if you count graphic novels, blah blah blah. That's what a gamma author does. I just say "yeah, I occasionally scribble a bit." Now, if they are readers and genuinely interested, I'll be straightforward and answer direct questions. But most people aren't actually interested in you, they just want to be entertained. So entertain them while simultaneously amusing yourself. I might say I write zombie pornography or children's erotica. If I don't want to talk to them, I just drop esoteric High Economics on them.

Anonymous said...

Not fair that you don't have a degree? I'm a liberal arts grad and I and a majority of the liberal arts grads I know that are gainfully employed are doing work unrelated to my/our former field of study. I would have liked to ask her if holding any sort of degree was necessary to meet her standard of fairness, or if a degree related to one's field of employment was necessary. Did she apply only at publishing houses, schools, colleges and universities? If not, and she applied elsewhere, wouldn't it be unfair to people with degrees more aligned with some of the jobs she sought (by her standards)?


Anonymous said...

I would have had a hard time to keep from laughing in her face after the comment about how three months in Italy worked wonders for her outlook, but I also might have used that as a chance to flip the script, i.e.; you're the one who's never traveled but broad-minded enough to accept polygamy, while she's all tight-arsed about it despite becoming a woman of the world after three whole months in Europe.

Booch Paradise said...

"I need a stronger more aggressive frame. I was too passive." I could certainly be wrong in my assessment here but I don't think that there was any need to be more aggressive. I would actually say that when she started getting aggressive that to match her by getting aggressive yourself is beta (using the binary terms, not the hierarchy). An alpha frame on the other hand is what it is without regard to how people around change their state.

VD said...

I missed the Italian bit. Of course, I would have asked her copious questions about Italy and allowed her to wrap the rope around her neck talking about how "European" she now feels and so forth.

After a while, I'd mention that I'd been to Italy too. Once. For 12 years and counting.

Yohami said...

Amazing story. "I dont know" and "Im an ignorant" are my mantras.

She said: "Wow, you're not shy."

Thats a shit test and your response was good. When feminists do shit tests, though, they expect you to bend on your knees and fail it, conceding them all the power. So your response "Yes, not very much" was awesome. She getting all dislocated by it was expected.

She took your comment about degrees personal, because it was personal to her from the beginning. She brought it up right in shit test form, right?

"Then she played the education card. She said that I thought the way I did because I was uneducated."

What she meant was "your mind is inferior and mine is superior, I have a a degree, I win, I dont have to listen to you"

Feminists, contrary to most women, get offended when they launch shit tests and you pass them. Whenever you take the dominant role and turn down the offer. Something really bothers them about it.

Yohami said...

The best programmers and workers I hire, usually dont have degrees. The best are the ones who used these 5-10 yeas doing the work and learning because they wanted to, rather than studying to pass exams.

mmaier2112 said...

Is it really playing to her frame if you're going to give her answers that kick her teeth in anyway?

I cannot stand bickering with liberal idiots or most women because they skip from one topic to another so fast and never focus. It's like they have a laundry list of idiotic positions they hold and want to make sure you're on the wrong side of every single one.

Although I guess I should be grateful that it exposes their idiocy all the faster...

VD said...

Is it really playing to her frame if you're going to give her answers that kick her teeth in anyway?

Yes. Remember, MOST communication is non-verbal. You are submitting to her questions. You are placing her in the superior position to you by permitting her to pronounce judgment on you.

Now, you can directly challenge the frame if you wish. But that involves turning yourself into the prosecutor and establishing your dominance by tearing her apart. But this is overkill, especially in a situation where you find the woman attractive or there are concerns about upsetting the social tea cart.

But if you don't care either way, then come back hard at her, kick her in the teeth, and break her down. But that's not done with answers, it's done with questions.

Yohami said...

"But that's not done with answers, it's done with questions."


VD said...

I cannot stand bickering with liberal idiots or most women because they skip from one topic to another so fast and never focus.

That's because you're not exercising dominance of the frame. They do not move from one topic to another until you give them permission to do so. You're in charge, not them. I didn't develop my "stay on target and answer the question" technique on the blog. It was necessary due to the very phenomenon you are describing.

mmaier2112 said...

And if they refuse to stay on target and answer the question, just say "You're obviously not worth my time" and walk?

I can manage that easily enough.

If I consider her attractive but she can't hold an intelligent and civil conversation, I'm done dealing with her anyway.

(Hell, I've dealt with telling a black GF I thought the South was right without backing down in the face of her freaking out so I don't shy away from confrontations where I'm emotionally-vested.)

SarahsDaughter said...

"I cannot stand bickering with liberal idiots or most women because they skip from one topic to another so fast and never focus. It's like they have a laundry list of idiotic positions they hold and want to make sure you're on the wrong side of every single one."

It is my desire to assist women (especially my daughters) in becoming more rational/logical beings. I have willingly taken on the frustration that men feel in dealing with the average woman. Interestingly, alpha game advice works well as a woman dealing with other women.

I have found that ignoring the tangents works best. They don't even notice that you've ignored 90% of what they've blathered about and maintained control (asking the questions) about the 10% you actually started talking about. At first I'd express "you're not worth my time" when I've been involved in political/religious debates with feminist women, however I can not say that to my daughters or future daughter-in-law. So it is very important to me to figure this out.

A recent religious discussion where I continually brought the confused (though initially convicted) woman back to the topic of discussion ended with this:

"I'm sure you want to strangle me most days and Im sorry SarahsDaughter. I could learn a ton from you and I will definitely admit that. You know your bible, your religion and a million other things, I do admire that...I don't mean to sound like I know much of anything religious wise."

What seems to be the most "sure of herself" feminist is still a child looking for someone to submit to. Exercising dominance effortlessly portrays wisdom, a highly desired trait.

VD said...

And if they refuse to stay on target and answer the question, just say "You're obviously not worth my time" and walk?

No. You're still caught up in EXPLAINING YOURSELF to them. This is the sort of thing that locks you into a lower social status. You appear to fundamentally believe that you must answer to others. That is a DLV. It's apparent that you need to work on not offering justifications for your beliefs and actions.

Just laugh and drift away. Or even turn your back and start talking to someone else without explanation. Saying "You're obviously not worth my time" comes off as almost feminine.

mmaier2112 said...

I do want to explain myself, in order to have someone better understand concepts that they currently do not. Or at the very least, shake the foundations of their "thoughts".

But I refuse to waste time on willfully-ignorant fools. I also do not mind telling someone exactly why I'm writing them off.

If that all adds up to a feminine DHV, then I'm probably screwed to some degree.

VD said...

I do want to explain myself, in order to have someone better understand concepts that they currently do not. Or at the very least, shake the foundations of their "thoughts".

That's because you're likely a gamma, or at the very least have some strong gamma instincts. You have a strong desire to have someone pat you on the head and tell you what you're doing is okay. Who gives a damn if someone better understands a concept or not? MPAI. I can't imagine you lose much sleep over how many billions of people don't understand string theory or the Austrian Business Cycle.

You're not screwed, you just have to fight that desire to explain yourself, not rationalize it. Your desire to "shake them up" is no different than the female desire to show the negging alpha how wrong he is. And in socio-sexual situations, it's going to work about as well for you as it does for them.

mmaier2112 said...

Gamma? I don't think I'm bitter. Hell, I think I was maybe downright charming last night in a social situation with almost all strangers.

You're probably right as far as your last sentence. But I've changed my entire worldview over the last decade on a number of subjects and most of it was due to being exposed to contrary information.

I would liken it to someone filing a blackboard with a complicated equation, but they made an addition error at the start. Pointing that error out isn't going to make anyone happy, but it just might make for a better end result.

And... it's wrong. The error itself rather offends me.

So, I think I am going to stick with "I'm screwed".

VD said...

Pointing that error out isn't going to make anyone happy, but it just might make for a better end result.

Qui bono?

mmaier2112 said...

Vox, you're really starting to hurt my brain. I hope this means I might be close to a breakthrough of sorts.

I suppose I should get the same sort of intellectual detachment that I'm getting close to on the emotional side.

JCclimber said...

Remember the post about reality police.

And that it isn't your paid job to make sure everyone is in touch with reality and the Truth.

I have to thank Vox for that one. I was moving in that direction, but giving it a name and a good description helped me implement it more quickly.

I now quietly laugh at myself when I notice the declining temptation to reactivate my reality police badge.

VD said...

I suppose I should get the same sort of intellectual detachment that I'm getting close to on the emotional side.

Precisely. What is the point of pursuing it on the emotional side if you're simply going to throw it away on the "intellectual" side.

And anyhow, it's not the intellectual side. It is just another aspect of the emotional side. Because if it was purely intellectual, you'd have no problem letting such things go, that being the logical and self-beneficial thing to do.

I sometimes offer correction once. If I determine they cannot or will not accept instruction, I write them off concerning the matter. See Aristotle's Rhetoric for details.

indyguy77@work said...

"And anyhow, it's not the intellectual side. It is just another aspect of the emotional side."

Thinking this was probably the case is what started my head hurting.

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