Relationships are stupid

July 23rd, 2009 by ftobia

I want to see myself as a scientist. Doing science is maybe one of the most awesome activities possible. It’s like, hey, we could keep talking in circles like idiots, or we can actually go figure things out. The scientific method is likely mankind’s greatest innovation.

But what if I want to figure things out in the very important realm of human relationships — specifically the romantic kind? Tough luck. I mean, first of all, how can you do science on relationships? There are too few data points! Even if you are Mr. Playboy and date, say, one new girl per week, it would be nearly seven months before you could use the OLS large sample assumption. And that’s no good, because then you’d just be testing something about short relationships — probably not the kind you’re interested in studying.

There is no control group: you can’t clone yourself to see how you would act under two different relationships. Besides, you’re not a static person either. Each relationship you’re in changes who you are to a great extent. Even if you determined some profound result, it would probably only be valid on a past self.

You would need to use a between-subjects design. It would be virtually impossible to organize two groups of people in relationships and keep the treatments the same. How would you control for all the possible differences in peoples’ personalities and relationship dynamics?

No, doing science on relationships is all but impossble. We’ll probably have to settle for psychology or something. (See what I did there? Thinly-guised psychology insults are the first thing a budding economist learns.)

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One Response to “Relationships are stupid”

  1. Patrick Davison Says:

    So. One COULD argue that the fact that love is exempt from the scientific method is the reason that it is interesting. Or valid. Or…love. Right?

    This is also one of the reasons that the techniques of pick-up artists are so…seemingly gross. They seek to apply a pseudo-science to that which is inherently non-scientific or even ANTI-scientific.

    The question, to me, is how much the implicit agreement between the two members of a relationship that neither of them KNOWS what is going on, but both of them FEEL something about what is going on is necessary for the experience of love.

    Also, the lack of a true scientific method shouldn’t be viewed as the absence of experience and growth. Obv, you can learn something about relating to a particular person, and work on assumptions from the observable outcomes of those previous behaviors to subsequent partners and relationships, in an attempt to see which previous conclusions still hold true given the complete re-framing of the problem through the introduction of a new partner (or potential partner).

    Anyway, I think there is something valid about the “so many fish in the sea” concept that can seek to undo the “soulmate” concept in a way that makes failure (i.e. the result of experimentation) easier to accept.

    All we need now is to get those pesky emotions out of there (LAST LINE WRITTEN WITH UNSPOKEN SARCASM GET UP ON MY SUBTEXT – BIATCH)

    ((apologize if this posts twice)) (((bolt bus)))

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