Watch what you catch in your filters
January 11, 2013 § 18 Comments
In the previous post I suggested that generally speaking we are much more ignorant about reality than we are willing to let on. It is important not to throw up our hands in a postmodern adolescent fit and proclaim that there is no truth; but it is also important to acknowledge the limits of our methods and knowledge.
Take the subject of “Game” as discussed in the manosphere. I have no doubt that “Game” produces the desired results in certain women under certain circumstances, and the “rationalization hamster” is a funny metaphor for when women who actually do behave badly rationalize away their behaviour.
An open question though when it comes to “Game” is, is Game something specific that mainly works on slutty women that a pickup artist wants to use as a sexual toilet, or is it something which gives greater insight into how to relate to women more generally. Some commenters contend that “Game” is mainly just for cads and sluts, while others contend that it is universally useful. My own guess is that both points of view have some validity; but this makes making distinctions between cases all the more important.
Obviously it is critical to take note of any preselection filters inherent in the data used to advance various arguments.
The experiment and conclusions in the linked post depend upon a study or series of studies by one Meredith Chivers. As described, the studies measure sexual arousal in men and women by showing them pornography and other images with various measuring apparatus attached to the subjects’ genitals. What I would like to make note of here is that such a study doesn’t really tell us much about the general population. The population it tells us something about is the population of people who are willing to sit and watch pornography and animal sex, with measuring apparatus attached to their genitals while they watch. This population has been filtered out of the population at large. I would suggest that drawing conclusions about how normal, functional people think and behave from the population caught in this filter is similar to going down to the local psychiatric ward and drawing conclusions from observations there about how normal, functional people think and behave.
In general, when we want to know the properties of water we draw a sample from the clean side of the sewage filter. When we want to know the properties of fecal matter we draw a sample from the dirty side. And when we are trying to draw general conclusions, we have to make sure that our data isn’t full of shit.