It's Not You, It's the Data

At McSweeney’s, Josh Freedman breaks up with his girlfriend, economist-style:

Susan, we need to talk. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. About us. I really like you, but ever since we met in that econ class in college I knew there was something missing from how I felt: quantitative reasoning. We can say we love each other all we want, but I just can’t trust it without the data. And after performing an in-depth cost-benefit analysis of our relationship, I just don’t think this is working out.

Please know that this decision was not rash. In fact, it was anything but—it was completely devoid of emotion. I just made a series of quantitative calculations, culled from available OECD data on comparable families and conservative estimates of future likelihoods. I then assigned weights to various “feelings” based on importance, as judged by the relevant scholarly literature. From this, it was easy to determine that given all of the options available, the winning decision on both cost-effectiveness and comparative-effectiveness grounds was to see other people.

(HT: Greg Mankiw)

Kiaser Zohsay

XKCD has done the quantitative analysis for you.



I am glad Freakonomics also subscribes to Mankiw. I mean, how can you not?


I guess what I'm saying is that our relationship just wasn't that significant (p> .05).






Given that reasoning, I'd say his girlfriend dodged a bullet.

caleb b

Translation: I am making decent money and I'm attracting better looking/nicer people than you. Now the trade is so far in favor of dumping you, I'd be a fool not to.

David Wilkinson

Opportunity cost be damned!


Maybe I was being naive. I thought this was a joke. Was it real?


It's a joke.

julie wright

Why not handle it statistically significant?

Russell Harris

Went to a wedding once and the groom in his speech revealed he had done a SWOT analysis before popping the question ... didn't go down well with the new in-laws.


Given the ubiquity of Google searches I believe Josh has failed to consider the deleterius impact this statement will have on any future partnerships.

roger rath

Would that it were so easy. Remember we live in the grey area.

Jay Cox

I love this... every time I think about it I chuckle a little bit.