Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life In The Universe, My Own Amateur Calculations (Pt 4)

It’s taken a while, but I’m back.

In the last post, I said I’d give the types of stars most likely to harbor worlds with ecosystems as complex as Earth’s, namely stars based on their expected total lifetimes (closely related to the star’s mass). This one is actually a big unknown, for Earth is the only planet known to harbor an ecosystem as remotely complex as ours. This means we have no clue as to whether even microbial life formed more quickly or less quickly than the average lifebearing world, let alone ecosystems as complex as our world’s. Therefore, this post will necessarily be speculative to at least a large degree.

NOTE: If you’re in a hurry or in a “Just the Facts, Ma’am” mood, the star must be between 1.1808 and 0.5 solar masses to be to be a serious candidate for harboring Earth-complexity ecosystems – especially those capable of harboring technologically advanced life.

Therefore, I will work from two following assumptions:

A)Assumptions biased in favor of life forming more quickly than it did on Earth.

Here, I make two more assumptions based on this core assumption

1)Life moved onto land 3 billion years after the planet’s formation was largely complete - one billion years than happened on Earth.

2)300 million years passed between the first significant land-based ecosystems and the emergence of technologically capable life (on Earth, it was 500 million years).

B) Assumption biased against the easy survival of technology-capable life.

1) Just as technology-capable life evolves, the star’s long-term brighteness reaches the point of harming the planet’s ecosystem. (Put another way, only a razor-thin margin separates the alien civilization’s death from its developing sufficient technology to escape the “roasting” of its home world.)

However easy the assumption may be, it is NOT as simple as saying the expected lifetime of the star need be 3.3 billion years (3 billion years for the land-based ecosystem to appear, 300 million more years for technology-capable life to appear). As we discussed in the previous post, the sun’s brightness is not fixed over time, even during it’s main sequence state. Our 4.5 billion year old sun still has about 5.5 billion years left in its main sequence stage, yet experts say at its birth it was only 70% as bright as it is now. That means the sun’s own habitable zone boundaries moved outward over time. The habitable zone will move beyond Earth in about half-a-billion to a billion years, which is right at the sun’s halfway point in its main sequence phase. Therefore, lets revise the 3.3 billion year assumption to say,

2)The life-bearing planet must spend at least 3.3 billion years within its sun’s habitable zone.

3)The planet will be within the star’s habitable zone for half the star’s main sequence phase.

This gives a lifetime of 3.3 billion years / 50%, or 6.6 billion years.
We know a very tight mathematical relationship exists between the star’s mass and its lifetime as a main sequence star (not 100% perfect, but close enough to it not to substantially alter our expectations). S o break out the trusty calculator with power figures (or spreadsheet, if you know how to do powers and square roots on it). The mass-lifetime formula is:

Ls = (1/Ms^2.5) X 10 billion years

Ls= Lifetime of the star on the main sequence, Ms = Mass of the star in Solar Units (i.e. our sun = 1, twice the mass of the sun is 2, half the mass of the sun is 0.5, and so forth), and 10 billion years (10^10) is our sun’s expected lifetime on the main sequence.

However, this formula only translates stellar mass to expected lifetime. We already know the expected lifetime of the highest mass star most probably capable of supporting Earth-complexity ecosystems (6.6 billion years). But we don’t know the mass of the star. To translate the star’s lifetime to its mass, the formula is:

Ms = [(1/Ls)^(1/2.5)] x 10 billion.

Now, we’re ready to solve the mystery “What’s the maximum probable mass of a star capable of sustaining a planet long enough for technology-capable life?”. In this case, Ls = 6.6 billion / 10 billion, which means Ls = 0.66. From here, we simply plug in the numbers:

Ms = (1/.66)^(1/2.5).

1/.66 = 1.515. So Ms = 1.515^(1/2.5), which in turn equals 1.1808 Solar Masses -- the maximum probable mass of a star bearing a complex ecosystem!

Therefore, any stars more massive than 1.1808 solar masses are not likely to harbor technically capable civilizations. While planets within such stars’ habitable zones can certainly support microbial or smile macroscopic life, at most, they will be “Planetary Serengetis” or “Jurassic Parks”. This is fascinating for biologists and ecologists, but disappointing for those looking for a Star Wars / Star Trek type world.

There’s also a minimum probably lower mass for such stars as well, but it’s rather complex. The basic points are

(1) As discussed previously, less massive stars have narrower life zones, thereby greatly lowering the probability (as opposed to basic possibility) of the presence of life-bearing planets of any sort.

(2) Even if the habitable zone is wide enough, planets too close to a star will experience tidal locking. This is when one side of an orbiting body permanently faces the body it orbits. Our moon is a perfect example. Until the launch of space probes to the moon, nobody ever saw the other side of the moon because the moon does not rotate relative to the earth. Why is this so? Because the differences in the Earth’s gravitational pull on the facing side of the moon and its far side are sharp enough to prevent rotation. This also accounts for Mercury’s very slow rotation (2 of its “days” last for 3 of its “years”), the sun’s gravity greatly slows down Mercury’s rotation.

Unfortunately, as discussed previously, habitable zone boundaries can overlap with the “Tidal Locking” boundary if the star is small enough. The formula is entirely to complex to explain here, and even too complex for me to understand. However, I heard (but can’t substantiate) that the star must be no less than 0.5 Solar Masses for a habitable zone planet to escape tidal locking. This establishes our lowest probable mass for a star capable of fostering technology-capable life.

Beyond the star’s mass, it also has to have a certain % of elements heavier than helium within it (the astronomy term is Metals). In short, astronomers discovered a relationship between stars known to harbor planets and their metallicities (the ratio between heavier-than-helium elements and the total mass of the star). They find that stars most likely to harbor planets at will have metalicities half that our sun or greater. A large metalicity indicates lots of material from which to form planets.

This pretty much completes our discussion of characteristics of stars that are most likely to harbor life-bearing planets of any sort. These characteristics become more strict as you travel up the life-complexity scale. From here on, we will look at the necessary characteristics of the planets themselves. Beyond the star’s metallicity, there’s no way to know whether any planet (or gas giant’s moon) is actually present within the star’s habitable zone – aside from possibly the presence of a gas giant too close to the habitable zone, which increases the odds of a planet having a dangerously skewed orbit, if not ejected from its solar system altogether.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Life In the Universe: My Own Amateur Calculations (Part 3)

In the last post, we delved into the basics of star formation as it pertains to the potential for complex life to develop on an Earth-massed planet orbiting with that star’s habitable zone. We also explored the difference between low massed main sequence stars (red) and the corresponding high massed ones (blue). I already implied the advantages of low-massed stars vis-à-vis high-massed ones concerning the presence of complex life and highly developed ecosystems. Now we look more in-depth at the pros and cons of each:



Enormously Long Expected Lifetimes. This is their biggest advantage. Simply put, longer lifetimes on the main sequence allow more time for life to form and develop; thereby increasing the odds of life actually existing around such stars – whether at present or in the future (particularly complex life). Life on Earth started around 4 billion years ago, shortly after our planet finished forming. Yet, only in the past half-billion years has surface-dwelling animal life existed on our planet – barely more than 10% of our planet’s existence!

As for species even potentially capable of developing technology Homo Sapiens Sapiens emerged only 200,000 or so years ago (the last 1/22,500 of Earth’s existence). Compare that to how long Television existed!!! Now you should appreciate how tiny a fraction of a planet’s lifetime is occupied by technically advanced lifeforms and therefore also appreciate the value of a long-lived star for increasing the probability life will arise on a planet around it.

Low radiation output,providing that red star has no more tendency to flare or suddenly vary in brightness as our sun(which unfortunately is not the case for many red stars, as explained next). If the red star is neither prone to flare NOR suddenly brightens at random or even frequent regular intervals (what astronomers call Variable Star), then life has all but infinitely better odds of surviving and thriving around such a red star – all other things being equal.


Tendency to Flare or Vary in Brightness Suddenly. Still, red stars have their share of disadvantages, especially the lower massed red ones. As mentioned above, even if their radiation output is much less than larger and hotter stars, many red stars still tend to flare periodically (i.e. send jets or erupting gases, which emit high levels of radiation, heat, and light). In short, the smaller the star stars, the more likely they are to vary greatly in brightness. Clearly, any otherwise potentially life-friendly planet orbiting it will face irradiation and sudden increases in temperature, potentially killing what life evolved so far (and perhaps boiling off its oceans as well).

Narrower Habitable Zone. Just as small campfires on a cold night can’t provide nearly as wide a comfort zone as a large bonfire, so a cooler star can’t provides as much area suitable for life and/or liquid water that a hot star can (and light and radiation in general, too, for that matter). In other words the cooler the star, the narrower the life zone. For small stars, this significantly lowers the probability that a planet of any sort will be in the habitable zone. In our solar system, our habitable zone for an planet just like Earth ranges from just inside our orbit to near Mars’ orbit (more specifically from 0.95 to 1.4 Astronomical Units, where 1 AU = Earth to sun distance). For small stars, the problem is potentially even worse; which brings us to the next disadvantage of small red stars.

Rotation Lock Within The Habitable Zone. Rotation Lock is when a smaller body orbiting a larger body always shows the same side towards the body it orbits. This is the case with the Moon. You see only one face of the moon because it is so close to the Earth that the difference in Earth’s gravitational pull between one face of the Moon and the other is great enough to hold one side of the Moon toward Earth. The same thing can happen regarding a planet near its star.

While it’s impossible in this solar system for the habitable zone to be inside the sun’s rotation lock radius, this is certainly the case for cooler stars. It’s unfortunate that the rotation lock radius doesn’t shift inward with lower mass nearly as much as the habitable zone does. Therefore, only the more massive of red stars have much likelihood of hosting life-bearing worlds in addition such stars narrow habitable zones.


For the most part, blue star’s advantages and disadvantages are the opposite of red stars.

Advantages: Less tendency to suddenly brighten or flare, Wide habitable zones, Habitable zone well outside the star’s rotation lock radius. However, this is all that can be said about massive blue star’s ability to host life.

Disadvantages: By far the biggest ones are their incredibly short lifetimes (sometimes only a few million years!) and their enormous radiation output. The latter means that even if any Earth-sized or larger rocky-metallic planets do form within the habitable zone and keep suitable orbits, the star will severely irradiate the planet’s surface and, perhaps even, strip the planet of its atmosphere – unless the planet is lucky enough to have an unusually strong magnetic field. Even with such a field, massive blue stars will certainly explode into a supernova far too quickly to allow formation of anything more than primitive microbial life.


Stars neither small red ones nor large blue ones offer some mix of advantages and disadvantages, all of them in a less extreme form than the stars we examined. Obviously, there is an optimal mass of a star if it is to have a reasonable probability of hosting a life-bearing world. The star must have a habitable zone outside the star’s rotation lock radius, it must not emit radiation intense enough to sterilize planets within the habitable zone, it must exist long enough to permit complex life and even more complex ecosystems to form, it must have a stable brightness regime, it must flare only a small amount if at all.

Obviously our Sun qualifies as such a star. However, other stars undoubtedly qualify as having high potential for life as well. The question is “What range of stellar masses is most optimal for a lifebearing world?” The sun does seem optimal for us. However, our star is the only one known to harbor a life-bearing world. That means the optimal mass of a life-bearing star could be either larger or smaller than ours (I’m inclined to lean toward “somewhat smaller”). The next posts will delve further into this most profound of all questions in astronomy and biology.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Life In the Universe: My Own Amateur Calculations (Part 2)

There are five basic aspects of determining if a planet is a suitable candidate for life:

* Location Within the galaxy (for many reasons, half-way between the core and the edge seems ideal)

*Type of star (largely dictated by its mass)

*Planetary Orbit (obviously)

*Planetary Mass (can’t be too small or too large, for many reasons)

*Time (the planetary system can’t be too young or too old).

The last three listed characteristics will be discussed in Part 2. For now, we’ll look at why which kind of star matters in the search for life outside this solar system.

STELLAR CHARACTERISTICS . To fully grasp why certain stars are more suitable candidates for life than others, we first have to look at the nature of stars. Not all stars are the same. In fact, they vary enormously in many characteristics – some of which either increase or decrease the odds of life arising on a planet even if that planet is similar to Earth in all other respects. For now, let’s look at the relevant characteristics that influence a star’s suitability for hosting an ecosystem of similar complexity as Earth’s.

How Stars Shine. In a sentence, stars shine by compressing their own gases. At gas pressures experienced in stars, several things come into play. Firstly, the more compressed a gas gets, the hotter it gets. Secondly, the hotter an object, the faster its atoms or molecules travel. Thirdly, at a certain very high temperature, the heat will tear the atom’s electrons from its orbits, leaving only the naked nucleus of the atom*. Fourthly, without the electron cloud surrounding the nucleus, the atoms of the gas can collide with each other given high enough temperatures and pressures.** Fifthly, all the above means that the nuclei in the hot gases travel so fast that they overpower the proton’s tendency to repel each other, and in the meantime fuse to become a new element (e.g. hydrogen nuclei fusing to form helium nuclei)**. These collisions release tremendous amounts of heat and energy, which enables the sun to give off heat, light, and other forms of radiation; and therefore enable it to supply a planet with sufficient heat to support the ecosystem.

Given the above, it’s easy to see how larger stars, which have higher pressures in their core, fuse their hydrogen fuel much faster than smaller stars and therefore much hotter. However, as should be obvious by now, the old saying “All good things must come to an end”, applies to stars along with everything else.

A perfect rule-of-thumb for telling how massive, hot, and long-lived a star is/will be is simply to look at its color. Just as with iron, red stars are the less massive, cooler, and longer live ones; the blue stars are the most massive, hotter, and live shorter lives. The color order is as follows: Red, Orange, Yellow, White, Blue.

However, this color-to-characteristic sequence holds only for stars on the so-called Main Sequence, which 85% of all known stars are on. A Main Sequence star is one that fuses hydrogen nuclei into helium nuclei. This is important because the smaller the nucleus, the more heat and pressure required to fuse that nucleus into a larger nucleus (i.e. it takes less heat and pressure to fuse hydrogen into helium than it does helium into carbon; and still more energy to fuse carbon and other nuclei into neon or calcium or other heavier nuclei). Furthermore, the heavier the nuclei involved in the fusion, the less energy they release from the collision in proportion to the energy required to produce that collision. Therefore, because, hydrogen->helium fusion is the most common reaction taking place in the cores of stars. Incidentally, it’s also the most efficient form of fusion in terms of energy output to energy input of the fusion..

In addition to a star’s expected lifetime on the Main Sequence, it’s temperature (reflected in it’s color), the star’s mass also reflects its radiation output. Not surprisingly, the larger the star, the greater its radiation output.

So far, we have the following traits associated with a star’s mass:

Low mass: red color, low temperature, long lifetime, low radiation output (with exceptions)
High mass: blue color, high temperature, short lifetime, high radiation output.

Now, let’s look

In the next post, we’ll we get to the pros and cons of each kind of star, plus delve into a few other advantages and disadvantages of a small cool star versus a large hot one:



*Electrons repel each other when they come close together, similar to the way some magnets sometimes repel each other if you place them closely together . That’s why your hand doesn’t pass straight through a table. It’s because the electrons in the table and the electrons in your body are pushing each other away.).

**Protons repel each other to, if they come too close together, unless the gas is so dense that the combination of speed and pressure forces the nuclei of atoms together.

Life In the Universe: My Own Amateur Calculations (Part 1)

Time for a change of pace - namely to one of my favorite hobbies: astronomy, in particular which stars other than our own might harbor planets bearing complex lifeforms. I will define “Complex Lifeforms” as having all these features: They do or have the following:

(a) Move by their own power

(b) Have specialized organs and organ systems(i.e. organs devoted to specific functions)

(c) Sense objects or other phenomena they aren’t in direct contact with– (i.e. they use, light, sound, vibration, and other phenomena or similar means).

(d) Have either a brain/nervous system or some other means of manipulating information about their environment, (i.e., gather, process, remember, and retrieve that information)

(e) Communicate with other members of their species through some specific means or variety of means.

For now, I will stick the type of complex life dependent on liquid water. I don’t doubt alternative biochemistries can exist but at the same times we've never seen such a lifeform. Therefore, to be safe, let’s stick with what we know instead of stacking hypothesis on top of hypothesis.

The next post will not be about the planets themselves, but about the stars that the life-bearing planets will most likely orbit. In fact, understanding the basics of stars is so important to calculating the probability of complex life in any one planetary system that I find it necessary to devote the next post to stars alone.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two Past Posts, Plus a Special Surprise Post.

Just a few weeks ago, I posted the following to MarkyMark and hawaiianlibertarian concerning motivations to remain unmarried. The first is basically introducing myself, the latter is basically a repeat of my reasons to not have kids, a wife, or even a sexual interest(!). Enjoy.

From My Post to MarkyMark (post found at or near the bottom of the page)

filrabat said...

A+ to Outlaw!

Introducing myself,

I've been lurking on the MGTOW, MRA, and PUA blogs for a few months now. I don't really fit into either one of those categories, but I'd say the MGTOW's the closest I qualify for (meaning that I go my own way without a wife and kids for various reasons).

I'm also "Committed Childfree" for a wide variety of reasons: some personal, others relating to the "threat of divorce" matter, yet others are philosophical reasons totally non-germane to the Men's movements.

I'm a ten years or so recovering "nice guy" who learned a lot over the years about womens' sexual psychologies. Starting about a dozen years ago, I decided to abandon the dating scene altogether after I realized I got MUCH, MUCH more joy out of pursuing "nerdy" hobbies and interests than any woman ever COULD give me, even if she were willing (lots of us "nerds", "geeks", whatever are like that).

Even so, I remained interested in knowing how to lure women for some reason - perhaps I was looking for clear answers to give myself closure. Hence I ran across the PUA movement and evaluated their claims. I definitely gained a lot of insight from them, yet at the same time I refused to change my personality because I'm too proud of the way I am just to get a bit of pountaine. Furthermore, after reading a HawiaiianLibertarian blog entry MGTOW vs PUA regarding some MGTOWs using the movement as a rationalization for their non-success with women. I realized more clearly than ever that if THAT's what I'd've had to go through to get a wife or girlfriend, then I'd rather not have a girlfriend at all (my childfree viewpoints enter into this too, but that's not germane to this blog).

Anyway, it's good to finally post on here, and I'll check back regularly

19 June, 2009 13:33

From: My post to HL (again, found at or near the page’s bottom)

Hi, HL

Just finished reading your blog entries about the MRAs, PUAs, and MGTOWs; whose claims, attitude, and tones I've researched for a couple of years before making a firm decision about where I stand. It turns out that I'm not really ANY of these groups - I'm a "Free Agent" so to speak (although by definition I'm probably more of a MGTOW than anything else, but not of the bitter sort).

YOUR DEBATES with MGTOWs: Both sides put up a very admirable defense of their views, but in the end I declare you the victor by a hairwidth, but only within the limits of the issues you and the other MGTOWs debated.

I'm committed childfree and have been so since my late 20s (I'm 41 now) - for a wide variety of personal and philosophical reasons. I won't go into detail about them here because they're not germane to MGTOWs reasons most frequently posted in the debates. The point is that, even if on some level men are designed to reproduce, reproduction should not be obligatory for a man, particularly if he wouldn't be a happy and/or respectable father.

Other than overlooking my claim, I'd say you won the debate overall, though the MGTOWs did put up a very good fight.
June 29, 2009 12:47 PM

FINALLY, from Sex, Nerds, and Entitlement at Overcoming Bias comes the most succinct, articulate post entry I have yet seen outlining the healthiest attitude a truly nice guy ought to take if he’s having trouble finding women -especially if he’s trying to give his personality a makeover so he can be more attractive to women!! (Thanks A Billion, “Bob Smith", for your March 23, 2009 at 8:09 am post)

This is depressing.The fact that these discussions exist is testament to how dysfunctional and inadequate the whole gender system is to meeting peoples’ emotional needs. At the end of the day it’s the responsibility of the guy to accept the cultural imposition of those traits that are supposed to be “male” and step out on a limb and court the female. Guys don’t make these rules, women do. The fact that something as ridiculous as a “seduction community” exists reveals how incoherent women have made those rules. I’ve stopped caring what women want, personally. I’d rather die alone than do the song and dance required of me to make them attracted to me. I suggest you do the same rather than waste another minute looking for some magical answer to your relationship woes.Apathy is freedom.

NOW THAT post exemplifies the Internet at it's best, if you ask me!

Monday, June 29, 2009

On the Meaning of Life: Happiness and How I Define It

We humans may differ vastly in our personalities, ideologies, culture, hobbies, and a broad range of other traits BUT if there is one thing uniting us, it’s the desire to be happy. Simple enough in concept, but the problem is that there’s no agreed-upon definition of what “happiness” really is. For what it’s worth, here’s my own view of it.

In the end, happiness is the only thing worth living for. Pursuing any and all other things is just the means to that end. That includes pursuing money, power, prestige, love, children, career, hobbies, contributing to society, etc. If this sounds selfish to you, then I ask “Would you volunteer your time and labor at a food bank if it didn’t supply you with happiness on some level?” Even if the volunteer is genuinely passionate about working to feed the hungry, satisfying their empathy and desire to help still qualifies as seeking to achieve happiness. Don’t get the wrong idea – I’m not saying even volunteer work is mere self-interest. However, it is altruistic self-interest - one that not only does no harm to others, but actually helps people truly in need. Self-interest in the conventional sense often includes a certain element of desire to benefit one’s self; which may or may not include concern for others’ well-being or interests. Selfishness is Therefore, if you interpret self-interest this broadly the issue of selfish or selfless it’s more semantics than anything else. But that issue is ultimately way off topic.

As for the importance of happiness – I would rate it above all other needs -even above breathing oxygen (although this also is as much a judgment call as the above “selfish or not” issue, but at least it’s closer to the topic). To me, if you have adequate food, clothing, shelter, and activities and interests with which to emotionally satisfy you, you don’t really need anything else in life: not even friends and sex, believe it or not. If you doubt this, then I ask you why so many people say “You’re better off alone than you are with that asshole/bitch” and “With friends like that, you don’t need enemies”. These two statements prove to my satisfaction that - while love, sex, friends, and other human interactions are desirable on some level – these things and people should NEVER be needs; otherwise you’ll end up being needy.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how popular you are, how romantically or sexually appealing you are, how intelligent you are, how much money you have or don’t have, what your social status is. None of that will give you happiness, except perhaps in the very short run. All I mentioned can be taken away from you! If you base your self-esteem on these things, you are taking a serious risk with your psychological health; you can lose these things, after all. The long list of celebrities or other successful people who committed or attempted suicide is all the proof you need.

It seems to me that the many people base source their happiness on weak foundations because they have a fundamental misunderstanding of what true happiness is. Their misunderstanding is based on the assumption that happiness is a feel-good emotional glows, excitement or, energizing “rushes” (I put much of the blame for this on the media and especially the entertainment industry). Sure, these things feel good, but only because neurochemicals like endorphin and adrenaline flood your brain. In effect, you’re on drugs when you feel emotional highs, “warm fuzzy glows”, and thrilling energizing surges coursing through your soul; drugs naturally produced by the body, to be sure, but still drugs nevertheless (what is a drug but a mind or body altering chemical, after all? Never mind if it’s produced in a lab or by your body).

I’m not saying to throw away opportunities to make new friends or find new lovers; nor am I saying to throw aside your current social relationships based merely on what I just said (that would be misguided, not to mention unhealthy and unfair to your friends and lovers -providing they are good, decent people who genuinely respect you). Still, friends, social relationships, love, and sex are good for you only to the extent that these things and people are good for your well-being and/or self-respect – or at least don’t shower disrespect or other kinds of hurt upon you.

Don’t get the wrong idea - I don’t have a social phobia, nor am I either shy, averse to social relationships, or unappreciative of the people in my life.It’s just that I have an emotionally-neutral attitude toward them, meaning “If I have friends, that’s fine; if I don’t have friends, that’s fine”. I can be indifferent-but-not-averse about social relationships because I found a source of happiness independent of what others think of me and independent of my circumstances. For me, it’s as simple as finding emotionally enriching activities that I enjoy; as in “I didn’t choose this hobby or interest; this hobby or interest chose me”.

So what IS true happiness? As far as I know, true happiness is sustainable, meaning that it won’t “run out of gas” if your life’s circumstances change - characterized by this kind of feeling: a steady, sober, emotionally-neutral satisfaction with yourself and your cirucumstances, explicitly without the emotional highs and lows.Therefore, sustainable happiness is an independent happiness.  This may not be the most exciting way to live, but in the long run it is MUCH more mentally healthy, in my opinion.

In my case, I base my happiness not on people or how well I may or may not be doing in financially, romantically, socially, career-wise, and so forth. I base my happiness on the following:

1)Having hobbies and interests that make ME happy, regardless of what other people think of them.

2)Being able to form my own opinions – no, not just that, but by realizing that the best and truly greatest of ideas are NOT created in mainstream society’s spotlight (in fact, the spotlight often hampers creativity and independent though). Related to this...

3)Mainstream notions of "normal behavior" and "respect-worthy person" are far too often some "cultural bureaucracy" that discourages creativity, independent thought, free self-expression, and all-around personal flexibility; just like real-world government bureaucracies can so often discourage entrepreneurship, initiative, and flexibility. (seen in this light, is it any wonder that weirdo/wacko San Francisco is the birthplace of "tomorrow's technology today" while communities dominated by a firm faith in convention and tradition are not?)

4) Realizing the desire for social relationships is so often based on cravings for the feel-good emotionalism caused by brain chemicals (endorphins, among others).

5) Like any mind altering chemical, endorphin and adrenaline often cloud your judgement so badly that the associated feel-good emotional highs and intense adrenaline rushes can make you do or say things you regret just as easily as alcohol, pot, and harder drugs can (in fact, the emotional highs are not so much happiness as they are “theraputic devices”, or “natural drugs”, whichever you prefer. As with alcohol and illicit drugs, seeking out these “natural highs” do not solve your problems and/or show you the route to true happiness – they simply sweep your troubles under the rug or drown them in a counterfeit joy; thereby merely postponing your day of reckoning.

There’s much more detail I can go into about this, but I wanted to get straight to the relevant points of how I discovered a way to be a much happier person.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

MGTOWs, MRAs, and PUAs

Over the past few years, I did extensive web searches for what women find attractive in men, and vice versa. Being male, the former naturally was my focus. During those years, I discovered groups of single men highly disenchanted with relationships, often extending to women in general. Hence, they outright refuse to enter into any kind of serious relationship worthy of the name. Other men remain disenchanted with women, yet they seek to make the most of them (if you know what I mean) and simply learn how to attract them - usually without any intention of committing to them. The three such groups most frequently seen in frequently seen in cyberspace are:

*MRAs (Men’s Rights Associations). As the name implies, they’re concerned that the struggle for gender equality is now tilted too much in women's favor, especially in divorce cases – particularly regarding asset division, alimony, and child custody and support issues.

* MGTOWs (Men Going Their Own Way) These are the ones truly disenchanted with marriage, and even with relationships in general. For whatever reason, they have completely abandoned the dating scene, mainly because they consider the great majority of Western women tend to be high-maintenance, gold-digging, power-tripping, henpecking, and a whole plethora of other unflattering traits – if not as whoring bad-boy chasers (if under 30) or used up chasers (if over 30).

* PUAs (Pick Up Artists – a.k.a., the “Seduction Community”) This is a loose community of men who learn “game” and teach “AFCs” (“Average Frustrated Chumps”) that “game”, i.e., techniques and general social skills needed to attract women, mainly for sex purposes.

In the end, I have mixed feelings about all the above groups. On one hand, they all provide much valuable, substantive insight about female behavior, gender dynamics, and the potential dangers in the relationship mine field. Confused young men and adolescents especially can clear up a lot of issue about women and relationships when reading their blogs, although they do have to be careful about not just what to believe, but how to interpret the information they do believe in its proper context. On the other hand, I can't self-identify with any of these groups because I find many (not all, but many) such men either (a) manipulative, (b) bitter and resentful, (c) hypocritical, or (d) have misogynist tendencies, if not actual misogynists themselves; or some combination of the four. I'll spell out these points in more detail later. For now, I want to focus on shortcomings of the Pick-Up Artist "philosophy".

Pick-Up Artists (PUAs)

These guys in particular tend to abrase on my scruples, namely by advocating ideas and tactics that I find highly dishonest or exploitative (although the extent or degree to which this viewpoint is true depends on the particular woman they try to catch). Even if you agree (as I do) that many PUA ideas and techniques have considerable evidence backing them up, the approach definitely has its limits. Novaseeker perfectly explains those limits in this excellent post, which can be summarized as follows:

PUA advice does contain a lot of valuable information about how to succeeding with the women, but there’s a BIG catch in it!!. That catch: Their advice and world view – in it’s purest form – applies ONLY to women in certain contexts and situations: usually to party girls (or girls who frequently attend any other activity closely associated with alcohol and exciting imagery).  PUA advice and techniques, in their purest form, will NOT work with women truly worth risking your heart for.

To this I add that even if using PUA techniques does improve your dating success, odds are at least  fairly good that this is a case of quantity over quality. You may getting more women in bed more often using PUA techniques but the types you are bedding are not very likely to be of high quality.  By high quality, I mean women that are none of the following: promiscuous, drama queens, nags, snobs, gossipers, nitpicky finger-pointy types, and women who are frankly image bigots who put down and demean anything or anyone that is even moderately imperfect in some way (usually a trivial way, although they are good at making it look like an important matter on the surface). Even worse, they are often just plain mean-spirited.

That doesn't mean you have no choice but to go for women who are absolutely unattractive but it does mean you should start considering women who are "just arousing enough" to turn you on.  Besides, women with blowtorch like hotness (no pun intended) are likely to loose their personal appeal faster anyway. After all, primary emphasis on sex appeal or personality perkiness or charm isn't a basis for any kind of sustainable relationship - so you're probably better off with a "slow burn" type of attraction to begin with.

As if the above isn't bad enough, "Game" is liable to shape your mind in ways that SERIOUSLY hurt your chances of finding and keeping a high-quality girl-friend and especially a high quality wife. Don't even dream of finding a woman who will be a high quality mother - one who will shape your children's personality, values, attitudes, and behaviors in positive ways; ways that will make you proud to call those children your own (not in a show-off-to-the-community sense, but in the sense of your children's personal integrity, honesty, civility, etc). Game blogger RooshV even admits that "game" often leads guys to devalue women, sex, and relationships in his post The Dark Side of Game.  Therefore, before you place getting laid high on your to-do list, you should think very hard, very throughly, and from every angle before you decide to get involved in the PUA community.

To sum it up, PUA techniques in its purest/most complete form are probably all well and good if you’re satisfied with mere “booty calls” and she makes it obvious she’s only likewise interested in such a "relationship". If you’re looking for more, then I highly recommend Jennifer Jones’ blog How To Tell if a Guy is a Jerk , for her advice also applies to men looking for decent women despite the fact that her focus is informing women about what to look for in a man. Trust me when I say you’ll definitely gain more worthwhile advice about truly meaningful relationships from her.

STILL, I agree that some PUA techniques can be useful to a degree when showing interest in a worthwhile woman, especially the techniques not actually connected with sex and game playing. Even within this condition, you still have to have to:

(a) know which parts of PUA are wrong,
(b) WHY those sleazy and unethical parts of PUA are wrong,
(c) have a strong sense of kindness and ethics are in the first place.

Even to accomplish all this, you have to be both a good ethical person AND know how to argue your moral and ethical points in a very detailed and thorough manner.  Trust me, you WILL need sharp analytical and critical thinking skills IF you do find some degree of truth in the PUA philosophy; due to it’s "amoral, Darwin-as-ethic" basis (to use Novaseeker's words).

The PUA's Achilles Heel - You Don't Truly NEED a Woman

Despite all the pop culture propaganda saying you aren't a "real man" if you can't attract women a lot of other guys want to have, nothing is further from the truth.  That includes PUA propaganda as well (much of it fueled by the desire to make money by selling books, seminar openings, and other PUA paraphenalia).  Even if what they say does work, their whole philosophy has a blatant flaw at the fundamental level:  assuming that sex and/or romance is the end-all, be-all of life. The problem with that claim is that it’s simply not true!! Many more men than society thinks have found ways to be happy without being in a romantic relationship (whether straight or gay). Even the PUAs implicitly admit this in one of their core ideas: that the more you show you need or want a woman, the more you’ll turn her off. I take this PUA assumption one step further: ”If you don't need a woman to be happy, then why should you want a woman at all? Relationships are a lot of hard work, after all. Don't even ask about the drama and baggage you're fairly likely to deal with!

Therefore, your best approach is to learn how to be happy without any women in your life, at least not romantically, or even sexually. I found that a good substitute for women is to find hobbies and interests, then pursuing those interests passionately. Not only are you doing something you truly love – possibly even more than women (believe it or not), it also is a great mind-clearer. This works wonders for your confidence, cleans out all the stress and garbage society throws at you, and therefore improves your quality of though. Plus, you’ll have some sense of accomplishment that’ll be a great conversation topic – providing you’re around people who are truly interested in your pursuits. If nobody in your social circle is interested AND you are geographically remote from social clubs that focus on your interest, an internet message board is a great way to discuss what you truly enjoy, a great way to take your mind off women.

But if you can't bring yourself to be happy without a woman, then THE best thing you can be is to be yourself and learn to NOT care about pursuing a woman, or even impressing her at all. Contradiction, right? Not when you consider that neediness is a big turnoff for either gender. Despite what the poets, songwriters, and romantic TV shows and movies say - NEEDING someone is a HUGE turn-off. Even worse, neediness is considered creepy, or at least lacking in self-respect. This is why you should NEVER make a woman a priority in your life unless it's absoultely, undeniably clear that she really appreciates you for who you are (Hint: if you feel you have to work to gain her attention, then chances are she is NOT the one for you. She may have a fine body, a fine face, a great personality, and lots of strong superficial appeal, perhaps even intelligence…but that’s it. Once you get past the surface appeal, strong as it is, you find out they’re at best not your type, and at worst not worth the salt of your tears).

Therefore, even if you do have a emptiness you need to fill, it's best to fill it up with your own interests, hobbies, and activities. It may not be completely fulfilling (or even it can be, you'd be surprised!!), but at least you get to keep your self-respect, which is FAR more valuable than any loving relationship, believe me.

Shortcomings of Many PUAs, MRAs, and MGTOWs

As stated earlier, the tone of many of these groups also turn me off. Again, not all self-identifying members of such groups are that way, but A LOT of them are at least one of the following:

a) Manipulative (in the case of many PUAs). Nowhere is this more true than trying lay women at the expense of their feelings. I consider many (if not most) PUAs no better than women who use a men for his wallet or mere “trophy man” material to show off to their friends.

b) Bitter and Resentful (many MGTOWs and MRAs). I hasten to say again, NOT ALL MGTOWs and MRAs are like this, but I can certainly understand how many men became bitter about women and/or marriage. After all, a depressingly high percentage of women do treat men shabbily – whether in a relationship, in marriage, or in court.

c) Hypocritical (Especially many MGTOWs). If such men still desire a women, FAR too many insist on having ones who are an 8 or higher, yet they still complain about women wanting men who are either rich or an “exciting bad boy” type. To me, if a man complains about women wanting men only in the “top 10%” of their biggest turn-on (and I agree with this), them the man should start developing a taste for women who rank considerably less than a 5 on the 10-pt attractiveness scale. Justice dictates the same standards should apply consistently in all relevant situations!!

As for the MRAs? There’s nothing wrong itself on desiring a traditional family of the pre-1960s type, providing the woman finds great emotional fulfillment in being an eternal homemaker – namely for reasons of sincere passion for caring for children and maintaining a house and cooking for her husband and kids. However, many MRAs – whether they’re aware of it or not – fail to explicitly address one critical thing:  many husbands themselves are part of the problem, depending on the dynamics of the marriage relationship (except where it concerns the issue of women looking for a "nice stable guy" after her many years with the “jerk who fathered her kids").

Now I admit that the purpose of the MRA is to address injustices that men suffer, particularly divorce issues; not to address any misogyny in its adherents. On the other hand, just as it was irresponsible for feminism and feminists to fail to speak out against women behaving shabbily toward their husbands and lovers (with their near-silence contributing to current injustices many divorced men suffer), I also find it irresponsible that MRAs and MGTOWs so often give a free pass to men behaving shabbily (whose near-silence contributed to millennia of injustices toward women).

d) Display misogynistic tendencies, if not outright misogyny (many MGTOWs and MRAs). Far too many such men give the impression of thinking that a woman’s place is in the home, shouldn’t pursue a career, etc. – whether or not they truly believe that. Witness the perennial comments about certain types of men looking overseas to find a “traditional woman”.


Even with all these faults, there are just enough gems of good advice and wisdom on these kinds of sites to make visiting them worthwhile – providing you mentally cross out the misogynistic and victimologistic comments (note well that doing this requires strong skills at separating rational claims from emotion-based appeals. It also requires you recognize that there are good and bad people in every gender, even if one gender tends to act in ways different from the other).

Because of this, I’ll likely end up posting on some of their blogs whenever I have a constructive word to put in AND I can address an issue sympathetic to both gender’s point of view. In the end, call me a “Free Agent”, not devoted to either group, although by definition I’m probably more of an MGTOW than anything else (of the less bitter and resentful sort, especially since I purged a lot of my past bitterness and found positive reasons to remain single and childfree – totally and completely aside from my lack of luck with women in my pre-30s years).

In the meantime, I recommend any man and woman to visit the best relationship advice sites I know of.

How to Tell if a Guy is a Jerk (as noted above). This site is not misandric yet stil recognizes the shortcomings of women. Furthermore, guys can definitely benefit from this site too; for many tidbits also apply to men searching for a worthwhile woman.  Susan Walsh's blog advising young women how to find a good "beta male", plus highlighting the pitfalls of chasing "alpha cads", "douchebags", "players", and just the plain wrong guys.  Lots of male posters on here too.  Ms. Walsh does a good job of keeping the blog civilized, so if you can make a civilized comment, feel free to chime in.

From the men’s perspective, hawaiianlibertarian also has two gems:

1) PUAs vs. MGTOWs  . This one addresses the possible motivations behind many MGTOWs belief system - namely to motivate MGTOWs to take a long, hard look at why their "heart of hearts" subscribes to the MGTOW mindset: Are their reason's truly positive ones (finding they can better live thier life to the fullest without either a wife or kids) OR are they really negative ones (resementment and hurt at women, lack of success at wooing women, etc.).

2) Humans Were Designed to Mate and Reproduce. This post contains HL's counter-responses to various MGTOWs responses, but see my post made on June 29, 2009 regarding the committed childfree (Back then, I called myself "childfree", but since discovered that I was ultimately an antinatalist, and had been ever since I decisively made up my mind in my late 20s not to have children - though I'm still "childfree" for personal reasons...with or without antinatalism).

Personally, I think HL won the debate with MGTOW posters - assuming that humans are obligated to reproduce. However, as a committed childfree antinatalist man happy with his life, I can tell you that even if humans were designed to reproduce, it’s more important to be a happy person than to be either a father, or husband, or lover. HL certainly overlooks this important aspect. In fact, the reason some people don’t marry or have children is precisely because they know they’d be lousy and/or unhappy husbands or fathers (or even lovers); no matter how special the spouse or kids truly are.

I admit both HL's postings are uncomfortable reads for many MGTOWs, but I definitely grew as a person because of it; namely by forcing me to see that - despite my positive reasons to remain wife-free - I still had subtle bitterness contaminating my thought process regarding my motivations to be a permanent bachelor. Thanks to his two posts, I now have other reasons to be a committed bachelor (though not exactly an MGTOW as such), even if I did run across a woman worth my time. I will list my specific reasons for remaining a committed wife-free man in a later post. For now, it’s enough to say that my idea of a happy life and my own life’s goals fundamentally conflicts with having a wife and especially being a guardian (father or not).