In which I disagree with xkcd

This is not a perspective I share.

This has not been my experience at all. I plod forward with reasonable expectations of humanity, and am constantly horrified by the worst opinions that I never imagined anyone would hold, flung at me in surprise.

Seriously, did anyone ever anticipate incels? Did you go looking for them? Did you imagine they could exist?


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    … did anyone ever anticipate incels?

    I suppose it was only a matter of time before the lonely and dejected started meeting and discuss their inability to find sex and lend each other emotional support. It’s the whole nasty, misogynist, “Red Pill” ideology that has me scratching my head.

  2. says

    It’s the whole nasty, misogynist, “Red Pill” ideology that has me scratching my head.

    I find it makes perfect sense if you look at it the other way. Nasty misogyny has been around forever, so it was only a matter of time before some of the worst of them got together to form the ultimate “He-Man woman haters club”, and then start wondering among themselves why they weren’t getting laid.

  3. voidhawk says

    I know I’ve started doing this, especially anticipating negative reactions. A local news Facebook group is infamous for the sheer number of racists and Islamophobes populating it, whenever I see something newsworthy in my city, a small part of me goes “Oh God, I wonder what the mouth-breathers on City Updates” have to say about this.”

  4. Akira MacKenzie says


    blockquote>A local news Facebook group is infamous for the sheer number of racists and Islamophobes populating it, whenever I see something newsworthy in my city, a small part of me goes “Oh God, I wonder what the mouth-breathers on City Updates” have to say about this.”

    It’s almost as if democratizing mass communications and removing the media gate keepers who kept the loons and bigots invisible was a BAD idea.

  5. ikanreed says

    I’m gonna take a swing at this.

    Yes, I feel I predicted incels inasmuch as “ladder theory” psueodscience misogynist dorkwads preceded the current internet pseudoscience misogynist dorkwads by decades, and I saw no reason for that kind of “women as flowcharts(that are UNFAIR)” thinking to go away.

    In fact, the correct understanding of the word “incel” is permeating our culture, and a rebrand is inevitable in the next few years. The group’s name will fade, but the misogyny won’t.

  6. busterggi says

    Sure, incels could have been predicted – they are just ignorant arrogant redneck nerds at heart.

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    OK, as a middle-aged nerd who hasn’t been on a date since college, I’m feeling kind of attacked right now.

  8. davidnangle says

    I’ll admit to having been something of a proto-incel* in my youth. Too hideous and awkward a male to know even how to talk to a female. But even then, I knew my failure to earn the company of a woman was something to be ashamed of, and not excuse to do terrible things.

    It’s the work of a lifetime correcting my mind and my actions. I still step on my dick sometimes, but I’m always working on it.

    Male sexual drive is like a flowing stream. You can redirect it, if you’re careful, but you cannot stop it. Dam it up thoughtlessly, and it will find its own way to the sea, regardless of the destruction it will cause. This is how we get bizarre perversions. I can understand a virgin’s mind creating Byzantine fictions regarding the difficulty of what seems like a straightforward proposition of getting laid: feminine conspiracies, evil societal motivations, sabotage from successful men, and so on.

    But it’s still something private and embarrassing, not something to be proud of. I can’t believe it became a social group by itself.

  9. says

    History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.

    A lot of this stuff is there, will always be with us (unfortunately). Could anyone have predicted incels? Well, some individual may have. But we didn’t all see incels coming. It’s only the particulars you can’t predict. It wouldn’t have been groundbreaking to say that a patriarchal society going through massive change would end up generating some kind of movement in the opposite direction. I suppose the really unique thing about incels is that they don’t use religion or hereditary birthright(in sense of noble birth) as a basis for why they should have the women the way that men used to. Progress?

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

    My problem is that besides being fat, ugly, old, poor, and mentally ill, I’ve always been incredibly shy and afraid of rejection (any, professional or personal). My one romantic success only occurred because she asked me out. After she figured out I was a loser who was going to be a failure in life, she dumped me. I can’t say I blame her, but it still hurt. And after 20+ years, the memories of being with someone and how that felt makes the loneliness worse. I’d give anything to feel like that again: wanted by someone who seemed to like you and shared the same interests.

    I guess I’m just going to have to do without.

  11. Akira MacKenzie says

    madtom 1999 @ 12

    Oh, it’s OK. I was being kind of facetious, but It’s just that I’m a nerd who technically qualifies as an “Incel” and it’s kind of a tender spot for me. I mean, just because I’m unlucky in love doesn’t mean I’m some alt-right, MRA, dudebro who thinks that there is a vast feminist conspiracy to deny them sex.

  12. Cynical Skeptic says

    I find it rather humorous that PZ declares “Hey, at least I’m not one of those people”.

  13. lakitha tolbert says

    Its not the groups of “bad “people (like MRAs and Incels) who get together to commiserate with one another that shocks me. I’m not actually surprised by that ,and somewhat expect taht to happen.

    No, its the lone bad actors who manage to type thoughts that are so appalling, or appallingly moronic, that I have some amount of trouble, not just wrapping my head around the idea that someone could think that, and put it out in the world for other people to see it, but that such people actually exist.

    I’m not sure which is worse, that people like that exist or that its always feels like a surprise attack.Its gotten to the point where I’ve been burned so many times by the appealingly nasty opinions of White men on the internet that I largely just avoid most of them. (White men aren’t the only ones with nasty opinions but they’re like thumb tacks You can step on them in even the most innocuous spaces.)

  14. ikanreed says

    Back on topic, I, by virtue of even tangentially touching movement skepticism, constantly run into awful people who are terribly wrong about things and constantly try to propagate their bad beliefs. Sadly, on both sides of the skeptic/anti-skeptic divide.

  15. springa73 says

    Incels aren’t that much of a stretch – men who are romantically/sexually unlucky commiserate with each other online (pretty harmless in itself), and then go on to blame women for their problems (definitely NOT harmless, but not surprising given misogynistic attitudes that are still very much a part of the culture).

  16. davidnangle says

    springa73: Note that the online community and the discussions therein will have the effect of solidifying the “celibate” part of “Incel,” thought it’s not so much “involuntary” as “inadvertent.” Or “intractably.” Or “inevitably.”

  17. hotspurphd says

    @16. “Its gotten to the point where I’ve been burned so many times by the appealingly nasty opinions of White men on the internet…”

    What does appealingly nasty opinions mean?

  18. hotspurphd says

    @Akira MacKenzie. You have probably thought of this but in case you haven’t – there are many lonely people looking for someone at many dating sites on the internet. I’ve explored it some since my wife died and for me there are lots of appealing people there. And lots of people find someone that way.

  19. Akira MacKenzie says

    hotspurphd @ 23

    Thanks, but I’ve tried more than a few of those sites with absolutely no success, As much as I like them, women don’t like me,

    Can’t say I blame them.

  20. =8)-DX says

    I’d just like to remind people that incels aren’t defined as “lazy, unattractive losers who can’t get laid” and it has nothing to do with actually having had sex or relationships in your life. It’s a specific hate-group (or a number of them) which uses cult-like tactics of mutual validation followed by reinforcing fatalistic ideas, self-hatred and bonding over shared hatred of women. To be an “incel” you have to specifically consider women subhuman and sex something you are entitled to which the women should be forced to provide you. You have to closet yourself up at home and spend hours and days online with similar-minded incels instead of actually going out into the world and meeting people. You have to believe in absurd statistics, the “sexual marketplace”, the irrevocability of essentialist binary gender roles, etc. etc.

    Also hope you have some future success, Akira. Whenever I’ve been in lonely spots I’ve found that having women friends is much more rewarding than considering every women I meet just in terms of a potential date. The human brain is and has always been the most attractive part of a human being.

  21. eleanor says

    I used to post on a feminist forum in 2000-ish and we certainly didn’t need to “go looking for them”. They came looking for us. To tell us, endlessly, that a) women were filthy lying freeloading bitches, and b) women deserved to be punished for not being attracted to men who thought they were filthy lying freeloading bitches. Of course they weren’t called incels back then, but other than the name, the only difference between their behaviour then and their behaviour now is the degree of organization.