A Choice Between Two Blue Pills

If you’re a long time reader, you’ve seen a number of changes in my thought over the years. One of the more important ones is the stepping away from the Red Pill motif. There are a few reasons for that. Thus this all-purpose explanation of why, and why you should too.

The first reason is simple. It’s already trademarked. “Take the Red Pill” is a trademarked phrase and not by me. Thus every effort by me to continue to promote the concept, every dollar earned on that phrase is like the Dwarves of Moria digging ever deeper down into the earth until that fateful day they reach the Balrog. I had no clue it was trademarked before I started writing. Once I figured it out, I groaned inwardly for a couple months and then made changes. No lawsuits involved and that’s about it.

The irony that someone actually owns the phrase should not be lost on those that proudly claim to be “Red Pill” like they are suddenly free from social control. You may as well make “I’m lovin’ it” your personal slogan. That’s trademarked too.

That being said, the Red Pill concept is a mishmash of ideas and that really needs to be talked about. So let’s review the standard Manosphere training footage…

What Morpheus is offering Neo is “the truth”. But it’s a little bit more than that, in that it’s a huge moment of awakening, a huge moment of enlightenment. It’s really more akin to a religious conversion that anything else. As the next scene plays out, Neo is literally born again from an artificial womb, complete with umbilical cords, a placenta, amniotic fluid and what now prophetically looks like an Obamacare drone overseeing it all. Then an opening dilates underneath him and he rides the birth canal out into the real world. YouTube of all that.

Except there’s a huge problem with that as a practical application beyond the metaphor of enlightenment.

In the first movie, there’s a clear version of “Red Pill” reality explained, and a clear version of the “Blue Pill” fantasy. In the real world, humans are living in some kind of shit hole under the earth, which essentially looks like a cross between an aircraft carrier and a prison. Except the food is obviously the product of a committee and a questionable bidding process.

The fantasy world is a city in 1999. This frankly seems really nice, except the horror is that it’s totally wired for high-speed internet and everyone is jacked in with a hard-wire connection in warm comfy wombs. Supposedly the evil machines running the world have found a way to harness the bio-electrical charge of human beings and we’re all a bunch of renewable AA batteries. There’s no explanation given for how the machines get more energy out of us than it takes to care for us though. Also in the third movie there are giant drilling machines and I’m just wondering why geothermal energy wasn’t tapped as a far more convenient option. Just sayin’.


Yay enlightenment. Except if you want to use it as a practical application beyond just using it as a metaphor for enlightenment itself… you have to supply the theoretical framework grounding the philosophy you have been enlightened to.

Putting that more clearly, as an Atheist I could say that when I had my awakening moment of realizing X, Y and Z about Christianity was bogus, I had my Red Pill moment. My eyes were opened. I saw the truth of the lies of the church yada yada yada.

But you could just as easily say that when you become a Christian, and you have your awakening moment of realizing X Y and Z about Christianity being true, that’s when you’re having your Red Pill moment. Your eyes are opened. You see the truth of the bible yada yada yada.

See how chirping “Red Pill” means next to nothing without the context of a philosophy behind it?

I mean for politics, is the correct Red Pill viewpoint democrat, or republican? Or Ron Paul? Or the guys who bury a bus in their backyard and have a five year supply of ammunition and MREs?

Is the Red Pill all the stuff the manosphere talks about… or it is feminism? I mean wasn’t there some moment of stomach churning enlightenment for the first feminists when they visualized for the first time a concept of the patriarchy? Holy crap, those bastards own everything and we don’t even get a say, we’re getting screwed. Sound familiar?

So let me say that again, going “Woo-hoo! Red Pill” means next to nothing without the context of a philosophy behind it. All it means is you’re really excited to have learned something and probably annoying to be trapped in a conversation with at parties.

Now because my thing is relationships, I’m going to explain a little more my own personal philosophy and why I focus on what I focus on in my work.

I see three broad issues affecting relationships and I think they probably have about equal weighting in importance. This is one of those “more of an art than a science” type feelings though.

The first is biological in nature: the whole thing of Body Agenda, your hormones, your neurotransmitters, and the entire neurological construction of the meat computer than is your brain. Your genes. The things men are biologically driven to do, and the things women are biologically driven to do. Or in short, this is the Nature bit of the Nature vs. Nurture argument.

And the second issue is the entire sociological, economic and cultural construct in which we live our lives. Everything from our schooling, to our entertainment, our religious beliefs and science, and possibly more importantly, our laws. All these things affect our relationships. This is the Nurture side of the Nature vs. Nurture argument.

The third area is our individual self-awareness, free thought, ability to choose, logic, self-discipline, personal history and internal moral compass. For lack of a better explanation, Nietzsche is the third candidate in the Nature vs. Nurture debate.

All three general factors are influences on your relationship and life.

If the economy sucks, your life is probably going to be harder. It’s going to be a negative stressor on your relationship. I can’t tell you how many guys have come to MMSL with a troubled marriage and everything stems back to when they lost a job in the economic downturn in 2008, which started a relationship downturn.

But when an individual person or couple comes to me with a relationship problem, the solution I offer them is not advice on fixing the economy, or Red Pill based complaints about gender issues. I simply try and fix the problem.

Don’t misunderstand me here for a minute. I completely understand there are some horrific, stupid, harsh, evil, mindless, shameful social, economic and legal influences on individuals and relationships. Things I’d like to see stopped. But when an individual comes with a problem seeking help, trying to “fix society” as a solution to their individual issue is misguided. All I can really work with is mastering the Nature side of things and the Nietzsche personal growth stuff.

In addition, when it’s a bad relationship that’s at stake, they typically come seeking help at a time of crisis and instability. Thus one of the first things you need to do is stabilize the relationship so it doesn’t just end before any kind of progress is able to be made. One of the best ways of doing that is finding common ground together. Telling the story of how they met. Telling the story of when the kids were born. Telling the story of the house purchase and how the career path was. You triage the relationship and look for the problems.

This is the point where injecting the gender warfare variants (manosphere or feminism) of your personal version of the Red Pill into the mix are incredibly toxic. Suddenly there’s pain, anger, disgust, hatred, or betrayal injected into a system we are trying to stabilize and heal. It’s like having a fist fight break out in the Emergency Room after a car crash. Doesn’t matter who was driving or how fast they were going, now is not the time to debate it.

The final problem with the Red Pill motif as based on The Matrix is even more serious. In the movie there is a fantasy world called The Matrix and there is a real world outside The Matrix with different rules you can escape to.

The reality is though, in our non-movie lives, there is no possibility of escaping from the real Matrix. You can exert some moderate influence over it, but that’s it. From a neurological point of view, your entire experience of reality is minimally different to that of being jacked into the Matrix in the movie. You can be as Red Pill as you like, but you get to experience reality through a Blue Pill physical body. This is why it’s so freaking hard to break Oneitis and why you stare at boobs so much.

The other issue is that you can completely transform society into a paradise, but I can assure you that someone, somewhere, eventually, is going to be some sort of greedy asshole and taking over the whole thing and being a real jerk. In all seriousness, my political hope is that the Evil Overlords aren’t so much deposed, as simply made agreeably competent.

This is why at the end of the final movie, Neo is actively working with the machines, to stabilize the entire system. That stabilizing of the system is the entire purpose of Zion et al. Morpheus offered Neo the Red Pill, promising “only the truth”, but the reality was he didn’t know what the truth was himself. At the time, Morpheus is unaware that he’s puppet for The Oracle – one of the two primary creators of the Matrix itself.

When Neo finally gets to meet the Architect of the Matrix, he makes it clear that even the offering of the choice, is part of the system of control. Or perhaps put more plainly, what Morpheus offers Neo is a Blue Pill… and merely a visually different Blue Pill that requires active participation in the system of control, rather than passive acceptance.

This is why nearly everyone loves the first movie and doesn’t like the second one. The first movie offers a comforting dream that the Matrix can be escaped from. The second movie methodically crushes that dream underfoot.

We are all born into a world with layers of control, expectations, biological urges and deep existential questions. Having a functional and happy sexual relationship really seems to take the edge off a lot of the less pleasant elements of existence.

But functional and happy sexual relationships are systems. There is an ebb and flow of energy between the two sides. Thus you cannot help one, without also helping the other. I started off writing MMSL aiming just to help men, but have seen that at best it’s limited in its effectiveness, even if well intentioned. At its worst, it probably causes damage. After a certain point, the Red Pill motif just doesn’t help much.

As I develop more materials, MMSL will stay a brand targeted at a male audience. But there will also be brands of my material targeted for a co-ed audience and other brands targeted at a female audience. It’s a long road ahead and like The Oracle said, I’m just here to do what I’m here to do. I know some people will think makes me a sell out, betraying men, yada yada yada. I think I’m at peace with that finally.


  1. Well said.

    And, sorry, but I just cannot help posting this.

    Oh I liked that. I was thinking that The Oracle is really the protagonist of the trilogy, the final scene seems to underline that. The post was getting too long to get into that though.

  2. Good choice and good move – but that’s a lot of words to just say the phrase is overused, meaningless, and painted with a bad brush by your detractors.

  3. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    Don’t think it’s really fair to compare feminism and the manosphere. Radical feminism maybe. In fact there was something on Reddit called “RadFem or TRP?” or something like that.

  4. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    Also, there is a problem with our understanding of “Nature” in the “Nature vs nurture”. I am assuming you mean evopsych by “nature”.

    But here’s the problem, evopsych uses a very narrow and small sampling ( for example, the WEIRD problem), cherrypicks the data (for example, Buss, using only the American sample and dilemma 1 in his study that finds “Men are affected more by sexual affairs than emotional affairs, but women are the opposite” ) then overfitting that data (this must have happened because of these (unproven, but disregard that for now) evolutionary adaptive procedures.). There is also a hint of “naturalistic fallacy” in some of the writings of propponents of EP (not necessarily the researchers though.)

    For example, the thing with the menstruation cycle. It swept all the manosphere and even you wrote in your book about how women like Alpha when ovulating and Beta in other times. But a recent metaanalysis of 58 independent studies (named “Meta-Analysis of Menstrual Cycle Effects on Women’s Mate Preferences”) has shown there is no such thing. Soooooo… what happens now? Are you going to delete or change that part of the book? Are the blogposts going to be changed? This is the problem with pop evopsych. People tend to take whatever part that confirms their bias no matter how flimsy and even make a philosophy out of it.

    The Nature vs. Nuture debate is summarized here… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_versus_nurture

  5. I eschew the Matrix metaphor, past the initial helpfulness of it, and stick to this basic definition of Red Pill: “The art and science of pursuing personal happiness with perspective based on observable reality, not in accordance to an ideology.” The Red Pill has no over-all philosophy behind it except this, in my opinion. The Red Pill isn’t a philosophy or ideology . . . it’s a praxeolgy, or “system of behavior”. The Red Pill is a system of personal behavior and response based not on the way the world should be, but how it observably is. Feminism is an ideology. Christianity is an ideology. Marxism is an ideology. The Boy Scout Oath is an ideology. The Red Pill focuses on what works best, not what should work in an ideal world.

    Blue Pill thinking is the attempt to live your personal life by an ideology, like True Love of feminism. When it works, it works by accident for a few people usually for a short period of time.

    I understand why you shy away from it, Athol, but the fact is that it is a highly useful shorthand for many of us, and many of us – including a surprising number of Red Pill women, have latched on to it in a meaningful way. It’s a “Reality-based, results-dependent, outcome-based approach to conducting post-feminist mating toward the goal of establishing stable, personally fulfilling relationships”. The Red Pill folks may have plenty of other additional stuff they pack into their personal toolkit, but where the rubber meets the road, observable objective reality and a desire to find personal fulfillment (either as a single man enjoying the fruits of his sexuality or a man (or woman) seeking to cultivate a satisfactory long-term relationship) is the fundamental basis of the Red Pill.

    That’s how I can be a political Progressive in most things and still hold my own with the conservative side of the Manosphere. It’s not about philosophy or ideology . . . it’s about how to get stuff done to make you happy by ignoring all the ways “they” told you things should be, and focusing instead on how things actually are.

    Just my perspective. But love the more frequent blogging. You’ve inspired me to come back to it more regularly myself. You’ll always be one of the top Red Pill gurus out there, even if you don’t claim the title.

  6. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    Athol Kay:

    “The Nature vs. Nuture debate is summarized here… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_versus_nurture

    Obviously, but unsure what you mean by this. Isn’t the manosphere’s understanding of the “nature” part of dating based overwhelmingly on evolutionary psychology?

  7. 2manypasswords says:

    I sort of agree with @IanIronwood. Yes, the Blue Pill is driven by ideology, much more so than the Red Pill is. But I’ve seen a fair number of Alpha guys blinded by ideology too. For example, the Alpha guy who’s gotten results by throwing his weight around and getting others to go along with his program…but who keeps doing it even though it clearly became counterproductive at some point. Such a guy is driven by the ideology of Alpha = constant clashing with others to get his way, even though his results would indicate there are times when it’s best to STFU. Even so, the Red Pill is still more conducive to basing one’s actions on results. The bottom line is to remove the filter through which you view the world so you can see what’s really going on, as opposed to what you think should be going on.

  8. Redpillwifey says:

    I’ve been thinking the same thing about the red pill metaphor for a while, and I’ve pondered changing my username, but lack of creativity has really stopped me from doing anything.

    Good call on getting away from it. It’s a tired meme that’s been taken over by a group of angry and bitter folks, for the most part.

  9. Yeah, I have seen a few of those “athol has sold out” posts here and there, from those angry bitter folks.

    To me, the TLDR of what you wrote is the paragraph in bold. When someone comes with a problem, let’s try to fix it, not start waving placards about how society ought to be.

  10. TheatreMommy says:

    Huhn. Is it wrong that what I am connecting to here is the (brilliant) reading of the Matrix movies. I haven’t heard that position before, and I can really understand what you’re saying about why people would love the first movie and hate the subsequent ones…

  11. What a trip. Huh. I have an impulse to go brush up on Nietzsche now… Spinoza always resonated more with me back in the day…

  12. Good on you Athol.

    I think the “red pill” stuff is well worth learning about. Game, alpha/beta and the rest are extremely useful tools but I think the risk is in somebody thinking it is a shortcut to solving problems when often it’s not.

    I can think of a fair few posts I’ve seen that go along the lines of, “well, I’ve learnt a little bit about game and am standing up to her shit tests but things still aren’t getting better. Should I just slam the papers down and be done with it? What? Well yes OK I’m still an angry, overweight asshole with control issues but what’s that got to do with anything?”

    I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next on MMSL.

  13. Milf-in-Training says:

    The way I use the Red Pill metaphor is, to use another movie metaphor , “the man behind the curtain”.

    Red Pill = understanding there’s a physical, ev-psych component to relationships that can’t be overlooked. We’re the same type of people we were in the time before muffins, and we can’t ignore that. Saying you’re a “red Pill Person” means you understand that those physical, Nature aspects need to be taken into account.

    Blue Pill – willful ignorance of Nature. “I don’t care how we evolved, Z is just wrong, and I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist.” The Blue Pill Person refuses to open the curtain, and will close it if someone else opens it. They think they will be happier if they only see part of the picture.

  14. Finally, somebody who actually understand the Matrix movies!

    Um, ahem, looking forward to seeing what else comes out of this. It’s been interesting to watch how you and MMSL have developed over the years.

  15. John Quest says:

    Walk your path, thus is the problem with being the dog that sees color? , “Maybe you have to cut off an ear, before people see you as a genius” lol

  16. Good_Vole says:

    Shadow_Nirvana: I believe that you misunderstand what WEIRD means. Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic. WIERD peoples are MORE classically liberal than nonwierd people not LESS. Conservatives are more similar to native poeples around the world that WIERD college students. And the upper class around the world is more similar to the WIERD college students than their lower class neighbors. Non WIERD peoples tend to be MORE traditional with stricter gender roles that the WIERD students, not LESS. I highly recommend the following books on human nature to sort this issue out. Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Righteous Mind, The Better Angels of Our Nature, Homicide, and Mother Nature.

  17. Good_Vole says:

    Athol, the stoic philosophers (Marcus Aurlius, Senica, Epictatus) may be a better role model than Nietzsche. Especially in the realm of positive personal improvement in the face of adversity.

  18. Good_Vole says:

    Shadow_Nirvana: Thanks for posting the article. It is important information and I believe that the supposed preferences discussed in the article likely do not exist. However, you should be precise in what the metareview tested and what Athol has advised. The issue in dispute in the meta review is preference for males with various physical and psychological characteristics. They have argue convincingly against this preference. However menstral cycle does seem to affect human receptivity. That is many women feel and behave more sexually around ovulation. A lot of Athol’s advice is centered on this phenomena and as far as I know (from reading papers and my encounters with my wife) this is not in dispute. This makes sense because that is the broad pattern seen in most animals. What cries out for explanation is why all humans conceal ovulation and why (most/some) mate when they are not ovulating. Anyway evolutionary psychology is a much larger field than Buss, Thornehill, Toby, and Cosmides. I urge you not to through the baby out with the bathwater.

  19. Minimus says:

    I have always thought of the Red Pill agenda as an example of Aristotle’s phronesis, especially if it inheres in the Real–nature, and how people behave, being part of that. (Praxeology is a VERY limited concept, I think. And Red Pill–and Alpha– could indeed become an ideology, if pursued in the wrong way.) I think Athol’s post is important in that he is looking for a new “container” for all of the aspects of the human that he sees, a new metaphysics. Nietzsche is a pretty poor choice, though, for a metaphysics.“Transvaluation of values” is partly the cause of the wreckage that the Manosphere addresses in a roundabout way. Along with materialism/determinism. And all those confessional Nietzscheans in the blogosphere, doing strange eclectic things, won’t provide much for real people looking for happiness. (But it is also true that Athol’s new spiritual “energism” cannot deal with death and suffering, among other things.) The container of Western, Christian civilization is the obvious answer to Athol’s pilgrimage. I don’t know precisely what kind of Christianity he espoused before his “conversion” to Atheism, except that it was biblicism of some sort.

    I do like the term “Red Pill,” though, as a kind of shorthand. Please keep your moniker, Red Pill Wifery! Since “Red Pill” has no essence, terribly advanced arguments about its meaning have little value, I think.”Game” looks the same way to me.

    In my view, the Red Pill phronesis makes a great deal of sense inserted into the controlling paradigm of Catholic Christianity, and, of course, solves the moral problems of a lot of “game.”

  20. I have to say that as a woman, I’ve been confused by the study that says women prefer more alpha men when ovulating. I’ve never felt any difference in my preferences AT ALL.

    So I appreciate the comment that called those studies into question.

    I also don’t get the concept of hypergamy that is spoken of endlessly in the manosphere. There is a certain level of accomplishment I look for in a male partner. Once found, I don’t keep looking for something better. And NO amount of accomplishment trumps the guy’s personality or intelligence.

    The manosphere seems bent on sticking with simple concepts just to reassure the readers. They don’t want to tax their brains too much it seems. There is so much I can’t relate to in how we women are being explained.

  21. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    Didn’t see the response by Good Vole.

    Regarding WEIRD: The problem isn’t the fact that they are more “liberal”. It is the fact that they show similar behavior(heck, even cultures exposed to WEIRD culture gets changed, take a look at Japanese behaviour change in things like underwear usage, taboo porn, Western beauty standards etc from 19th century to this day) Although I sort of skipped of on a tangent there, the point is if EP is looking for an evolutionary understanding of psychology, taking the subjects %99 from WEIRD countries (%95 english speaking) and from mostly college students… well, it doesn’t really seem like good sampling, does it? If the response to this accusation is “but other people do it, too :(” like they did in EPjournal, you lose a lot of credibility as well.

    As a side note, cross sectional studies are awful as well but a lot of people seem to use such studies as evidence for “immutable evolutionary differences”. I can take two points in history from my home country where medical students were near %100 male to more than half female. At which point am I going to say “Hmmm, I bet men/women were more evolved to study medicine”?

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