A Transhumanist View of Incels
I'll try to keep this one short. I just wanted to share a few thoughts on this whole incel thing. For those not familiar with the term, it means someone (typically a straight guy) who's involuntarily celibate, i.e. they just can't get laid for whatever reason, either because they're ugly or their personality is off-putting to people.
The term has garnered a lot of attention recently in regards to mass shootings with several of these murderers being retroactively labeled incels, much like several domestic terrorists have retroactively been labeled Sovereign Citizens.
I'll have to do another post about that term some other time.
Let me start off by saying that the initiation of force is of course immoral and should be condemned in all instances. I hate that I have to say that, since it should just be understood, but these are the times we live in when certain people will maliciously twist and manipulate what you say in an effort to make you out to be a bad person even if you're really not. But we'll talk about the New York Times later. 38D
And the internet is forever, as we all know, so it's important to be careful what you say online.
But yeah, we're not five. We should all know murder is wrong. We should all know rape and sexual assault are wrong. We should all know that no one's entitled to sex, that it has to be a mutually agreed upon act. If you're reading this article, I assume you're smart enough to realize all that implicitly; and if you're one of the rare few for whom this is the first time you're hearing that, I'm sorry I had to be your first. You deserve better.
Anyways, from what I understand, the term incel has been around for a while but only recently came into our more widespread vocabulary after these recent mass shootings.
Not surprisingly, the topic became very polarized.
On the one hand, you had lefties and feminists saying that we need gun control and we need to talk about intersecting that with toxic masculinity, which is what incel culture is all about. And when did it become a culture, exactly? Aren't most incels looking to get out of their dry spell?
Again, I think we can all agree that anything that leads to rape and murder is indeed toxic. Whether that then leads to gun control is another matter. I don't think it does. I think those things are unrelated and I do think there's a certain moral hazard of people overgeneralizing and then applying this to men in a wider context.
Case in point, in contrast to the feminists, you have a lot of generally conservative-leaning men coming out and - so far as I can tell of their motives - trying to help women better empathize with what guys who can't get laid think and feel. I'm not a mind reader, but I presume that's their intent. Maybe there really are some among that group who are making excuses and apologizing for misogyny, who unironically think a woman's place is in the kitchen, who unironically think men are entitled to sex, and who aren't listening to the legitimate concerns of women.
People like that, we can rightly denounce together.
Maybe there are garbage people like that. In fact, I'm sure there are lots of them; but the ones I've seen and that I'm talking about here - some of whom I know personally - don't fit that profile. Yet they will be tarred with the same brush nonetheless.
This happens just about anytime you get a controversial issue, and it doesn't seem to matter much what the topic is, really. People will tend to overgeneralize. Sometimes that's innocent use of heuristics and shorthands for sake of simplicity, because life is too complicated to disclaim every single thing; but a lot of times it's also malicious, and it happens on both sides. If you think it only happens on one, you might be one of those people.
It's kind of sad that the term "hate facts" is a thing that exists. In a sane world, there would just be facts, and facts wouldn't care about anyone's feelings. However, the Persuasion Filter says we don't really live in a sane world. We live in a world where facts don't matter, where people are tribal, prone to take sides due to unconscious bias, and where emotion sways hearts and minds more than actual reality.
That's the world we live in.
Understanding that all humans react that way is actually a key to understanding this whole incel thing, because these are men[*] who aren't dealing with morality or actual reality, but who are reacting to their own feelings, particularly feelings of isolation and humiliation. They are not behaving rationally, partly because their prefrontal cortexes are shut down due to lust, but likely due also to the combination of many disparate social and biological factors all coming together at once to create a toxic cocktail in one person. The type that would be driven to commit acts of violence.
Already, I can hear people calling me an apologist, that I'm excusing men and endangering women, so let me just reiterate that violence is immoral and these incels should be held accountable for any crimes or harassment they might commit.
The other day on Twitter, I got into a lengthy argument with some people for simply pointing out the biological and cognitive differences between the two genders. The issue wasn't that they disagreed with any of my facts - although there are those people too - so much as they couldn't hear the part where I was agreeing with them when it came to the morality of the topic or how men should behave.
They literally couldn't perceive that part, even though it was right there in front of them in black and white, clear as day, and I'd repeated it several times.
If I had to hazard a guess as to why, I'd say it's because they were feeling defensive, and maybe even some cognitive dissonance as well. They rejected what I said because it made them feel uncomfortable about questioning their own worldview, of how they thought people should act and why, as if doing so somehow made them a bad person rather than a better person.
At the same time, they were gripped with a very real and very legitimate fear of violent incel men, perhaps even based on examples of them in the past from their own lives. They got themselves locked into tribal mode, such that any perceived deviation from the picture they'd painted in their minds, any giving of rhetorical ground on the subject, any sympathy for the devil would be akin to losing and put them in actual danger. I'm not even joking.
Part of me understands and feels empathy for this because it's explained by the Persuasion Filter.
Those of you not trained in persuasion or cognitive science (or even intersectional feminism, oddly enough) would probably look at that and think these people are being irrational, neurotic, and paranoid. In that, you'd be right, but only technically so, because they're reacting to something that isn't real, but the reason they act that way is because of something else that is very real - namely, the existence of toxic, violent men in the world.
It's sort of like PTSD. A veteran comes home and gets freaked out by the sound of firecrackers, but only because they were actually in the midst of real combat at one point.
There's a part that's real and a part that's just hallucination in response to past trauma.
Our brains are hardwired for self-preservation, not for reality. It's why genes for trait-neuroticism exist, because sometimes overcompensating and assuming there are more predators than there actually are is better than the reverse. If you overestimate and you're wrong, you risk looking foolish; whereas if you underestimate and you're wrong, you're dead.
I don't think I have to tell you that being dead is worse than looking foolish, although I suppose if you humiliate a person long enough, you'll drive them to commit suicide.
That actually segues nicely into my next point, which is that we are social creatures. We need other people to survive, and not just for resources and solving problems, but for emotional support as well. It isn't just a nice thing to have, it is actually essential for our mental and physical well-being. No, that's not an exaggeration either.
It's been well-documented that prolonged neglect produces the same physiological effects as actually being tortured. That children who are abandoned or neglected suffer major mental health issues and grow up to have problems socializing. That children, especially men, who suffer abuse as children are three times more likely to enact criminal behavior on others as adults, and of the same kind as they themselves received.
There have been experiments run on monkeys using dolls to simulate the effects of social and maternal bonding. Those without someone to bond with struggle to cope in their environment and will even die if the feeling becomes too overwhelming for them, likely from giving into fear, despair, and learned helplessness.
Again, thats not me being hyperbolic. We need social interaction to live. It's essential.
We also know fairly well at a scientific level, but also a deep cultural level, that men are horny creatures by nature. They're designed that way. The so-called "spray and pray" reproductive strategy. It's the subject of many movies and comedy routines that men go for looks and women go for resources:
We all know this, and have since time immemorial. It's deep in our genes, so why is it all of a sudden something controversial? I would say it's become controversial because the flood of media has brought to the forefront of our attention one of the pernicious consequences of this relationship, that some men are driven by lust to commit acts of violence.
Given everything I've just laid out, is it really so hard to imagine that if a man goes for a long time without sex, he will feel physical effects akin to torture? Is it hard to imagine that some men, who are driven by hardwired emotion, and whose rational minds and impulse control centers are shut off, would then be driven to act upon that through violent means?
I used to mock those men who claimed to have "sexual emergencies," as the reason for their sexual assault, thinking that was just an excuse or they were lying; but in thinking about it now, from their perspective, they probably actually felt that way.
Of course, and I can't say this often enough, that should not be construed to mean such behavior is at all acceptable. That just because you feel that way doesn't give you permission to act on it.
If a man is angry, he might commit a crime of passion and lash out at someone. As a society, we can understand and even empathize with his motivations, but that doesn't mean we have to put up with acts of violence. If a man is starving, he might be driven to commit theft and murder in order to feed himself, but that doesn't mean we as a society have to permit such crimes. In fact, if anything, judging by our actions and our legal system, we tend to do the opposite and say that even if you're starving, that's still no excuse. It's still wrong.
Of course, this still leaves us with a very serious problem of what to do about it.
The other day on Twitter, I raised a rather provocative question. To paraphrase, I asked: if we accept that a woman can't consent to sex if she's drunk or drugged, can anyone really consent to anything if we know that our brains are constantly drugging us all the time? That's what emotions are, after all, is a chemical reaction initiated by the hypothalamus:
Science suggests we have no such thing as free will; and yet, in order to maintain moral order, we still have to act as though we do. As if we have rights and justice and choice, because we haven't yet come up with a better solution to prevent or change said behavior.
It's for this reason I wrote an entire article talking about how to reach a system of morality even in an otherwise wholly deterministic system. I'm not a determinist, I'm a compatibilist, because I believe in what we might term the soul. Jordan Peterson is not a determinist either, but he talks about this same concept in delving into the science behind the social hierarchies and value systems of chimps, rats, wolves, lobsters, and other such animals.
A lot of people, particular many postmodernist intersectional feminists, don't believe humans have a fundamental nature determined by our biology, that everything is just a social construct and the result of mutable cultural programming.
This is a very naive way of looking at the world and is profoundly anti-science.
Worse still, it's actually harmful, particularly to women, because if you can't properly identify the cause of the problem, you can't begin to fix it in any meaningful way. As a Cartesian Skeptic, I understand the postmodernist view better than most - the idea that nothing is true, and everything is permitted - but in rebuilding the universe and morality up from scratch, I also understand where they err and at least some of the minimal rules necessary for establishing a stable, cohesive society.
I have tried to point out to postmodernists that they are attempting to fix biology with culture and that simply doesn't work. The problem is largely genetic, and that's not how epigenetics work. You look at something like the 100th Monkey Effect and yes, you can retrain certain behaviors at a genetic level, but there is a practical limit to it.
That's why it takes a hundred monkeys to do it.
As a transhumanist, I am confident that eventually we can use technology to overcome these biological limitations, but we aren't there quite yet; and if we're too busy focused on stuff like sensitivity training, we risk missing the real cause.
Returning to the experiment with monkeys and dolls, the thing about the dolls is interesting because it apparently doesn't matter whether or not it's a real monkey. A sufficiently believable simulation will suffice to trick the monkey into thinking it's part of a loving relationship and prevent its death. The same is true of other animals as well:
Now, in that case, there are limitations. A doll can't breastfeed, for instance, but again, we can imagine a sufficiently complex doll might be capable of satisfying any need we might have.
This again is because our brains aren't hardwired for actual reality, so much as that which best serves our survival and evolutionary fitness. This can be good or bad, of course, but technology itself is merely a tool and it gives us a glimpse into other ways we might solve the incel problem.
In my article, A Transhumanist View of Sexual Relations, I talked extensively about sex robots. That such technology isn't going away and will only ever improve over time, becoming more like actual human beings until we cross the uncanny valley and then see robots actually supplant human beings by virtue of their capacity to be and do things that we can't. Humans need certain things and technology exists and persists and is useful in so far as it can satisfy our needs.
We have human relationships because we need something from other people that we can't get ourselves, but that comes with an implicit moral code of reciprocity. What we really want as humans is an army of robot slaves to do our bidding for us, which come with no such ethical dilemmas.
So here is a possible solution to the problem of incels.
We know that all humans crave companionship as an essential part of their survival, to stabilize their mental and emotional well-being. We know that even a sufficiently complex simulation will satisfy that need because we evolved for fitness, not reality. We know that men in particular crave sex and that the emotional centers of their brains will override their reasoning and inhibitions to the point that some of them will be driven to violence in order to get it. We know this isn't something they consciously choose but is in fact preprogrammed into them as a Moist Robot.
We know that certain men simply can't get laid no matter what because they're either too ugly, to anti-social, or too lacking in resources. We know that isn't women's fault and that we shouldn't blame the victims. We know men aren't entitled to sex and that women don't have to give it to them. We know that we still have to maintain the illusion of moral order and that it's intolerable to simply let them act on these impulses against real women.
Do you see where I'm going with this yet or do I need to spell it out?
The title of the article should have been your first clue.
Yes, I'm suggesting that technology can be used to solve this problem, and may in fact be the only thing that can. Sorry, feminists, but I did try to warn you.
If you know anything about stalkers (which, why would you, but let's just roll with that phraseology for now and say it's because we're psychologists), you'd know that stalking is an addictive behavior and, like all addictive behavior, it's chemically-driven. In fact, the definition of addiction is a behavior that you can't stop ... which is really all behavior, because again scientific determinism, but addiction is a particularly chronic form of that.
We're all addicted to something, but you might say that living a productive, moral life involves becoming addicted to behaviors that are constructive, rather than destructive.
It's also true of stalkers, and of addicts in general, that you can't really cure them of their behavior through retraining. Not entirely. You can suppress it to some extent, but for the particularly bad cases, the best you can do is rely on the Trade Principle and offer them something else in exchange that's better in the hopes of getting them to give up the thing you don't want them to have.
With regards to incels, we can treat them as basically sex addicts, wherein the goal is to get them to not harm actual human beings. Thus, if we can use technology to satisfy their needs in a simulated way, that should remove their motivation for carrying out such acts against people.
"Oh my god! That's so sexist! You're just promoting patriarchal rape culture and misogyny! You should teach men to respect women and not rape them!"
Bitch, I'm trying to save your dumbass from misogyny and rape by offering up a solution that actually works and takes into account human nature, because we're not all blank slates. By all means, teach men to not be shit. Good! Do it. We should indeed do that as well and teach morality and teach men how to not be toxic, to get their lives in order and be functional in society.
I recommend having them listen to men like Jordan Peterson for that:
However, there are certain things you can't teach because they come preprogrammed into us and it's those things that require a different solution. That's the part I'm choosing to focus on.
Someone like Eliot Roger had the resources such that he probably could have just paid for sex with hot women and that would have been good enough. He would have still remained a sexist, entitled little shit, but maybe he might not have murdered anyone over it and that's at least better than what actually happened in reality. Right? No one disagrees with that.
It's not ideal by any means, but it's certainly better than what we have.
Most incels are not rich like Eliot Roger, though, and so an endless stream of hookers and gold-diggers would probably bankrupt them in short order. Plus, you can't abuse hookers. They're still human beings with rights. Technology, on the other hand, gets cheaper over time and there is no ethical dilemma to hurting robots or pixelated entities on a screen.
Some people argue that it desensitizes men to violence and sexism, but I have made the argument that just the opposite is true. That the evidence suggests it serves as an outlet and reduces violence.
Think about it from the point of view of the person doing it. If you're getting what you need and it's good enough, does it matter that it's not real? Sure, intercourse is better than masturbation, but if you're not getting any, what do you do? You turn to porn and fantasy and maybe you accept that as a trade-off and rationalize to yourself that at least you don't have to put up with the problems of dealing with real people either, so it's a price you're willing to pay.
Would that we could snap our fingers and every man be Prince Charming and get everything they want, but we can't, so such wish-fulfillment technology serves as the next best thing.
One thing you could say about it is it conditions people to have unrealistic expectations, because the things people do in porn and fantasy can't be replicated in reality; but here again, technology can and will ultimately bridge that gap someday.
In the most immediate sense, a lot of incels who would otherwise turn to violence could probably be sated with porn and porn video games. Things like Second Life, or the types of ads you see on Porn Hub for instance.
Next step up from that might be VR and sexbots.
Sure, it's not the same as real sex, but maybe it's close enough to trick your mind into hallucinating that it is. Ten years ago, we didn't have those sorts of things like we do now, but today you can go online and get a custom doll tailored to your particular proclivities, looking like whatever celebrity you want - male or female - for only a couple grand. They are pretty articulate and hold a pose rather well, even if they aren't very autonomous or lifelike at the moment.
You can abuse the hell out of these robots all you want. They'll never say no, never nag or hurt you, and they don't care what you look like or how much you have in your bank account. Eventually, within about twenty years, I'd say, they'll probably merge with A.I. sufficiently complex enough to simulate intimate exchanges and come close to passing the Turing Test.
"Oh my god, you're so horrible, dehumanizing women to the status of mere sex objects like that!"
No, I'm not! Actually I'm doing just the opposite of that, making it clear that people are people and objects are objects, regardless of gender; and if certain people can't otherwise control their behavior in a civilized society and feel the need to lash out at others, better they that do it against things that are clearly objects than against real people.
If you're angry, punch a pillow; if you're rapey, fuck a sexbot.
Again, it's not ideal, but can we at least agree it's an improvement over real people getting raped and murdered? Directional progress is a good thing, right?
The next step up from that would be genetic engineering and cybernetic augmentation, which is still a further ways out - several decades at least - but would be a more permanent solution to the biological limits of human beings and the pernicious aspects of human psychology. You could dive into a robot shell and avoid feeling lust, or modify your appearance to be someone more desirable and alleviate the issue that way. Maybe we find a way to engineer people who don't become retarded when they get horny and that also removes the underlying motivation for violence.
Giving people toys to play with isn't an issue if you can remove their underlying motivation to abuse people with them, which you do by satisfying their needs; and technology can help with that.
Again, none of this is to suggest we don't still have a very real problem in the here and now. That we shouldn't continue to enforce morality or codes of conduct. That we should just abandon the practice of punishing wrong-doing just because it's not their fault biologically.
I'm not suggesting any of that. I recognize that would only lead to chaos and violence.
My only point is that this is complicated and there are many factors that go into the creation of a violent, sexist incel and the feminist approach of reconditioning them only addresses some of those things but not others. As a transhumanist, my goal is to bring to light to those areas the identitarians and postmodernists can't see in the hopes that together, we can find a more permanent fix to this problem we otherwise all agree on.
If you're tired of remakes and rip-offs, you might like reading my book because it's based in this epic fantasy world and is unlike anything you've ever seen before. You can also support me on Patreon if you enjoy articles like this and want to read more. It really helps and I appreciate your generosity.
May you each find love, peace, purpose, happiness, and will in your lives.
* I'm just gonna say men for the sake of brevity and to focus on that portion of the topic in order to save myself a lot of extra typing. Assume that it's meant as a heuristic and use your own deductive reasoning to imply that I'm aware the issue is more nuanced than that.