Odd One Out

This morning I was excited to see a posting regarding a new anthology in my field, Chinese philosophy. But then I looked through the table of contents only to have one more of those too-familiar moments of deep discouragement.

In my area of philosophy, it remains commonplace for women scholars to be underrepresented in the typical fora of scholarly conversation. Edited volumes, conferences, and such will often include a woman, but too often it is just that: a woman, one woman among a roster full of men. That by itself is discouraging given the number of talented women philosophers and scholars in the field, but what I want to address here is something I have found far more discouraging. Some conferences and edited volumes with this pattern or low representation of women also include a particular man – David Tien – whose presence among the “elect” selected for these projects something that renders the scarcity of women not just discouraging but an affront.


David Tien is trained philosopher. However, he left philosophy some years ago to begin a new career as a pick up artist. For the uninitiated, pick up artists are paid consultants who train men how to “attract” women. In this career, Tien has, by his own account excelled. He has gone from feeling like the “odd one out,” as a young Asian man growing up among the largely white population of his community, to being the “odd one out” owing to how many women he has fucked and indeed building a career on training other men to achieve this “success.” But why explain this myself? Tien can speak for himself:

I guess in the land of men, I still am the odd one out. But this time, it’s in a good way, at least if you consider something like 10% of the men in this world have been intimate with over 90% of the women, and the top 1% have been with even more.

 Some years ago, he resigned his job in philosophy because he “could make a much bigger difference in this world if I could continue to help more men meet, attract, and date the women of their dreams.”

He made stumbles along the way, most of which involved having to work harder than he wished to get laid:

I still had to approach women. I still had to “game” women. I still had to get past their bitch shields, deflect their shit-tests, come up with witty banter and brilliant conversation. I still had to get on the phone and text girls constantly, trying to convince them to meet up or to come to my party. I still had to get girls on dates and endure brainless conversations…just to get her in bed… I still had to WORK for it. And it sucked… I rarely saw my friends and family because I was spending every night…with girls…on dates, in bed, or just “gaming” new girls.

Mercifully, he discovered that he could apply the insights of Chinese philosophy and discovered that

Armed with these ancient secrets of the great Kings and Emperors…I went crazy with my newfound power…drowning myself in women… threesomes… foursomes… fivesomes… moresomes… so many beautiful women… I didn’t know what to do with them all…

One thing he learned how to do, apparently, was “training the new girls at a Chinese brothel (and experiencing massive Viagra headaches).”

And now he trains other men.

Other philosophers have expressed better than I how invitations to contribute to conferences and edited volumes confer esteem and prestige. The presumed presumption for organizers of such endeavors is to find the best to represent the field and subject matter. How demoralizing then to find these professional goods not only denied women but awarded a man who, by his own testimony, not only sees women as little more than fuckable objects to accumulate but who trains others in this very attitude, boasting of his acumen in helping others perpetuate the misogyny of it all.

It might be useful to explain how I know all of this about David Tien. A few years, I read an article, by Philip J. Ivanhoe, on “Confucian” approaches to abortion. I considered the article itself wildly out of step with contemporary work on the subject, but more particularly found its comments on the “causes” of pregnancy bizarre. Ivanhoe argued: “I draw a line that separates the material or proximate causes of an unwanted pregnancy (sexual intercourse) from efficient or ultimate causes (e.g., flirting or foreplay, which might lead to or carries a high risk of leading to sexual intercourse).” Ivanhoe credited Tien with clarifying his thoughts on this. So I looked Tien up. And discovered who he was, though I remain appalled that he should be cited as any sort of authority or inspiration in a paper on abortion that cited almost no professional literature on the subject and yet said much about the “bad behavior” of women.

Since then, I have been freshly appalled every time I see yet another conference or volume of work that includes vanishingly few women – talk about the odd one out! – but includes Tien. Such as this one, or this one, or this one, or this one. I have largely kept silent about this myself. My only professional interaction regarding Tien has been to withdraw my own contribution from an edited volume that was to include him, explaining why to the editor, and, I admit, a snarky footnote in my own published critique of the Ivanhoe essay I describe above. But I think I’ve finally hit the limit for keeping quiet about this.

To my colleagues in Chinese philosophy, this is an embarrassment. At a time when the profession is getting far more alert to they myriad ways it discourages women philosophers, our field continues along with little alteration.  Worse, so many in our field agonize about finding legitimacy in the wider philosophy community, missing one rather obvious thing we might do:  not confer professional prestige on a misogynistic pick up artist over women, as well as men not so minded.

To those who might protest that Tien’s academic work is good and that we should not connect his professional academic work to his actual career as a pick up artist, I would offer that he does this himself, using his PhD in philosophy as conferring some special extra something to his ability to train men to be like him. He cites Chinese philosophical materials as guides in formulating his “seduction secrets”: Bet you didn’t know that the Sage Kings understood that “it was every girl’s dream to be chosen for the Emperor’s harem.”

And I likewise protest the suggestion that his work is so far superior to that of the myriad women in the field that spare slots in professional fora should be given him rather than them. If anyone critical of my attitude would like to make the argument that David Tien is just so very much better at philosophy that he needs to be in these outlets in a way that trumps the legion other goods and values he violates, then have at it. If you want to argue that he is just that much better at philosophy than the dozens of women who could be given those slots instead, then have at it. It would give me great pleasure to entertain these arguments since they would be far more potent than I can be in exposing how backward the practice of Chinese philosophy can be relative to other areas of philosophy.

To my fellow women in Chinese philosophy or indeed other unsuspecting women philosophers who may be invited to contribute to broader work that includes Chinese philosophy, I offer this suggestion. If you are invited to contribute to a volume that includes Chinese philosophy, ask the editor or organizer about whom they are inviting. If you do not wish to be alongside David Tien, make that clear to the editor or conference organizer. I would hope that men in the field could do the same, but I confess I don’t know what to expect there. Many male colleagues I know continue to ask David Tien to contribute to professional fora. Perhaps some are ignorant of his current job and career, but not all are. They are just ok with it all – ok with including him rather than more women, ok associating their professional profile with his, and ok with his enjoying some credibility and prestige in the field, credibility and prestige they help to confer on him. And that has just, finally and at long last, made me angry enough to post all this publicly.



26 thoughts on “Odd One Out

  1. Tien’s YouTube channel can give you even more insight into how he thinks about women.


    A random sample of titles from his web-series “Man Up”:

    “Is she being spoiled, or is it just you?”
    “When your Asian girlfriend moves west and only has guy friends”
    “What to do when she won’t make time for you”
    “How do you change a materialistic woman?”
    “Why is she withholding sex from you?”
    “How do you steal a girl from her boyfriend?”

    and so on. yuck.

  2. Could you say more about what you find objectionable in the comments about flirting and sex? One mark of flirting is increasing the likelihood of sex without guaranteeing sex. That *risk* is very fun for many, which is why they flirt. I don’t see anything “bizarre” in the thought that flirting should be among the causes of a pregnancy. Flirting increases the chances of (is among the causes of) sex; sex increases the chances of (is among the causes of) pregnancy. I’ll leave it the metaphysicians to fight over whether causation is transitive, but this looks like a good candidate for transitive causal explanation, no?

  3. Runtownexpress, a couple of things here. First, this claim was situated in an article advocating making abortion “harder” in order to force women to “reflect” on their “bad behavior.” The concatenation was not about “risk” as fun but about risk of pregnancy situated in women’s “bad behavior.” Second, hooking the flirting-sex connection to women’s “bad behavior” has another history – it’s been used as a defense in rape cases where her “flirting” meant “she wanted it.” I cite some of this in the article I link. All sorts of advocacy groups for rape victims habitually cite “flirting causes sex” as a dangerous myth. That’s not a metaphysician’s view, but I was trying to address what one Confucian calls “circumstances in the real world.”

  4. Thank you for posting this, I really am at a loss for words. One doesn’t have to look too far to see the terrible violence done to women in SE and E Asia because folks profit from treating them as commodities.

    I have done a great deal of work on Wang Yangming and naturally have comes across Tien’s work. In addition, I’m working on bibliographical project with the Academy of Social Sciences in Zhejiang concerning all writing about Wang Yangming in his school in English,French, and German from roughly 1600 to the present, and this project will include a representative set of articles for translation into Chinese. This definitely leads me to rethink the synopsis and what will be selected.

  5. Thanks, Amy. When we discovered this “career choice” of Tien’s several years ago, we removed him from consideration as a contributor to Warp Weft and Way. I had a subsequent conversation with him at an APA conference in which he was quite unapologetic about it. I’m surprised he has continued to be considered a resource in our field but I probably shouldn’t be. Thanks for leading the call against this sort of shameful accommodation.

  6. Absolutely embarrassing that some so-called heavyweights in Chinese philosophy seek him out. A real academic gutter!

  7. Dear Professor Manners,

    In response to runtownexpress you say that “this claim was situated in an article advocating making abortion “harder” in order to force women to “reflect” on their “bad behavior.” You charactize the Ivanhoe in a similar way in the main post. Since I have used the paper and did not remember that or the quote, I decided to re-read and think carefully before keeping this article in my to-possibly-use-in-class file.

    On reflection, I believe you are misrepresenting the article and quote.

    The flirting quote from the Ivanhoe article is from a footnote and in the relevant section he is talking about policies that will make men and women, not just women, more responsible. The emphasis in this specific section is almost entirely on men and their irresponsible behavior. Here is the main text with a * in for the relevant footnote:

    “For example, in cases where both the man and the woman engage in unprotected sex, both parties should be led to reflect upon what such behavior expresses about their personal values and how it affects so many people both directly and indirectly. One hopes that at least some people in this circumstance could be led to acknowledge how irresponsible it is to risk the creation of life when they are not prepared to follow through and support and nurture that life* Such actions can display profound immaturity and, in many cases, a selfish and even callous disregard for life as well as inadequate appreciation of the value of the family and its role in society. The fact that in many societies one can pass these responsibilities on to society shows the weakness of the view that such decisions are purely personal matters. Society has a deep and vested interest in such weighty decisions and their consequences. Here too Confucianism offers a solid foundation for such a policy. It emphasizes the need for individuals to cultivate themselves with the aim of fulfilling their role-specific obligations within families and society at large. Given this general stance, members of Confucian societies are much more willing to support implementing modest levels of social pressure on irresponsible men in order to move them to reflect upon and reform bad and harmful behaviors.
    How might Confucians work to implement this last suggestion concerning the father? First…”

    Ivanhoe does earlier in the article also advocate policies and structures that would make women reflect on their options and decision. This is controversial, and you may disagree with what he suggests, but unless I am missing it, he does not mention flirting in the way you suggest. And the focus is not on responding to bad behavior. It is aimed at promoting reflection that will benefit the women, family, and larger society.

    Here is what Ivanhoe suggests: “In order to achieve these various goals, Confucian societies should require women seeking abortions to pass through a process of review and counseling in the course of receiving an abortion. This process would include meetings with at least one physician and a specially trained social worker, who would together seek to understand the woman and her situation, guide her through the process, and ensure she avails herself of all needed and available resources and support. The aim of this process of review and counseling is not to grant permission, judge, or persuade her to receive or forego receiving an abortion. As will be clear below, the primary aim is to ensure that she is fully aware of a range of support available to her and other family members concerning not only the immediate response to this pregnancy but also for understanding and responding productively to the contexts and behaviors that resulted in the pregnancy. ”

    You say that the article advocates, “making abortion “harder” in order to force women to “reflect” on their “bad behavior.” I think this characterization is uncharitable and inaccurate. Ivanhoe argues that implementing the review and information process for women and various more invasive policies for men will promote the women’s interests, the men’s interests, and larger social interests. You may disagree with these ends or the idea that his policies will serve those ends, but his view is not the objectionable one that you suggest he advocates.

    I believe that Ivanhoe IS advocating that abortion decisions be made more slowly, intelligently, and deliberately and he advocates that MEN be pressured to reflect on their irresponsible habits and behaviors (that is the context of the footnote that mentions flirting). There is at least the one sentence, quoted above, that says that both men and women should be encouraged to reflect if they engage in *unprotected* sex, but the emphasis is on holding men responsible for bad behavior. Even in that case (policies aimed at men) Ivanhoe says that, “the goal is not to ferret out miscreants, point fingers, or assign blame but to encourage people to reflect upon their lives and the effects of their actions.”

    If you think I am mis-reading the article, I am happy to learn more and re-read and will look forward to your response with references to the relevant passages.

  8. This is truly gross. Seeing half of humanity as practically interchangeable fuck toys should disqualify you from talking seriously about ethics. Ethicists are by no means perfect people, but I don’t think you could seriously study Kant, for example, without the moral insight to see that you’re treating entire groups of people as mere means.

    It is extremely disappointing to think that this guy is invited to contribute to edited volumes, and to think that women in the profession have to interact with him at conferences. How does that even work? Does he think that the women he shares space with at conferences should even be there? Does he think they’re only there to look attractive and find husbands? Does he listen to them at all?

  9. Anon, I am not going to litigate my disagreement with Ivanhoe’s views here. As I note above, I have a published critique. Since you’re willing to re-read Ivanhoe to demonstrate the lack of charity in my interpretation, perhaps you could do me the courtesy first to actually read my published critique once.

    Apart from all of this, I will maintain that there is something exceptionally perverse in citing a PUA who uses women like kleenex, boasts about “training” prostitutes in a brothel, and derides women in various ways being cited with gratitude for clarifying *the nature of sex* in an article seeking more restrictive abortion policy. If you disagree with that and think Ivanhoe within scholarly practice to cite this PUA rather than any of the literally loads of actual academic literature, then we’ll just agree to disagree.

  10. Hi Professor Manners,

    I remembered you mentioned your critique after I posted and just read it. Sorry I did not read it first! It does a much better, more charitable, job representing the Ivanhoe (in my book) and although I am not persuaded by your arguments I think it will make a great companion essay to teach, especially because you raise questions about the rhetorical implications of articles, even implications that the authors may not themselves favor.

    Yes, I agree there is no need to re-litigate here. I can see it would involve lots of interesting and complex questions about how to best interpret and assess papers.

    I did not say anything about the propriety of Ivanhoe talking with Tien. But since you asked me to re-read the note and weigh in, I will.

    I agree that it would be irresponsible to appeal to Tien as an authority on sexual ethics or the nature of sex. But it does not look like that is what Ivanhoe does! He simply thanks Tien for encouraging him to make his own views clear. I believe you are justly (!!) angry about a lot of things here and do not mean to imply anything to the contrary. But I think you will admit that saying “thanks to David W. Tien for urging me to make this aspect of my position more clear” is not the same as appealing to him as an authority or thanking him for clarifying one’s views. It is certainly not the same as expressing gratitude for Tien for “clarifying *the nature of sex*” (your claim in the response to me)

    Finally, I want to emphasize that this does not speak to the larger moral argument that you make – I am simply responding to the topic you brought up and asked me to weigh in on.

  11. Anon, ok. Let me just try to be a little clearer about what I was initially describing. When I first read the Ivanhoe article, I was quite struck by how divorced it is from contemporary literature and even medical knowledge (e.g., presenting claims that both CDC data and American Psychological Association studies reject or call seriously into question). Because of this and because of the oddity of the rhetoric itself – family and life vs. women – I was trying to figure out where the essay was coming from. So one of the things I did was look up Tien – again, since he was the only person cited with respect to one of the views I found odd. Most if not all of the other odd claims had no such citations and were just Ivanhoe himself, I suppose. Given the absence of citation for empirical claims (e.g., that abortion can cause psychological problems, loss of fertility, infection, that it’s used as “birth control” – claims that, I would argue, need data if they’re to be more than just fear-mongering), that this guy warranted a citation was all the more annoying. Maybe I shouldn’t be “annoyed,” but if you’re going to lob empirically-based claims absent data and citations and then make an inflammatory–sounding claim about women’s “risk” of sex, then thank a PUA… well, it but amplifies exactly the sort of thing I was trying to get at with my original post. Out of all the stuff to cite, a conversation with a PUA gets a shout out, while there’s vanishingly little of the actually relevant literature or data. It’s a selection judgment that seems objectionable to me, just as the selection judgment to put a PUA in a scholarly volume or conference over every other possible scholar is objectionable.

    As a last note, I just don’t know what to make of your contesting my use of “harder.” Ivanhoe says abortion should be “personally more demanding than currently is the case in many countries.” That doesn’t amount to “harder”? Here too, the absence of empirical data is just astounding as the “demandingness” of seeking an abortion can actually permit some measurement – e.g., clinic availability, waiting periods, cost, not to mention the data on actual reasons (often concerning poverty) women give for seeking abortion. But if you’ve read my paper with the empirical data it contains, I guess you should see where I’m coming from – cites to data concerning all these vectors of “demandingness” are in my essay.

    This is the last I’ll say about it. I’m in print with my objections already and more fully than I can give here, and this is wandering far away from the original post. I get that you see that too.

  12. Update: Since this post is making the rounds of various Facebook threads and appearing elsewhere, I should perhaps relate that with respect to one of the edited volumes I link above, two of the co-editors have contacted me to say they were unaware of Tien’s profession and included him in the volume upon the recommendation of another (or others). That’s vague perhaps but I don’t know if they want to be named, yet I thought I should clarify that at least some of the people involved in publishing Tien’s work did so without this information.

    Having said that, I want at least to raise here that not knowing is itself, to my mind, indicative of a problem. Let me try to explain. Tien is unaffiliated with any philosophy department. His profession is being a PUA or, in his idiom, “dating coach.” To know anything about his credentials for philosophy, you have to look him up. But if you look him up, you immediately see his occupation and the objectionable content I originally posted – none of it is hidden and it’s all in plain view. So what that means is that it is possible in philosophy to get your work into an edited volume without some of those editing it even knowing your credentials. They’re just operating on the judgments of trusted others. Now, I assume those trusted others who recommended Tien know who he is and what he does. (I cannot imagine how someone with no academic affiliation at all could escape ALL scrutiny while also having such a huge web presence identifying his “work.”) So what’s at work here?

    One possibility is that the trusted others think Tien’s work is just so amazing it negates all the other problems he poses – problems that, I hasten to add, include not just misogyny but also lousy orientalist drivel that he presents in his PUA work. He cites Chinese philosophical literature and even oracle bones(!) as the secret to his sexual success. In this, he is one of many charlatans to bedevil Chinese philosophy by marketing quasi-mystical orientalist mumbo-jumbo presented as “ancient wisdom.” In sum, if the trusted others recommending him could stomach the misogyny, they’d also have to stomach the emphatically non-scholarly orientalist garbage he sells to his PUA clients using his philosophy credentials. I don’t know how anyone can separate respecting Tien’s academic work from the radically poor scholarly judgment evident in his uses of Chinese thought in his (cough) primary occupation. But I guess some plausibly could pull that trick and say his academic work just is so fabulous all the rest is forgettable or excusable.

    Another possibility, and the one I think more likely at work, is that this is but evidence of the rank cronyism and buddy system in philosophy. Tien is someone’s friend. Friends invite friends to conferences and volumes. Friends may also overvalue the academic work of their friends and cronies. Or friends may just not read much outside their circle of friends so when the “who should we invite?” question arises, their friends come to mind. And this friendship/crony system has long excluded many women in the field so that publishing a PUA sits alongside few women appearing in volumes as just one of the predictable results. This also might explain why people would be game to publish the work of someone absent knowing anything about their occupation – a friend vouched for him after all. But of course this situation can test the limits of this networking/friendship system in unusual ways. I’d not like to find out that I unknowingly published a PUA because I accepted someone’s recommendation in trust. I assume most people wouldn’t and gather the two who contacted me are quite unhappily surprised by this. So apart from all the rest about Tien, if this is the explanation it illuminates something about the crony system the field permits.

  13. Dear Professor Manners,

    Since you asked, I thought I should clarify why I was reluctant to accept the gloss on Ivanhoe – specifically the part where you say he proposes making Abortion “harder”. I take Ivanhoe to support either guaranteed access to safe abortions or much more widespread guaranteed access to safe abortions (the specific position is unclear I think). I am myself worried about his counseling process suggestion, for reasons you helpfully canvas and others, but I am reluctant to call the the combo of universal or greatly increased guaranteed access with counseling “harder” than current practice in most countries.

    Here are some quotes to help support my reading and the idea that Ivanhoe wants access to abortion to be less hard on women: “In the debate about abortion in the United States and elsewhere, the tragic and reprehensible consequences for women, often isolated and alone, who in past times, when legal abortions were unavailable, were driven to despair and desperate means because they had “no way out” of the dilemma posed by an unwanted pregnancy is often cited as one of the strongest reasons for guaranteeing access to safe, legal abortions. It is quite likely that such compassion for the pregnant woman—rather than any appeal to her rights—is the single most important concern behind the majority support of abortion as a legal option. It is quite likely that such compassion for the pregnant woman—rather than any appeal to her rights—is the single most important concern behind the majority support of abortion as a legal option.”

    Next page: “From the Confucian perspective, there is a clear need for regulating abortions in various ways, in order to ensure that society is doing all it can to prevent unnecessary procedures, guarantee that women receive safe abortions and related support when needed, and work to propagate and enforce the values and ideals that justify and motivate these kinds of activities.”

    On Tien:

    (1) I don’t think you are wrong to be annoyed at all (!) but I do think you should maybe footnote the main post to clarify that Ivanhoe only thanked Tien for urging Ivanhoe to clarify his position. You might suspect he borrowed views from Tien but that it not obvious from the text and he certainly does not appeal to him as an authority. This does not undercut your larger points I do not think. As a fellow philosopher, committed to the truth and moral seriousness I have to recommend a footnote or something out of fairness to Ivanhoe and what is in his article.

    (2) Against my better judgment, I wasted some hours of my life and looked over Tien’s site. I’m raising my son to never hold a job like that or to embrace the value set that Tien seems to promote.

    That said, I don’t think your summary of him and his job is adequate. He contrasts his current approach working with clients with standard approaches and he repeatedly points to the importance of being honest and authentic when trying to connect with women. He also at one point goes over the things you need to do to be a real MAN (ok I laughed at this point). One of three or four criteria is being someone on whom a woman can depend. Finally, his testimonials include creepy sounding guys, but also some guys who are just happy to have more confidence, honesty, etc. And there is one from a guy who met someone and is happily married with kids and he seems to credit Tien with helping him find what may well be a good relationship.

    Tien is clearly perpetuating misogynistic values and enabling people to treat women horribly, but he is also perpetuating some ok or even good values such as honesty, reliability, and self-confidence. Well at least that is how it seems and how he represents himself.

    I do not want to come off as defending Tien, but I think we need to have an adequate and accurate grasp on the facts when we engage in critique. It’s easy to cherrypick the worst parts of his website in order to demonize him because those parts are really horrible. But as philosophers I think we should raise the bar.

    It is not like the really horrible things you highlight will stop being horrible if we take in the whole picture. And we will end with a more charitable and accurate grasp of the complexity of the practices that perpetuate patriarchy and the vice-ridden but not rotten to the core people who perpetuate it – even if they do not think of themselves as doing that.

  14. Anon, I really am finished discussing my views on Ivanhoe’s article. As for your comments about Tien, I do think you wasted your time. Since the original post went up, he’s scrubbed the site of most of the objectionable content. If you want to see what was there when the original post went up, you’ll have to perform whatever internet magic retrieves archives of sites. In the alternative, perhaps you could spend your time researching the sorry life conditions of prostitutes in China, and then return to school me on the charitable reading of his bragging about training the “new girls” in a Chinese brothel. Here’s a start on charity: I’m sure he means “girls” as but a misogynistic way to refer to grown women, not, you know, actual girls. I don’t need a more complete picture than I have and if that makes me uncharitable to Tien, so be it. I’m sure his being misunderstood in this way is painful for him. Maybe as painful as a Viagra induced headache incurred while “training new girls” in a brothel?

  15. It’s only a short distance from what I’ve seen above to outright tragic exploitation, as it’s all rooted in the same kinds of attitudes. Please read this excellent summary from a good organization, and consider supporting any that help these victims:


    “One reason for the proliferation of sex trafficking is because in many parts of the world there is little to no perceived stigma to purchasing sexual favors for money, and prostitution is viewed as a victimless crime. Because women are culturally and socially devalued in so many societies, there is little conflict with the purchasing of women and girls for sexual services. Further, few realize the explicit connection between the commercial sex trade, and the trafficking of women and girls and the illegal slave trade. In western society in particular, there is a commonly held perception that women choose to enter into the commercial sex trade. However, for the majority of women in the sex trade, and specifically in the case of trafficked women and girls who are coerced or forced into servitude, this is simply not the case.”

  16. I see a dearth of citations of actual research into prostitution in the site you link, George, and such actual research as I have encountered tends to paint a quite different picture. Illegal immigrants are frequently exploited by people who take advantage of the way that their problematic status prevents them from seeking help from the authorities, and some of the cases of such exploitation involve sex workers, but it doesn’t seem to be the case either that a majority or vastly disproportionate number of exploited illegal immigrants are in sex work or that a majority or vastly disporportionate number of sex workers are in this category (or any other exploited category). Not making any excuses for Tien; I don’t know anything about his particular situation or his claims. But you are generalizing about a much broader range of situations, and the generalizations you are making do not appear to be true.

  17. Protagoras, perhaps you would like to provide citations yourself? Otherwise, I’m not sure how else Larry can respond to this, if he wised to do so. Or, better still, perhaps we can all agree that there are reasons to think prostitution in many regions, including China, is not reliably a career pursued in full autonomy by women with a rich buffet of live options? I.e., the relevant point with which this began is that gloating about “training” prostitutes makes apologetics and offering context to soften Tien’s misogyny via his (now cleaner) website looks a lot like misdirected sympathies.

  18. Note: I posted this comment elsewhere but wanted it here as well to increase visibility.

    I wasn’t sure about posting this but I feel obligated at this point to speak up based on how the conversation has developed and given my own experience with the man. I’ve kept quiet primarily because I am a grad student and I thought it might be eminently stupid to say anything publicly. But given that I only want to reiterate Prof. Olberding’s critique of the climate of silence regarding our peers’ devastating moral defects, I cannot in good conscience keep quiet. First an anecdote and then the point:

    I met Tien for the first time at a conference—I won’t say which—where he left a very bad impression on me for a number of reasons, only later to discover the nature of his business. Throughout the conference he was very vague, but also very proud of himself for it. I got the feeling that nobody at the conference knew about his business, but everyone basically trusted that he was a competent scholar and successful businessman.

    Afterward at drinks though we had a moment of tension that upsets me to this day. I can’t remember all the details but the topic of contention was over the role of sinological rigor in Chinese philosophy, about which I have admittedly strong views. Rather than engage in good faith debate as I expected though, David insisted on talking down to me and poking fun at my “youthful passion.” He even told me that I belong in an Asian Studies department rather than a philosophy department(!). I was visibly upset at that point, and I did stick up for myself, apparently to his surprise and equally visible displeasure.

    But I’m a confident man. What if I was less confident? I would have just had to deal with being out-macho’d by an “expert” in masculinity—in an informal academic setting allegedly among scholarly “peers”! Most importantly though, how on Earth he would have treated me if I was a woman?—professor or grad student? I can’t imagine, but the risk is all too real. When I looked up Tien in a fury afterward, I was appalled by his business, but not all that surprised given the way he acted towards me. At that point, I decided to avoid him, ignore his work, and let others know why they should too, at least in private. But perhaps herein lies the problem.

    I want to highlight with this anecdote the material costs and risks associated with maintaining an environment of widespread ignorance of this man’s moral defects, however peripheral he may now be. Widespread ignorance of Tien’s primary occupation has now both cost the field some of its credibility as well as personally harmed those volume editors and conference participants who unwittingly interacted with him and showed him respect and honor in a professional academic setting where they otherwise would not have—myself included. The only way to remedy this ignorance is by speaking up, as Prof. Olberding has. In the future though, I hope that people in the know about similar devastating moral defects among our peers will speak up sooner, however uncomfortable it may be, so as to prevent harm both personal and professional that widespread ignorance of those defects might cause. Of course this goes for me as well, which is why I feel obligated to write this, and further admit that I should have done so sooner.

  19. Because the description captures perfectly the devastating experience of people I know. I won’t discuss this further.

  20. I confess to not being well informed on sex work in China specifically, and I said I don’t know anything about Tien; I kind of felt like the comment I was replying to was going off on a tangent, and was only speaking to that tangent (and trying to be brief, because I thought it was a tangent). But since I’ve been asked for citations, I will briefly mention that I tend to find that people like Laura Agustin seem to be much better at actually producing evidence for their arguments than sources like the one George Israel links to.

  21. Perhaps I will just make one more point: the link I proposed looking over is about human trafficking, not illegal immigrants. This is a serious matter where women’s lives are ruined by kidnapping, rape, slavery, and debt bondage and then a lifetime of shame. You may think I am far afield from the behaviors described in the initial post. In that case, I merely egregiously took advantage of this opportunity to bring to anyone’s attention the plight of the least among us in many parts of the world, but especially the border regions of E and SE Asia. If you compare the information to the 90 page UN report you will see that it is not inaccurate. http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/GLOTIP_2014_full_report.pdf

  22. First, let me put all my cards on the table. I am an Asian male who worked in academic philosophy in an English speaking country. That was in past tense because I fell “out of love” with philosophy. And I know I am not the only one, knowing at least one other Asian male who did. And I do not know David Tien at all, until I read this post. I have not worked in Chinese philosophy but I have some “folk” knowledge of Confucianism and its political development throughout Chinese history. But I consider myself well versed in liberal philosophy (though that is still not exactly my field I worked in). The totalitarian bend of China since the Ming dynasty (i.e. 14th century) is staggering, and is still happening right now, maybe worst than ever with modern surveillance. Asia is a sufficiently large and diverse continent that it can give me and people I know some anonymity, because frankly I have no desire to get back into the fray.

    I am also assuming the facts about David Tien stated here are true. Truth is, I did a quick Google search (lazy man’s oracle) on Tien and it came up with him as some vague “professional personal coach” or some such. I have also read about Pickup Artist (PUA) in The Game, so I have nothing but disdain for PUA, and know that PUAs would likely to hide the true nature of their work under some BS cover like personal coach.

    So let me be upfront and say again, unequivocally, that I despise the sexism exhibited by PUAs, and despise sexism in general.

    Now on to my criticisms.

    Prof Manner’s attack on David Tien stated here is classic ad hominem. The post I’ve seen here have not pointed out how David Tien being a PUA is supposed to compromise the integrity or plausibility of Tien’s arguments in the articles he contributed. There is a tangential attack on Ivanhoe’s argument, but Ivanhoe isn’t the main target here, it is Tien.

    Now I actually don’t believe the party line stated in every critical thinking 101 textbook saying that ad hominem is a fallacy. A simple ad hominem like “He is sexist, therefore his argument is crap” of course is bad argument. A complicated one like “He is a sexist, AND his sexism corrupted his argument, therefore his argument is crap.” isn’t a bad argument, but a reasonably good one, depending on the exact circumstance. But then the additional premises need to be stated and tested.

    So I would like Prof Manner to do an actual take down of Tien’s arguments, based on the fact that he is a PUA and/or a sexist, and how that invalidates his arguments.

    There is another more general point, about freedom of speech.

    Now I am fine with people not wanting to be associated with Tien in any shape or size (I for one will turn the other way if I see him on the street). And I take Prof Manner’s word, without question, that the Chinese philosophy subfield in Anglo-American philosophy is not very friendly towards women.

    I’m simply against any kind of no-platform, because that is what Prof Manners’s suggestions against Tien will practically amount to. I say don’t pressure powers-that-be that Tien is a charlatan and deny him a chance to speak. Just give him rope so he can hang himself, or give him a helping hand (see the previous point).

  23. Hi, Anonymous, these seem like fair points, but I would distinguish what I’ve said from no-platforming. I have only addressed what transpires with conferences and edited volumes that select participants in a non-anonymized fashion and typically even do so in advance of the work’s being produced. That’s one aspect of the discipline only and does not sever off any of the others. It is also an area of the discipline that is one of our less fair, I think. The selection judgments are, at least, sometimes mysterious when one looks at conferences or volumes… mysterious until you know about the friendships, mentor/student relations, and so forth in the background. Not saying that’s everywhere, but it’s a potential problem and the professional goods of these invites are quite difficult to distribute fairly.

    I also don’t think it’s no-platforming to say I don’t want to work with him. That the primary gist of what I’ve said and there’s certainly no obligation to work with any particular other in one’s field, much less a colleague you think violates professional standards. You can disagree with me about the standards, but the point is that I personally have no obligation to work with someone about whom I make that judgment, even if you disagree with that judgment.

    I’m afraid I can’t comment more on all you’ve written just now, but some of the intellectual issues within Chinese philosophy are here: http://warpweftandway.com/olberding-on-tien/#comment-135780

    Finally, I’m really sorry you left the field. It’s precisely so that the field doesn’t lose people to poor climate that I worry about things like all the above.

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