Generalizing societal pressures

Schneier (lots of love for him today and yesterday) explained the term in a synopsis of his book:

My central metaphor is the Prisoner’s Dilemma, which nicely exposes the tension between group interest and self-interest. And the dilemma even gives us a terminology to use: cooperators act in the group interest, and defectors act in their own selfish interest, to the detriment of the group. Too many defectors, and everyone suffers — often catastrophically. [Ed: Like when multiple defectors overfish a lake.]

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is not only useful in describing the problem, but also serves as a way to organize solutions. We humans have developed four basic mechanisms for ways to limit defectors: what I call societal pressure. We use morals, reputation, laws, and security systems. It’s all coercion, really, although we don’t call it that. I’ll spare you the details; it would require a book to explain. And it did.

Bruce Schneier
Liars and Outliers: The Big Idea

Each of these societal pressures can be generalized according to the group or “society” that disciplines defectors. Moral pressures depend on the individual disciplining himself for indiscretions. The effectiveness of brand-name reputation depends on the brand owner’s ability to punish behavior that deviates from expectations.

(Aside: Schneier mentions that zero deviation is also bad, due to stagnation. See the Red Queen effect for more on that.)

These pressures can scale according to group size (recall Dunbar numbers), so long as the group is able to enforce standards most of the time. There are two reasons that societies are unable to maintain. One reason that standards tend to fail at prescribing or proscribing behavior is that they can’t enforce them.

As an example, we have the phenomenon of Game. Game exists because the American legal system encourages female defection from the social contract governing marriage (and many Western countries follow suit, according to anecdotes). That social contract is essentially “Women are sexually available and faithful to men who are socially productive and sexually faithful.”

In complete opposition to the doctrines of Churchianity, the idea of marriage predates Judeochristian, Abrahamic religions. Marriage is not a Christian institution, it is however an essential cultural institution. It is necessary for agricultural (complex) societies to institute this specific contract, or they will implode (as we’re seeing). Which is fine, if you’re on top and only interested in riding the plummeting skyscrapers to the ground, or you don’t mind a hunter/gatherer existence. (Just beware that such a society won’t support most of the existing population. That’s a lot of deaths.)

To continue the example, we have the inability (or disinterest) of our social planners to implement the social marriage contract. In fact, they seem stuck on purposively destroying it. So as females begin to defect, males begin to experience the effects of being altruistic on the wrong end of a prisoner’s dilemma. Divorce rape, cuckolding; Nasty stuff, getting fucked like that. So now we’re starting to see men begin to defect from the social marriage contract, because our social planners are unable to control information properly. We have defectors like Heartiste actively encouraging other men to defect.

And all because the larger society was unable to punish defectors. I think this is why slut shaming is such a palatable idea for red-pill men; most men wish we could go back to the old contract.


I got news for them. You can’t turn the clock back on technology. Information is immortal. Contraception and weapons of mass destruction are here to stay. This is why the idea of security is so crucial to Schneier’s book:

The way to properly influence the future is to thoughtfully invent technologies and ideas that can only be used in support of your ideals.


About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
This entry was posted in blather, economics, Game, life tips, psychology. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Generalizing societal pressures

  1. mobiuswolf says:

    “The way to properly influence the future is to thoughtfully invent technologies and ideas that can only be used in support of your ideals.”
    That’s an old question. I don’t think it has been done yet.

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