Ok, Stupid!

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Remember that survey by OK Cupid last year of their over 3 million users? The one that said Gay people are NOT a threat to straights, and that most gay men are NOT promiscuous? Well someone posted it on twitter recently and I wanted to show, hopefully once and for all, why it is a load of holy baloney. I have written about it before but not in enough scientific detail to convince people how rubbish it is. So here goes:


According to OK Cupid a survey of its millions of users has found that:

1.Gay people are not sexually interested in straights.

‘The subtext to a lot of homophobic thinking is the idea that gays will try to get straight people into bed at the first opportunity, or that gays are looking to “convert” straights. Freud called this concept schwanzangst; the U.S. Army calls it Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

We combed through over 4 million match searches, and found virtually no evidence of it:

Match Search Returns

  • only 0.6% of gay men have ever searched for straight matches.
  • only 0.1% of lesbians have ever searched for straight matches.
  • only 0.13% of straight people’s profile visitors are gay.
In our dataset, there was not a single gay user, male or female, who primarily searched for straight people.’
NOW when someone uses BIG NUMBERS it looks like they are telling us a TRUE FACT. But, even for the queeniest of Size Queens, size isn’t everything. And when it comes to robustness or otherwise of research, size isn’t anything at all really.
Here, in analysing ‘over 4 million match searches” on the site, (which must be when someone logs on and presses ‘search for gay men’ or ‘search for straight women’) OK cupid are trying to impress us with how gay people NEVER search for straight people on their site. The problems with this are:
A) There are NO numbers mentioned. So we have no idea how many gay and how many straight people are included in the research. Of the 3 million plus users, they could all be straight except for a hundred gays! We just don’t know.
B) There are NO results for bisexual people. Why did they leave them out? Maybe because it would have meant the findings were less ‘clear’? I have set up a profile on OK Cupid and there are lots of bisexual profiles. I also know plenty of e.g. openly kinky people who use the site, and who like it because it is good for polyamorous arrangements, swinging, kink and open relationships, which tend to include some degree of ‘bisexuality’.  Leaving bisexual people out of the  data looks VERY fishy to me.
C)The figures are skewed by the way the match searches work on OK Cupid
The search you can do on OK Cupid is for users as follows:
  • Girls who like guys
  • Guys who like girls
  • Girls who like girls
  • Guys who like guys
  • Both who like bi guys
  • Both who like bi girls
  • Straight Girls Only
  • Straight Guys Only
  • Gay Girls Only
  • Gay Guys Only
  • Bi Girls Only
  • Bi Guys Only
As you can see,  the ‘straight girls only’ or ‘straight guys only’ would not include any one who had stated any kind of bi-curiousness at all. So it would take quite a ‘confident’ person to click on those profiles and send someone a message if they didn’t fit at all with their orientation.
When it said only ‘only 0.1% of lesbians have searched for straight matches’ it could mean 0.1% have searched for ‘straight women only’ . Because all the other options (even ‘girls who like guys’) relate to a combination of gay, straight and bi women. Why would you look for ‘straight women only’ if you were a lesbian and this wasn’t an all-women site? You may be interested in straight women, but if you clicked ‘girls who like guys’ even, that would include straight and bi women!
SO AGAIN the problem here for the picture OK CUpid wants us to believe to be true, I believe, is that it has ERASED BISEXUAL people, and BISEXUALITY from its research.

2. Gay people aren’t promiscuous.

‘It turns out that a tiny fraction of gays have single-handedly two-handedly created the public image of gay sexual recklessness—in fact we found that just 2% of gay people have had 23% of the total reported gay sex, which is pretty crazy’

This figure got bandied around the internet A LOT when the survey was published. Because, Ithink, it really suits the conservative move amongst many gay people, to show how gay men are not ‘slutty’ – except for you know, those ‘sluts’. And to say only 2% of gay men are having nearly a quarter of ‘gay sex’ (whatever THAT is), really supports this conservative agenda.

But AGAIN there are NO NUMBERS. When I  set up my OK Cupid profile nobody asked me how many partners I have had to date. And so it must be a separate ‘questionnaire’ or question posted that users have the choice to answer or not. There is no indication how many people answered the question, and how many gay men did.

Also this is not Grindr. It is not just a casual sex site, though some do use it for that. OK Cupid is marketed as a ‘dating site’ where you can meet your ‘true love’. People often LIE about how many partners they have had. Even gay men.  Especially when they are looking for a ‘relationship’.

Even if this information is ‘true’ within the limitations of the research, the fact they have extrapolated from the users of OK Cupid to the whole (eg gay) population is RIDICULOUS. OK Cupid is international and so  although ‘3.2 million users’ is a lot, this is in a number of countries, including the USA. There are many other sites and some particularly ‘gay’ or ‘men who have sex with men’ sites that er…men who have sex with men, use a lot more than OK Cupid. But no,they have presented their ‘findings’ as if they say a truth about all gay men everywhere.

The lack of care for methodological rigour, I found with this ‘survey’ to be astounding. Not in itself, because it is a commercial website looking for business. And also seems to be touting a political viewpoint for some reason or other, supporting Gay marriage and the repeal of DODT. Maybe it was just trying to sell itself to good liberal customers. I don’t know.

What astounded me was how happily people posted and re-posted the survey online. Even ‘science’ people like Ben ‘Bad Science’ Goldacre, who normally analyse and critique terrible surveys, especially if they get a lot of media attention.

My conclusion was that when it comes to sex, people, including scientists, just don’t seem to care about research rigour, or ethics, or anything really. It’s only sex. It’s only sexual identity. So, they missed all the entire population of people who identify as BISEXUAL out of their survey? So, who cares? It says GAY MEN AREN’T SLUTS. That’s news!

Mark Simpson, who also looked with horror  on this survey and the following media hype of it, had this to say of its claims to being scientific:

‘Choke on my statistical reality’…

I did choke. I still am really. Not on OK Cupid’s approach to ‘statistical reality’ but on people’s willingness to swallow whole, lies about sexuality.

  1. Alex says:

    I don’t really know how gays seducing straights works, but I’d wonder if internet dating would actually be the best method. Surely the trick is to get them drunk or give them a back-rub or something? I doubt approaching them on the internet would work very well.

    • the point is that ‘straight’ men are often up for sex with men, but they would probably go on a website that was all men where they were not under the watchful eye of women. eg Grindr, Gaydar etc. There are loads of ‘straight/bi/bicurious’ men looking for cock on the internet. I think there are some on OK Cupid. But the way the match searches have been analysed has avoided those men.

  2. Magpie says:

    I’d tend to err towards OK Cupid being a little slapdash with statistics and slicing data in a way that is appealing to public, rather than them attempting to erase bi-sexuality from their figures. It’s lazy, but broadly speaking sexuality is too complex to be expressed by figures. It’ll be interesting to see if their approach becomes more heteronormative now they are owned by the same company as Match.com

    • thats generous of you Magpie but they totally leave out the results for bisexual users/searches of bisexual people.

      I think that is more than slapdash it is deliberate.

      But yes now they are owned by Match.com they will be more about looking for ‘lurrve’ I think.

  3. Magpie says:

    I’m sure you’ve seen this OK Cupid blog that was deleted on their purchase by Match.com – http://replay.web.archive.org/20101006104124/http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/why-you-should-never-pay-for-online-dating/

  4. sofia says:

    the okcupid blog does seem a bit sketchy sometimes. but, in regards to specifically the following;

    “When I set up my OK Cupid profile nobody asked me how many partners I have had to date.”

    i think when you join OK cupid they make you complete the “personality test”, which includes asking you your number of sexual partners but it remains unpublished on the site.

    though you are right to say there is a selection bias. OK cupid is only an ‘alright’ hookup site for straight people, and even then… but my gay friends opted more for directly gay-oriented sites for a larger database of gay users.

    • maybe I havent been through all the hoops yet. But I can do ‘searches’ so they should be able to include them in their data without doing the ‘personality test’?

      Basically they are a commercial dating site not a research organisation. And even research organisations produce REALLY dodgy research on sex/sexuality!

      yeah I don’t think many gay men use OK Cupid but again. No numbers so who knows?

  5. Thomas says:

    Did Freud really use the term Schwanzangst? If so that’s hilarious and the guy had a good sense of humor. I mean Penisneid sure, but Schwanzangst?

  6. elissa says:

    They also say that Canadians are more “gay curious” than Americans, pretty much East to West. I suspect the Quebecers bring up the average. They have that joie de vivre, and that’s a very – gay curious – attitude to have.

    And yes, Americans are a strange bunch. There’s that quote from Demint focusing his laser hot stupidity on “practicing homosexuals”…only. They just don’t seem to know what to say or do anymore. I guess he means like a practicing drug user. I don’t think you can be a non-practicing drug user, can you?

    And loved your post

    • I think elissa the person who wrote this is gay. It is riddled with the ‘gay rights’ fundamentalist ticks. Gay marriage, DODT, gay men are not promiscuous, gay people don’t fancy straight people etc etc

  7. Thanks alex. I didn’t see the translation on that page just a load of German and some i-phone app ads.

  8. I am annoyed those OK Cupid ‘stats’ went ALL ROUND the internetz

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