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This one goes in the Zombies category, for sure.

Paul Alper writes:

I was in my local library and I came across this in Saturday’s WSJ:

The Math Behind Successful Relationships

Nearly 30 years ago, a mathematician and a psychologist teamed up to explore one of life’s enduring mysteries: What makes some marriages happy and some miserable?

The psychologist, John Gottman, wanted to craft a tool to help him better counsel troubled couples. The mathematician, James Murray, specialized in modeling biological processes. . . .

Hey, it’s the bullshit asymmetry principle!

Some background on this, from 2009 and from 2010:

Shooting down B.S. claims about divorce predictions, part 2 (Somewhere, Karl Popper is smiling ruefully)

Last year, we heard about “maths expert” and Oxford University prof who could predict divorces “with 94 per cent accuracy. . . His calculations were based on 15-minute conversations between couples.”

At the time, I expressed some skepticism because, amid all the news reports, I couldn’t find any description of exactly what they did. Also, as a statistician, I have some sense of the limitations of so-called “mathematical models” (or, worse, “computer models”).

Then today I ran across this article from Laurie Abraham shooting down this research in more details . . .


  1. Renzo Alves says:

    What “this article”? I want to read it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Quote from above: “What “this article”?”

      I had some trouble finding “this article” as well. Normally words like “this article” are highlighted blue, and hyperlinked, to lead to the actual article.

      I think in this case, the sentence which i presume talks about “this article” you are refring to (“Then today I ran across this article from Laurie Abraham shooting down this research in more details . . .) seems to be a quote from either a post of 2009 and 2010.

      I clicked on the link of the blogpost of 2010 and there i can read the quoted text that is used in the current blogpost. In that 2010 blogpost the text “this article” is highlighted in blue, and hyperlinked, as i am used to on this blog.

      This all lead to the following article, which i think may be the article you are looking for:

  2. Bill Jefferys says:

    The WSJ article is behind a paywall.

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