Just when you wondered why in the world someone would pay $400 for a pretty phone that breaks easily and gets terrible reception…
The dating website OkCupid recently released the results of a shocking new study. It turns out that people who own iPhones have had more sexual partners than people who own other smart phones.
As expected, this groundbreaking scientific breakthrough has convinced many to conclude that an inferior cell phone is the root of their sexual misfortunes. Yahoo summed it up best, when they claimed, “I guess this accessory really helps your game.”
(Disclaimer: I actually own an iPhone and I would really like to believe that my smart phone will increase my appeal to members of the opposite sex, but my LSAT-centered mind is once again holding me back.)
Before you run out to the nearest Apple store, I would urge you to read the following analysis. You see, this article grabbed my attention because it is a classic example of two very common logical fallacies: causation and sampling.
The first part of the study focused on 30 year-olds. It turns out that men who own an iPhone have had an average of 10 sexual partners, and women have had a whopping 12.3. Blackberry users have an average of 8.1 (men) and 8.8 (women) notches on their bedpost. And apparently Android users have about as much luck with the opposite sex as Snooki. Men with Androids have an average of 6 partners and women are just ahead of them with 6.1.
The first conclusion is obvious: women have left men in the dust. What’s up with that? Guys, it’s time to stop playing with your new app and go talk to a girl.
The second conclusion is more problematic. Does this evidence actually prove, as many have reported, that the iPhone increases your game? Is that hot guy or girl going home with you because of you, or is it just the bulge in your pocket?
Unfortunately, drawing the conclusion that the phone is responsible would be unwarranted. One of the most common fallacies on the LSAT involves confusing a correlation with causation. Even though iPhone owners have more sexual partners, this does not actually prove that the phone is the cause for the good luck in the bedroom.
First, the causal relationship could actually be reversed. Maybe people who have already racked up a lot of sexual partners are more likely to buy an iPhone (it can be complicated to keep track of all of those names and numbers).
Second, there could be alternate causes. Maybe people who use an iPhone are getting laid for other reasons. As you probably know by now, you can tell a lot about a person by their choice of smart phone. If you meet a guy that owns an Android, he probably has his own special character in World of Warcraft and he probably brags about the amount of RAM in his computer. If you meet someone with a Blackberry, she is invariably a lawyer or investment banker and rarely, if ever, is allowed to leave her office. A person with an iPhone is likely to be either (1) an artist or (2) unemployed. IPhone owners, thus, have more free time and this could actually be why they are getting lucky more often.
The second big fallacy in this case has to do with the actual study. 30 year-olds might not be representative of other age groups. Maybe a gal at 30 with an iPhone is very attractive, yet a 60 year-old or a 19 year-old with an iPhone might have little or no luck with the boys. In order to investigate the hypothesis that iPhones actually do increase one’s game, it would be necessary to use a sample group that spans different ages, geographic locations, lifestyles, and social classes.
There are many morals to this story. First, don’t confuse correlation with causation. Second, it is problematic to base general conclusions on samples that could be unrepresentative. And finally, Steve Jobs gets laid because of his bank account, not his iPhone.
Now a challenge for you. There is actually a third flaw that I have not mentioned. Question for you: why might it also be a problem to draw the conclusion that iPhone users are more likely to have more sexual partners based on the survey results mentioned?