#NotAllWomen, Or Have You Heard Of Selection Bias?

What’s the heaviest weapon to roll out against self-styled ‘experts’ in dating? Statistics.

I keep coming across texts by various guys who style themselves experts on dating and relationships and honestly, I can’t stop laughing. And it’s not even because they’re so often wrong. It’s because of how confidently they decree what The Nature Of Women is based on… well, based on not much at all.

Here is one such text I just came across recently. The author represents women as all having a ‘true submissive feminine energy’, at least in the context of sex, which will come out if you act like a real man around them. In essence, this is an empirical statement about a group of people.

I am not going to go into any detail on how it misrepresents women or encourages problematic behaviours — I am certain that others will do so in the comments. I don’t want to beat Gene and others at a game they don’t want to play. I want to beat them at their own game: rationality.

I will show that he and many similar ‘experts’ make embarrassing mistakes which all psychologists, sociologists and data scientists learn to avoid in their Statistics 101 classes.

So it doesn’t matter what you think about women or where you stand on gender equality or feminism. It doesn’t even matter if you thing gender differences are innate or socially constructed. On purely scientific grounds, such claims about the nature of women (or men) are ludicrous.

Size Matters

Gene is eager to remind us in every article that he slept with over 200 women. I’m sure it impresses many people. I’m not even going to question this claim. In fact, I’m going to take everything he says on faith. The conclusions are still laughable.

OK, let’s warm up.

There are about 4B women in the world. Let’s say half of them are dating age. That means Gene has something to say about 0.0000001% of the relevant population.

On that basis, he makes an empirical claim about the psychology of a group of people: when it comes to sex, all women have a ‘true, submissive feminine energy.’

Here is how actual psychologists who understand research methods do this.

Recent research into intelligence and personality ‘collected data from 1,325 studies, involving over 2 million individuals from diverse demographic backgrounds and various parts of the world.’ Here is the actual paper, and here is an approachable digest from it.

On that basis, scientists make claims such as ‘if someone is good at a certain cognitive task, it can give hints about their personality traits.’

Note that the actual topic of this research doesn’t matter (and has nothing to do with sex or submissiveness). I’m only after their methods and specifically — the combined sample size of 2 million people.

They sampled 10.000 times more people than Gene (ten thousand times!) and the report still qualifies their claims: ‘Can’ give ‘hints’. This is what we call honesty, integrity and awareness of own limitations.

I’m sorry, guys, but I don’t think there is a Casanova amongst you who has been with enough women to make any universal claims about all of them.

Is that enough to discredit such claims? Sure. But I’m just warming up.

Self-select sample

Most studies are much smaller yet still provide evidence to support a thesis. But that’s all they claim to do: provide some evidence.

Let’s assume that Gene merely said that his 200+ experiences have provided him with some evidence to support the thesis that women have a ‘true, submissive feminine energy,’ and that he qualified his ‘findings’ by honestly adding ‘can’ and ‘hints’ in all the relevant places.

My question is: how exactly did he select his ‘sample’?

Scientists use rigorous research methods to ensure that their study samples are representative of the general population. There are strict techniques to follow and volumes upon volumes have been written on how to do it right.

We have systematic sampling, cluster sampling, stratified sampling, and above all, random sampling with a series of methods to ensure true randomness. All research papers painstakingly outline the specific methods they follow to allow reader scrutiny.

Has Gene and others like him followed such methods? Do they make sure to randomly sample their lovers to ensure they truly represent all women? Or do they basically sleep with whoever would sleep with them and call it a day?

Say a psychologist simply opened his office door and said: anyone who wants to take part in my study on human nature, come in! Would his results tell us something about the nature of humans? Or about the nature of college students on this particular campus who have too much time on their hands?

(Fun fact: there were in fact psychologists who did that, which led many to laugh and say that the discipline is unscientific and should be renamed ‘psychology of college students’, and is one of the things which led to the 2010s Replication Crisis.)

I can only assume that Gene is the sort of guy he recommends other guys to be: dominant, traditionally manly, dangerous. I imagine that when he opens his door, it’s also a specific type of woman who walks in. So do his insights tell us anything about the nature of women? Or about the nature of women who like that kind of man?

You might as well open a cafe where you blast black metal all day, where only people who like black metal will ever come in, and then conclude that everyone in town has a black metal-loving nature!

Self-select samples are about the least representative samples you can imagine. If you tried to present a study based on such a sample, you’d be laughed out of the room.

There is no such thing as ‘feminine nature’

Philosophers such as Rousseau and Hobbes tried to enquire into human nature in the 18th Century and it didn’t go well. Half the criticisms of Marx rest on pointing at his completely unjustified claims about humans being ‘communal’ by nature.

When scientists want to make fun of philosophers, they ask us how is this research into human nature going. Don’t worry, we also abandoned it long ago.

If we have learned anything from the last century of psychology and sociology, it’s that the only thing humans are by nature is different. There is not even a single personality trait that all humans have. Not unless you go into some really trivial things, like: it’s human nature to not want to die, or to prefer pleasure to pain.

Neither is there a ‘nature’ for men, women, people of different races, and so on — at least not such that all members of a group have it. There are quantitative differences, e.g. men are on average more likely to engage risky or aggressive behaviours — but this doesn’t mean that every man has a ‘risky or aggressive nature’ and more than every woman has a ‘submissive feminine nature.’

The most generalisable thing we can say about human personality traits such as ‘submissiveness’ is that they fall on a spectrum, and humans are typically normally distributed along that spectrum. When there are group differences involved, typically they have a massive overlap and the individual differences within groups are much larger than those between groups.

Here’s an example illustration which assumes that, on average, women are indeed more submissive than men (that’s an unjustified assumption, but let’s roll with it just to show that even then it still doesn’t work).

I obviously just made this up — I won’t be defending the exact shape, positioning, skew, or anything about this graph. The point is the overall shape: the difference between how submissive average/median men and women are is tiny in comparison with the difference between the least and the most submissive women.

This is hardly my invention. Here, check out this 1987 article by Robert Gilman which pretty much makes the same point.

I would venture that the women who are attracted to guys such as Gene might be somewhere in the highlighted part of the graph, higher on their submissiveness or whatever other qualities. Maybe the area is larger, maybe it’s a bit further left or right.

But the point is, it’s a section of a spectrum. Experience with them tells us nothing about what women anywhere else on the graph are like. And it tells us absolutely nothing about ‘feminine nature’ because there is no such thing as ‘feminine nature’ — no more than there is a ‘white nature’ or a ‘middle-class nature’.


The experience Gene and guys like him have doesn’t tell us anything about ‘feminine nature’. All it tells us is that there is a certain type of woman who is attracted to this kind of guy.

I mean, no shit, Sherlock.

Humans are different and women are humans. Stop saying they’re all the same and stop pretending that your personal experience of a self-selected sample of partners which might seem impressive but by scientific standards is tiny, constitutes ‘evidence’.

All you have is 200 anecdotes and a lot to learn about statistics.


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