[Please read all the way to the end before making snap judgments.]
A reader asked me recently if I might elaborate on a passage in End Game, where I mention chance having a role to play in life outcomes. I am happy to do so.
In order to carry out this experiment, you’ll need the following:
- Excel or some other spreadsheet
Now, before we begin, you need to identify what it is you’re going to measure. Is it going to be your free throws made vs. free throws attempted? Number of hot girls seen and approached vs. number of hot girls seen and not approached? What are you looking to measure?
For this experiment I propose something simple that I think most men can relate to and easily keep track of:
How many women you’ve approached and slept with vs. how many women you’ve approached and not slept with.
Many men will judge their success with women based on this kind of comparison even if they don’t do it consciously, so I think it’s a fair place to begin. (I’m not recommending that you do use it as a basis of comparison, just acknowledging that a lot of men do.) However, as I illustrated with free throws, this experiment can be carried out with most anything. As long as you’re diligent and honest, you can put your results to the test.
Every month, keep track of how many new women you’ve approached and whether or not you have sex with them. Only keep track of women that you approach and who you’ve set your sights on as a target. Women who approach you do not count. Women who are introduced to you in social circles do not count. Enter this data into your spreadsheet or keep a written tally. The spreadsheet won’t be necessary until later, but it’s easier if you keep good records.
Use your judgement, and be honest. If you sleep with the woman, score a 1, if not, score a 0. Easy enough, right?
(Note: if you meet a girl towards the end of the month and your first scheduled meet up occurs in the next month, you are allowed to carry that girl over into the next month, just don’t use her numbers in the current month. I recognize that in some cases it may be more than a week or so between when you meet her and have sex, you’ll just have to use your best judgement.)
At the end of each month, log your scores for the month. Let’s say it’s January and you’ve approached 10 girls, and have had sex with 0 (you Lothario, you!). In the first column (x), you enter the number of girls you had sex with, and in the second column (y) you enter the number of girls you approached. Your data at the end of 8 months should look something like this (this is made up data):
Looks like things ramped up towards the end! Okay, let’s continue.
Continue Step 2 for at least 6-8 months, 12 months if you prefer. Once you’re finished you should have 6-12 data pairs (sex/approaches).
Let’s say you have 8 months of data, like our Lothario in the data above. The next step is to calculate the Correlation Coefficient. This will tell us if there is a relationship between the numbers. Our ultimate goal is to determine if the results occurred by chance or not.
Remember, correlation doesn’t mean causation, so you can’t really infer anything as being caused by anything else, but what this experiment will tell you is whether or not your numbers are a result of luck or if there is something else at play, like persistence of skill. (Here‘s a decent primer on correlation coefficients.)
To calculate the correlation coefficient for the data in the image above using excel, you’d click in an empty cell and type: CORREL(B1:B8,C1:C8) and hit Enter.
B1:B8 is a range of X values and C1:C8 is a range of Y values. You should now see something like this:
Way to go you Lothario, you! .88 is a fairly strong positive correlation, so you must really have some skills. Moreover, it looks as though with increased approaches, you gradually increased your sex counts on average. Perhaps you’re getting better with age. (Of course it’s just conjecture as there’s no proof of any causality, remember?)
I don’t want to go into too much statistics, but regarding type 1 and 2 errors and whether or not our results could have occurred at random, using Table 1. on the page I linked to above, we can see that there is a .707 alpha, which is smaller than our correlation value, so essentially we can pretty safely conclude that our correlation didn’t occur due to chance alone (i.e., it’s statistically significant).
Still with me or have you fallen asleep? Or left?
Now, let’s get real
Before anyone gets overly optimistic about these results, let’s look at another example, one likely more in line with reality, and perhaps itself overly optimistic. (Keep in mind this is made up data, but I hope it may illustrate my point):
In this case, we see overall less approaches (20% less), and overall much less sex (60% less). Our correlation value is moderate (0.46), and looking as it is below our alpha of .707 the results likely could have occurred by chance alone (think flipping of a coin). In other words, there’s no real relationship in the numbers and this Lothario’s success was likely due to luck rather than persistence of skill.
Some might say, “Yes, but he approached 20% less, and this is all made up data anyway!”
It’s true that this is made up data. Since I haven’t ever kept good records on this myself, and since no one has volunteered their data to me, I’ve made up what seems reasonable to me based on other people’s reports in blogs and forum posts. Granted the fake data isn’t perfect. But let’s imagine that the approach count was held constant at 272, but the sex increased only marginally from 8 to 10, which I think is still more realistic for most men than 20 (you may disagree). Something like this:
As you can see, the approaches are the same, there are two more notches, and the correlation is about the same. (It’s slightly better, but is still likely explained by chance alone.)
One step further
There’s one final step we can do and that is to calculate the Coefficient of Determination, which scores between 0 – 1.0, with 0 demonstrating the absence of a systematic relationship, and 1.0 being a perfect relationship. The lower the value, the lower the evidence of a systematic relationship. To do this is very easy, you just square the Correlation Coefficient (multiply it by itself).
In excel, if your Correlation Coefficient is in E1, you can just type E1^2 in a blank cell like so:
In our first example, we had a Correlation Coefficient of 0.881046. Squared yields: 0.78 (rounding up). Another way to look at this is that 78% of the variance of one variable is explained by variance in the other. That’s fairly strong.
In our second example, with a CC of 0.469897 squared yields: 0.22 (22%.) Weak.
In the third example, with a CC of 0.491344 squared yields: 0.24 (24%.) Weak.
Remember, the specific numbers in these examples aren’t important, it’s what happens with the correlation analysis and whether or not the results are likely to have occurred by chance or not. It’s entirely possible that a guy could have sex with 10 different women in that same period and approach way, way less. This could represent better skill (e.g., better target acquisition and execution) mixed with laziness and untapped potential, or luck. Again, there’s no causation to infer here. Plug your values in and see what happens. If anyone wants to report their results, do so in the comments, or to me privately in email, or your own blog if you have one.
What you do with this kind of experiment is up to you. As I mentioned in End Game, for many of us, chance/fate/luck/fortune, whatever you want to call it, can play a big role in our lives. Rare is the man that can score consistently, attributing it to persistence of skill and not luck. That isn’t to say that such men don’t exist, I’m sure they do, but they are rare.
I suppose a downside of this experiment could be if you feel you’re the most kick ass Lothario since, Lothario, but your numbers show you’re just one lucky bastard. However, I’m not sure your dick will care one way or the other, and I don’t think you should sweat it either. There’s no shame in being lucky.
The upside is that you needn’t be entirely discouraged if you aren’t hitting certain number targets that you’d set for yourself. It cannot hurt to practice, but unlike an activity such as shooting free throws, which involve an inanimate ball and goal, sexual pursuits involve a myriad of impossible to pin down variables. We call these variables women.
Regardless of what the numbers say, you still have every incentive to work hard, play hard, improve, and enjoy life to the fullest. I present all this primarily to suggest that you keep as realistic a view of reality as possible. Ultimately, it’s for your own benefit.
*A better title to this post might be, “Examining the aspect of luck in life success”, but I thought the current title would be more flashy and eye-catching.
**My example data sets in the 2nd and 3rd examples (low correlation) assume western female high flakiness.
***If you really want to go down the rabbit hole into this stuff, here‘s a great place to start.