Sex – A Response to Scott Alexander

Scott over at Slate Star Codex has created the Anti-Reactionary FAQ, probably the first rational, comprehensive critique of neoreaction. (It also turns out he like Turisas. Huzzah!) Much respect goes to Scott for this; it was a comprehensive and fair work (unlike some pieces of drek), which, over time, (neo)reactionaries will have to respond to. Michael has already done a short, preliminary response, while Jim has critiqued one particular aspect of the FAQ.

My humble blog was mentioned a couple of times. He mentioned my analysis of how the communists won, and quickly analyzes a Republican platform in response. I’ll provide a greater response to this in the future, when I have the time for a decent one.

For this post, I’ll concentrate on his section “5: Are modern ideas about race and gender wrongheaded and dangerous?” where my post, One More Condom in the Landfill, was referenced. I will be working on the gender aspect for this post and will respond by section number. So, my focus will be on 5.1-5.3, as 5.4 gets into stuff on social justice rather than sex itself. I should note Bryce has already made a post concerning this, but his is more theoretical in nature, so I will make my own.



Sexual surveys on lifetime partners are usually not fully reliable, as the number can vary significantly depending on estimation strategies. Women underestimate, men overestimate.

The data on lifetime partners is, as he points out, minimal. 6 for men in 1970 and 2006, 2 for women in 1970 and 4 in 2006. He ends up using French data instead, but the French are not English and have a different culture, so I’m not sure if this would hold.

Instead, let’s look at bastardy rates, a more easily measured proxy for promiscuity. As we can see on this graph of CDC data from the Heritage Foundation, bastardy has been on a steady increase since some time around 1960.

This steady increase has occurred despite the increasing availability of both the pill and abortion. It is obvious that sluttiness and promiscuity has increased.

If we look back to one of Scott’s sources we find this gem:

American illegitimacy ratios in the eighteenth century and after the Civil War seem to have been about one or two percent, well below the five or six percent found in England and Wales at the time(s) (Smith, 1980, p. 372; Wells, 1980, pp. 354-55; Laslett et al., 1980, p. 18) and very far below the 30-plus-percent ratios found in the U.S. in the 1990’s.

Imagine a bastardry rate of only 2%.

It is obvious sluttiness has increased drastically.



In this section, Scott ignores the religious argument, and I will too, for one argues with one’s (reasonable) opponents on grounds both can accept.

The decline of marriage would be the major argument, as he acknowledges. He posts this graph but misses the commentary on the graph.

The commentary states:

My own hypothesis is that a higher partner count (up to 5-9 or so partners) is correlated with age and maturity in dating experience. Older women, and women with more dating experience, are more likely to have learned which personal qualities will work best for them in a marriage partner. As a result, such women choose more wisely and tend to experience lower divorce rates. Now, it also happens to be the case that older women have had more time and occasion for pre-marital sex! Specifically, I suspect it’s not the 5-9 pre-marital sex partner count per se that drives the relative drop in the divorce rates, but rather it’s the maturity and experience that women have acquired while they’ve dated more men.

Scott does not take this confounding variable into effect in this piece.

This one chart comes from unpublished data from anonymous source. Sadly, it is the only source I know of where divorce risk is measured by number of premarital partners.

Most data either looks at either whether a person had premarital sex or not, or lifetime partners, which can be confounded by additional sex partners post-divorce.

If we look at data posted by the Social Pathologist elsewhere:

Only four nationally representative studies have examined whether premarital sexual experiences are linked to divorce (Heaton, 2002; Kahn & London, 1991; Laumann et al., 1994; Teachman, 2003). Nevertheless, the core finding—the association between premarital sex and increased risks of divorce—is robust[Ed]. Teachman (2003) found that women who had sex only with their future husbands did not have higher risks of marital dissolution, which suggests that the premarital-sex effect on divorce is related primarily to having sex with multiple partners

Each additional sexual partner increased the odds of infidelity by 7% while increasing years of education seem to decrease the risk by 10%.

The most salient finding from this analysis is that women whose intimate premarital relationships are limited to their husbands—either premarital sex alone or premarital cohabitation—do not experience an increased risk of divorce. It is only women who have more than one intimate premarital relationship who have an elevated risk of marital disruption. This effect is strongest for women who have multiple premarital coresidental unions.

Here’s some data showing adultery risk is higher for promiscuous women.

Here’s another chart showing that delaying sexual activity reduces divorce risk:

Here’s a chart, it counts all partners not just premarital ones:

Even beside divorce, there’s a large array of social and personal ills that come from promiscuity and higher numbers of sexual partners.

There is other information, but it all points to the same conclusion; the more sexual partners and the younger the woman is when first having sex, the more likely the risk of divorce.

By focusing only on that single chart, Scott misses a wide array of data which all tell the same story: a slutty women is a divorce risk and an adultery risk.

Even if we accept that one chart alone, Scott’s argument falls apart.

Being a virgin leads to a greatly lowered chance of divorce, a fact Scott just shrugs and dismisses it, accepting that premarital sex is an inescapable norm among the non-religious .

The whole point is that premarital sex should not be the norm. People (at least those intending to marry) should not be having premarital sex.

A doubling  (or tripling) of the divorce rate is not something we should just accept. It is damaging to the very fabric of society as parents’ divorce is associated with an increase in almost every socially non-desirable trait we measure (from poverty to crime to poor educational achievement).

[Edit: Removed two charts that did not fit with the main point and simply confused things. Moved a few things around, added a bit, and generally improved section 5.1.1. Thanks Ozymandias. 25/10/2013]



In a broad perspective the point is correct – empirically, men with more psychopathic traits, less agreeableness, and greater narcissism have more sexual partners.

He agrees on this point, but goes on to equivocate between men and women, then essentially shrug his shoulders (“I have no idea how to solve the object-level problems”).

The reactionary project (at least those that aren’t PUAs) is attempting to do more; we have a model we know works from history and we are trying to reimplement it.

Simply allowing the cads to run amuk and having the good men go without is a recipe for social disaster, I’ve outlined here, here, and here.



He accepts that divorces have elevated, but doesn’t acknowledge there is a steady, long-term trend of increase since 1860 and divorce rates per married couple still remain almost double what they were at 1960.

Also, he says that progressivism has created a natural memetic “immunity” meme to divorce.

I would suggest instead the decline of divorce is instead linked to the decline in marriage rates; ie. those who are less committed to marriage and more likely to divorce are moving in together rather than marrying then divorcing, driving the divorce rate down.

You can see this easily in the chart Scott provided:

Divorces spike, then as marriage rates decline so to do divorce rates per married couple, but this rate remains almost double what it was in 1960. The decline in divorce rates per population is decreasing, simply because the family is disintegrating by not getting married.

He asks why progressives are less likely to divorce:

College-educated women have about half the divorce rate of the non-college-educated (source). More conservative states have higher divorce rates than more liberal states (source). Atheists have divorce rates below the national average (source). Some of these factors seem to remain even when controlling for wealth and the other usual confounders (source, source).

The education and atheist arguments are mistaking IQ and/or a low time preference for progressivism (atheists tend to be smarter on average than religious folks because most unintelligent people stick with their default philosophy, which, in the US, is religious). Conservative (ie. Southern) states would likely have high divorce rates due to high levels of blacks which have a much higher levels of divorce. (Nevada, likely has the highest divorce rate for what seems like a self-evident reason; Vegas).

Essentially what Scott has shown here but not noticed is a long-argued contention of reactionaries: smart upper-class folks can have progressive values and still function because they are smart upper-class folks, but when applied to the less intelligent lower classes these values are socially destructive, because poor, stupid people do not have the time-preferences to function despite the harm from these values.



Here he essentially argues that the depopulation of the US doesn’t matter because foreigners with foreign values are immigrating here and replacing native Americans. Also, you’re a racist if you think this is a problem.

I will just say that this is exactly the problem that reactionaries have with depopulation; he’s not actually refuting anything, he’s simply confirming our arguments. (Also, every reactionary is used to being called racist, so, that won’t really work).

If Scott can’t see the problem with foreign populations with different cultures and values replacing the current population, I don’t think I’m going to be able to convince him here.

I just hope he doesn’t mind losing his progressive values when non-progressive minorities start voting against progressive laws.



He’s probably right here on the effects of low-IQ fertility on intelligence, which is why I don’t (or at least try not to) espouse the idiocracy line. The effects of dysgenics through fertility are something that will not substantially effect us, in and of themselves, for a very long time, too long a timeline to worry about overmuch now.

Instead our focus would be on the mass importation of low-IQ immigrants, which will have a more immediate effect on society.

I would also focus on the effects of single-parent, low-IQ homes with many children on the national treasury through government welfare, education, and health programs. This problem will rear its ugly head far sooner than dysgenics due to fertility rates will.


So, there we have my first kick at the FAQ. I’m sure there will be others down the road.

17 responses to “Sex – A Response to Scott Alexander

  • ozymandias

    5.1.1: I think you will find, far from not accounting for that variable, Scott actually presented it as his explanation.

    The difference between lifetime non-marital sexual partners and lifetime premarital sexual partners seems to be extramarital and postmarital sexual partners. Yes, people who cheat will have higher divorce rates. This is news?

    Several of your charts seem irrelevant to the issue of sluts’ effect on marriage. While people who have sex early have higher divorce rates, one could very reasonably say that those who have sex for the first time under 15 have Other Problems (mental illness, unstable families, sexual exploitation by adults, etc.), and those who have sex above 18 probably have various traits that improve marriage (high conscientiousness, low impulsivity, etc.).

    It is confusing that those who have sex for the first time above age 26 have so few sexual partners and such high marital stability; perhaps there are few enough people who lose their virginity above age 26 that they don’t affect the data much?

    I think Scott’s point about the people with 1 or 2 sexual partners is not that premarital sex is inevitable among everyone but the religious, but that both a lack of premarital sex and not getting divorced are caused by traditional values and religion. That suggests you could get the same effect by stigmatizing divorce but not premarital sex.

    5.1.2. I suspect there are major confounders on the “narcissistic disagreeable psychopaths get laid more” data. For one thing, it is perfectly possible that all the nice people get into monogamous long-term relationships and don’t have the opportunity to rack up sexual partners, while the jerks get dumped. Jerks might cheat, while nice people don’t, even when they have equal opportunity. Psychopaths may be more likely to commit rape or to pressure and manipulate their partners into sex. Narcissists may be more likely to self-aggrandize by lying about their number of sexual partners on surveys. (This latter is very important– we know people lie a lot on surveys about sex! Look at the heterosexual partner data for men and women.)

    5.2. The divorce rate seems to be still trending downward. Do you have any evidence that it is going to level out at twice 1960 rates, rather than going down further? (Perhaps even lower than the 1960 rates!)

    People who don’t want to get married not getting married seems pretty good to me.

  • Free Northerner

    Hey Ozy, I changed that section to remove some of the extraneous bits and make it more cohesive. Hopefully, that helps.

    As I wrote in the edit, the problem is the lack of data. Most data either looks at either whether a person had premarital sex or not, or lifetime partners, which can be confounded by additional sex partners post-divorce.

    The one that focuses only on premarital partners and divorce is unpublished data from anonymous sources.

    If one looks at the data as a whole though, one sees clearly that premarital sex leads to divorce.

    It is not confusing; it is well known that the older people marry, the less likely they are to divorce.

    We would probably be able to get the same effect, or at least most of it, by stigmatizing divorce (which is something reactionaries also support).

    5.1.2 It’s possible, there are confounding variables, but observation says otherwise. As well, Roissy has posted numerous links showing that experimentally, chicks dig jerks, which indicates that they are more likely to sleep with jerks than nice guys.

    5.2 No evidence because there’s no data from the future.

    The problem with people not getting married, is that they are still having children who are being raised by single mothers (which leads to numerous social ills). The problem with people not marrying and not having children, is that there is no future generation to carry on society.

    We need people married and having children fro society to function healthily.

  • Stares at the World » The 25 Year Old Virgin

    […] all familiar with the statistics (if you’re not, Free Northerner has been kind enough to compile them): virgins make the best wives.  They’re less likely to cheat, and they’re less likely […]

  • Red

    >>5.3.2: Are we headed for an idiocracy?

    In computer programming a good programmer produces around 10X the value over that an average programmer and an average programmer is the same in regards to a bad programmer. So goes it with IQ. The really smart not reproducing causes a lot more harm than having a small increase in really stupid people.

    Feminism/high status for women causes really smart women not to reproduce. This causes a drastic decline in the number of really smart people in the long run. You get an idiocracy scenario when the the smart die off because their women are to high status to reproduce followed. This causes a collapse in high level ability and IQ which in turns makes governing more and more difficult. Which is the problem that Rome was facing before Christianity took over. Christanity fixed the first part of the equation by forcing women to be low status and chaste. They unfortunately unleashed the other hand of the idiocracy equation by banning infanticide and contraceptives and created a massive surplus of useless people without enough smart people to control/mold them into something less destructive.

    So we’re unlikely to see a full on idiocracy scenario baring a hardcore religious take over, but we’re defiantly loosing the brains that made western civ so advanced. There will be no cyborgs.

  • Alan J. Perrick

    “Free Northerner”

    I wanted to share this interesting video with you.

    Also, I am very thankful that you are engaging this anti-traditionalist, Mr. Alexander and pushing ahead with your ideas on proper government structure.

    Best regards,


  • Phoenix

    FN, in regards to 5.2, I think there is a more compelling counterpoint to the divorce rates of athiests vs theists. It has much to do with the marriage vs. Divorce rates. Athiests marry at much lower rates, so the number of them that divorce in a lifetime are much lower compared to thiests who marry and divorce more often. However, thiests have a lower chance of divorce per marriage. So in that sense, thiest marriages are more stable. I’ll try and find the source when I get home. I know vox had a post about this at some point.

  • Meltdown in the Sexual Marketplace

    […] A doubling  (or tripling) of the divorce rate is not something we should just accept. It is damagin… […]

  • Phoenix

    FN, here is a link showing that the divorce per marriage rate is higher among nonthiests (in regards to 5.2):

  • Hard Right

    You forgot to mention his solution:

    “I would tentatively recommend my own strategy of sidestepping the problems with both hot men and hot women by dating a hot genderqueer.”

    The guy’s an idiot. You’re wasting your time arguing with him.

  • Phoenix

    Hard right, you are right (no pun intended :]). Arguing with the left is an exercise in futility. They base most of their arguments on emotionalism rather than rationality. It is also impossible to hope to sway the electorate into voting rationally through rhetoric. This battle has been lost long ago.

    However, I think there is some value in the exercise of reaffirming and honing the neoreactionary worldview. By continuing to test and verify the belief structure based on data analysis and primary historical sources, we come closer to understanding the universal truths of human nature and society.

  • Max

    “Imagine a bastardry rate of only 2%.

    It is obvious sluttiness has increased drastically.”

    I was expecting a much more nuanced point before I reached this. An increase in “sluttiness” is a *possible* explanation, but certainly not the only probable explanation.

    The fact that extramarital birth was so much more heavily taboo at the time means that couples were much more likely to get married as soon as they realized the woman was pregnant. Plus, even given a higher rate of shotgun weddings, we’re likely getting a substantial rate of underreporting of the real illegitimacy rate, because the typical reaction from that time when a young unmarried woman became pregnant was for her to go on a “trip” to some community where no one knew her, in order to carry the baby to term, pass the baby off to an older couple of extended relatives who would pretend it was their own, and never admit that the young woman had had a child out of wedlock.

    Even if we accept both that “sluttiness,” in the sense of women being willing to have frequent sex with many men, and divorce, have both gone up, and that “slutty” women are more likely to engage in divorce, it doesn’t follow that social stigma on “sluttiness” will decrease rates of divorce. Here’s a probable alternative. “Sluttiness” and divorce both strongly correlate with impulsivity, and our society has decreased the barriers to both extramarital sex and divorce. Increasing the barriers to extramarital sex will cause impulsive people to engage in less extramarital sex, but not to be any less impulsive when it comes to getting hitched or breaking it off.

  • Free Northerner

    @ Red; That’s a good point; we’d only really need to lose the top to suffer.

    @ Alan: Glad to do it.

    @ Phoenix: Good information.

    @ HR: I took that as more tongue-in-cheek. We need to be able to respond to critiques for our little ideology to take off.

    @ Max; I, and probably most reactionaries, don’t think it matters for society why people have births in marriage, only that they are having children in marriage. Shotguns marriages are a perfectly solution for society as is passing the kid to an older, stable couple.

    Stigmatizing sluttiness is not the only solution. We need to both stigmatize divorce, decrease the legal ease of divorce, and encourage marriage as well.

  • slatestarcodex

    @Excellent rebuttal and I acknowledge that was the weakest section of the FAQ (maybe along with 1).

    5.1: I don’t think illegitimacy rates are a good proxy for promiscuity. A lot of people are rejecting marriage in favor of long-term stable cohabitation, and their planned/wanted kids get added to the illegitimacy rates. In fact, given the availability of abortion, outside of principled abortion opponents the fact that a kid is born implies that it was planned/wanted at least a little. This phenomenon, while still worrying, is a different issue than hookups and in fact potentially opposed to them (the desire to have a kid with a long-term partner suggests someone being out of hookup mode).

    I’d love to see promiscuity as a concept broken down into people who go out to clubs and have sex with random people, and people who settle down with someone, think “This is the one!”, have sex with them and maybe kids, and then have an angry breakup a year or two later. Likely two different populations – although I wouldn’t want to speculate on which has better outcomes.

    5.1.1: Most of the alternative data you provide likely doesn’t contradict the original U-shape graph – it doesn’t go into fine enough detail to determine whether the general trend toward women with more partners divorcing more they mention is just the trend for one- or two- partner women mentioned on the U-shape graph.

    The age hypothesis likely has something to do with it but we can conclude two things – first, that the negative effect of promiscuity, if it exists, is less than the positive effect of age. And second, that people marrying older has a positive effect. Preventing premarital sex while having people continue to marry older seems like an even harder ticket than just preventing premarital sex.

    On the other hand, your data on early sexual activity and on adultery risk seems convincing to me at first glance. I will preliminarily admit I was wrong.

    That means the new question becomes one of correlation vs. causation. That is, suppose some people are impulsive and other people are not. Impulsive people are both more likely to have lots of premarital sex and less able to maintain a marriage. If we create strong social norms against promiscuity, this may prevent impulsive people from having the opportunity to be promiscuous, but they would still be just as bad at maintaining a marriage.

    So your data support the reactionary contention “all else being equal, marry a less promiscuous person”, but it only goes part of the way to the contention “decreasing promiscuity on a society-wide basis would increase marital stability”.

    5.2: I didn’t mention the steady divorce trend line because I didn’t think it would be fair to Reactionaries. That is, the Reactionary position is that cultural changes like the one that occurred in the 1960s increase divorce rates, and since it was indeed linked to an increase in the divorce rate (with subsequent decline) I thought it wouldn’t be fair to try to smooth that out into a steady trend, but fairer to concentrate on the obvious discontinuity in 1960.

    Regarding the steady trend, I find it hard to link that to politics, which are naturally somewhat volatile (I believe the US had something approaching the Victorian period of strict sexual morality, and the Roaring Twenties when things became less so, so that doesn’t match the straight line). On the other hand, as I pointed out in 2.6.2, the economic growth trend line is *remarkably* straight.

    I’m almost sure that conservative states still have higher divorce rates when controlled for race. I can’t find a great study, but these statistics seem to show higher divorce rates for each race in those states. The IQ point is well-taken but I address it in part with number two here.

    5.3.1: “Racist” is used not as an insult, but as a descriptive term for the fact that the only way you could be worried about a US where the population is solidly rising is if you were concerned about its racial composition.

    As it happens, I’m a bit racist myself, but luckily aside from Mexico the top four sources of immigration to the US are all Asian, and I like Asian people’s values. Mexicans seem to have turned out pretty well too. I think I mentioned this in the FAQ.

    I am also pretty sanguine about immigrants mostly adopting American culture and values, especially in the second generation.

    5.3.2: I’m pretty sure Lynn factored the effect of low-IQ immigration into his numbers, so that shouldn’t be a problem either. I don’t have access to the study anymore, but if you can find it it should be in there.

    As for the effect of low IQ populations on welfare, I’m not sure why you expect dysgenics to affect the welfare roll more quickly than it affects anywhere else.

    Thanks for doing this and helping me improve/clarify my thoughts.

  • Douglas Knight

    A very narrow response to one claim in 5.2. The high divorce rate in conservative states is simply not driven by blacks. Click through and look! Three of the top 6 divorcing states are Wyoming, Idaho, and West Virginia. DC has a lower divorce rate than any state but MA.

  • slatestarcodex

    Update on 5.1.1 – I’ve talked to a few people on this one and on second thought I stand by my original claim.

    As noted above, the graphs that Free Northerner cites are not for sex partners before marriage, but for total sex partners. I originally thought this was a minor difference since presumably most people do not have extramarital sex and even those who do on average have only a small number of adulterous partners. But Ozy has pointed out that the surveying is being done not at the moment of divorce, but at any point until age 40.

    Therefore, we probably get a lot of situations like this: suppose that two unattached people both reach puberty at age 15 and have sex with one partner per year until they get married at age 20. Both are faithful during marriage, but one person gets divorced at age 25 and the other stays married. That divorcee then starts racking up another sex partner per year until she gets surveyed at age 40.

    The end result is that the person with the stable marriage gets recorded as having 5 total sex partners, and the divorcee gets recorded as having 20 total sex partners, even though each is equally “promiscuous”. This so hopelessly confounds the results as to make them useless, and so I default to my previous graph which is only sort of confounded by age.

    The other thing I’ve learned since the post above is that African-Americans reach puberty a couple of years before Caucasians, and (probably independently), poor children, children from broken families, and children with very stressful lives all reach puberty earlier than default (considered by some evolutionary mechanism to have kids early in unsafe environment where one might otherwise die before reproducing). This means that “age at first sexual encounter”, while *possibly* a measure of promiscuity, is also likely a measure of how crappy your social situation is. That means that the finding that people who start sex early have poor marital outcomes may just be an effect of people from crappy social situations (and African-Americans) having poor marital outcomes.

  • Free Northerner

    Hey Scott, I haven’t missed this and I’ve been planning to respond to your comments, I just haven’t got around to it. I’ll put it up as a post when I do.

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