Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Trick

There is a concept in mathematics, developed in the late 1960's known as game theory. One of the classic experiements in game theory is known as the prisoners dilemma.

These were the first types of experiments done in algorithmically determining the value of what we refer to as the concept of reciprocal altruism, which is a concept in human sociology often used to describe the basis of most of our ethical and moral behaviors. It is also a concept often devalued for its simplicity. It just seems intuitively to be too simple a ways of describing how our behaviors work and play out in the real world. But our intuitions can fail us, as we all know too well.

The prisoners dillemma is fascinating in it's simplicity, and also in it's ability to confound what one would assume is a winning strategy in a game.

In the prisoners dilemma you are to imagine a scenario where you are a prisoner with a cellmate, and you are left with the option in a given turn of the game to either give evidence against your fellow inmate or not.

The scoring is really simple. If you give evidence and your cellmate does not, you get 10 points, and your cellmate gets 1 point. If you give evidence and your cellmate does as well, you each get 5 points for being mutually not nice. If you decide not to give evidence and so does your cellmate, you each get only 3 points for mutually deciding to be nice.

On the surface of it this would seem to be easy to figure out. Intuitively most people can see the point system and realize that to win is to not be nice. And indeed in multiple trials with one individual this is the winning strategy.

But our lives never involve merely interacting with one other person. Our lives are a construct of continual interactions with astonishing numbers of people throughout our lives. 

And ironically in this prisoners dillemna when you take the iterations of it and expand it out into more and more interactions with more and more prisoners, the odds flip...and rather drastically. So drastically that over those many iterations the strategy that is a winning one on a purely one to one basis becomes the one guaranteed to lose you points over the course of many games.

The strategy that wins? And more importantly always wins. And even more importantly always wins in every iteration of game theory that has been imagined in computational mechanics over the last 40+ years? Tough but fair. In other words, simply deciding to be nice from the get go, until you encounter those not nice back to you, and being not nice back until THEIR BEHAVIOR CHANGES so that you can go back to being nice again.

In other words a preference towards being genuinely good and giving towards others, whilst being mindful that this tendency can be taken advantage of (and the strength of self to react accordingly), always wins.


It's a lesson we all need to internalize and cherish for the truth that it is.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The (perhaps not so) Secret Guy Code :)

Ok ladies. It's time you heard some of this. A lot will perhaps be obvious, but there's a possibility that some of it is news to you. I'm going to try to break down for you some of male behavior in a way that might clarify things for you. And no, this isn't going to be "Men Are From Mars" nonsense. Males and females, once we get past the imperatives of our genders aren't really different at all. But those gender differences do exist, and not merely physically (fun as those can be in practice).

So with that in mind....

Men sexually evaluate every single solitary female they encounter.


This occurs for all intents and purposes instantly...and constantly. We're wired to do this. And we do this with all females. Even the ones we're related to. Before you let that revelation creep you out, read on. It's important to understand some distinctions here. :)

That isn't to say we consider every vaguely attractive female a sexual partner. We have some protections built into our psychology from incest and the odd Oedipus complex of course. Indeed men tend to be particularly protective of their female offspring precisely because of this, as we realize not every man is this females father, but we realize all too well the very nature of our deepest behaviors.

Women do this to men too, so I'm not claiming some odd exclusivity, but it is nowhere to the degree that *ALL* men do. And when I say all men, I mean all men. When that elderly gentleman compliments you on how pretty you look today, he's meaning it in precisely the same way a man closer to your age means it. And he's evaluating you sexually for precisely the same reasons, and in precisely the same ways. The imagination lingers long after the body stops being willing.

If this creeps you out, it shouldn't. It's really how this works in the male psyche. It is indeed this powerful for us. That old saw about men having sexual thoughts several times a's true, and verified scientifically. And any man who claims this isn't true might be lying to you, or just in denial of his nature.

What this means for you? Well you just need to be aware, and realize the decision about persuing intimacy (at least initially) has already been decided by your date before you've uttered a single word. And there's nothing you, nor we can do about that.

Now, if this were as far as it went, you'd be totally justified in feeling a little negative about this, considering at least a significant part of your nature as a female has been evaluated as succinctly as making a sandwich. But it always goes farther. At least if you're one of those men who isn't in denial of his nature.

Those men who are in denial of this are precisely the ones you're likely to have problems with. And sadly, if you believe their denial because you also fail to see the truth of this you're as much a part of the problem here.

Why? Because they've not really thought this out for themselves, realized how true this is, and further realized how this one thing is just one small (but important) aspect of relating to the opposite sex. You never find the things that are truly difficult to find, if you can't at least acknowledge the easy and obvious ones. Fooling yourselves about our nature isn't helping you at all.

Both men and women have been found scientifically to be happier, if they are in relationships with people THEY FIND ATTRACTIVE SEXUALLY. There's more to this than meets the eye though.


We live in a culture that tends to objectify women, and certainly men have played a strong role in this. But ironically, not to the degree that women have and still do. Some will disagree with me here, but I think I at least have a leg to stand on.

Granted it's pretty impossible in the western world to walk past a magazine stand without seeing impossibly thin, porcelain skinned, giagantic boobed goddesses in bikini's or lingerie. And no man is going to decry this in his deepest nature, though a thoughtful man will as likely have enough sense to realize the impossible ideals here. And perhaps thoughtful men who are in touch with themselves and honest about their nature are the ones who most easily dismiss this eye merely eye candy and largely unimportant.

What's important here is how much of this is driven by and for...other women. As men compete in their telling ways for access to females, so do females themselves compete for access to men. And as importantly, they compete with other women for the sake of it, in many ways that men do not with one another.

What I can say about this from a man's perspective, and to be clear it's not just a personal one as I've talked to many many men about such things over the course of my life, is that men are largely indifferent to much of this.

When we say you look great, when you don't measure up to your own standard....we mean that. Makeup, that little red dress, those 5" pumps. We like it when you make the effort to be attractive around us, but we've already decided long long before this that we're attracted. We appreciate the guesture, but it isn't explicitly necessary.

If it is, you're with someone who wants arm candy and little else (see previous comments about men in denial of their nature). If you merely think it is, then just realize you're doing this way more for yourself than us. And that's fine. I like to dress up and look smart when I go out, but I do it explicitly for me and my own personal self image. Just be more mindful of how this really works.

Once we've gotten to the stage of the relationship we want to be in, we know what you look like naked, and that's what matters. More importantly we trust you when you are willing to be in such a state of undress with us, and that matters more. In a sweatshirt and baggy jeans, it's still you. So relax. Do what you need to so you feel good about yourself. Dress for success with your peers. Just don't think any of that is necessary once you have us. Once you've decided we're ok, and that we don't suck (and we've done the same after we get past our own decisions in regards to you) we're fine. Truly. :)