What Online Dating Tells Us About Human Relationships, with Christian Rudder
The OkCupid co-founder and author of "Dataclysm" analyzes stats from dating websites in order to draw conclusions about society and dating.
Christian Rudder is co-founder, general manager and editorial director of OkCupid. Rudder previously worked with fellow Harvard alumni on SparkNotes.com, which Barnes & Noble bought in 2001. He is the author of Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking).
Christian Rudder: I started this whole project by looking at OkCupid and the data and writing the blog that I did, and hopefully will one day do again very soon. And it's the best data set in the world because it's people, all strangers, all making judgments of one another, all probably trying to sleep with each other, which also adds a certain piquancy to the whole thing. So, you know, you look at the data and you really get a kind of special window into people's psyche. Kind of like if you could see everything that was going on in a big bar on a Friday night. And you see that men are the kind of pursuers in relationships at a four to one ratio and kind of correspondingly, women, because they're getting four messages to every one they send out, like they respond a lot less and response rates track directly with how hot the writer was, is.
But then you also see that once people start talking and they establish a rapport, which for OkCupid is four messages going back-and-forth, that attractiveness kind of goes out the window at that point. Your personality takes over after the fourth message. You see that in general women's opinions of men's looks, and again on average, is about half of what men's opinions of women's looks are so they kind of get a 50 percent discount just ice cold. On Tinder it's actually a lot more. It's something like a ten percent discount or ninety percent discount sorry the other way. They go at ten. So these environments I think, I can't prove this, my intuition is that the more sexual an environment the larger that discount from women to men.
OkCupid's user base in theory on paper is as liberal as you could ever want it to be. You ask people if they're a Democrat, if they're progressive, yes, yes, yes, you know, two, three to one. We're all highly coastal. Very little red state, very blue. On a piece of paper OkCupid should be a very progressive place. And maybe it is because who knows what the rest of the world is like. But the data that we have, you know, black users get three quarters of the messages, the positive votes. They're attractiveness rating are three quarters of an average white user, or Latino user for that matter. They get replied to about three quarters of the time. It's pretty blanket. Asian men also get a similar discount, but not Asian women.
And then you go and you look at DateHookup, which is a site we run. You look at the data from Match.com and you see the exact same patterns, maybe not in the exact same ratios but the same basic up down yes no patterns when you compare any race with another race. So as suggested it's kind of, I won't say universal in the sense of permanent pattern, but it's certainly like a state of affairs right now in the American psyche. And those three sites alone they registered maybe 30 million people in the United States last year. So it's not like some small sample. I mean that's about half of the single and looking people in the country, to my best guess if you look at the census number. So it's pretty meaningful and a pretty depressing thing to kind of digest.
In so far as like Grindr or any of these other sites that kind of hook up apps are hook up apps for gay men, OkCupid is a little bit more of the relationship site and we have a very strong gay user base, male and female. So we get to look at their patterns and they're basically the same as straight patterns, which I think is meaningful in the context of marriage equality. Because certainly the pre-marriage relationships seem about the same when you actually go and look at the data, which I think is a strong argument for any type of relationship being held apart legally for sure.
I think the most significant thing that people do on OkCupid, because it's a precursor to going out, going home with somebody, getting into a relationship with somebody, getting married, any of that stuff it's just messaging. And we found some kind of crazy stuff. Like it doesn't really matter how long your message is. The best messages are very short, 40 to 50 characters, but by best they get a reply 21, 22 percent of the time and kind of all messages get a reply maybe 19, 20 percent of the time so it's not like a massive increase. It does help you to spend a little bit more time on your message. We put a little script to just track the time since the composition window opened. So if you put a little bit more effort into your message per character, it will yield slightly better results. But again it's not a huge effect so we were surprised at both of those things. I thought that longer messages would either do super badly or do super well. And then if you spend a lot of time at least on your message it would do better than something that you just, type it and go.
As a writer it's a little sad to say but it kind of comes down to, just like it does in person, there's so much like first impression, which online is your picture frankly. That your actual words aren't as relevant as you probably wish they were. So, to that point people being the kind of like intuitive – people enmass being the intuitive geniuses that they are, the wisdom of the crowds or whatever, you know, you have like 20 percent of messages from guys to women are copy pasted from other messages that the guys have sent. They found something that for whatever reason either works for typifies them or that they like or whatever it is and they just blast it out.
And those actually they do worse, but not that much worse. They do like 75 percent of a normal message, a theoretically unique message. And so it's very easy to arrive at the results per units effort is like sky high just cut and pasting. So that probably will be something that increases over time. And we thought about kind of – it's very easy for us to know whether a message has been cut and pasted from another message, obviously you just compare it. But we just decided to let those things go because it's just the online equivalent of people having their favorite anecdote about themselves or this one time they got into this crazy bar fight or I don't know how I got this scar, that kind of thing in a bar or just like a standard pick up line that you might use. So it's one of these things that the online version of it seems very weird and kind of unsavory to be like this dude just sent the same message to like 40 people, but I probably told the same story – everybody that I'm friends with has probably heard a large set of the same stories from me and it's something that people just do.
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton
Christian Rudder is co-founder of OkCupid and author of the New York Times bestselling book "Dataclysm," in which he harnesses user data collected from dating websites to analyze human behavior. In this video interview Rudder shares examples of OkCupid stats that tell a larger story about why relationships form.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
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Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
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Credit: NAOJ<p><em>Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.</em></p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
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