The Respectable Face Of PR Science Formulae

I was going to throw this up on Google Reader and let FriendFeed tweet it at you all, but since I have apparently become the standard reference for ‘perfect formula’ stories, I thought I’d stick it up on here. Presenting… The Respectable Face Of PR Science Formulae!

From the b3ta newsletter, it’s OK Cupid’s analysis of what words and phrases are more successful than others at eliciting a response to a first-contact message. Essentially, it’s a formula for the perfect on-line chat-up line, and it basically reads ‘spell right, don’t be a creep, and mention specific interests’.¬†It’s just a blog post, so it’s still not really Proper, Peer-Reviewed Science, but there are enough mentions of N and f and statistical significance – all used quite correctly – as well as a note about anonymisation, that my instinct says they probably did it right. And the results are a nice mix of the obvious (read the other person’s profile), the counter-intuitive (confidence is bad) and the interesting (mentioning a religion is good but mentioning atheism is better).

In any case, it does what the original ‘perfect formulae’ story tried to do (or at least what its creator claims he tried to do and I see no reason to disbelieve him), which is to combine clever PR with an actual attempt to show how science can be relevant. And it worked, because¬†here it is in the Telegraph, alongside a photo of attractive young people kissing each other, for purely illustrative reasons, naturally. Wouldn’t it be nice if companies realised they could get the PR without the sneers of intellectuals if they just did these things right?

Also I’m inclined to like it because it seems to say that self-effacing male atheist physicists are sexy. And I think we can all agree that that’s basically indisputable.