Why We’re Still Single, Part II

http://bigthink.com/dollars-and-sex/why-were-still-single-part-i

Why We’re Still Single, Part II

Have you ever come across a dating profile that includes the phrase, “I won’t settle for less than perfect, and neither should you”? It seems that the vastness of the online dating market has encouraged a change in attitude among singles away from “I could do worse” towards “I could do better.”

Having this attitude doesn’t just slow down the rate at which dating markets clear, but according to new evidence leaves some searchers so exhausted they end up leaving the market all together.

When thinking about the online dating market I like to compare it to search for a partner in a smaller, self-contained dating market like a rural town in the 1960s. At that time, and in that environment, looking for a relationship partner wasn’t a complicated affair. Limited options meant that most people would have married the least objectionable partner available.

In terms of economic language these people set their “reservation value” of a mate low in expectation of never marrying if they set it any higher.

As dating markets grew, first with urbanization and later with access to online markets, singles became willing to wait a little longer in the hope of finding someone who was closer to what they perceived to be the perfect mate. According to that logic, with greatly expanded online markets in the last five years reservation values are probably higher than they have ever been before.

Authors of a new research paper talked to singles about filtering (which we discussed in Part I) and exhaustion in shopping for a mate online. Consider this quote from one of their participants about how her searching behavior has changed over time:


“I have become more selective about what I want and don’t want. I used to think I would be lucky just to get a date or have someone look at me. I was naïve, I wouldn’t think there were losers, now I’m more discerning. The person inside of me who wanted to get out has gotten out. I don’t waste time like before; I used to be polite and nice, now I just tell them to piss off.”

And this searcher:

I don’t know if it’s because of online dating, but just my opinion of men has changed a bit. They’re not as good as I thought, I’m not as desperate as before. The whole process is too tiring, I can’t be bothered.

Others described comparing new prospective partners not only to people whom they had met in the past but also to a possible person who might appear in the future. One former user, who has since given up the search, said:

I don’t think it’s for me … I think those people are on there looking for something they’re never ever going to find. They might find someone who fits 9 of the boxes but because one of boxes hasn’t been ticked, they will look for someone who ticks all 10.

I would be the last person to suggest that men and women shouldn’t be looking for someone who is their perfect match, but when reservation values are set too high people risk never meeting a person to who meets that standard. This is as true in online dating as it is in the rural dating market I described above. The difference between these markets is that online markets give singles the illusion that the supply of potential partners is infinite and so among them one must be ideal. And so they wait longer, and search harder, than they might in a smaller market.

Remember Mad TV’s on the dating service called “Lowered Expectations”? I am proposing that rational expectations, that recognized the limits to the online dating market, would encourage relationships seekers to find a mate sooner before becoming fed up with the whole process.

Of course for people who do eventually find that perfect someone, this type of matching is a good thing because it improves the quality of marriages. That is topic we are going to return to in my next post.

Reference:

Best, Kirsty and Sharon Delmege (2012). “The filtered encounter: online dating
and the problem of filtering through excessive information.” Social Semiotics vol. 22(3); pp. 237-258.
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Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

What is the rarest blood type?

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
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China's "artificial sun" sets new record for fusion power

China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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