Using Evolution for Marriage or Sex

Re­turned to origi­nal ti­tle, for the good rea­sons given here

There was a re­cent post in Dis­cus­sion which at time of this writ­ing held stag­ger­ing 454 com­men­taries, which in­clined me to write an evolu­tion­ary psy­chol­ogy and so­cial en­docrinol­ogy de­rived post on courtship, and Mat­ing In­tel­li­gence, to share some read­ings on re­cent dis­cus­sions and ev­i­dence com­ing from those ar­eas. I’ve been mean­ing to do this for a while, and a much longer ver­sion could have been writ­ten, with more spe­cific case stud­ies and cita­tions and an aca­demic out­look, yet I find this abridged per­sonal ver­sion more ad­e­quate for Less­wrong. In no area more dis­claimers are de­sir­able than when speak­ing about evolu­tion­ary drives for mat­ing. It touches emo­tions, gen­der is­sues, moral­ity, so­cietal stan­dards, and it speaks of top­ics that make peo­ple shy, em­bar­rassed, an­gry and happy on a weekly ba­sis, so I’ll be­gin with a few para­graphs of dis­claimers.

I’ll try to avoid say­ing any­thing that I can re­mem­ber hav­ing read in a Pick Up Artist book, and fo­cus on us­ing less known mat­ing bi­ases to help straight women and men find what they look for in differ­ent con­texts. This post won’t work well for same-gen­der se­duc­tion. If you ob­ject ir­re­vo­ca­bly to evolu­tion­ary psy­chol­ogy, just so sto­ries, etc… I sug­gest you re­frain from com­ment­ing, and also read­ing, why bother?

Words of cau­tion on read­ing peo­ple (me in­cluded) talk­ing about evolu­tion­ary psy­chol­ogy, spe­cially when ap­plied to cur­rent peo­ple: Sus­pi­cious about whether there is good ev­i­dence for it? Read this first, then if you want Eliezer on the evolu­tion­ary-cog­ni­tive differ­ence, and this if your fem­i­nist taste buds ac­ti­vate nega­tively. If you never heard of Evolu­tion­ary Psy­chol­ogy (which in­cludes 8 differ­ent bod­ies of data to draw from), check also an In­tro­duc­tion with Dawk­ins and Buss.

When I say “A guy does D when G hap­pens” please read: “There are statis­ti­cally sig­nifi­cant, or the­o­ret­i­cally sig­nifi­cant rea­sons from so­cial en­docrinol­ogy, or so­cial and evolu­tion­ary psy­chol­ogy to be­lieve that un­der cir­cum­stances broadly similar to G, hu­man males, on av­er­age, will be in­clined to­wards be­hav­ing in man­ners broadly similar to the D way. Also, most tests are made with west­ern hu­man males, tests are less than 40 years old, sub­ject to pub­li­ca­tion bias, and some­times done by peo­ple who don’t un­der­stand math well enough to do their statis­tics home­work, they have not been repli­cated sev­eral times, and they are less ho­moge­nous than physics, be­cause psy­chol­ogy is more com­plex than physics.”

If you couldn’t care less for the­ory, and just want the ad­vice, go to the Ad­vice Ses­sion.

Misconceptions

Thus­far in Evolu­tion­ary Psy­chol­ogy it seems that our genes come equipped with two de­signs that be­come ac­ti­vated through en­vi­ron­men­tal cues to think about mat­ing.

Short-term mating

Long-term mating

Know­ing this is be­com­ing main­stream. The state of the art term is Mat­ing In­tel­li­gence, and it has these two canon­i­cal modes that can be ac­ti­vated, de­pend­ing on fac­tors as di­verse as be­ing in­formed that X is leav­ing town in two days, and de­tect­ing X’s level of testos­terone, ac­count­ing for his height and sta­tus, and calcu­lat­ing whether his genes are worth more or less than his fu­ture com­pany. If you choose to read the linked books, then you’ll delve in this much deeper than I have, so stop read­ing this, and write a post of your own af­ter­wards.

I’ll list some main mis­con­cep­tions, then sug­gest how to use ei­ther the mis­con­cep­tions, or the the­ory men­tioned while ex­plain­ing them to op­ti­mize for what­ever you want from the op­po­site gen­der in­di­vi­d­u­als at a par­tic­u­lar mo­ment.

Mis­con­cep­tion 1: Guys do Short-term, Girls do Long-term, un­less they don’t have this op­tion.

This is false. Guys are very fre­quently pair bonded, most times even be­fore women are, both have oxy­tocin lev­els go­ing up af­ter sex, and both have high lev­els of oxy­tocin dur­ing re­la­tion­ships. Girls only have less fre­quent causal in­ter­course be­cause it is hard to find males wor­thy of the 2 year rais­ing a baby pe­riod, or in the case in which they are pair-bonded already, be­cause of the risk of the cuck­olded “father” leav­ing, fight­ing her, or rec­og­niz­ing the baby ain’t his. Ob­vi­ously, no one’s brain has man­aged to com­pletely catch up with con­doms and open re­la­tion­ships yet.

Mis­con­cep­tion 2: Women go for the bad guys (if I re­mem­ber my Amer­i­can Pie’s cor­rectly, also called jocks in US) and good guys, nerds, and con­ven­tion­als are left last.

‘Bad guys’ is a pop­u­lar name for high testos­terone, risk tak­ing, lit­tle rou­tine in­di­vi­d­u­als. And in­deed when a woman’s short-term mat­ing in­tel­li­gence pro­gram is ac­ti­vated, which hap­pens par­tic­u­larly when she is ovu­lat­ing and young (even when she’s close mar­ried/​re­la­tion­shiped) she does ex­hibit a prefer­ence for such types. When op­ti­miz­ing for long-term part­ners, the re­verse is true.

Mis­con­cep­tion 3: Guys just go for looks, Girls just go for sta­tus.

Toned down re­al­ity: Guys in short-term mat­ing mode go for looks, Girls in long-term mat­ing mode care sub­stan­tially for the differ­ence be­tween lower than av­er­age sta­tus and av­er­age sta­tus, then marginal util­ity de­creases and more sta­tus is defeated by other de­sir­able traits.

Women in short-term mode do not op­ti­mize for sta­tus, they’ll take a bus-boy who shows through size, melanin, sym­me­try and chin that he sur­vived lo­cal pathogens de­spite his high testoterone, she’s af­ter re­sis­tant genes, not re­sources. Men in long term mode still op­ti­mize for looks, but not that much, kind­ness and emo­tional sta­bil­ity take over when marginal re­turns for more beauty start sub­siz­id­ing.

Mis­con­cep­tion 4: When gen­ders op­ti­mize for Sta­tus, Sta­tus=Money.

Un­like all known pri­mate and cetacean species, Hu­mans daily deal with be­ing high, low, and medium sta­tus in differ­ent hi­er­ar­chi­cal situ­a­tions. This should be as ob­vi­ous as not to be worth men­tion­ing, but sadly there are strong me­dia in­cen­tives, and for some rea­son I don’t un­der­stand well strong rea­sons within English and Amer­i­can cul­ture to pre­tend that women go for sta­tus, sta­tus=money, there­fore women go for money, and men should make more money. It may be a se­lec­tion effect, the so­cieties that fi­nan­cially took over the world be­lieved that be­ing fi­nan­cially pow­er­ful was the best way to get laid, or marry. It may just be that mar­ket­ing these things to­gether (us­ing sexy women to sell cars) cre­ated a long-term pavlo­vian as­so­ci­a­tion. Fact is that it un­for­tu­nately hap­pened, and peo­ple be­lieve it, de­spite it be­ing false. Women who be­gin be­liev­ing it some­times force them­selves into do­ing it even more.

Sta­tus has no uni­ver­sal mea­sure. If you met some­one in Bas­ket­ball team, sta­tus will be how good that per­son is plus their game at­ti­tude. If in a class at uni­ver­sity, maybe it will be how well spo­ken the per­son is in the rele­vant topic. Sta­tus can be how much food the per­son usu­ally shares with groups, or how much they can ask for oth­ers with­out be­ing very apolo­getic. It can be how many women sleep with a man, or how many he can af­ford to re­ject. It can be how many purses a woman has, or how she can show thrift and a sense of be­long­ing to a com­mu­nity that iden­ti­fies as anti-con­sumerist. Some minds as­sign sta­tus based on lo­ca­tion of birth, race, hair color etc… (In my city, Ja­panese women, all the 400.000, are com­monly as­sumed to be high sta­tus). Fi­nally, men do op­ti­mize for the trait peo­ple think as sta­tus, ex­plained be­low, in long-term mates.

Even in the case where sta­tus plays the largest role, women when ac­ti­vat­ing long-term rea­son­ing, sta­tus is only one fac­tor out of four mul­ti­pli­cants that are im­por­tant for the same rea­son, and de­tected, in a prospec­tive male mate:

Kind­ness*Depend­abil­ity*(Am­bi­tion-Age)*Sta­tus = How many re­sources a man is ex­pected to share with you and your hy­po­thet­i­cal kids.

And this does not even be­gin to ac­count for any phys­i­cal trait, nor in­tel­li­gence, hu­mour, en­ergy lev­els etc… If you take one thing out of this text, take this: Make your be­liefs about what sta­tus is pay rent. Test if sta­tus is what peo­ple think it is, or some­thing that only roughly cor­re­lates with that. So­phis­ti­cate your sta­tus mod­ules, they may have been cor­rupted.

Mis­con­cep­tion 5: Once you learn what your mind is do­ing when it se­lects mates, you should make it get bet­ter at that.

Let’s be­gin by reaf­firm­ing the ob­vi­ous: We live in a world that has noth­ing to do with sa­van­nahs where our minds spent a long time. We can ac­cess thou­sands, if not mil­lions of peo­ple, dur­ing a life­time. We have con­doms and con­tra­cep­tives. We live in an era of abun­dance com­pared to any other time in his­tory, and in so­cieties so large, that the moral norms con­strain­ing what “ev­ery­one will know” do not ap­ply any­more.

So the last thing you want to do is to make your mind re­ally sharp and ac­cu­rate when judg­ing a po­ten­tial mate through its nat­u­ral al­gorithms. What you want to do, to the ex­tent that it is pos­si­ble, is to over­ride your al­gorithms with some­thing that is bet­ter, and bet­ter is one of these two things:

1) In­creas­ing your like­li­hood of mat­ing with the in­di­vi­d­ual (or class of in­di­vi­d­u­als) you want to mate with in a matched time-hori­zon (long if you want long, for in­stance).

2) En­larg­ing the scope of in­di­vi­d­u­als you want to mate with to in­clude more peo­ple you ac­tu­ally do, will or can get to know.

Advice

To give bet­ter ad­vice, I’ll first men­tion gen­eral ad­vice any­one can use, and then spe­cific ad­vice for the four quad­rants. For those who will say this is the Dark Arts, I say it would be if we lived in a Sa­van­nah with­out con­doms, heat­ing, medicine, houses or in­ter­nets. Now it looks to me more like caus­ing one-self, and one’s be­loved, to be more epistem­i­cally ra­tio­nal.

Gen­eral Advice

Women, be con­fi­dent: If you are a woman, be more con­fi­dent, way more con­fi­dent, when ap­proach­ing a guy, don’t be ag­gres­sive, just safe, you mind is tuned with who knows how many trig­ger de­vices that may make you afraid of a no, of be­ing thought of as slutty, of los­ing face, and of the guy not rais­ing your kids. Dis­count for all that, twice. Don’t do it if ev­ery­one re­ally will know, or if you ac­tu­ally want kids from that guy.

Use your best hori­zon fea­tures: If you have a trait that the other gen­der op­ti­mizes for more in short-term, lure them by act­ing short-term, even if later you’ll at­tempt to raise their oxy­tocin to the long-term point. If you have goods and ills on both time hori­zons, switch back and forth un­til you grasp what they want.

Dis­count for pop­u­la­tion size: There are two ways of do­ing that, one is to rea­son to your­self “I may not be as at­trac­tive as Natalie Port­man or Brad Pitt, but our minds are tuned to try­ing to get the best few achiev­able mates out of a group of 100-1000, not of hun­dreds of mil­lions, so I do stand a very good chance” The other is nearly op­po­site: “I may think that I should only marry a prince, or sleep with Iron Man, but in fact my world is much smaller than this, and my mind will be to­tally okay to mate with Adam, that cool guy.”

Be he­do­nis­tic: For men and women al­ike, the main way evolu­tion got us into in­ter­course was by mak­ing it fun. The rea­sons it got us out are re­lated to un­like­li­hood of leav­ing great-grand­chil­dren, en­ergy waste, dis­ease, and low­ered sta­tus. Of those, only a sub­set of low­ered sta­tus is still sig­nifi­cant in a world full of con­doms. Other than women when aiming at long-term only, ev­ery­one is com­pletely un­der-cal­ibrated for sex, since we sub­stan­tially re­duced the risks with­out re­duc­ing the he­do­nic benefits nearly as much.

Use fetishes and pe­cu­liar­i­ties: There are things each par­tic­u­lar per­son is at­tracted to more than ev­ery­one else (for me that’s freck­les, red/​or­ange/​blue/​pur­ple hair, up­per back, and short women). Use that in your favour, less com­pe­ti­tion, as sim­ple as that.

Go places: There are bet­ter and worse places to find mates. Short-terming males (a tem­po­rary con­di­tion in which any male may find him­self, not a kind of male) abound in danc­ing clubs, mil­i­tary fa­cil­ities and sports ar­eas, not to men­tion OkCupid. Long-terming fe­males (same) abound on courses and classes of yoga, danc­ing, cook­ing, lan­guages, etc… Long-terming males usu­ally have more of a rou­tine, so are more fre­quent on sat­ur­days and fri­days than on a tues­day late evening, they’ll be more fre­quent wher­ever no one nat­u­rally would go to find a one night stand, or in groups that are pre­s­e­lected for strong emo­tions (low thresh­olds for fal­ling in love) Short-terming fe­males may ex­ist in danc­ing clubs, bars and other re­lated ar­eas, but are very high value due to com­par­a­tive scarcity when in these ar­eas, some­one look­ing for them is bet­ter off in groups with a small ma­jor­ity of women, where so­cial ten­sion and hi­er­ar­chies don’t scale up in ei­ther gen­der.

Spe­cific Advice

Note: The ad­vice is about things you should do in ad­di­tion to what you nat­u­rally tend to do in those situ­a­tions, you already have the al­gorithms, and should just im­prove cal­ibra­tion, un­less when ex­plic­ited, the sug­ges­tion is not to sub­sti­tute what you nat­u­rally tend to do, or this would be a book all by it­self ex­plain­ing 4 kinds of hu­man courtship.

For Long-terming Men: Stop freak­ing out about fi­nan­cial sta­tus. Find a place where you are among the great ones in some­thing, spe­cially kind­ness, de­pend­abil­ity, phys­i­cal con­sti­tu­tion, and sym­me­try which guys think of less fre­quently than Suc­cess­ful star­tups or Ten­nis wor­ld­cham­pi­ons. If you are hot, use short-term, women are par­tic­u­larly more prone to switch­ing from short to long-term. Get a dog, show you are able and will­ing to take care of some­thing un­speak­ably cute and adorable. Be am­bi­tious in your pro­jects, show pas­sion. While am­bi­tious and pas­sion­ate, also make sure she re­al­izes (truly) that you no­tice things about her no one else does, find out her val­ues, talk about shared ones, and be non ag­gres­sively cu­ri­ous about all of them. Show her kind­ness in small ges­tures that need not cost a lot, such as time con­sum­ing hand-made pre­sents. Test OkCupid and see if it works for you. Me­morize de­tails about her per­son­al­ity, as­sure her you can be lov­ing speci­fi­cally to her. Post­pone sex a lit­tle bit. May sound hard, but is a re­li­able in­di­ca­tor that you won’t change her for the next that quickly. Ra­tion­ally over­ride any emo­tion you may have re­gard­ing her sex­ual be­hav­ior, show you are not agres­sive and jeal­ous, thus mak­ing her “(be) (a)lieve un­con­sciously” that you will not kill her in an as­sault of ha­tred when she sleeps with hy­po­thet­i­cal an­other man whose child will never ex­ist and get some years of school­ing from you. If you think you can tell the wheat from the chaff, sep­a­rate the PUA stuff that works for long-term, if not, read softer con­fi­dence/​in­fluence/​se­duc­tion ma­te­rial. Use oxy­tocin in­duc­ing me­dia (TV se­ries and ro­man­tic movies). Rest as­sured, there are more women look­ing for long-term men than the op­po­site, aid the odds by go­ing places. Show sym­pa­thy, kind­ness (to oth­ers as well) and de­pend­abil­ity when­ever you can.

For Long-terming Women: If you’ve been con­vinced by fi­nan­cial sta­tus gospel, stop freak­ing out about it. If you just ac­count for the 4 fac­tors in the equa­tion above, you’ll be way ahead of ev­ery­one within the gospel trance, then there are still all the other things you look for in a guy, which by them­selves are very im­por­tant. Sure, a clas­sic in­di­ca­tor is how much other women in your so­cial group like him, and, good as it is, it is defined in terms of com­pe­ti­tion, try to dis­count this one, af­ter all, it is par­tially just made of a con­for­mity bias, a bad bias to have when look­ing for a long-term mate. Be very nice and kind, and al­most silly near the guy. The kinds of guys who are Long-terming most of the time are those who won’t ap­proach you that fre­quently. Also, older guys ob­vi­ously have less chaos on in their minds and lives, so are more likely to want to set­tle down for a few years. Post­pone sex in pro­por­tion to how much you sus­pect the guy is Short-terming. The im­por­tance of this can­not be over­stated. By post­pon­ing sex (and sex alone) you make sure Short-ter­m­ers still have a good rea­son to be around you un­til sud­denly there is a hor­monal over­load and they fall in love with you (not that ro­man­tic, but mildly ac­cu­rate), love’s trig­ger is ac­ti­vated by many fac­tors, when they sum above a thresh­old. The most malle­able of these fac­tors is time in­vest­ment, give a guy mixed short long sig­nals, and you’ll in­crease like­li­hood of sur­pass­ing the thresh­old. Also, give known guys a sec­ond chance, many times your al­gorithms friend­zoned (sorry for the term) them for rea­sons as silly as “he didn’t touch me the first time we met, and I didn’t feel his smell, be­cause the table was wide” or “That day I was in Short-term mode and this other guy had more eas­ily de­tectable at­trac­tive fea­tures, leav­ing John on the omega men­tal slot”. For­get ro­man­tic come­dies and princess tales where your role is pas­sive. A man’s love is ac­tively con­quered by a woman, you are the one who will fight drag­ons—fre­quently RPG drag­ons—for the guy in the beg­gin­ing, not the op­po­site, the op­po­site comes later as a prize.

For Short-terming Guys: Read Pick Up Artist books, ac­tu­ally do the ex­er­cises, as in don’t find ex­cuses for why you can’t, do them. Don’t do any­thing that dis­gusts you morally, which may be nearly all of it, but do all the rest. Other than that?… Some few things, very few in­deed, were left out of those books. Op­ti­mize more than any­thing for your fetishes and spe­cific de­sires to avoid com­pe­ti­tion. Use mildly tense situ­a­tions which can be con­founded with arousal (nar­row bridges get you more dates than wide bridges). Wo­man’s at­trac­tive­ness peaks at ap­prox­i­mately 1,73cm 5 feet 8 inches, shorter women are more likely to have had less home sta­bil­ity and de­vel­op­men­tal sta­bil­ity when young, which trig­gers more fre­quent short-terming, look­ing for testos­terone in­di­ca­tors (square chin, promi­nent fore­head, and spe­cially hav­ing a ring-finger longer than in­dex-finger) also helps, and it is fun be­cause you can claim to read hands and ac­tu­ally make good pre­dic­tions out of it.

For Short-terming Girls: I’ll start with easy stuff, and es­ca­late quickly to ex­tremely high prob­a­bil­ity even in tough cases, such as he’s not on the mood, tired, re­ally shy, or (you think) not ex­cited. Quite likely the main ob­sta­cle is in­side your mind, not your clothes, ei­ther fear of re­jec­tion, or fear of rep­u­ta­tional cost or some­thing else. Be con­fi­dent. Few guys will re­ject a sub­tle, fem­i­nine, dis­crete and firm sex “offer” (no­tice how lan­guage it­self puts it). Look at him, smile, touch him while you speak, look in­tensely at his mouth while slowly ap­proach­ing, make sure to try do this where he is un­likely to be pay­ing some rep­u­ta­tional cost (not on his aunt’s mar­riage). If feel­ing clumsy, men­tion you do. When short-terming, men re­ally do op­ti­mize for looks, so de­crease light lev­els, and avoid available-fe­male com­pany, like ask­ing him out to check a book­store, or to see a movie. Sit near him while touch­ing him, cut the con­ver­sa­tion at some point, kiss him (re­mem­ber to do that where nei­ther of you may get em­bar­rassed with any­one else). Be­fore, talk about sex­u­al­ity nat­u­rally and imaget­i­cally, say how it is im­por­tant to you to be em­braced, de­sired, en­ticed, pen­e­trated, trans­formed in­side, and arise re-en­er­gized the next day to go back to your life. If you are sure he is short-terming, make your­self scarce by men­tion­ing time con­straints. Carry con­doms and pick them up while mak­ing up if he is still hes­i­tant whether you want sex or not. But be cozy and re­as­sure him “It’s okay” if it feels like he ner­vous. If you are con­fortable with that, use the web, there are tons of Short-terming guys, and if you feel em­barassed to meet a man who would re­ject you, you are safe­guarded by be­ing filtered be­fore­hand through your pic­tures and de­scrip­tion or by the bang with friends app. On the web, be up­front about your in­ten­tions, and as­sure them you are not a scam/​bot/​adv. When al­most there, if he is not ex­cited, it is not be­cause you are not at­trac­tive to him, don’t be pas­sive, slowly touch and rub his gen­i­tal, quite likely he’s just ner­vous and you are dis­put­ing against his sym­pa­thetic sys­tem, when you and the parasym­pa­thetic win, he’ll be ex­cited and re­laxed, and the party is on. If you live in a large ur­ban area, go to swing places alone or with ac­quain­tances, not friends—nowhere else there will be that many guys will­ing to have sex right there, right now, and the nec­es­sary in­fras­truc­ture for it, in a safe en­vi­ron­ment with se­cu­rity guards, other high-class women etc… to make sure you are not get­ting into trou­ble—In short, guaran­tee situ­a­tions in which nei­ther him nor you pay rep­u­ta­tional costs, be ac­tive yet re­as­sur­ing, lower light lev­els, avoid com­pe­ti­tion and make sure there is in­fras­truc­ture for the act.

The say­ing goes that you can’t achieve hap­piness by try­ing to be happy (thought you can if you op­ti­mize for hap­piness, i.e. by read­ing pos­i­tive psy­chol­ogy and act­ing on it). To some ex­tent, it is also true that a lot of what goes on dur­ing courtship does not take place while ac­tively and con­sciously fo­cus­ing on courtship. It is one thing to keep those mis­con­cep­tions and ad­vices in mind, and a whole differ­ent thing to be ob­sessed about them and use them as cog­ni­tive canon­i­cal max­ims for be­hav­ing, the point of writ­ing this is to help, if it stops be­ing helpful, stop us­ing it.

Edit: Scram­bled sources:

Buss Hand­book of Evolu­tion­ary Psy­chol­ogy 2004

Pinker—Fam­ily Values and Love chap­ters on How The Mind Works

Mat­ing In­tel­li­gence, the one from 2007 and the 2011 ones, many au­thors (in­clud­ing He­len Fisher) both linked above.

Robert Trivers the­ory of parental in­vest­ment, con­flict etc… − 197x

Lots of con­ver­sa­tions with dozens to a hun­dred friends about their cur­rent sex lives.

PUA—Mistery Method—Rules of The Game—The Layguide (as­sump­tion: the older ones had less eco­nomic in­cen­tive to cre­ate vo­cab­u­lary and new com­plex­ity out of the blue, there­fore are more ac­cu­rate and less Bul­lshitty)

He­len Fisher (pre­sen­ta­tions, vi­does, some ar­ti­cles)

Lots of con­ver­sa­tions with a friend who read lots of evopsych and would spend the po­modoro in­ter­vals ex­plain­ing the ar­ti­cle he just read to me.

Per­sonal ex­pe­rience.

The Eter­nal Child, Clive Broomhall

The Mind in the Cave—for­got author

MIT The Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­sciences III (2004)

Pri­mate sex­u­al­ity (1999)

This video is also great, Why do Women Have Sex? http://​​www.youtube.com/​​watch?v=KA0sqg3EHm8

Edit: This was origi­nally posted to main and down­graded to Dis­cus­sion by Eliezer claiming that it didn’t have many up­votes. It did have lots of down­votes (37%), as I’d ex­pect from any con­tro­ver­sial topic, but also had more than 50 up­votes at the time. I sub­mit a pro­posal that con­tro­ver­sial top­ics should not be down­graded, and that to­tal num­ber of votes be a rele­vant fac­tor, not only differ­ence be­tween ups and downs, to avoid death spirals, and con­for­mity bias. If policy changes, no­tice this DOES NOT benefit me in any way, since I don’t plan on writ­ing for about a semester, and this text will be long gone.

It is hard to un­scram­ble it all to give spe­cific cita­tions, but that is a list of stuff I’ve read that deals with re­lated is­sues that come to mind.