If I Can’t Have Me, No One Can (Kathleen Rebecca Forth — Born April 11, 1980)

Itai Emberwell
46 min readJun 19, 2018


Kathy Forth was an abuse reduction writer, volunteer project coordinator for EAGxAustralia and aspiring data scientist. She was an effective altruist who specialized in understanding people through the application of rationality techniques. She was in the process of becoming a data scientist so that she could earn the money she needed to dedicate her life to charity. On March 17, 2018, she committed suicide. She left behind several pieces of writing, including her suicide note, which she wanted to be shared and which is included in its entirety below.

I, the person posting this article, have no capacity to evaluate the claims made against the individuals named below. However, I chose not to redact the names, in accordance with Kathy’s wishes. I am choosing to remain anonymous; I do not wish to be contacted by any of the people accused here, nor do I want to be considered a mouthpiece or advocate for Kathy’s specific viewpoints. I posted this note with the intention of spreading her message undistorted, and it should not be assumed that I endorse any of her specific claims.

Content warning:

The following piece is a suicide note that deals heavily with sexual violence. If you are suicidal or a sexual violence survivor, I would urge you to exercise extreme caution, as this essay was written by someone at the nadir of a depression induced by her sexual trauma. This includes rationalizations of her decision to commit suicide and her rejection of the mental health care system. This note also contains discussions of fat shaming, biphobia, and gaslighting. I am happy to add additional content warnings upon request.

Kathy believed she had reason to end her life, but her suicide was a tragic waste and a loss to the causes she cared about and contributed to. This note should never be used to advocate suicide to a vulnerable person, and should be presented with context, warnings, and advice about what to do to seek help. If you are reading this and feel hopeless too, please contact me or a person you trust. We can find another way. If you are ever struggling, please know that there are places you can turn. Resources like https://samaritanshope.org/ are available around the clock to talk by phone or text.

The suicide note of Kathy Forth

March 9, 2018

Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

My elevated sexual violence risk: Super survivors exist.

Male dominated environments create a disadvantage for women in terms of sexual violence. The ratio of male sex offenders to women is several times worse for women in those environments than in other environments. These are the environments that I want to be in. These careers, interests and the social spaces that come with are necessary to me. This is who I am.

Oh, but sex offenders couldn’t possibly be targeting you just because you’re around them at work, in a rationalist meetup group, at an effective altruism event, or hanging around programmers in your free time, could they? Actually, research shows offenders prefer to target people they know. Offenders don’t target strangers much. Wherever I go to make friends, for work, or for volunteering is where I am going to be targeted. I didn’t choose this. The offenders did.

According to FBI data, teens and young women are targeted for sexual violence 5–10 times more often than older women. Despite being vulnerable, seniors are rarely targeted for rape. Instead, they are targeted disproportionately for theft. I look young enough that most people mistake me for being in the high risk age range. My baby face puts me in the high risk zone along with much younger women. Is it because offenders feel more powerful when targeting a young-looking person? Is it because young-looking people are more attractive? Quite possibly both. I’ve asked around enough by now to have noticed a trend: women who are youthful looking but not pretty are not targeted. Also, a tall woman I met who has a pretty face was not targeted. Attractiveness does appear to play a role. I’d really love for there to be a study that looks at the correlation between overall attractiveness and number of sex offenses. I think there are women whose lives are hells of sexual violence and nobody believes them. I call them super survivors. I think a study would help this hideously oppressed group of women get the help, the physical security, and support they need.

According to the CDC, being a bisexual woman doubles your sexual violence risk. I’m bisexual. In the case of male bisexuals, this might be due to the number of partners they have. They have a lot more partners, around ten times as many according to one source I found. In the case of bisexual women, I wonder if it might be the scent of our hormones. I’m not sure if other bisexuals are like this, but my testosterone level is on the high side of the women’s range. A friend told me that women’s testosterone levels are higher when they are most fertile. I know women can smell men’s testosterone, and that women respond to it. It’s plausible that this may also happen the other way around. Men may have a scent-related instinct that detects women’s fertile periods. Another possibility is that people are targeting me for my behavior. I was speaking with two sex offenders, Roko, Giego, plus a friend of theirs (before I had strong reasons to believe they were sex offenders) and they told me that women who behave as I do appear to be good to hit on. I forgot the details but they said something like I am extroverted and outgoing. Maybe this is why so many of the women in our network are so quiet. Maybe the talkative ones are driven out. Maybe the women are just afraid.

These aren’t just numbers for me. The amount of sexual violence I’ve actually experienced is elevated beyond what most women would experience. I think a set of case studies really needs to be done on pretty-faced and/or bisexual women in male-dominated environments to see how much sexual violence they’re encountering. I strongly suspect there’s a double tall poppy type effect. Firstly, we are resented for being pretty women who could “have anyone” in groups of men who get the short end of the stick because of the male to female ratio. Secondly, we are also targeted for sexual violence a lot more than other women. This is simply because most people who like women are more attracted to pretty-faced women. Sex offenders aren’t that different from everyone else. They sometimes target other women of course, but they really like to target pretty-faced women, just like anyone else. In these male-dominated, nerdy environments, we are cut down twice over. Once the prettiest women leave, does the cycle continue, with offenders targeting the next prettiest batch? That’s the concern with tall poppy syndrome. If you cut down the tall poppies over and over, one day only the very shortest poppy will be left. Because I am leaving, some other unfortunate woman will be targeted instead of me. My leaving hasn’t solved the problem. This has only relocated the hot potato.

I hope at least some of you will warn the prettiest women that they should leave, especially if the sex offenders start targeting them. Hell is in store for the targeted women who don’t leave. The amount of targeting for those the offenders have chosen is really very bad.

I tried becoming fat to ruin my beauty so that I could avoid sexual violence. This was surprisingly effective against street offenders in my case. I used to be street harassed all the time. After becoming fat, it completely stopped. Being fat is not effective against any other type of offender for me. I later found studies with results along the lines of there’s no instinct regarding physical attraction to different weights. This preference varies based on culture. On the other hand, the studies about facial attractiveness showed that people are consistently more attracted to women with pretty faces. In my case, I never ended up with a double chin or other ugly features in my face from the fat, so I couldn’t evade the risk this way.

I took so much risk to be one of you. I was harmed by your sex offenders, multiple different times. Want some examples? Okay. Two offenders who left enough evidence behind to be banned:

Roko (Yes, the Basilisk guy.) He touched my thigh at Signal Data Science where I was living and training to become a data scientist. I moved my legs away. He touched my thigh again. When I went to report him to Julia Wise of CEA, he was already banned from EA Global.

Adam Saffron kissed me on the neck during my internship, while living and working at Leverage Research. I told him “I don’t want you to kiss me.” I had already refused him previously, and explained that I had a boyfriend and wasn’t available. Immediately after I told him not to kiss me, he did it again! People who misbehave so blatantly tend to have a long list of survivors. So, I talked to the person who seemed most likely to be used as a central repository for reports, Geoff Anders, and sure enough Adam Saffron had done this to two other people. I was the third. I was able to get him fired. I got him banned from EA Global. Then, when I discovered that he had been included in the EA Highlights reel, I had him removed.

Am I making false accusations? What would I gain?

I am not somehow awkwardly incorrect about having been sexually assaulted by these two. Other people had the same experience with them. If they make gaslighting or smearing attempts, these are futile because you can go and verify that they misbehave by talking to people who know them, or perhaps some of the authorities involved will confirm.

That’s two confirmed perps for you. These are the minority of a much larger number of total perps, some of whom didn’t leave enough evidence. I didn’t manage to bust every one of them, as that’s actually quite hard to do given that they don’t tend to leave evidence and a lot of survivors don’t report. (RAINN)

Two confirmed perps, plus some unconfirmed perps, in around a five year stretch. Imagine what the rest of my life has been like.

To help, I used the calculator for you to make a back of the envelope estimation: I’m 37. Let’s say that offenders have been targeting me since puberty, age 13. That’s 24 years, or 4.8 stretches of 5 years. Two confirmed perps times 4.8 5-year stretches is 9.6. That’s several times what most women experience and it doesn’t even include unconfirmed perps. This sample is kind of small. I’ll add two more methods of showing you this as well.

How does it compare to real life?

I actually lost count of my total number of perps somewhere around 20. Not all of those were in LW/EA. My total number of LW/EA offenders is at least 5, possibly as high as 8 (depending on a number of factors like whether they identified as part of the movement and I wasn’t sure about that in every case). It would have been much, much higher if I hadn’t stopped attending events, especially if I had moved to The Bay. There seems to be a lot more sexual violence activity in The Bay than elsewhere, and it’s not just me who experienced this. From what I’ve heard from the other women, The Bay behaves like women are part of some horrid involuntary petting zoo. There are even people who want to change the norms in favor of sexual violence, calling it screening, kino or “pickup artistry”. Screening and kino are boundary violations at best and can easily qualify as sexual harassment or even sexual violence. I do find these experiences upsetting or even traumatic. Here is how I feel about it:

If I can’t have my body, no one can.

Who I really am:

Rationality and effective altruism are the loves of my life. They are who I am.

I also love programming. Programming is part of who I am.

I could leave rationality, effective altruism and programming to escape the male-dominated environments that increase my sexual violence risk so much. The trouble is, I wouldn’t be myself. I would have to act like someone else all day.

Imagine leaving everything you’re interested in, and all the social groups where people have something in common with you. You’d be socially isolated. You’d be constantly pretending to enjoy work you don’t like, to enjoy activities you’re not interested in, to bond with people who don’t understand you, trying to be close to people you don’t relate to… What kind of life is that?

Without the social networks I resonate with, I wouldn’t be able to be myself. These all happen to be male-dominated. It’s just part of who I am. My self would be trapped inside of this body which behaves in ways that don’t reflect the real me. I would suffocate in stifling, unengaging work and feelings of isolation.

I actually already went through that before I found the rationality and effective altruism movements. I tried countless other groups and dozens of OkCupid strategies. I just couldn’t find anyone who thinks like us outside these movements. I have been thinking like a rationalist and effective altruist for 20 years. Not exactly the same way, of course. One difference is that I grew my notions of rationality and effective altruism with a lot more emotional intelligence. The differences between my way and the LW/EA way are relatively small. Logic is logic. If a bunch of people all try to be rational, they will converge upon the same ideas and reach the same conclusions. That’s definitely true. I didn’t do a study, but I experienced this encounter as an independent verification of that phenomenon. When I found this network the resemblance was downright uncanny. These are definitely my people.

Before I found this place, my life was utterly unengaging. No one was interested in talking about the same things. I was actually trying to talk about rationality and effective altruism for years before I found this place, and was referred into it because of that!

My life was tedious and very lonely. I never want to go back to that again. Being outside this network felt like being dead inside my own skin.

I thought about making a new network, but it would probably end up with the same gender ratio which multiplies my already elevated sexual violence risk. Even if I artificially enforced a gender ratio, it would have the same people in it, and would end up with similar social norms around sexual violence. I would encounter the same stonewalling and rape myths. Even if I worked hard to implement sane social norms, the overlap between my group and the other similar groups would mean that external social norms would get into my group. Because things like rape myths do increase risk, and because they will just spread into my group whatever I do, it makes more sense to tackle the social norms in the entire rationality diaspora and EA network. Since that’s the main thing that would take the most work, there’s really no point in making my own separate group.

And what if I succeeded? What if I somehow found all the rationalists or effective altruists who are unlikely to cause sexual violence, and took them all for myself? Rationality and effective altruism would experience one of the most foul evaporative cooling events you’ve ever seen. The concentration of sex offenders would be way too high. The whole thing might blow up with sexual violence scandals the same way Catholic churches did. Causing that kind of evaporative cooling in a charity network doesn’t look like a good way to save the world to me…

That might even end it.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and the amount of time and effort it would take to reduce my risk to something livable is overwhelming. If most of the people in my social network stopped stonewalling about sexual violence and started doing work to reduce risk, my life would be very different. I’d probably be able to make my life work. That’s just not how it is.

So, I can’t be myself in these movements because the risk is too high. I can’t be myself outside these movements because those places don’t really want for people like me to be themselves.

What I need is to be alive and flourishing in my own skin, not just going through the motions, trapped in my body, with my mind on mute for the rest of my life.

If I can’t even have myself, no one can.

A horrifying secret:

Just like everyone else, sex offenders are attracted to things like creativity, intelligence, and passion. That means I eventually started to notice a pattern where I’d see red flags shortly after my creativity, intelligence, and passion showed. Sometimes, people would commit sex offenses shortly after they complimented me for these things.

I saw red flags more often than I experienced abuse. The number of times I saw red flags after people complimented me for my abilities made pretty strong connections in my brain between abuse risk and showing creativity, intelligence, and passion.

For one example: Adam Saffron really valued my mind. It excited him. He is sapiosexual and he said so. He said I am brilliant and gave me other compliments like that. Because his sex offense was partly motivated by his sapiosexual attraction, my experience with him shut down a piece of my self-expression. This was automatic.

You stop doing things you are repeatedly punished for. It’s as simple as that. This phenomenon is called classical conditioning.

Somewhere in my late 20s is when I noticed that classical conditioning had begun to set in. I wasn’t showing myself as much. I was allowing myself to make dumb mistakes so as not to look particularly smart. I stopped being creative because I didn’t feel like sharing my creativity anymore and thinking about it made me sad. I especially hated sharing my passion because that inspired people to give me red flags for stalking! I couldn’t find a way around this so it slowly became worse. I began to relate to people with locked in syndrome.

At some point in the last year or two, I had a slightly early mid-life crisis: I’m halfway to dead and I still can’t be who I am! I worked on bringing myself out. I made myself post creative things in Optimal Memes for Cosmopolitan Teens. Thank you for this, Evan, because my need for novelty and a creative outlet is really quite high! Now you’ve seen a little bit of my creativity. I wish I’d been given the opportunity to apply this to research. I think it would have been great. I also tried showing my abilities to a few of the high status people. Normally, they want you to show your abilities to everybody and then if lots of people like your blog articles, they’ll pay attention to you. Well, I needed to circumvent that because of the high risk of stalking. I told everyone this and no one seemed to care. I really needed accommodations, guys. So I started finding excuses to show high status people bits of my potential, hoping someone would help get me out of my lockup!

Uuuunfortunately, one of them frotteurized me, and another gave me a rape myth! I guess that wasn’t safe either. I should have shown off only to women.

I tried to tell people about this lock-in problem from the moment I arrived in these movements. I told countless people. Dozens at least, maybe close to 100. Nobody wanted to believe it. I think it was just too horrifying. They preferred to blame the victim rather than the sex offenders. Maybe they just couldn’t imagine how this could happen to someone because they didn’t know that some women are targeted for sexual violence disproportionately. Without a concept like “super survivors” people like me will be ignored.

I guess fact that this lock-in happened was locked in as well. It wasn’t my secret. It was yours.

Isn’t dying net negative or something?

You can ask the people who have been following my abuse reduction efforts what has happened to me over time. I’ve been posting a lot since November 2017, after I was funded to reduce risk of sexual violence in the EA movement. At first, I was level headed and everyone thought it was great. I didn’t even get a single piece of negative feedback. A bunch of people popped up with compliments, collaboration requests and to notify me that I had fans! It was lovely. My spirits were high. I thought it was all going to be okay.

Then I slowly lost some of my rationality. I made a minor update post about this. I think what had happened was that a bunch of people were brushing me off, and my brain automatically adapted to the adversarial environment by making one-sided arguments.

It’s now four months later, and I’m thoroughly burnt out on being stonewalled. I created an infographic with 25 examples of the stonewalling I’ve been encountering this whole time. I’ve lost a lot of the rationality I started with. I’m half way to social justice warrior. I am burnt out, heart broken, and filled with despair. I’m so pathetic now I have even become sloppy. I don’t even feel like the same person anymore. If I had felt listened to, things would be different. I have an anti-depressant. It works pretty well, actually. The problem is lack of motivation, because my situation is one where I will experience many punishments no matter what I do, and people are stonewalling rather than helping.

I look back over the last decade of my life, and I see that I have been slipping for much longer than four months. It’s been a slow, steady decline. First, I decided I couldn’t be a writer. I really, really wanted to be a writer. I just didn’t want to attract stalkers. Then, I ended up conditioned into this super survivor lock-in. Then some very bad things happened to me in the area of abuse and my life ended up destroyed. Then I tried to advocate for myself and I ended up burnt out and dejected. I am not the most optimistic of people, but my life has gone worse than I thought it would… many times over. I noticed this and wondered why it was. Well, it’s because other people expect me to somewhere in the same ballpark of as optimistic as they are. I can only get away with being so pessimistic before everyone dismisses everything I say due to them just not trusting my judgment. I didn’t want to be stigmatized and dismissed, so I maintained as much optimism as possible.

Therefore, I have consistently been wrong about how bad my life would be. This requirement was really quite sabotaging. I would have planned much better without this peer pressure to be optimistic. I might not be facing intractable problems right now if I had known how bad my risk was years ago. I might have figured something out. Please don’t ever expect anyone else to avoid seeming pessimistic. You may sabotage them.

Now that I am aware of this, I can sort of adjust for my own optimism bias by thinking “things will be significantly worse than I think”. If I was doing much better than this 10 years ago, and ended up here, I really don’t think my next 10 years is going to be very nice.

Yes, I’ve already taken anti-depressants. Yes, I have already talked to professionals. I will try to explain why the mental health industry is ineffective in my case.

There is no nepenthe for dignity. If you weaken it, you violate it.

It’s not just chemical happiness I need.

I need respect, knowing that others know it’s not okay to violate my boundaries.

I need personhood, knowing that others care if something does violate my boundaries.

I need alliance, knowing that others will do something about it if my boundaries are being violated.

I value respect, personhood and alliance regardless of whether I am happy. It is a strange kind of torture to be chemically uplifted while the rest of my humanity is ignored. It is bizarre and unnatural to talk someone who will not be my ally, and strange to call this “help”.

When what you need is alliance, emotional support is just as empty as a drug.

I’ve already tried to solve the security problems, but they’re not solved because people aren’t doing anywhere near enough to make the environments I need safe enough for me. Instead they’re throwing out spitball ideas they haven’t even spent five minutes thinking through, and enjoying a false sense of security because there now seems to be a solution.

Most new ideas fail (see startups), and people are not well-informed about what physical security requires. It’s actually pretty complicated because you have to cover so many different types of situations multiplied by the different kinds of offenders.

I am pretty sure my future will be filled with security problems, trauma, chaos, dysfunction, financial problems, etc. I am not interested in that gauntlet. I’m exhausted because this hurts too much, and violates too many of my values. I know that’s probably going to continue. I’ve tried everything I was able to try before my motivation ran out. I’m spent. There is nothing left of me.

I am barely myself anymore. I can’t do effective altruism like this. I’m not even sure I can work. I can’t be particularly useful to the world with this much risk of disruption in my future. I am not going to enjoy my future with a problem this large that I can’t solve.

My future isn’t likely to be pleasant for me, and I can’t be useful to you.

Besides, I’d rather you remember me as something that at least sort of resembles who I am.

I don’t want to become whatever I would be if I completely radicalized. That’s the direction I’ve been going in. I want to stop before I get there. I don’t want you to see me like that.

I’ve been really angry. I ended up imagining a way to destroy the effective altruism movement. I’m not likely to try it because I am an altruist. Also, my personality isn’t impulsive. Maybe it wouldn’t even work… but a small chance of a problem with that severity is worth taking action about. I haven’t told anyone any details since it’s an information hazard.

There is a proverb that says if a village doesn’t embrace its members, they will burn the village down just to feel the warmth.

I was feeling that.

I could have done that to you. I was strategic enough to make noise, get attention, and light a few controlled burns.

I am also strategic enough to light much larger things on fire in a much less careful fashion.

Be glad that I didn’t. You have had a near miss. I was not impulsive enough.

For your own sake, please start acknowledging abuse and allying with all the survivors by doing something which reduces risk.

Every group has abusers. You can’t hide from it.

Survivors need your actions, not your words.

Another way I could really harm effective altruism is if I continue sliding downward like this. I don’t know what I would do if my frustration level were even higher, or my if my motivation to be careful were even lower.

Please be glad that some people can kill themselves. This can be a very heroic trait. Suicidal people should not be shunned. In our evolutionary past there were regularly situations where people had to decide who was going to die. There isn’t enough food. Do we take care of our elderly parent, or the baby? Everyone gets old to the point of becoming disabled unless they die of an accident, disease or a fight. It makes sense to think that kin selection may have resulted in people killing themselves when they become too old to support themselves. Putting food into a new baby is more likely to spread your genes than putting it into an elderly disabled person. Two of the main suicide risk factors are feeling like a burden and feeling alone. These look like pretty good heuristics to detect times when you’re reducing the chance of reproductive success for your kin.

The third is feeling unafraid to die. Sometimes people feel this for a temporary reason. It is also something people feel when things are not likely to get better. Telling yourself it’s always temporary and impulsive just causes you to ignore bad situations.

Because of the third factor, you’d be more likely to survive a short-term injury, but less likely to survive a permanent disability. So, if you are injured but know you’ll get better, you’ll probably still be afraid to die. If your kin takes care of you, you won’t be lonely. Maybe you will feel like a burden, but that’s only 1 of 3 risk factors.

Given how disruptive sexual violence risk has been to my life, I think hurting in the long-term is likely, though oppression is the cause. This is not a disability. You have to blame the right party: offenders.

Professional help isn’t enough to make me functional despite this level of stress. Even if it was, I would be very upset because I would continue to experience a lack of respect. If disrespect didn’t hurt me, it would feel that all the moral weight was taken away from me as a person. Would I even have personhood then? People would happily ignore the disrespect of me because I could fill the emptiness with drugs. People could decide my human rights are not important at all, or not worth any effort, because I am “happy”. What is happiness without meaning? What is meaning without basic respect?

What happens if you throw your own dignity away? My dignity is there for a reason. Everything in my personality is connected. I have already seen myself begin to radicalize despite my rationality practice, my emotional support, and my antidepressants. I am horrified at the thought of the ghoulish things I could become if I lost hope in the dignity, personhood and moral weight that encourage me to preserve what is good about me. I need these three things to be fully intact.

My dignity, personhood and moral weight are a fundamental part of why I improve upon what I am to become a more awesome person.

I don’t wish for a drug that will cause me to endure long-term abuse. I think that would be an abomination. I won’t wirehead myself into the perfect victim. I value my dignity and a human value cannot be drugged away. Give me respect or give me death.

If I can’t have my personhood, my moral weight, and my dignity, then neither can you.

Here’s the silver lining:

Part of the reason people have not been listening to me is that some of them worry that all I want is power. If I’m dead, I don’t think they’ll worry about this anymore.

Part of the reason people have not been listening to me is because they’re jealous. A dead woman will no longer be pretty and will not attract partners. A corpse is nothing to be jealous of. If the men can see that the sexual violence attention I received really wasn’t desirable, maybe they will understand that my problem is real.

This is disgusting, but part of the problem is that some men are turned on by the thought of sexual violence. Hopefully such people will at least be bothered enough by the horror of death to notice that there was a real problem. (Hint: If you can’t seem to have an appropriate emotional response to sexual violence, please consider seeing a counselor and keep a close watch for motivated reasoning.)

A lot of people didn’t want to acknowledge the risk because they think it will be a PR problem. Now that you already have the PR problem, you may as well acknowledge it.

The silver lining is that I’ve removed a bunch of obstacles that were in the way of you understanding this problem.

I hereby put all of my completed articles, completed images of any type, completed charts, completed graphs, and public comments into the public domain under the same license as this suicide note. If I posted it you can assume it is completed. If I mentioned specific people in something that’s not public (or someone might be identifiable), please remove the identifiable information (or get permission) before sharing. My unfinished items of these types can be shared under the same license as long you make it clear that some of them are just me jotting down ideas. Please encourage people to make distinctions between something I applied rigor to, some random idea I merely jotted down, and things that are in between. I prefer all my journals to be destroyed for privacy reasons.

You can’t have me, but I’ll give you my ghost.

The sort of secret I wouldn’t reveal under normal circumstances:

A couple of years ago, I met someone who initiated a form of attraction I’d never experienced before. I was upset because of a sex offender and wanted to be protected. For months, I desperately wanted this person to protect me. My mind screamed for it every day. My survival instincts told me I needed to be in their territory. This went on for months. I fantasized about throwing myself at them, and even obeying them, because they protected me in the fantasy.

That is very strange for me because I had never felt that way about anyone. Obedience? How? That seemed so senseless.

It occurs to me that following orders from the person who protects me both outsources the challenge of defense and makes defense more efficient. The military does it. Then it all clicked.

Women obviously don’t have the defense specialization. To survive and avoid injury, trauma, rape and other abuses, it makes sense for a woman to seek someone who will defend her. I suspect this is a common instinct. Being protected from other kinds of abusers is also very attractive.

I wouldn’t want to be told what to do all day, or who to be, or what to do with my life. For someone who protected me, I would obey security related orders, and offer very enthusiastic sexual service. This could probably even motivate me to have casual sex, which I would normally have no interest in because I am coy (a slow and selective sexual orientation, a Dawkins term). It feels like reciprocating for having your life saved. I think that if anyone ever rescued me from a sex offender, I would just do them and wonder whether it was a good idea later.

I could also be stolen away from a lover this way if the protection were inadequate. “If your lover won’t protect you against threats, how are you supposed to be protected at all!?” my instincts scream. It isn’t status that I want. It is specifically the capacity for protecting me against abuse. All of the people who’ve caused these feelings in me have also behaved in such a way that I thought they would not abuse me. If I thought they would abuse me, and they protected me… I don’t I would have the same response. There’s definitely a much stronger response for people I trust.

I named this “safety pragma”. Safety pragma is about ten times stronger than any other form of attraction I have ever experienced.

It feels like this: The man is my soldier and my general. He is not disposable. He is my sacred, cherished protector. I am his soother and his country. I am not a territory to conquer. I am his People, I am who he fights and lives for, and I need him to survive so that I survive.

The movies get this subtly and horribly wrong. In movies, he protects what he feels like protecting, or what society wants him to protect, or what it is his duty to protect, and the woman is his reward. This is obvious nonsense. In reality, if he protects what I want him to protect — me specifically of course — then I will automatically feel inspired to cherish him.

Women can protect, too. I’ve had some pretty intense safety pragma directed at me. ;)

Some women like being dominated in a kinky sense, but I’d bet safety pragma is more common and likely to be lot more powerful. The secret to earning a woman’s willingness to defer is not about being dominant toward the women! The secret is respecting the woman and knowing how to deal with dangerous men who could hurt her. Fantasies about someone ruthlessly crushing a threat gets the strongest response in my case.

What man will tell you that?

Men have no incentive to tell you how to attract women.

Pickup artistry is a sham!

How to prevent suicides:

Rule #1:

Mental wards are traumatic for people because they are forcibly trapped. That causes psychological trauma. If someone is suicidal because they have been traumatized, do you really want to traumatize them again? Worse, mental wards are hazardous to your health in a lot of other ways.

Never send a sexual violence survivor to a mental ward! We are The Targeted Ones. Mental wards are only rape sheds for us. We will not get better there. We will get worse there.

American rape sheds:

Australian rape sheds:

Guatemalan rape sheds:

Rule #2:

Assume you will need to help change the person’s situation in some way. Talking to psychologists doesn’t change a situation. Drugs don’t change a situation. Don’t pretend you can ignore the situation. The person wants to die. Sometimes that’s entirely chemical. If you always assume it’s chemical, you will let everyone in a bad situation literally die because of a hasty generalization.

Rule #3:

Establish a risk-free way for suicidal people to ask for help including a way to provide a costly signal to you with no risk of being put into a mental ward.

You won’t believe they really need help without a costly signal. It really is no wonder that people do self-destructive things when they really desperately need help! This desperate self-sabotage is not “mental illness”. The person is creating a costly signal for you! You know you won’t believe they really need help without a costly signal. You know that. You will worry they’re milking you.

Oh, sure, people ask for evidence, and then always find some flaw because it is not possible to provide perfect research, then ignore the problem. Or worse, they spitball me to death telling me a lot of quick ideas, when quick ideas are unlikely to succeed. It’s fast to make lots of bad ideas, but very slow to refute an onslaught of ideas that won’t work. It takes hours of research for each one. The onslaught may never end. Spitballing a person in need is a de facto DoS attack.

When you need help, you don’t have time to go through an onslaught of rigor and spitball ideas. I was literally paid to do exactly that. I did this for months as a job. I literally ran out of time. Not only would my funder prefer to do something else, my housemates need their spare room for family members in need now. Most importantly, though, I have burnt out on this neverending stream of doubt from dozens of clever people who will probably never ever run out of doubts and ways to dismiss me. They’re too creative. That’s why I burned out, and that alone would have killed me eventually. You can only hit your head against the same stonewall for so long.

If you had let me give you a costly signal you would have been able to take me seriously right away! What was I supposed to say? “I’ll donate X in the future if you take sexual violence seriously as a community?” That just seems like an attempt to purchase a belief, a bribe. In my case, it would have been quite tricky to make a costly signal succeed because what I needed from you is to take something seriously which you didn’t want to acknowledge. I really needed help with that part — but people didn’t believe in the problem enough to invest the time into negotiating how I can prove this is a real problem. So, I was doomed to the endless dismissals treadmill from the start.

The most frustrating thing about being suicidal is that I am not allowed to prove to you how much I need help by taking desperate measures. If I had dared to prove it through desperate measures, I would be forcefully locked up, mistreated by a mental ward, and quite possibly raped. Then I would have been released and you’d believe that I’d been fixed in there!

How much more infuriating could the situation be???

Rule #4:

Negotiate or specify a costly signal that makes sense. Obviously don’t request a suicide attempt. Do not require something that takes over the person’s autonomy. Being abused and enslaved are depressing, and will only make a suicidal person feel worse. These are not costly signals that you need help surviving. Don’t require the same thing from everyone. One person might be able to sacrifice money as a donation, another might be too poor and the check will bounce but perhaps they can volunteer some time. Some people are poor in every respect: time, money, patience. Perhaps ask them to donate or volunteer in the future.

What would have worked in my case was unacceptable:

Something that would have worked to save me is if someone clever enough and trustworthy enough offered me protection. I would repay them by cherishing them. The level of enthusiasm and dedication I would offer would be a costly signal that I really needed them. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to offer sex in exchange for bodyguard services and security work. I didn’t keep this relationship between protection and arousal a complete secret of course, but I couldn’t advertise it widely enough to make it likely to succeed, especially given that I am selective, and that some of my enemies are a challenge. I needed someone special.

Nobody I know has ever heard of anything like the safety pragma I describe. It’s too weird. It resembles prostitution. I don’t want food or money for sex. I’d rather die than accept that. Sex is disgusting when I am not aroused. Trading it for food or money would probably traumatize me. I can’t help that it turns me on when people defend me against others. If the safety pragma phenomenon were more widely understood and accepted, I’d have been able to do something with this situation. Had I tried to explain this, I would have been viewed with suspicion, like I was trying to use my body get someone to arbitrarily attack people and gain power for the sake of power.

No. I would love my protector.

I would reciprocate and sacrifice for my protector. For me, orgasm releases a bunch of chemicals that result in very strong emotional bonding whether I want it to or not. Orgasm is like giving a person a back door into my emotions. I would cherish that person. I would not use that person or put them in danger needlessly. I would need that person to be safe so that I can be safe. Their existence and alliance with me is a deterrent for people who might hurt me. I might consult with them about how to evaluate a security risk, but I would only ask them to take action to protect me when I am genuinely afraid and think the risk is too high.

Maybe some women are cruel enough to use men this way and to give nothing back. Perhaps some women don’t experience the sort of dedication that motivates you to go out of your way for someone. (Note: I am using dedication to mean long-term reciprocation, not lifelong commitment — humans rarely seem capable of lifelong commitment and I don’t know what causes it when it happens.) What I’m telling you is that I’ve discovered a system of instincts that results in me cherishing a protector. It’s automatic.

In “The Art of War”, Sun Tzu explains that you cannot defend a country with mercenaries. You need to have a bond with them. You need citizens. You can’t just pay them. There needs to be an alliance.

And here I am, fully capable of forming an extremely strong and incredibly enthusiastic alliance with a protector.

This does not look like a fluke. Please believe that at least some people can experience a real alliance with a protector, possibly most women.

What is the root cause of the sexual violence moral panic and how do we solve it?

You might not want to believe what I’m about to explain. If you want things to get better, you have to be willing to acknowledge the problem. Here is an article from a journalist who can see this problem:

So now that you’ve read it, I bet you feel the way that I would have if I hadn’t seen this type of nonsense myself. Is it an isolated incident? No. This article points out an extreme case, but ignoring victims of serious crimes seems pretty common, and people have reported other aspects of this while documenting a phenomenon named “the second rape”.

What the heck?

Cities don’t really want police to take your crime report and seriously evaluate it because if they do that, you might increase the crime statistics. This makes the city look bad. Towns want to look safe. If they do, people move there, and spend money. If they don’t, fewer people move there and spend money.

Police don’t really want to take your crime report and seriously evaluate it either. I hate to say this because a lot of police officers are very brave. However, we have to admit, going after rapists is dangerous! If you were a police officer, you would rather be writing parking tickets. Going after rapists is a lot more dangerous. If you could find any flaw with somebody’s police report so you don’t have to take it seriously, or if you can procrastinate on it, or if you can just annoy the person into going away, you’ll probably at least sometimes do this out of sheer-self preservation.

You might even do it because of motivated reasoning. People who are influenced by their own motivated reasoning do not realize they are confusing themselves. It’s like a bias.

It’s not their fault they have survival instincts. They all have to do courageous things sometimes. They are not all cowards. They are probably stressed and probably try to avoid taking any risks unless they find it absolutely necessary. If there is any reason to delay or ignore, then from their point of view, it’s not absolutely necessary for them to put their lives on the line. This is just human nature. The right systems of incentives and accountability need to be in place to make sure they have a reason to actually go out and deal with violent criminals.

If you don’t know the number of reports people wanted to make, you will not know how many times police refused to accept a report or troll the person into going away. This does happen. It has happened to me. Yes, literal trolling. You can look up “The second rape” to get a better understanding of the ridiculous things that happen.

If you don’t know how many people tried to make reports, you won’t know how many times police applied some nonsense fault-finding and failed to follow up on a perfectly good report. You won’t know how backed up they are. You’ll never notice if they run around giving jaywalking tickets all day, letting everyone’s rape kits rot in a corner.

Whatever police do ends up becoming the crime statistics. If the police don’t take all the reports of severe harm seriously and go deal with every dangerous person they can, this will show in the crime statistics. It will look like crime is low. That makes the police look good. We are, in effect, letting the police write their own report card. That has to end.

We need independent review organizations to take crime reports and create statistics to keep the police accountable.

For accountability to work, all of these are required:

1. Police stations all need to be required to display a prominent sign inviting you to share your crime report with the independent review organizations. The signs need to say that the organization is there to make sure the police do the best job they can do. It needs to be a sign, not a person. The independent organization needs to stay independent. They shouldn’t ever be required to hang out with the police. Hanging out with the police is too friendly. That’s not independent enough. They have to keep the police accountable, not make friends with them.

2. Independent review organizations need to accept both police reports that were made successfully and also accepts all crime reports that people didn’t or couldn’t file with the police. It doesn’t matter what the person’s reason is for not filing with the police. The independent review organization needs to accept all crime reports, period. They need to accept crime reports from literally anyone, no matter how crazy the person seems. They need to accept reports that are incomprehensible or incomplete. People with disabilities experience crime at a higher rate because the criminals know that their reports will be low quality. If you want them to have justice, then the independent review organization needs to accept literally every crime report. Some of the reports will be false accusations. This shouldn’t be a big concern because the independent review organization is not there to punish anyone. It’s just there to process data to see what’s going on with police reports. Every city will have people making weird and incomplete reports, and also people making false accusations, so cities should still be comparable to each other in the end.

3. The independent organization needs to follow up on the reports to see if the police did their best with the information available. They might receive so many reports that they can’t follow up on them all. Following up should be rigorous and thorough. What is needed here is quality not quantity. If the independent review organization follows up on a random sample of crime reports, they’ll be able to do the highest quality job on fewer reports. Unless they can get the funding to do a high quality job on every single report, using the random sample to investigate what happened to fewer reports is actually a good thing. It would be ideal if they could rigorously evaluate every person’s report, but the world is not ideal. If there’s not enough funding to review every report, the random sample will still keep police accountable, and that’s the goal. The random sample does have to be large enough, but it doesn’t have to be every single report because the police don’t know which report is going to be reviewed! It’s random. The police won’t want to mess up on any report if there’s a chance that somebody will select it at random and see what they did. Therefore, even with a random sample, the police will improve their behavior. The independent organization needs to record a mark against the police station if they didn’t do what could reasonably be done given a reasonable time limit.

4. Independent review organizations in different locations need to do things in a similar enough way that you can compare statistics between two different cities and be pretty sure of whether one city has better police than the other. For instance, they need to follow up after the same time limits. This is all about the city decision, in the end. Cities make money from residents. Politicians in each city care about where people choose to live. If people can’t compare statistics from one city to the next, people will sometimes pick the wrong city, and that ruins the incentives for politicians to make the police stations work.

5. All publishers of crime statistics need to be required to publish both an assessment from the independent review organization and also the police. This ensures that police are never writing their own report card by making sure people find out about the independent review organization. It ensures the independent review organization’s statistics are actually used. If people don’t use the statistics, accountability won’t work. People need for these independent review statistics to be obvious and available in at least the majority of places where they actually read crime statistics. This part is absolutely necessary for effectiveness. For accountability to work as well as possible, you need as many people looking at the statistics from independent review organizations as possible. It’s like receiving a warning label with your medication. The warning label is right there. People are choosing what city to live in based on report cards police wrote for themselves. These people are moving to unsafe cities without realizing it. That needs a warning label! Ask a professional user interface designer about why the independent review organization’s statistics need to be right there displayed in a really obvious way whenever people look at crime statistics.

6. What we need is not a one-time evaluation. The police need to know that there’s someone always watching. We need continuous independent reviews of what the police are doing, done by a permanent external organization.

7. There needs to be accountability for the independent review organizations, too. This is because bribery does happen sometimes. We cannot have just one independent review organization for the entire country. That puts all the eggs into one basket. So there need to be multiple separate independent review organizations. They need to periodically review a random sample of each other’s crime reports and publish the results. They should not review the same place every time. They should rotate. If the report from organization A differs significantly from the report from organization B, then you can tell that one of them is doing a bad job and the government should investigate.

8. All random samples need to be large enough. You can’t take in 1000 reports, review three, and call it a sample. It’s too small. The number of reports in the sample has to be big enough to represent the rest of the reports. Three reports is not enough to represent the other 997 reports. Without a large enough sample size, the results from these organizations will vary wildly. It will look like chaos. You won’t be able to trust it with too small of a sample. What you need to make this orderly is called statistical significance, and one of the things statistical significance requires is a large enough sample size. Any statistically literate professional should be able to tell you whether they have accomplished an adequate sample size and statistical significance.

The enemies of the dead:

The great thing about dying is that I can make enemies with allllllll the nastiest people and none of them will hurt me! I highly recommend doing this if you are dying. PLEASE everyone add a list of the nastiest people into your wills right now. Please.


If the nasty people worry that they risk being named as part of the execution of people’s wills, maybe they will leave the movement and go somewhere else! We have something like a very wide ballpark around a 1% chance of dying per year. Every person harmed by a nasty person adds to the risk of being outed. Harm 20 or 30 people and it might start to add up to a significant risk.

If people know you have a will that outs all the nastiest people you encounter, maybe they won’t bother you in the first place.

1. Michael Arc (Michael Vassar)

I know a lot about profiling now because I’ve had to defend myself against nasty people for 30 years. I have never gotten such a large beep on my amoral manipulator radar as I did with Arc. My Machiavelli light burnt to a crisp. First of all, his article “Sex, Nerds and Entitlement” (under the name Vassar) advises making women feel afraid of physical violence as part of his description of how to get women to sleep with you. Secondly, I heard that he decided to influence his network to make people rush. Rushing your mark is one of the most universal con artist tricks in the book! This is because when people are rushing, they don’t think enough to notice your cons. Getting people to constantly rush to save the world means they’ll constantly be vulnerable to cons. Several people have complained to me about the rushing. Here’s an alternative: Prevent mistakes. Each time you prevent one, consider how much time and other resources you saved by preventing it. Then consider how much time it took you to prevent the mistake. Keep going slower until the amount of time you prevent from being wasted is about equal with the amount of time it takes to find / stop the mistakes. Also, take time to learn about types of mistakes you might make which you may not detect yet, and apply the same principle! There is a military saying “Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.” That’s what it means. Remember it. Here’s one of my radar heuristics: Arc has been hanging out with rationalists for around a decade. Instead of practicing and honing good clarity and rigor, he has practiced the art of vaguery! He should be really good at clarity by now, but uses vaguery often. The art of war and the art of confusion are one in the same. The people who regularly practice vaguery are some of the nastiest. Diego “Giego” Caleiro is another example. (Two of his survivors have talked to me, and I’ve seen some of his motivated reasoning about Stockholm syndrome on my time line, so I’m pretty sure about him being a sex offender now.) Someone I know said they’re sick of everyone warning against Arc. Hearing that lots of people warn against Arc would be enough alone, but with all the other things… Ugh. Michael Arc needs a one way ticket to the moon.

2. Robert Wiblin

He is a charming Machiavellian prima donna, sex offender and fits the profile of a sexual sadomasochist (which I’m usually fine with but not in a sex offender), and possibly a criminal generalist (or perhaps a general asshole).

3. Someone might be a clever stalker but I’m not sure enough.

If this person is stalking me, their plausible deniability is on fleek! I am not even sure I am being stalked. I noticed a series of weird things and added them to my security log. You’re supposed to log abuse because it’s useful later on when you need to go to an authority. Well, what’s in my log is awfully strange. Either somebody very clever has been stalking me or there was a really unlikely bunch of coincidences. I was quite charmed by this person before I put all the pieces together. If that did happen, we have someone matching the profile of an intimacy stalker. They tend to be less dangerous than the other types, and don’t have very many victims. This is still a problem, of course. Given the lower risk and the uncertainty about what’s even happening, I decided not to out this person. I would like to highlight the possibility that we have a clever stalker.

I suspect there’s a connection between our amoral manipulators and our charmers. The ratio is not 1:1 of course, but charm should be regarded as a serious intoxicant. It is bad for your rationality. Charm is something manipulative people often use that I read about in books about sociopaths, too. I didn’t think it could happen to me. Now that I’ve been meeting manipulative people who I relate to, I see why the books told me that criminals could be charming. Please watch out. Especially watch out for charming people who seem a bit too perfect, a bit too awesome, or a bit too popular. I am not sure how they do this yet, but I think their bag of tricks includes lying about and hiding stuff other people don’t bother to. Stuff that’s ordinary. They become extraordinary by hiding what is ordinary about themselves. Oh, they might confess to a stigmatized difference that most other people in the group have, but that’s not showing weakness then, that makes them the hero of the underdogs. They show flaws here and there, but only to make themselves seem relatable (or because of sexual masochism, as in Wiblin’s case). Most people have an incredibly strong need for self-expression. It takes something unusual to overcome that. Most people just don’t put anywhere near as much as effort into polish. The charmers polish constantly. Don’t let them have so much halo effect! Take the polish apart and learn how that stuff works! They are not beyond reproach, but if you let them have enough halo effect, you will be weak to the illusions they want you to have about them. We need to have herd immunity against charm. It’s the wrong reason to follow someone. Everyone needs heroes, but don’t follow them. Strip mine them for every trick until all that’s left is a hollow crater and then move on to strip mine the next one.

The admiration of the dead:

Am I just buttering these people up for a job or a favor or something? No. Can I say whatever I think is true even though it sounds weird? Yes.

David Denkenberger is brilliant, rigorous, and I am shocked that his charity ALLFED is not fully funded. X-risk stuff isn’t funding constrained last I knew. There is money around. Check out ALLFED.

Eric Bruylant is one of the most brilliant people-rationalists I know, and that’s really valuable, even if he does have a mental disorder. Even if you have to sandbox him to lower risk of physical harm (like only talking to him online), please do that and then ask him to detect harmful social norms. He is one of the few people I’ve met that can do this at a high level.

Evan Gaensbauer is really brilliant and just needs an opportunity to train himself up. He currently wastes his time with dead end jobs. Get him out of the poverty trap.

Miles Tidmarsh, Jake Coble, and Logan Thrasher Collins are brilliant and I hope they all get opportunities to actualize their potential.


Anna Tchetchetkine, Jake Coble, Mike Gorrie, Annie Kotowicz, and Carin Ism are incredibly emotionally intelligent. This is very much needed! Emotional intelligence can be used to increase productivity, and decrease the chance of chaos like abuse, kerfuffles, and scandals. EA is severely EQ constrained! Emotional intelligence can be learned. A good book is “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. What these people have is much, much more than what’s in that book. It would take many years to become as good at it as they are.


Patrick Robotham is the most brilliant rationalist I’ve ever gotten to know. Shower him in work opportunities. You will be pleased with him.

Did you know there’s this whole super dedicated group of people in a branch of EA that could be really high-impact called suffering reduction? There’s a lot of stuff that’s important which is totally different from Tomisik and David Pearce! I wrote a bit for them, too.

Annie Kotowicz would probably make a brilliant suffering reductionist. I wish the views we discussed about human trafficking were heard throughout EA.

Robert Cordwell has been a really good friend to me, and I think he’s a good guy.

Katrina Beltran is incredibly brilliant. I calibrated guessing IQs and I think she is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.


Julia Wise is great to report sex offenses to! She keeps them a secret if you want. She doesn’t pressure you. You can ask her questions. She’s very approachable. No, she doesn’t ban people based on just one accusation — and yet your one accusation is still useful. She combines reports, she looks for evidence. We all need to be reporting our sex offenders to her. Even if the offense seems minor, that can be a sign of a bigger problem. Please report any offenses now. You will all be safer if you all cooperate by making reports! I think there need to be regular reporting events where everyone is invited to report to police as part of a group or to support others. If the police get enough reports about the same person, they can combine them. It’s one of the few crimes where they can do that. There need to be regular calls for survivors to remind people to report to Julia Wise and the police. There needs to be an advocate that everyone feels comfortable with, and who is very knowledgeable about how sexual violence actually works — someone who will keep it a secret and talk to you while you try to figure out what to do. Our offenders can be extra tricky because the people in this movement are often Ivy League or super talented, so having our own advocate makes sense. This advocate would be invaluable for people who want to attend a reporting event to go to the police. They can advocate for the survivor even if the police happen to be ignorant of the way sexual violence can happen (yes, this is an actual problem). They can also advocate for the survivor when reporting to Julia Wise. Sex offenders wield the art of confusion, so the advocate needs to be shrewd and well-informed with the ability to make good arguments, and bright and rational enough to advocate in the face of clever arguments from the bright rationalist sex offenders around.

^ I don’t have enough information on most of them for super highly accurate results about whether every single one of these people can be trusted. I haven’t seen anything that makes me worry, but that’s far from a perfect indicator.

Never trust blindly. Always create healthy structures of incentives and accountability for each other. Humans malfunction without them!

Be good!

Update 7/3/18:

One of Kathy’s friends has written a response with some background and suggestions for keeping conversations productive. Read it here: