Mind

Atheism: Bringing the Sexy Back

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollSep 24, 2009 3:34 PM

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It would be amusing to just have a contest asking people to guess what the vertical axis on this chart is supposed to represent.

The answer is, "reply rate to first-contact messages on an online dating site, as a function of words appearing in the message." In particular, the site OkCupid, which has a handy rundown of which words and phrases are most likely to garner a reply to an initial contact. (Via FlowingData.) The average response rate is 32%, so you can see how using some specific word increases or decreases your chances of success. Apparently mentioning "God" is a big turn-off, although calling Him by a proper name is slightly helpful. But nothing works at turning a stranger's head quite like bringing up His complete lack of existence. Other useful hints: real words good, fake internet words bad. Complimenting personality/intellect good, complimenting looks bad. Being specific is good, especially if it involves physics, heavy metal, vegetarianism, or zombies. Hey, I'm just the messenger here.

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