Agree and amplify your way to Hell

February 9, 2013 § 17 Comments

I realize that I’ve written some promissory notes about looking closely at (some) particular techniques of Game.  I should preface this by saying that I do think there are positive, true aspects of Game as techniques for feminized men to learn how to behave in a more masculine manner.  If I didn’t think that I wouldn’t engage the subject at all.  But there are plenty of places to find positive presentations of Game understandings/techniques.  In order to actually contribute to the subject my own posts are likely to be critical, but don’t read too much into that.  I’m not really a “Game skeptic” in some categorical sense.  I try to look for truth wherever it lies and I’ll point out falsehoods wherever I see them.

Sometimes the positive and true aspects of a “Game” concept are intermingled, within the very same concept, with what is false and evil.   A case in point is the technique called “agree and amplify“.  (The link is just a Google search; many of the results are likely NSFW).

“Agree and amplify” is when someone sets a verbal trap which challenges you and, rather than confronting the challenge directly, you agree with the premise of the challenge and push it to the next level.  A canonical example is answering “Does this dress make me look fat” with a smirk and “What dress doesn’t?” or some such retort.

When done as a joke and with good humor, even as a way of avoiding a loaded question, I don’t see anything morally wrong with agree and amplify.   What I would point out is that agree and amplify is a reasonable social response to loaded questions in general.  It works to deflate a man who is being unreasonable just as well as it works to deflate a woman who is being unreasonable.  I take no position, in this post, on the relative frequency of such occurrences.

A key aspect of this as a social tool is the twinkle in the eye and the humor in the retort.  Sometimes though the “agree and amplify” approach is taken more seriously, and the idea is to use an opponent’s ideas against him.   This can be done by stipulation[*], where we make it crystal clear that we absolutely don’t agree with his premises but we show that by his own lights he ought to conclude what we say he ought to conclude; or it can be done without explicit and clear stipulation.

Done without clear stipulation, though, agreeing with a false premise is a form of lie.  It is probably done with good intentions, of course.  That’s what keeps Uncle Screwtape’s Paving Service in business.


[*]  One example where the Magisterium makes it clear this this kind of stipulation is required is in Evangelium Vitae:

…an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.

(Emphasis mine).

§ 17 Responses to Agree and amplify your way to Hell

  • Svar says:

    Zippy, could you give an example of a situation where it would lead to hell?

  • Chris says:

    Agree you are a pick up artist interested in her and amplify into fornication.

    Which I think is a mortal sin, in RCC terms. For us simple reformed types, all sins are fatal.

  • Zippy says:

    When we agree jokingly with a falsehood it isn’t a lie, because jokes aren’t lies. Not only do jokes lack the intention to deceive: they are delivered in a manner which renders them objectively unlikely, as chosen behaviors, to deceive.

    As Chris alludes, in order to be mortal sin a lie has to be grave matter involving knowledge and deliberate consent. (This does not excuse venial sin, which is also to be avoided). Not all lies are grave matter, but many are. This precedes the consideration Chris raises of the morality of just what response one is attempting to elicit.

    The moral trouble with Game in general (and this includes “girl Game”) is kind of like the moral trouble with sales and marketing in general. With rather scrupulous care it is possible to do them without lying – though probably with less effect than for those willing to lie.

    To the extent Game is about becoming what we want to be without deception it is (or can be) consistent with Christian morality. (As long as what we want to be is good).

    To the extent it involves deliberate deception it isn’t.

  • sunshinemary says:

    I had a different understanding of agree and amplify. I thought it was more like this example:

    The girl says to her paramour: You never take me out anywhere nice!
    The paramour says: That’s right! I never do! I just want to sit around eating twinkies with you and watching The Bachelor. *wink*

    I thought the idea is that it shuts down a fitness test by highlighting the absurdity of what the other person is saying.

    But I’m no game expert, so I might be wrong.

  • Zippy says:

    While I also am no Game expert, I would agree (without amplifying, hah!) that your example is an example of agree-and-amplify. Since my view encompasses both my example and yours, perhaps you have a more narrow understanding.

    In any case though I make no pretenses to being a Game authority of any kind. I’m just giving my own understandings of various things and my take on those particular understandings.

  • Chris says:

    It was Svar, I had to make it obvious.

  • Svar says:

    Zippy, thanks. Now I know that I haven’t been committing any sins by doing what I do.

  • Samson J. says:

    Really nice blog you have here, Zippy; it’s too bad I never heard of it until recently.

    With rather scrupulous care it is possible to do them without lying – though probably with less effect than for those willing to lie.

    That piece was well-written – I love the “formal logic” style of the argument, which makes the point very clearly. One of the biggest problems I have found with a certain sphere of the internet is the constant emphasis on achieving the “best” – the “best”, most attractive partner possible; the “best” marriage. As a rapper that we used to listen to in college so eloquently put it, “Whatever happened to marrying a n***** wit’ a bus pass? Just ‘cuz you *love* the n*****?”

    Obviously there is nothing wrong with having the best marriage that you can have, but the constant emphasis on having the “best” instead of on doing right engenders an unhealthy mentality. It doesn’t seem like it should necessarily be this way, but I have found it to be true.

  • Zippy says:

    Samson J:
    Thanks. I’ve been around a long time, but I’ve also taken time off here and there, as I explained here.

    It doesn’t seem like it should necessarily be this way, but I have found it to be true.

    I think we don’t like to admit that sometimes crime does pay: that someone unconstrained by moral strictures is at least theoretically capable of doing everything that someone so constrained can do, plus more. With more options available it is in fact possible to achieve a more ‘optimal’ result in achieving some particular material goal. Crime may not always pay, but it certainly can and sometimes actually does pay, at least in material terms.

    It frequently doesn’t work out that way: karma is a bitch, and often the character flaws which remove a particular man’s moral constraints end up his undoing even on the material goal in question. But on the far end of the bell curve the most materially successful men are likely to be morally less constrained men.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @ZC and SSM

    “While I also am no Game expert, I would agree (without amplifying, hah!) that your example is an example of agree-and-amplify. Since my view encompasses both my example and yours, perhaps you have a more narrow understanding.”

    I leave it to others to say whether I am an expert, but I’m pretty damn good at it. SSM’s example is the standard version. ZC’s definition is more complete.

    When it’s taught, it’s taught, it’s taught using an example very like SSM’s. One, it is easy to grasp. Two, it doesn’t offend the sensibilities of the men who might still be waffling between accepting the philosophy of Game, or remaining it their pathetic lives (both bad choices, IMAO.)

    Another example would be an interaction with a coworker.

    Girl: “Hey thanks for those reports.”

    Guy: “Hey, It was good letting you see my today.”

    Girl: (tittering) “Please. You mean it was good of me to grace you with my presence.”

    Guy: (mock insult) “Oh yeah, like you did ten times today? Let’s not forget you chasing me down the hall.” (they met twice for work, and passed once going to the breakroom)

    Gal: “Whatever! (she’s full-on laughing now) You’re just mad I didn’t do it more!”

    Guy: “Want another chance after work?”

    Gal: “Ohhh, I don’t think that’s a good idea. My husband is usually home at six.”

    Guy: “Hey, that’s cool. Anyways, I’m going to Applebee’s at 4:30. It’s just a bunch of chill friends; no pressure. Later.”

    That whole conversation was one big back and forth of agree and amplify. Guy’s last line though, is killer because it appears to be a backing away…but it’s a feint meant to draw her in by agreeing and amplifying that the relations should remain platonic while actually being a challenge to her inhibitions. What he actually communicated was: “Can you control yourself around me?”

    Easy as pie, after that.

  • […] their views are correct, because it is a human problem. It is also how one corrupts another; agreeing and amplifying each other until the Tea Partiers are standing out there with signs that say “Keep Government […]

  • GKChesteron says:

    that someone unconstrained by moral strictures is at least theoretically capable of doing everything that someone so constrained can do,

    No. No. No. No. No. No.

    This is Manichean. Again “no”. As evil can’t create and only corrupt good it is _utterly incapable_ of doing everything that good can do. Even in the bands of agree and amplify. Bad if it uses agree and amplify to motivate an object towards good action is serving the ends of good. A good agent using agree and amplify towards a good end is also likely to be wildly more successful because essentially the whole universe is “agreeing” with him and joining in the mockery of the obviously dumb/evil thing. Likewise an evil agent using it towards evil ends is going to slowly achieve diminishing returns.

    Or let me rephrase that. Of _course_ evil can do just as much or more with agree and amplify because you’ll totally not want to kill that used car salesman after he sells you the wreck.

  • Zippy says:


    I think you may have misunderstood me, in addition to mischaracterizing (or perhaps oversimplifying) Manichaeism. My point is mathematical and deals with material goals, and if it is correct than it is necessarily consistent with any true moral theology. Somewhat formally:

    Given: a specific material goal G, a choosing agent A, and a phase space of all of A’s possible decisions and outcomes (starting from here-now) [D].

    Given M: Moral constraints which rule out some decisions in [D].

    Define A-Prime as A constrained by M.

    For any G in [D], if A-Prime can reach G then A can reach G. The contrary is not true: for any G in [D], that A can reach G does not imply that A-Prime can reach G.

    Less formally, morality constrains action. Therefore the material possibilities for a morally unconstrained agent are a proper superset of the material possibilities for a morally constrained agent.

    That’s a lot of words to point out what I think is manifestly, even apodictically true. If someone’s moral theory can’t account for it so much the worse for that moral theory.

    Notice that this deals with material goals (earning money, gaining power, acquiring goodies and women, etc). Everyone is always better off teleologically doing the right thing.

  • GKChesteron says:

    I’ll counter with a question, why is M a constraint?

  • Zippy says:

    I’ll counter with a question, why is M a constraint?

    Because moral norms constrain action: don’t steal, don’t lie, etc. Even positive norms constrain action to certain choices: feed a dependent rather than invest in GetRichQuickCo. A is unconstrained and can do literally anything that A-Prime can do in pursuit of an arbitrary G; A-Prime cannot do everything that A can do.

    The reason people rebel against morality is precisely because it constrains them from taking some action they would prefer to take.

    Trivially, if G is “have two wives” it is reachable by A but not by A-Prime.

  • […] problem arises with more subtle or ambiguous “tools”.   The “neg” as described by the putative experts on Game is […]

  • […] Dawkins is really a “non-theistic Christian” profound, as some kind of big “agree and amplify” of protestant heretics, is either a dead end or […]

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