Favorite

The love equation 

Little Rock native Christian Rudder's $50 million idea to turn dating into math.

Do you like the taste of beer? Do you prefer the people in your life to be simple or complex? Do spelling and grammar mistakes annoy you?

If you answered yes, complex and no, you're 60 percent more likely than others to sleep with someone on a first date, twice as likely to be a liberal and slightly more than twice as likely to be at least moderately religious, according to findings Little Rock native Christian Rudder published in early February.

Rudder, 35, majored in math at Harvard and uses it daily at OkCupid.com, the free online dating site he and three other Harvard mathematicians founded in 2004 and recently sold to IAC's Match.com for $50 million.

Most days, Rudder works as data miner, parsing through a sample size that would've made Alfred Kinsey's head explode — 776 million answers to relationship questions from seven million users. Give him a couple hours and he could tell you everything from the sexual proclivities of 30-year-old bisexuals living in Boston to how people's willingness to role-play rape fantasies and hygiene correlate state by state.

In practice, perhaps it's less thrilling. "I sit in front of Excel and groan most of the time," Rudder said a few weeks ago (as part of the deal with Match.com, OkCupid's staff and autonomy remain intact). Still, somehow he manages to find narrative in the numbers. Monthly, he posts summaries of his latest analysis on OkTrends, OkCupid's research blog. Last year, for instance, aided by a wealth of charts and graphs, he statistically proved that gay people aren't interested in straights and that, just as women's magazines have been telling us for years, women are indeed most sexual in their 30s. He also produced numbers that suggested that iPhone users have sex more often than owners of other smart phones. "Finally, statistical proof that iPhone users aren't just getting fucked by Apple," he quipped on his post.

Like other, more famous contributors to pop science — Malcolm Gladwell, Mark Kurlansky, the hosts of "Stuff You Should Know," the "Freakonomics" authors — Rudder has a gift for distilling complex subject matter, OkCupid CEO Sam Yagan said recently.

"He's probably the best person in the world at making something that's very geeky and very data-oriented accessible through humor and through a writing style that makes everyone feel like they're smarter than they are because he's giving them access to all this quantitative insight."

But it's the comic streak on Rudder's blog that seems to set him apart from his pop-science peers. It's a sense of humor that's almost transgressive, suggests his college roommate and longtime musical collaborator Justin Rice.

"He'll take some idea and push it to its extreme, where it's really, really funny but also has this darkness to it that makes you concerned on some psychological level, though you're mostly just laughing."

Rudder's early work online reflects that sensibility. As editorial director for TheSpark.com, a website that his partners in OkCupid co-founded in the late '90s, he helped position the site, tonally, somewhere between The Onion and a sneering reaction to reality TV.

One of his early hits, The StinkyFeet Project, documented the progression of an athlete's foot infection he invited. Over the course of nearly a month, he filed daily reports with increasingly viler pictures and insight into life with a festering foot ("Remember how your crotch feels after a day of swimming at the beach? Right. Well, now I got a pair of crotches on the ends of my legs, and they both feel goddamn disgusting").

For a follow-up, he presaged the premise of "The Biggest Loser" and stood it on its head by convincing a relatively skinny man and woman to try to gain 30 pounds in 30 days to win $3,000. Readers were treated to "scientific" weight-gain charts, daily photos and forums where they could suggest tips. The man met the challenge. The woman failed, but by only four pounds. TheSpark awarded them both the money.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Cover Stories

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation