Put me in a room full of men and I will chose the one’s who suffer most from analysis paralysis – the one’s who are afraid they are missing out on something. I have a real knack for it. It’s no wonder then that I so loved to read Richard Feynman’s books. Apparently he was so concerned with making the right choice he needed to come up with a mathematical formula to reassure himself that he was making good dinner selections. Otherwise know as the formula for How to Optimize Every Decision in Your Life and Accomplish Nothing:
Fear of missing out is a paralyzing force. It even drives geniuses to mathematics for consolation. Having calculated the number of dishes to try, Feynman could rest, his mind at ease knowing that in all likelihood, he was eating the best plate on the menu.
For a restaurant this is easy, a menu is relatively finite.
For people, this is harder. So, today I am going to suggest a formula like this: take the number of all the single women in the world, subtract the number of gay women, factor in distance, minus 70% of the remaining because of general incompatibility (religious views, world views, prejudices, diet, etc.), minus another 20% because of attractiveness or lack of, factor in the hours per week you are available, minus another 50% for those that aren’t interested in dating you, minus another 30% for statistical error, then apply Feynman’s formula.
So, how many women does that leave? Let’s be generous and say it leaves 200. Just for kicks. Now lets say you’ve already dated 20 individuals in a lifetime (single or multiple times). That leaves 180 remaining people. So 1.4142136 (180+1)-1 = 255 (if we round up to whole people, which is the way most of us prefer them). This means you are going to have to date 1/4 of the population of eligible women more than once in order to determine if they are the right person for you, plus you have to find the time to go on another 200 date with strangers. Wow – 200 does seem a bit generous now, doesn’t it?
Remember – we haven’t even factored in that of those 200 women: a large portion of them will find other dates before you get to them; of that extra 1/4 you will need to date again a large percentage of them won’t want to date you again; or thought about the fluidity of our original criteria which might occur in between dates (i.e. people move, situations change, contracting a venereal disease from one of your dates, etc.); or any other temporal or temporary external factors while you are dating someone. Which might leave us with a total of about 3 people we could actually be happy with in the course of our life time.
We want the freedom of trusting our decisions and intuition. I think it comes down to accepting that, as is written on Facebook’s walls, done is better than perfect. – Tomasz Tunguz
What does all this prove? You CAN quantify that argument that the grass isn’t always greener and you CAN’T quantify love. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! Are you suggesting that JJ was, mathematically speaking, just plain wrong about love? Or that I should have trusted my initial intuition about all the JJ’s in my life? You may be on to something here…