eHarmony: The Book

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

For as much as I ramble about eHarmony and its founder, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, I’ve yet to pick up any of the books he’s written on relationships and marriage. The story behind eHarmony goes that while promoting one of his books on how to evaluate people as marriage material, people kept asking him how to meet these people in the first place, ultimately inspiring the eHarmony site. With this in mind, I picked up a used, hardcover copy of Finding the Love of Your Life for the bargain price of 99 cents.

The book reveals the origins of many of the serious relationship themes found in eHarmony while exposing a bit more of the author’s Christian background. If you can get past that and his argument for celibacy until marriage, there is some solid advice to be had:

  • Get married for the right reasons
  • Figure out what’s important to you in a partner first
  • Find someone you have a lot in common with or is good at compromising
  • Get to know them over a good length of time before marriage

Many of the big issues and areas of compatibilities show up in eHarmony’s “29 dimensions”, and explain why their matches tend to be better than the basic physical characteristics used by Match or even OkCupid’s more sophisticated test question and personality fuzzy logic. Given the author’s degree in clinical psychology and experience as a marriage counselor, you would expect him to be able to identify the critical traits of successful matches.

In summary, the book offers solid basic advice on finding the right person to marry once you remove a few biases, and provides some useful background on what’s driving eHarmony’s matching system and philosophy.

Economics of Braille ATMs and Wedding Dresses

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

The Cornell alumni newsletter had an interesting piece on a new book, The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas. In it, Cornell economics professor Robert Frank expands on student essays on economic issues, Freakonomic-style. Among these, he tackles the economics of Braille ATMs and wedding dresses. I always thought it was telling of the genders that women spend untold hours and dollars preparing for a day that guys will show up for in rented tuxes.

Riding Rockets

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Mike Mullane’s Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut is a book that actually does live up to its billing: a revealing, unfliching, often hilarious look at the life of a shuttle astronaut. He only occasionally delves into the technology of the program, instead focusing on much more interesting interpersonal relationships. The contrasts between military and civilian astronauts, their struggles with NASA management, and the influence of early political correctness are all intriguing. Against this backdrop, he traces the ups and downs of astronaut life from mission assignments to the unbelievably complicated process of using the space toilet.