The Drake Dating Equation

Why I don't have a girlfriend: An application of the Drake Equation to love in the UK, by Peter Backus, Warwick University Economics Dept.
The Drake Equation is used to estimate the number of highly evolved civilisations that might exist in our galaxy. I have used this approach to estimate the number of potential girlfriends in the UK. The results are not encouraging. The probability of finding love in the UK is only about 100 times better than the probability of finding intelligent life in our galaxy. Find out the details here.
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20 Responses:

  1. remix79 says:


  2. spoonyfork says:

    One can easily substitute boyfriends in here but as I am mostly a heterosexual male I will focus on the search for a girlfriend.

    But you *are*, Blanche! You *are* in that chair!

  3. blarglefiend says:

    Only 5% of age-appropriate University-educated women are attractive? Perhaps his problem is that he's a fussy bastard, then?

    • antabakalj says:

      He specifically mentioned "attractive to him". Maybe he just doesn't want to lower his standards too much.

      Also, he rates himself only atractive to 5% of the women as well, so you can't say that he is unnecessarily biased.

      • blarglefiend says:

        It is of course purely subjective, I know. But the idea of only finding 5% of age-appropriate women with a suitable educational background attractive is... not my experience, shall we say?

        Also, as a 31 year old man he does seem to be skewing his age preference "young". He could probably improve his odds by increasing the upper bound without fear of the dreaded "cougars".

        (That he even uses that term does not make me think well of him. Perhaps that is my problem here?)

      • sethg_prime says:

        I suspect that if I were a university-educated woman who lived in London and whose physical attractiveness was in the top fifth percentile, I wouldn't be looking for love among graduate students in the Warwick University Economics Department. Just sayin'.

    • pavel_lishin says:

      Well, they are British. I'd say 5% is generous.

  4. baconmonkey says:

    and yet he completely fails to add a factor for "percentage of women who will not immediately run screaming upon hearing that he performed such a calculation".

    • discogravy says:

      women start doing this math subconsciously once they hit 30-35 and the biological clock starts ticking. And then some re-eval their standards for "attractive" to "will put a baby in me".

  5. timeplease says:

    I am sure this has been done before. Although slightly differently.

  6. lionsphil says:

    This is probably one of the better arguments I've seen for why the Drake equation is a lot of pulled-from-arse nonsense.

  7. calbruin says:

    Application of some modified version of the Drake Equation may be used to determined the probability of desirable persons unknown, but various applications give differing results and skew one's expectation and the answer that everyone really wants to know.

    In one case, a modified Drake Equation was used to estimate the probable number of eligible mates, period.
    This application differs from determining the probable number of eligible mates who satisfy a select number of criterion.
    For example, the number of eligible woman is different from the number of eligible women who, say, like Star Trek.
    The more conditions or criterion of selectivity imposed, the more restricted the set of potential sought mates.

    The point I am attempting to make is how the Drake Equation is applied, in modified form, effects the answer which may or may not address the central or primary objective.

    Prima fica I have no doubt that there exists a non-zero number of potential, eligible soulmates, borrowing the local population within a particular geography.
    Before applying the conditions of selectivity e.g. compatible political persuasion, tolerated religious attitudes, etc., let's address the factor of how desirable the searcher is to the potential soulmates. In other words, how attractive the person doing the searching for a soulmate matters and I shall claim garners more weight than any other condition for selectivity.

    The quick retort is adding the measure of desirability as a factor into the modified Drake Equation.
    That would be an error because the factors in the Drake Equation are probabilistic values but the measure of desirability is an absolute value -- measuring how attractive the searcher is.

    Put plainly, how attractive some one is is a measured or calculated value not a probabilistic value, some number that falls within the measure space of the Reals in the interval [0,1].

    In other words, any modified formed of the Drake Equation is insufficient to accurately and fairly determined the answer to the primary question: How likely it is for some one to find their soulmate of mutual attraction?

    In conclusion, let me repeat.
    Application of the Drake Equation will only be enough to answer the question: How likely does there to exist eligible soulmates?
    I posit for anyone that is a non-zero number.

    Second, if one adds criterion thereby restricting the number of potential eligible soulmates, such as requiring a certain level of education, a particular political view, or that their potential soulmate must like sushi, then with each additional criterion, the selectivity reduces the number of potential eligible soulmates tending toward zero.
    A major problem is I do not think it possible to collect the data to determine a satisfactory and accurate answer/value. In other words, if some one only prefers heterosexual women who like both Star Trek and sushi but hate Democrats and Adam Sandler, I question seriously how any one is going to collect the statistical data, assuming such data exists in some form, that will give an estimate of such potential existing persons.

    The factor that matters most, so I claim, more than the prior probable values is an answer to the question: how attractive would any potential eligible soulmate find you to be? Such a value is not probabilistic and therefore cannot be determined nor factored in, as it were, through any modification the Drake Equation.