Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alpha Male Territory

There is a reason that the eyes are called the "window to the soul". It's the same reason why Poker players like to veil these exact windows with impenetrably dark shades as well as why weak men prefer breaking eye contact: no other part of our body reveals as much about our inner world as our eyes.

Not so for many other mammals: Primates are particularly good at transmitting and receiving that kind of information from each
other. Evolution has caused our eyes to move into the frontal plane and blessed us with a unique set of eye movements.

This is particularly true for us human primates. We feature a particularly high contrast between iris and sclera - which makes it even easier to track gaze.

There is something else that distinguishes us from many other animal species - we share our territory. While alpha males of other species tend to compete for the biggest, best-est territory to attract females, us 'higher' primates are rarely seen in isolation.

Of course, it is not like human alpha males don't care for space at all. The ridiculous fight for corner offices is testament to our believe that social status and territory relate. And even if shared by other males, they will claim ownership by means of body language.

Yet, women do not flock to CEO's with oversized offices and window fronts (although a big wallet does make a sexual difference), but to rock stars, mass murderers and - let's face it - even androgynous, creepy-as-fuck celebrities lacking any of the aura of testosterone, masculinity and heroism celebrated across male improvement community.

There is a different kind of territory that gets controlled and guarded by primate alpha males. It is invisible to the naïve observer since it is placed inside a subjective interpretation of the social environment. What all of the above examples of human alphas have in common is that they do well (very well) in attracting, bundling and keeping the attention of pretty much everyone around them.

While females in many animal species select for males who are able to fight for and defend spatial territory, women select for males who reign the attentional territory.

And that is the main reason why eye contact is so important for social dynamics.

We are unaware of it, but we are gaze addicts.

Take any picture of a human face (such as the one on the left), track our eye movements - and you will find we keep getting back to the person's eyes. We are drawn to each others eyes because we want to read the inner state of whoever is looking at us. We monitor pupil dilation, the miniscule movements of muscle controlling our lids and brows. We can even tell the sex of a person by just looking at the contrast between their eyes (and lips) and the rest of the face.

And, by checking gaze we also get to know where another person's attention is at - most of the time at least.

There is a reason that we think of ourselves as "paying" attention. For primates, attention is a resource - a valuable entity we need from others that we often compete for.

To control a conspecific's behavior is a very powerful display (of high social status). But to control the inner state (such as the attentional focus) of that other social agent is even more powerful than that.

Primates have learned a very special skill in the face of this:

Monkeys, apes and humans can direct their attention to any location, object or person in their field of view without moving their eyes. This grants us a slight advantage over the other players in the game of life: By hiding what our inner eye is focused on we can be deceptive about where we spend our attentional resources. Thanks to this ability we can covertly inspect a woman's chest on the train, for example, while pretending to read a newspaper in our hand. And we can monitor any other guy's in our vicinity without granting them a (reactive) behavioral response.

But, alpha males are always one step ahead. Knowing that we are able to shift our inner gaze without moving our eyes, forces alpha males to take things a step further. They take control again:

Primate alpha males do not allow low status males to establish direct eye contact.

This rule is so strict and without exception that even humans can get attacked by monkeys for failing to to do what the alpha expects. A primate alpha male demands covert attention around him, and interprets any direct eye contact as a challenge of status or threat - and responds accordingly.

What does this mean for humans? Aren't we different? Don't we like to establish direct eye contact during conversation?

Yes, and no.

While we do not fight anyone who looks at us, it is striking to observe that most men break eye contact within milliseconds of establishment. The reason for that is that we, too, interpret a long, cold stare as a threatening, aggressive dominance gesture - and most men avoid it in order to play out their automated dovish flight-response when confronted with the Dove-Hawk dilemma in real life.

An alpha male does not need to do that (thanks, stagetwo for pointing that out to me).

Hence, one way to demonstrate high social status is to freely look at whatever (and whoever) you want to look at; for how long you want to look at it.

Attentional space is abstract and invisible to the unitiated. But if you are on top of the social ladder, this is your very territory.
Own it!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Alpha Male Other Guy

The issue of male friendship and camaraderie comes up time and again when high status behavior is discussed. The reason - let's face it - is that high status men are simply more interesting to be around than guys who are used to getting tooled.

But how can a guy be the most dominant leader of any group and hang out with other high/status males without constant conflict?

No one has thought and written more on this topic than Keith Johnstone. His motivation was not pick up, but good realistic acting. His job is to teach people how to improvise on stage. And he developed a great system to do so. Yet, soon he "noticed that the actors couldn't reproduce 'ordinary' conversation." Whatever he told his actors to do "the effect was 'theatrical' but not life as I knew it."

This seemed particularly puzzling when casual 'small talk' was considered. At first thought, two people talking about random topics should be the easiest situation to reproduce on stage. Yet, these situations proved the hardest. And so he wondered "If casual conversations really were ... operated by chance, why was it impossible to reproduce them at the studio?"

The reason, of course, is that even the most meaningless conversations are not random, but follow hidden scripts. There is a purpose behind any human interaction. Keithstone discovered that while we are mostly unaware of it - "every inflection and movement implies a status, and that no action is due to chance, or really 'motiveless'."

He went on studying "status play" for years to come, and his insights are priceless. Here are some highlights:
"Status [is] something one does."
"We want people to be very low status, but we don't want to feel sympathy for them."
"A person who plays high status is saying 'Don't come near, I bite'. Someone who plays low status is saying 'Don't bite me, I'm not worth the trouble'. In either case the status played is a defense."
"Status is basically territorial."

And one of the most important rules as to dominance and submission in human interactions:
"There is no way to be neutral."

This rule is as important as it is unintuitive. It means that whatever you do, you convey (reveal) your inner idea of self-worth. This is even true when no one is around: "Status is played to anything, objects as well as people". There is no way to hide it.

And the fact that you cannot be neutral is exactly where the crux lies for male bonding. It is easy to be friends and the alpha male if all your male friends are submissive. Yet, being the adored leader of the group who everyone looks up to is not the same as friendship. There is a difference between acting as big brother and being a buddy.

So what happens when you are friends with guys who are on your level?

Johnston's answer is "that acquaintances become friends when they agree to play status games together." This means that we deliberately dominate our friends, just to accept heir dominance a moment later. By flip-flopping in dominance over time, we become equally dominant on average. It's a "see-saw" principle. And any violation of this hidden rule (i.e. not accepting a friend's dominance when it is his turn or failing to "pay them back" for their dominance gestures) can destroy a friendship.

Thus, the only way that two alpha males can avoid profound conflict is by playfully bantering back-and-forth. The playful nature of the dom/sub gestures allows your friend to "look past" your attempted dominance/submission, and he will respond accordingly:
Instead of bringing someone a cup of tea and saying "'Did you have a good night?' or something equally neutral, the status being established by voice and posture and eye contact", "I might say 'Get up you old cow', or 'Your Highness' tea', pretending to raise or lower status."

The delicate nature of balancing out status between friends is astonishing. When we are with true friends, we need to constantly assess the status balance between them and us, and playfully subtract or add dominance whenever needed.

So, befriending other high status guys will not raise your status in the classical sense, since demonstrating to women in your surrounding that you are constantly dominating them is mutually exclusive with their friendship. But - could it raise your status by association? Is there something akin to status transfer?

It seems intuitive that "if you claim status because you know some famous person, then you'll feel raised when they are." This is one of the reasons why so many people are loyal and interested in the reign of the king - they will lose their rank at court if the king gets replaced by his rival.

Yet - as stated above - status is not someone has, it is what someone does.

There is a profound difference between claiming status - and playing it. Thus, it is possible that knowing VIP and associating with other alphas might simply boost your inner state - your perception of your own status, which in turn alters your behavior to raise your status. Whether or not belonging to an exclusive social circle directly elevates status is an interesting question.

Female attention surely gets guided towards you if you hang out with a famous person at the bar. Yet, just like with driving a sports car or flashing lots of money - these status symbols might be minor factors to the status conveyed trough body language and social interaction.

The bottom line is that there are rich awards for seeking high quality friends.
But your success with women shouldn't depend on it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Tragedy of the Commons

When should you give up and leave a bar, party, public pool, garage sale, church fundraiser, laundromat or local coffee shop if your goal is to meet a woman?

As outlined on this blog before, the answer to that question highly depends on your status.

The reason for this is that in all these settings no women would ever deviate from her "looking out for number one" strategy.

And that means, if there are guys plentiful, an alpha male can shine. The other men will literally become tools for the top guy in the scene. Each single one of them inevitably turns into mere proof of his uber-dominance. The more social underlings, the more glorious the reign of the guy who owns the attentional territory.

Thus, the less alpha you are the better you'll do without any other guys around (this seems intuitive).

An alpha guy, on the other hand, should avoid these situations and seek out settings with other men around in order to demonstrate his status (somewhat less intuitive).

There is one big exception, though, where this strategy will backfire:
And that's if there are too many males of (almost) equally high status.

This phenomenon has recently been demonstrated in water striders (from all things!). More specifically, for large groups of Aquarius remigis alpha males.

In this insect species, as in so many other cases across the animal kingdom, there is huge variation in the level of aggressiveness with which males approach the mating scene.

It all boils down to the good old "Hawk-Dove" dilemma. Researchers found that dove-ish nonaggressive beta male water striders do pretty well in terms of mating success - as long as they are among themselves.

But, as hyperaggressive males arrive on the scene, things change drastically.

Just as outlined above, the alphas will do well among the timid betas. The nice guys finish last.

Yet, as the number of hyperaggressive males increases, so does female resistance (think bitch shield late into the night at a crowded club). Ultimately, both types of males will suffer in their sexual success.

This situation is referred to as "The Tragedy of the Commons":

Multiple individuals acting independently in their own self-interest can ultimately destroy a shared limited resource

This situation can come about during social evolution with intense sexual conflict, since this situation favors individuals with aggressive mating strategies. But, as their genes start to predominate so does the "Sex, death and tragedy".

In its most extreme form, this can lead to complete destruction of the resource rivaled for. In the common lizard species Lacerta vivipara, for example, it has been observed that the Tragedy of the Commons evoked by male-heavy populations drives local populations to the edge of extinction (a classic example of "evolutionary suicide").

Is there a human parallel?

If you think about what happens at certain clubs with rightward skewed female-male ratios late into the night, it gets easy to make up a story.

Social status is relative, so even among alpha males, there will always be leaders and followers. Thus, the general rule above still applies.

Yet, even if there is a king among kings inside alpha-heavy clubs, this will not stop any of these experienced players from using aggressive (asshole) game on women. And while this is likely to go over well with women if there are few other (bad) boys around, the strategy might backfire under testosterone-soaking circumstances.

As women get increasingly approached (be it because of the effects of liquid courage or an influx of ladies men), so does their bitch shield. As more and more guys actually step up and openly admit sexual interest (by approaching girls), the supply-and-demand curve gets an illusory shift to the left. The hoops girls put out for interested guys to (not) jump through now go up exponentially as girl perceive their market value to increase.

There is a certain irony in what happens around the time of the last call:
The girls that still hang around in a bar or club among the horny hordes of drunk, needy guys are surely not there to enjoy the music or the company of their friends. Girls who stay that late into "obnoxious time" are there for one reason only: the fear of the empty apartment /
cold bed. Yet, I have hardly ever witnessed a successful approach-to-SNL at this late hour. The bitch shields are too high and the male approaches too watered down by neurotoxic substances for that to happen.

Bug, lizard or human: Parties with an overwhelming number of beta males are where alphas truly excel in getting female attraction. Too few nice guys or too many men used to high social status in direct vicinity and the magic is gone.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Natural Born Alpha

The question whether or not some guys are "natural born alpha", while others are genetically condemned to lifelong betatude has popped up on this and other blogs repeatedly.

You might have read about Genghis Khan's alpha genes spread all over his previous empire. Or about the 2D:4D digit ratio and how it indicates the relationship between testosterone and sexual/life success - all links between biology and alpha male-ishness, or not?
So is it true? Are you born into alpha status (or not)?
And who's to blame? Should we look at our (assumed) biological Dads to find out whether they inherited their alpha gene(s) or not?

Well, personality genetics is a very young field. So far there is no much to grasp onto. The simple idea of one gene - one behavioral (trait) simply doesn't hold for most of the things we are interested in (but: see below), and our techniques to derive inherited behavior from multiple genes interacting are far from mature. Concerning the question in how far genes control our behavior we are still much in the dark (which conveniently leaves lots of room for speculation).

But, there are a few results that give a glimpse of insight of what might be actually going on.

Your Dad doesn't count
That's just simple Mendelian genetics: Many traits are "hidden" and "jump" across an entire generation.
Human (males) are successful in reproduction by using either the "beta" K-strategy or an "alpha" r-strategy, so you can safely assume that at least some of your forefathers were not the husbands, but some sneaky alpha banging himself into your family.
As a direct result, your genes must be a good mix of beta- and alpha genes (waiting for the appropriate circumstances to unfold one or the other way).

Genes easily determine whole Personality styles
I am talking about the Serotonin Receptor Polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) in particular. A DNA polymorphism means that there are two different versions of this gene among us. In other words, you either have one variant of this gene or the other (or a mixture of the two - one from each parent).
And with more than 300 studies so far, this mutation might be the best studied association of behavioral phenotypes with a (single) DNA polymorphism, and thereby the biggest success of personality genetics (so far): Although not entirely conclusive, most studies point to a direct relation between one form of the allele and anxiety-related traits such as pessimism, harm avoidance, neuroticism, post-traumatic stress disorder and (to some degree) even depression and suicide.
The avid read of this blog will notice that all of these (temperament) traits relate to men on the lower end of the social latter. This single gene seems to explain much of what we deem "beta": being stressed out, having no balls, being overly afraid and pessimistic (let alone being depressed) are certainly not attributes of an alpha male.

Genes alone don't make an alpha
As exciting as the above might seem to anyone defending a biologistic position in the "naturally born alpha" debate, there is at least one study giving great counter-evidence:
Rhesus macaques turn out to pass on a similar polymorphism in their naturally occuring poplations. And as you might have guessed, it makes a big difference for their social interactions (see also this post on the topic).
Yet, when monkeys were observed who got reared without their mothers - a common situation in zoos and breeding facilities - (some of) the genetic influence waned. It seems as if the environmental factor of being reared without a mother was potent enough to override the genetic fate of these individuals.

So, what can we take from all that?

Clearly, there is evidence for powerful genetic influences on your social behavior. It seems likely that evolutionarily preserved genetic programs are at work when we sort out our social rank. Yet, the influence is just what it is: an influence, a bias - far from actual determinism. It means that under identical circumstances one man's genes will turn him into a pussy magnet while another man's genes will prevent him from getting laid. Yet, one of us grows up under identical circumstances. Some of us might be naturally biased to be less fearful and pessimistic than others. But it might not take much to turn a man like that into an anxiety-ridden suicide candidate.

It is possible that the ultimate determination of social status occurs during childhood. Your peers and experiences during this time of "playful" social interaction likely forms your social (conflict) strategy in later years. If "fight" worked best for you, you might continue to sport aggression during the male-male interactions that form our lives. But if "flight" was your best choice in the sandbox, it might remain this way way into your adulthood.

Yet, social status is relative. And thereby adaptive.

If surrounded by cowardly men who tend to avoid confrontation by submission, a man who learned to "flight" growing up in a rough neighborhood might change his strategy. Likewise, a die-hard thug might stop taking on other guys when going to a high security prison.

Whether or not a "fake-it-till-you-make-it" strategy works might be a question on its own (although I have little doubt personally that it does), but the scientific evidence clearly goes against fatalistic attitude:

If you deem yourself alpha - be aware that this could be subject to change
And if you pity yourself for being beta or omega - taking action to change that situation will be the first alpha step in your life.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Fat Acceptance"

Quick. Which one of these girls is more attractive?

I'm sure you didn't have to think. Neither of these two girls is a professional model. Neither is obviously stunning, nor very ugly in the face or deformed. They have the same skin tone and hair color, and they are in approximately the same state of undress, and in the same beach setting. They are probably within 3 years of age of each other (neither is "old"). The most obvious difference, of course, is that the girl in blue and green is fat, and the girl in black is not.

You chose black, I'm sure. But did you know that this is only due to social stigma against fat people? It's true! Actually, both women are equally beautiful, only our evil society unfairly stigmatizes the fat girl. Luckily, there are some brave academics out there working in the field of fat acceptance to save the day...

/end snark.

The New Yorker has a decent article out this week about obesity in America. The author is the prolific Elizabeth Kolbert and the article is good in that standard New Yorker way: the prose is clean and highly readable, even if it doesn't really tell you anything you didn't know before.

Kolbert reviews a series of books on why Americans (and, increasingly, people in other countries as well) are so goddamn porky. You've heard it all before: Our brains are wired to crave sweets and fats because those kept us alive in hunter-gatherer days; Modern "food technology" has given big food corps new ways to cram more calories into each bite (á la high-fructose corn syrup); Super-sizing has slowly but surely increased the acceptable serving size, and humans are generally don't get wise to this unless it's specifically pointed out to them and even then they don't seem to care. Etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

But the real eye-opener, the real eye-gouger-outer, comes near the end of the piece, when she discusses "fat acceptance." I've been vaguely aware of the movement against stigmatizing fat people for a while now. Even the Simpsons satirized it well over 10 years ago when Homer larded up to over 300 pounds, started wearing mumus and a "weird fat-guy hat" and actually gave an impassioned speech about the rights of the obese to a bunch of snickering movie patrons.

But the "academics" quoted in Kolbert's article are truly unbelievable:

So what’s wrong with putting on an extra pound, or ten pounds, or, for that matter, a hundred and ten? According to the contributors to “The Fat Studies Reader” (forthcoming from New York University; $27), nothing. The movement known variously as “size acceptance,” “fat acceptance,” “fat liberation,” and “fat power” has been around for more than four decades; in 1967, at a “fat-in” staged in Central Park, participants vilified Twiggy, burned diet books, and handed out candy. More recently, fat studies has emerged as a field of scholarly inquiry; four years ago, the Popular Culture Association/American Cultural Association added a fat-studies component to its national conferences, and in 2006 Smith College hosted a three-day seminar titled “Fat and the Academy.”

At least back in the 60's it sounds like they were having fun. I'd have more respect for "fat activists" if they went around handing out candy rather than holding "three day seminars" at Smith College. Incidentally, what do you think was on the menu at that seminar? Did they truly embrace the cause and serve chili-cheese fries and churros, like stoners lighting up at a "Hemp Day" concert? Or did they eat tidy portions of grilled salmon with lentils, and if so, how painful was the cognitive dissonance?

Among the founding principles of the discipline is that weight is not a dietary issue but a political one. “Fat studies is a radical field, in the sense that it goes to the root of weight-related belief systems,” Marilyn Wann, who describes herself as five feet four and two hundred and eighty-five pounds, writes in her foreword to the “Reader.”
I almost can't believe this isn't a hoax. Weight is not a dietary issue? Does there come a point when self-satire reaches a saturation point and the ego must capsize in its own rancid sea of idiotic nonsense? Apparently not.

Kathleen LeBesco, a communications professor at Marymount Manhattan College and another contributor, has put it this way:

Fat people are widely represented in popular culture and in interpersonal interactions as revolting—they are agents of abhorrence and disgust. But if we think about “revolting” in a different way . . . in terms of overthrowing authority, rebelling, protesting, and rejecting, then corpulence carries a whole new weight as a subversive cultural practice.
This person has a real job, as a real academic. She pulls a paycheck. It's absolutely astonishing. She's just making shit up. What's up with that puerile play on the two meanings of "revolting"? Perhaps I'm being too generous, but I have to believe that on some level Professor LeBesco realizes how utterly facile and disingenuous this is. But then, one must never underestimate the power of groupthink to brainwash people. I've seen the inside of Cultural Studies and contemporary English departments up close and personal. People talk this way all the time without batting an eyelash. Corpulence as a "subversive cultural practice"? Hmmm.. maybe if an actress in a rendition of Hamlet is so fat she caves in the stage. I suppose that might count as corpulence subverting culture.
According to the authors of “The Fat Studies Reader,” the real problem isn’t the sudden surge in obesity in this country but the surge in stories about obesity. Weight, by their account, is, like race or sex or bone structure, a biological trait over which individuals have no—or, in the case of fat, very limited—control. A “societal fat phobia,” Natalie Boero, a sociology professor at San Jose State University, writes, “in part explains why the ‘obesity epidemic’ is only now beginning to be critically deconstructed.”
Ah, now we come to it. At root of all these kinds of verbal contortions is always a desire to shift blame to someone else. No one is ever responsible for their own actions. It's not you, you see, it's your bone structure. The real problem isn't obesity, it's talking about obesity. If we all just shut up and got sensitive, the fat would no longer get diabetes, nor would they look disgusting. The disgust you feel when you see a morbidly obese person isn't that person's fault, it's society's fault.

What vile, Orwellian bullshit. Not only do they make a claim that is patently false, but they then turn around and claim that it is the other side which is twisting reality. They claim it's all a false construct; but of course in the process of doing so they create their own ridiculous false construct. Anything, anything, to avoid the simple reality that fat people are unattractive and that if they ate less and exercised more, they would no longer have a problem. I hardly need mention that anyone who travels outside of the U.S. can see what normal humans look like. We have a diverse pool of genotypes in this country of course, but whether you travel to Africa, Ireland, the Mediterranean, the Korean peninsula, or rural Mexico, you can find the exact same genotypes, only not disgustingly fat. It's not your "bone structure," Eric, it's you.

Once again, the real irony, the real crime, of this "thinking" (and that's stretching the word to the breaking point) is that what it's really doing is relegating fat people to a life of second-class citizenship. They're trying to unsalt the ocean with teaspoons of rainwater. It's never going to work. It's against nature. But to the degree that they can convince others with their sophistry they conceal that truth, and thereby actively make the problem worse.

I don't know where all this is going. Race Studies and Gender Studies departments are of course completely out of hand and absurd at this point. But at least it was once possible to make a cogent and forceful argument that women and black people deserved a better seat at the table; and that it was worthwhile to actively lobby to this end. But the self-satire of the anti-merit self-esteemers has reached truly epic proportions (pun intended). I'd like to predict that this kind of prima facie absurdity can't go on much longer, but the track record of the absurdists is quite formidable. There's probably no end in sight.

In the meantime, enjoy the few remaining fit American women while you can, fellas. In the near future it's going to be all-outsourcing all-the-time if you want to find a girl who doesn't make you have to reach for the Viagra.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Don't Just Feel.... Do.

A culture may be called decadent when its members exult in what they are, rather than strive to become what they should be.

What characterizes the protagonists of great fiction in an ascendant culture? It is that they are not yet what they should be. The characters of Western literature in its time of flowering either must overcome defining flaws, or come to grief.

The more one wallows in one's inner feelings, of course, the more anxious one becomes. Permit me to state without equivocation that your innermost feelings, whoever you might be, are commonplace, dull, and tawdry. Thrown back upon one's feelings, one does not become a Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker, but a petulant, self-indulgent bore with an aversion to mirrors.
One of the great myths of our modern self-esteem cuture is that there is such a thing as your "authentic self," and that to do anything other than what you feel you want to do is somehow phony. Children are taught to have self-esteem whether or not they deserve it. That is: feeling good about oneself is decoupled from actually doing anything worth feeling good about. It's a profoundly damaging thing to believe. If you are already perfect just the way you are, why bother doing anything at all? (Andrew Sullivan said it better than I can in Time.)

One can get away with this kind of soft-headed sophistry in a comfortable society and a robust economy that has been built on the hard-work, sacrifice, drive, and yes, ambition of millions of progenitors. In moments of true crisis (and no, wondering what you are going to do after graduation does not count as a crisis), the absolute worthlessness of people who operate this way is exposed. Who would you rather be in a foxhole with: a boy who thinks he's special no matter what he does; or a man who questions his worthiness unless it is backed up by measurable action?

It's a short hop from the self-esteem culture to a common mistake people make when they read this blog and other writings on similar topics. The complaint goes like this: "You are being inauthentic. You are being phony. If you knowingly calibrate your actions based on careful study of human nature, you are being manipulative and just a sad human being."

Let me tackle the "manipulative" charge first, because that's easiest. In any social situation, in any situation whatsoever, a person has things they desire and things they do not. When you go to the coffee shop to get a cup of coffee, you are acting on a set of desires. That's obvious, and not evil at all. It's just getting some coffee.

"Well fine," says the arguer, "but what about when your desires involve other people?" To which I reply, it's exactly the same. When you are having a laugh with a friend, it's because you want to. When you get angry at someone who cuts you off, it's because —in that moment, at least— you want to. And when you talk to a pretty girl, whether you use game or not, it's because you want to be with her (whether as a friend or a lover or both, it makes no difference). There's absolutely nothing wrong with this either. Of course, when other people are involved, they may have desires counter to your own, and that's where human interaction gets so famously sticky. But the mere presence of other actors does not make one's own actions wrong.

Finally, on the charge of being "manipulative," I'd also point out that I'm not using my knowledge and skills to hurt anyone, cheat anyone, or steal from anyone. I don't "trick" women into bed. I just put myself in the best light possible. It has been and always will be up to her to decide if she wants to comply. Calling game manipulative is like calling a job applicant manipulative because he shows up for the interview wearing a sharp tie and a crisply pressed suit. Should he come dressed like an unshaven slob because that's somehow more "real"?

So much for that. But what about the "phony and inauthentic" charge? To even level such a charge, someone has to be operating from the assumption that everything he or she does, feels, or thinks is magically sui generis, and uninfluenced by any outside factor at all. A special soul, or little set-apart homonculous in the brain that operates the machinery of the body and speech. Of course, this is a patently absurd assesrtion, which is why no one ever actually asserts it. (Your very ability to read this sentence, which feels so natural and easy to do, is predicated on an incredibly long list of environmental factors, not least of which is you happen to have grown up hearing and reading English all around you and not, say, Swahili.)

But logical assertion is not the strength of our little straw man. He just feels that what others are doing is inauthentic. He can never exactly say why. In the self-esteem culture, it's enough to feel one's way smugly through life, and never back things up with reason or, heaven forfend, action. It was not always thus. There have been many cultures, including our own North American one not so long ago, in which feelings might have made for interesting discussion, but in which it was far more important to analyze a situation and act accordingly. The discoveries surrounding modern physics, modern cellular biology, and modern computing felt strange and foreign at one time, too. But behold the wonders we have wrought: space flight, the polio vaccine, and this blog, natch.

The irony of the advance of biological anthropology and the study of cognitive biases is that it has come in an age in which (most) people are less prone to put in the hard work and study necessary to make use of it. Because their sense of self-worth is caught up in daily affirmations rather than daily action. They are like Holden Caulfield, so befuddled in a haze of "authenticity" that cheerful, direct action actually offends them in some vague though tangible way. Everything's crumby, don't you know?

And the grandest irony of all is that those in the "authenticity" camp have world-views that are every bit as socially and biologically constructed as those who see through the illusion. They just don't have the courage or the intelligence to admit it.

However you, dear reader, can use this to your advantage. Sometimes people worry about "game saturation." You only need worry about this if you are using canned one-liners from Neil Strauss's book. If your game is based on a solid understanding of human cognitive biases and human social dynamics, you're already well on your way to a solid and lasting happiness determined by decisive, informed action — and no book or movement will alter that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Biology of Dirty Talk

During past decades, there was an interesting coincidence between societal developments on one hand and science on the other when it comes to sex.

Women have become increasingly independent from traditional relationship models thanks to their own incomes, birth control and anti-male bias in public thought.

But, surprising to mainstream thought, they do not use their newly gained liberty to (just) chose the lovey-dovey long lasting romantic relationships that Hollywood movies ascribe to their dreams.

Instead, they engage in reckless bad boy chasing and soft harem volunteering (unless they get too old to keep up their market value).

A woman who can (afford to) chose will follow the "rather second woman to a strong man than first woman to a weak guy", rule and not feel bad about it.

At the same time, one of the biggest discoveries in evolutionary science following Darwin was made by studying female sexual behavior within "monogamous" species. It is called postcopulatory sexual selection (or: cryptic female choice).

It comes about thanks to well hidden female promiscuity. The more monogamous the animal species, the better the females at hiding their infidelities. In fact, most females are so sneaky, it takes DNA evidence to track down the actual paternity - and that is exactly why this phenomenon had been missed by Darwin and many of its successors.

The cryptic female choice of one guys sperm out of a large cum pool in a single vagina following the prototypical sperm fests of females all across the animal kingdom is the very basis of sperm competition and has had quite a footprint on male genital morphology - and behavior.

As we all know there are courtship displays and fights (male-male competition) for the "alpha throne" of heavy copulation. Yet, females do not need to rely on a single, potentially premature decision if they can also go around, collect semen from multiple partners and then chose the worthiest and best DNA carried by their sperm.

So thanks to cryptic female choice (since it literally happens inside of her), males
a) lose a good deal of paternity security
b) need to keep competing after the copulatory act.

And the latter leads to the evolution of such wonderful things such as... dirty talk (maybe).

Calling postcopulatory mating calls in insects "dirty talk" might seem like a poor anthropomorphic nerd joke, but since the evidence of cryptic female choice in humans is overwhelming, it makes sense to think about the possibility for a second.

Most men I talked with about the issue (which is not that easy, since in contrast to women, we guys do not feel comfortable talking about our sex lives), agreed that many aspects of rough sex such as calling your lover derogatory names are far bigger turn-ons for girls than for guys. In fact, the common naivety of regular guys as to their women's need for submission to the degree of degradation is one of the main reasons girls are drawn to fuck the bad boys.

Dirty talk is a way to establish male dominance throughout the sexual act, and that is certainly why women like it so much. But, wasn't his social dominance what brought her to open her legs in the first place? Why would a man need to continue to prove his alpha status during coitus?

Well, what works for insects might work for homo sapiens as well. Given the possibility that a woman had just been inseminated by the guy next door, paired with the fact that she can decide which sperm she is going to (subconsciously) "suck up" into her uterus, a man might do well to show off his dominance even when he thinks "the job is done".

PS: According to David Shade, dirty talk is the most powerful tool in the bedroom. He sure is the number one expert on the topic, so you might want to check out what he has to say (pun intended).

PPS: As always there is the caveat of "just-so story telling" when coming up with evolutionary explanations of behavior. But you know that already.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why doesn't every woman want to sleep with you?

So here you are. You learned to see behind the matrix. You have realized that women do not really care about what you look like, what you wear, how much money you make and how much meat you pack.
You know the secret.

Looks don't matter. Appearance matters a lot.

Female desire is exclusive for the top guy, the highest ranking alpha male, the type of man who has got a vision and the confidence to get what he wants.

And so you have learned or perfected your skills. You now are the kind of guy that women want. Your body language lends you the radiating presence that makes females swoon. Your mind is sharp and your remarks witty. You have the respect of fellow men wherever you show up. Your swagger looks natural and your half-smile signifies a lifestyle of pleasure and inner strength.

At social gatherings you soon are the center of attention. You take charge of any situation while keeping anyone at ease. You are calm and relaxed, yet stern when need be. The looks you get from friends and strangers alike are an approval seeking mix of admiration and desire. Men want to be like you. Women want to be liked by you. You know many women who would be more than happy to drop whatever they are doing right now just to have sex with you. They'd rather be a girl in your harem than another men's broad. You are more busy rejecting offers than flirting. You are The Man.

Yet, there will always be women you want to have sex with, and it just doesn't happen.

None of the best seducers out there can claim a 100% success rate.
In fact, most of them do not even bother to deal with that statistic.

But some do. And it often is surprising.

Roosh stated somewhere that men should accept the fact that 99% of women do not want to have sex with them (and get over it). Others, such as Player Supreme, go even further and suggest to forget about any woman who does not signal interest.

Contrast that to the notion that any woman can be seduced given perfect game. Why would some women still be "out of your league"? Isn't that exactly the kind of limiting belief that prevents guys from getting big?

One lay in a hundred approaches seems somewhat low. However, there might be a bias in who you approach or not. It is easy to approach a girl or group if they haven't noticed you yet, and still easier to approach girls who made eye contact and smiled. How often will even the most die hard womanizers approach girls who showed signs of disapproval or disgust upon first look? And what about the ones who are clearly with husband or boyfriend? Lastly, think about the various models and superstars who so many guys desire, yet never even meet.

The maximal ratio of desirable women to sex partners remains somewhat in the dark (yet it is certainly higher than your opening-to-lay ratio).

So why is it that your perfectly high status, body language and game cannot grant you all the women you want? As a matter of fact, there might be several factors:

- Logistics: You cannot have sex on the spot with any girl you meet and the windows of opportunity often are short. If you will, logistics might also extend to other factors such as her hormonal and/or relationship status.

- Slut factor: Debatable. But, among groups of girls who share the same social circle, level of attractiveness and socioeconomic class there will always be some who happily jump from one guy's bed to another, and some whose lifestyle is closer to that of a nun. And the higher her sexual reservation the less likely she's gonna fall (given the amount of effort you are willing to put in).

- Mistakes: I mean, hey, nobody's perfect, right? Small flaws in your game can cost you sex with the woman of your dreams. And the more you want her, the more likely you'll screwing up.

- Factor X: What if looks (or other factors beside social status) do matter to some degree after all? What about gold diggers and size queens? What about white girls with a black fetish? And let's not forget about lesbians...

What's interesting is that the idea that mistakes are the ultimate cause of rejection is the default hypothesis for many.

Understandably so. It seems certainly helpful to think over your approach in case of rejection. Things can always be improved, and humans tend to learn best by trial-and-error. Furthermore, assuming universal attraction grants you natural confidence, abundance mentality and frees you of any complex you might have about your looks.

But, assuming mistakes as sole source of female disapproval has the severe downside of placing all the burden on you. Her rejection becomes your fault. And that might not neccessarily be always the case.
In the game of life the most rational players are the ones most likely to win. Which is exactly why, in business as in human relationships, assuming short time failure can be the road to to long term success.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Attitude vs. Skill

Studying alpha male body language by means of old movies, TV series or dude flicks is fun and educating.

According to Keith Johnston, there are two types of actors when it comes to conveying social status: low and high status "specialists". And it is the latter we can all learn from if we want to improve our standing in life.

Now, in most cases the alpha male character is also a caricature of the ever-winning hero (this is why so many guys imitate a movie screen hero caricature and believe they are acting alpha - a classic case of cum hoc ergo propter hoc).

Not so Kenny Powers of HBO's comedy series "Eastbound and Down" (and no, I still don't have a TV).

Powers has many traits that people confuse with alpha status: He is the typical loud and rowdy, opinionated, macho, Type A personality bordering on sociopathy that society brands "alpha" (and thereby failing to acknowledge the fact that many faggoty pop stars beat such guys in pussy-magnetism by orders of magnitude).
, he also is the type of guy who most people consider a complete fuck-up. He's the classic anti-hero: A guy who once was great (major league baseball star) and has yet come to grasp with his demise.

In his mind (inevitably mirrored in the minds of others around him), he is the shit. Yet, for most viewers is just a Lewboski-esque loser. He's an alpha male by action and a bum by life style. It's a classic case of Natural Status versus Societal Position. This is the very basis of the comedic effect, of course, but it is also a great way to study how alpha body language and attitude reflect upon other people. Take this example:

In this scene, Kenny tries to score himself a "celebrity event" (in his mind worth thousand of bucks). Just minutes into the conversation, he gets out-alpha'ed by the owner of the shop and ends up with a $200 deal for a night of utter embarrassment (not shown).

What Kenny exemplifies here and throughout the entire series is an interesting case of a conflict between Skill and Attitude - and the resulting clash with reality.

We all know them. There are guys who believe that they are the shit. Period. Many of them lack anything of value for society. Or, like Kenny Powers, they are way past their prime (if you think of it, the unfriendliness of old people often is just a sign of their cognitive dissonance between assumed social status and the lack of respect they get from a society that deems them useless in the sexual and monetary domain).
Yet, these people are somehow completely convinced that they deserve a big piece of the cake. And if they become aware of their rightward-tilted Skill-to-Attitude balance, they will justify themselves by means of metaphysical thoughts such as "it's not what you do, but what you think that matters" (see: positive thinking, the law of attraction, creative visualization and personal power).

It can go the other way, too. There are some men who possess what it takes. They have the education, the money, the power, the knowledge, the skill. Yet, in their mind they are just average. They mostly do not realize when someone screws them over, and if they do - they accept it as part of life. These guys are the typical hard working nice guys that society is built upon. They have higher skill than attitude, and it will serve them well. But their path to sex with amazing women and the upper floors in the corporate buildings is steep and stony.

A perfect balance between Skill and Attitude is what it takes to win. If you can back up your gargantuan ego by acts of glory, you will go down in history. Doing great things while knowing what you're worth is the Golden Key. Just thinking you're great will not make you millions. And just doing great will earn you butt fucks over and over again.

But, Attitude alone can get you far. Very far.

Thanks to his attitude, Kenny gets away with almost anything. He is wrecking cars, cursing at friends, family and their kids. And the fact that he does so at the expense of others does not take the least from the support he gets from all these people.

The reason for that is that people tend to accept and copy your self image until counter evidence gets too overwhelming. This is especially true for women (and omega males yearning for "old brother-type" role models). Actual skill (and money, cars etc.) are way down the vag moisturizer scale compared to attitude. And whoever wrote the script to the series is aware of that. Kenny is a ladies man (the only woman Kenny can't get is the one he's got one-itis for. Until he gives up on her that is. The moment he stops chasing her, she wants to join his life. Ahhh, the comedic qualities of female desire...).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Being In State

Becoming good with women does more than get you laid.

Thanks to the female preference for soft skills, men willing to learn what it takes to attract the other gender automatically pick up skills required to get ahead in life in general.

By pushing your own boundaries and repeatedly forcing yourself to step out of your comfort zone, one can gain dramatic insights into personal limits and what is possible in general.

The first time I got struck by this insight was about 3 years ago at a friend's housewarming party. I had just come out of a seven year long quasi-marriage, and was ready to move on. The past months had been a brief phase of mourning, followed by a prolonged period of desperate attempts to find another girl. It did not take long to realize my own idea of being a very attractive guy were at odds with the reality. I was an average frustrated chump par excellence.

But, a few weeks before the party I had come across mASF. I was intrigued by the idea that there was a practical implication to the evo-psych theories I had studied for years. I spent days in a row sucking up the information provided on various forums, eBooks and other sources. It was all fresh in my head, but I had not dared to try using any of the techniques outlined online.

That night I felt ready. I stepped into the room and immediately started talking to the first girl I saw. My instinct at the time was to ease myself in by small talking about my and her job, expecting that either one of us would get bored soon.

Yet, my new tactic was to do anything but that. I tried some of the lines I read, and earned a smile. I tried cold reading, and earned attraction.

Encouraged, I tried to go in for a kiss, and earned a full blown make out. I remember the amazed look on the face of my friends on the other side of the room.
I remember the intrigued look on the girl's face. And I remember the feeling as if someone had flipped a switch in my mind.

By the end of the night I had literally gotten phone numbers from all girls present at the party, and made out with almost all of the attractive ones (before cockblocking myself from a lay).

I had dropped the routines after the third or fourth girl. It was as if a new kind of instinct had set in, and I just knew what to say and when to do what. I just strolled around and talked to people, confident that I would get them out of their stiff shell and enable all of us to have a real good time. I was free of any fear and intimidation. There was not a moment of awkwardness. It was as if all people at the party where tin soldiers ready for me to be placed into position on my virtual playground battlefield.

I had never felt like that before. But I knew I would do whatever I could to experience it again. I knew that whatever it was that had happened to me, it was more than just an episode. I had opened a door to a new realm. An experience that is potent enough to change a whole (way of) life.

I was in The State.

Just like "Runner's High", it is hard to describe what it feels like to enter this mental space. you have to do it and get there in order to realize it even exists.

Our bodies are programmed to respond positively to anything we do that increases our biological fitness in order to ensure maximal success for procreation. We get increasingly happy if a girl we like smiles back, wants to give her number, returns a kiss and ultimately drops her panties and opens her legs - because it guides our behavior into the direction of quality offspring.
Becoming the alpha guy at a social gathering is all that and more. It removes all possible limits to quality and quantity for sex. And the respective response of our brains is a feeling of addictive quality, limited to these conditions.

Now what characterizes The State? And how do you get there if you can't reach it naturally?

Much has been theorized about that, and I do not have the golden answer. But I want to highlight two recent studies on cognitive enhancement that she some light on some of the underlying mechanisms.

The first study is about the relationship between mental function and the level of stress an individual experiences.

As it turns out, there is an optimal level of stress that enables us to use our full cognitive potential.

Just hanging lose doesn't cut it. If there is not enough stress, we need to get motivated and enthused to reach that "zone". If we get stressed out too much, we lose our ability to think straight. But with a perfect balance between being aroused and relaxed, we live out our inner genius.

This is a key finding for understanding The State.

Just showing up at an event, chill and relaxed is far from ideal for meeting great women. And of as we all know, being too hyper and jerky - let alone stressed out - is killing your chances, too.

Stress is the hallmark of the beta male. Accordingly, we seem to get increasingly sensitive to other people's social status when the pressure goes up. Disrespecting the dominance of an alpha can cause embarrassment and even physical harm for a low status guy, so they better remain on the lookout with their no fight-but-flight response in constant alert mode.

Yet, some stimulant is necessary even for alphas to excel.

Another (related) interesting find concerns Freudian Slips (or: ironic errors, as scientists like to call them).

Stress can increase the occurrence of what some call "precisely the worst thing to say or do for any occasion". And current scientific thought is that this is due to a price we all pay for not letting that happen to often.

More specifically, our brains might have evolved with a module that constantly monitors our environment and behavior and creates a worst case scenario. Based on that model, it computes an error signal - an instant taboo to help us avoid disaster. Yet, the mere presence of this "No Go" inside our brains puts us into danger of doing exactly that - and so it happens (sometimes).

The incidences are not random. Stress, pressure and distraction are required for things to go wrong. And this is precisely why being In State is mutually exclusive from social embarrassment. When "mental load" is minimized, so are ironic errors.

By letting go - forgetting about routines and the idea of "getting laid", your brain gets freed up to focus on the task at hand. You are "outcome independent" and "in the now" - no hidden agenda and no second thoughts. Your brain uses its optimal capacity - and that is why things go so smoothly.

With women or life in general, check your inner tension. If you are too stressed - it is time to cool off. If you are Mr. Cool, it will help to pep yourself up a little. Assuming an inverse U as the place to find an optimum goes far. Life is all about finding the right amount at the right time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Irony of Whoring

Did you read the headline and thought: "Hey, another post about how all women are whores"?
Actually, no. Not this time.

Today I will talk about actual prostitutes. Eastern European teenagers with a playboy-worthy appearance and regular STD tests, to be precise.

I spent last Saturday night strolling the red light district in Amsterdam. A city so liberal that nobody even interferes with various illegal activities going on in broad daylight.
I had not planned to walk through what’s essentially a several-blocks large open air brothel amidst hundreds of guys struggling with their pot overdoses and ‘shroom-trips.

But all my attempts at localizing some nightlife failed. Web sites and locals alike guided me to the Sodom and Gomorrah of our times.

And I would be dishonest not to admit that I was curious about - and pretty soon fascinated by - the sexual spectacle around me.

If you haven’t been, you cannot quite imagine what it’s like. There are narrow streets divided by water, the famous canals called Gracht (completely unpronounceable for native English speakers), and surrounded by buildings dating back to the times of Descartes. There is an intense stink in the air as coffee shops open their windows and American tourists blow smoke in the air as if they were bee keepers readying to get to the good stuff. And then there are “the windows” (really just (very) small rooms with a bed, a sink and a toilet with a door to the street).

The whore houses are indicated by neat looking red lanterns at the doors, but it would be hard to walk by and not notice the business they were designed for since the girls knock on the glass, swing open the doors and even grab your shirt as you walk by.

At first I felt strangely uncomfortable about the scene. But my fascination soon took over completely, and kept me going. But it wasn’t until long until I felt deep guttural disgust and sadness for the dynamics unfolding in front of my eyes.

There was a general pattern: large groups of guys – “regular” looking, mostly in their twenties – would stroll around and then congregate in front of one of the windows. The woman (rather: 18 year old girl) inside would then put up a show of swaying her body, winking and pointing fingers at the guys she thought would be the most likely to walk in. Sometimes the girls would even start conversing in broken English. The guys typically just stood there and stared. After a while the group would disperse.

Now, the first interesting observation I made was that despite the low prize – 50 Euros, non-negotiable for anything but anal according to my field interviews – almost none of the whores managed to turn a trick (yes, it is less than what American pay for the obligatory pre-lay dates, but it proves most men love the chase more than the trophy). If they were successful in attracting a guy, they earned applause and cat calls.

And if it happened, the guy that walked in would fit in one and the same category: good lucking, well kept, intelligent seeming young man with striped shirt, glasses and body language giveaways that screamed: just graduated in engineering at a German college (the European equivalent to the American IT nerd).

Once a guy went in, the other guys tended to wait and take the time it took for them to come back out (usually not long). Cat calls again. And then they moved on.

What they left behind were young girls who dropped the façade for a second. Any them they thought themselves unobserved (I am such a sneaky motherfucker), they went from smile to sigh. The first time I saw that, I was shocked. The contrast between the raunchy, horny, lurid persona they just were a second ago, and the sad, insecure broken creature they turned into when nobody looked was almost incomprehensible. But when they started smiling again I noted that underneath their bedroom eyes there was an ocean of despair.

The irony couldn’t be any bigger. Here you have some girls from poor countries dreaming up a better life far away. As any girl, they eventually seek the comfort and safety that only a dedicated Provider male can offer. They dream of houses and kids, and a husband who loves and pampers them until they die of old age. They seek a good, decent man who makes some money, is a good dad and would not hurt them in any way (by means of cheating and/or abuse).

At the same time, and on the other side of the glass, you find exactly that type of guy. Men with decent jobs, great daddy potential and an adoration for these women that borders on obsession. They would do anything to be with a woman of that class. They would love them with unconditional one-itis, and not believe their luck of scoring such a trophy wife. These men would never raise a hand or cheat on these girls, since they lack the chance (and are blinded by one-itis).

In a sense, these windows are a meeting point of the two soul mates that romantic movies are all about. Both parties would get what they want if they would be able to find each other “in love” and not as part of a business transaction. And in a perfect world, these souls would fall in love regardless. Yet, there was essential element lacking for Pretty Woman to come true: The girls do not really want these guys.

In fact, all the sighs and sadness are due to fact that biology is a bitch, and female bodies designed to reject the sperm of lesser men. A man who needs to pay for relief is not the type of guy a woman gets wet for (the enormous stashes of lubricant bottles next to these girl’s beds are testament to that).

The sadness and despair in their eyes was the outer sign of the biologically inspired panic with which their bodies reacted to the danger of getting impregnated by unfit,lesser men.

Rather, the brutal grip and cold emotion-less eyes of their black pimps is what turns these girls on. Whenever I saw them talk to one of these shawdowy figures, who lingered in the alleys waiting to cash in once a trick left a premise, the girls eyes lit up in admiration.

These women are disgusted by the guys who offer them to realize the dream of their life, and they love the men who systematically destroy any chance of getting there.

There is another red light district in Amsterdam. I stepped into it by accident the next day while trying to find a street café for lunch with my Dutch friend (she was unfamiliar with Amsterdam herself). The women there are not attractive. They are old. Their faces and looks were even sadder than those of the EE girls I saw the other night, and their attempts of getting my attention even more desperate. This is where the girls go once they turn 30 and tricks stay away for good. I have no idea how much they charge, but I am sure it is even less than the already low-seeming prize in the touristy area. The women here have lost hope. But they haven’t lost the attraction for their pimps.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Alpha Defined, in 46 Seconds Flat

Michael Mann is a great director of dude flicks. His movies drip testosterone like a boxer in round 12 of a title fight. "Last of the Mohicans", "Heat", "Collateral", hell even the disappointing "Miami Vice" (which actually would have been a great film if it weren't for the horribly miscast and unfortunately tailored Colin Farrell): all these movies feature hardcore villains and even harder-core heroes.

Magua versus Hawkeye and Chinganchgook, in "Last of the Mohicans":

Neil versus Vincent, in "Heat":

Even in Mann's non-shoot-em-up movies, the male themes of honor, honesty, sacrifice, and redemption come through with drama and intensity.

"The Insider":

Mann's new movie is out: Public Enemies. Surprise surprise, it's about a law man, a criminal, the woman he loves, violence, bravery, and honor. Unfortunately, the studios are keeping a pretty good cap on movie content out there on the web so far. I've got a clip from the movie that I want to talk about, but it can't be embedded. So I'm going to link to it. Open this link in a new window, watch it, and then continue reading.

The blatant alpha-ness in this clip of Johnny Depp playing John Dillinger hardly needs to be pointed out. He's forceful, in-control, and confident. But what's truly great about this are the little moments that flicker by with hardly a second to notice them. Humans take in situations holistically and then later have a hard time explaining how they just knew things to be a certain way. I'm sure no one familiar with the concepts of alpha and beta in primate societies would have trouble calling this performance alpha. But why?

Well, the most obvious things Depp does here are throw the coat at the other man, boss the girl around, and act smooth. But how does he do it?

First of all, his coat-throwing antic is of course a total dick move to the other guy. But notice that, while he does it with a dismissive air, he also does it without a hint of anger or peevishness. When he says, "Keep the tip," he doesnt' say it with some asshole smirk, but rather matter-of-factly. He's fully established himself as far above the moustached man in the social hierarchy, but without expending any of his mental or psychic energy on the task. Even as he's AMOG-ing the moustache, he's already pivoting on his heel back to the woman, unconcerned with the other guy's reaction. He knows he's alpha; he doesn't need to wait and see the reaction.

Then he says, "Cause you're with me now." Dead-solid eye-contact, body slightly turned away. I mean, shit, how's a girl going to resist that? It's almost not even fair. Sometimes I execute the same kind of shit on a girl (minus the director, writer, and editor to perfect my moves on celluloid, but with Depp's amazing good looks and unassailable charm), and I almost feel bad for the poor doe. How is the mere daughter of some father supposed to resist a Cassanova like that? Notice how her reaction is to turn her body to him, even as she's protesting. Great directors and actors don't just make this shit up off the tops of their heads; the use these visual clues because they are universally recognizable indicators of timeless modes of human interaction.

In Depp's rapid-fire life story that he rips off, the first thing to notice is that he doesn't hesitate for a moment in his answer to her. She challenges him, "I don't even know anything about you," and without a blinking an eye he turns into her, with slightly menacing, eyebrow-leading posture, and launches into his mini-speech. You wanna get personal?... well then, let's get personal, bitch.

The second thing, and the detail that makes this Oscar-worthy, is the nanosecond of almost imperceptible smile Depp gives after he says, "My Daddy beat the hell out of me because he didn't know no better way to raise me." Watch this a couple times if you can't catch it at first. Depp/Dillinger is leaning in with vaguely menacing posture, and she's leaning back ever so slightly, but with rapt attention. He gives her a very personal detail of his life. In our modern hysterical times, we would say that Dillinger was a victim of child abuse. In any time and any culture, getting smacked around by your single father is a rough experience to go through (whether you consider it positive or negative in the long run, it sucks when it's actually happening). He's just opened up and told her something that makes him seem very vulnerable. For half a second he lets her see the little scared boy with a dead mother he never knew, cowering in fear below a terrifying father figure. Any woman — hell, any human — would feel a twinge of sympathy upon hearing that.

But even as he let's out that detail, the comment "because he didn't know no better way to raise me," does two things. First, it shows a degree of forgiveness and even superiority over his violent father, like when an adult sees a misheivous boy and says "oh well, boys will be boys." With that statement he turns his own "victimhood" (in the modern conception) into an asset proclaiming his own invulnerability.

Second, that little smile (and it's very brief) adds another layer. "He didn't know no other way to raise me" implies: I'm such a hellcat that even as a little boy my father couldn't figure out how to deal with me. My abusive father couldn't handle me, honey. You don't stand a chance. Wink. Smile.

Then some obvious stuff: "I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars, whiskey, and you." I admit I like this line because I happen to love all of the above things from the bottom of my heart. And it's of course a very manly list of hobbies. But notice one more subtlety (and here the credit really should go to the script writer). The list of hobbies goes slowly but steadily up the ladder from average to dangerous: "baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars, whiskey, and you."

Every guy likes baseball (at least every guy who's not a fucking commie pinko): easy enough. Most people like movies. So approachable! Some men appreciate good clothes, but it's a definite marker of discernment. Okay, that's normal but a little distinctive, and the mark of a choosy man. Fast cars next. Not just any car, but fast ones. As in, Sure I like to get around, but only if it's going to be fucking exciting. Whiskey. Translation: I like it hard, raw, and manly, and I'm not afraid to admit it. And at the end of this list he says, "and you." Another double-entendre. It pays the girl a very high compliment by implying that he likes her more than all those glorious manly things (baseball! whiskey!) ... makes her feel very special. But also, because of the escalating scale of danger, it implies that she herself is a dangerous substance. And she probably is (she is, after all, a woman). But more than that it plays into her female conceits of herself as a glamorous, dangerous, and desirable person. What human, male or female, doesn't want to be told that he or she is the epitome of danger and desirability?

Finally, there is the moment, "What else do you need to know?" That's a direct challenge. Depp has directly answered her question, albeit wittily, and now throws her own challenge back in her face. He reasserts his initial statement ("You're with me now") by holding her coat open, simultaneously chivalrous and demanding. And he holds it for a rather long time. It's only a few seconds, as the girl thinks and glances at her friend and back up at Depp. But for a man who is unsure of himself those seconds can feel like an eternity. Look at his left hand: not a hint of doubt. Try for a moment to imagine yourself in Depp/Dillinger's position. Could you hold that coat with the same steely resolve? Even the slightest hint of wavering or concession ruins the whole act. But Depp just stands there and waits. And sure enough, she follows. Because it wasn't an "act," it was just him being the way he is. That's the biggest alpha lesson of all... As a man you are always, always, her boss.

She waits on you, even when you are politely holding her coat open for her. That's what really makes girls hot about chivalry. It's not the politeness, per se, it's the unbending confidence, the steely expectation. That's what confuses so many men when women complain about the end of chivalry in modern society. If you hold coats like the moustached man, you are "chivalrous" and you never get laid. If you hold coats like Depp/Dillinger, you are chivalrous, and you get laid by the cow-eyed old-timey dame, and you rob a bunch of fucking banks, and you get arrested, and you break out of jail, and you get killed, and people are writing blog posts about you almost 80 years later.

It's your choice. Study on it well.