Dec 12, 2022 • 1HR 17M

Aella - Sex, Psychedelics, & Enlightenment

Sex tips, porn revolutions, elites, consent, & trads

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Host Dwarkesh Patel interviews intellectuals, scientists, and founders about their big ideas. YouTube: Apple Podcasts: Spotify:
Episode details

Sex tips, porn revolutions, psychedelics, and enlightenment

Aella writes at Her posts and tweets provide a unique perspective about the data on sexual kinks and on being an escort & camgirl.

In this episode, Aella talks about:

  • her escorting sex tips,

  • how tech will change pornography,

  • & whether trauma & enlightenment are real


Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast platform. 


Sex Tips - (0:00:21)

Porn-tech Revolutions: Tiktokified Erotica? - (0:02:02)

Trad Christian Life - (0:05:11)

Can you be Naturally Talented at Enlightenment? (0:06:52)

Camgirling, Escort Marketing, & Bulk deals  - (0:09:15)

Sex Work vs Student Loans  - (0:13:25)

Psychedelics and Deconstructive Suffering - (0:15:30)

Aella’s Extreme Reading Addiction -  (0:21:08)

Radically Authentic People are Hot? - (0:27:29)

Some Advice for Making Better Internet Polls - (0:39:32)

Hanging out with Elites - (0:43:59)

Is Trauma Fake? - (0:53:49)

Spawning as a Woman and Being Extremely Weird - (1:07:19)

Boring Podcast Conversations - (1:12:09)


Transcript is autogenerated

Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:00

Okay, today I have the pleasure of speaking with Ayela, who needs no introduction.

Aella 0:00:07

So it’s Ayla. Is it actually? Yeah.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:10

Okay, gotcha. The first question from Twitter from Nick Camerota.

Aella 0:00:14

It’s about banging, right?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:16

It’s right.

Aella 0:00:17

Smashing. As one might do in the dirty.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:21

I don’t see it here, but he was basically asking, there’s meditators who are experts, have all kinds of like special tips. He was talking about how they know how to hold their breath or close their eyes in a

Aella 0:00:31

particular way.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:32

What do escorts know about sex that the mediocre new doesn’t know?

Aella 0:00:38

Well, I don’t know because like escorts don’t necessarily have more sex. They just have sex with different people. Like if you’re in a community relationship, you’re probably like becoming an expert at your partner. So it’s like, I guess like you’re an expert at like very quickly figuring out so like what a new partner likes. So it’s really dependent. It’s like super dependent on like reading the person. But one is like, don’t assume what they like. Because like for a while, it was like all guys like their balls fondled gently, right? You’d think this is a universal malpreference.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:01:11

It’s not. Well, it’s changed or it just never was?

Aella 0:01:14

Well, some people are just like, get the fuck off my balls. And you’re like, okay. But also like, I don’t know, I like learning how to ride dick. I didn’t really know how to ride dick properly before being an escort. And when I first started escort, it was terrible. I was like, like clumping kind of like in a really unattractive fashion. Maybe something about like, like enthusiasm of blowjob is better than technique or something like more important than technique. Like you don’t have to be the best blowjob giver at all. But if you’re just like, you know, really going to town.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:01:44

Yeah, it’s not like dancing as well, where they say you don’t have to be a dancer, just like have fun.

Aella 0:01:48

Yeah, not there. Yeah, a lot of it’s just having fun, right? Like really, like letting loose as much as you can. These are not like really excellent, like, go get them, hit them techniques. Like probably Cosmopolitan has published all those already.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:02:02

But the 10 things that drive your man crazy. Okay, I’m curious. There’s been a lot of innovation in how movies and TV shows are shot and what kinds of plots and tropes they’ve used. I’m wondering over the next few decades, are you expecting what kinds of like innovations in erotic content are you expecting?

Aella 0:02:22

It’d be great if there were more funding for erotic content. Like if we had more money, like that would be excellent. But obviously AI. Like ignoring the funding issues. But AI clearly. Like I know that a lot of the models right now are not allowing not safe for work stuff. Do you want to like a normal pillow?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:02:41

Yeah, let me get her up. Leaning in like Sheryl Sandberg. Sheryl Sandberg?

Aella 0:02:47

Oh, she’s the CEO of Facebook.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:02:50

Yeah, I’ve heard a book about leaning in. Like when you lean in. That’s an escorting technique.

Aella 0:02:54

Well, I mean, it’s just a generic seduction technique. Leaning in? Yeah. Like when I’m on it, like, usually when I’m as an escort, you meet a guy beforehand. And you’re supposed to signal that you’re really interested in him and leaning in.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:03:08

Oh, yeah. Yeah. By the way, do you? This is something I’m curious about. I watched your YouTube video about tips to have more seductive behavior. Are you always doing that or is that just in very specific scenarios when you’re online? But like when you go to a meetup or something?

Aella 0:03:22

I think there’s like degrees of it. Like some of it’s not just seduction. Some of it’s just like normal social behavior. Like I don’t think I’m doing anything right now. I’m checking. I think this is how I would normally be with like friends.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:03:35


Aella 0:03:36

But I think there’s like some, like there’s a spectrum and obviously I turn it all the way up when I’m trying to be very seductive. But sometimes if I’m like enjoying the experience of being attractive, like trying to play into that for any reason, like pure fun, then I’ll do it a little bit.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:03:50

Usually not to that degree, though. OK. Another question I was wondering about is TikTok. Are we going to have porn that’s TikTok-ified where we’ll have like one minute shorts, you just scroll through.

Aella 0:04:02

They’ve tried.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:04:03

They’ve really tried. Why has it not worked? Well, you can’t get on app stores.

Aella 0:04:08

So there’s not like what kind of money like your sort of market is limited, your market

Dwarkesh Patel 0:04:13

cap. You can just have a website, though, right?

Aella 0:04:16

Yeah, you can. But it really reduces the total amount of conversion for like when you’re advertising

Dwarkesh Patel 0:04:22


Aella 0:04:23

And they’ve tried it a couple of times, but they just didn’t have enough people uploading

Dwarkesh Patel 0:04:27


Aella 0:04:28

There are some other competitors like Sunroom right now is doing the thing that they’re trying to get on the app store. But it’s not porn. Like they can be optimized to be sexy, but like really right now, like the markets are not aligned such that like a porn TikTok. I mean, it’s possible that if you did it really, really well, but I don’t know. A lot of porn is shot this way, too.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:04:49

So if you want to take like pre-existing porn, it like never really looks good. I guess it depends on position as well, right? Like there’s some positions where a vertical would work.

Aella 0:04:58

Yeah. It’s like a TikTok for like only for like cowgirl standing. They have it, by the way. I don’t remember if I said that, but there are products that are trying to replicate

Dwarkesh Patel 0:05:09

TikTok for porn.

Aella 0:05:10

They’re just not very good.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:05:11

Yeah, and another thing is you had to learn user behavior, but people are probably doing, you know, doing their porn and incognito. So you can’t, you can’t like learn their preferences that TikTok learns. Okay. People with your genetics, like your psychology, they probably existed like a hundred years ago or 200 years ago. But what would you have been doing if you were born in 1860? Because there was no OnlyFans back then, but would you have become a trad wife or what would happen?

Aella 0:05:35

Yeah, I probably would have been insufferable. Like I was raised Christian and so I got to see what my psychology does in like a very trad religious atmosphere and it took it very seriously. It kind of went just to the opposite extreme. I was like, ah, if I’m in this religion, like let’s actually live the religion. Like we can’t just like half believe in it. Like let’s actually think it through, take it to the logical conclusion and live that. Yeah. And so I was like, I was maybe even a little bit more conservative than the people around me and took it very seriously.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:06:03

Do you think if you grew up in a left wing polycule, you would have become a super trad by the time you grew up?

Aella 0:06:09

I doubt it. I might have become like even like a hardcore polycule, I don’t know. But my guess is like I’m probably actually suited to being a polycule. Like I am more like, even when I was Christian, I was like sexually deviant and like obsessed with sex and like just I just suffered immense guilt over it.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:06:28

Yeah. What are you the Christian men you were growing up with? Did they not jerk off? Like what did they do?

Aella 0:06:32

Well, all of the messaging when I was growing up was for men. It’s like they have like men meetups about not jerking off and shit. Like you’re not supposed to masturbate as a Christian man.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:06:42

But did they actually not?

Aella 0:06:44

A lot of them would. Well, I don’t know. I never like did a survey. My impression is they probably had a lower masturbation rate than most people and felt

Dwarkesh Patel 0:06:52

worse about it when they did it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I’m Christian. Do you think that, so you’ve done these really interesting enlightenment surveys and interviews. Do you think there’s people who are just naturally enlightened because they’re just so stoic and happy all the time, but they just don’t have the spiritual vocabulary to describe their experiences as in these sorts of like, you know, boo-hoo ways? Is it possible that the guy who’s just like super stoic is like actually just enlightened?

Aella 0:07:16

Well, it there’s different like it depends what you mean by enlightened. Like stoic and happy is like one sort of conception of enlightenment, but there’s lots of different

Dwarkesh Patel 0:07:23


Aella 0:07:24

There are probably people who like I interviewed one person who seemed like they didn’t do anything. They just sort of like are that way all the time. It didn’t seem like it was like a thing that occurred to them with any. So yeah, probably. I mean, like, I don’t think that there’s any like special soul like quality about it. I think like you could probably study the science of enlightenment or whatever kind of enlightenment you’re talking about. Like obviously, it’s replicable with brain states. And obviously, if you are enlightened, and we went to brain surgery, we could like undo

Dwarkesh Patel 0:07:48


Aella 0:07:49

So in that case, like it doesn’t seem impossible to me that somebody could just be born with that like naturally very close to already there.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:07:56

Yeah, yeah. Did you meet anybody who you felt was enlightened in the strong sense in the Buddhist sense of like, this person has no thoughts? And no, like you could set him on fire and he would not suffer.

Aella 0:08:06

Is that the I’m terrible at Buddhism?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:08:08

No, but like in that sense of like, this guy’s almost a god.

Aella 0:08:12

I’ve definitely met people who report not having like an internal monologue.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:08:16

Hmm. I don’t believe them. Like they were answering questions. Yeah.

Aella 0:08:20

Like I’ve had experience times where I have no internal monologue before, but like the like responses still come out or something interesting.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:08:28

Like there’s no distance between you and what comes out.

Aella 0:08:31

Well, are you having an internal monologue right now? Yes. Like as you’re talking, like, are there words coming in your head that aren’t what you’re

Dwarkesh Patel 0:08:37

saying? Yeah, I just I’m not self aware enough right now to observe them. But if I was, I’m pretty sure I would, because I’m thinking about what I’m gonna ask you next or how I’m like, they just yeah, you’re saying, yeah, I’m not exactly sure how to

Aella 0:08:48

interpret it. Like there’s a way where my guess is the words just like kind of emerge without there being any sort of like word process that happens beforehand. Which seems like a plausible state to me, seems like not an insane thing that human brains can do. Human brains can do insane shit, right? Like, like your internal felt sense can be so radically different, just just literally evidenced by drugs, like you just take an insane drug, your mental state can change. So we know that it’s possible for the brain to be in a state where this is the case.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:09:15

When you escort, do you charge extra to men who you find less attractive?

Aella 0:09:19

No, not at all. Uh, no, it feels like counter sort of my psychology. Like in my, my psychology around escorting is that it’s like a job, and it doesn’t have to do with my personal desires whatsoever. So if I were like charging, I don’t really enjoy the same way. It’s like, I don’t know.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:09:39

Right, right. It’s like, it’s like completely independent, which is necessary for me, like, I think I

Aella 0:09:46

have to be completely independent in some way of like my actual preferences in order to do it. Like if I were actually checking in with like, what do I want in this moment? I’d probably be like, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be fucking a stranger. So I guess like, I just can’t let that in at all.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:10:00

Yeah, how about both bulk discounting?

Aella 0:10:03

Both discounting?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:10:04

Discounting, like if somebody gets like a, like a lot, four straight sessions or something

Aella 0:10:08

that that seems like more reasonable. That’s like a business choice. I don’t, I never did that.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:10:13

But like, I think that could do that. When I tell her how it on the podcast, we’re talking about how the people who are top in any field often are smarter, because they have to think about how to get top in their field, somebody like a top YouTube creator, they’ve actually done a lot of analysis of how to get to the top of, you know, the leaderboards there. Yeah, are the top X-Squads and cam girls, are they noticeably smarter?

Aella 0:10:35

My guess is yes. Like, like, for example, the OnlyFans, I did very, very well on OnlyFans. I think that was because probably I’m like, smarter than the average. But it was surprising to me, like, especially like camming. Like, I was a cam girl and then for a long time, and this is like really, really competitive. It’s competitive because you can see what other girls are doing at all times. So you know exactly what the techniques are, and the techniques proliferate much faster. And there’s also stuff like branding and seduction and it’s really high intensity, high pressure

Dwarkesh Patel 0:11:03


Aella 0:11:04

Again, because like with camming, the site I was using, MyFreeCams, your ranking is determined by your average earnings per hour of live streaming over the past 60 days. And your rankings affect how many more people come into your room. So every time you’re streaming, it’s like really high pressure, because if you don’t do well for an hour, this is gonna make it harder for you in the future. So it’s really stressful. Anyway, so I went from that to escorting and escorting what other people are doing are not visible, or techniques are not viewable at all. And they and I think as a result of this, like low pressure, like, private slow thing, there was no ecosystem for like escort like tech strategies to really have like a highly competitive atmosphere. So I just brought all of my techniques from camming in regards to marketing, and I think I just blew it out of the water. Interesting. It was like I was shocked at how terrible the cop I was like this is what the landscape is like, like I could beat.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:11:54

How do you figure out what the competition is like?

Aella 0:11:56

You just talk to people? You can look at other escort websites.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:11:58

Oh, yeah, sure.

Aella 0:11:59

And you don’t exactly know how much they’re earning. I did a survey where I asked about earnings.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:12:05

But it’s hard to know. What has building an escort profile? What does that talk to you about building a dating profile? Like, what advice would you give to somebody on building a Tinder or Bumble profile based

Aella 0:12:15

on I mean, the incentives are different. If you’re building an escort profile, the thing that you want is money. Yeah, like that’s what you’re optimizing for on an escort or sorry, dating profile, you’re optimizing for compatibility. So like with escorting, like you’re trying to like, make find the kind of messaging that is appealing to the maximum number of people, which maybe is what men do when they’re on a dating profile. But for me, I’m trying to alienate the correct people as as a dater. Like I don’t want the people coming to me who aren’t going to enjoy me actually. Like if I like did the same kind of escort advertising as I did dating, like I would just get a billion men and then like not want them because like, no, it’s not I’m not like presenting my my real self like the kinds of things that are actually definitive about like what’s going to make us a good match or not. So it’s really all about like, sorry, dating profiles or advertising is all about like

Dwarkesh Patel 0:13:04

D selection.

Aella 0:13:05

Like how are we not going to get along here that like the deal breakers, you put them up front like. So in my dating profiles, I’m always like I’m poly, sex worker, like weird, right?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:13:15

That sort of thing. Yeah, narrow casting versus broadcasting. At what age do you feel like you could have consented to sex work? Is like 18 too young, too high?

Aella 0:13:25

Me personally, could have consented probably 15. I don’t know. Like I think like if I had if I were in like the right kind of culture and at 15, like this were available to me and I took it, I think in hindsight, I’ve been like, yeah,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:13:38

that seems like a.

Aella 0:13:40

Right decision that I made that I’m willing to take responsibility for.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:13:43

Yeah, personally, how about the difference between I guess escorting a cam girl is that when you’re putting video out there, it stays there forever, escorting it just like you regret it. I guess it’s not there forever. I mean, do you see a difference there or in terms of like, would you is there a different age that makes sense for both or? Oh, yeah.

Aella 0:14:02

I mean, it’s like a little confusing. We don’t really have consistent standards about like how many permanent decisions young

Dwarkesh Patel 0:14:08

people can make.

Aella 0:14:09

Like we groom young teens into paying a lot of money for college pretty early, which I consider to be like a worse decision than going into sex work. Like in regards to the permanent impact it has on your life.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:14:25

So I don’t know.

Aella 0:14:26

Yeah, but yeah, I mean, in regards to like the thing is, it depends heavily on culture. Like we’re in a culture where like we have a lot of incentive against doing your sex work. I’m uniquely suited to it, but a lot of women aren’t. And a lot of women would like suffer actual emotional damage if they did it. And like, it’s important to know that. And so if we had like a culture that like adequately informed people, if you’re like, ah, like, you kind of know a little bit earlier on whether or not this is going to like destroy

Dwarkesh Patel 0:14:51

your soul or not.

Aella 0:14:54

So it depends on like how much knowledge we have access to. If we had really good access to it, then I’d be like, yeah, you could probably consent

Dwarkesh Patel 0:14:59

younger. You should actually make that a goal or you might have already had. Would you rather be $200,000 in debt at 22 or have a porn video of you out there?

Aella 0:15:07

I have done this. I mean, a version of this. Yes. And it was I think most people would rather have a porn video.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:15:11


Aella 0:15:12

Yeah. But again, a lot of my response, respondents are male, which might be skimming it.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:15:16

Yeah, yeah. Fair enough. Fair enough. So I’ve read this theory that if you’re a medieval peasant and you encounter a beautiful church symphony for the first time, before you would be like a psychedelic experience. Do you find that plausible given your experience with psychedelics?

Aella 0:15:30

Have you just said? Yeah.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:15:32


Aella 0:15:33

Maybe. Yeah. Like, I guess there’s like a test where like, if you encountered a church service as a medieval peasant for the hundredth time, it would be like, so beautiful, but less cool. And this also seems to hold true with psychedelics, at least for me.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:15:44


Aella 0:15:45

I don’t. I mean, what the thing is, you’re just finding like a level of beauty that you had not found before that is really incredible.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:15:51

Yeah, which seems to be true. So yes. I guess then the question is, is it just that is the experience of listening to your first symphony the same as me putting on Spotify, except you just haven’t heard it before? So surprising, or is the actual experience like getting on a psychedelic high? You know what I mean?

Aella 0:16:09

There’s nothing like getting on a psychedelic high. Nothing. I mean, like, there’s like the sense of beauty and awe is great. And I think there’s that in psychedelics. But there’s like a kind of like novelty in psychedelics that are just utterly on. Like I can conceive of like a beautiful thing. But like, even right now, I cannot easily conceive of being on psychedelics, despite having taken them a huge amount of time.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:16:32

Right. If I told you, you can press a button, and you will experience one random emotion or sensation in the whole repertoire of everything a human can experience, including on drugs, you press that button? Yes.

Aella 0:16:45

You do?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:16:46

Okay. Yeah, would you?

Aella 0:16:48

There’s a lot of like, a lot of suffering states.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:16:49


Aella 0:16:50

But I guess I’m like, I optimize really hard for interesting as opposed to pleasant.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:16:54

Yeah. I guess that is what taking psychedelics is like. But I don’t know, it’s a daunting prospect. It could get pretty bad.

Aella 0:17:03

Are you trying to figure out if you should take them more?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:17:05

No, this is not even about psychedelics. It’s just, are you maximizing the value of your experiences? Or I guess the volatility of your experiences?

Aella 0:17:15

I just like trying to feel everything that there is.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:17:17

Do you feel like you’ve done that?

Aella 0:17:21

Probably not. But there’s a lot to feel.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:17:25

Is it important that you remember what it was like? Because we were just talking about how you’ll forget what many of the sensations were like.

Aella 0:17:31

Maybe? I mean, depends on what it’s for. It’s nice to remember, but it’s also kind of nice to forget too. There’s a way where I just don’t have easy access to a lot of quite intense suffering memories, which is nice right now because I can talk to you. So I don’t know.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:17:47

When you think back to the days when you were taking a lot of psychedelics, how much do you feel like you actually uncovered the truths about your mind and the universe? And then how much are you just like, I was just tripping back then. I don’t know how much of the stuff was accurate. It was good.

Aella 0:18:02

Well, I think that for me, the vast majority of psychedelic experience was like, in my head I have a division. Like for me, it was deconstruction as opposed to construction. I think like some people, not due to any fault of their own, I think it’s like a brain chemistry

Dwarkesh Patel 0:18:16


Aella 0:18:17

Like the experience they have in psychedelics is constructing beliefs. And usually you have this, when you do this, you kind of look back on the trip and you’re like, well, I was believing some crazy shit there for a while. That was kind of weird. But I never really had that because I never really believed a thing. It was more like observing my existing beliefs and then sort of taking them as object. Sort of no longer finding them to be like an absolute thing about reality, but rather like sort of a construction that I was already doing. And that I hold to all of it. I think everything that I experienced tripping was valuable in that way and led me to where I am now.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:18:51

What were the downsides? How is your personality change? Is there a downside you can identify in the deconstruction? It was just like so overwhelmingly worth it. I mean, the experience itself was often quite painful. And I was pretty non-functional during the time I was taking a lot and for like about a year afterwards.

Aella 0:18:58

So that was a downside. I would happily pay that downside several times over. But it wasn’t like the most rewarding experience. I think it was like the most rewarding experience. I mean, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like, I was like,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:19:18

you had that tweet recently about how you experienced executive dysfunction sometimes. And then there’s a story about you working at 50 five hours a week at the factory when you were 19, right?

Aella 0:19:29


Dwarkesh Patel 0:19:30

So is do you think that might be because this I can elitist or executive disruption?

Aella 0:19:34

when I worked at the factory.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:19:35

But you were just working 55 hours a week anyways?

Aella 0:19:37

Yeah, well, I was horrible. I remember being at that factory and being really confused about the way other people were there. I was like, this is clearly not what I wanna do with my life. This is actively terrible. But other people were like, oh, I’ve been here 10 years and this is just fine.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:19:56

And I was not doing well.

Aella 0:19:57

I think I’m pretty, Jess would be like, we’re pretty smart. But I was scoring really low in my accuracy and speed at the factory. And I think this is an example of my executive dysfunction issues. And even when I wasn’t working at the factory, it was not very productive at all.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:20:12

What do you think is the difference between psychology between you and those people? Was it just that they enjoyed it more or they just were able to suppress the boredom? Or what do you think happened?

Aella 0:20:22

Yeah, I’m not sure. Part of it might be just they, maybe if I had just done it for some more years, I would have adjusted. But also, I don’t know, I had been homeschooled and I think maybe school prepares you, like normal school prepares you better for a job like that. But you just have to sit and do tasks you don’t want to for the entire day.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:20:41

So, I don’t know.

Aella 0:20:44

I do think also just my brain’s different. I seem to be extremely novelty-oriented compared to most people. And my guess is that just made me really not, and just attention, my attention is terrible.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:20:56

Speaking of which, if you were homeschooling your kids, or I guess if you were raising kids, what does their schooling look like? What kinds of decisions do they get to make when? Do you have some sense of how would you raise a child?

Aella 0:21:08

I’m not sure, I think maybe unschooling.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:21:10


Aella 0:21:11

I’m leaning more and more in that direction. My school wasn’t great. The quality of it wasn’t excellent. It also, I was forced to learn things I didn’t want to, but at least it wasn’t a huge part of my life. And the things that, now when I look back on my childhood, the things that feel the most valuable for me to have learned was almost entirely stuff that I did myself. On my off time, the learning that I performed by my own incentive, that’s what stuck with me. That’s what feels like it lasted. And so I’m like, shit, if that’s the case, I should just let my kids learn what the fuck they want, and just enable them, right? Put interesting things around them, and give them a project, if you wanna do this project, you’re gonna have to learn these skills in order to do it.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:21:51

Well, what are some examples?

Aella 0:21:53

Of projects?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:21:54

Things you taught yourself when you were a kid

Aella 0:21:55

that you thought were invaluable.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:21:56

Well, I read a huge amount,

Aella 0:21:58

which I think led to me being a good writer today. I just read books about things, I don’t know. I learned juggling, a lot of physical comedy stuff. I did some movies, some short movies. You know, something like that.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:22:15

Could you juggle right now? I’m not asking you to.

Aella 0:22:17

I could, not super well, but a lot of random little skills, which have turned out to be much more relevant

Dwarkesh Patel 0:22:23

to my life than before. Yeah, yeah, interesting.

Aella 0:22:26

But also, I remember I read psychology books. Just stuff that, in hindsight, psychology books about personality.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:22:33

I really liked that. I mean, it sounds like you probably didn’t have a TV in your Christian fundamentalist house. Oh, we did.

Aella 0:22:39

We just had TV Guardian installed on it.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:22:41

Gotcha. So, could you just have watched TV the entire day if you wanted to, or was that not an option? I’m wondering if the voracious reader was because of all the other options were cut off, or you could have just explored?

Aella 0:22:53

Oh, no, I was obsessed with the reading, yeah. No, not because other options were cut off.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:22:57

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Aella 0:22:58

I made it a vice to read in the shower, because I didn’t like showering without reading.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:23:03

It just took too long without reading.

Aella 0:23:06

I would read by moonlight after my parents to turn off the lights. When we were driving in the car, you’d hold up the book to read by the headlights of the person behind you.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:23:13

Yeah, yeah, sounds like an addiction. Yeah.

Aella 0:23:16

I read about, for a while, I was reading about a novel a day.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:23:20

Hmm, was it science fiction or fantasy?

Aella 0:23:22

Anything I could get my hands on.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:23:23

Yeah, yeah, yeah. How did you get your hands on it? Was there a library nearby?

Aella 0:23:28

No, well, I would just reread what I had a lot.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:23:30


Aella 0:23:31

And just, I would get books as gifts for Christmas,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:23:36

because clearly that was my priority. Right, right, yeah. Do you think that the ratio of submissives and dominance has changed over time? If you went back 50 years, do you think there’d be more dominance than submissives, or even more so, or?

Aella 0:23:50

Well, my one hypothesis is tied to testosterone, and if testosterone levels have actually been decreasing over time, then this would cause people to get more submissive.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:23:59


Aella 0:24:00

So maybe.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:24:02

Berne Hovart had this interesting theory, where he was pointing out, it’s possible that the decline in testosterone we’ve seen, that’s not just the last 50 years, it’s been going on for hundreds or thousands of years. So if you went back to the ancient Greeks, they just steroided up men.

Aella 0:24:16

Like masks. Yeah. That’s such a funny idea. But if that were true, would we be seeing a decline in testosterone over the last, I don’t know how many decades,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:24:28

enough to notice? I don’t know how you would notice that. You would maybe notice that there’s fewer wars, which it is the case, there’s fewer wars. I mean.

Aella 0:24:38

How do we know that testosterone has been decreasing?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:24:40

Is it just? Oh yeah, we measure the blood concentration, right?

Aella 0:24:42

Okay, okay, yeah.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:24:44

I’m assuming. That’s what I thought.

Aella 0:24:45

So it’s gotta be over the last few decades, right?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:24:47

Yeah, yeah, but we don’t know. We don’t have any data before that.

Aella 0:24:50

Yeah, but we know the rate of change,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:24:52

so we could like. Yeah. Well yeah, I mean it wasn’t infinite in history,

Aella 0:24:57

so at some point it’s like.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:24:58

I know.

Aella 0:24:59

Kind of like, kind of peaked, right?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:25:01


Aella 0:25:02

Oh. Yeah, I don’t know. I really don’t. I should have the data now to look, because I did a survey for people on hormone replacement therapy. To see if people who’ve started testosterone report. Yeah. And I did find that. But it is a little confusing, because you don’t know how much of it is like, narrative or culturally induced. Like, if you’re expected to become more masculine when you take testosterone. Like, is this like, psychologically making you believe that you are more interested in being dominant? It’s unclear. So I incorporated a question into my survey recently. Like, just the last minute, honestly. Asking just like, are you on HRT? If so, how long?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:25:37


Aella 0:25:38

So I should be able to just see if that correlates

Dwarkesh Patel 0:25:40

with just interest in dominance. Yeah. It would also be interesting to see, another question might be, what age are you? And when you were 20, were you more dominant than submissive?

Aella 0:25:53

And then- Oh, to see if it changes over time?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:25:54

Or you would just have, if a 60 year old was really dominant when he was 20, then you’d know that, I don’t know, 60 year old. People who were born in 1980 or something. Yeah.

Aella 0:26:03

Oh, you mean like, if it’s correlated with age?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:26:05

Yeah. Or just like, if people born earlier were more dominant.

Aella 0:26:08

I found like, a surprisingly lack of correlations with age. Interesting. I mean, yeah, I could put my laptop on my lap

Dwarkesh Patel 0:26:14

and then look at the correlations live here, but. Do you think weird fetishes, like the weirdest stuff, is that a modern thing? Or if you went back 500 years, people would have been into that kind of shit? Yeah, I think so.

Aella 0:26:25

It’s just like, the really weird stuff is very rare. Like we’re talking like 1%, 0.1%. Like, I mean, it’s correlated with rarity. Like the weirder it is, the more rare it is.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:26:34

Kind of necessarily, because if people had it,

Aella 0:26:36

then everybody would be like, oh, this is normal. But yeah, my guess is that it’s like,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:26:39

has something to do with like a random

Aella 0:26:42

early childhood neonatal thing. And like, I haven’t been able to find any correlates with childhood stuff, which makes me think it’s more innate. And if it’s more innate, then it’s more likely to have existed for a very long time.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:26:53

Yeah, yeah. And people who just had weirder and more different experiences in the past. Like if you’re just in some sort of cult without any sort of internet or any other sort of experience with the outside world. I don’t know, the volatility of your kinks might’ve just been more, I don’t know. Is that possible?

Aella 0:27:11

Well, the data seems to suggest it’s not really based on experience.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:27:14


Aella 0:27:15

Mostly, I mean, there’s like some small exceptions. Interesting. But, so no, also I’m like, I’m not sure that experience was more varied in the past. Like maybe, like the internet is kind of homogenizing, but.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:27:29

So, since the FTX saga happened, people have discovered Caroline Ellison’s blog. I don’t know if you’ve seen this on Twitter. And now she’s become, you know, every nerd’s crush because of her online writing.

Aella 0:27:40

Oh, really? I mostly just see people dunking on her.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:27:43

Oh yeah, well, there’s both, there’s both. Do people, this probably wasn’t in your kinks survey, but in just general, what is your suspicion about, do people find verbal ability and, you know, that kind of ability very attractive based on online writing or, is that a good signal you can send?

Aella 0:28:02

I mean, yes, like intelligence and competence is pretty attractive across the board.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:28:07

So if you’re signaling that you’re smart. You can signal that by just, I don’t know, having a college degree from an impressive university, right, but.

Aella 0:28:15

I mean, it’s like kind of better signal.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:28:17

Yeah, yeah.

Aella 0:28:18

Like people who have college degrees from impressive universities, I don’t think are really that smart.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:28:23


Aella 0:28:24

And like probably like actually demonstrating like direct smartness is a lot more convincing.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:28:30

Yeah, yeah.

Aella 0:28:31

So it makes sense.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:28:32

I think her writing is funny and good. You had this really interesting post. I forgot the title of it, but it was a recent one about how the guys who are being authentic are more attractive.

Aella 0:28:44

Yeah. The thing that like I noticed while I was doing this, that I was attracted to,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:28:49

was like somebody like,

Aella 0:28:50

like sort of being independent of my perspective. Like a lot of time in, when I’m like talking to a guy who I can tell

Dwarkesh Patel 0:28:56

is attracted to me and he’s like, I don’t know.

Aella 0:28:59

Like there’s a way where he’s like trying to orient himself to be what I want. Like very subconsciously, I think, or like subtly in body language, like mirroring, for example, like if I like sit one way and then he sits that way, I’m like, okay, this is an example of like trying to orient yourself into like the kind of person that is going to like be, make me attracted to you. Yeah. I was just like a reasonable strategy. You know, I’m not begrudging anybody this, but I think like women in general are kind of, like it’s sort of like an arms race between the genders. And I think women are really attuned to this. Like women are like really good at like sussing out how much authenticity is going on. And so in this experience, when the guy was like talking to me, like some part I noticed that I was like meditating on my experience and connection with this person or these people, I noticed that some part of my brain was like, just like checking like really hard. Like, do I think this person is like masking anything at all right now?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:29:54

Or is he like unashamed about what he is? Sort of thing. I guess I still understand if somebody is attracted to you, they’re going to maybe mirror your body language. What is the way they do that in which they’re masking? And what is the way they’re doing that in which they’re being honest about their intentions? Is it, how does their body language change?

Aella 0:30:17

Like usually what you are is like quiet and flattering to somebody else. Like when I was like doing this workshop, like people were saying things to me that would typically be considered faux pas. And make people not attracted to you. Like somebody’s expressing that they wanted to hurt me,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:30:33

for example.

Aella 0:30:38

But like I would prefer somebody do that or something.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:30:42

Say that they want to or? Yeah. Not to it.

Aella 0:30:45

Well, not actually hurt me. I prefer not to be hurt most of the time. But there’s something like, like there’s a way when somebody is like attracted to me and like doing a modified thing. It feels like, one, I don’t get to actually know what’s going on with them. Like I don’t get to see them. I’m seeing like a machine designed to make me feel a certain way. And this is like scary because I don’t know what’s going on. And I don’t know who you are. Like I don’t know what’s going to happen once you finally have like come and no longer want me anymore. And like somebody who, and it also like is like, my cynic side interprets it as like a dominance thing. Like if you actually don’t need me, if your self-worth is not dependent on me whatsoever, if this is like truly an equal game, then you aren’t going to need to modify yourself at all. You can just like be who you are, alienate me, like be at risk of alienating me and then fucking alienate me and you’re going to be 100% fine. And like, that’s hot. That’s hot because like when a guy can signal he doesn’t need me, this means that he’s like a higher rank than me,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:31:51

like equal or higher. Yeah. No, okay, so that doesn’t sound like authenticity then but it sounds just like how badly do you want me? You know what I mean? Like how, yeah, how eager are you?

Aella 0:32:03

Well, it’s like, it’s kind of like a loop or something. Like it’s hot to not want somebody, but it’s hot because you actually have to not want them. Like it’s hot to not have somebody like be trying to get something from you

Dwarkesh Patel 0:32:17

for their purposes.

Aella 0:32:19

Like just don’t conceal.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:32:20


Aella 0:32:21

Like, and even if the thing you’re not concealing is like a desperate burning desire, if you’re like, man, I just like really would want to bang you and I’m like afraid of what you think of me. And, but I’m like, I want you so bad. Like that’s hotter than trying to hide the fact that you’re doing it.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:32:35


Aella 0:32:36

Yeah. I would like, I would consider banging a guy who’s just like laid it all out because like by laying it all out, you’re like offering up yourself to be rejected. This means that you’re like, you’re going to be okay even if I reject you.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:32:48

And like, that’s the, so nice. I wonder how universal that is. Like you go to the average girl and you’re just like, I really want to just fuck your face or something. What would happen?

Aella 0:32:58

I mean, it would probably be polarizing. Yeah. The thing is like by being honest, like you might actually make yourself be rejected. Like the point is not like if you’re doing it to be accepted, like that’s defeating the purpose. Like you just like offer yourself up and they accept you or they reject you. It’s like the stupid fucking annoying Buddhist concept where like by not trying you get the thing, but you have to like actually not try. You have to actually be in touch with the negative outcome and be like, this is real. And which just happened. Like there, like I probably wouldn’t fuck a lot of the guys that I talked to despite non-concealing, but like I still, when they were like open and honest, it still like put them into a frame where they could have been sexual. Whereas like before I was like, you’re not even in my landscape of like a potential partner. But like by being honest, I was like, now I’m actually doing the evaluation, like actively doing it and considering you in a sexual way, which was like a big leap.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:33:51

Yeah, yeah. The Buddhist guy to pick up artistry.

Aella 0:33:54

I’m like, that’s a great, that’d be a great book.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:33:57

What is charisma? When you notice somebody is being charismatic, like what is happening? Is that body language? Is that internal? And I guess more fundamentally, what is it that you’re signaling about yourself when you’re being charismatic?

Aella 0:34:11

I mean, like charismatic, charisma can probably refer to a lot of things, but like the concept that I’m mapping it onto is something like when they make me think that they like me in a way that feels like not needy. And you can break it down into like body language signaling or like social moves. But I think like the core of it is like, like you know when you enter a party and like there’s somebody who like is like fun to be around and they really like you, or it seems like they’re like welcoming or like, ah, hey, you know, they put you on the back, they make a joke and then they like,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:34:43

you know, flitter off and you’re like, ah, that’s that person. Yeah. In movies, TV shows, games, what is the most inaccurate, what do they get most wrong about sex and relationships? What is the trope that’s most wrong about this?

Aella 0:34:58

Well, I mean, okay, I’m, I have a personal pedestal, which might be like slightly besides your question, but like the fucking monogamy thing. Like I get, I’m down if people want to do monogamy, but it’s always, it’s like 100% monogamy. And cheating is like always like the worst possible thing ever and that bothers me. I just wish there was a little bit of occasionally, once in a while, there’s like, you know, we call it monoplot. My, I have a friend who yelled like monoplot every time there’s like a plot, lining in a story that is, could be resolved by being just like

Dwarkesh Patel 0:35:32

slightly less monogamous.

Aella 0:35:34

And I’m like, every plot’s a monoplot, like you don’t even have to be full poly, you just have to like have like a slight amount of flexibility, like, oh, well, then just bring me over for a threesome. Like, but that’s not even on the table. I’m like, not, well, not only is it not on the table, but like, it feels like it doesn’t represent the general population either. Like around 5% of people are polyamorous and probably like 15 to 30% are like, would be like open to some kind of exploration, like a little bit of looseness, which where is that in media? Nowhere, drives me crazy.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:36:01

But what you’re saying is you take Ross’s side and they were on a break. Have you seen Friends?

Aella 0:36:06


Dwarkesh Patel 0:36:07

Okay, nevermind. It’s a joke. The plot basically of the show, Money Seasons, was that one of the main characters thought he was on a break with his girlfriend and cheated on her or not. He had sex with somebody else. And that was just basically the plot for like three seasons.

Aella 0:36:22

Oh man. So you’ve engaged in activities,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:36:26

which are most likely to change a person, you know, psychedelics, you know, stuff relating to sex. How much do you think people can change? Because you’re on like the spectrum of the things that are most likely to change you. You think people can fundamentally change?

Aella 0:36:43

No, I mean, like, it’s like a weird question, but like, no. Like if I had to give a simplistic answer, like I think I’m very much the person that I was when I was a child or a teenager. I think it’s like innate stuff is like really strong. Like I have a friend who was adopted, but happened to know both of his adoptive and his biological father, fathers. And so I asked like, what, like, who are you more like? Like which one impacted you more? And he says that he just has the temperament of his biological father, but like all of like the weird quirks and hangups of his adopted one. And I think like when it comes like temperament or like your base brain functioning in general, like this is like much more persistent and less open to change than most people think. Like, I think I’m basically the same as I was pre psychedelics,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:37:29

except with like a lot of maturity over time

Aella 0:37:33

being added on.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:37:35

So your mission to experience every single experience out there, is that, that’s not geared towards changing your personality anyway. It just.

Aella 0:37:43

No, yeah.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:37:44

Yeah, yeah. But you’re not, you say you can’t remember many of these. So what is motivating it? Like it’s not to remember it, it’s not to change yourself. What is the-

Aella 0:37:53

Curiosity? I’m just very curious.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:37:56

I don’t know what it’s like. Yeah. But it’s weird, right? Because when you’re curious about something, you hope to understand it and then internalize it. Like if I’m curious about an idea, it would be weird if I like read the book and I forgot about it. It wouldn’t feel satisfying to my curiosity.

Aella 0:38:11

Yeah, well, there’s some, like I think a lot of the way people operate is like sometimes you read a book and you might forget the book, but the book like updates your priors. Like the book like describes some way that the world like history worked in the war. And then you sort of like, kind of update your predictions about like the kinds of things that caused war and the kinds of reactions people have. And you forget the book, but you hold the priors. I think that’s still really valuable. And I think like a lot of that has happened to me. Like I may have forgotten the experience themselves specifically, but it updated my model of the world. And also like my model of how I react and what I’m capable of. Like I went through like a lot of, you know, intense pain and suffering with psychedelics. And I maybe have forgotten that, but like there’s some like deep sense of safety I have now around experiencing pain and grief that like I just carry with me all the time. So like it like sort of molded. And I know that I said that people don’t really change, but I mean, that was like a little bit offhanded. Like there’s obviously ways people grow. Like obviously people, you’re very different from yourself, you know, seven years ago or whatever.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:39:08

Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. I hope that’s the case that you’re updating your priors. Cause that would mean that all the books I don’t remember, should they have like in some sense been useful to me, but I suspect that that might just be co-op on my end and it’s like gone forever.

Aella 0:39:23

I doubt it. I mean, did you have like any sort of like, ah, that sentence when you were reading the books?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:39:28


Aella 0:39:30

That’s probably still there.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:39:32

Hopefully, hopefully. You’ve done a bunch of internet polls, many of them in statistically significant. What advice do you have for political pollsters based on?

Aella 0:39:42

I don’t really follow political pollsters. I don’t know. I mean, advice for polls in general

Dwarkesh Patel 0:39:48

is just have better wording.

Aella 0:39:49

Like I’m really surprised. I was, I mean, again, I’m taking a side note, but like I went, I want to include some big five questions

Dwarkesh Patel 0:39:56

in my really big survey.

Aella 0:39:58

And I understand that the way that they select

Dwarkesh Patel 0:40:00

big five questions is just,

Aella 0:40:02

as far as I know, like factor analysis, you just pick the most predictive questions. So it’s not like people were like, ah, this is the question, but still like the wording of the questions was terrible. Like it’s so much easier to make clearer questions. And I did use the big five questions. I forget exactly what they were, but I’m just like, is this what’s going on with surveys in general? Like you don’t want to, you want to be careful when you have a question to have it as worded so that people take them as homogenous a meaning from it as possible. But most of the other polls I see in other surveys and other research, it’s like people just sort of thought of a good question and kind of slapped it down and never really deeply dug into like studied how people respond to this question, which I think is probably my best comparative advantage is that I’ve had like a really massive amount of experience over many years and thousands of polls to see exactly how your wording can be misinterpreted in every possible way. And so right now I think probably my best skill is like knowing how to write something to be as like very precise as possible.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:41:02

Yeah. How do you come up with these polls by the way? You just have an interesting question that comes up in a discussion or?

Aella 0:41:07

Often it’s with discussions with friends. Like we’ll be talking about something and somebody brings up like a concept or a what if. And I just have like a module in my brain now that translates everything to potential Twitter polls. So like whenever something like generates a concept,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:41:20

I’ll go put that in a poll. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hey guys, I hope you’re enjoying the conversation so far. If you are, I would really, really appreciate it if you could share the episode with other people who you think might like it. This is still a pretty small podcast. So it’s basically impossible for me to exaggerate how much it helps out when one of you shares the podcast. You know, put the episode in the group chat you have with your friends, post it on Twitter, send it to somebody who you think might like it. All of those things helps out a ton. Anyways, back to the conversation. I found it surprising you’ve been tweeting about your saga of learning and applying different statistical tools in Python. And I found it surprising, don’t you have like a thousand nerdy reply guys who would be happy to help you out? How is this not a soft problem?

Aella 0:42:16

People are not good at helping you learn Python.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:42:18

At least not good at helping you.

Aella 0:42:20

At least not good at helping me learn Python. There are some people who are really good, but sometimes when I’m trying to learn Python, it’s like at 3 a.m. and they’re all sleeping. So I’m not saying that like everybody, I have some people who are like really excellent

Dwarkesh Patel 0:42:30

at understanding and responding to me.

Aella 0:42:31

But when I’m tweeting, usually it’s like, I don’t wanna bother them or they’re on break or something. And I have a chat where people help me, but often it’s very frustrating. Because I, they just like, they’re trying to explain, what I want, the way that I like to learn is, you just give me the code, give me the code that I know works. I do it, I test it, I see it, whether it works. And after that, then I go through

Dwarkesh Patel 0:42:51

and I try to understand the code.

Aella 0:42:52

But what people wanna do is they wanna explain to me

Dwarkesh Patel 0:42:54

how it works before they do it.

Aella 0:42:55

Or, and it’s not really their fault, but it’s like there’s the unfortunate thing where if somebody wants to help you do a problem, usually they have to go do a little bit of research themselves because programming is such a wide, vast landscape. Like people just don’t offhandedly know the answer to your question. And so it requires a bit of work on their part. And it requires them being like, oh, maybe it’s this. And then they post a bit of code. And, but you don’t know, I try it and like it doesn’t work. And they’re like, ah, well, I’ll try this other thing. And then it becomes like a collaborative problem solving process, which is like more annoying to me. I mean, it’s necessary. I’m not saying it’s their fault at all. It’s like my fault for being annoyed. But I just want like, give me the answer. And then we can go through the whole like questions about it.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:43:32

Have you tried using CoPilot by the way? I haven’t.

Aella 0:43:34

You got it.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:43:35


Aella 0:43:36

It’s gonna solve all your problems.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:43:37

That’s what people said. Yeah. It’s like the ultimate. Okay. Autocompletor. It’s like basically what you’re asking for.

Aella 0:43:42

I was like trying to like look into it recently,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:43:44

but this is like the push that I need to. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I had heard about it too. And then my friend is just like, I’m gonna watch you install CoPilot right now. Don’t say you’re gonna install it. And yeah, it’s been very valuable.

Aella 0:43:57

That’s good. That’s a useful anecdote.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:43:59

Yeah, yeah. I found your post about hanging out with elites really interesting.

Aella 0:44:05

Hanging out with elites, yeah. Do you, and I was wondering,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:44:08

is it possible that all the elites feel the same way about being there that you did? They’re all like, this is kind of bizarre and boring. And I guess I’ll just try to fit in. You know, is that possible? Or do you think they were actually different?

Aella 0:44:22

I guess it’s probably a little of both. Like I wouldn’t be surprised if everybody else felt it more than I thought. But also I would be surprised

Dwarkesh Patel 0:44:28

if everybody else felt it as much as me.

Aella 0:44:30

Because like when I do have like, it seems like I do have a like actually very different background than most of the people. And most of the people I asked about their backgrounds and they usually come from like much wealthier families

Dwarkesh Patel 0:44:41

than I did.

Aella 0:44:42

Like went to school. Usually that’s a big thing.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:44:43

They went to college. That’s a huge, big, to me,

Aella 0:44:47

like if you’re in my group or not in my group,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:44:48

is did you go to college? Yeah. And I feel like much more at ease with people who didn’t. But when you’re talking about these boring conversations, I know you were calling them. Do you think that they also thought it was boring, but that they were supposed to have those conversations? Or do you think they were actually enjoying it?

Aella 0:45:01

I don’t know. Like recently I was at a party and I was like, okay, I’m not, I’m just staying at this party, but like, okay, let’s take matters into our own hands. I’m just gonna run up to groups of people

Dwarkesh Patel 0:45:11

and ask them like the weirdest question I can think of.

Aella 0:45:14

And then, and in my mind, I was like, okay, if I’m standing up there, standing at a party and somebody runs up to me with a weird question, I’d be like, fuck yes, let’s go. Like, okay, I would like respond with a weirder question. I’d be like, let’s dig into this. You know, I would be so fucking thrilled. And so I was at this party, what I would consider to be like in the crowds of elite. It was like a little bit of a, it was like a party, less like a cocktail thing where people like be smart at each other and more like a get drunk and dance thing. But it was still like a much higher end kind of, so tickets were like really expensive. So I went around, I ran, I asked a whole bunch of people weird questions and just, like people obviously were like down to participate in like somebody trying to initiate conversation with them. But like the resulting conversations were not interesting at all.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:45:57

I was shocked with like how few conversations

Aella 0:46:01

were interesting. It was just people,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:46:02

it was just like, there was nothing there.

Aella 0:46:05

And I’m like, are you not all desperate to like cling on to something more fascinating than what’s currently happening? It seemed like they weren’t. I just got that impression.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:46:12

But do you think they were enjoying what they were doing?

Aella 0:46:15

That you mean just the normal conversation? Yeah. I think so. If they weren’t, they would be searching for something else, right?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:46:21

That’s not obvious to me. Like people can sometimes just be super complacent and they’re just like a status quo bias. Or they’re just like, I don’t wanna do anything too shocking.

Aella 0:46:28

Yeah, but if I’m handing them shocking on a platter, I run up to them. They didn’t even have to do anything. I just like walk into the, I interrupt their conversation. I’m like, here’s something.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:46:36

What is an example?

Aella 0:46:38

Like, like, like, you know, like what’s the most controversial opinion you have?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:46:43

You just walk in like Peter Thiel.

Aella 0:46:44

Is that what he does?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:46:46

Oh, well, he has this, there’s a famous Peter Thiel question about what is something you believe that nobody else agrees with you on? Or very people agree with you on.

Aella 0:46:53

Yeah, okay. I didn’t know that, but yeah. My version is like, what’s the most controversial? And then usually I say either like in the circle people discussing

Dwarkesh Patel 0:47:01

or like people at this party.

Aella 0:47:02

And it’s shocking how many people are like, I don’t have a controversial opinion on. How do you, like out of all culture, like you think that this culture is the one that’s 100% right and you don’t agree with all of it? Like out of all of history, you think in like 500 years, we’re gonna look back and be like, ah, yes, 2022, that was the year.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:47:19

So in their defense, I think what could be going on is you just have a bunch of beliefs and you just haven’t categorized them, indexed them in terms of controversial or not controversial. And so on the spot, it just like you gotta search through every single belief you have. Like, is that controversial? Is that controversial?

Aella 0:47:37

Yeah, but you can make allowances for it. Like sometimes people are like, ooh, I don’t know like which one is the most, you know, I’d have to think like.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:47:43

I have so many.

Aella 0:47:44

Right, or like, well, I mean, there’s some things I disagree on, but they’re not sure they’re controversial. Like these count. Like there’s like a kind of response people give when you know that the thing, the issue is not that they don’t have a controversial opinion, but rather that like it’s sorting. But like I’ve talked to people who are like, oh, I don’t really have one. And I was like, you mean you don’t have any? And I would like pride, like there’s nothing that you believe. And they’d be like, no, not really. And like, maybe they were lying, but like usually people are like,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:48:12

well, I have one, but I’m afraid to say. And like that’s. No.

Aella 0:48:17

Anyway, I don’t know. I don’t understand.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:48:20

I wonder if you were more specific, you would get some more controversial takes.

Aella 0:48:24

Like what’s your most controversial opinion

Dwarkesh Patel 0:48:25

like about this thing? Yeah, yeah. What should the age of consent be? You know what I mean?

Aella 0:48:29

Yeah, yeah. Sometimes I do questions like that,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:48:31

but I like the controversial one is a good opener.

Aella 0:48:34

It’s like it gives you a lot of information about the other person. Like it gives you a fresh about what their social group is. But I also like the game. I’ve started transitioning to a game where I’m like, okay, you have to say a pin you hold. And if anybody in the group disagrees with it, they hold up a hand and you get points

Dwarkesh Patel 0:48:50

for the amount of people that hold up a hand. Oh, yeah.

Aella 0:48:52

And the person who gets the most points wins. Because people have this horrible tendency. Like I’ll be like, what’s the most controversial opinion

Dwarkesh Patel 0:48:57

that you have in this group?

Aella 0:48:59

And then they’ll say a controversial opinion for the out group. And I’ll be like, but does anybody actually disagree with that here? Like, oh, like Trump wasn’t as horrible as people say he is.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:49:09

I’m like. Yeah, no. One interesting twist on that, by the way. Tyler Cowen had a twist on that question in his application for emergent mentors. So everybody’s been asking the P.J. Teal question about what do you believe? And nobody else agrees with the most controversial opinion. And so it’s kind of priced in at this point. And so Tyler’s question on the application was, what is, what do you believe, what is like your most conventional belief? Like what is the thing you hold strongest that most people would agree with you on? And it kind of situates you in terms of what is the, where are you overlapping with the status quo?

Aella 0:49:47

Like, I feel confused about this. So I would probably say something like gravity is real.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:49:52

No, exactly. I think he’s like looking for. Oh, something like that? You being conventional in a contrarian way. Maybe you just said something weird. Like, I believe that the feeling of the waves on my skin is beautiful and feels great, you know? It just shows you’re not answering it in the normal way.

Aella 0:50:08

Oh, he wants the non-conventional answer.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:50:10

Yeah, yeah.

Aella 0:50:12

Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of that question though. Like I’m like not sure that question is like, like the best question to test for non-conventionality.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:50:18

Yeah, yeah. I would have thought by the way, that high-end escorts would be very familiar with elite culture. Because you watch these movies and these, you know, these escorts are going with rich CEOs at fundraiser dinners and stuff like that. I would have thought that actually the high-end escorts would be like very familiar with elite culture. Is that not the case or?

Aella 0:50:38

I mean, probably some are, but I’m not. I mean, like I’ve had a few people offer to take me to public events, but never actually happened. I’ve never appeared, like been hired to be around

Dwarkesh Patel 0:50:51

like a man’s social circle.

Aella 0:50:53

Usually people are very private about that.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:50:55

That’s interesting. Because I would have thought one of the things rich men really probably want to do is signal social status. Probably even, potentially even more than have sex, right?

Aella 0:51:04


Dwarkesh Patel 0:51:05

To show that they have beautiful women around them.

Aella 0:51:07

Yeah, I think my guess is they would be seen as high risk. And I’ve known other escorts who have in fact been brought to events. So it’s not that this doesn’t happen, but like, I don’t think it happens a lot,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:51:17

at least based on my experience. No, interesting.

Aella 0:51:20

It’s possible that I’m not like pretty enough. It’s possible that like a woman is very beautiful that she might get invited more often.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:51:25

But my guess is like,

Aella 0:51:29

like they can’t trust that I know enough to be able to pass as an elite in those circles. Like I’m a weirdo sex worker who the fuck knows. Like, am I going to be doing drives in the bathroom? Am I going to be talking about like growing up in a hick town and like, and be like, ah, so what do you do? Like, and I’m gonna have to lie. Yeah, yeah.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:51:48

I wonder if it would help if you were older, actually for that. Because they don’t want to look like they’re going out with like a 22 year old, right? If they’re like, they probably want like a 35 or.

Aella 0:51:57

Well, the average age of the guy who saw me is around 45,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:52:00

at least based on my data-ish.

Aella 0:52:03

Yeah. So it’s not like that much older than me right now. I’m 30.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:52:07

What is that rule? You divide by two and add seven or something? Yeah. Yeah.

Aella 0:52:11

You became so prepared.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:52:13

I, by the way, for the last two interviews, I’ve gone through like the quarter of the questions I’ve planned. Just in the last one, Verna would just go on like 15 minute monologues that were super fascinating. But yeah, they were worth listening to. And then I’ll do a part three at some point, but.

Aella 0:52:29

Yeah, I’ve been trying to learn to talk more to questions. Like when I first started doing interviews, like they’d ask me like a question, be like, yes. And like, now I’m trying to, okay, now I’m just like ramble. Like think of them really, if it’s not exactly a response to the question, it’s still okay. You can still talk about it. Like for me, like in my head, I’m like, you’re supposed to answer the question. Do not deviate outside of the answer. Like give like the precise, exact thing.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:52:51

And then you’re done.

Aella 0:52:52

I’m like, thanks to you. Like, yeah, this is just the way that I think. So it’s been like really, I’ve been having to train myself to not do that.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:52:58

Yeah, yeah.

Aella 0:52:59

And it does drive me insane. Like when I’m like having a debate with somebody or if I’m interviewing them and they don’t answer my direct question, I’m like.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:53:07

Well, by the way, I had a dinner with somebody in San Francisco who has like an AI startup. And I asked them, so how are we planning on making money? Because they were doing something open source. And I probably asked them like 10 times. Wow. And each time it was just like a complete digression for like 15 minutes.

Aella 0:53:22

That’s not a great sign.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:53:25

But it is a good sign and interview guest just because what you’re really trying to do is, you don’t really, it’s, these are not the most important questions in the world. You’re just trying to find what are the interesting ideas? What kind of tangents and stories?

Aella 0:53:36

Yeah, we’re trying to like entertain the viewers.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:53:40

Yeah, partly. And you just like, you want to treat the guest almost like a random number generator and you just like try to seed with the weirdest prompt.

Aella 0:53:47

I like that.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:53:49

So why do you think people go to these kinds of parties? If they’re not having fun, if they’re having these boring conversations, what is the point? Like, why are they going?

Aella 0:53:57

No, I think they are, I think they like boring conversations. I do think that people like get a thing out of, I think people have more fun than I do with like normal interactions with people. Like for me, I’m often confused

Dwarkesh Patel 0:54:09

why I’m interacting with someone.

Aella 0:54:11

I don’t like doing it. If we have like a shared task, that’s really good. Or if we have like a goal in the interaction. But most people aren’t like that. Most people like don’t mind talking about, so what do you do? Like reading each other’s body language and kind of like saying a funny thing. Like just like existing next to a person with like a mild amount of talking, like as like almost like a ritualistic, like we’re signaling goodwill towards each other. I think that’s why people do it.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:54:35

Yeah. You have Netflix, right? Like, can that be Netflix? I feel like if I’m gonna interact with somebody, they should be at least be better than Netflix. And that’s not a high bar, right? Do you also have problems? Like Netflix is kind of boring.

Aella 0:54:45

Do you find people to be boring?

Dwarkesh Patel 0:54:47

Yeah. I mean, I usually hang out with people I don’t find that boring. Yeah. But yeah, small talk is pretty boring. Yeah. Yeah.

Aella 0:54:57

I mean, it’s fine if people like it,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:54:57

but yeah, I don’t. The funny thing is everybody says they don’t like small talk.

Aella 0:55:06

And there’s so much small talk in the world. Like who’s-

Dwarkesh Patel 0:55:09

A lot of people say that.

Aella 0:55:10

Like, yeah, but like your circle say that. My circle say that.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:55:14

But even in my circle, there’s like plenty of small talk. Hell, I do small talk and I say I don’t like small talk.

Aella 0:55:19

Yeah. Well, I mean, small talk like serves a purpose. Yeah. Like it’s like low effort. It’s like social script. It’s like indicating goodwill. And I don’t like it, but sometimes I do it because it’s like the right time to do that or something. Yeah. Like it takes effort to think of something better

Dwarkesh Patel 0:55:35

than small talk.

Aella 0:55:36

Or sometimes you use small talk as a wayfinder. Like you kind of like talk on the surface until you find the thing that grabs your interest and then you can push.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:55:42

Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. Do interesting people have to go through some kind of trauma? Like, have you met people who are very interesting and there’s just no hint of trauma in their life?

Aella 0:55:53


Dwarkesh Patel 0:55:56

I don’t know.

Aella 0:55:59

Yes, I have met people who are interesting and there’s no point in not meeting them.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:56:03

I’m remembering the Spanish assignments I had in high school where I had 500 words.

Aella 0:56:08

Well, I don’t know. Like there’s like an idea that, you know, creativity comes from suffering, but like, I don’t know, suffering’s so relative. Like you can find pain in anything. And there’s a lot of people who’ve been through a horrible amount of suffering and are completely uninteresting. I read them to be a kind of, like maybe there’s a correlation,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:56:23

but I would guess it to be pretty slight.

Aella 0:56:25

Like if you, you could probably make a huge amount of meaning out of like the time your pet hamster died.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:56:31

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Speaking of which, by the way, I found your post about the crazy brain really interesting. I don’t remember hearing this, but somebody had this comment that, listen, depression might be real, it might be fake, but believing in depression is bad for you. So you might as well not believe that depression exists.

Aella 0:56:48


Dwarkesh Patel 0:56:49

Do you sympathize with that kind of?

Aella 0:56:50

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so much is narrative. I just read a book about penis thieves, like Voodoo Deaths and Penis Thieves,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:56:57

which is a good book. Penis thieves?

Aella 0:56:58

Yeah, Voodoo Deaths and Penis Thieves. And there’s a guy interviewing people who believed that they’d have their penis stolen. Cause it’s like a, what’s the term? A culture bound belief, I think. And that might not be the correct, but I’m just going to call it for now. Or a culture bound illness, where some sort of bad thing happens, but it’s like a disease, but it only ever happens within a certain culture. It’s like, Alexander’s article where he theorizes anorexia is one of these things, how there was an anorexia in Japan, and they introduced the concept of it, and suddenly everybody was being anorexic. Mad like us, right? Crazy like us.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:57:34

Yeah, yeah.

Aella 0:57:35

And the book that I’m reading claims that PMS is one of these, that other cultures don’t really get PMS. And that PMS wasn’t reported in culture until some papers came out making a theory about it. And then suddenly all of a sudden, they were like, ah, you get PMS in the 50s or something. Interesting. Which I’m not sure how true it is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were partially true. I did a poll based on this. I was like, okay, I wonder if susceptibility to PMS is correlated with susceptibility to believing in things that I consider to be ridiculous. And so I asked, do you get PMS, and do you believe in astrology type beliefs? And there was a correlation, a meaningful correlation. I was like, fuck. And so anyway, it was on a Twitter poll, so I wanted to double check, so I put it in my big kink survey. And so I haven’t checked the data yet, but I should have a lot more, a much bigger sample size.

Dwarkesh Patel 0:58:20

Does that make you think that the acceptance of depression and anxiety as things you can talk about and admit, has that been net bad for mental health?

Aella 0:58:29

Yeah. Yeah, I think, I mean, it’s confusing, right? Because you want, I feel this also about sexual assault stuff like hand rape. It’s good to be able to be like, I don’t want this, and to have culture update in a way that prevents it

Dwarkesh Patel 0:58:45

from happening and treats it as important.

Aella 0:58:47

But also in treating as important, you create the disease itself, you create the trauma. When I lost my faith, and I had a really peace of upbringing, and I was not traumatized from it at all. It was not great. I definitely had things built into my body that would flinch in fear in response to things. But that was correctly determined by my upbringing. I would consider this to be an optimal adaptation. When I left home, I was like, this is fine. And then the trauma really started when I would tell people about my experience,

Dwarkesh Patel 0:59:19

so they would react with horror.

Aella 0:59:20

They’re like, oh my God, are you okay? Have you gone to therapy? And so this trained me that I was supposed to be really upset by it. And then I did become, I became traumatized by it after that. And so I’m like, so I think a very similar thing is going on with everything, like especially sexual assault is a key example. Because a lot of times, sexual assault is not, the thing that happens is not physically damaging. It’s just invasive and really annoying. Like I was assaulted as an escort, and I was really careful after it happened. And there’s a couple weird times, there’s one time it was clearly the worst. And after it happened, I was really careful. I told my friends and I asked them, don’t give me a reaction to this, because I can, don’t tell me like, oh, oh no, because I was like, I want to figure this out on my own terms and like see how I actually feel about it before getting narratives put on me by other people. And I eventually decided I didn’t like it.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:00:14

You didn’t like it is how you said it? I didn’t like it. You know what, you know what would be interesting? There’s a great attest to that actually, would be in different periods of history, people have considered things to be very bad for you or a huge affront on your emotional life that today we’re like, get over it. Things like I was dishonored, you know what I mean? Like somebody dishonored me, especially if you’re a dude. And today it’s, you’re not supposed to take that seriously. I wonder if you went back, were you traumatized by that person dishonoring you in that bar one time? And were they traumatized back then? And today we would just like, yeah, what are you talking about, dude?

Aella 1:00:48

Yeah, there would probably be, like we would probably read writings about it. Like, I wonder if there’s like any old illnesses or symptoms that were like caused like by a thing

Dwarkesh Patel 1:00:57

that was much worse back then. Yeah, but I guess my reaction to the trauma talk, kind of a naive reaction is, in our evolutionary circumstance, there’s all kinds of terrible things that would happen to you, like your child dying, or just your partner dying in a war, all kinds of things, right? And it would just be really weird from an evolutionary perspective if that kind of stuff would debilitate you in a sort of emotional or mental way. It would just like, how would we survive if that was the case?

Aella 1:01:25

Yeah, yeah. I do wonder, I had the, I had like a, I’m not, I can’t talk about it fully yet, but I had a pretty traumatic event happen like a couple weeks ago. And I, it was really interesting to watch my reaction. I like had like really strong physical reactions. Like I had to like run in place or like pace really hard, or like I had, at one point I was like, I was like lying in bed and I just like did this

Dwarkesh Patel 1:01:49

for like a half hour.

Aella 1:01:50

I’m like, why am I doing this? I don’t know, but I’m just like overwhelmed

Dwarkesh Patel 1:01:53

with an urge to.

Aella 1:01:54

And it felt really good. And I, my guess is that in some ways it was like important to process what had happened. And I wouldn’t be surprised, I was like really thankful. I was like, I’m glad I don’t have a job where I’m not, I can’t, where I’m supposed to sit. I’m glad I’m not in a life where I have to suppress like doing like really weird, bizarre,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:02:10

like handshaky stuff.

Aella 1:02:12

And like, if I did, like I might actually end up more traumatized than that. So I wonder if it was like in older culture, if like people would just have greater freedom to be able to like express like the weird shit that like was a natural body processing thing.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:02:25

Maybe not, I’m guessing. Cause people sharing rooms was very common. It was like the default.

Aella 1:02:31


Dwarkesh Patel 1:02:32

So you just wouldn’t have a private space.

Aella 1:02:33

But so I guess it depends on what period of history, like hunter gatherers probably should go out in the woods.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:02:38

Yeah. Like not hard.

Aella 1:02:40

But also like, I wonder if there’s, there were like better like methods of coping with strange movements. I don’t know, maybe I’m like ideal. I’m like, I’m like sus about saying that the past was better. I think the past was usually worse in most ways. Right. But I have like a thought,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:02:53

like maybe it was just easier for them to run. Yeah.

Aella 1:02:57


Dwarkesh Patel 1:02:58

I’ve been remembering your post about responsibility and the difference between men and women over time. Does that make you more sympathetic towards CEOs that we recognize them to have a lot of status and power, but internally it’s just a lot of responsibility and a lot of blame if things go wrong.

Aella 1:03:15

Yeah. Yeah.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:03:17


Aella 1:03:18

Like, I don’t know if I would want to be a CEO. Like, it’s great, but also, yeah, you’re taking on like the reverse side, which is like, and like, I think systems where those are out of balance are probably bad. Like if you have a system where like rewards are celebrated, but like the downsides are, are like suppressed in some way, or like evened out or rescued.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:03:39

Like, I think this is,

Aella 1:03:40

then I don’t like the CEOs of those positions. But I feel like actually taking like a meaningful,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:03:44

like hit to your reputation.

Aella 1:03:46

Like, I think like Elon does this pretty well. Yeah. Like if things go badly, he’s like so public and out there that he like will take a pretty big, he’s like actually being like, yeah, this is my reputation on the line. Like I am doing this. If things go wrong, like this is like my deal.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:03:59

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I know. It’s crazy because so much of his reputation is also based on the fact that he can’t lose. You know what I mean?

Aella 1:04:07

Like if he loses then.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:04:09

Like if Twitter goes bankrupt, it just like completely destroys the Elon myth, which is, I don’t know. I would find that tragic if that happened, but. Yeah, it would be.

Aella 1:04:17

It’s also impressive that he’s taking that risk. Like it’s gotta be really high pressure. I do not have the mentality to be able to handle that myself.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:04:24

Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you’re responsible for like four other companies. You’re responsible for like a couple basis points of US GDP. Yeah. Okay, you had this interesting sentence in your blog post about escorting. You said, there was possibly a negative correlation between my likelihood of real orgasm and his physical attractiveness.

Aella 1:04:46


Dwarkesh Patel 1:04:47


Aella 1:04:48

Yeah, so I like record data points for like whether or not I orgasm and also my rating of their attractiveness. And so there is a slightly negative correlation. It’s just like the sample size isn’t quite high enough for it to be significant. So who knows?

Dwarkesh Patel 1:05:00

But my guess is that people who are unattractive try harder.

Aella 1:05:04

Like if I have like a really like ugly man, he’s like more likely to be like, ah, I have to like make sure this girl

Dwarkesh Patel 1:05:10

has a good experience.

Aella 1:05:12

And then I’m more likely to have a real orgasm. So I’m like pro ugly man. They know what’s up.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:05:19

Isn’t there that theory that guys or women who were uglier early on in their life and became more attractive as time went on, they’re just like the best because they’re more considerate. They’re just used to being in a position where they have to actually try.

Aella 1:05:32

They have studies on like, I guess, on like how beautiful people perceive you and if you’re smart or something. Although I guess it’s not really like you’re smart

Dwarkesh Patel 1:05:41

regardless of how you’re treated as a teenager.

Aella 1:05:44

So, but they probably have data on this.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:05:47

You could look. Actually, let me ask you, what do you think the age of consent should be?

Aella 1:05:51

That’s a hard one. Like the thing is like individually, I think people are very often able to consent quite young. But it’s like if you’re putting like a law on things,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:06:01

it’s like probably better to be conservative.

Aella 1:06:04

But I mean, probably like 16 seems like reasonable. But it also depends like people’s conceptions of like if whether or not you can consent. Like if you’re like, ah, can a 16 year old like consent to sex with another 16 year old,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:06:15

everybody’s like, yes.

Aella 1:06:16

But if you make it a 45 year old, everybody’s like, no. And I’m like, that feels like a little weird to me.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:06:21

Like- The 45 year old is gonna be a much more considered lover. What are you talking about?

Aella 1:06:24

Yeah, like if a 16 year old can consent, they can consent. Like it doesn’t matter who the partner is.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:06:29

Yeah. So I don’t know. I had this lady on my podcast. She advocates for not only unschooling, but in every way treating children as people capable of making decisions and having agency and you shouldn’t coerce them in any way. And then, so the interview was done and like literally was still recording. And I was like, oh, final question, I guess.

Aella 1:06:51

What do you think?

Dwarkesh Patel 1:06:52

Do you think age can set laws and make sense? And it was just, she said in basically so many words, no. She would just get rid of them. Which is I guess, taking your idea seriously, but-

Aella 1:07:00

That’s cool. I respect that. Yeah. I mean, it’s like, I don’t know how you would like, it seems like a good idea to prevent very old, like older people having sex with very young people. Cause like our culture is going to traumatize them about that, what’s the age. So I don’t, but I’m like, I respect somebody who’s like no age of consent.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:07:18

Wait, so do you think that the real reason to have the age of consent is they’ll get traumatized specifically? Like if there was another culture where there was no taboo associated with getting, having sex with somebody much older when you’re like 14, so they don’t have the trauma potentially, would you then be in favor of getting rid of the age of consent or lowering it? Like, is that thing you’re really concerned about that they’re going to like be a psy-opt into having trauma? Yeah, basically.

Aella 1:07:46

Like there’ve been cultures in the past where like younger people like have sexual experiences. Yeah. And it doesn’t seem like they were traumatized really, cause it was celebrated. It’s just like, it’s tricky because like, I think it is actually, it can be associated

Dwarkesh Patel 1:07:59

like with a lot of harm.

Aella 1:08:01

Like a lot of the people who sexually assault children do not have their best interests at heart at all. Like, and if they did, they wouldn’t be doing it. So like the correlation is really negative. So like, I don’t think like the act in itself is necessarily wrong, but I think it’s like so closely associated with a lot of other bad things. Like I would be very hesitant and I would need a lot of data

Dwarkesh Patel 1:08:22

before deciding to revoke it. Yeah, yeah.

Aella 1:08:26

Like I was molested as a kid and that was fine.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:08:30

Was this part of the thing where people convinced or talked to you about it afterwards and they told you about it?

Aella 1:08:34

No, they didn’t. I mean, it was really hush hush.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:08:36

This was my grandpa. And when they found out, they just like,

Aella 1:08:40

it was like, oh, well, don’t let him do that again.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:08:43

Kind of.

Aella 1:08:44

You know your parents? Yeah, like, oh, if he just does it again, tell us and they should be turned over to the same room.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:08:47

And that was it.

Aella 1:08:48

I didn’t think about it at all until much later. And like, I didn’t even think of it as a thing. And then like later, I was like, wait a second.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:08:53

Like the thing that happened,

Aella 1:08:54

that was a little molesty, wasn’t it? And, but it just didn’t have any impact because there was no cultural narrative about what had happened. It was just like an uncomfortable thing. And adults did like weird shit to me all the time. Like way more horrific and uncomfortable stuff. And it’s like somebody just like touching my body a little weird.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:09:13

Like, I don’t know.

Aella 1:09:17

It was good. And like, and it was like, it was hurtful for me later because like I did, I was upset that my parents would take it more seriously. And it really damaged my relationship with my grandpa and knew that he would do that. Like he would violate so many cultural conventions and do something widely considered to be so hurtful to me. I’m like, well, then fuck you. Like, fuck you. And that was like really not good.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:09:36

But like the actual act itself was like. Right. Yeah. Is that by the way, is that always pedophilia? The molesting of kids? Or is it like, is that basically proved you have pedophilia?

Aella 1:09:50

No, I mean, you can do it without being aroused by kids.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:09:53

So why did they do it?

Aella 1:09:54

Well, a lot of people like don’t report like significant arousal by kids, but they do it because it’s like the easy option. Like you can’t get laid otherwise. You can’t have physical contact with a human being otherwise.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:10:03

Yeah. It’s not great. Dan Carlin had a chapter about kids in his book about hardcore history. And one of the things he suggested is it’s possible that most kids who have ever lived have been either, you know, obviously physically punished, but potentially even sexually molested when they were kids. Like it was just probably a very common part of human history.

Aella 1:10:27

Yeah. Which, and to be clear for the record, this is, I do not advocate this. I know I’m talking like a little bit blithely about it and like not condemning it with like a huge,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:10:35

like this is shitty all the time.

Aella 1:10:36

But like, if I had to like make a law, the law would be like, don’t fucking do that.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:10:42

You know, it’s not good. Yeah. It is an interesting challenge about how a society, how would you design a society where if somebody has been the victim of something or you can discourage things that are bad, but then not make the people who suffered them feel like victims.

Aella 1:10:57

Yeah. Yeah. That’s what I want. I want people to like actually be like,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:11:01

how did this impact you directly?

Aella 1:11:02

And if they decide like, actually this was really horrible for me. It’s been like, yes, it was horrible. We’re reinforcing it. We’re gonna prevent it. And if they’re like, actually it didn’t matter to me that much. Cause this was like an interesting thing for me. Like I felt like there wasn’t space. Like I felt like culture wouldn’t accept me being like, actually this wasn’t, this was no big deal. Like there was no conception that that was okay. At least once I got to the outside world. And like, I want culture to be like, okay, if it was okay for you, then we’re gonna say it was okay. Yeah. And also to be like, if I said it was bad for me, I want you to accept that it was bad.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:11:30

Yeah. Richard had this interesting comment in one of his recent posts where he said that, if we, if when somebody said, I’m afraid of flying, if we took them seriously and try to give them therapy for it, the way we do when somebody says, yeah, I have social anxiety, there would be just so much more fear of flying. I do wonder how much of social anxiety is culturally created specifically, like cultural anxieties, sorry, social anxiety specifically. You think that’s potentially more malleable than even depression and trauma?

Aella 1:11:59

Social anxiety?

Dwarkesh Patel 1:12:00


Aella 1:12:01

Maybe. Well, depression is also something that we like widely treat. Yeah. And depression is something that like, kind of doesn’t exist in other cultures. Yeah. Like, I think it might be kind of psychosomatic, or at least, what was it? Who was I reading? Was it Scott or like a book? Anyway, somebody saying that like, if you’re feeling bad, like in other cultures, you might be like, I’m feeling bad, but then like here, you might be like, I’m feeling bad and this means that I have depression,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:12:26

which is bad.

Aella 1:12:27

And then you feel bad about having depression, which is like an additional, like a loop of a bad thing to layer onto it.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:12:31


Aella 1:12:31

Anyway, but I’m not sure. My guess is like social anxiety is usually caused by like not having insufficient social exposure. And if you’re just like, we’re like forced to live in a house of people for a week, you’d be better.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:12:42

Yeah. It’s like a peanut allergy.

Aella 1:12:43

Is that how it works?

Dwarkesh Patel 1:12:44

With peanuts? Yeah, no, actually, if you’re not exposed to peanuts when you’re a kid, it drastically increases the odds. In what period of human history would you have wanted to spawn as a woman more than a man, other than potentially today? Or maybe actually include that potentially in your answer.

Aella 1:13:01

Today, definitely.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:13:02

Yeah, yeah. Would you rather be a woman today than a man? Yeah. Same or why?

Aella 1:13:06

I think like people don’t expect a woman to think like I do or something. Like I want to have access to sex work, which is great. Fantastic. I don’t think men have a related thing.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:13:17

Well, we have access to it just from the wrong direction.

Aella 1:13:19

Yeah, you’re not for it. Not the same one, not for the same thing. And also like, I just like, I’m just like a little bit weird and people are like, oh, I definitely think I get disproportionate attention because I’m a woman. Like if I were a dude saying this sort of shit I do, people would be like, oh, it’s like a weird fucking autistic dude. But like, you don’t expect like a woman with like a good waist hip ratio who’s naked on the internet to be like fucking weird. So I think that’s like that, so it’s like a really useful combination for me right now. Of course, I’m talking kind of specifically to my situation as opposed to like being a woman as a general thing. I still think being a woman is probably a better bet today. Like women are more college educated. I don’t, do they tend to be happier?

Dwarkesh Patel 1:13:58

No, they’re much less happy than men.

Aella 1:13:59

Well, women just aren’t happy in general, like regardless. It was interesting in my data, I asked a bunch of stuff about like, was it how abused were you in childhood? Or like, I forget, in situations where you would have expected like everybody should have kind of the same rate of answer regardless of your gender, because like, were your parents present or something?

Dwarkesh Patel 1:14:20

Like, I forget what it was.

Aella 1:14:22

But women are more likely to report having worse experiences than men in things that you should expect. So it’s like, my guess is that women like interpret things worse than men tend to.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:14:32

But shouldn’t that go into your calculation of whether you’d rather be a man or a woman?

Aella 1:14:35

Yeah, this is true.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:14:37


Aella 1:14:39

It’s hard because men are more disposable. This is true. This is true. I don’t want to be disposable. I like having innate value.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:14:46

It’s very much, if you like lotteries, you’ll enjoy being a man. It’s just like, you know, you feel like competition. Yeah. Because it is true that if you win the main character, when we think of somebody who’s like a main character, default main character, it’s a dude, right? If you’re into that kind of thing. Yeah. I’m curious actually, by the way, you’re in a lot of groups that are heavily dominated by men, like the local rationalist meetup where there are very few women. What is it like being an attractive woman in a super male dominated social scene?

Aella 1:15:22

It’s nice.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:15:23

I actually like it.

Aella 1:15:28

I don’t know. For what reason? Well, I like being unusual. I like that people are more impressed with me because I’m a woman. Like I feel like the bar is set lower for me. So I have to do less to make people like me.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:15:44

Is it true that more boring dudes will just try to talk your ear off? Yes. Yeah.

Aella 1:15:50

Well, what’s interesting is like, I feel like I get much more attention because of fame than I did because of a woman. Like I’ve been going to rationalist, weirdo, nerd, man meetups for a very long time. And it felt really normal. Like I felt kind of like I was like one of the boys or something, like a friend group. And I didn’t feel like I was like having a significant like weird impact by being a woman. And it’s just since in the last couple of years since I’ve gotten more well known that now that feels like a really strong warping effect.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:16:18

Yeah. When I go to one of these things, I’m often thinking, you know, there’s equal amount of women as men. So for every one of us men here, there’s like an equal but an opposite woman. Where are they? Like, what are they doing? Yeah. It’s not like a well-defined question. So I don’t know exactly how to ask it, but what is the opposite end of the gender pole? Like, where is it?

Aella 1:16:44

Yeah. I mean, I can be-

Dwarkesh Patel 1:16:46

Like where are the things that it’s like 80% women,

Aella 1:16:47

20% men? I mean, it’s like clothes. I hate to be like really gender stereotypical here, but I think it’s true. Like when I think about like the spaces on the internet really dominated by men, it’s like video games and rationality

Dwarkesh Patel 1:16:59

and like politics and economics and whatever.

Aella 1:17:02

And with women, the places are, it’s like education and like makeup. I really like makeup and clothes. I spent a lot of time on these things and which I think is great. And there’s like, it’s like almost 100% women

Dwarkesh Patel 1:17:15

in those areas.

Aella 1:17:16

And like, I don’t really go to IRL meetups that are mostly women. Like maybe, like some hippie groups are a little bit more women, but it’s not like the same ratio as for men. Like do women just not do things?

Dwarkesh Patel 1:17:28

Like where are they? Is there actually no meetup?

Aella 1:17:34

No, if you go look at like, you can kind of see like meetups that are more woman-y. Like you can see like photos of the meetups sometimes or like the names of the people going. And I think like fiction writing is like really female.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:17:46

Fan fiction stuff is really female. Yeah, I don’t know.

Aella 1:17:51

We could go scroll.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:17:52

That’ll be fun. Actually, I’m curious. You’ve done a lot of podcasts. What’s made some of them good and some of them bad? Like when you’re done with it and you’re like, this is, you know, this is kind of boring.

Aella 1:18:04

What happened? Well, the boring ones are when the questions are like, those ones are usually much more mainstream ones

Dwarkesh Patel 1:18:11

where it’s like,

Aella 1:18:12

so what do you think about sex work good for women or something? Like, which is like fine. I don’t, I like, I feel good. I like defending sex work and stuff, but it’s more like, you know, like a rote thing. The questions I like are usually ones that make me think of thinking a way I hadn’t thought before. Like I hadn’t actually considered that angle. Like hold on, I have to like generate an answer on the spot as opposed to having like a preloaded one. Yeah, yeah.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:18:39

You know, I’ve watched a few of your interviews in preparation for this one. And one thing that’s stuck out to me and kind of bothered me is that the host is just kind of expecting you to have to defend every single cultural change for the last 50 years that they don’t like. Like you’re just the straw man that’s, you know, you’re like the satanic influence.

Aella 1:19:02

I really, I feel like maybe you happened to watch the interviews that were, did you watch like the unheard one? Yeah. Yeah, that was probably the most boring one. I’m the most like person where they challenged me the most. Right. Which I like, I like it. I like when people challenge me. It’s like more fun. It’s like, ooh, you know, but, but yeah, I feel like a lot of the time people are just like failing to recognize that we have to move forward. Like we have to, we just can’t go back.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:19:28

We can’t put it back in the box, so. Why not?

Aella 1:19:31

Well, tech is different.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:19:33


Aella 1:19:34

If we erase tech, I’d be like, okay, maybe the trad suggestion is like viable.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:19:39

But. Why does tech make trad and people?

Aella 1:19:42

Well, we don’t have to get pregnant anymore. Like a lot of the monogamy norms, the trad norms, like they evolved out of like the correct circumstances. Like they were evolved to be advantageous for like a kind of like pregnancy sex dynamic, like war. Like here’s like how often famine happens and how often like you have to go into the woods

Dwarkesh Patel 1:20:01

and like chop down a tree.

Aella 1:20:03

Right, but like what percentage of us are chopping down trees or going to wars or like dying in childbirth anymore? Right. So things that like sort of fundamentally shaped like what men and women have to deal with, like their problems,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:20:13

like we don’t have to deal with any of those. Do you think there’ll be geographic separation and segregation in terms of what kinds of lifestyles people want or will just be in the same city, but some people are having an orgy and some people are like doing missionary, trying to conceive a child?

Aella 1:20:26

I mean, that sounds cool to me. I would like, I would like a culture where it could overlap. I guess it depends on how much you feel like people can live together. Like a lot of the trad people, especially like here in Austin, seem to like feel like kind of my lifestyle is like not compatible with theirs in like some deep way. Like, it’s not like I can just like live next door doing my thing. It’s like me living next door is like actively damaging them in some way. So like in that case, like probably geographic stratification would be better.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:20:51

Yeah. But do you think that there will continue to be social groups where people of both lifestyles get together or do you think over time it’ll just be, you just hang out with people who have your kinds of lifestyle and preferences?

Aella 1:21:06

A little bit of both. Like it depends on how defining, like with the romantic and stuff, like I think probably monog groups will continue to be self-segregating a little bit, just a little bit,

Dwarkesh Patel 1:21:17

because like it’s just like,

Aella 1:21:19

it’s easier to form it, like it just sort of naturally occurs that way. Like if you’re dating somebody and then if they’re dating somebody and that person has like their boyfriend, like you all kind of tend to hang out and then like your friend happens to be somebody that they met from like last year when they were dating like a similar, it’s like, and like monogamous people like have their own norms. I don’t know. Like the social groups are like pretty like 50-50, I would say. Like half monog, half poly, that seems fine.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:21:42

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Okay.

Aella 1:21:45

Yeah, thank you.

Dwarkesh Patel 1:21:46

Yeah, thanks for having me on the podcast.

Aella 1:21:47

Razeeb said something about you maybe asking like hard hitting questions.