Tuesday, April 19, 2011

OkCupid can read your mind


From OkCupid
Antifeminists regularly charge feminists like me with assuming men and women are the same. Which is a bit silly. I don’t know any feminist who assumes men and women are the same, whether the differences are due to biology (I can’t grow a baby in my belly) or culture (women are far more likely to while away their evenings reading or writing fanfic about Sam and Dean). I think the confusion amongst the antifeminists on this point stems from the fact that the specific things they think are different between men and women are often nothing more than sexist nonsense, and feminists can’t help but point this out.

No, if you want to see the ways men and women really are different, it helps to start with actual data rather than a bunch of retrograde sexist assumptions you pull out of your ass. The folks behind the OkCupid dating site have lots of data – users of the site fill out detailed profiles and answer countless questions about themselves in order to find others like them – and they know how to crunch it. Which means they can tell you with a great deal of precision what the men and women who use their site think about all sorts of things. Which is why OkCupid’s blog is so often a source of wonderment.

Take the latest post – thanks to Feministe for alerting me to it – which presents an assortment of creative charts -- like the one above, depicting some of the actual differences between men and women on the site.

Who knew that men who mention “poetry” in their profiles were more likely to be into rough sex than dudes who talk about “boating?"

And what about guys who are into both poetry and boating? There must be some. I mean, many of my favorite poems involve Nantucket, a small island reachable only by boat.

Most of the rest of the charts in the latest post don't specifically contrast men and women, but are interesting in all sorts of other ways. (You may have to change some of your assumptions about vegetarians.) If you want more on gender differences (not to mention intersting stuff on race), I'd suggest looking back through the OkCupid blog's back catalogue. Here's an interesting post on The Mathematics of Beauty. And then there's this classic, which is probably a big part of why the fortysomething women I know who've used the site have gotten so, so many messages from horny guys half their age.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I love the OkCupid blog
And so, I think, will you

--

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32 comments:

  1. "I can’t grow a baby in my belly" Neither can one of my aunts or, at this current moment, my mother, some intersex people can, some men can (trans people exist), some women can't (trans people, again, exist, also sterile folks or older folks who are no longer fertile).

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  2. Whoa. Just, whoa.

    I have a feeling OkTrends will suck away lots of my time like TVTropes has.

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  3. "I think the confusion amongst the antifeminists on this point stems from the fact that the specific things they think are different between men and women are often nothing more than sexist nonsense, and feminists can’t help but point this out."

    Millions of gallons of this.

    Well put.

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  4. OkTrends makes me oh so happy. If only they'd allow options so genderqueer people could make their presence known; not only would it be, you know, common decency to acknowledge they exist, but I'd have an intense braingasm from the data that'd make available.

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  5. Looks like nerds and atheists are likelier to be into rough sex.

    Fuck

    yeah

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  6. There once was a man from Nantucket...

    I mean

    what?

    Also, notice that vegetarians give more oral sex. Possible new slogan for PETA?

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  7. Going by that chart and a knowledge of my own vocabulary, I'm most likely to be a man who's into gentle sex. Interesting.

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  8. Depends on what the meaning of the word "gentle" is I would say Aydan.

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  9. Also, notice that vegetarians give more oral sex.(Ozy)

    Damn, I cant help myself. Maybe its because they are lacking meat.
    Whoa, remember, that goes both ways.;)

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  10. Am I the only one amused that 'England' is a common word used by people who like gentler sex?

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  11. Lady Victoria, I thought that was hilarious.

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  12. red_locker: I was thinking the same thing. Between this blog and Pharyngula, I already lose hours, days, weeks of my life. Thanks a lot David!

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  13. The people who like it rough prefer Scotland, generally.

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  14. The people who like it rough prefer Scotland, generally.

    Hence the saying, "Lube up and think of Scotland."

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  15. Ozymandias?

    - Vegetarians eat only one kind of meat...

    would that work?

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  16. Wait... people can tell I like rough sex just by my handle?

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  17. Most. Inaccurate. Post. Ever.

    You can totally get to Nantucket in other kinds of vehicles, including airplanes, submarines, hovercrafts, jet skis, hot air balloons, hang gliders (OK, maybe not hang gliders), and yes, jet packs.

    Plus you could just swim there.

    If you have no credibility on how to get to Nantucket, then how do you have any credibility on any of the things that happen in limericks about men from Nantucket?

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  18. When I fly (in a plane,in a helicopter, or by flapping my arms), I call that "boating." They're all boats, if you use a sufficiently flexible definition of "boat."

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  19. http://yoyodawgdawg.com/18/yo-dawg-boats

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  20. Has teleportation been perfected yet? Cuz a molecule could go that way.

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  21. I once knew a man from Nantucket. Let's just say that the stories about him are greatly exaggerated.

    h/t Simpsons

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  22. Also, notice that vegetarians give more oral sex. Possible new slogan for PETA?

    The chart is saying vegetarians give less. See the ratios?

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  23. ;) since when do PETA care about statistics and science?

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  24. David, you and OKCupid are committing a statistical fallacy. Just like the 19th century "experts" who used statistics to "prove" that criminals had certain facial features, you are using small, normal statistical deviations to "prove" that men and women are different. The fact of the matter is that the frequency of such words, like anything else, will fluctuate naturally, and we should expect some to be more used than others.

    You are also committing a fallacy of False Cause. Because men and women are found to have some different profile words, you conclude that this is because men and women are different (that this alleged difference creates the different profile words). And yet, it could equally be the case that it is our gender-based culture (as exemplified in these profile words) that creates the "differences."

    In short, another genderist argument based on bad logic. I'm not saying the case cannot be made, but at least try to do it rationally (personally I think it's bullshit, but I know I'm in the minority, so I won't belabor the point).

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  25. Actually there is no fallacy. David merely comments on the interesting co-relations one can draw up on the data collected from a dating website.

    Nearly 100% of asthmatics have hypoallergenic pillows. That does not mean hypo-allergenic pillows have any co-relation to causing asthma. Likewise this is just a raw collection of stats that David mentioned. I am pretty sure there is no co-relation between oral sex and what you eat.

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  26. Also, I never said that the differences in what people told OkCupid were rooted in biology. (My only example of a biologically rooted difference was the fact that dudes can't bear children.) I think that many if not most differences between men and women are cultural.

    But it's as silly to dismiss OkCupid's data entirely as it is to draw any grand conclusions about the inherent nature of men and women from it. Certain interests and personality traits DO tend to go together, and it looks like the way in which these get expressed varies amongst men and women.

    If you're a guy looking for a gal with whom to have rough sex, you're probably going to do better concentrating on women who talk about their piercings rather than on how "old-fashioned" they are. And it's not just that certain personality characteristics tend to cluster together -- lots of studies show that people who are more adventurous in certain areas (like getting piercings in weird places) also tend to be more adventurous in other realms (like sex). "Piercings" and "rough sex" tend to suggest people who are sensation-seekers.

    Sure, there are probably plenty of "old-fashioned" women who like rough sex too, but people writing profiles on a dating site are trying to signal certain things about themselves without necessarily spelling everything out. Words have meaning, and they also have associations. Someone wanting to signal that they're into rough sex may be more inclined to talk about their piercings, or punk, etc etc.

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  27. "it's... silly to dismiss OkCupid's data entirely"

    It is as reasonable to dismiss OKCupid's statistical variations as it is to dismiss the statistical variations used by the physiognomy to determine the "facial features of criminals."

    "If you're a guy looking for a gal with whom to have rough sex, you're probably going to do better concentrating on women who talk about their piercings rather than on how "old-fashioned" they are."

    What? You're diverting the topic. Neither of us said anything about the rough sex/gentle sex aspect until now. The correlation between rough sex and certain interests was not the topic of discussion, but the fact that you concluded that it "proved" differences between men and women.

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  28. Huh? Where did I say anything about "proving" anything?

    Again, there ARE differences between men and women. A few of those are biological; most are cultural. Do you disagree with that?

    Also, the ways that people choose to define themselves on a dating site DOES actually suggest things about their personalities. That, after all, is why they post descriptions of themselves on dating sites - to tell people what they are like. These aren't just random words. In other words, it's NOT the same as trying to find correlations between head shape and criminality.

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  29. No... I didn't say the words were written "randomly." But people have a wide variety of interests. What I am saying is that taking these statistical variances and making a case of them is fallacious, hence my physiognomy analogy.

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  30. Francois-physiognomy is making a comeback.

    Plus, this last post of yours makes no sense-Okcupid is not saying there are not infinite differences among humans, it is saying that within the group of people who have posted on their site and answering their endless questions, these differences show up in the sexes and the type of actual sex they like.

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  31. "physiognomy is making a comeback."

    Wow. Welcome to the 19th century everyone!

    Yea, I get that OKCupid was talking about the kind of sex people like. But David was using this in his own entry to talk about men and women.

    "Take the latest post – thanks to Feministe for alerting me to it – which presents an assortment of creative charts -- like the one above, depicting some of the actual differences between men and women on the site."

    "Most of the rest of the charts in the latest post don't specifically contrast men and women"

    Sorry if I misinterpreted, but to me it sounded like David was saying that the chart proved the genderist position, which is why I piped up.

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  32. Look at the differences between the rough sex males and females. Not only do they like different things, they place different values on the stuff they do commonly like. This could be random chance or more likely that men and women are different within the general commonalities they share as being humans.

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