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Think Tank

Has Online Dating Thrown the Romance Out with the Math Water?

Online dating is a billion dollar industry with some 1,500 dating sites in the United States alone. The industry has successfully marketed itself into the hearts of just about every segment of the population, often with the promise of excluding other segments from the dating pool. With great precision you can select a potential mate who is a fellow Christian or a fellow dog lover and weed out all the rest. Or, if you prefer, you can restrict your search to a married woman who is looking to have an affair

While no site has figured out how to effectively exclude stalkers and trolls, this industry certainly didn't invent creeps, or, for that matter, the many pangs of the heart that go hand-in-hand with finding the right mate. So have online dating sites made our love lives better or worse? Big Think recorded two opposing viewpoints, from Sam Yagan, the co-founder and CEO of OKCupid, and Ted Fischer, Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University.

Yagan describes his popular dating site as an online bar. He tells Big Think:

Imagine if you had a video camera in every bar in the country and you could watch and log every transaction, every interaction that took place...Imagine how amazing that data set would be and how much fun you could have learning about people, dating, society.

Watch the video here:

Ted Fischer, on the other hand, says Internet dating sites with their "neat mechanical formulas" have actually thrown the romance out with the math water.

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

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