When it comes to gender and dating advice, a lot of it falls back on bogus evolutionary theory and traditional gender assumptions to look for guidance. This is where you get the typical waning about dominance/submission, social status and hierarchy, gender attraction and of course, that god-awful alpha male. But there are three logical fallacies that, to my knowledge, almost all dating advice falls victim to at one point or another. You see them everywhere. And they can lead to some really damaging beliefs about men/women. I myself fell into these fallacies for years, and it’s only been through reading a lot of science and having discussions with feminists in the last year that I see where some of the faulty reasoning is.
The three fallacies are the Fallacy of Composition, the Fallacy of Division and the Naturalist Fallacy. The dating advice industry is rife with them. All of them. At best, they’re harmless but misleading. At worst, they’re sexist and damaging.
The Fallacy of Composition
The Fallacy of Composition is when someone mistakes something that’s true for an individual and assumes that it must true for a group in which the individual is part. For example: atoms are colorless; cats are made up of atoms; therefore cats are colorless. A few examples:
- Every boyfriend I’ve ever had cheated on me, therefore all boyfriends cheat on their girlfriends.
- The girl I hooked up with liked it when I made fun of her, therefore all women like being made fun of.
- The girl who texted on her phone all night was young, therefore all young women text all night on their phones.
- The black guy I hooked up with liked spank me. Therefore all black men like to spank women.
It goes on and on. If you pay attention, you’ll see this fallacy everywhere, not just in dating advice, but in current events as well. The examples above are pretty obvious generalizations, but sometimes this fallacy is very hard to pick out. For instance, can you spot it in these statements?
- All female primates are submissive to males, therefore human females should be submissive to males.
- Night clubs are very expensive and glamorous, therefore women who go to clubs are shallow and gold-diggers.
- Whenever I approach women on the street, they reject me. Therefore women don’t want to be approached on the street.
Humans are complex. And the act of picking up women involves a great deal of self-selection. What I mean by self-selection is that the manner in which you go about pursuing people will inherently screen them for you. For instance, if you pursue women in a dominant manner, only women who like dominant men will react well to you. If you pursue only men by using your looks, then you will likely date vain men.
Self-selection is an under-discussed yet complicated topic. An entire chapter of Models is dedicated to it and how it determines literally all of your results. The point is, of course, you don’t actually know. You can sleep with 100 people who like to be spanked. But there will be someone, somewhere, who doesn’t like it.
The Fallacy of Division
The Fallacy of Division is the logical opposite of the Fallacy of Composition, but it’s arguably even more dangerous when it comes to beliefs. The Fallacy of Division is when you take a general trait of a group and assume it must be true for every individual.
For instance: humans are conscious; humans are made of atoms; therefore atoms are conscious. To explain how much this can quickly get us into trouble, take the following true statement: “Men are taller than women.” Yes, men on average are taller than women. But it’s important to remember: not EVERY man is taller than EVERY woman. Some women are taller than some men. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a distribution of traits between men and women, and what’s true for the group is not true for all or even many of the individuals. Here are some of the most common (and misleading ones) examples that I see in a lot of men’s advice:
- Women prefer men who are dominant. Therefore every woman wants all men to dominate them.
- Women are attracted to men of higher status. Therefore every woman wants to be with the most high status man possible.
- Women want to be pursued by men. Therefore every woman is always playing hard-to-get.
As you can see, these can lead to some disastrous conclusions. The same conclusions you’ll see scattered around a lot of men’s blogs: “Any woman will cheat on her husband if an alpha comes by,” “Women want you to pursue them, even if they tell you not to,” or “If a woman tries to be more dominant than you, she’s just testing you.” Just as individual women vary in height, and height relative to individual men, their desire to be dominated varies and varies relative to individual men. Their attraction to status varies and varies relative to individual men, and their preference to be pursued varies as well. You can’t make blanket statements about entire populations of women in this way. Yes, some of these evolutionary conclusions are useful in broad strokes. But it’s important to remember that culture, psychology, and emotional state are all just as influential on a woman’s behavior as her biology (if not more so).
The Naturalist Fallacy
Also known as the Is/Ought Fallacy. The Is/Ought Fallacy is when one assumes what is naturally true is what ought to be morally true. This Is/Ought Fallacy can lead people down very, very dark paths, as you can use it to justify pretty much any heinous and instinctual behavior. For instance, murder and rape are “natural” behaviors, but I don’t think anyone would argue that they’re morally acceptable. Applied to dating, the Is/Ought Fallacy usually brings out the most sexist conclusions:
- Men produce massive amounts of sperm, therefore they SHOULD be as promiscuous as possible.
- Women often have rape fantasies, therefore they want to be raped.
- Women are naturally more empathetic and better care givers, therefore they SHOULD stay in the home and care for the family.
The Is/Ought Fallacy stifles evolution of thought and society. The modern world is complex and highly evolved. Our race is more interconnected than ever before. We have more resources for more people than ever before. Women are not dependent on men for their subsistence. We have a reasonable amount of control over our reproduction. We have legal equalities. What’s “natural” makes up for a smaller and smaller segment of our society today. Therefore our natural drives may not always be most beneficial.
Does this mean that we have to go to the other extreme and become a bunch of androgynous automatons? Absolutely not. There ARE healthy differences between men and women which absolutely should be honored and considered. But the next time you see someone saying, “Well, women like being put in their place, so I just go for it anyway,” or “She obviously couldn’t help but fuck the nearest alpha male, since she is a woman after all,” recognize that these aren’t scientific facts, as much as sick rationalizations and over-simplifications for the author’s sexual whims.
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