Data on incels

But whatever the direct effect of education on never-married men, the primary cause of the rise in sexlessness is simply the increasing delay of marriage. The delay in marriage has numerous causes, of course, but probably the most powerful driver of marital timing also relates to education. Men and women are much less likely to get married while attending school, and across times and countries, an increase in the years of schooling is associated with later age of marriage, though more-educated people do tend to get married eventually. Thus, as more and more schooling becomes necessary for a good middle-class job, marriage gets pushed later and later, leaving more young people (men and women!) companionless and lonely.

The rise of young male sexlessness isn’t about Chads and Stacies; it isn’t primarily about Tinder or Bumble; it’s not mostly about attitudinal shifts in what women want from relationships; and it’s not mainly about some new war between the sexes. It’s mostly about people spending more years in school and spending more years living at home. But that’s not actually a story about some change in sexual politics; instead, it’s a story about the modern knowledge economy, and to some extent exorbitant housing costs. As such, it’s no surprise that rising sexlessness is being observed in many countries. This, in turn, suggests that finding a solution to help young people pair up may not be as easy.

That is from Lyman Stone, there are useful charts and graphs at the link.


But.... for me and almost all my friends, the most frequent sex we had in our lives, and the highest number of partners, occurred during college. (I'm 34 and married and my sex life has subdued significantly, as has my spouse's and most of our friends.) More education, at least for americans in college, should lead to more, not less sex. The whole thesis seems ill-contrived.

Yeah, the idea that "lack of marriage" and "sexlessness" are the same thing baffles me.

Despite cultural preconceptions to the contrary, virtually all surveys reveal that married people have significantly more sex, and more satisfactory sex, than their nonmarried counterparts.

Swinging bachelors tend to be the more visible because they're extraverted, have more friends, and are more transparent about their sex life. But lonely bachelors are the real silent majority.


Boys used to take up guitars and drums to solve this problem.


You're mistaking my argument that education shouldn't lead to less sex as being single shouldn't lead to less sex. After college, pre-marriage, is a different story... in college nearly every class is mixed gender, dorms are often mixed gender, and parties certainly are, while transportation costs are very low. After college as a single person working, the gender interactions go way down as well as the social interactions, while transportation costs rise. Marriage, theoretically, should be somewhere in between the two.

Most traditional societies achieve near 100% marriage rates with far lower rates of mixed gender social interaction than modernity. I agree that mixed gender interaction *does* increase total sex, but almost entirely because it allows a small subset of cool, charismatic, attractive people to have a lot more casual sex. However this group is never at risk of sexual starvation, regardless of the social structure.

For those on the margins of the sexual marketplace, socialization does little to nothing to help them. These types of people are more like a human "deep track". Their best qualities don't necessarily shine through at a party or bar. They're the type of person who's a great guy/gal, but you really need to get to know better to appreciate. They're also usually shy and non-aggressive, so it takes a while to move along romance. They're not bringing someone home at last call.

At 21, they'd do better sexually with their own home and stable job than being enrolled in a coed university. Yes, overall they'd probably meet fewer people from the opposite gender. But having a more "adult" life would empower them to start a more serious long-term relationship. Sex can be really intimidating for the awkward, shy and self-conscious. The best antidote is commitment and emotional intimacy. The typical university's social scene does little to engender relationships of this quality.

The key thing to understand here is that college may lead to more sex overall but a higher % of people who don't have sex at all. This seems at least plausible to me.

Yeah, there are certain types who are inept at the initial stages of meeting and attracting someone. Those people will not fare well in the college meat market and will be better served with a marriage-based system because it minimizes the amount of meeting and finding you have to do. And many traditional cultures have evolved customs where this meeting and finding function is largely done for you whereas nowadays you are pretty much on your own to navigate the new terrain. A monogamous marriage model is in many ways very sexually egalitarian. Without it there's no reason to expect the market to "clear."

Maybe if graduate education was like undergrad, but it isn't.

I'm getting more education while working full time -- my campus is online. Good luck ever finding me in a frat house.

Median lifetime sexual partners is in the low single digits. If anything the college-educated have lower #'s than non-college population. Animal House is only a reality for the small minority of the athletic, self-confident, charismatic and attractive. This subgroup would not have to worry about getting laid regardless of life trajectory. (Similarly, despite American college's much vaunted reputation for experimentation, very few students have tried any drugs outside marijuana.)

College or not, almost all sex in America is decidedly non-casual. If we really want to decrease sexlessness, the only lever society has available is increasingly the percentage of people in long-term relationships.

+1 most people's assumptions about this stuff is just wrong. It comes from lying males and TV and Movies. The best statistics are as you say. Median lifetime sexual partners is in the low single digits. One could argue that is wrong but if it is then we just have no idea.

Maybe lisbon125 was just taking the opportunity to brag about his conquests.

If your twenties are sexless then you are doing life wrong. Sex is definitely not overrated.

"If your twenties are sexless then you are doing life wrong"

You assume that someone as facially repulsive as I am can do anything about it. It's not like I can alter the immutable physical/facial characteristics that resulted in decades of bullying, mistreatment, discrimination, rejection, and isolation that also stunted my social development.

Women take one look at me and go out of their way to avoid me. This has happened my entire life and continues to happen everywhere I go. For someone like me, there is no escape besides living away from society or committing suicide. And few people can understand or emphasize because the percentage of men as undesirable as I am is close to 0.

I'm not going to say it isn't a problem, but it's probably even worse for unattractive women than it is for men. To begin with, women are not as biologically programmed to desire men for their physical appearance as men are. Indeed, there's probably a small percentage of women who fetishize ugliness. Second, consider the number of cultural tropes about women falling in love with ugly men: Beauty and the Beast, the Frog Prince, etc. There are no such countervailing folktales about handsome men falling for ugly women. None.

In other words, there's probably women out there who are even more shunned and reviled than you are. And their chances of ever getting laid are even lower.

It isn't worse. Per OKCupid data, male ratings of women are normally distributed from 1 to 7 with a mean almost exactly in the middle. 6% of women are rated "least attractive." For women rating men, 27% of men are "least attractive," and 81% of men were rated a 1, 2, or 3.

There are very, very few females who could not get some sort of sex/male attention right now. There are many men who could not get the equivalent female attention.

As the data shows, 16% of unmarried women aren't getting laid, compared to 20% of unmarried men. The numbers simply don't match your contention that very very few women cannot get laid.

Also, physical attractiveness is, as I said, not the most important factor for most women. Personally, I think male bodies are kinda ugly from a purely aesthetic standpoint. So it's not really that surprising that men get rated "ugly" more than women do. That doesn't men those men aren't attractive to women for reasons other than appearance, such as personality.

Some women don't want to get laid. Almost all men do.

Almost everyone at least wants a companion, and the women who aren't interested in sex are mostly willing to have sex with guys so they can have some sort of romantic life in exchange. Very few women just want to sit at home alone at night and knit.


It is NOT worse for unattractive women rather than unattractive men.

All the data says that female reproductive success is much lower variance than male. This is evolution 101. To put it bluntly, women enjoy some returns even if dealt a weak hand.

Female Gammas can always "share" an Alpha, or a decent Beta, if they don't want to take a male Gamma (an understandable choice given how maladaptive some males are). Men, conversely, are in much more of a Rags-OR-Riches situation. Alphas enjoy great superior returns to their female counterparts of course. But Gamma males are much less well positioned than their counterpart. They don't get options to share Beta and Alpha Females.

Come on, this is incontestable, surely?

Not really. It 's possible that there is a smaller number of very-low-rated women* - "gammas" if you want to call them that - but they have it worse.

Also while that OKCupid study did find that women were harder on men in the aggregate, I believe women's individual preferences were more widely varied than men's. So men's ratings followed a normal distribution AND they were rating the same women 1, 4, and 7. Women were a lot more likely to give out low ratings BUT they weren't all rating the same men the same way. Obviously some men were more likely to get high ratings than others, but the correlation was a lot weaker than it was for women.

my * meant to indicate that we're talking about young people here. I think older single women have a much tougher time overall.

Older women and divorcees and single mothers. A woman who is divorced or has kids from a previous relationship is often regarded as damaged goods. I remember having one conversation with a guy in a bar one time where I was telling him about my PhD research, and he was like "It's awesome that you don't have kids!"

They don't get options to share Beta and Alpha Females.

I actually know a woman who is (unofficially) married to two men. So that's not entirely true.
Of course, she used to work as a dominatrix, so that might be part of the reason. I will admit that one-man-many-woman polygamy is far more common than one-woman many men. Probably not enough of an issue to make a dig different in the dating market.
And still it is *possible* for a "gamma" man to share a wife. Polygamy is illegal for both sexes, but there's nothing actually stopping people from unofficially living in polygamous relationships.

"I actually know a woman who is (unofficially) married to two men. So that's not entirely true."

I think we just have to assume we are both being grown up and talking means and distributions here, right? And we can both find silly exceptions to the rules?

"And still it is *possible* for a "gamma" man to share a wife. "

Yes...but...seriously, do I need to explain why Polygamy occurs frequently and Polyandry almost never? Come on Hazel, you're read the Selfish Gene and done Evo Pysch 101, right? Cucks.. That's why. Where is the cuckmeister general when you need him?

"Polygamy is illegal for both sexes, but there's nothing actually stopping people from unofficially living in polygamous relationships."

Exactly. And we see a mixed solution which is half way between idealised monogamy and polygamy solutions, with a bit of female hypergamy thrown in. (Alpha men have multiple concurrent exclusive partners, beta men have one, and gamma men have....well, whatever they can get)

Seriously, there is a lot of good maths on this (general sorting) problem. Polygamy favours alpha males and beta females. Monogamy favours beta males and alpha females.

Hazel, actually, being a little unfair, in that you are right that gamma males can "share" a female.

But that's exactly what the game theory predicts! The gamma female taking favours from many gamma boyfriends/clients is the statistical converse of a single alpha male with many mistresses. This sharing at both ends of the distribution smooths the "average" female payoff and gives women a much smaller variance than the men...which is again exactly what we see in the reproductive statistics

What's the meaning of attractive here? It's entirely possible that different people define that word differently-- for example, it may involve personality traits as well as physical appearance. Ever meet someone who rated a 10 on looks, but a 2 on behavior? Would you want that person as a partner?
And sadly, there are issues of class here too. Women generally do not want guys whose economic prospects are poor. Men may be OK with a stay-at-home wife who has few prospects in the job market, but most women do not want a guy who is unemployable.

"Ever meet someone who rated a 10 on looks, but a 2 on behavior?"

Nope, nor would most people. Of course to the posters point, most people don't want a 2 on looks, but a 10 on behavior, either.

You and "most people" need to get out more. I've known several people who were a feast for the eyes to look at, but suffered from mental illness, alcoholism or drug problems. I've bailed on a potential relationship because of the latter (drugs) and my friends were astonished I would drop someone so good looking-- until I explained the reason.

I think you need to re-read what I wrote. I agreed with you. Then I pointed out the converse is also true.

Yep - many men have no long-term career or romantic prospects, and the two are intertwined. (Note also the drastically increasing gap in p(marriage) along the lines of educational outcome.) This is a big problem both from a utilitarian and practical POV, as desperate men who see no prospects tend to be a risky cohort.

I've been married, happily, for more than 15 years, but I can remember two homely men whom I would have loved to date back in the day. They were really smart, really thoughtful and generous. The second of these had a steady girlfriend (probably married her long ago), and I remember being disappointed when I learned this.

Men are (on average) attracted to women around their age and younger. Women are (on average) attracted to men around their age and older. This leads to disparate impacts on younger men and older women.

Pretty much. And there absolute chasms (chasms!) of difference between being in your 40s, having had sex and relationships when you were young, actually being treated as an object of desire and having intimacy, and *then* having no relationships when you're older and more mature and more focused on your children anyway, vs going your whole young life as invisible, no relationship, no intimacy, not even being treated as if you were desirable even once.

How many men would refuse having all their lifetime sex frontloaded to when they were 15-40? How many women would choose to defer all their sexuality until they were 40-50? Therein lies the answer on which disparate impact is more psychologically painful.

You might want to travel to south east Asia and try to find some work there. Your US citizenship can do wonders.

If it's affecting your life that much, then get plastic surgery. If you need more money for that, work harder and earn it (there's no excuse there).

Plastic surgery is one of the ways to address what Robin Hanson said with going to forcing anyone to have sex.

Aren't there women out there who are also not very physically attractive? I see them all the time. You just need to meet one.

I think he's saying he's so hideous that even the ugly women shun him.
I would advise getting involved with the local fetish/kink scene, to whatever extent it exists, because he might have a chance of meeting someone with an ugliness kink, or at least a submissive who would get off on being "forced" to have sex with him.

Holy cow!

I'll never forget my gym ad: "don't be fat and ugly, be just ugly".

Among complaining men, exercise is quite underrated.

Dancing lessons are even more underrated.

Starting with the dancing class itself.

Grow a big beard. My stepdad is really unattractive facially but has a big beard so my mom and plenty of other women noticed his sense of humor and great musical talents before they realized they didn't want to see him without a beard.

Go to the gym and get built. Grow a large beard (this'll cover half your damn face). Work hard and make a decent income. Learn how to play the guitar. Read How to Win Friends and Influence People so you know how to be an interesting person people want to be around. If you do all of these things and still can't pull an American girl, take your cash, ripped bod, beard, guitar and go to Costa Rica (or similar country).

Yeah, I could dig the shaved-head-with-beard look. Wear a gold earing, and you'll wind up looking like a pirate, which is pretty hot. Join the SCA and run around being that bad-ass ugly pirate dude.

There has also been a rather shocking decline in testosterone among men over the past few decades, measurable directly or by reliable proxies such as grip strength.

I'm skeptical of any analysis of aggregate sexual behavior that does not either take that decline into account or explain why it does not matter.

Is this true? Grip strength, I mean. I see this around and just thought it was some old man bullshit ragging on millenials.

Yes - please provide a citation for this. If true, it is interesting. Perhaps one reason is that life is significantly less risky than before and the body reacts by producing less of the required hormone to deal with risk, maybe it is generated by repeated adrenaline?

We observe a substantial age-independent decline in T that does not appear to be attributable to observed changes in explanatory factors, including health and lifestyle characteristics such as smoking and obesity. The estimated population-level declines are greater in magnitude than the cross-sectional declines in T typically associated with age.

Well, most people do less physical labor these days so it makes sense that their strength is less since they are not building muscle in the course of daily activities. Though the possibility that some of the effect is due to ersatz estrogen mimics (from plastics) in the environment is also a possibility. Any research on if we are seeing this among animal populations too?

I suspect you are right re environmental. Also should be noted, that women pee into the water supply while consuming estrogen pills.

"Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are estrogen-like and/or anti-androgenic compounds that disrupt and interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism, binding, or elimination of natural hormones in the body responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis and the regulation of developmental processes"

"Based on our review of genetic and environmental factors, we conclude that environmental exposures arising from modern lifestyle, rather than genetics, are the most important factors in the observed trends. These environmental factors might act either directly or via epigenetic mechanisms. "

"However, increasing indirect evidence exists that exposure to ubiquitous endocrine disrupting chemicals, present at measurable concentrations in individuals, might affect development of human fetal testis."

Re: . Also should be noted, that women pee into the water supply while consuming estrogen pills.

Women, and for that matter many animals, pee in the water with natural estrogen in their urine too. I suspect that nature long ago accommodated that. It's the ersatz estrogen mimics from vast mountains of plastic refuge that are more likely to be the problem.

Agree on the plastics. There should be a cap and trade; I am not unaware of the externalities.

I do not think natures adaptations incorporate synthesized hormones. Ask Body Builders and Barry Bonds. Hormones are a costly evolutionary business which is why each additional unit has its own cost/benefit evolutionary equilibrium. Additionally, per the science, it does not take a lot to alter in the early cells of a fetus.

You can correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I know the estrogen women use in assorted meds is estrogen, just as the insulin diabetics take is insulin. I don't think nature is smart enough to look for a "Made in XXX" tag on molecules.

According to experts, American male grip has collapsed and is, now, little stronger, if stronger at all, than American female grip.

Yeah, that industry study of 200 odd males seems to be cited a lot. I'm still looking...maybe ill find something after my weeding is done.

Do you have the grip to weed something?


These topics are like The Kennedy Assassination and Wedge Issues. I avoid them at most costs. The extreme path leads to unhappiness and manipulation.

People trying to manipulate you to advance agendas or you trying to manipulate others to get your way.

Agreed. Though I'm rubbernecking while 'Hazel Meade' is holding forth on human relations.

Actually, the answer is straightforward- encourage young men and women to spend less time in college and graduate school.

Mike Rowe and Peter Thiel can now use 'increased sexual satisfaction' as a talking point.

Oh, God!

This analysis is exactly backward. To claim that the reason these men are in voluntarily celibate is “the delaying of marriage due to education” misses the whole point (intentionally, or not!)

How are these men, with no sexual encounters, and no prospect for them apparently, supposed to “just get married”? The apparent lack of marriages is a symptom of the new isolation of bothers me , not a cause.

How could the author miss the probable causation so thoroughly?

Should read * “The apparent lack of marriages is a symptom of the new isolation of these men, not a cause.” *

1) it's not actually certain that sexlessness is increasing in not married men

2) it's doesn't seem to be the case that women are getting more promiscuous

The implication is that people (male and female) are spending less time fraternizing with the enemy and more time in education and career advancement.

How can point #2 be true, when the percentage of gainfully employed, prime working aged males keeps dropping?
It seems obvious that a large part of the current batch of unemployed / underemployed men living with parents are the same men who are complaining (truthfully) of their woeful sexual prospects.
Here's a point of anec-data that illustrates the possibility that I give the most probability to:
In my graduate program, there is a young man - conventionally masculine, employed, tremendously likeable, not in a committed relationship, and who has no fewer than 25 women who he is actively "relating to".
It seems that, at least in his lived experience, the women he knows are perfectly content with a piece of his attention, rather than getting 100% of the attention of an inferior man.
And they can afford to now!
1) Much less societal stigma around not being married or monogamous
2) Much greater potential for women to be economically self-sufficient
3) Much less religious pressure - external or self-imposed, to maintain "chastity" before marriage, due to the decline of mainline religiosity.

You can argue that these various societal tends are unrelated, but that seems like a ~drastically~ more complicated thesis than saying that they are expressions of a large cultural shift (which isn't done shifting yet!)

Re: In my graduate program, there is a young man - conventionally masculine, employed, tremendously likeable, not in a committed relationship, and who has no fewer than 25 women who he is actively "relating to".

Are you sure the guy is not engaging in the time-honored habit of male bragadacchio? It's a well known fact that guys exaggerate their sexual activities. Unless they are one-off, one-night stands he's had over the years I can't see how a guy not employed as a gigolo could carry on with that many women at once and still make his rent (and in grad school for crying out loud-- presumably he has lots and lots of school work that has to be done). Also, I wonder how many other guys the women are involved with? Generally these days what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander (OK, the old saying is backwards in this matter). Outside of a small subculture of polyamorous triads and the like, if you find men behaving promiscuously it's a good guess those women are sleeping around a lot too. At the extreme you may find swingers' subculture: coetus omnium cum omnibus.

+1 @JonFraz

One guy actively dating 25 women, all of whom are exclusive with him, is ridiculous beyond belief. I've known male models, professional musicians and guys with 9 figure trust funds. None of them even came close to that lifestyle. Typically what you'll see among a very very desirable male is one to two serious girlfriends, who almost always are under the illusion that the guy is exclusive with them. Four to five side chicks that kind of drift in and out, and definitely are with other guys. Then maybe three or four one-time hookups per month, half of which might result in intercourse. And I guarantee you these guys are spending nearly all their free time chasing girls.

But even in this scenario, we're talking the extreme right tail of attractive and eligible bachelors. Maybe 1 in a 1000 men. Guys like this aren't shifting the marketplace, simply because even if they're taking up five girls at once, they're still a drop in the ocean. If anything the impact of Casanovas has probably gone down, because social media has made it harder to lead a philandering lifestyle.

One guy having casual sex with 25 women is not that unusual in the big cities. With the apps and loose sexual mores it is very easy for alpha males to have a dozen or more women on call. My friend is an attractive attorney with excellent "game" and he has four or five different women each week. Once they become attached and want a relationship he moves on. He doesn't even spend money on the women or invest a lot of time. First date is coffee and it is no more than 30 minutes, second date is a cheap restaurant or drinks at a bar and if the woman is a big earner he insists on splitting the tab and third date he cooks them rice and beans at his home and seals the deal. Don't underestimate how easy it is for alpha males to get attractive women. I think 80% of the dates/sex go to 20% of the population. I read that somewhere.

Casual sex, sure. But then those ladies of the one night stand are available for other guys too-- they have not been taken off the market.

Consider the theory that men are either alpha studs or beta providers. Under this model, women have sex with alphas for fun but with the betas only when they are looking for a husband. This model doesn't predict that betas only get laid after they are married, but only (or mostly) when women are in pursuit of a husband.

Sure, if one defines groups like that, that's how the groups work.

Problem is, I've never seen a lick of evidence that those group definitions are true for a meaningful percentage of women (or men).

(Either that or I was somehow an Alpha Stud for years despite being nothing like what the "incel" people think an "Alpha" is.

Including utterly rejecting the "Alpha/Beta" model as ludicrous flummery.

And using the word flummery.)

Regular people don't believe in any of that alpha/beta bs. It's mostly men trying to figure out a theory for why they don't get laid. It's not their fault they are good men with brains and not jerks with nice abs.

It's not even a theory about not getting laid.

It's a theory about getting laid less (or not getting laid) while everyone else is having all of this sex (with the *other* guys, the jerks with abs)

The issue being that people (including the jerks with abs) aren't really having that much sex and the that perception is off.

I agree that "regular people don't believe in any of that alpha/beta bs", at least on a conscious level, because they don't think about it. But I do think that they act on it. Some version of it is very deep in our DNA (Lobsters, bucko).

Because as we all know, deep in our DNA, human are canines with a pack hierarchy.

We certainly have no problem accepting this reality when it comes to men. It's a complete cliche in movies that the airhead girl with large breasts bouncing in her bikini top is getting the rapt attention of the men, while the more interesting but plain-Jane female character makes a disgusted face as they ignore her.

But we're supposed to view the alpha/beta stuff, which is the same exact thing on a biological level, as distasteful and no longer applicable.


'We certainly have no problem accepting this reality when it comes to men.'

Well, we have no problem accepting just so stories, that is true.

'It's a complete cliche in movies'

Because if there is one thing that should be pointed to when supporting a just so story, it is Hollywood.

'which is the same exact thing on a biological level'

Wait, you are using a scriptwriter's lazy cliche to seriously support your just so story?

Even canine do not have that sort of hierarchy. In fact, wolf packs are run by the cooperating females.

Ksceptic, you are perfectly right, this is a very big gap in the author's argument.

There are others: for instance the author seems to insist on the fact that the data given show no change of "concentration of sex among unmarried people" and other variables "over time". But the data used begin only in the 90's, while the supposed changes according to people who have theorized intel's complaints (e.g Houellebecq, Douthat, etc.) dates back from the 60's and 70's and the big cultural changes of that period.

Also disputable is the choice of the author to focus on the number of sexual encounters, as opposed as the number of sexual partners. I mean, both are important measures, but what make incels jealous, I believe,
is seeing an other guy having four girlfriends when they have none, not the fact that he may have sex with one girlfriend four times in the same night.

Now obviously, in a (ultra-simplified) past society where mostly everyone was married at 25, then mostly every one had about the same (very low by modern standard) number of sexual partners (1, or a little bit more taking adultery into account), and the concentration of sexual encounters would have been much lower than now, and by the way essentially irrelevant. Such a society never fully existed but describes approximately the society of 100 years ago in western countries. Thus, with mathematical certainty, the concentration of sex have increased a lot since then, by any measure.

To illustrate how inadequate the timeframe of the data given in this post is, let me just recall that Houellebecq's "whatever" novel ("extension du domaine de la lutte", in French), the first modern theorization of the "incel question" is from 1994. So no changes in the data since that period just indicates that if Houellebecq's incel point of view was right then, he is still right now.

There aren't that many men who have four girlfriends at the same time, and not at greater rates than women who have four boyfriends at the same time.
Some men may have four different girlfriends in a year, but that's not going to mean they have more sex than having one girl friend and have sex with her the same number of times. As soon as they stop dating that girl, she's available to other men. So the numbers of single men and single women should be about equal.

That's not how this works. When the "Chad" dumps/breaks up with his girlfriend and gets another, the Incel does not then get a girlfriend because of this (usually). The "Chad/Stacy" group (I can't believe I'm using these terms....) will rotate through each other, but the Incel is not in that pool.

This is being looked at a little too mathematically, as if all the units involved were un-differentiated. A better description of the situation, at least as it exists in the minds of Incels, is that you have a jar full of hundreds of magnetic marbles, with a few plastic ones mixed in. The magnetic marbles are stuck to other partners, although as life shakes them up, the particular partners may come and go. But no matter how much the jar gets mixed up, as the Incels see it, there will never be another marble stuck to them, because they aren't made of the right material.

I know it's a rough analogy, but it suits the situation better than treating this as simply a game of mathematical odds. It absolutely is not.

Well, what of the marbles that are female. There are equal numbers of men and women out there, if every marble is paired off exclusively with another marble, that means there are just as many unpaired female marbles as male marbles. You have to posit that men are pairing off with multiple females at the same time at far higher rates than women in order for there to be zero unpaired females and lots of unpaired males.

We can also see in countries like China where many women will accept the role of mistress to a semi-rich guy. Your claim is women only pair off with single men, but we see examples throughout history where women will accept being a mistress if the money is good.

That's not a large percentage of women. Most women would find it shameful, and if they want kids even more so.

Exactly. Harun is still thinking of this in terms of math, as opposed to in terms of the behavior of young people (which in this case is like 15-30 years old). Things don't have to pair up in a 1:1 ratio.

As far as how this plays out in the long term, Hazel is probably correct about the odds. But try telling an 18 year old Incel that the party is on for everyone else, and that he has a long life of nothing ahead of him until maybe he can turn it around in his 30's.

Apologies, I meant to say "Hazel" the first time. Can we not edit comments?

Hazel, I've met guys with 4 girlfriends...they don't actually know that he's seeing others. He's always got fish on the line, and more lined up. Its quite amazing.

I also met a guy who was married, and had a mistress, a girlfriend, and then one night stands. He used those terms. He once had his wife and mistress team up to catch him with a one night stand.

Hearing him talk about seemed like a lot of work., honestly. I believed him, too. He explained his system. Internet helps a lot - you can chat up interested parties on-line first.

I once had three boyfriends. You have to posit that multiple partners are common among men, but not among women, and that the partners aren't also sleeping with still other partners.

Hazel, you are right, and we agree on this. My presentation of the incel argument (the one I know from Houellebecq, I have never read any incel forum or frequented any intel community) is completely symmetric between both genders. By the way, Houellebecq's narrator, himself a kind of mild incel, describes two incel "friends" of him, one male and one female, both ugly, and who both commit suicide. But in truth, as you say, the situation of the female incel is presented as even worse in many respects (for example because physical attractiveness is more important for female than for male "in the current market").

The ultra-simplified model of Houellebecq's theory is "In the past, essentially all men and women got married, so all could enjoy the stability of marriage, very often the affection it gives, and quite often the small but sufficient amount of sex which is associated with it. Nowadays (since the 70's), much less people marry (and in addition they marry much later), and outside marriage certain (males and females) people enjoy as much sex (and affection if they want to) as they want, while an other group has way too little, or not at all sex and affection".
(You may add to this some dissymetry between males and females, and it is probably necessary to fully describe reality, but it is not a necessary part of the argument.) I add that I find the model rather convincing, but the implicit value judgements abhorrent.

Also, I suppose there is no precise definition of "the incel theory", but I was surprised that the author of the blog post considered "the increased promiscuity of women" an important part of it... I have never heard that in the version I know of the argument. Isn't that a

Few guys have four girlfriends. There aren't enough hours in the day for that, unless one is maybe a sultan or billionaire and doesn't have to work. Sure, some guys may have more women flirting with them, and some may have more one night stands-- a very few may even rival gay men for promiscuity in the latter if they are part if swinger culture. But steady, exclusive girlfriends? Nope. Those "girlfriends", most of them at least, are available for other guys, and are likely running around a bit too. There is such a thing a female promiscuity and it;s become more respectable than it used to be. Eventually though the biological clock will start ticking very loudly for the women, and the guys will lose their looks nobody holds off Time and Mortality forever. The vast majority of people these days still do settle down into more-or-less monogamous relationships. anyone who thinks otherwise needs get the deuce out of whatever hot house they inhabit and starting meeting real people. Maybe even try a church.

The article does indicate that the top 20% of men have 50-60% of the sex, but that this has been going on a long time and is not a new phenomenon. The author speculates that some of these "Chads" may actually be heavy prostitute users, or male prostitutes themselves.

It shouldn't be too surprising that the most attractive men have more sex, but that doesn't mean that they are having more than their fair share of sex partners. That could be one hot guy in a monogamous relationship with a supermodel and they fuck eachother like bunnies.

Is that what the data says?

In my life, I've seen the serious players. They do not just have sex with one woman, a lot. They have women lined up. Now, its not always so tawdry. They are often better "salesmen" and work at this. And its not necessarily simultaneous, but the good ones are building up networks of females for this purpose. I was already married when I saw this dude, and was like "wow, live and learn!"

Its like people who are always lining up a newer, better job. They tend to do better.

As others have pointed out up thread, those women they have "lined up" are not off the market for other men. Even if they are dating several women simultaneously, there's a good chance those women are also sleeping with other men and/or still available to other men.
Some men may be better at convincing available partners to sleep with them, but that's a different story. There are available women. The problem is not that other men are monopolizing the women and making them unavailable.

I feel like the author has never been a 20 year old. There are certain types of men who are not seen as good partners by women, and will in fact have a lot of shit talked about them by women, but at the end of the night, those are the guys they are going to bed with. Meanwhile, the guys they would tell you are admirable are not the ones they are having sex with. Therefore, you end up with a situation where the guy with what we are told to believe are undesirable qualities ends up having much more sex than the guy who on paper is supposed to be a chick magnet.

The uncomfortable answer to this is that the culture tells itself some big lies about what are desirable qualities, at least at that age.

Confidence is an issue. I guarentee those guys who are "good on paper" could pair off with someone if they approached women with confidence. There are issues with social skills and knowing a very much unspoken coded language of sexual courtship. Some people are bad at it. Women like to be pursued. They don't usually like to be the initiator. It's easy to come across as creepy if you are clumsy about it. If the woman your aiming for makes you nervous, set your sights a bit lower. Chase the wallflowers.

You're correct about confidence, but think of what an awful Catch-22 that is for the Incel. They are without confidence because of how things have gone with women so far, and things will continue to go that way with women because of the confidence issue. That is one hell of a cycle to break.
While answers like "Keep improving yourself" are good and correct, put yourself in the shoes of the Incel who has done so (the person who is theoretically desirable on paper but can never get the girl), but lacks confidence because of history. It's no wonder that they conclude that they must appear horribly disfigured or have some awful X factor which can not be overcome.

Many women have body image issues. Probably moreso then men.

True Story, when I was 16 I thought I was literally deformed. Like my head was too big for my body or something. I thought I was hideous.
It took about 7 years of being told I was hot before I finally started to believe it. I thought people were lying to me to make me feel better. I thought they were trying to be polite.
I don't doubt there are lots of guys who think they are ugly and they really aren't. Just because you don't fit a the conventional standard of beauty doesn't mean you aren't attractive. Pretty much anyone who isn't deformed, disfigured, or overweight and has straight teeth is probably attractive to someone.

OFFICIAL: "Hazel is hot".

But is she as hot as the Evans_KY, who has a shotgun and a southern drawl? Enquiring minds need to know!

Though I have this vision that if you gathered all of us MR commentators in a bar we drive all the other customers away...

I was hot 20 years ago and, hopefully, "aging gracefully" now. But I'm having more sex now, because I'm a lot less insecure.

A lot of those guys are going home with girls because they're actually out at bars and parties, chatting up girls, and taking a bunch of rejections in stride until they get a yes. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take, and half the battle is just showing up. Very few women feel confident enough to take the lead in romance, so even if she really likes the guy, he at least has to take a risk and make somewhat of a move.

It's not like there's some secret criteria that women are covering up. It's that if Mr. Right stands in the corner too shy to say hello, then nothing's going to happen.

Western European society used to be based on finding those shy but good provider males and pair them off with some girls who are not the most attractive and figure that most of them will make a good marriage out of it. instead of now where both sexes there seem to be a good proportion of people who can't find each other or have too high expectations.

"Western European society used to be based on finding those shy but good provider males and pair them off with some girls"

Really? Who was doing that "finding"? As for as I know, arranged marriages were very rare in Western society..

Eharmony should help with that problem.

Sounds like it pretty much is as it’s always been. Just that now the internet is there for these people to find each other and complain about it together. Another reason the internet isn’t as great as it was supposed to be.

"Incel" is just a new swear word for use in the Culture War, meant to replace "misogynist" which is losing its bite due to overuse. For the same phenomenon other side, see the replacement of "cuck" with "soyboy". Trying to analyze the phenomenon any deeper misses the point, since it is not being used in a principled way to start with.

"But incels are a societal danger!" Nope. Most people who have been called "incels" are intellectuals some progressive disagrees with. Robin Hanson will not be shooting up a school any time soon. The real incels do shoot things up, but I'm not sure it's more often than truck drivers or heart surgeons.

The quote is relevant and maybe even useful, but I'm just bothered by its association with incels. A lot of people have less sex than then want, and that's likely to be bad for society, but most of them are not fully and involuntarily celibate. Some of the effects may even be negated by outright incelhood, e.g. a capable voluntarily celibate or just unmarried man slacking because he chose video games over women means lost productivity, but a crippled schizophrenic incel won't be productive either way.

My idea is that "incel" is used mainly as a self-reclaimed label, no?

Incel is not a swear word. It is a self-imposed banner.

I'm aware of two incel communities, the small Reddit one which uses the label and the 4chan one which prefers the term "robot". It's also used by intellectuals to talk about a certain demographic, as in this article. But I think this discussion has started because of the rise of the word as a twitter insult; as such the discussion is pointless, because people don't care about the "incel" demographic any more than they cared about the "cuck" or "misogynist" demographics that came before it. They just want a club to bash each other with. Journalists then see the word everywhere and try to tie it into their articles in an attempt to be relevant. But its just a club.

Sorry for the rambling answer, I wasn't sure what you were getting at with "self-reclaimed label".

I think the word was invented by that guy who tried to rape his mother and insisted the government should pay for him to get a girlfriend. I can't believe his term took off. He accomplished something, at least.

This is interesting and informative but I think it is a little careless in conflating the population of involuntarily celibate young men with people espousing the "incel" ideology. Most of these guys are not resentful misogynists who believe this bizarre dreck about Chads and Staceys. A deeper dive into the general attitudes of this group would be useful.

It would appear that student debt and education may correlate with male virginity.

Wonder about the increase in obesity and diabetes and the decline in married sex for males.

Workplace code of conducts may have the side effect of reducing opportunities for courtship. The more senior your position the more potential risk you are taking with dating at the workplace.

Not sure how married men are having less sex while married women have more, (Unless some version of the Woody Allen joke "Male complains we hardly ever have sex, only 3-4 times a week. Female partner complains we have sex all the time, 3-4 times a week,)

Unless lesbian activity is increasing how are unmarried females maintaining a level of sexual activity while males are seeing a decline?

That is the complementary to the old question when I was in high school.

If all the boys are doing it and none of the girls are doing it, how is anything getting done?

"Workplace code of conducts may have the side effect of reducing opportunities for courtship. The more senior your position the more potential risk you are taking with dating at the workplace."

This should reduce "incelness", not increase - because it will reduce the affairs between older married men and young single women (making more women "available")

Yeah, I wonder how large of a role rising obesity rates play in the situation as well. As big a turnoff as that is for me...damn, I do not know how any of those people get laid, ever.

With each other, obviously. Obese couplings.

Yeah, but if I was fat, I would imagine I'd still be grossed out by other fat people. I'd be grossed out by myself, too. And wouldn't fat chicks be kinda grossed out by me? Lotta grossness that's got to be overcome here, is my point.

Right, well the obese people need to lower their standards. A lowering of standards all around would probably help more people get laid.

I do agree with this.

I don't think revulsion is as big of factor as the lack of physical fitness. Obese people tend to get winded easily from even moderate amounts of physical activity. That means that the sex either has to be short, non-vigorous, or infrequent. Not really a recipe for shifting the demand curve out.

Plus the obese usually excel at carnal delights that come in the form of food or drink. If you hunger for the pleasures of the flesh, well there's a reason that chocolate is often described as orgasmic. I think in a very real sense that delicious food does serve as a substitute. Not altogether different than how heroin addicts lose all interest in sex.

You've zeroed in on the real issue: not that "Chads" are hogging all the women, but that the single men are having a harder time locating and pairing up with the single women. To a certain extent the fact that the guys are raised on porn might be a factor, as they may have unrealistic expectations about real women's bodies.

Dating apps out there probably bias things in favor of physical appearance too, because the men an women on the dating app have to quickly scan profiles, which makes it easy to select based on the photo alone. I remember when I was single the dating apps never really worked for me - what worked was going to group meetups and social events with like-minded people. Many people don't really know what's going to do it for them - what's going to generate chemistry with another person. The dating app makes you select based on what you think you want, but a person who is just what you expect is boring. (You want a partner who is going to be surprising in some way - to show you something you don't already know. Someone who has all the same interests is actually boring.)

It's hard for me to believe the factual claim that "single [heterosexual] men are having a harder time locating and pairing with the single women." Do you have any survey data that supports this claim?

The reason I find this claim suspect that, on a net basis (even if the effect you describe is real), dating apps and online dating make it much easier to meet other people. For example, check out this article (which is critical of app-based dating) in which a short, bald guy is bad at small talk went on 150 dates in 4 months through dating apps.

Or check out this article describing a study of how online dating and app-based dating have broadened the pool of potential partners for would be daters.

Maybe you're right. Dating apps are better than nothing.
But maybe these guys problem is that they have poor social skills in general, so they don't have a pool of women they can meet socially, so they wind up relying exclusively on dating apps.

Yep. And the guys with the most girls work very hard to have a large network of women, in different stages. A pipeline. Its not one guy with one girl. The superstar (who may not look like much) has several prospecton-line" in different stages. Its really just like a good salesman.

Consider as well the possibility that people tend to have fewer close friends and occupy more of their time with education or career advancement. It may not be the "social skills" that are lacking, but, in the face of housing costs and job market difficulties, the free time to expend on social connections that may be lacking.

If attraction is mediated to a great extent by the mere exposure effect, then the little effort people have to spend on building social networks may be to blame for relationship-poor men and women. It's not like Tinder can cultivate the mere exposure effect in the same way that going on many platonic outings with a group of friends can.

I think you have it backwards on the “exposure effect”. If we are talking about this merely in the context of sex (as opposed to stable long term relationships and marriage), Tinder’s exposure effect is ENORMOUSLY larger than going out and socializing.

To begin with, EVERYONE on Tinder is there for something ranging from one-time sex to “maybe I’ll find a spouse”. So 100% of the people you are exposed to on Tinder are what we will call “looking”. This is far from the case with traditional socializing. Secondly, the amount of “introductions” possible via Tinder is orders
of magnitude larger than traditional socializing. In the traditional model, a very simple introduction (hello, this is my name, we can talk if you’re interested) with ten women in an evening would be a gigantic amount. On Tinder, that same time period could produce dozens or HUNDREDS of swipes, which are introductions equivalent to “Hi, I’m me, let’s talk”. And, remember, these are introductions with people who are ALL in the “looking” category.

Finally, the Incel hanging out with his social group carries “the aura” of being the group’s Incel friend, whether they mean to paint him with that brush or not. On Tinder, he has the chance to be anyone.

If the discussion is about Incels becoming non-incels, Tinder is vastly superior than hanging out with a small group of friends.

The mere exposure effect says that we are attracted to the people and things we are exposed to on a regular basis, so the exact opposite of many diverse first dates on tinder.

This explains why people in friend groups often start dating, how inter-office romances start, and why it was so common to have a crush on that girl who sat next to you for the whole semester in calculus I.

It's the total opposite of being briefly exposed to hundreds of potential matches on Tinder.

I agree that things like tinder are great for "introductions" but I think it's pretty terrible for much more than that. If you ask out that girl next to you in class, you've been "merely exposed" to one another much longer (i.e. have latent attraction) than when you're on a totally-out-of-the-blue Tinder drinks date.

A healthy social network, which is now quite rare among my generation, would present a person not with *introductions* but a process of repeated exposure to few potential partners over the course of many normal, casual, platonic, social situations.

We know that young people have fewer close friends now than basically ever before (I believe these friends are also more likely to be of the same gender, not sure) -- could it be that constraints of modern living have robbed us of the opportunity to build the kind of social networks that were once useful in finding sexual partners, romance, and marriage?

I think this is correct.
For women, because attraction is not purely based on physical appearance, it's much more important to get to know someone in a social setting before embarking on a romance. Dates with complete strangers are dangerous because of the risk of being raped, or worse. That guy you just met on OKCupid could be a serial killer. If you date in your social circle, you can feel someone out before you allow yourself to be approached. It also makes the guys less nervous. They get to hang out with potentially available women without having to risk anything, so they are able to be less awkward. This is a better strategy for finding a long-term partner. But it does require the ability to pick up on subtle cues that women will send when they are interested. Men can be dense about this. Women want the man to take the initiative, and so will usually not say explicitly that she's interested, so the man has to pick up on it.

And then of course there's times when you just click with someone right away and nobody has to say anything, but that's rare.

I would add to this that I suspect the breakdown of traditional cross-sectional social organizations (think church a century ago, where a larger percentage of people go because of various non-religious pressures) and the rise of more niche "nerd" cultures leads to less potential partner exposure. I'm lightly-attached to several of these sub-groups, and you just don't meet that many women in video game groups or at D&D conventions. I'm not saying it doesn't happen--one of my buddies met his wife through gaming--but the density is way lower than, for example, an academic cohort group with a roughly equal distribution. I met the woman who is now my wife in my first college class, but neither of us knew it until we had been forced to be around each other for a year and a half through a series of courses. Simple exposure is a surprisingly powerful force.

Why are we assuming that the involuntarily celibate have worse social skills today than in the past? This seems like a very suspect assumption.

Well, they have strange beliefs like the ones about "Chads" and "Stacies" which sort of indicates that maybe they don't get out much.

he automated the process to send 1000s of messages and isn't that bad looking

Female erotic capitol is being monopolized through SERIAL monogamy. Simplest example is Chad dating women his age up until he's 30, but then marrying a younger woman.

Not that he's a Chad but also consider the behavior of David Brooks (let's use him as an example of a wealthy person): He had already monopolized one woman's fertile years (the years during which males are most eager to mate with women.) THEN David Brooks dipped back down into the pool of young women and married a millennial. Surely he ate some other man's lunch?

How can David Brooks go around praising the virtues of marriage to young men, when he's competing with them for spouses?


So is demographics the main issue?

It's true that men are looking to date women younger than themselves, or at least not much older, whereas women's appetites are reversed. Many 21 year old women will happily date a 30 year old man, while a 30 year old women will usually want nothing to do with a 21 year old man.

For Boomers, the demographics were on their side. Not many from the older generation to go kicking in their stall. But for college kids today, there's many more men about ten years older to compete with.

You'd think that middle-aged women would have similar complaints as the young men, though. Perhaps they have.

Well, then the women he's dating in his 20s are fools.
Moreover, there must be huge numbers of middle-aged "Stacies" out there, if true. Which means that the middle-aged incels should be having a field day - at least in terms of the numbers of sexually available women, if not in terms of numbers of offspring.

Middle-aged women tend to go off sex.

Whether they are having sex or not, that should show up in the percentage of middle-aged women who are unmarried. There would be way more unmarried and divorced older women out there than we actually see.

According to this chart:

... the percentage of people in their first marriage dips only slightly after age 40 and then levels off. Only at age 60 does the "divorced or second marriage" group start to approach it, and many of those people probably are in their second marriage.

"Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?"

It's generally considered distasteful to argue this side of things, but men really do get screwed a bit (no pun intended) in this game. The move that Brooks made is, on a biological/evolutionary level, is driven by exactly the same thing that Brooks himself may have faced when he was 19 and the girl he pined for chose an older man over him: It is biologically advantageous for a woman to chose a man with more wealth/power, and for a man to chose a woman with more youth and fertility.

Now, there are some very good reasons why we generally don't approve of men dumping their wives for a younger version when they accumulate the wealth and power to do so. We have created a society which is largely predicated on behaving in ways which our animal ancestors did not. However, one result of that is that women are not generally criticized for playing the above game when they are young and hold the advantage, while men are generally looked down upon for doing so when they are older and have the advantage.

Of course, many men still do this, and many of those men have enough wealth/power that society's "tsk tsk" doesn't matter. But while it is allowable in modern culture, it is almost never openly treated as benign or desirable.

David Brooks is one of the most successful, high-status and famous people in the world. Fewer than 1% of marriages involve an age difference of over 20 years. People like David Brooks are simply too rare to have any meaningful impact on the sexual marketplace.

Anybody notice anything interesting in the first graph?

2 percent of married males with no sex in the past year.
0 percent of married females with no sex in the past year.

Given sampling error, etc., those 2 numbers are probably not statistically different, but if you're going to present an analysis without error bands...

I also think Mr. Stone should have provided some subpopulation analyses. If you think this has something to do with education, then he might want to show trends rather than snapshots. My take (given the data he presents) is that the data don't actually show anything definitive about no sex in the past year (increasing in one survey, decreasing in another, staying steady in yet another) nor its relation to education (positively correlated in one survey, negatively correlated in another).

The main conclusion (sexlessness is caused by delayed marriage) is made without presenting any data on marriage age or how it correlates to sexlessness in the unmarried. If you take his seeming preferred data (depending on the survey, I think) we see a spike (not a gradual change) in previous year sexlessness or involuntary celibacy, but we don't see a spike in age at first marriage. We also see cohabitation on the rise. Mr. Stone's data are too weak to support his conclusion.

Sexuality touches many parts of the human experience, from the biological drive to reproduce to our sense of status and well being, to our need for kinship and emotional support.
I suspect what is an underlying part of the rage and helplessness is not sex per se, but the social and status benefits that accompany it; Being left adrift without career or life path is the unspoken fear, and lack of sex the trigger.

I find it interesting that only a day after the post on Caplan's dismissal of the humanities, we are treated to an article that cries out for some insight on the intersection of psychology, sociology, and gender studies. You know, all that worthless stuff.

Psychology and sociology are important *topics*, but the *academic fields* have no insight to offer. Too much garbage and no way to filter it out.

So our insight will come from...Reddit comment boards?

If academic fields need to be validated by comparing with reddit comment boards...


Who is this "American" you have polled?

Not American. Americans. As in people hailing from the United States. There are more pathetic people there than in any other country except India.

The name of this logical fallacy is "exceptio probat regulam." I am not sure which country you are from but American's Wikipedia has an entry on it.

"Jumping to conclusions is a form of cognitive distortion."

Whenever a young person tells me they want to be a banker, I tell them about my good-looking best friend who straight out of university joined Goldman Sachs IBD, and for 8 years toiled away. In the time - his 20s - he managed to have "uncomfortable" sex twice. TWICE!!! In his twenties!!! When he realised his Sachs were lead and not gold, he promptly hightailed it out of there.

But, in his 40s, he probably would have it all. In America, malefactors of great wealth aee well-treated.

You would need a *really* low personal discount rate! And need to assume you'd survive to acquire your 70 virgins.... sorry we're talking about Goldman Sachs here, not radical Islam ;)

He had already spent about a decade. It was just another decade to go. Sunken costs. The rewards would be enormous. In America, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.

The guy who said that clearly had some unresolved bizarre sexual shit with his sister so I'm not sure we should trust what he had to say.

Nah. By the time he hit his 40s Goldman long ago send his job overseas, or laid him off in a downturn and hired some new kid just out of college. Only a small handful of people manage to grab that brass ring on Wall Street.

That's sad. Couldn't he attain power in Goldman by killing his superior?

Different anonymous here. This article seems fine, and with an amusing combination of data and ("two-a-day") slang.

Evil suggestion:
Someone should start a "femcel" movement. "Female involuntary celibate". And then they can merge and commisserate with one another. And then maybe have sex with each other.

Or raise the status of alcohol. What's the correlation between incels and teetotalers?

The term was actually coined by a woman to apply to people of both sexes. The original meaning had nothing to do with the currently infamous "incel ideology".

I think "femcel" might currently go by the name "single mother".

My niece got pregnant when she was 19 and I don't think she has had a boyfriend since.

I am 33, and my grandmother actually encourages me to date women my age with kids. She says "changing diapers sucks, let someone else do that. I know because I had to do it four times"

How does that encourage you? You mean kids who are out of diapers?
personally I think diapers are no big deal, and tiny babies are a pretty big life experience, but maybe not for everyone.

I was talking more dating takes a back seat to raising a kid, going to school, and having a job. The single mother drops out of the dating pool while the baby-daddy remains in the dating pool. So the net effect is more males than females dating.

If such women existed in appreciable frequency, you would not have to suddenly invent such a movement.

ctrl-f "porn" and zilch.

I'm not anti-porn by any means, but I think the prevalence and variety of porn is an important reason why some men aren't motivated to have real sex.

Another reason why so many young men live at home is that so many of their desires (sexual, social, entertainment) can fit on their iPhones and tablets.

What about the women? and why are they different in those regards?

Does it explain why they keep complaining about it?!

I believe you are correct, porn is a classic substitute that has improved tremendously in recent years. This is very normal economics, the quality of the inferior and cheaper good improves so demand switches are the margin to the inferior good.

But if we are talking about people who are actually Incels, as in they really do want to have sex but think they can't get it, this doesn't apply.

I suppose it could influence how they approach women, but I'd have to hear some examples.

Another possibility is that the availability of porn is too much of a safety valve, making it easier to just stay home and satiate the drive to go find a real person. If you've ever been a young man, though....this seems unlikely. That is a pretty bottomless pit you are talking about filling.

The problem with issues of sex is that very few people are honest (even sometimes with themselves). You're not going to get a 20 year old to say, "yeah I jack off 3 times a day and don't have a girlfriend at the moment for some reason"

Again, I don't want to bash porn because it, like many things, has its pros and cons. I just believe that porn (as well as other aspects of the internet revolution), is isolating people in some important ways, and affecting their sex life.

Here's one interesting article,

At this point, I am not sure we can ever avoid Pareto's law. We The People have tried since the 1700's. In the end, 20% will get the ladies; 20% will get riches (they do not overlap), and 20% of the athletes will get 80% of the fans, etc.

Equality is the inherent position of the single gamete (law of scarcity); all or most procreate. Now they have the power of the womb and power of the coin.

We shall see how the HPA axis adapts.

'I am not sure we can ever avoid Pareto's law'

Well, then this article - linked from the main article - will be right up your alley, because that is one of the more glaringly dumb things apparently coursing through incel thinking -

Here are the first three points from the What Can We Conclude From the Data? section - '1. 90% of women have 0-1 partners within a given year, compared to 83% of men. Defining promiscuous as 3+ partners per year, only 10% of men and 7% of women aged 15-44 fit the criterion. (1)

2. About half of all men will have 7+ sexual partners in their lifetime, compared with less than a third of women. (2)

3. In a Pareto Principle distribution, the male median for lifetimes sexual partners should be lower than the female median. In this case the reverse is true.'

Yeah, no one is lying! Also, I believe the rule is a mean. There will always be regression to the mean. I do understand that the wealth generated recenetly along with common social norms have withstood the rule. The 80/20 rule also didn't apply to income for the past 50-70 years.

Does not mean that the future will hold like that. It's like Batting Avg of Balls in Play in baseball. The mean is .300. Some batters do better and some do worse.

per your article:

"While it’s true that about half of all the people who ever lived were men, the typical male was much more likely than the typical woman to die without reproducing. Citing recent DNA research, Dr. Baumeister explained that today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men. Maybe 80 percent of women reproduced, whereas only 40 percent of men did."

"For men, the outlook was radically different. If you go along with the crowd and play it safe, the odds are you won’t have children. Most men who ever lived did not have descendants who are alive today. Their lines were dead ends. Hence it was necessary to take chances, try new things, be creative, explore other possibilities." - NYTimes

Your own article is exactly on point.

The differences in childlessness aren't as extreme anymore, though.

For example, "In a large study of Australians, 13% of men aged 45-59 were childless, which was higher than the rate among similarly aged women (10%). "

It is interesting. For an ordinary man, line survivability could depend on having more daughters.

"The differences in childlessness aren't as extreme anymore, though."

Anymore? Is that a prediction on a future state?

Re daughters vs sons. True. Hence the Jewish Rule of Ethnicity following maternal descent (Also, X would have two copies), because there are concerned with downside effects.

Nevertheless, the sexy son (hypothesis) can crush home runs i.e more upside.

"Re daughters vs sons. True. Hence the Jewish Rule of Ethnicity following maternal descent "

Jews used to have patrilineal descent (and still do for the priestly caste). Interestingly, many (most?) Ashkenazi men descend from Italian women. It took quite some time for the Rabbis to change the rule.
"Nevertheless, the sexy son (hypothesis) can crush home runs i.e more upside."

That's precisely why I said "ordinary man." If you're rich and powerful like Donald Trump, you might, on average, be better off with boys. Donald Jr has five and, after discarding his wife, may have more.

I concur.

#MeToo movement and Incel movement are decrying the same biological phenomena. Certain men having outsized influence. Though the mean female (daughter) is a safer evolutionary bet than the mean male (son).

I do not think we can get around this biology over a long time horizon unless there is a burst of prosperity rising all boats, and strong social norms constraining the mating iterations. Hence, Pareto's law will remain in effect.

That data conflicts strongly with data I have seen elsewhere (wish I could recall where) that said about 25-30% of people go childless (though I believe it was similar for men/women but a bit higher for men)

When we're looking at the long term male y chromosome diversity vs mtdna diversity (which is where the 40% vs 80% figure comes from), you kind of have to look more at the degree to which advantages are sustained between men and women across generations and are structured by SES.

There's a big gap between low SES men and high SES men in likelihood to reproduce. Not the case for women, where its all more sort of random.

I remember the anti underage drinking or anti marijuana campaigns in my teenage years. Drinking or smoking was bad because it could end in sex.....were these campaigns a bit too successful?

The Iron Law of "If She Smokes, She Pokes" should not be underrated.

smoking increases testosterone that leads to more sexual desire

Smoking what?

Good to see Lyman Stone getting more publicity. He is highly productive on twitter reviewing weekly NBER papers and writing about migration and pronatalism with a heavy emphasis on publicly available survey data. He is also an unabashed social conservative which leads to some interesting but still respectful takes.

For studies of sex in the US, the NORC studies are the standard to beat, cf. Laumann et. al., The Sexual Organization of the City (2004). That work discusses sexual marketplaces explicitly; needless to say, they are many. Houellebecq outrageously of course conflates them to one, or maybe just one per nation (also absurd for France). Octavia's DAWN (1987) explicitly has an incel character who rapes and leaves its protagonist for dead. DAWN also has a deeply thought out theory about sex, marriage and coercion, with elements of hierarchy, child rearing and pro-family taboos. On data, the NORC studies are the standard to judge other work by. See The Sexual Organization of the City, by Laumann et. al. (2004). Amia Srinivasan's essay in the LRB recently adds a dimension sorely missing in the article TC sites: group internal consciousness and what standards to evaluate its centrality and relevance by. Subreddits are almost perfect Petri dishes for cultivating group consciousness, and I haven't heard yet of any good treatments of them as Petri dishes. Finally, I don't think it's surprising for people to invent their own Maslovian tiers of adequacy levels, and putting sex higher in one's own tiers of levels than others do is also not surprising, but its social implications when combined with accessible Petri dishes like subreddits is hard to tell yet. Maybe studies of sci-fi groups which have been around for more than half a century now might help. Recall for example the child sex abuse scandals around Marian Zimmer Bradley and her coterie in the early sixties for a cautionary story.

It is nice thesis and might explain some of the changes the last 10 years but I think the main driver is living at home versus marriage.:

1) Age of marriage has been increasing since 1960. Not a new thing.
2) Sexual activity increased until highpoint 2000ish and diminished slowly after that period.
3) In terms of education, he is probably correct to a degree as more college application teens are probably lowering their activity. (In the words of Bob Seger the teen sex needs "We are young, restless and bored.")

Frankly, I think the moving out probably makes more impact here as I remember my 'Friends' existence after college from 1993 - 1997. So I think the primary driver is living at home.

One wonders how much college sexlessness has to do with the prevalence of Catherine MacKinnon style-dogma that "Women are raped and coerced into sex." Most students can't even take an algebra class without being forced to proclaim that men are violent predators and women their victims. It is utterly rational that men would completely abstain from sex, and one has to question whether to deem those doing so "voluntarily" or "involuntarily" celibate when they face the reality that a female partner can post-hoc, months and even years later, claim that the act was rape and that on campus the man will be treated as a rapist without any due process. Many young men have also lived through parental divorce and have no illusions about who is the winner and the loser when it comes to that. And you don't even have to be a biological father to get forced into paying child support. Such are the wonders produced by US judicial system. But to give credit, the article does take a real risk by not blaming it all on porn, so kudos on that. Undoubtedly they are being slammed now by the adherents of the dominant feminist orthodoxy that controls so much of society. Any future for human sex is likely to be outside of mainstream society and in isolated outsider groups with strong trust bonds. The future will depend upon couples' ability to signal trustworthiness and avoid predatory litigiousness.

Sounds like MGTOW.

The feminized world is a minefield for men.

I think there's a number of factors:

1) People being children for longer - maturity is delayed. We're pushing our perception of "children" back further and further over time. College students are now "kids", and people aren't "really" adults until 25 or so.

2) Longer time span living at home.

3) Less of a sense of independence/self-worth - people without jobs or with jobs they don't consider impressive may not seek out sexual partners, believing they would be rejected.

4) Lessened cultural value of sex - casual sex degrades the value of sex, but so does elevating other things above sex, like career, achievements, and the like, which are seen as much more important, which decreases the need to seek out sex.

5) Male fear of being perceived as being too sexually aggressive leads many of them not to seek out sexual partners.

6) More alternatives to sex, like video games, pornography, arguing on the Internet, ect.

7) More solitary activities decrease socialization and also decrease desire for someone who might "pester" you while you're doing single person activities rather than social activities.

Good points all.

Adding to 6 and 7, young people don't hang out together as.much as the boomers. We didn't have all the distractions of the internet and devices, nor porn and video games. We had to seek each other out to escape boredom. I feel bad for the young - we had it good.

I doubt causal sex degrades the value of sex. At most, it degrades the value of things that could have been attached to sex, such as marriage.
"College students are now 'kids', and people aren't 'really' adults until 25 or so."
So what are they doing? Playing marbles and blindman's bluff? Again, maturity may be a requisite for marriage, but, for sex, it isn't. Otherwise, teenage sex wouldn't ever have been a problem.

Does anyone else find this bizarre? She's essentially stating that 20% of men get 60% of the sex, which disputes the Pareto principle that 20% of the men get 80% of the sex. This seems very tamaito/tamahto. Top 20% getting 20% of the sex is disputing it. 20/60 is close enough to 20/80 to basically drive home the point, and I don't think a stitch 20/80 ratio was ever seriously proposed. The bottom line is that if 20% are getting 60% of the sex, the remaining 80% are trying to chase after 40% of the sex, which isn't going to work out for them as a game of musical chairs.

"Do a Few Sexual Alphas Dominate the Sexual Economy?

But even assuming the GSS data is correct, we can ask if another piece of the incel narrative is true. Do a few Chads and Stacies really monopolize the market for sex? Many incels quote a rule of thumb that 20% of men have 80% of the sex. Is this true?

It turns out, the answer is no. And of course, it isn’t! Imagine how much sex those 20% of men would have to be having! A substantial share would need to be doing two-a-days on a regular basis to maintain that kind of share. In reality, according to the GSS, the top 20% of the most sexually active never-married young men have about 50-60% of the sex. It’s about the same for women, and these shares are basically stable over time. Measuring the number of partners instead of sexual frequency, the top 20% most promiscuous men account for about 60% of male sexual partnerings, and the trend is, again, quite stable over time."

Actually, the main point was that the 20/50-60 ratio had not changed in the last 4 or 5 decades, and there was essentially no support for the idea that in the last decade or two, that there had been any demonstrable shift to a 20/80 ratio. In other words, what the incels believe has been occurring around them, hasn't.

There's always a subset of people who are having a lot of promiscuous sex, and a large subset of people who aren't because it doesn't seem like a good way to get what they want (probably eventually a long-term relationship leading to marriage and children, definitely NOT unwanted pregnancies, abortions, or STDs).

Re: 20% of women also having 60% of the sex, you kind of might want to check out the degree to which an apparently similar distribution in high frequency among men vs women disguises a different distribution of preferences.

Female variation in sex may be much more driven by their own preferences than is the case for males.

It's perhaps telling that she does not compare vol vs invol among female respondents....

Just as a simple cultural explanation, women who regard themselves as not having enough sex are not a cultural phenomenon in the same way as males. This may suggest that they do not, in fact, exist to the same degree...

(Rather than the idea that women are particularly more graceful or stoic at dealing with frustrations, show more resolution in the face of adversity and so on, which is obviously not the case.)

I am not an expert, but it seems to me that casual sex is a useless skill. It leads nowhere.

I'm reminded of the Woody Allen line "sex may be a meaningless, empty experience. But as meaningless, empty experiences go, it's one of the best!"

You know, if "incels" are just "shy single people who haven't gotten married yet because they're spending too much time studying," that just doesn't sound like a very fun culture-war battle. Surely we can get back to talking about evil neckbeards in their moms' basements who spend all day watching porn and fantasize about carrying out mass shootings, or the really fun discussion about how today's kids don't know how good they've got it with all the wild casual consequence-free sex. I mean, if we start getting *data* involved, we're going to spoil all the fun of this topic, and require the talking heads discussing it to actually *know* something.

The focus on quantity of sex is misleading. If markets clear, then quantity will be stable through time. Rather than quantity, a change in bargaining power will be reflected in price. Modern women have increased power and choice, and incels will struggle to buy their affections.
Nowdays, "Chad" will rotate through partners. While Chad rotates, women hopefully wait and put beta "Herbs" on the back burner. This is good for Chad and the liberated women who share him. But it is bad for the hot "Stacy's", who can no longer monopolize Chad's affection. And it is especially bad for all the Herb's who compete to be a woman's back-up plan.

Tltr - alpha fucks, beta bucks.

Not sure using data from the '90s on is necessarily the way to go.

How many of these people claim a cultural change with recent culture rather than with the Sexual Revolution in the 1960s?

Have we looked at this through a regional lens? The prevalence of incels in relation to the birth rate of women in say the South. Are there more of these men congregated in college towns? In big cities? In more liberal areas?

The decline of marriage in rural Amercia is not about over-educated females but there are some very angry men about.

Comments for this post are closed