21 June 2004
Playing the numbers
You gotta love this. From Dawn Eden:
The other night, I ran into a woman I know who informed me she was so dissatisfied with the caliber of men she was meeting through her social circle that she had joined a personal-ad Web site.
Unfortunately, she added, the Web site one of the biggest in the business had thus far turned out to be a bust. The five responses she'd received in her ad's debut week ranged from the perverted to the inane. But what could she expect? According to a survey on the site, she was compatible with only 4 percent of its members.
Just a lonely little 4 percent. How sad. I gave her the requisite "poor baby" platitudes. It wasn't until I got home that it hit me.
Assuming that the Web site's statistics hold true for real life which they probably do, given the large sample and assuming what I learned in fifth-grade math still holds, Personal Ad Gal can theoretically walk into any room containing 25 men and discover one case of mutual boat-floating.
It boggles the mind.
The numbers being what they are J. Random Guy being a 96-percent flop it becomes a better-than-even bet that one of these fellows might do the trick once you get seventeen in the room. (0.96 to the 17th power comes in at 0.4996; in other words, the chance of a match is 1 minus 0.4996, which is 0.5004.) It never becomes quite a certainty, as Zeno might have pointed out, and there are always imponderables to figure into the mix, but by and large, it shouldn't take a pool of candidates large enough to fill the Albert Hall to come up with Just The One.
Still, it's probably a good idea not to get too enthusiastic about the odds. As Dawn says:
In the film Big Fish, a boy sees a vision of his own death. That knowledge gives him marvelous confidence throughout life. In his moments of greatest fear, he can reassure himself by remembering, "This is not how I go."
Single women are told to view single men with an open mind, as though each one might be The One. I submit that this is counterproductive. When the difference between the right man and the almost-right man is analogous to that between lightning and the lightning bug, and when one faces the daunting task of weeding out 999,999,999 million almost-right ones, the answer is not to keep playing the field.
Until lightning strikes, the answer is to keep remembering: "This is not how I go."
Is there a chapel in the pines, waiting for us around the bend? I don't know. But one thing I do know: respect the power of the storm. When the atmosphere is right, things can change literally within seconds.
TrackBack: 8:35 PM, 21 June 2004
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