Ain’t No Way to Hide Your Lyin’ Eyes

Tech It Girl Elizabeth Holmes has been charged with “massive fraud.”  Who ever could’ve seen that coming?


I’ll leave it to the STEM types among the Nine Readers to sort out just how jaw-droppingly implausible Holmes’s claims actually were (although I must say that even I, a tech illiterate who has to pull off a sock to count past ten, briefly skimmed a summary of Theranos and thought “but blood doesn’t work like that!”).  I just want to comment briefly on the total insanity of anyone, anywhere, giving the girl in that picture one thin dime.

We’re just starting to scratch the surface of the looming social catastrophe that is chix-in-STEM.  First, and most important, we mix up “could” and “should.”  Lots of women are good at math, chemistry, biology, etc.  There are more women than men enrolled in med school, for example, and I have no doubt they’ll perform as well as the men.  Problem is, med school is brutal, and residency is worse.  Four years of college, plus four more of med school, plus three to seven years of residency (at 120 hours per week) is…carry the one… divide by the cosine… approximately 11-16 years of delayed family formation.  I’ve been around a lot of these gals, and their profiles, if they were honest, would all look something like this:

Hi! I’m 32 years old and haven’t been on a date in 10 years.  I make $300K a year, but I’m half a mil in debt.  I own a house that I’m never in, because I work 100 hours a week to make the nut on that half mil of med school debt.  My hobbies include sleeping, napping, and wolfing down greasy carb-laden takeout.  The men I’m around all day are either sociopathic alpha males or trembly dorks, and both of them work as much as I do.  Oh, and I really want a baby.  Like, NOW.

What a catch, right?  And it gets worse, as these women are all told that the reason they can’t find true love is because “men are intimidated by strong, intelligent women.”  Which, as doctors, they of all people should know is bullshit — evolutionary biology being what it is, women date across and up.  A plumber isn’t intimidated by your MD; he just knows he’s wasting his time hitting on you.  Given a sure thing with a plumber versus a one-in-a-thousand shot with a brain surgeon, your female MD goes with the brain surgeon, every single time.  Biomechanics is god.

So you’ve got a lot of very unhappy women out there, who a) feel as though they’re letting the Sisterhood down if they drop out of med school, and b) can’t drop out of med school anyway, as they’ve already committed half a decade and half a zillion dollars getting in.  And these are doctors, who still have to have a foot (or a few toes, at least) in the social world, due to daily interactions with patients.  The further up the nerd food chain you go, the less regular contact with the hu-mans.

STEM-capable women who actually go into STEM, in other words, are STEMing themselves right out of the gene pool, and making themselves miserable in the process.

And then there are the guys.  The neckbearded permavirgin STEM guy is a stereotype, but stereotypes exist because they’re true.  You can tell how screwed up the STEM sociosexual market is by taking a quick gander at the girls who get their dander up.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

Zoe Quinn

Zoe Quinn

Rebecca Watson, a.k.a. SkepChick

Rebecca Watson, a.k.a. SkepChick

I’m not making fun of these ladies’ looks (ok, ok, I’m not just making fun of these ladies’ looks).  I’m all for people finding love, but even if I were single, if Zoe up there offered me a beej, I’d pass.  Not,I hasten to add, because I was some kind of mack daddy with dozens of spinning plates back in my single days, but because I was a normal guy in a normal job and every single female coworker I had looked better.  Guys are likelier to score an empty netter — again, biomechanics — but it’s contextual; as a normal guy in a normal job, I figured I at least had a decent shot with someone a lot better.  It’s only under conditions of direst scarcity that Quinn, Watson, et al are teh hotness.

Which brings us back to Elizabeth Holmes.  She looks like a creepy autist to me — if you kill Steve Jobs, eat his heart, and wear his black turtleneck, you’ll gain his powers! — but let’s stipulate she’s a 6…. to normal guys.  In her context, she’s a knockout.  How did anyone, reading that prospectus and gazing into those eyes, give this woman a dime?  They were thinking with the wrong head.  It’s as simple as that…. and it was a $700 million mistake.

And we’re going all-out to get more women in STEM.  Think about that for a second.  There are plenty of women who can do the work… up to a point.  What happens when they can’t?  Men in the same situation just live with it.  Maybe you topped out with C++ or whatever, and hey, that’s fine, there’s a decent middle class life to be made there.  But for men, coding chops is all we’ve got; our place on the nerd food chain depends solely on what we can do with a keyboard.  Women, though, have a whole other road to success, and that’s how you get a nearly billion dollar fraud like Theranos.

So what happens when the girls in the STEM pipeline right now top out?  Where do they top out?  If they’re just doing Math Club in high school to score a killer extracurricular on their Vassar apps, ok, fine.  But what if they choose to major in it?  Weed-out courses only work if you can’t cheat.  Was Holmes really a biology ace at Stanford?  Or did she get some help from thirsty male classmates, professors, administrators?  We’ll never know, and it doesn’t matter now…. for her.  But for the new generation of STEM ladies coming up?  I don’t think it’s going to end well.



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12 thoughts on “Ain’t No Way to Hide Your Lyin’ Eyes

  1. Recusant

    I love you Severian, but you’re going to get yourself digitally assassinated if you continue to insist on telling it like it is,

    I’d offer you sanctuary over here in Dear Old Blighty, but the insistence on pretence is probably worse.

  2. P_Ang

    Say, this article (which I do admit I like and is well-drafted) looks very similar to one on a hearty French-house sort of a blog. No self-respecting teacher would be caught dead going there! You better be reading it just for the articles…

  3. Nate winchester

    Hey! As a lonely neckbeard i…

    Can’t really argue.

    This is my problem when guys like Stacy McCain say guys can’t get women because their expectations are too high because of porn. Look, I’ll put money on the experiment right now. Give a guy a hard drive filled with the hottest babes to his taste in a room with a woman half as attractive – but willing – and I’ll wager the guys will go for the live gal majority of the time. More proof is what you just pointed out where girls of middling attraction can get a lot of attention showing interest in things guys like. (look if you need a date? Go visit your local game shop on friday night magic, i guarantee you can find a single guy there)

    So no, i don’t buy much that guys are the problem when it comes to the pandemic of singleness in the nation.

    But that’s another rant.

    1. P_Ang

      I agree. I mean, I know I don’t like Zoe Quinn for who she is. No idea who the second is. But both of them are better looking than the last couple girls I went out with. If they were normal, non-wackadoo’s I’d be beta-male’ing all over that.

  4. Anonymous White Male

    As patriarchally as it may sound, women were designed to be and most satisfied and content with being mothers. And yet, they have been told for decades now that being only a “housewife and mother” is somehow degrading and represses their true talents of being superior to men in everything. Except jobs that are really icky! And writing their name in the snow with yellow ink. But, as a man, I’d like to know how they could have been so foolish as to believe that being in the workforce was somehow more pleasurable than being a mother? Did they actually ask any of the males that actually did put in 40 to 80 hours a week at the grindstone what they thought about that? How many men did they know that actually enjoyed their work? I am of the Bart Simpson school of thought on that one. When asked by Homer how working for people doing yard work and what not was, he responded “I’m through with working. Working is for chumps!” To which Homer responded, “Son, I’m so proud of you. I was twice your age before I figured that out!”

  5. moscanarius

    Having some experience in biotechnology (though of the non-sexy kind), I can say that here’s the one thing you needed to read to know that Theranos was sketchy:

    Elizabeth Holmes, aged 19, came up with an idea that she believed could change the world.

    Biotech is not math. There is no way someone can be revolutionary-grade-good at it by age 19. Whatever idea a nineteen years old may have in this field was probably already being discussed before they were born. So either the girl was deluded, and encouraged to remain so by her entourage, or she was just a figurehead that the guys who actually run the company thought good to put before the audience. The first possibility meant a >95% chance of utter failure for the company; the second demands us to ask who was hiding behind her, and with what sort of intention – and it was safe to guess that their intentions had a high chance of being dishonest.

    1. Al from da Nort

      Or, far more likely, a rare female total sociopath. Alternatively, some kind of rare mental case, likely both. I mean, it’s one thing to invent a gang-rape story out of the whole cloth about some unfortunate frat at the U of VA, but it’s a whole nother trophic level up the fraudster food chain to invent an entire hi-tech breakthrough out of the whole cloth.

      No benefit of the doubt whatsoever is due either side, IMHO.

      IOW, the rumors that she did her networking horizontally are also likely false as well (at least mostly). These are obvious cover for the venture cap (VC) ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’ heard mentality.

      For me the early scam-tell was her board of directors (BOD): Big, big names who jack about bio-informatics or even hi-tech business. Big names cost big bucks. Actual, sorta-honest early start-up guys have to hoard cash less they run out before they can cash out. The most closely watched financial stat in a start-up is the ‘cash burn rate’. Cash on hand divided by cash burn rate = how long you have to build the Potemkin Village.

      Actual high-tech startups want savvy and tech-connected guys on their BoD. Guys who can stop you from going down costly blind alleys and who know who to call for a help-line when you’re stymied.

      Big, big names on a BoD *are* useful for providing cover for elite-connected, faking-it, heard-thinking investors, however. So the obvious question was, “Why would any honest start-up waste their precious start-up cash buying a big name BoD who couldn’t possible help and would likely get in the way_?”

      The obvious answer is: “Some kind of scam, maybe just a bust out, possibly self-deluded insanity”.

      1. Al from da Nort

        BTW, it should be …who *know* jack about bio-informatics… in para. 4, line 2

        Not the potentially unfortunate original construction 😉

        1. Severian Post author

          I assume that if it’s Stanford — home of the infamous Zimbardo experiment, which was paid for by the Navy — it’s got some DIA-type backing. FedGov certainly has no problem blowing a mere $700 mil on something that’s fairly obviously impossible. What that might be is well beyond my pay grade, but since we know the Chinese, Norks, etc. use the Geneva Accords as toilet paper, I’m assuming some kind of counter-bioweapon testing.

          1. Al from da Nort

            So you’re saying Theranos is a DIA/CIA/Fed Gov front company in contradistinction to my theory about its being a bust-out gone bad run by a XX insane sociopath who started to believe her own BS_?

            I suppose that’s possible but then there’d be no need for the monster PR campaign or the bankruptcy filing. Usually front companies try to ‘stay off the skyline’ and don’t try to light up the sky thinking that dumb money will materialize as the result.

  6. Severian


    Actually, I think it’s much more a bust out run by a sociopath who believes her own BS, aided and abetted by a whole bunch of nerds thinking with their little heads. I was just trying to spitball something else that might make sense… but yeah, probably not a CIA front. When you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras, right?

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