In psychology, there’s a well-observed phenomenon known as the actor/observer bias and it states that we’re basically all a bunch of assholes.

The actor/observer bias states that all of us unconsciously assume others to be more responsible for their negative actions than their environment, and for ourselves to be less responsible for our negative actions than our environment.

For example, if you are at an intersection and someone runs through the red light and almost hits you, you think, “Wow, what a shitty driver. That guy is an idiot.” But when it’s YOU who runs the red light and almost hits somebody, you think, “It’s not my fault. The guy in front of me was driving slow and the light changed too quickly for me to stop.”

When it’s us, it’s not our fault. When it’s someone else, they’re a shitty person.

But it gets worse. The opposite happens with positive actions, too. In our own case, we over-estimate our own responsibility for the great things we do and under-estimate the responsibility of others. For example, if someone else wins a prestigious award, we make assumptions that they got it because of their connections or some sort of conspiracy and not of their own work. But if we win an award, we assume it was all because of the great work we did.

The actor/observer is a natural bias that afflicts us all. We can be mindful and try to be better about it, but we’re never completely rid of it.

Nature Vs Nurture

But what’s interesting is when you take the Actor/Observer bias and add the nature versus nurture argument to it. The nature versus nurture argument is a philosophical debate that has been going on for centuries. It’s the debate over whether behavior is primarily determined by biology or by one’s environment and prior experiences.

The answer, of course, is it’s both. Both our biology and our environments are always determining our behavior at all times. And on top of that, our biology and our environment influence one another. For instance, having elevated testosterone will cause us to behave differently, but also being subjected to certain environmental factors can raise our testosterone.

But recently, with the discoveries of neuroplasticity and epigenetics in recent decades, most biologists these days concede that environment is overall a stronger determinant of specific behaviors than biology.

Biology defines the parameters of our behavior and creates our proclivities for certain behaviors (i.e., risk-taking, neuroticism, etc.), but ultimately our external influences and past experiences determine exactly how we behave at any given moment.

But regardless, the nature/nurture debate is still foggy. Is that person violent because they have a genetic predisposition to violence? Or did they grow up in a horribly violent environment? Why do some people come from horrible environments and become healthy, admirable people and others come from good environments and become despicable people?

These questions are not easily answered. And may never easily be answered.

The answer is always that it’s somewhere between the two but we’re never certain exactly where it is. And in these foggy nature/nurture situations, our actor/observer bias will often kick in and make us more likely to attribute the poor behavior of others to biology — the idea that they were simply born a bad person rather than influenced to do something — and attribute the bad behavior of ourselves to our environment our culture.

So if a co-worker is perpetually underpaid at work, we will attribute it to him/her being inherently stupid or incapable. Whereas if WE are perpetually underpaid at work, we attribute it to being screwed over by incompetent management.

I told you it makes us all assholes.

When the actor/observer bias comes joins up with the nature/nurture debate, I call this the biology bias — the assumption that other people or groups are biological predisposed to undesirable behavior, while our behavior is simply caused by a faulty culture.

You see the biology bias pop up in all sorts of places. Instead of dealing with the actual policy arguments of many conservatives, liberals simply whitewash them as being unintelligent and inherently selfish people. Conservatives do the same with liberals by making assumptions about how they’re inherently lazy and feel entitled. Both sides rarely stop to consider the environmental factors that caused the other side to have liberal/conservative views in the first place.

The biology bias becomes particularly dangerous in the context of racism. For centuries, Europeans enslaved Africans, Native Americans and Asians based on the assumption that they were of a different (and inferior) species, that they were somehow biologically less capable than their European colonizers. But it turns out, European societies enjoyed major geographical advantages that eventually allowed them to colonize the planet (Read Jared Diamond’s fascinating Guns, Germs and Steel for more on this subject.)

Much of this still goes on today. As T and I discussed on a podcast a few months ago, he’s been arguing with a group of so-called “Human Bio-Diversity” bloggers who believe that since the average African-American has an IQ 10 points lower than the average Anglo-American, they are therefore inherently stupider or less capable.

The Biology Bias and Sexism

“When racist and sexist ideologies sanction certain hierarchical social arrangements based on biology, that biology is usually false.”

- Theodore Kemper, Social Structure and Testosterone

In my book on dating, Models: Attract Women Through Honesty, I have a whole section in the middle of the book about defense mechanisms.

We all use defense mechanisms to avoid our anxieties and protect us from dealing with our shame. For instance, if we have a lot of sexual shame we may develop defense mechanisms such as rationalizing reasons to avoid sexual encounters, over-analyzing sexual situations, or over-compensating by trying to have sex with absolutely everything and everyone.

Another common defense mechanism is to stereotype a population, especially if we feel victimized by that particular population.

Women make an easy target for the biological bias because a) many men are perpetually frustrated by women and b) there are obvious biological differences between the two sexes (of the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” variety.)

Over the years, I’ve seen the following biological arguments made about women as a population: they will use a man for his resources and then move on (like locusts or something), they will lie and manipulate you to get you to like them more, they are overly emotional, they are less intelligent and incapable of rational thought, they seek sexual attention to make themselves feel better, they will cheat on you or leave you the minute a better option comes around, and so on.

None of these statements have any biological evidence backing them up. All of these statements only apply to certain individual women, some of whom cluster in certain locales (like say, I don’t know, sleazy clubs). All of the men who make these statements have a history of rejection or emotional trauma involving women.

Coincidence? I think not.

For me, this is the contradiction that underlies most of the manosphere literature out there and ruins it for me. Undesirable behavior from women (they’re manipulative, overly-emotional, hypergamous) is attributed to their inherent biology, while undesirable behavior from men (weak, feminized, too sensitive) is attributed to a culture forced upon them. You can’t have it both ways. Either you face up to the overly emotional, manipulative behavior in yourself as well as women, or you focus on the cultural effects on both genders. You can’t have it one way for one gender and the other way for the other.

But wait! There’s more!

Feminists are not immune to these types of actor/observer biases. These are just a few of the examples of reverse-sexism I’ve seen from the other side of the fence over the years:

If a woman fights her way to the top of the corporate ladder, it’s her ingenuity and hard work. If a man does, it’s only because he’s benefiting from patriarchy. If a man complains that a woman is being flirtatious, then she is sexually empowered. If a woman complains that a man is being flirtatious, it’s harassment. If a woman says she likes a strong man who takes care of his body, she is asserting her desires. If a man says he appreciates a woman who dresses up nice and wears high heels, he’s a pig.

Granted, many feminists side-step much of the biology bias by subscribing to the belief that culture defines everything. But they still fall victim to the actor/observer bias constantly, like the rest of us.

One could even go so far as to say that the so-called “battle of the sexes” is mostly just the biology bias in action. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Regardless of our gender, race, sexuality, nationality, religious beliefs or political beliefs, as humans our minds are bad at dealing with large populations. It’s too much data. Our minds take shortcuts in order to manage all of the information they consume. These shortcuts, if unchecked and unregulated, can easily turn us into bigoted assholes.

That goes for racists and reverse-racists. That goes for sexists and reverse-sexists. That goes for religious nuts and atheists. That goes from liberals and conservatives.

We are all equal in that we’re all biased against populations and groups who we don’t identify with. It’s unconscious and inevitable. But it’s only particularly evil if these biases are forged into long-term beliefs and later transmuted into actual prejudiced actions.

That is why practices such as mindfulness, therapy and meditation are so crucial. They help us not only become more objective about others, but also help us unravel the the biased beliefs and limitations we place on ourselves.

Or as Anaïs Nin once said: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

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93 Responses to The Biology Bias

  1. Samantha says:

    Great article! When someone is driving like a maniac I always try to remind myself I don’t know whats going on in their lives; late for work, someone’s sick or hospitalized, particularly horrible day. I know I myself have driven like a maniac for what I think is justified reasons, as long as someone doesn’t come dangerously close to endangering my life, I try to not worry about their own crazyness.

  2. Dan S says:

    Related but somewhat different is the idea “we judge others by their action and ourselves by our intentions”.

    A good book on Nature/Nurture is “The Mirage Of A Space Between Nature And Nurture” – Evelyn Fox Keller

  3. Caitlin says:

    Good stuff! I see these kinds of broad generalizations about groups of any kind (men, women, queer, POC, etc etc etc) come up all the time on Tumblr especially, usually as one group lashing out at its opposite group. It is definitely hard to be aware and break out of that cycle, but it’s crucial to do so in order to have good discussions and resolve some of our societal issues.

  4. NightGoat says:

    “That goes for racists and reverse-racists. That goes for sexists and reverse-sexists. That goes for religious nuts and atheists.”
    What’s wrong with being an atheist?

    • Mark Manson says:

      Nothing is wrong with atheists. They just have biases too.

      • NightGoat says:

        Now you got me really interested :-)
        Can you please point out some examples for the biases of atheists?

        • chris says:

          Everyone who believes in God is just not thinking the correct way

        • Derek Scruggs says:

          I’m an atheist and I know it biases me against believing people’s spiritual experiences, “miracles” etc. In recent years I’ve decided to take them at face value for the most part. I still draw the line at explanations that sound too pat, but I don’t deny that the experiences are real for the people who have them.

        • Ben says:

          There’s a book about this called ‘Religion For Atheists’ by Alain de Botton which is very good.

          Many atheists (including myself) presume that everything theists believe is inherantly flawed because it’s based on outdated religious texts.

          Meditation is a good example – 20 years ago atheists dismissed it as religious nonsense. When neuroscientits overcame that bias and eventually got around to testing it in the laboratory they were blown away by the results.

          There’s plenty we could learn from religion about self-control, happiness, compassion, forgiveness, education, building communities etc. if only we could separate those helpful bits from all the arguments about creationism, the after-life and terrorism.

        • NightGoat says:

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I was a religious person until a few years ago, so I can relate to both views.

          • Trisha says:

            Another example for you… In my discussions with fellow atheists I find that most believe that theists use their faith as a crutch, because they are unwilling (or incapable) of accepting personal responsibility for any negative consequences resulting from their own choices or decisions, preferring instead to blame “God’s will” for whatever happens to them. It can be tough to avoid making that [erroneous] judgement.

  5. Ebm says:

    Great article. I’ve been trying to spread this word for years. But I have one problem…

    Could we all please banish the term “reverse racism?” Racism is racism is racism. To speak of reverse racism implies that there’s some direction that racism is *supposed* to go. I get that may have simply been trying to establish a this-versus-that list. But it’s one of my pet peeves.

    This all applies to reverse sexism as well. But again, I liked the article.

    • Cameron says:

      I think its more about the fact that its usually one group getting discriminated against. So if you accept that blacks are discriminated against generally in America, being a minority group, then a group of black people discriminating against a white man would be reverse racism.

      • Ebm says:

        That’s only if you “accept” that racism in America, by definition, is *supposed* to be white against black. It means nothing that it’s historically gone one way. Hypothetically, if there were historically far more white-on-black than black-on-white murders, would a black person killing a white person today be considered reverse murder? Obviously not–murder is murder is murder; it doesn’t matter who does it. Murder isn’t a perfect analogy, but you see my point.

        • Cameron says:

          Your putting beliefs in my mind. Implication implies an intention.

          In reality, only I can imply something, you INFER (incorrectly) that I believe racism should be directed against black people.

          As I said the reverse in reverse-racism is there because racism is usually inflicted on one race by another. That’s a descriptive statement.

          • Ebm says:

            You misunderstand me. I don’t mean to imply (nor did I infer) that you think racism should directed at anybody. It’s precisely because I don’t believe the author (or you, for that matter) believes that that I spoke up. All I mean is that the term reverse racism itself says more to people than you may realize. Sure, it’s a descriptive term, but it’s a loaded one.

            And as I stated, it’s simply one of my pet peeves. Not everyone’s going to agree (obviously).

  6. Edmond says:

    What? No offensive post about America? Mark, I’m disappointed. :D

    On a more serious note, congratulations to the well-written comprehension of T’s post and the explanation of the Biology Bias. I am going to keep it in mind next time I join a discussion in the forum.

    Do you have any data about the decision-making process of humans? I mean if there are any differences between women and men. Society claims so, but I’m sceptical about it. I thought you mentioned some research about this topic in the “gender values” thread, but I couldn’t find it. That’s why I contact you here in the comment section as the topic is related to your article as well.

    I want to talk about it in my marketing class next monday, so any help/information is appreciated.

    Take care!

    PS: Can’t wait for your new book. Already saving money for it.,,

    • Mark Manson says:

      There ARE recorded gender differences in decision-making, empathy, aggression, etc. on a societal level. The interesting thing is that when you put men and women in anonymous environments where they don’t know what’s being measured, many of those differences fall to zero.

      There is TONS of literature about this stuff, and most of it will be in the book. For now, I’d recommend looking up “The Gender Similarities Hypothesis.” It’s a meta-analysis of hundreds of gender-related behavioral studies.

      You’ll probably want more marketing data though, as in, the different buying behaviors between men and women (hint: women buy more and more often). I’m not read up on the marketing stuff. But usually Google for a topic, find newspaper/magazine articles, then find THEIR sources, and look up the studies through a database or something.

  7. Cameron says:

    Great post, always worth remembering our capacity for self-deception. I confess I have been guilty of blaming conservatives and labeling them selfish, which is a lazy way out of arguing that IMO government exists to serve the people rather than the other way around.

    I would take out the word “hypergamus” if I was you though.

  8. Frost says:

    If you truly believe that this:

    “…this is the contradiction that underlies most of the manosphere literature out there and ruins it for me. Undesirable behavior from women (they’re manipulative, overly-emotional, hypergamus) is attributed to their inherent biology, while undesirable behavior from men (weak, feminized, too sensitive) is attributed to a culture forced upon them. You can’t have it both ways. Either you face up to the overly emotional, manipulative behavior in yourself or you just don’t talk about it at all.”

    … is a fair representation of what the dark side of the pua-sphere believes, you’re either reading the wrong blogs, or you’re not reading the right ones close enough. As a general rule of etiquette and intellectual honesty, why not link to the arguments you’re trying to engage with? Why not actually quote Roissy et al., and show them exactly where you think they’re wrong?

    As for the HBD issue, you gloss over the observed reality of the IQ gap as if… Duh! Everyone knows that! But it’s the sort of thing that could get an established journalist, academic, bureaucrat, or politician, fired. You and T don’t disagree that the gap exists. You just think, along with the modern PC police, that our present taboo against discussing it is a good thing.

    I mean come on. You grant that biological differences between the sexes and race exists. Don’t you think they might be worth discussing? Smart guys like Roissy, Steve Sailer and Chuck Ross are doing just that, and without malice in their hearts. Do you read their blogs? Or are you content to dismiss their arguments, having only read their critics? Readers of post masculine, same question.

    Cheers,
    Frost

    • Mark Manson says:

      Biological differences do exist, and they do need to be discussed, and I am discussing them. But they must be discussed not as absolutes but as simply one of many factors. I have read Roissy and I find him to be incredibly shortsighted and angry.

      Fact of the matter is this: most of the gender differences manosphere types ascribe to female biology are simply wrong, scientifically, empirically wrong. Just like feminists who ascribe all behavioral differences to cultural and political power, they are also scientifically, empirically wrong.

      It’s both. And it’s complicated. New book will be a lot about this, with tons of data backing up my points.

      (PS: I edited out the “don’t talk about it at all line,” you’re right, that’s not fair of me to say.)

    • Mark Manson says:

      FWIW, I totally agree with you about the PC police thing. There ARE significant differences between men and women and different racial cultures and we should be able to discuss them without being shamed. In fact, that shaming is a form of bigotry in itself. But if we’re going to discuss them, we have to discuss them well and without prejudice. Few people can do that well IMO.

      I may do a post on that though.

  9. Jorges says:

    I think your article misses an important distinction (one that maybe also causes some of the controversy in the comments):

    It’s “looking at groups” vs. “looking at individuals”.

    Your arguments totally fit when we’re looking at individuals. Individual people are highly.. yeah, individual, and it doesn’t make much sense to apply generalizations (maybe only when dealing with them without knowing them at all – for instance: When I meet a person and she’s 80 years old, I will assume that she knows less about smartphones than a 20-year-old, so I won’t talk about my new downloaded app).

    But when we’re looking at groups, it makes much sense to take measured patterns into account. For instance, when we see the gender imbalance in leadership positions, we can explain a lot of it with biological factors and it would be a wrong political goal to force a 50/50 proportion.

    That distinction groups vs. individuals is very well done in the “Brainwash” documentary series – a 7-part Norwegian series about the Nature-vs-Nurture debate. Part 1 deals with gender, Part 6 with race.

    • Mark Manson says:

      I agree with this and I may do another post some time on the “individual vs group” fallacies. Although I would say that the biology bias absolutely still comes into effect with people making judgments about groups.

      The problem, again, isn’t that there’s no biological influence or no cultural influence, it’s that many people over-estimate the biological influence and that leads to discrimination.

      • Jorges says:

        it’s that many people over-estimate the biological influence and that leads to discrimination.

        Interesting statement, maybe you could back it up with some data sometime. In “The Blank Slate”, Steven Pinker claims quite the contrary:

        With some important exceptions, stereotypes are in fact not inaccurate when assessed against objective benchmarks such as census figures or the reports of the stereotyped people themselves. People who believe that African Americans are more likely to be on welfare than whites, that Jews have higher average incomes than WASPs, that business students are more conservative than students in the arts, that women are more likely than men to want to lose weight, and that men are more likely than women to swat a fly with their bare hands, are not being irrational or bigoted. Those beliefs are correct. People’s stereotypes are generally consistent with the statistics, and in many cases their bias is to underestimate the real differences between sexes or ethnic groups. This does not mean that the stereotyped traits are unchangeable, of course, or that people think they are unchangeable, only that people perceive the traits fairly accurately at the time.

        He cites McCauley, 1995 and Swim, 1994 as sources.

        • crozz says:

          Good points! This is the position I take. Most prejudices are correct and it is fair to use them as very very tentative working assumptions. Dealing with individuals, what really matters is not to leave it there, but to be open to new input, continuously updating our evaluation and perspective.

  10. Jeremy says:

    Undesirable behavior from women (they’re manipulative, overly-emotional, hypergamous) is attributed to their inherent biology, while undesirable behavior from men (weak, feminized, too sensitive) is attributed to a culture forced upon them. You can’t have it both ways.

    This is actually a slight, but clever, misstatement of “manosphere beliefs” as if there is any central collection of doctrine. The manosphere argues that the cultural encouragement of hypergamy and victimhood allows those biological predispositions that women have to be all the stronger. No rational manosphere writer denies that culture influences women. Quite the contrary, it is admitted and despised that our culture is now encouraging women to engage in their base biology to the detriment of men.

    Let me stop you before you suggest that I believe that the biology bias is not influencing many members/commenters/writers in the manosphere. I do believe is workings its effects there. However, it is wholly incorrect to state that the manosphere denies cultural influences on women when the effects of feminism on both men and women are discussed ad nauseum in that community.

    • Mark Manson says:

      That’s fair enough. And I think that’s definitely a more fair assessment of their arguments. Although I would still disagree with them. But that’s for another time.

      • Jeremy says:

        I am I think understandably curious where else you might disagree with them. I will look for your next writing on the topic.

        • Mark Manson says:

          These posts were partly inspired by some of my criticism of those writers:

          http://postmasculine.com/the-fake-alpha-males
          http://postmasculine.com/butchering-the-alpha-male
          http://postmasculine.com/female-fallacies (mentions the fallacy you mentioned)
          http://postmasculine.com/sex-and-our-psychological-needs

          I’ve shied away from confronting them directly on this blog because honestly I don’t want to give them that much air-time. But I did just look over Roissy’s latest posts and can tell you that I could have a field day with them.

          • Jeremy says:

            Well, in the first link, I have a huge issue with your definition of vulnerability. Perhaps that’s intentional, I’m not certain. Vulnerability is not a willingness to expose oneself to weakness or failure, that’s better defined as risk-taking. Vulnerability is a better defined as being exposed as weak or a failure; or just plain being exposed; or in the more classic definition as noun, a weak spot. It has nothing to do with willingness. You can easily be vulnerable through no fault or will of your own.

            The rest of your argument flows from this (IMHO) distorted definition. Alpha males by definition are risk-taking, but this does not make them truly a man yet. You only become a man through self-recognized and corrected weaknesses and failures. The manosphere is intent on growing the risk-taking (alpha) nature of males in our culture(s), because only through failure are men made. This is a noble cause imo.

            In the second article, I tend to agree with Rollo’s knee-jerk criticism. Alpha as defined in the manosphere is a state of mind, not a demographic, not a hormone, not a body type. You seem to be challenging the (admittedly loose) definition of Alpha in the manosphere by going back to its original meaning in biological origins used to describe species on Earth. What you should first ask for is a solid definition from the manosphere, before simply trying to deconstruct their unfinished definition with the wrong tool.

            In the third article, you literally have a recursive fallacy of composition in that article. To twist your own words back at you (I do apologize for this, seriously)… Humans are complex. the manosphere {is} complex. And the act of interpreting an ethos involves a great deal of self-selection… Your fallacy of division is itself a fallacy of composition, presuming that too many commenters or most writing in the manosphere falls prey to this. Your third fallacy treats the health of men as an afterthought. You make a valid point in that what is naturally true should not be considered automatically to be morally right. However, you then explain away manosphere reactions as the ramblings of a society that is long past, as if the modern world can simply forget about the needs of men. If, for instance, men are more healthy and productive for society being the established leaders and risk takers of their families and society, by what reasoning is it justifiable to simply put men in a less-healthy, less-rewarding position because their old function can be practically discarded? Have you honestly considered the history of what happens to societies with significant amounts of young men who have limited access to their own entrepreneurship and lifelong monogamy? It is not pretty.

            As to your fourth article…

            Sex is a strategy we use to meet our psychological needs and not a need itself.

            How do we know this? Because there is no evidence that celibacy or asexuality is actually physically or psychologically unhealthy.

            You seem to be presuming that at no time can any physical needs exist as such if they do not make you measurably physically unhealthy from the neglect of them. I consider that a jump to a conclusion, but lets continue. At the same time you are arguing that sex helps to meet psychological needs, but cannot make you psychologically unhealthy from the lack of it. This is a logical contradiction that begs for an explanation. Moreover, you are presuming that there must be alternate methods of meeting the psychological needs that sex helps with, without offering any evidence to this. you said:

            ..On the other hand, if psychological needs go unmet for long periods of time, it will absolutely fuck us up physically and psychologically. People develop neuroses, addictions, and even delusions to get their needs met. Research shows that social isolation is more harmful than alcoholism or smoking. Depression and stress are related with all sorts of terrible physical issues.

            So clearly the sex strategy to meet psychological needs, when denied, must have alternatives or else as you said, women who deny sex to men are oppressing them. Can you offer any evidence as to what psychological needs are being met with the sex strategy, and what alternate methods exist that are sufficient?

            In general, and I truly am trying to be as civil and courteous as possible, I think your impression of the manosphere involves only the PUA side of the coin. The men on those sites are, frankly, sex crazed or hold anger towards specific women in their lives. You really should spend more time reading the mature sites in the manosphere, the ones that deal with understanding any truths that come from PUA/game theories. It sounds as if you’ve never read a single red-pill site as written from a married man/woman perspective.

          • Mark Manson says:

            Wow Jeremy, thanks for that thoughtful reply.

            1. Re: definition of vulnerability, point has been made before by other readers. It’s a semantics argument. And that’s fine. Whatever you want to call it, point remains and it seems we see eye-to-eye on what it means for the most part.

            2. For the alpha male article I actually did look up Roissy’s definitions of alpha maleness and use that as a frame of reference (although I did not cite him). Also, I loosely used the definition of alpha many of the PUA’s use. I agree with your definition of alpha, although most places I’ve seen it have not taught it that way. And I just really dislike the term because it implies biological superiority. Anyone with some brains can start doing this stuff.

            3. Point taken on the fallacy of composition being made. As for men’s needs, I would argue (and do, and will in my new book) that masculinity and “men’s needs” are surprisingly culturally relative (I can give you book on this if you’d like), and that given the technological and social upheavals of the past 50 years, what we see as classic masculinity is no longer advantageous in a lot of instances (see the point made in the “Butchering” article, alphaness is not necessarily ALWAYS advantageous). My greater argument though, and this is not in that article, is that where men have lagged behind is in emotional literacy and this is now hurting them, whereas in past eras it was inconsequential. When men had all of the political and economic power, they didn’t have to develop their emotional skills because their value in society was guaranteed. That value is no longer guaranteed (and by the way, it’s never going back to the way it was), so men need to evolve and develop themselves to offer that value in other ways.

            I do agree that there are some dire demographic problems around men, but we can leave that for another time.

            4. This article actually has a ton of scientific data backing it up. And no, it’s not a contradiction. Sex is a strategy to fulfill emotional needs. It is not a need itself. Just like joining a religion or buying a nice car are strategies to meet needs, not having them doesn’t cause us to die or become unhealthy in and of themselves.

            The reason sex confuses so many people is that sex is the only strategy that is simultaneously a physical drive. And most physical drives (hunger, sleep) tend to be life/death, whereas sex isn’t. Sex is extremely unique in this way, psychologically and biologically.

            I’ll just come out and say it, I think some of the PUA/manosphere guys you mention fixate on sex because they’re unable to meet their emotional needs in healthy and normal ways. They then convince themselves that sex itself is the psychological need (survival of the fittest and all that), and then pursue it with a maniacal and often sexist fervor.

            And finally…

            “In general, and I truly am trying to be as civil and courteous as possible, I think your impression of the manosphere involves only the PUA side of the coin. The men on those sites are, frankly, sex crazed or hold anger towards specific women in their lives. You really should spend more time reading the mature sites in the manosphere, the ones that deal with understanding any truths that come from PUA/game theories. It sounds as if you’ve never read a single red-pill site as written from a married man/woman perspective.”

            PLEASE! PLEASE RECOMMEND ME SITES! I’m aware of A Voice For Men (which is good, although I’m less interested in the political side of things). Other than that, my exposure is primarily to Heartiste, Roosh, and a few of their lackey bloggers that basically just parrot them — so yes, the PUA side of things. PLEASE recommend me some mature, non-sex-crazed manosphere sites.

            Again, thanks for the thoughtful criticism.

          • Jeremy says:

            I still disagree with you significantly on #3 there. You seem to be arguing that the world is so modern, that the standard definition of masculinity is obsolete. What this fails to acknowledge is just how thin the veneer of civilization remains, even to this day. All it takes to return us to a day when criminally alpha males ruled supreme is 3-4 days of no food. This happened in New Orleans during Katrina, only 6 years ago. It continues to happen in lots of places in the world. The developed world, such as it is, is startlingly fragile. I do not see how anyone can make a legitimate argument that masculinity needs to make significant changes when the world could, at any moment, return to a state where the best masculine values would be needed en masse.

            You say that #4 has lots of science backing it up, but there is no science referred to or even linked in that article. Where are the references? I would sincerely caution you that sociology/psychology are SOFT sciences, meaning no hard conclusions can be drawn from theory, and much of the data is interpreted through the lens of confirmation bias or false dichotomies. Meanwhile the experimentalists, and by this I’m referring to the men who practice game in the field, they have actual success with women to back up their arguments. Though I confess I see few of them with notebooks properly logging their experiences. You also seem to be saying that these men in the PUA community have emotional needs that are not being met, that they then try to meet with lots of sex. However, you offer no evidence to this, only supposition. While I’m not a total fool and I acknowledge that a lifetime spent screwing anything that moves (by people of either sex) is likely to end with a spiritually empty middle-age period of questioning ones own reasoning, I’m also not so arrogant as to presume that men are only looking for sex because they are emotionally damaged in some way. This would be little different than me presuming that a lonely woman wants a baby because she is emotionally disturbed.

            http://www.returnofkings.com/
            http://therationalmale.com/
            http://theredpillroom.blogspot.com/
            http://dalrock.wordpress.com/
            http://mattforney.com/

            I would also caution you about following AVfM. There are some writers on there that do a good job, most notably Girl Writes What. There is at least one man on that site who’s little more than a hate-filled whiny biotch, and yes that’s a technical enough term.

          • Mark Manson says:

            1. Situations like Katrina are extreme and unusual and (most importantly) temporary. Notice the same thing didn’t happen when Sandy hit NYC. BUT, you’re actually still not getting my point. My point isn’t that masculinity needs aren’t necessary for society anymore (we’ll always need soldiers, cops, etc.) My point is that classic masculinity ideals are now necessary but not sufficient. We need masculinity + 1. And historically, that’s the case.

            What most red pill guys I’ve seen romanticize as “masculinity” is really just the 20th century ideal. But masculinity has always changed and evolved to fit the economic needs of the time. I can show you quotes from the 1950′s lamenting that boys are growing up to weak and feminized. I can find you the same quotes from the 1900′s and the 1880′s. Hell, even Shakespeare teased that men weren’t what they used to be in one of his plays.

            If you look at every generation, there’s this constant feeling that men have lost something. And they haven’t lost anything, perceptions of masculinity are simply always changing and evolving, because economic realities are always changing and evolving. It just so happens that our generation is going through the greatest amount of change in centuries. That and integrating women back into the workforce for the first time in 7000 years has thrown all of us for a bit of a loop.

            2. There are few references in most of my blog articles simply because I’m not writing for an academic audience here. 90+% of my audience is populist, casual, etc. References and data are in the books. And the new book will be all about this stuff.

            3. I was a professional PUA coach for 4+ years. I’ve slept with hundreds of women and have personally coached hundreds of men to sleep with women. I’ve been in the trenches, and I did have a notebook open (dig around this site’s archives and you’ll see its roots). Fact of the matter is, I’ve been down that road. I was the nice guy “beta,” I became the promiscuous “alpha,” and there’s no there there. It’s 50% ego trip, 50% mommy issues. It’s also a lot of fun, but then again, so is cocaine. It was actually BECAUSE those experiences came up so empty for me, and BECAUSE pursuing that didn’t seem to be making my clients any happier or healthier, that made me start questioning these things. Call it the red pill of the red pill. And that’s when I started digging into the science looking for answers three years ago.

            I used to love sites like Roosh and Roissy and those guys. Then I educated myself and now I can barely stomach them. Spare me the “soft science” spiel. I’ve heard it before. I won’t make any assumptions about you, but you should be very wary in whitewashing 100+ years of hard data based on a few flippant criticisms.

            Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll check out those sites. Although I’ve read Return of Kings (Roosh’s new site) and don’t really care for it. Also, I forgot to mention I’ve read Married Man Sex Life, and I think it’s the most emotionally healthy one I’ve found. Still don’t like the whole alpha/beta terminology, but there’s solid advice on that site.

            I should add that I’m not anti-manosphere at all. I think it teaches a lot of important and necessary things for men. But I also can’t help but detect a lot of anger and biases in many of their points. The few times I’ve tried to push back against that anger and biases, my comments have been deleted, or I’ve basically just been called names. I realize internet comments are a horrible barometer for intellectual discourse, but anyway, I just think we could be doing better. That may come off as condescending or arrogant, but like I said, I’ve been living and breathing this stuff for almost 8 years now. I’ve been down a number of rabbit holes. I think we could be doing better.

            And again, thanks for the calm rational discussion here. Sadly, you’re one of the only ones who’s ever been willing to discuss this stuff in this way.

          • Jeremy says:

            Last reply, I promise, this is going too long.

            My point is that classic masculinity ideals are now necessary but not sufficient. We need masculinity + 1. And historically, that’s the case.

            This seems to be at odds with what you’ve said thus far, forgive me if I’m wrong there. Now you’re telling me that you want all the traditional plus an upgraded masculinity? Where do you define this upgrade? You also acknowledge that masculinity is always changing, this would seem to undermine the novelty of a defined expansion of masculinity.

            There are few references in most of my blog articles simply because I’m not writing for an academic audience here. References and data are in the books. And the new book will be all about this stuff.

            That is less than ideal. I am very serious when I express disappointment that I have to purchase a book to follow your line of reasoning and the work that backs it up. If the internet should have taught us anything, it’s that information does indeed want to be free.

            …It’s 50% ego trip, 50% mommy issues. It’s also a lot of fun, but then again, so is cocaine. It was actually BECAUSE those experiences came up so empty for me, and BECAUSE pursuing that didn’t seem to be making my clients any happier or healthier, that made me start questioning these things. Call it the red pill of the red pill.

            This does not surprise me in the least. When you look at the common human female who sleeps around too much it’s usually a similar story, 50% ego, 50% daddy issues. They do it because they can, and it makes them feel good at the time. I would not deny them this if it’s what they need, neither would I deny the PUA’s their lifestyle. I, personally, would not choose to engage in that, despite coming from a thoroughly ‘beta’ frame of mind, because I KNOW that ONS are the last thing I want. I tried it once, ONCE, and that was enough emotional emptiness for me.

            I won’t spare you the soft-science spiel, it’s truth. Conclusions about human behavior are perilous in the extreme.

            You’ll get no disagreement that the anger in the manosphere needs to go. However, there is truth contained in it, unvarnished truth.

          • Mark Manson says:

            1. Not at odds. It’s not about yes masculinity or no masculinity, it’s simply about pushing men further than they’ve had to go before.

            2. You’re actually not the primary audience for this blog. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of it, feel free to email me and I can recommend a number of books for you (I’ve mentioned this a few times now, you don’t seem interested).

            3. We seem totally aligned with the PUA thing and the anger thing. Which is cool.

            Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Chaos says:

    Mark, I usually love your articles but this one is completely wrong.

    I can positively say don’t have a bias of any kind. The rest of the world does though.

  12. Sarara says:

    These double standards don’t just exist for ourselves, but for those in close to us in our social circles as well. Family, close friends, co-workers or classmates (at least the ones we like) tend to get a pass or a rationalization for their undesirable behavior. My uncle Steve doesn’t have a drinking problem. He’s just having a difficult time coping with losing his wife and his job. The guy he’s doing shots with at 10am on a Thursday? Raging alcoholic. 100%. Dunbar’s Number aka ‘The Monkeysphere’ strikes again.

  13. Red Pill Theory says:

    1. Biology and culture both have profound impacts on the development of the mind and brain.
    2. Men and women are biologically different in mind and body thanks to differing evolutionary pressures and cultural expectations.
    3. Today’s feminist culture encourages some of the worst biological behaviors of women, and oppresses positive biological masculine behavior.

    I don’t think you’d have a problem with one or two. But your argument here is that three is scientifically/logically impossible. The existence of “biology bias,” your special formulation of actor/observer, doesn’t rule 3 out or even particularly address it.

    • Mark Manson says:

      Where I diverge from you is that I think #2 is actually pretty small (there are almost zero measurable neurological differences between men and women at birth, only hormonal). Meta-analyses of gender differences in cognitive behavior, decision-making, empathetic ability, etc., surprisingly turn out to be very small when measured cross-culturally and in controlled environments.

      Therefore, I think it’s difficult to even define what the “worst biological behaviors in women” are to begin with. The two biggest areas men and women differ biologically are in physical ability and sexuality. Physical ability is never going to change. But I don’t know what “bad” sexual behavior for women is necessarily.

      The other measured differences, stuff like risk-taking, aggression, spatial reasoning, verbal ability, etc., are surprisingly small — especially when you measure them at young ages. Boys until the age of five or so are actually more verbose and emotional than girls. Women, in an anonymous lab setting are actually just as violent and ruthless as men (see Milgram’s experiments, no gender differences.)

      So yeah, I’d like to see the evidence of purely biologically motivated female behavior that is “bad” for society. I have yet to see it. And I’ve been researching this stuff for years now. And that’s why I claim there’s a biology bias going on, because there’s simply little to no data backing a lot of these claims up.

      I’d also be curious to see evidence of purely biologically motivated behavior of men that is “good” for society as well.

      I really sympathize with the manosphere guys. I think a lot of feminism has turned out oppressive, if not downright dumb. But from everything I’ve seen, they’re mostly right about the biology thing. It’s almost impossible to draw a straight line between biology and specific behavioral differences that don’t involve sex or some physical activity.

      • Red Pill Theory says:

        Thank you for your response Mark. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence for male/female difference is overwhelming. You can argue about why that difference occurs, but arguing that it doesn’t exist or is not large is a bit of a stretch.

        Eagly and Steffen in a 1986 meta-analytic review of aggression studies came up with a d of .29, which indicates a medium difference between men and women. (Other meta-analyses show a bigger d; this is the low end.) Around 61% of men are more aggressive than the average woman. Milgram’s study was also a intended to look at compliance, not aggression. Women and men show substantial differences in their responses to Big five personality trait questionnaires, particularly in the traits of agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism. Meta analyses show stat. significant sex differences in activity level, conformity and social influence, moral behavior, helping behavior, mate selection, occupational preferences, cognitive ability, physical ability etc. I actually just wrote about a study that shows a large gap in male/female general knowledge. I could go on, but at some point I guess you have your science, and we have ours.

        You don’t know what “bad” sexual behavior for women is? It’s precisely the same as “bad” sexual behavior for men, ie sexual behavior that has negative societal externalities. Promiscuity has costs for both genders, but the fact that women may become pregnant means that unprotected sex for them carries a greater risk.

        And in social sciences, it’s generally impossible to draw a straight line from any phenomenon to another, it’s true. But which narrative has a more compelling foundation of empirical evidence? I’d invite you to have a look at the data of three sex-based medical disorders: Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (Women,) Androgen Insensitivity (Men) and Reductase deficiency (Men.) Two foundational studies: “Androgens and the Evolution of Male Gender Identity Among Male Pseudohemaphrodites with 5-alpha reductase deficiency” and “Cognitive Abilities in Androgen Insensitive Subjects: comparison of control males and females from the same kindred.”

        When nature does what psychological researchers can’t do because of ethics, the biological narrative looks pretty dang compelling.

        • Mark Manson says:

          Again, I’m not arguing that there are NO biological differences, simply that those biological differences show little difference in cognitive or behavioral differences outside of sexuality, physicality or risk-taking.

          There IS a lot of research showing such differences, but much of that research is based on self-report or situations where people are primed for their gender (i.e., told what’s going to be studied about them). In anonymous settings and when men and women are unaware of what they’re being tested on, most (not all, most) of those differences vanish. For instance, when men are unaware that they’re being tested for empathy and ability to read social cues, they score exactly the same as women. When they are aware, or when they’re not in an anonymous environment (i.e., other men are around), they score much worse.

          As for negative externalities, contraception and safe abortions have removed most (not all) of those externalities for women, which is why we’ve seen sexual behavior of women change so drastically in the last 50 years. And we’re never going back. It’s too late. Not to mention male contraception is on the way, and I imagine that will have significant ramifications as well. So you can either adapt and enjoy it, or complain that the world is not the way you want it to be. I prefer the former.

          • szopen says:

            But the fact that males behave differently than women in presence of other men/women does not necessarily nullify the hypothesis about biological basis of the behavior, it merely shifts it to the possibility that males are biologically predisposed to behave such and such in presence of males (or females). E.g. if males are more risk-taking in presence of females, but no differences exists when they are anonymous, this can mean TWO things:
            1) The behavior is a result of cultural upbringing, OR, equally possible:
            2) there could be biological basis for males to show-off when females are present,

          • Mark Manson says:

            Yes, except for the fact that many of these results are different in various cultures suggests that it is cultural. Masculinity is measured differently around the world. Therefore men react differently in the presence of other men and women depending on which culture they’re from.

  14. Nathan H says:

    Being an urban bicyclist taught me this. I at first was always raging at why motorists couldn’t drive correctly, heed street signs, or use turn signals so as to not cut me off. However I then became aware of my own behavior. As a cyclist in a major city, sometimes you ignore stop signs and lights because the constant stop and go is really tolling. I always made it a rule not to do so when it was unsafe or if you are cutting someone off. However, this kind of behavior I saw makes me sometimes accidentally cut someone off, and I began to recognize it. I felt like an asshole and realized that sometimes drivers make those mistakes too for who knows what reason. It keeps me on my toes, but instead of being frustrated and ruining what otherwise would be a great ride, I just keep going and enjoy the outdoors.

  15. Pliskin says:

    Great article. Just one thing, what you call the Biology Bias already exists, it is called the ultimate attribution error (sounds cool, doesn’t it?) and it’s basically the actor/observator bias applied to groups. Cognitive bias are tricky. There are many of them and they are always interesting to consider in the perspecitve of self-knowledge. Actually we cannot prevent them, all we can do is apply a correction afterwards. But I think the opposit of this bias also exists, within people with low self esteem and who refuses to give theirself credit for what they manage to do.
    Anyway, a top ten article on biases that screw us up could be cool. Good work.

  16. Kempo says:

    Manosphere sites that I like and think are sensible, for the most part:

    http://wildman.newworldscoaching.ca/

    http://youngmanredpill.wordpress.com/

    http://3rdmilleniummen.wordpress.com/

    http://yohami.com/

    http://marriedmansexlife.com/

    http://consideredcarefully.wordpress.com/

    http://thesanctuary-spacetraveller.blogspot.no/

    http://www.thumotic.com/

    http://badgerhut.wordpress.com/

    http://theredpillroom.blogspot.no/2012/05/female-social-matrix-introduction.html

    http://verusconditio.wordpress.com/

    http://dannyfrom504.com/

    http://redpilltheory.wordpress.com/

    http://stagedreality.wordpress.com/

    http://sunshinemaryandthedragon.wordpress.com/

    http://haleyshalo.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/men-you-should-stop-abusing-your-wives-women-let-me-think-of-something-you-shouldnt-do/

    http://dalrock.wordpress.com/

    http://redpillwifery.wordpress.com/author/redpillwifey/

    This blogger has a very different perspective on alpha:

    http://xsplat.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/being-aloof-might-not-be-congruent-with-your-needs-and-style/

    http://xsplat.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/you-cant-master-a-woman-if-you-are-aloof/

    http://xsplat.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/romantic-libertine-game/

    https://xsplat.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/master-puas-and-their-attitude-to-showing-strong-passionate-stiff-wood-interest-right-from-the-start/

    http://alphagameplan.blogspot.no/

    MRAish sites:

    http://www.genderratic.com/ is the best MRAish site IMO with the most well thought out criticism of feminists. They are also good at speaking the language of feminists and they have commentators that are still feminists but very critical of most of feminism and sympatethic to MRA views.

    http://toysoldier.wordpress.com/

    http://owningyourshit.blogspot.no/

    http://www.pellebilling.com/

    http://www.shrink4men.com/

    http://pjmedia.com/drhelen/

    Some of those blogs are written by women. Many of them have a lot of female commentators. Marriedmansexlife has more than 50% female users and a remarkable success rate in creating great, passionate sex filled marriages out of relationships that had hit rock bottom. A success marriage counselors, who admit having an abysmal success rate, could only dream of.

    Some of those blogs are written by christian conservatives and I don`t share their views on marriage and many other things but they also have a lot of good analysis and I agree with them on a lot as well.

  17. Shenpen says:

    >The actor/observer bias states that all of us unconsciously assume others to be more responsible for their negative actions than their environment, and for ourselves to be less responsible for our negative actions than our environment.

    The problem is that it does not say which one is more correct. Evaluating others or evaluating ourselves? I think we evaluate others more correctly than ourselves, because less involved. Nemo iudex in causa sua – nobody can be a judge of his own case. Basically, we should judge ourselves the same strict ways as we do others.

    >Undesirable behavior from women (they’re manipulative, overly-emotional, hypergamous) is attributed to their inherent biology, while undesirable behavior from men (weak, feminized, too sensitive) is attributed to a culture forced upon them. You can’t have it both ways.

    False parallel.

    Female, undesirable, cultural: bitchy feminist

    Female, undesirable, biological: shit-testing hypergamy, cheating with alphas

    Male, undesirable, cultural: weak, too sensitive etc.

    Male, undesirable, biological: aggressive, dominating, tyrannical, rude, picking fights, yelling people down

    • Mark Manson says:

      “Female, undesirable, cultural: bitchy feminist”
      Your preference, not objective.

      “Female, undesirable, biological: shit-testing hypergamy, cheating with alphas”
      No biological data backing this up whatsoever.

      “Male, undesirable, cultural: weak, too sensitive etc.”
      Again, your preference, not objective.

      “Male, undesirable, biological: aggressive, dominating, tyrannical, rude, picking fights, yelling people down”
      Whether this is biologically determined or not is debatable.

  18. Kempo says:

    As for feminization the 50% drop in testosterone levels in men the last 50 years, documented by scientists, should be plenty of evidence.

    • Mark Manson says:

      Yes, but they don’t know why. T levels respond to environmental factors, not just biochemical factors.

      • Tyler says:

        Based on what I’ve read I believe it has a lot to do with the shift in the American diet in the past 30 years away from fat and cholesterol and towards starch and manufactured food.

        One article I recommend is this: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/01/18/how-to-increase-testosterone-naturally/

        • Skylar says:

          I am aware that there is in fact a relationship between fat intake and testosterone levels on an individual level. I am however not that convinced, that this explains the general drop in testosterone over the last decades.

          I am f.ex. doubtful about the hypothesis that we are switching diet away from fats. While fat intake expressed as a percent of caloric intake has steadily decreased over the last 4 decades (at least), total fat intake has increased due to increased total calorie intake (I am not familiar with developments in saturated vs. mono or unsaturated fats, though).

          Maybe you have some statistics?

          So many changes has taken places over the last decades (more sedentiary lifestyles, obesity, toxins in food production, men taking on a more fathering role for newborns), that pointing out dietary changes as the main culprit seems a bit hyperbolic.

          Noone really knows for sure….

  19. Kempo says:

    “Female, undesirable, biological: shit-testing hypergamy, cheating with alphas”
    No biological data backing this up whatsoever.

    Sure there is. There is a mass of evidence showing preference to cheat with more masculine men. THere is also a ton of evidence for women strongly prefering high status men and strongly disliking having to settle for lower status men, while men don`t care as long as she is good looking. Sorry but the fact that you claim this makes it very hard to put any credibility in your broader claims about lack of ecidence for biological differences.

    “Male, undesirable, cultural: weak, too sensitive etc.”
    Again, your preference, not objective.

    To put it in a tabloid manner. 3 billion vaginas disagree with you.

    • Mark Manson says:

      “Sure there is. There is a mass of evidence showing preference to cheat with more masculine men. THere is also a ton of evidence for women strongly prefering high status men and strongly disliking having to settle for lower status men, while men don`t care as long as she is good looking. Sorry but the fact that you claim this makes it very hard to put any credibility in your broader claims about lack of ecidence for biological differences.”

      If your metric is purely having sex with people, then yes this is true. But I thought we were talking about behaviors for the benefit of greater society?

      “To put it in a tabloid manner. 3 billion vaginas disagree with you.”

      Your worship of having sex is your undoing.

  20. Luc says:

    Mark, I’m conflicted. I’ve enjoyed this post in addition to most of your others and your book. I’m conflicted because I have a criticism which sounds like nit-picky nonsense. Typos. In this article as well as most of your others, there have been a few (ie: biological vs biologically, our vs or). To my over-schooled mind, as I’m reading and come across one it jars me and breaks the flow of the argument.

    I tend to have the same problem, even after re-reads, so I have no solution to offer. I do, however, have a request: if you find a way to get them under control, please share it with your audience. You’ve given me useful direction in many other areas, and it would blow me away if you could help me with this as well.

  21. George Karalis says:

    Yeah there are biological differences, an obvious one would be testosterone. I think part of the problem falls with this alpha/beta male continuum which has been so misrepresented. The problem is that uncontrolled male aggression(being a bully) has been associated with alpha when it is in fact a beta trait, often driven by toxic shame the same driver in the nice guy, who uses his “niceness” to mask his toxic shame. Neither is able to face their vulnerabilities accept themselves, shed their neediness, become authentic laying down the foundation for the development of true strength. The evolving sociological and psychological inputs of the last few decades have really clouded the nature versus nurture diatribe and confused what is an appropriate masculine script for our times.

  22. Paul says:

    Nice post. I know blogs don’t typically use citations/references, but I think it would be nice for some of your main points to have these.

    You should make a part 2 to this. I thought things were just getting started in the second half.

  23. Matt says:

    Mark,

    You seem like a smart, reasonable guy, but your characterization of the manosphere isn’t entirely accurate. Does it contain many bitter divorce victims or involuntary celibates looking for a place to vent? Yes, I detect that too. But the manosphere does acknowledge cultural and innate negative traits in both men and women.

    Basically, the manosphere contends that gender-related behavior is primarily driven by selfish mating strategies. For men, this means having aggressive, animalistic tendencies–basically losing their sh*t–at the site of an attractive woman. For women, it means all the things discussed ad nauseum; hypergamy, manipulativeness, etc. Neither set of undesirable behaviors is denied.

    On the cultural end, the manosphere believes feminism has artificially made the genders act more like one another to some degree- leading to men acting like pathetic wimps, and women being loud and domineering. You’ll notice these traits are seen as perfectly acceptable in the ‘other’ sex, FWIW.

    • Skylar says:

      You seem like a smart, reasonable guy, but your characterization of the manosphere isn’t entirely accurate. Does it contain many bitter divorce victims or involuntary celibates looking for a place to vent? Yes, I detect that too. But the manosphere does acknowledge cultural and innate negative traits in both men and women.[/blockquote]

      Below is my perception of the manosphere. I am totally fine with you or other people having a different perception.

      I am one of the men who really think there ougt to be a strong mens awareness movement. Mens health (both physical and mental), suicide rates, failing in the educational system, unemployment etc. are things that points in the wrong direction, and which are often glossed over.

      But I must admit, that I could never stomach the anger, the bitterness – and well – the latent misogyny in the manosphere. And while the manosphere is certainly more sophisticated than say the PUA community, it has the exact same obsession with being alpha (and raising the community members status by denouncing all other men as being beta’s).

      On the cultural end, the manosphere believes feminism has artificially made the genders act more like one another to some degree- leading to men acting like pathetic wimps, and women being loud and domineering. You’ll notice these traits are seen as perfectly acceptable in the ‘other’ sex, FWIW.[/blockquote]

      Sure, that as men and women approach each other, they also take on some of each others more negative behaviors.

      Sure, there are – on average – difference between men and women on some aspects (while on many other aspects there are slim to no effect difference between the genders).

      The problem for me, is the leap from is-to-ought which occurs in the manosphere. The average differences between men and women are turned into a conservative ideology, in which men and women are supposed to behave a certain way.

      To me, this is the exact same mistake that SOME feminists make, when they think that men and women should behave exactly the same; i.e. ignoring that people are individuals and often lean to one side of the spectrum or the other, out of their own preferences.

      In any case, I think that a conservative ideology that attempts to turn the tide on developments in gender roles over the last decades is fighting a very steep uphill battle.

      • Skylar says:

        OK, I obviously missed setting the blockquote tags correctly :-(

      • Mark Manson says:

        Blockquotes or no, I agree with you everything you said. And as some other readers pointed out, I was a little unnecessarily flippant in my criticism. You summed it up better than I did in the article. I agree there’s a legit necessity for some sort of men’s empowerment movement, but yeah, it’s very hard to stomach all of the anger and unnecessary misogyny.

  24. Mike says:

    I like this article. I like the discussions after. Indeed we all take shortcuts to understanding things. I do have prejudices as we all do but my favorite thing is when available I will give most people the chance to prove me wrong. Please So many times I have been duped by my prejudices against whomever. These shortcuts can be an advantage. ex. I need to pick an extra sprinter for my race team. there are 2 white dudes and a black dude. I don’t know any of them. from my experience the black dude will be the faster sprinter. So I pick him. A disadvantage to my prejudice would be that one of the white dudes was actually faster. which would have been the case in my school in the south. It felt good when I smoked my black friends in a race one time and I was celebrated with the song “play that funky music white boy”

    I can’t even find a sentence to write on the biological bias on women. I still got a lot to learn there. I feel like I’m in the drivers seat right now. I’m single and loving it. Surfing, spearfishing, growing vegetables, making my head spin learning this stuff, learning Spanish, learning to skydive, and when a girl comes along that I think will add to my life and not take away then I go down that road. Dudes stop making life hard going after the wrong girls for the wrong reasons and trying to be the male ape gorilla that you are not. You will one day die. let go open yourself up. you will find a confident Man inside. not an “alpha” male but a man who dudes like to be around and girls like to get railed by. anyways I’ve got to go to sleep. Mark good shit. you rock.

  25. fjod/10199 says:

    >None of these statements have any biological evidence backing them up.
    some of them have.
    http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Monogamy-Fidelity-Infidelity-Animals/dp/0805071369

    • Mark Manson says:

      Saying that monogamy is a myth is not the same as saying women necessarily cheat a certain amount of the time for specific biological reasons. There can be many reasons that monogamy is a myth. Placing all the blame on female biology is… *drumroll* the exact biology bias I’m talking about.

  26. crozz-fire says:

    Biology bias: Is it really true that we blame others for our failures and we congratulate ourselves for our successes? I strongly doubt it.

    It is definitely not true for me and I would say anybody else who is a bit more enlightened than the average dud exhibiting consumerism and a “victim mentality”.

    • Mark Manson says:

      Yeah, obviously YOU’RE fine. It’s everyone else who has that stupid bias. ;)

      Oh, wait… hahaha.

      • crozz says:

        Why getting personal? Why ? Why? Isn’t it possible to make a point without getting attacked on a personal level.
        I am just raising my doubts on the assumptions taken in the beginning paragraphs. I have met enough people in the PUA scene who are actually the other way round, they are too self-aware and much too harsh on themselves. And believe it or not: This is also the way I am. Which is not good either.

        • Mark Manson says:

          It’s not personal. I’m just pointing out the irony of your comment: your comment itself, is evidence of you having the bias.

          P.S.: this is not a PUA site.

          • crozz says:

            Fair enough. Pretty witty. Even if I do not understand the logic completely.
            I would rather spend my time on discussing content then on trying to find flaws with others, analyze the arguments other people bring forward to prove one is flawed (which is true anyway, because nobody is perfect). This outsmarting each other is such a waste of time !!!

            Anyway, for all those that are made happy by paradox sophistic arguments I have even a better one:
            “I am not tolerant towards intolerant people”. ;)

  27. crozz says:

    Jeremy – Mark : this was an extremely good discussion.
    @Jeremy: I am sorry, but I am afraid, if you want to have a good discussion and get some inspiration from Mark it is just fair to contribute by spending a couple of USD buying his books. ;)

  28. George Karalis says:

    What is “IT”?

    This is a very interesting discussion, very deep, parse all the nuance but at the end of the day the answer is: “There’s something about him.” Forget pickup for a moment although it does apply there, truth is it applies in all relationship driven venues.

    Maybe we see it in others, maybe we’ve been there before, maybe we’re there now and we feel “IT” and we’re curious about it. Maybe it’s fleeting and we want to understand it better so we can hold it, keep ourselves there, our best self.

    A lot of it is a matter of nomenclature, but putting the words aside, not getting hung up on what you call it the pathway is varied, maybe it’s through a PUA approach, fake it till you make it, get through the vulnerabilty that way, or maybe it’s head on through introspection but basically feel the pain, acceptance, shed the neediness, feel the authenticity and there’s a comfort there.

    But there’s also a retrospective that the process while perhaps necessary was also kind of stupid. Because shedding a state of low level function isn’t some massive accomplishment. Sure it takes courage to face your fears, your weaknesses but seriously is that it?

    I don’t give a F what anyone thinks of me. Good that’s a start. And I can go in and I can connect and I can take if I want.

    And then I pause and I think “WHAT DO i WANT”?

    And I realize that that’s where it begins. I think about the character of the man that I want to be. I think about the legacy that I want to lay down, the leadership I want to provide, the strength I want to lend. Ferocious and measured, by biology screams it.

    But I have no pathway I have no “Model”(pun intended).

    There’s an expression and I paraphrase: “You don’t rise to the occasion, you fall to your level of training.”

    And I hunger for training. Training towards a higher order.

  29. Doraemon says:

    I think in the nature/nurture debate even if one does influence our behavior a little more overall, it’s still likely that there is a huge variance between different individuals on what influences each person more. For example, someone with down syndrome’s behavior is likely more influenced by biology than other people’s, while another person who’s parent is a national leader like the US president is likely more influenced by their environment then their biology.

    Also, it’s amazing to see a phenomenon almost universally accepted within the science community, I’m referring to the perceptual bias, being met with such skepticism by many readers who have commented.

    • Mark Manson says:

      Agreed.

      And you raise a really good point. And that is that science has shown that the variation within men and within women is MUCH WIDER than it is between the sexes themselves. Same goes for race.

  30. George Karalis says:

    In “I don’t want to talk about it”, Real argues the gender neutral position and he cites research pretty heavily. He makes a very compelling argument. I’ve always wondered though, about experimental bias in the research. I’ve tried to embrace gender neutral, I just can’t get there. Maybe the societal inputs are so great so ingrained that I can’t get past them. I prefer to think its biology.

    Maybe that’s my bias. :-)

  31. George Karalis says:

    Here’s a perceptual bias of mine. I have been concerned that the gender neutral argument, even if true, would be used as a cloak to avoid having to face one’s fears and vulnerabilities.

    In the Tipping point, it takes about those who influence, breaks those down into types and talks about the “senders”. Those who are “very good at expressing emotions and feelings….far more emotionally contagious than the rest of us.”

    I think there is an inherent deep seated biology, an idiosyncratic propensity, our inherent contagion. I think what we see with the PUA approach is an attempt to mirror those effective traits as a short run deception in manufacturing attraction.

    When in fact what should be the goal is to shed those factors which takes us away from our true self and then working on letting our inherent contagion shine.

  32. Omario says:

    Looking forward to the new book. Can you give us an idea on when you think it’ll be available? Next couple months, in a few weeks, next month?

  33. George Karalis says:

    Taking this a little further in “The Tipping Point” there were experiments that were performed and examples illustrated in which the “Power of Context” was examined. Basically looking at the environmental input effects on behavior. The argument being made that that the environmental context in which we operate might supercede or at the very least attenuate both the nuture and nature inputs. I think intuitively we understand that toxic inputs aren’t constructive, but maybe it’s in our nature to diminish their impact. Maybe though eliminating toxic emotional inputs and adding constructive inputs, actively managing our environmental inputs, has a profound impact in terms of the context in which our biology manifests.

  34. most biologists these days concede that environment is overall a stronger determinant of specific behaviors than biology.

    Steven Pinker would disagree with you.

    http://stevenpinker.com/

    • Mark Manson says:

      Pinker is not a biologist. Watch the video link I posted. Even fundamental personality traits in genetically identical twins only show up with about 40-50% correlation. Behavior is extremely complex. Can’t be predicted by DNA alone.

  35. George Karalis says:

    For a very good presentation of how toxic shame manifests, “Healing the Shame that Binds you” by Bradshaw is excellent. Really supports Mark’s “vulnerability” premise. He uses that exact term.

  36. Sherlock says:

    This blog is looking to be the most mainstream accessible manosphere blog:

    https://redpillhypothesis.wordpress.com/

    • Mark Manson says:

      Checked out that page. Again, just really doesn’t do it for me. Comes off as angry and conspiratorial. We’re being lied to? Men are victims of social experiments? Ideology is ruining social science?

      Sorry, but no. I agree that men as a demographic are struggling at the moment. But there are far more plausible explanations than this “red pill” stuff.

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