A couple weeks ago, Wired ran a story on an uncommon genius who hacked the OKCupid matching algorithms to get more dates and find his perfect girl. Though the original article was intended to be a quirky, endearing piece on the intersection of nerdiness and true love, we here at ROK like to dig a bit deeper into the psychological and societal underpinnings of these sexual marketplace corner cases.
On the plus side, this man is obviously a genius. Chris McKinlay recognized an inefficiency and created a highly technical solution to it that utilized his best skills, a method nobody else had conceived. We must give him some credit for his characteristically masculine ingenuity but. as you will see, it was clearly not an efficient course of action.
“He set up 12 fake OkCupid accounts and wrote a Python script to manage them. The script would search his target demographic (heterosexual and bisexual women between the ages of 25 and 45), visit their pages, and scrape their profiles for every scrap of available information: ethnicity, height, smoker or nonsmoker, astrological sign—“all that crap,” he says.
To find the survey answers, he had to do a bit of extra sleuthing. OkCupid lets users see the responses of others, but only to questions they’ve answered themselves. McKinlay set up his bots to simply answer each question randomly—he wasn’t using the dummy profiles to attract any of the women, so the answers didn’t matter—then scooped the women’s answers into a database.”
In short, McKinlay went full retard on deconstructing OKcupid, a site largely populated by sexually frustrated men and girls who are either fat, seeking attention instead of actual dating, or both. To cull the best of this crop of winners, he somehow cobbled together programming, statistical modeling, complex clustering algorithms, machine learning, and text mining, not to mention a workaround for beating the website’s security protocols just so he could meet some chicks. Come to think of it, Marge Simpson tried a similarly Rube Goldberg-seque approach at the police academy:
“Now he just had to decide which cluster best suited him…he lingered over a cluster dominated by women in their mid-twenties who looked like indie types, musicians and artists. This was the golden cluster. The haystack in which he’d find his needle. Somewhere within, he’d find true love.”
Instead of McKinlay’s HalBeta 9000 spending its prodigious processing power to match him up with concert pianists and PhDs, it yielded a top cluster that was composed of slutty mid-20s artsy girls who would probably drop their panties for any decent-looking guy with a modicum of game and charm. After a handful of dates, the man begins to learn a bit about his matches:
“By date 20, he noticed latent variables emerging. In the younger cluster, the women invariably had two or more tattoos and lived on the east side of Los Angeles. In the other, a disproportionate number owned midsize dogs that they adored.”
ROK readers will recognize these as two obvious slut tells. So, with all of this computing power at his disposal, what were McKinlay’s results translated into actual in-person interactions, the real world currency he so meticulously sought to mine?
“As summer drew to a close, he’d been on more than 55 dates, each one dutifully logged in a lab notebook. Only three had led to second dates; only one had led to a third.”
Since we must assume he wasn’t running the first date bang plan, a 5% second date rate can’t be considered anything besides an epic failure. This pitiful conversion rate could have been bested by a $30 investment in a few choice manosphere eBooks, a couple months of doing Starting Strength, and completion of the 100-approach challenge.
Then came the message from Christine Tien Wang, a 28-year-old artist and prison abolition activist. McKinlay had popped up in her search for 6-foot guys with blue eyes near UCLA, where she was pursuing her master’s in fine arts. They were a 91 percent match.
After PhD-level mathematical acrobatics, months of gathering matches, and an incredible EIGHTY EIGHT first dates, the former Chinese major ended up with… an Asian girl who was on the website looking for a tall white guys with blue eyes. They are currently engaged, despite being in a long distance relationship.
There are many lessons we can learn from the ballad of Chris McKinlay. First, we see that the logical thought, problem-solving ability, and ingenuity of being a man is nearly worthless in the quest to become attractive to women without the charm, charisma, and self-evaluation abilities to sell them correctly. Take note, smart guys: without game to back up your brainpower, you will be relegated to the dustbin of the sexual marketplace.
Second, the article highlights the value of intellectual curiosity and tolerance for uncomfortable situations. One might think that a genius of his level would be ravenous to learn about subjects outside of his narrowly-focused world (e.g. women and game), but rather than seeking out new sources of information to solve a novel problem, he chose to go further down the rabbit hole that he was already familiar with—“Hey, I don’t know how to get girls to like me. Better throw math at the problem!” When you see a man who would rather drive 500 miles in a familiar direction than walk around an unfamiliar block, you should avoid him.
Third, it is important to know one’s market. According to the shot in an article, he’s not a bad looking guy, and already presumably had experience with Asian girls and an in to their culture (the ability to speak Chinese). Rather than attempting to approach girls he found attractive and shared similar interests with, or girls of a type that had likely been attracted to him in the past, he was blindly hunting for the white whale of the perfect girl, which we know does not exist.
Fourth, we see another example of the vagaries of the online dating multiverse, which promotes a shopping mentality where girls are actively looking for reasons to ignore or disqualify reasonable men. If you’re a little quirky, or it comes out during date number one that you spent hundreds of hours trying to find girls on OKCupid, you’re going to get the swift boot. It shouldn’t be that difficult for a decent-looking, tall guy with a good job and some obvious gifts to get a date (and a second, and a third). But, alas, it is.
Perhaps the most important lesson here is that the currency of human desire cannot be negotiated on a computer screen or programmed into a script. While McKinlay’s method exposed him to his “objectively” best matches, basing any decision on what women say in a survey (rather than their actions) is a necessarily garbage in-garbage out process. We can match ourselves silly on OKCupid, but checking out a girl’s “mandatory” responses does not change the base, non-negotiable, hard-wired attraction triggers that we have come to rely upon. The reason we are so quick to draw a distinction between Keyboard Jockey and an actual player in the sexual marketplace is because the skills to attract women cannot be learned through solely academic means. Chris learned that lesson the hard way so that the rest of us may not have to.