Bryan Caplan  

Shy Male Nerds and the Bubble Strategy: Reply to Scott Alexander

Henderson on Weidenbaum... In defense of cash...
In the comments, the admirable Scott Alexander responds to my advice to Shy Male Nerds.  I reply point-by-point.  Scott's in blockquotes, I'm not.
Even on the purely academic/intellectual level, this [Caplan's Bubble stategy] is difficult. I have got a bunch of programs that filter the input I get from social media and the news, I've blocked all of my friends who reblog the worst stuff, and I still can't really get away from it.
With all due respect, this is hard to believe.  I've been a nerd for decades.  95% of my friends are male nerds.  My friends tend to be unusually young and single because many of them are my former students.  Yet Scott's pieces on feminist abuse of nerds are virtually my sole exposure to the problem.  This isn't surprising when you look at the data: Feminism is a minority position, even among women

In any case, Scott, how can you claim you "can't really get away from it" when you go out of your way to read and critique hostile feminists?  Consider this paragraph from "Radicalizing the Romanceless."
We will now perform an ancient and traditional Slate Star Codex ritual, where I point out something I don't like about feminism, then everyone tells me in the comments that no feminist would ever do that and it's a dirty rotten straw man, then I link to two thousand five hundred examples of feminists doing exactly that, then everyone in the comments No-True-Scotsmans me by saying that that doesn't count and those people aren't representative of feminists, then I find two thousand five hundred more examples of the most prominent and well-respected feminists around saying exactly the same thing, then my commenters tell me that they don't count either and the only true feminist lives in the Platonic Realm and expresses herself through patterns of dewdrops on the leaves in autumn and everything she says is unspeakably kind and beautiful and any time I try to make a point about feminism using examples from anyone other than her I am a dirty rotten motivated-arguer trying to weak-man the movement for my personal gain.
This doesn't sound like it's written by someone trying to minimize negative interactions with hostile feminists.  At all.
My choices are either to abandon my entire friend group, live in a cave, or accept a leaky bubble.
Taken literally, you're right.  Your options are, roughly, to "abandon your entire friend group," "live in a cave," or "accept a leaky bubble."  But that's an odd way to slice your options.  I freely admit that my Bubble strategy is never a 100% solution; all Bubbles leak to some degree.  Can you admit that a leaky Bubble is far better than no Bubble at all?

But the purely academic/intellectual side of things isn't really the issue here. My complaint is that feminist shaming traumatizes shy male adolescent nerds. They're too young to have built a bubble or even realized it's an option, and part of the way the malice works is by convincing them that doing this makes them evil people and they're morally obligated to take all the abuse (this strategy is very successful if they get to people early). Other people are going to be exposed to them whether or not I am, and I don't feel like throwing them under the bus is the right thing to do.

Neither of us is "throwing anyone under the bus."  Like you, I'm publicly offering solutions to anyone with a search engine.  I just think my solution is much more effective than yours.  I'm telling shy male nerds (SMNs) - including shy male adolescent nerds - how to build a Bubble to have better lives.  You're telling hostile feminists to stop traumatizing SMNs.  My approach will work if we get the word out to people who are suffering.  Your approach will work if you persuade a subculture you deem morally reprehensible to repent.

Finally, insofar as I have non-optional interactions with people outside my bubble - anything relating to employment, housing, or even friends and romance when I don't have 100% ability to customize my friends and romantic partners - the zeitgeist is going to determine whether they treat me well or poorly... And again, even if I miraculously manage to optimize every single life interaction to be 100% free of people outside my bubble, other nerds are going to run into this same problem.

You are making the best the enemy of the good.  If 50% of SMNs can use my Bubble approach to reduce their suffering by 50%, it deserves high praise - not criticism that it's an incomplete solution.  Why do you hold my remedy to a vastly higher standard than you hold anti-depressant drugs?

Scott does have one much better argument against my view.  He thinks I'm urging Shy Male Nerds to free ride to the detriment of Shy Male Nerdkind:

If all the non-feminists retreat into bubbles and leave the field to the worst feminists, then their voices will be heard unchallenged, and then as soon as people notice I'm a nerd they'll ignore me or hate me.


And this is the purely social failure mode. Even worse is if the bad people can get their hands on the levers of government, or affect the people who do)

What Trotsky said of war - you may not be interested in it, but it's interested in you - seems true of politics as well, especially identity politics.

Is it possible that the long-run aggregate effect of the Bubble strategy will be precisely what you say?  Sure.  But this is the Real World, not a homework problem on the Prisoner's Dilemma.  In the Real World, waging war - hot or cold - often backfires.*  You hope that if you stand up for yourself, your detractors will back down.  But it often spurs them to redouble their efforts.  As the author of "The Toxoplasma of Rage," I don't see how you can dispute this point.  If SMNs unilaterally stop arguing with hostile feminists, I say there is a good chance that hostile feminists get bored and move on. 

Tell me I'm wrong, Scott.

* Trotsky learned this the hard way; if he'd remained a journalist in New York during the Russian Revolution, he wouldn't have become a mass murderer or been assassinated with an ice pick.

COMMENTS (35 to date)
Zubon writes:
With all due respect, this is hard to believe. I've been a nerd for decades. 95% of my friends are male nerds.
Bryan, you're at GMU. Scott's friend group is based out of Berkeley, CA. At least one of his girlfriends self-identifies as a "SJ feminist." In Scott's case, creating a bubble that excludes triggers would involve much higher costs than you might expect. "Abandon my entire friend group" is not hyperbole in this case.
Lawrence D'Anna writes:

You make it sound like the two are mutually exclusive, but I think the two approaches are complamentary.

Scott has a comparative advantage for writing these essays, and he's one of the few people that do.

I think just knowing that Scott exists has a calming effect. When I'm tempted to do Battle on the Field of Tumblr, and then I realize SSC said it better than I could have, and was fairer and more humane than I would have been; and then i go and do something fun or useful instead. In my bubble.

harryh writes:

Your advice about constructing a bubble is good, but I think only half the solution. While it's important to keep negative influences out of one's life it's just as important to to seek out and connect with positive influences. You don't want to construct a bubble so that you can live inside of it all by yourself. You want to construct one so that you can live inside of it and better connect with people/ideas/etc that are meaningful to you.

I think pairing your bubble advice with the importance of finding good stuff to "let inside your bubble" would increase its effectiveness and usefulness.

Graham Peterson writes:

I think internet feminists and nerds have become each other's own self fulfilling prophesies, and have mutually reinforcing communities. They need one another.

"Pick up artists" (I know men who are successful with women, and they don't waste their time analyzing and broadcasting their success) need feminists to justify their cynicism about women. They are like undergraduate admissions forums - the blind leading the blind.

They're not actually a threat to women because nobody looks up to sexless nerds (or douches like Julien from Real Social Dynamics) other than other sexless nerds. But they're a threat to *feminists* because feminists believe there is a sexist misogynistic conspiracy in the world, and it's some of the best evidence they can find for it.

Feminists also hate nerds because of the recent clamor about gender discrimination in the STEM and computer world. STEM actually has some of the smallest gender wage gaps of any industry. The media believes STEM is the new center of gravity for economic development (it is not), and ersatz feminists believe that hegemonic masculinity is a product of economic hegemony (it is not, and gender theorists abandoned the idea a long time ago).

Nerds are also an easy target for feminists, who are another low status group, who also need an easy target. Both sides are easy to offend and hurt, both are extremely young, and both give each other exactly what they want.

Most of the social justice community online is populated by people who believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are victims of abuse, and they get together for a support group. Support groups are easy to troll for nerds who experience a similar lack of social acceptance in traditional places.

Some nerds feel like victims of female inattention and rejection. These two minority populations thus create for one another the impression that they have legitimate claims to widespread subjugation, and can't really help but show up at each other's blogs.

They are one another's own self fulfilling prophesies, and it's I think unwise to recommend that they just leave each other alone, because we can clear up a lot of wrong ideas in the world (stupid battle of the sexes cynicism about dating, and claims on hegemonic masculinity, say) if they continue to pursue one another and argue it out.

Joshua Macy writes:

But Bryan, it seems to me you come out of your bubble frequently to blog and even debate people who have views you find reprehensible, such as nativists, even though there's little chance you'll change their minds. Would it instead be more helpful to be writing to would-be immigrants telling them to build a beautiful bubble by not wanting to emigrate, not associating with people who want to emigrate, etc?

I believe, because Scott and others have said as much, that what Scott is writing is helpful because it tells SMN that they're not alone, and the messages of the hateful feminists they've internalized are wrong, and does so in a direct and very powerful way that is most likely to reach SMNs: logical argument and appeal to the empirical data. You don't have to change a single hateful feminist's mind to give support to a struggling SMN with his own issues and values, and if you happen to pick up some support from non-SMNs and non-hateful feminists along the way, helping to marginalize their views, that's gravy. Isn't that the logic of every fight against bigotry and ignorance?

eccentric-opinion writes:

Building a bubble is useful and important, but before you can start, a certain frame of mind is necessary, one that rejects the way that you're treated as illegitimate or at least says that you're permitted to stop interacting with those kinds of unpleasant people even when they claim moral authority. When you're at the point at which you're thinking "These people are annoying, I don't want to interact with them", you can start building a bubble, but some SMNs are so traumatized and/or accept the SJ ideology so unquestioningly that they don't allow themselves to think that, and don't think it would be justified for them to push those kinds of feminists away. It's similar to Christianity and sin - devoted Christians don't try to isolate themselves from preachers who tell them that they're sinful, because they believe themselves to be sinful. Getting your word out to the suffering isn't effective if the suffering think they deserve what they get.

The general advice of self-help is a good one, but for some, the first step has to be rejecting the narrative that they're sinful, and only then can they proceed to building a bubble, combating this kind of feminism, or whatever else may be effective.

On the other hand, while nerds' low confidence and their poor treatment by mainstream society is a problem, I think Scott Alexander assigns too large of a proportion of the blame to feminism. Yes, some of them write really nasty things about nerds, but nerds are a disliked group in general, so it's nothing special.

Scott Alexander writes:

I wouldn't say I go out of my way to read hostile feminists. I had three people share the article on my Facebook feed, plus I read Scott Aaronson's blog and saw it there, plus two people emailed it to me (WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?) so I got six lines of exposure to this one article alone. To close off the leak, I'd have to block some really good friends on Facebook and never read blogs again.

Granted, I could have just seen the description of the article and not read it. I guess this is where I have to admit I'm irrational. One of my friends calls this "tarantula shopping", with a metaphor of the arachnophobe who hears there's a pet tarantula store in town, gets in her car, drives there, walks in, then runs out screaming yelling about how awful it is that people are selling tarantulas. But she has a name for it because *she does it*. It's really hard to resist. I think it has to do with the feeling that other people are insulting you, and unless you respond you're going to lose status.

So a genuine inability to stop being shown these things, plus a psychological inability to avoid reading once shown.

But that's kind of beside the point. I think the main thing I want to say is: different people have different inherent levels of bubble-forming ability.

An example of almost zero bubble-forming ability: somebody being oppressed by the government. Another example: a child whose parents hold wrong-headed ideas, and is forced to comply with them, possibly with the alternative of being kicked out onto the street.

An example of very low bubble-forming ability: a young person who wants to be popular and have friends. For example, if you're at a homophobic school, you don't get to just come out as gay without any consequences. You'll at the very least lose many of your friends and a lot of your social status, and you might make yourself a target for physical violence.

An example of low bubble-forming ability: anyone with a job or position not easily fungible with another job or position. For example, some social justice people tried to get me expelled from college for saying something not sufficiently social justice-y; while I possibly could have gotten into another college after that and finished my education, it would have been very unpleasant. Right now I'm in a medical residency, which must be completed in order to practice medicine. Residencies are kind of a cartel and if you get kicked out of one you probably never get a second chance and are thrown off the medical career track. There are very, VERY long lists of people who got fired because they annoyed the social justice movement:

An example of low-ish bubble-forming ability: anyone with scrupulosity problems. One of my metamours is like this. If people tell her that she's a bad person for not listening to the people attacking her, she'll feel she's a bad person for not listening to the people attacking her, and listen and listen until she gets a mental breakdown.

An example of medium bubble-forming ability: having any friends. If you care about anyone who isn't able to enclose themselves in a bubble, for any of the above reasons, then you have a vested interest in how nasty society is able to be to them.

This seems to be a big part of our disagreement. You say that instead of trying to stick up for shy male nerds, I should teach them the good news about bubble formation. But in fact many of these people can't form bubbles, or can only form very weak bubbles, so I think my method is better than yours here.

I think even your own bubble isn't impenetrable. If someone accused you of child molestation, and they made it very believable, and it became big national news - let's say bigger than the Bill Cosby allegations - would you trust your bubble to protect you? Would you feel like you didn't even need to read the article, because why would you bother reading false things? Or would you really want to read it so you could begin defending yourself?

There are all sorts of issues out there, and as they get stronger and worse they start being able to overwhelm more and more people's bubbles. When there's one side pushing an issue, and the other side isn't responding, I expect that issue to get worse. I'm not sure how bad nerd-shaming can get, but history tells us that when mainstream society takes it upon themselves to dislike a small group of people, it can get pretty bad. I would prefer not to wait until it overwhelms my bubble and the bubbles of my friends.

Graham Peterson writes:

Scott Alexander is an incredibly smart person.

Decius writes:

> "If SMNs unilaterally stop arguing with hostile feminists, I say there is a good chance that hostile feminists get bored and move on."

Past experience suggests otherwise.

MikeDC writes:

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MikeDC writes:
If SMNs unilaterally stop arguing with hostile feminists, I say there is a good chance that hostile feminists get bored and move on.

Move on to what? Hostile feminists differ from SMNs in the key respect that the former want to exercise control over the latter (and pretty much everyone else).

I think both the "pro-bubble" and "pro-argument" sides of the debate miss a couple of key points:

1. Leaving aside your external environment, we take with us what we bring into our bubbles. Consider the flip side of the SMN. Do you think the stereotypical hostile feminist retreating into her bubble comes out of it more reasonable? Or more ready to jump on whatever SMN is unlucky enough to cross her path?

2. One thing I endeavor to do it to create the emotional capital to be honest with people. If you make someone comfortable you're on their side, they will often tolerate more truthful disagreement. This is a hard thing for SMNs, because (and I'd include myself) we have a hard enough time just understanding and relating to most people. It's harder still over the internet, where it's harder to convey lots of subtle things.

Still, my point is that folks have to be mindful of how and how much they can say. Knowing your audience and having some tact goes a long way.

Daublin writes:

Scott has openly said his girlfriend is a feminist, so he's only going to avoid so much of this topic.

That said, let's consider the topic of challenges more carefully. Yes, if someone issues a challenge against you, then sometimes you need to respond. Otherwise it people will think you *can't* respond, and matters will get worse.

With a weak challenge, it's the other way around: it's better to ignore it. This is just such a challenge.

Feminism at large is in disdain. It's just not got anything to say, and as you have pointed out, it is frequently finding itself on what turns out to be on the losing side of an issue after a few decades pass.

At the same time, nerds are in ascendance, these minority bloggers notwithstanding. All the great advances of the last century came from nerds, and everyone knows it.

Nathan Ashby writes:

Scott has a piece that argues essentially that the same advice can be both good and bad depending on the person receiving it. I think it's a point that is well applied here.

Scott himself appears to (now) be at a point where he is confident and self assured and while he might get annoyed by aggressive feminist articles they don't actually emotionally damage him. He's also a great argument maker, and clearly someone who has a great interest in intellectually addressing these issues. It's probably best for him to keep doing what he's doing.

Other men (possibly including Aaronsen) are less confident, more sensitive, and more likely to believe the worst of themselves. For such men it's probably sensible to protect themselves by avoiding people who are likely to call them monsters.

Ps Scott if you are reading this, I love your writing.

Pajser writes:

It is simple life fact that everyone -- including even murderers -- tries to chose his environment to feel good and that it succeeds to different, necessarily limited degree. If you stop using metaphor 'bubble' and find some more usual term instead, it may turn there is little to discuss here.

Julia writes:

I'm confused about why my bubble looks like it does. I'm a 29-year-old woman, lifelong feminist, graduate of a women's liberal arts college, with a major in sociology and a minor in gender studies. I live in Boston. If anyone's facebook feed should be full of the kind of feminist vitriol Scott Alexander cites, it should be mine.

But it isn't. I see occasional links to Jezebel and mostly don't follow them. In fact, in recent years I only remember seeing feminist vitriol as quote on Scott's blog.

David R. Henderson writes:

Hey, Julia. I just followed the link to your site. Very nice. Re the feminist vitriol that Scott Alexander sees, I think he has explained above why he sees it: it’s his “tarantula shopping” metaphor. My take on you, by the way, given your career choice, is that there’s no way you live in a bubble by any reasonable definition of that word.

sam writes:


Examples of someone with incredible bubble forming ability:

Someone who chooses the field of medicine.

Someone who chooses a social circle mostly full of SJWs

Someone who chooses and takes seriously a demanding academic experience.

You've built, or at least live in, a very specialized bubble where you happen to be at the very bottom of the social pecking order.

I'm a male nerd. I grew up in a red state and never dealt with SJWs other than my socioeconomically obligatory tour in college. My only exposure to them now is, as you say, tarantula hunting, or perhaps viewing the tarantula trophies of sites I follow (which are quite anti-SJW)

My SJW exposure at work is almost zero, as it that of most Americans.

You've chosen to bubble yourself up in a tiny tenth of a percent of the population that doesn't like you, and then you complain that they don't like you.

"Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"

Sieben writes:

One thing that always puzzles me about critiques of feminism is how threatened the authors feel by it. Like nearly all forms of sociology/politics, SA's highlighted feminism is focused on weak and sad people telling other people that they're weak and sad. SA highlights this when he points out that feminists use pejorative names like "virgin nerds" or "fedoras". They're not attacking people with high self esteem. They're capitalizing on insecurity.

Is it really so hard to just ignore these people? Why aren't they like every other crazy noise-making person in politics?

Michael Crone writes:

I think Bryan has used the term "bubble" in two ways so different they need different terms: (1) "surround oneself with like-minded people" (in previous posts) and (2) "avoid or ignore people who are mean and hateful towards you" (in this post series).

(1) is against my inner nature and I would find life much less rich if I did it. Most of suggestions of externalities look like they relate to (1), and are similar to lack of diversity of the mind Bryan just posted about. I believe a lot of people are happier doing (1), but I think there will be enough people who don't to avoid any serious problem.

(2) is great advice. I've followed it since I heard basically this from a fellow SMN kid when I was 11 or 12. Scott, I'm not sure when you think people are too young to hear it. It worked for me.

As a final note, if these hateful views are or become influential, it would still seem more effective to "out" them as hateful than to convince the haters to repent. But Bryan is a converted misanthrope, so I am more than a little curious why he also seems to rule conversion/repentance out.

PS Add me to the list of those thankful that Bryan recommended Scott to his readers. Scott, you have a exceptionally good insight.

Sieben writes:
There are very, VERY long lists of people who got fired because they annoyed the social justice movement:

Scott, this is disingenuous. The list is mostly split between two types of cases. People saying or doing things that are really ridiculous and should earn them ostracism regardless of whether they trigger SJWs, or people who work in SJW nests (like universities) or are public figures.

We're running real short on examples of normal people being punished for not being SJW enough.

Bill Dalasio writes:

I'd posit that you underestimate the effectiveness of your strategy. The feminists you and Scott describe, more precisely the SJW you describe, are bullies with exactly one weapon in their quiver - ostracization. Without that, they're nothing. They have no power. The bubble strategy specifically takes this weapon away from them. As long as they can threaten ostracization, they have something to hold over the SMN. If the SMN opts to self-ostracize, that threat is null and void. Moreover, there's more than a good chance that the bubble will have the effect of more effectively ostracizing the SJW than the SMN.

Luke writes:

The most visible modern iteration of feminism is a conspiracy theory.
Choosing not to associate with someone who rages against "the patriarchy" is no more difficult than choosing not to associate with someone who rages against "the Jews".
Especially if you're male. If you feel a need to hang out with those who see you as an embodiment of evil, you've got more productive things to talk to a shrink about than "why are they mean to me?"

Militant feminists may be loud, but they're a negligible percentage of the general population. In over 40 years, I can count the number I've met on one hand--and have three fingers left over.

Dave writes:

Do finish your medical residence, parroting or at least passively agreeing with whatever SJW twaddle is expected of you. At the end of the road you'll have an MD, which isn't just a license to practice medicine, it's a license to immigrate to just about any country you like, and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle there.

As an engineer, I envy you. We can't cross borders so easily, and engineering jobs are concentrated in areas with unfriendly women and a high cost of living.

Garrett writes:

As one of the SMNs, I'd mention that one of the cruel aspects of this is that the 'bubble' strategy doesn't work if you don't want to be alone and there isn't anybody inside of your bubble which is mutually interested in you (otherwise you probably would have resolved the issue by now).

To find somebody, you need to venture outside of the bubble. Then you have to face either meeting one of the SJWs who will shred your heart to pieces, or (more likely) a women who is worried about being ostracized from people who are SJWs. You could try and bubble off the woman of interest from the rest of the world, though that's generally considered to be abusive behavior.

Tom Billings writes:

"If SMNs unilaterally stop arguing with hostile feminists, I say there is a good chance that hostile feminists get bored and move on."

With the collapse of privacy in society proceeding apace, *all* bubbles will become sieves, at best, in the next 10 years. I myself began using a bubble strategy by 1968, with some good effect. However, as feminism became guided by the "more insurgent than thou" crowd of academia after 1975, and integrated itself completely with the progressive "Movement", that began to erode.

By 1988 I had been threatened by a co-worker in my museum, with her making an accusation to HR, of "sexual harassment", after I expressed libertarian attitudes towards an area touched on by the feminist "cause du jour". By 1995, I was finding that even holding temp jobs was becoming harder, because I was not "feminist enough" to continually agree with what others found interesting to talk about at break, and participate.

Ever met a Kate Millet-style feminist? Those have no use for moving on. Their self-justification comes from continual pounding at any male who does not express the levels of social nimbleness they have achieved, themselves, in combination with a supine attitude towards the feminist cause du jour. Those are the people who speak "for women" these days. Conform in one way, and they *will* find another reason to keep pounding.

Misandry as an excuse to grab more power won't go away without opposition in our species of large obstreperously violent primates. Why should it any more than will racism, or class bigotry, or religious bigotry? Sociopaths perceive lack of opposition as permission to continue pursuit.

Mark V Anderson writes:

I enjoy Scott's blog, but the comments therein are annoying because I often have no idea what they are talking about, and the acronyms are one reason. Now those acronyms have invaded this blog. PLEASE define the acronyms!

Somewhere I saw the definition of SMN (shy male nerd), but I've seen SWJ 50-100 times, and I still don't know what it means (something to do with feminists I assume, based on context).

Julia writes:

Mark: SJW = social justice warrior.

pgbh writes:

The main difference between you and Scott is much more prosaic - Scott simply cares much more than you do about what other people think of him.

This is why I don't think your Bubble strategy is reasonable for everyone. Surely you realize that someone who wrote a book called The Myth of the Rational Voter has an ability to handle criticism that not all can match?

Kushana writes:

I think Bryan's bubble strategy is one we should be embracing for all aspects of social interaction, not just with rude feminists: the removal of jerks from our social circles.

Part of everyone's standard toolkit of everyday survival is to remove jerks from your environment. Online feminism is no different: the ideas don't have to be served with jerkiness; you can find them (if you want them) in tasteful, polite forms. If you accidentally encounter them, you ignore them and move on.

There's nothing on the Internet that you *have* to deal with.

Brad S writes:

It shouldn't be either/or (bubble/no bubble).

Here are a couple of widely known but seldom practiced pieces of advice which can be interpreted and applied to the bubble question.

1. Avoid the unnecessary battle.

2. Never fight an unwinnable battle.

Some times engagement is pointless, and some times conditions preclude any useful outcome. Otherwise, there may be advantages to engagement, so be prepared to engage (and to win).

A couple more:

1. Know your enemy.

2. Know yourself.

IOW, when you engage, be informed and engage on favorable terms. Nerds are generally expected to be intelligent and able to apply it. Exploit that.

(The resemblance of the "advice" to that of historical figures is not accidental. The art of conflict and negotiation is widely applicable.)

Prejudice against shyness is as despicable as prejudice against skin color or sexuality. However, there are traits of the SMN (and SFN) amenable to self-correction. Learning customary rules of social engagement is the most difficult. Overcoming matters of personal appearance is the easiest.

To employ a recently publicized example: Alan Turing had some prejudices to overcome. Nevertheless, I cannot find any evidence that he was thought slovenly or physically unfit. Should you _have_ to be neat and fit to be accepted in a scrupulously fair world? No, but it is in everyone's power to adapt to or partly mitigate an unfair one.

I second the advice given in the comments to the prior article to consider a term of military service. If you don't wish to put your life plans (eg. education) on hiatus for a few years, consider the options offered by whatever passes for your national version of part-time military service. It will build confidence. It will change your personal habits. It will remove some of your own prejudices - nerds have their own versions of arrogance and condescension to overcome. You will be exposed to a cross section of your fellow citizens well outside most bubbles (albeit in a bubble of its own) in circumstances which tear down pretensions.

richard40 writes:

The bubble strategy is better than the craven apeasement please let me fit in strategy, but is still not sufficient. If the SJW feminists had a live and let live ethic, where they wont bother you if you dont bother them, the bubble strategy would work. But the SJW feminists, being power mad totalitarian leftists, do not beleive in live and let live, they believe they have the right to dominate and take over every culture out there, and bend it to their will, even nerd culture. This is proven by the totally one sided rules the feminists force on others in our colleges, their recent drive to take over the gaming comunity in gamergate, the recent shaming of a great scientist just because he wore a nerdy shirt, and the recent feminist drive to dominate nerds in the one industry they dominate because of their unique abilities, IT.

When you are faced with a movement that is not content to leave you alone, but insists you change your life to fit their distorted conceptions, living in a bubble is not enough. You have to fight back against their idealogy, and destroy it, just to defend your own nerdish turf. And you have natural allies in this fight, the libertarians, who hate the totalitarian SJW leftists, but are perfectly happy to let nerds live in their bubble and do their own thing. So the solution for nerds is not to try and appease the feminists so they will leave them alone (they wont, being totalitarians), nor to retreat to their bubble and just associate with other nerds (because the feminists totalitarians will attempt to take over any bubbles you might retreat to). Your only way to defend nerdish culture is to fight back, with the libertarians being your natural allies. Either that or take the Revenge Of The Nerds approach, and try and take over the organs of power yourself. So you basically have 3 choices, help the libertarians destroy or at least control the SJW radicals, try and take over yourselves and make your nerdish culture the dominant one in any area with power over you, or if you wont do one of those things, your only alternative is to totally make over and distort your natural personality to satisfy the nerd hating feminists (probably impossible, because those totalitarians are never satisfied).

RPLong writes:

We are fundamentally discussing individualism under strong social conformist pressure. The reason this matters is not because bubbles are good or feminists are bad. The reason this matters is because social conformist pressure is anti-individual, and therefore anti-liberty.

Feminists, take note, because at a future date, the nerds will be shaming you for a change. You'll want to remember that things are best when people live-and-let-live.

Intelligence has always been a nerd's strength, but I believe nerds' greatest strength has been the fact that they eventually warm up to the fact that they are nerds, and end up having way more fun than everyone else.

The feminists are extremely intelligent, too (for the most part). But suppose you were offered a choice between attending a nerd's party or a feminist's party. I've been to both kinds, and I know who has the most fun. I think we all do.

Dain writes:

What Zubon said. Scott is in Berkeley ffs, among the New York media's empire second most popular playground, ideologically speaking. To illustrate the link between geography and ideologically, see the fact that the "Black Brunch" protests targeting "white restaurants" were held in Gotham and… Oakland. Little ol' Oakland.

To be a very moderate righty in the Bay Area is to risk being seen as a fascist. While Scott has somewhat invited the anxiety induced by radical feminism, it's also difficult to get away from, unless you plan on never leaving your ridiculously overpriced studio apartment.

Miguel Madeira writes:

From a portuguese point of view (perhaps things are different in USA), all this talk about the "radical feminist war against SMN" seems a bit strange - my personal impresion is that, if anything, feminists are less harsh with SMN than with "alpha males".

Yes, there are some feminist articles against "nerd entitlement", but probably there are much more against "fratboy rape culture"

lemmy caution writes:

Here is part of the critique that caused Scott Aaronson to go off:

"As for the “shy and nerdy” bit…you know, some of the gropiest, most misogynistic guys I’ve met have been of the shy and nerdy persuasion. I can only speculate on why that’s so, but no, I would certainly not equate shy/nerdy with harmless. In fact I think a shy/nerdy-normed world would be a significantly worse world for women. (Not least because so many nerdy guys are certain that they’re extremely fairminded and rational, when instead what they are is naive about both social structures and how many things play out in reality, and unwilling or unable to fathom that other people’s reactions to events might be both different from and as valid as their own.) "

This seems right to me. It is unfortunate but if I was a women I really would want to have a shy and nerdy boss, for example.

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