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Okay, we’ve eliminated people who are not intellectually adequate.

We could do the same for people who aren’t creative enough, or don’t have your brilliant sense of humor. The biggest thing you’ve got to do when you’re gifted like you are is to be patient.” After the over-the-top flattery wore off—and I’ll admit, it took an embarrassingly long time—I told Warren that most people I know don’t join online dating sites to be patient.

Neil Clark Warren’s office for less than fifteen minutes when he told me he had a guy for me.

It wasn’t surprising that the avuncular seventy-one-year-old founder of e Harmony.com, one of the nation’s most popular online dating services, had matchmaking on his mind.

I’d come to the e Harmony headquarters in Pasadena, California, in early October to learn more about the site’s “scientifically proven” and patented Compatibility Matching System. The day before, after I’d taken the company’s exhaustive (and exhausting) 436-question personality survey, the computer informed me that of the approximately 9 million e Harmony members, more than 40 percent of whom are men, I had zero matches.

Not just in my city, state, region, or country, but in the entire world.

All have staked their success on the idea that long-term romantic compatibility can be predicted according to scientific principles—and that they can discover those principles and use them to help their members find lasting love.

To that end they’ve hired high-powered academics, devised special algorithms for relationship-matching, developed sophisticated personality questionnaires, and put into place mechanisms for the long-term tracking of data.

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“Just on IQ alone—people with an IQ lower than 120, say.

But was checking off boxes in columns of desired traits, like an à la carte Chinese take-out menu, the best way to find a soul mate?

Enter e Harmony and the new generation of dating sites, among them Perfect and

Collectively, their efforts mark the early days of a social experiment of unprecedented proportions, involving millions of couples and possibly extending over the course of generations.

The question at the heart of this grand trial is simple: In the subjective realm of love, can cold, hard science help? in clinical psychology from the University of Chicago, in 1967, he never had much of a passion for academic research—or an interest in couples. “So I did child therapy for a while.” With a master’s degree in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, he went on to Fuller Theological Seminary’s Graduate School of Psychology, in southern California, where he taught and practiced humanistic psychology (what he calls “client-centered stuff”) in the vein of his University of Chicago mentor, Carl Rogers.


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