Argumentum Ad AMOG

by Frost on May 9, 2013

In an ideal world, arguments would be fair and sporting contests between gentlemen, the point of which is the comparison of competing models of reality and the fair evaluation of each on their merits. Men would champion their perspectives logically and charitably, following the others’ premises and lines of reasoning until one or the other was caught in a factual or philosophical dead end. Jolly good, they would say, shake hands, and pop off for a round of polo.

A simpler time

But we do not live in an age of honest argument. We live in the age of post-modern discourse. Civil debate is a thing of the past, rhetoric is about victory more than honest inquiry, and you are advised to arm yourself accordingly.

Today we’re going to study a very common, very sneaky, and very effective tactic: The Argumentum Ad Amog.

(For the unaware: AMOG is a well-worn pick-up acronym which stands for Alpha Male Of Group. If I am the coolest guy in the room, I am the AMOG. It also functions as a verb – if I stroll up to you and your friends, and thirty seconds later they all think you’re a dweeb and I’m hot stuff, I have successfully AMOGed you.)

The Argumentum Ad AMOG is characterized by its ability to elevate the perceived status of the man making the argument, while diminishing the status of any man who dares object to it. The logical connection of the argumentum ad amog to the subject at hand is irrelevant. The argument is effective because it is only true if one or more status-elevating premises is correct. The man who argues ad amog sneakily makes an implicit statement about himself, in the guise of speaking about the ideas at hand.

My favourite example of the argumentum ad amog is the assertion by the Professional Libertarian class (Cowen, Caplan et al.) that unlimited Latino immigration to the United States is a good and necessary thing. America descends into a culturally enriched socialist hell with ~20%+ actual unemployment rate, but the nation’s self-styled libertarian economics professors agree: Cheap Chalupas Uber Alles!

On the surface, they cloak their message in high rhetoric of human rights and the gains from trade that can be derived on a chalkboard in the hypothetical land of homo economicus. But what message do they truly wish, deep in the cockles of their hindbrain, to communicate? I suggest something more akin to this:

“Good sir -I am a sheltered, wealthy, and well-remunerated scion of The Thinking Class. I earn my daily bread with my mind, not with a wrench, hammer or plow, as if I were some feudal serf. Oh no, my station in life is so great, I am free to consider the demographic upheaval of the United States of America from the safety of my quite un-diverse neighbourhood, place of employment, and social circle. 

Ah, dear friend, is immigration negatively affecting your life? Perhaps by pushing down your working class wages or rendering your formerly bland middle-class neighbourhood suddenly vibrant? I’m so sorry, but such things are quite outside my reality! What a pity that they are inside yours.

Oh I know! Why don’t you just… create a bubble! Yes, that will solve all your worries, toot sweet.”

This sort of subtle one-upmanship is not (usually) a conscious process, but it serves all the same. This psychoanalysis applies to a wide variety of left-wing policies, which generally have the effect of converting middle-class America into a second-world country, sparing only the wealthiest of enclaves. Advocating for the left is status-enhancing, because only the highs have the ability to insulate themselves from the consequences of socialist policies. The middles do not have this luxury, and worse, speaking out in favour of the preservation of order reveals themselves as middles or lower.

Another example. Regular readers will note that I rarely if ever write about the contemporary politics of race. Why not? It’s certainly an interesting enough topic. Well, as it happens I have the good fortune to live in a wonderfully safe area. Throughout my life, I’ve known many upper and upper-middle class people of African, Arab, Asian, etc, descent, and they’ve all been fine friends. As far as I can see, within my own bubble, multiculturalism and diversity truly do work. If I had grown up in, say, Baltimore, my outlook might be different. I didn’t, so it’s not.

But if I wanted to be a dick, I might pull Chuck Ross aside and say something like this:

“Charles! Another post on anti-white prejudice, hate crimes, and other such…. burdensome topics. Why? Why Charles? In my experience, these topics are simply not worth discussing. Why, I’ve never heard of this ‘knock-out game.’ In my experience, people are pretty much all the same, stereotypes are for the intellectually lazy, and we’re all just a bunch of human beings trying to get along as best we can!”

But what I’m really saying is:

“Hey Chuck – did I mention that I can afford to live in a neighbourhood that is entirely free from any sort of youth-led rabble-rousing, burglary, muggings, random assaults, and petty crime? ‘Cause I’m mentioning it now. Oh, and I basically never have any contact with any members of America’s vast criminal underclass, because I have the money and social status to properly insulate, insulate, insulate myself and create a bubble in which I only interact with the better people of any race. I mean, it’s not like I’m some shmuck waiter who cares enough to notice who leaves smaller tips and bigger messes in restaurants. Based on my experiences with multicultural friends, including the third cousin of a Saudi prince, the son of a Turkish media mogul, and grad school classmates who scored in the 99.99% percentile of the GRE in Bangladesh, Iran and Nigeria, I think diversity is just swell.”

Now, if Chuck wants to win the argument over diversity, he has to concede and make explicit my claim to higher social status. Not an easy thing to do.

Here’s an example where I’m guilty. I’ve written a few pro-love, pro-relationship, pro-family posts like this, this and this. The reason? In my life, I’ve been in a few great relationships with fantastic girls with whom I made real connections. So I argue that relationships aren’t so bad, and despite all the bullshit around marriage law in the 21st century, being completely closed off to marriage and fatherhood is excessively paranoid.

But what am I implying when I write that all these other PUAs have it wrong, that love isn’t dead, and that there are still good women out there?

I’m covertly bragging that I am capable of finding good relationships, that I am able to find and lock down quality women, that I am uniquely gifted in the art of building healthy, satisfying connections with women. How many otherwise successful pick-up artists are unable to do this? Quite a few! And yet I can. Brag brag brag. It doesn’t mean I’m wrong. But, as with any argument you hear from now on that slyly elevates the status of the speaker – you should be careful to accept or reject it on its merits, rather than based on how it reflects on your perceived status.

*

Yesterday on Twitter, I got to sparring with Post Masculine author Mark Manson. Mark argues that writers from the dark side of the PUA blogosphere use the poor quality of American women as an excuse to avoid making necessary improvements to themselves. Is there truth to that charge? Sure. But it’s not valid to dismiss every criticism of American women, because a fraction of the men making the criticisms are motivated in part by the need to preserve their egos.

In one of his final tweets of the day, Mark writes: “I honestly had little trouble getting hot girls in the US. Like I said, cultural complaints, not women complaints.”

Dear reader, can you spot the ad amog here? Here’s my translation of the above tweet:

“Hey guys! I’m Mark Manson! I’m an extremely smart, accomplished, worldly, and interesting person. I’m at the prime age of my life and I appear to be [Ed: no homo] a fairly good-looking guy. I’ve traveled all over the world, because I run a lucrative location-independent business that allows me to live a life that most men can only dream about. I’m basically famous, and oh, I’ve spent the past decade of my life studying the science of seduction and training myself and others to be better with women.  And guess what? I have no problems at all finding cool girls in the US of A!”

Now this will come as a great relief to men who bring a similar resume to the table. Hey! Listen up all you good-looking wealthy international man of mystery niche celebrities with ten thousand hours of pickup workshops under your belt! You’ll do great in America! Don’t worry, Mark checked it out!

But the average American dude – especially if he hasn’t learned that Evil Men Get Laid and that there’s a Pill That Cures Approach Anxiety – is playing at a different level. He will not be comforted by Mark’s success. In his world, the combination of hypergamy and declining female quality have created a brutal dating landscape.

For what it’s worth, I will go ahead and do some explicit bragging of my own: I’m a top-tier guy. I also have no problem dating hot girls in contemporary North America, the occasional episode of whiny emo hand-wringing about the meaning of it all aside.  This is my reality, and I’m not afraid to lay it out explicitly like the egotistical dick I am.

But I recognize that for the average man, the contemporary dating scene is a muffin-topped, flake-filled, target-poor war zone. Sure, you can still do fine if you manage to crack the top 5% – and as hard a path as that may be, it’s the only one available, and thus the one I recommend to my readers – but it’s not a universal solution for restoring order and balance to the sexual marketplace. The pessimism of the dark side of the Manosphere regarding the degenerate and hypergamous state of modern American woman may not be as psychologically soothing as the starry-eyed optimism of Post Masculine. It may not even be as productive. But it is the truth.

  • John

    The idea that struck me while reading this. Bracket men by percentiles based on their highest potential SMV. Meaning that we assume they could become the best they could be outside of just becoming millionaires. They look better, learn game, etc.

    The men from 81st to 100th percentile have a good ROI for their effort in fulfilling their potential. Meaning that the women they would get can justify trying to be all those things. I admit that some things are good to do regardless of how much they help you get laid, but let’s not kid ourselves. When we get to 61st-80th I imagine we’d see a significant drop off in ROI. By the time we hit the bottom fifth it’s almost not worth it entirely. When Manson ad AMOGed you, he was looking at his section of the graph that showed tremendous ROI for his efforts, but not at the flatline of the chart where all the neckbeards lie.

    In this climate, I think it behooves a man to take an honest look at what he could become in terms of SMV. And ask himself, will the prize that awaits me for all that effort, time, and money be worth it? I’m probably somewhere between 75th and 85th percentile and I don’t even see the value. (I’m getting in shape and bettering myself for me. It might get me some strange, but I doing it for different reasons than that for the first time in my life.) If you’re naturally awkward or unattractive, just forget about it. You better start looking for some woman (if you really want one) with good personality(AKA fat/ugly) or start chasing millions because you’re done otherwise.

    The key idea here, however, is return on investment. That is largely dependent on the quality of women. Anyone who tries to dismiss the rising levels of obesity and mental illness and whatever other deal breakers is just looking on too small of a scale. Yes, any given Sunday you can beat the odds, but that still doesn’t change the fact that for certain men the house simply has better odds and the only winning move is to not play.

    When it comes down to the improve yourself vs. the quality of women argument, there is no singular answer. They both influence each other. What we’ve seen is that when quality goes down, many men simply don’t see the ROI and do something else. Good for them. Just ignore all the cries of ‘Man Up’! Shame doesn’t work if you don’t give a fuck.

    • http://koanicsoul.com Koanic

      Very interesting comment John. I believe mobility from the bottom is possible, but it does take some specialized tactics you won’t hear from a surface-skimming melon.

    • Frost

      I see them as two separate and mostly uncorrelated (maybe even negatively correlated) traits:

      1) “Natural” attractiveness: Good looks, natural charm, testosterone, confidence/nimbus acquired through positive formative experiences in youth. All things that feed into the success of the unconsciously competent man.

      2) The ability to use reason to become more attractive: Intelligence, analytical ability, curiousity, self-awareness, self-control, willingness to endure social awkwardness. I.e, the ability to make use of “Game.”

      You could also take this further and consider the third derivative, a man’s ability to increase his ability to increase his attractiveness. For example, improving your self-awareness, cognitive function, and emotional stability through meditation/prayer.

      The effect of Game on the male half of the sexual marketplace is the redistribution of success from men who are gifted in (1) to men who are gifted in (2) and (3). Hence the inherent traditional/K-selected/eugenic bent of the PUA blogosphere.

  • http://realitydoug.wordpress.com ‘Reality’ Doug

    1. Philosophically enlightening. I don’t often find honest intellectualism this elevated and concise.

    2. It is a ‘war zone’ for us betas. I’ve learned to regard socializing as a contact sport: the politics determine material results more than merit, the way some of us think of merit as in a free market of ideas, goods and services, violence, political vitality, etc.

    3. In the war zone with red-pill knowledge, at least you stop volunteering to bleed, and you alternate perhaps between the options of total GYOW and efforts at ‘self-improvement’ judged by the evolutionarily backward to crack that 5%. At least I know you think women are worth the effort at that point. I’d sure hate to get hitched and then slip, but then would be a more precarious perch for me to maintain.

    4. Libertarians without borders to their theories are libertardians and communists. It only makes sense that rival ideas will be coopted or destroyed by the funny money.

    • Frost

      In reply to (3), I agree that both Celibacy/MGTOW and Game are valid choices for the modern man.

      As for the downsides of marriage and divorce, I think they’re over stated. The men who get good and properly fucked in divorces are emotional, trusting, ignorant fools. Cynics – ie the sort who read this blog – will at least know to recognize the warning signs of looming divorce, lawyer up, hide money, etc. They will survive, albeit poorer, and hopefully with the serenity to hold onto their identity.

  • Student001

    Political stance as status tool makes a lot of sense. Applying this idea to the Eurozone, those who still favour further European integration (it’s hard for Americans to know how much of an accepted totem this still is, even now) may subconsciously be conveying the idea that they are insulated from the economic dislocations that everyone else is going through.

    Only been reading your stuff for a couple months, but I’ve really enjoyed what you’ve had to say.

    • Frost

      Yes, exact same reasoning applies to EU immigration. If you live in Paris, Oslo, Stockholm, etc, and can plausibly claim that immigration is not making your life much, much worse, you are a high-status individual indeed.

  • The Frequentist

    Great article. It’s good to see game concepts applied to secondary fields of interest, instead of directly to the purpose of picking up girls.
    Player burnout occurs when you utilize game for the single-minded goal of getting laid. The red pill is much bigger than that; it is a much better model of reality that lets us red-pill men, alpha or beta, be the metaphorical one-eyed men in the land of the blind.
    It would be really cool to see you apply this game-tinged analysis to the behavior of men that is not directly related to picking up girls, to show how game and evo-psych affects underlying social dynamics at play in diverse scenarios

    • Frost

      That’s the great thing about Game. It’s a huge incentive for men to learn about the social and political dynamics around them. Come for the pussy, stay for the revolution.

  • Johnny Caustic

    In case anyone cares, AMOG was originally coined to stand for “Alpha Male Other Guy” by old__dog@my-deja.com on the Usenet newsgroup alt.seduction.fast on January 28, 2000.

    Not sure when people tranformed it into “Alpha Male Of the Group”. But it’s a pretty dumb acronym either way, and I still marvel that it became so popular.

  • http://koanicsoul.com Koanic

    Very good article, well above your usual.

    Reasons:
    1. It’s a melony topic. You know it in detail. Your how-to stuff tends to be weak because you don’t have to struggle like most, and don’t have the obsessive focus to break things down. This is excellent because most non-melons can’t break it down, and sufficiently focused.
    2. Unusual honesty
    3. Direct personal experience and mastery

    • Frost

      Somewhat interesting comment, unfortunately marred by an insecure need to sneak in a backhanded compliment – neither above or below your usual.

      • http://koanicsoul.com Koanic

        Manson is much more Thally; I don’t think he can or should shift from his more ingenopathic position to your location on the spectrum. Much of your disagreement boils down to this. I find him somewhat ridiculous yet appreciably honest too, but understand that those with different wiring need a different location on the spectrum.

        You’re viewing my comment through the social gamesmanship lens, which is projection. This article was good enough that I couldn’t figure out who wrote it even after I’d skimmed halfway through in my RSS, and I usually pick out your stuff immediately. So I offered an analysis of why you exceeded your usual performance, firstly to explain my own vertigo, and secondly so that you can replicate if you choose in the future. In other words, adding value.

  • asdf

    It’s common knowledge in the sphere that if you have top tier money or appearance your still “alpha” enough to get good women as long as you don’t totally blow it with massive anti-game.

    The question of course is whether this matters to you. If you understand HBD you understand that both money and appearance are largely genetic functions (especially when we start talking about top 5%). Either you’ve got it or you don’t. Most people who say they saw massive improvement in those areas were self sabotaging before (letting themselves get fat by taking zero care of their body, etc). If you’ve been doing a median job of these things already improved effort isn’t going to change your circumstances that much compared to your genetic expectations.

    So should one be proud of their own genes? To me HBD is the ultimate equalitarian philosophy. It poses that your genes, not your soul, are responsible for most of your success in life. If that is the case that these games of AMOG are just pathetic. Why be proud of your genes? Why look down on others when all of it has little to do with your own decisions in life?

    When I was a kid my Dad was in a union. They were on strike. They offered my job a spot in management if he crossed the picket line. Did my Dad say, “hey losers, they choose me for a spot in management because I’m an alpha and not a losers like you suckers. Go enjoy peasant wages.” No, he told the company to go shove it because he was sticking by his fellow man.

    Some people become more successful at whatever endeavor and then use that to look down on others. Myself, the more successful I become the more I wonder why we are supposed to be so proud of it. I thought success might soothe my anger, but instead its just made me realize how unjust the system is.

    • Frost

      HBD is just the claim that genes are a thing and that they matter somewhat. It does not follow from belief in HBD that environment and will are irrelevant.

      I agree that the power of Game is mostly limited to shedding the anti-game social programming and avoiding self-sabotage. Fortunately for us game bloggers, there’s plenty of both to go around.

  • Revo Luzione

    Very meta post. I like. The 50,000 foot view of a wide range of many men and many situations provides much-needed context, and that’s shockingly rare in the manosphere. Too often, it’s a one-size-fits all explanation of game, social dynamics, and status statements, which is what argumetum ad amog really is. That’s a great turn of phrase, BTW.

    Your exchange with Manson on twitter was entertaining, and kudos to you for not totally AMOGing him, and for plugging Models, which is a pretty decent book that I’d probably benefit from reading again.

    Like you & Manson, I’ve had good luck meeting great women in the US, but then I’m really into health, fitness, self-improvement, etc.That might be a humblebrag, but whatevs. The dark side of the manosphere put me in touch with my shadow, my anger, my lust, rage, my instinctual self, and it taught me to accept myself fully, which has been like releasing a massive weight that was dragging my system into the muck.

    Manson’s work is excellent, but is very short on the shadow-acceptance. This is ironic, because he and T are some of the only manosphere guys to talk about the shadow. But for all their talk, they don’t fully accept the shadow aspect of themselves or of the male id, and that’s clear in their disdain for the id-centric bloggers, who, despite no overt mention of the shadow, clearly accept it, and themselves, fully and unconditionally, and reap massive benefits from it. As have I.

    • Frost

      Manson is frustrating because he gets it better than possibly anyone out there, but is subconsciously held back from exploring the darker side of the modern sexual marketplace because he would lose the bulk of his r/seduction audience, i.e. guys who will follow the breadcrumb trail only until it leads to beliefs that are not PC/socially acceptable.

      He also fails to comprehend just how negative are the consequences of the West’s flight from tradition, in the sexual realm and otherwise. He wants to believe that everything is basically OK, and we’re just evolving into a new, sex-positive, emotionally healthier version of the social and sexual contract. He accuses guys like Roosh of being negative, without asking if perhaps that negativity is justified.

      I also suspect he is partially concerned with proselytizing beliefs that are useful for the individual men reading his blog, at the occasional expense of exploring the whole truth.

      He’s an incredibly smart guy though, and as honest with his readers as he is with himself. As Cerdic said of King Arthur, he’s “A man worth killing.”

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  • http://xsplat.wordpress.com/ xsplat

    Now that you point it out, I argue by ad amog also. Feels good – I like the brag and feeling of subtly putting other people down.

    Great insightful post – very enjoyable read.

    • Frost

      Thanks. As a general rule, if something is exciting for you to talk about, chances are you’re perceiving it as a DHV.

      • http://scartissue.us Wald

        Funny. That makes so much sense.

  • Rob

    Even when I wasn’t personally honest in my dealings with others, I was intellectually honest with myself. Probably because intellectual honesty was the tether that kept me from falling totally off the edge.

    With most people, it’s not so much that they abuse intellectual honesty. Rather, they aren’t capable of it in the first place. First of all, it requires perspective, something people lack. Secondly, it requires a humility that’s based in confidence. Humility isn’t so rare. Life makes everyone humble. But humility in successful people who realize, appreciate, and accept that some people are better…well that’s rare.

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  • AnonymousNotAFeminist(Really)

    I may have misread this (and I’ve been rereading it all week just to be sure), but are you in essence saying that AMoGs should check their privilege?

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