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Garth Sundem is a Science, Math and general Geek Culture writer, TED speaker, and author of books including Brain Trust: 93 Top Scientists Dish the Lab-Tested Secrets of Surfing, Dating, Dieting... Read More »

Yesterday, I posted Game Theory's El Farol Bar problem, with a couple questions. (If you haven't read it yet, go back—the answer's no good without the puzzle.) And the truth is there's no answer, or more precisely, there's no pure strategy that works—if everyone decides to go, the bar's too crowded and it's no fun; if everyone decides to stay home, the bar will be empty and it would've been more fun to go.
Everyone loves the El Farol Bar in Santa Fe, New Mexico (especially W. Brian Arthur, who wrote this puzzle in 1994).

That is, everyone loves the El Farol as long as it's not too crowded.

If it's less than 60% full, it's more fun to be at the bar; if it's more than 60% full, it's more fun to stay home. This puzzle has one more catch: everyone has to decide whether or not to
go at exactly the same time, without communication.

So what should you do—stay home or go to the bar?

You can probably see the Catch 22 here.
Yesterday I posted how Game Theory solves the date-night dilemma: opera or the football game. Actually, I posted the problem but not the solution. For all of you who scratched your heads on Saturday night, here's the answer:

Mathematically, the cleanest solution is for them to use a commonly observed randomizing device: they flip a coin. Heads it's football and tails it's opera. And once the coin lands, there's no incentive for one player to switch, as it would only result in the loving husband and wife going separate ways for the evening and the loss of all preference points.
Can't decide between the opera and a football game? (If needed, replace these bland stereotypes with specifics from your own relationship). Game Theory's got your back.

Imagine the possible outcomes: football together, football alone, opera together, and opera alone. We can show this with the following grid (imagine the guy choosing a column and the lady choosing a row—they accept the outcome that gets two marks):
Have you heard about It's perhaps the most superficial of all superficial dating site, allowing members to vote on other members' attractiveness and promoting dating decisions based almost solely on attractiveness scores. (You carry your own attractiveness score with you and how hot you are becomes part of your profile.)

Researchers in the science of beauty and human attraction call this a data paradise. Here are some of the things researchers have been able to discover using's magical numbers:

• Men are 240% more likely to accept a date offer than women.
Okay, in the past two days we've seen that our memories are malleable. We can easily be made to misremember, and easily be made to adopt memories of things that never happened. But what actually goes on in our brains as we code bad information? Can we see misinformation taking hold?

Researchers Yoko Okado and Craig Stark can.

They showed subjects slides (correct information), and then showed them another set of slides with details changed (incorrect information).