Gendernomics: The Cover and the Content

Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an old metaphor that seeks to remind us that we should not judge the quality of something based on outwards appearance alone. This is a very classic “System 1” error [1], wherein one makes a rapid judging based on information that is easily available. A good analogy I heard was that Sherlock Holmes is an example of pure system 2, slow, deliberate and logical, whereas Watson is system 1, quick, emotional and superficial.

I’ve somewhat avoided venturing into the discussion “Looks Vs. Game” that has been ongoing in the sphere since I first became familiar with it in the early 2000s. Back then, “game” was sold as the magic pill that would make a man into master seducer regardless of any other aspect of his life. This is very much understandable from a business perspective, as those men who relied on selling various game techniques had and still have every incentive to hard-sell game as the ultimate solution to the problem “I want to get laid more”. Of course, one could argue that this sales pitch was brutally and empirically proven wrong when VH1 aired two seasons of “The Pick-up artist“, where it became very clear that game cannot overcome a general lack of social skills, anti-seductive behavior patterns or various problems with a man’s appearance.  Even the “Game Guru” Erik Von Markovik, the inventor of the Mystery Method demonstrated in this program that game is not a magic pill.

This is not to say that game does not work, however it is to state in a reductio ad absurdum fashion that an 800 lb man who lives in his mother’s basement, hasn’t had a shower since the Clinton administration, and spends his days playing videogames could be the most proficient practitioner of game in the history of the world, yet would fail miserably in the sexual market place. Conversely that a great looking guy with zero game while he may be unsuccessful in some respects, would gain a higher level of success than the former.

The Perception of Quality

For those who are used to high quality, and equally expensive products, one of the things one notices about them is that every little detail often reflect a quality focus. Apple has recently capitalized on this in the design of the boxes that their products arrive in, the various displays that show off the products in the store, and in other factors of the context of the product. A parallel is that a lawyer in a bespoke suit, radiates confidence and ability, whereas a lawyer in an off-the-rack Wal-mart suit is demonstrating quite the opposite. Which is not advocating that one can judge a product by it’s packaging or it’s context, however that such factors may greatly influence our perception.

The understanding that Apple has come to, is that a high quality phone in a low quality wrapping influences a person’s belief about a product, and that dissonance between perceptions relating to an object is inherently negative. If I’m pitching a product to you based on its quality, yet when you see the product it appears low-quality to the naked eye, the sales pitch and the perception are at odds.

There is a reason why con-men and the likes find it very important to look the part in addition to acting the part, namely because from first glance one starts to subconsciously make judgements about the cover. As we start to look beyond the veneer, our judgments are colored by our early subconscious impressions and judgements. Perhaps the most red pill example of this is the halo effect [2], wherein one tends to view a good looking person as more generous, intelligent and various other things.

Kahneman and Tversky outline the two modes of the human mind in their research on behavioral economics quite a bit, as described earlier, system 1 is fast, emotional and instinctive, system 2 is slow, deliberate and more logical. Our brains inherently appear to favor system 1 as this is the most relevant system for our evolution, after all if one stops to logically think through the steps of running away from a bear, odds are that one would rapidly become lunch for a hungry bear. However, if one seeks to plan to eliminate bears from the vicinity of the village, system 2 is more likely to deduce the correct solution.

Thinking clearly is difficult and time-consuming, it requires effort and humans are designed to expend minimum effort for maximum result by nature. After all, in much the same way a capitalist system channels wealth to those who are the best at managing money, natural selection channels resources to those who get the most bang for their buck out of their resources. A person who sees a man in an expensive suit, with an expensive watch, who is acting if money does not matter, will tend to naturally assume that this man is wealthy, to this the person is likely to attribute qualities that one would anticipate one would require in order to become wealth, such as discipline, patience, and a stellar work ethic. This is an example of the Halo effect in practice. When coupled with human bias and defense mechanics it lays the groundwork for “act now based on system 1, and rationalize afterwards using system 2“.

Rapid Mating Calls

Our brains are in a sense built to make many rapid decisions based on superficial qualities in the moment, if we look at how humans develop their ability to reason as they age. Our ancestors grew up chased by predators, moving across the land in nomadic groups following their prey. In such a situation, the ability to rapidly make life or death decisions with minimal data is superior to the ability to reason and make bulletproof decisions based on a myriad of data. Our mating preferences follow similar patterns, which is something I touched on in Gendernomics, men have an innate preference for the female hourglass figure [3] and other physical traits that convey health and fertility. This makes quite a lot of sense for our ancestors living in a constantly shifting situation, they didn’t have time to go through extended vetting processes only to have their intended target die from the environment or other factors, they needed to make a judgement on the attractiveness of a potential mate with some expediency.

Then we arrive at women, if one evaluates the recorded history of mating, a shared characteristic is that female sexuality has largely been controlled by the culture. One can look at marriage and the various roles it has played in different cultures, polygamous marriage, the monopolization of the reproductive capabilities of multiple women by a single man has been common in many culture, and is still quite common in some parts of the world. However, it would appear rather strange if women differed greatly in their ability to make rapid mating decisions. After all, this ability in men makes no reproductive sense without it’s equivalent in women.

If one takes the classic assertion that women are the gatekeepers of sex, it makes no sense that men have evolved a mechanism to rapidly decide if they want to move through the gate, if the gatekeeper is still going to hold off on opening the gate.


This problem has its suggested solution in the dualistic sexual strategy that manifests as Alpha fucks and Beta Bucks, within this model human females are assumed to have two sets of decision criteria that determine whether a man is able to attain rapid mating or not. These two strategies can be viewed through the lens of risk/reward, in that in the case of AF, the perceived reward of mating with this male is high enough to warrant taking on the risks of short-term mating, whereas the reward in the case of BB, is not high enough to warrant taking on this risk.

If one compares this to the system 1 vs system 2, modes of thinking outlined earlier [1], an argument can be made that AF relies on system 1, and BB is system 2. If one reviews much of PUA literature, many of the “tips & tricks” rely on appeals made to various components that are involved with system 1, as it encourages fast, emotional decisions based on superficial data. If one considers the traditional mating process referenced in the previous section, this encourages much slower, deliberate decision-making based on better data.

Summary and Conclusions

This post began with the age old dichotomy of “Looks vs Game”, which is a false dichotomy. The more important factor is ability to and type of information conveyed by the man in the scenario. If one looks at the information men get from female appearance, there is a lot of information gained in a very rapid manner with scarcely a word being said. If one looks at how women communicate, their communication is conducted covertly by nature, and only made explicit when they feel powerless.

A beta male, is attempting to communicate in a logical and deductive manner, as if he is reading a user manual he wrote about himself, and from this onslaught of information the woman’s system 2 is engaged.

If one looks at the central points of “Beta Game“, it is very much a system 2 oriented approach. A beta volunteers plenty of data to the woman and dates often take the form of job-interviews where the Beta is attempting to logically convince the woman of his worthiness as a mate. It is as if he is reading a user manual for her about him.

“Alpha Game” on the other hand, is very much a system 1 approach, focusing on arousing emotions, impulsivity and rapid decisions. Alpha game is in a sense the cheat meal a person has because they found themselves in a situation where they could not resist, whereas beta game is the tupperware box of carefully prepared chicken breasts and broccoli.

Thus, one can argue that Beta game is a case of attempting to logically and empirically convincing someone to make an impulsive decision, and therefore a case where goals and methodology do not align. This is the equivalent of a salesman who seeks to get his customer to make an impulsive purchase presenting that customer with a doctoral thesis worth of information to process prior to making the purchase.


[1] Thinking fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

[2] The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli


[4] Betzig, Laura (1993). “Sex, succession, and stratification in the first six civilizations: How powerful men reproduced, passed power on to their sons, and used power to defend their wealth, women, and children”

[5] Pinch Geraldine, Private Life in Ancient Egypt in: Civilizations of the Ancient Near East.



11 comments on “Gendernomics: The Cover and the Content

  1. This is an interesting article. The system 1 and 2 that you talk about reminds me of the system 1 and 2 in the book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. Your analysis of these systems and their links to gender is very enjoyable to read.

    Anyway, please could you check out my new economics blog ( – your feedback/comments would mean a lot to me.

    Thanks and have a great day,



  2. Holly says:

    Mr. Carl,

    How do I locate Betzig, Laura (1993) paper?

    Located a reach-search gate but I do not belong to a university. So when I went through my google account it asked for, it stated the paper was not out.

    Please advise.


  3. BK says:

    Khaneman applied to game – genius work once again brother!


  4. Dale says:

    However, no game can block success as well as anything. I had no idea for years how to recognize a woman’s readiness. My second date invited me back to her dorm room, told me how her roommate spent the nights with her boyfriend in another dorm. I didn’t evenget a k-close!


  5. […] of limitations. Buying decisions differ based on the nature of the purchase, we cannot make a full system 2 decision every time we decide on what drink to get with a meal, and we cannot make a system 1 decision when […]


  6. […] in the sexual market place, men tend to not look a gift-whore in the mouth. They make a rapid system 1 conclusion that due to her becoming more mature, she finally realizes that the “alpha jerk-boys” […]


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