Curtis Yarvin, AKA Mencius Moldbug, AKA the medulla oblongata of the Alt-Right, recently posted a blog entry trashing the practice of “circling.” It got quite a bit of buzz, partly because it was like a literary version of a a Paul Johnson chop block, going straight for the knees of a kind of practice (and a kind of person) that’s powerful within the culture he opposes.
It’s a good article, I shared it. I found it relatively well written as well, which is good because some of his material seems a bit like the Adderall infused ramblings of a stoned person. The thing I found “cringe” about the article was when he used his most recent dating failure as a launch point.
Curtis’s wife died in April of 2021, leaving him with two kids. My wife died in April of 2019, leaving me with two kids. He’s dating. I’m dating. He has deep thoughts that flow from his experience of being launched into the modern god-awful dating world not of his own volition. I have deep thoughts that flow from my experience of being launched into the modern god-awful dating world not of my own volition. He writes articles about it as a way to make sense of his world, and probably as a form of therapy. I write articles about it as a way to make sense of my world, absolutely as a form of therapy. But I don’t fucking publish them! Good gracious dude!
If you’re going to get into this whole “blogging” thing you’re opening yourself up to the world, so they can see inside your head as you tool certain thoughts out, build your model of the world around you, and perhaps they get to follow along when you change your mind about topics. I’m an analyst, so I like to break down systems with mathematics, do my research, and apply what I’ve learned in my life. I’ve learned a lot about this dating thing, mostly by failing in different ways, and I’m two years ahead of Yarvin in my timeline of exploration. I’m embarrassed to look back at some of my approaches and analyses from 2019. I may very well be embarrassed in 2023 to look back at 2021 at my view on the thing now. There’s no way to know.
But I’ll share a conversation I had with a friend yesterday, about that evolution, with the caveat that I could be just as wrong today as I was then.
People who think that your value in the dating marketplace can’t be measured are full of shit. Dating value is easy to measure, you can do it in any number of ways, and we have the data. Take every person on a dating app, rank them by percentage of right-swipes, apportion that ranking into 10% bands, and you have a 1-10 scale. Certain folks, usually within the feminist camp, hate this sort of thinking but this sort of thinking is pervasive among both men and women. The conventional wisdom within this model is you want to land someone as highly ranked as possible, and to do so you make yourself as highly valuable as possible. And if you land a 7 you personally think is a 9, and you yourself are a 7 and your partner thinks you’re a 9, because perhaps you fit better together, then you’ve struck gold and you stick with that, get married, make babies, whatever.
Then once you’re in your long term relationship you continue to strive to make yourself as attractive as possible, they do the same, and the relationship stays stable because you both are “putting forth the effort.” A lot of women I’ve met in the dating world use that phrase to describe why they left their husband. She put forth the effort, he didn’t, she left. The gender inverse is assuredly common as well.
This was my thinking in 2019. This is how most people think about it. I don’t think about it this way anymore, and curiously this wasn’t how I thought about it when I first got married in 2001 either.
Your life is a puzzle. Your kids are a puzzle piece, your job is a puzzle piece, your location is a puzzle piece, your hobbies and interests are a puzzle piece, your sex drive is a puzzle piece, and your life goals are a puzzle piece. They all fit together in some way. Your relationship is also a puzzle piece, and it’s got to fit inside that puzzle. Dating for adults in their 40s is like having a puzzle mostly built, reaching into a bag, pulling out one piece at a time, and seeing if that piece fits. If you spend all your time searching for the coolest looking puzzle piece and then trying to bang that piece into your puzzle with a hammer, you’re not doing anyone any good. The thing to do is pull a piece out of the bag, examine it’s shape closely, see whether it fits, and if it doesn’t then pull another piece out of the bag until you find the right one. Or, if the piece is super awesome, you adjust some of the other pieces to fit it, but you obviously can’t throw the whole puzzle out if you’re my age. You spent too long building it.
Now that model could be wrong too. Maybe the truth is a blend between those. Maybe the truth is something completely foreign I haven’t stumbled onto yet. Maybe this post will embarrass me in 2023. But whatever you do, Rule Zero is don’t fucking blog about your ex-girlfriend, because your next girlfriend might be worried she’s going to get blogged about. The fact that Yarvin did that makes me wonder how clearly he thinks about other stuff.
Enough about that. If you’re new to the mailing list, here’s what we do around here in addition to not blogging about ex girlfriends.
Handwaving Freakoutery (HWFO) began as a Medium publication in 2018 primarily geared toward mathematical analysis of gun violence in the USA, examining media narratives, disproving many popular ones, and offering alternatives. As we went down this journey together, we discovered that media falsehoods are driven largely not by shadowy actors attempting to manipulate the narrative, but by market forces requiring the media to adopt false narratives for profit, both inside and outside the gun space. We later began to understand that the media behavior is connected to the evolution of culture, so we developed a framework for speaking of cultures themselves, and examined how the internet is increasing the rate of cultural evolution, how the media is connected to this rate increase, how the divergent cultures themselves are fueling the culture war, and how all of this indicative of various doomsdays.
HWFO pivoted to Substack in 2021 because Substack is way cooler for various reasons. One of the things Substack is worse at, however, is having multiple tabs where I can index articles for prior reading, grouping them by topic. So we’ll do that here, and we’ll update this post once per month as I continue to migrate Medium material over to Substack, supplementing with new articles as I go.
This publication is and will always remain free to read, and any money earned through Substack subscriptions or Patreon will be dutifully spent on the author’s alcohol fund. But to give something back to the readers, anyone who does contribute to said alcohol fund will gain access to a private Slack server to discuss HWFO topics with other HWFO readers (and me) outside the public eye. Around 100 people are yammering away in there right now, and some of the article topics are born from these discussions. I’ll post an updated access link in a few days, as subscriber only content.
Index by Topic
HWFO in Other Media – an index of podcast appearances, “TV” appearances, and publications outside of the Medium, Substack, and Open Source Defense umbrellas.
So Long Medium – where we talk about the pivot from Medium to Substack.
Beautiful Death - thoughts on the passing of my father.
She Did Not Go Gently - thoughts on the passing of my wife. (this was published on Quillette)
Things Jordan Peterson’s Rehab Taught Me - a comparison between how Jordan Peterson handled his wife’s cancer and how I handled mine, and the curious connections between them.
The Gun Solution - where we fix the entire gun problem in every way that it can be fixed.
Everybody’s Lying about the Link Between Gun Ownership and Homicide – where we tear apart the “more guns = more deaths” monkey business with mathematics.
The Left is Making the Wrong Case on Gun Deaths – where we dive deep on the real problem with gun deaths, male suicide, and how we might fix that.
Geographic Evidence that Gun Deaths are Cultural – where we use GIS systems to show that almost everywhere where gun homicides are high, gun suicides are low, and visa versa, so “it’s the guns” is a very poor explanation of what’s going on.
The Gun Homicide Epidemic Isn’t – where we look at historical US homicide rates and show that we do not have an epidemic of gun homicides, we have an epidemic of media freakoutery about gun homicides.
The Magic Gun Evaporation Fairy – a dive into the literal impossibility of gun buybacks or gun confiscation.
Gun Buybacks Don’t Work if you Believe in Math – where we calculate how many guns you’d have to buy back to avert a homicide, and extrapolate the general case.
Real Talk about School Shootings – where we peel apart the school shooting numbers and explain how they’re a terrible thing around which to craft policy.
Doctors are Wrong about Firearm Effectiveness in Mass Shootings – where we explain that magically replacing all rifles with pistols would probably increase the body count of these things, so any focus on rifles in mass shooting policy is a red herring.
The “Sabika Sheikh Firearms Licensing and Registration Act” Fails Third Grade Math – where we perform some low effort mathematical dunking on a house rep, but raise the larger issue that the gun control crowd simply has no comprehension of how widespread gun ownership is.
The Gun Lane We Need Doctors In, and Government Out - where we talk about how doctors need to shut up about gun control, but need to focus on gun suicide, and gun culture needs to do the same.
Culture / Culture War
Osama Bin Laden’s Letter to America - a 20 Year Introspective - where we break down OBL’s manifesto line by line and point out all the curious ways it aligns with the modern culture war positions of the reds and blues.
We Gave Them Everything They Needed to Defend Their Country Except a Country - where we explain why Afghanistan failed.
Weird Ideas About Afghanistan - where we talk about the sportsmanship of war, trash the idea of spreading feminism at gunpoint, and wonder if there might be some positives from having the Taliban around for a while.
Playbook to Fight Woke School Board Takeovers - I was asked this question too many times in too short a time span, so I laid out the architecture of how to win a school board fight against a woke insurgency in article format so I wouldn’t have to keep typing it. Good luck, I moved instead.
A Detailed Look at Woke Update Mechanics - where we use the Dolezal Affair and the cancellation of Richard Dawkins to explain the most unique, intriguing, and dangerous element of the Woke program.
Social Justice is a Crowdsourced Religion - where we explain the Woke engine to nonwokes and offer some ideas the wokes could use to fix what’s broken about it.
Game Theory on the Second Civil War - where we generally work towards a way to avoid violent conflict using math and stuff.
Real Talk About Meritocracy - where we break down the ways in which the USA is, and isn’t meritocratic, while also differentiating between “meritocratic” and “fair.”
Science Says Sam Harris is Alt-Right – where we take a deep dive into how all prior political axes are being collapsed into a purely woke/antiwoke band, buttressed by a deep explainer on wokeness itself.
The Two Confusing Definitions of Racism – where we explain how difficult conversations about racism are literally impossible to have, because different groups are defining the term differently.
Explaining the Social Justice “Woke Anti-Semitism” Paradox – where we unpack certain popular Woke narratives and show that they combine to produce anti-Semitic behavior. This same analysis could be used for Asians, and explains why they’re getting a raw deal in liberal zones in 2021.
Spot the True Believer – where we use Eric Hoffer’s “mass movement” framework to explain MAGA and Woke.
Modeling the Socioeconomic Future with Dungeons and Dragons – where we use the DND character building model to explain bell curves, Charles Murray, automation, and silicon valley’s obsession with UBI.
Conversations with Black Folks about Cops – where we examine the police brutality problem from the perspective of someone on the street, instead of someone in a Critical Race Theory academy.
Stop Calling it a “Coup” – where we show how the “capital insurrection” was nothing more than a continuation of 2020 behavior, and what that portends.
Deplatforming, Sargon, MAGA Hat Kids, and the Kulturkampf – where we compare our modern culture war to prior culture wars and discover this is new dog old tricks.
Rape Math – where we try to back-calculate what the numbers probably are for use in the “not all men” discussion.
Don’t Read This – where we make mid 2020 election prognostications that turned out to be pretty on point.
The Purge Will End in Violence – where we discuss the early 2021 tech purge and what it portends in the long game.
Visualizing the Costs of Government in Border Walls - where we invent a new unit of measure with which to discuss government expenditures.
Abolish the Federal Government and Realign the Nation Based on Football - where we use Colin Woodard’s 11 Nations Theory to explain college football conferences, and use that as a map for “national divorce.”
An Outside Look at Election Fraud - where we do the math and figure that “the steal” couldn’t have possibly been enough to swing the election results, losing a few subscribers in the process.
Facebook is Shiri’s Scissor - A very deep dive into how human social media is analogous to artificial neural networks in computing, how someone evil might develop such a network in order to destabilize the world, and how we’ve basically already done that by accident.
The Social Media Catastrophe - where we explain how the media is trapped in a tragedy of the commons situation which forces them to drive smartphone users insane for clicks.
The Media Engine of Chaos – where we use HWFO gun article traffic numbers from Medium to explain the root cause of all these shitty gun articles in the media, and by extension, all the other shitty articles too.
I Just Made $100 off Some Dead Kids, and That’s the Problem – where we drill even deeper into the media incentives for mass shooting coverage, and how they literally increase the odds of more mass shootings, to make them even more money.
The Long Problem – where we use the Atlanta Spa Shooter as a case study about how flawed media incentives lead to incorrect narratives.
The Covid-19 Red Ink Blue Ink Problem - where we show how Covid opinions are now just tribal signifiers, show how short term vaccines and mutations are going to make herd immunity impossible, and beg everyone to lose weight.
The Vaccine Might Kill You and That’s Fine - where we examine the case of undercounting in the VAERS system, make a statistical pro-vax case including that undercount, and talk about why the government wants to hide that anyway.
HWFO Covid-19 After Action Report - where we dunk on everyone because of how right we were.
Want a Vaccine? Elect a Nationalist - where we explain how “me first” nationalism beats globalist cooperation within the game theory of international relations, using Covid vaccination rates as our case study.
Does the USA have the Worst Covid-19 Response? Not at All – where we compare the USA to other similar countries and discover we’re sort of middle of the road in how we’ve handled it.
Covid-19 Stands to be Done by the Summer – where we use infection rates from prisons which achieved herd immunity the hard way to predict when we’ll be done with this stuff.
Open Source Defense
I also write for OSD about guns, and some of those are worth bookmarking as well.
Gun Policy Needs a “Decision Support System” – where we mathematically determine exactly how many homicide and suicide victims the modern gun control policies would actually avert, and use that model to determine a true gun control policy compromise that includes giving back the stuff that doesn’t work.
Letter to 2020’s New Gun Owners – where we do a point by point breakdown of the entire Biden gun control platform.
Collateral Damage, Race, and the Virginia Gun Control Bill – where we show how Virginia’s attempt at an assault weapons ban actually created the opposite effect, sanctuary counties, and how its implementation will be systemically racist by necessity.
Talk to Your Kids About Guns – where we add another rule to the four rules and discuss safe storage of firearms around children.
Generally speaking, if anyone likes anything I write about guns, you should go read all the rest of the material over on OSD as well. I’m definitely not the smartest guy in the room over there.