May 24th, 2008


Important Weekend Science: The Bar Pick-Up


Scientists like order and structure and methodology. Repeatability is even better, though that often requires additional grant funding. It’s no different when it comes to weekends, bars and picking up science groupies.

But it’s not so simple, even for scientists. The perfect world of methodology and repeatability is instead replaced by linguistic voodoo and trial and error regarding shots of alcohol. Science, as always, is here to help.

There are rules, you see, but they are unwritten. By taking a broad cross-section of shared experiences we can establish a baseline and go from there. That is good science.


Of course, men (scientists or not) do this anyway. The topic of women (unless you are gay*) is second only to “What’s the score?” among manly icebreakers. Take any group of men and introduce either of those two subjects and they are all immediately best friends. Anecdotes, strategies, introspection, grand pronouncements – it’s like a giant game of real-life Stratego. Men will freely share every bit of advice they have because men know it will do no good.

Women play things closer to the vest. They have strategies but they aren’t going to share them. If women do share, that information is suspect, much like “Your new short hair cut is sooooooo cute” which really means, ‘Excellent, a competitor just eliminated herself from contention.’

There are a few empirical studies (well, very few) that can help. A Ph.D. candidate named Hans Andersson of Umea University in Sweden did his dissertation titled ‘Spelets regler­raggning och flirt pÃ¥ krogen’ – “Rules of the game: the pick-up and flirtation at bars” and he explains that, even in these days of sexual equality, for women picking up men is a morally low, masculine act. Yes, masculine. That means they expect you to do the work. You will try and they will accept or reject you based on suitability.

Basically, men will try to pick women up while women will flirt and see how men do – flirting is titillating and romantic and avoids the perception of lust. So how will men know the difference? You won’t. That’s what makes the perceived lack of sexual equality actually an overwhelming advantage for women. The one piece of advice every woman will give every man is ‘go ahead and ask her’ – in reality the Knights at Acre had a better chance of success. They want you to try just the same. It’s the ultimate gender superiority head-fake.

Some men, of course, like that. Some men also like trudging to the 7-11 every day and buying a lottery ticket, which has as much chance of success. Science has no explanation for that.

The Jäger Curve

What can help? Well, the key is to change her expectations of suitability – your suitability can be impacted by a number of things; her day at work, her longing to resume or retaliate regarding an ex-boyfriend and, I have discovered, you can tilt things in your favor using a magical elixir called “shots of Jäger.” I discovered The Jäger Curve and I created a chart below to show it empirically. The Jäger Curve matches your chances of success based on how many shots of the miracle drink she has had.

Obviously on the low end you are no more funny or handsome than you are in real life so more Jäger is needed. But use caution. At the high end, she will become the kind of uninhibited she was in her college days which means any woman more attractive than you (i.e., all of them) are now on her radar. The middle chunk of the Jäger curve is where you want to be.

Like Hans Andersson, you will need to spend a great deal of time doing field work in bars, night clubs and all night seminars on Euclidean Geometry. Since I know it will take some effort to get to the ‘shots of Jäger’ testing phase, I have included some handy introduction lines below.

Handy Introduction Lines

- Oooh, your IQ is 145? I like ‘em beautiful and dumb!

- By looking at you I can tell you’re 36-25-36 which, by the way, are all perfect squares.

- According to the second law of thermodynamics, you’re supposed to share your hotness with me.

- I wish I was your differential, because then I’d be touching all your curves.

- But enough about me, let’s talk about mu.



Let me know how it goes. It’s for science.

(*) Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


This entry was posted on Saturday, May 24th, 2008 at 8:03 am and is filed under Culture, Relationships, Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Important Weekend Science: The Bar Pick-Up”

  1. JoeC Says:

    Holy light bulbs coming on, science man…the Jäger bell curve just illuminated my frustrating 4 years in college so long ago now. Better late than never, realizing too much of a good thing is not necessarily the path to happiness…or the roommate-with-the-hot-chick’s apartment.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    You know, as a woman (and thus representative of all women, of course), I’ve always been annoyed by what you call the “perceived lack of sexual equality” and thus, prior to a few years ago, was frequently the pursuer–the one to initiate conversations with guys, the one to ask for their phone number, etc. Then I was told the converse of the rule you mention that girls are attracted to guys who initiate contact because it shows confidence: that GUYS are NOT attracted to girls who approach them because it emasculates them. And thus we’re just supposed to demurely sit around like little flowers and hope a guy decides to approach.

    Personally, I feel that my opinion of a guy is not predicated on whether they’re “confident” enough to talk to me. Secondly, guess how often guys actually do approach me?? Hardly any. I’m sure you’re guessing that I must be a dog. Let’s just say I’m about average, and there are tons of average guys who wouldn’t be doing too badly by asking me out. But they NEVER do. It’s like, if we’re going to agree that GUYS are going to initiate and girls AREN’T because that arrangement supposedly titillates both of us, then fine. But then you guys better step up your game, because otherwise I’m just never gonna get the chance to meet you.

  3. Cash Says:

    Secondly, guess how often guys actually do approach me?? Hardly any. I’m sure you’re guessing that I must be a dog. Let’s just say I’m about average, and there are tons of average guys who wouldn’t be doing too badly by asking me out.

    I call BS. If you were an actual female you would know you have to simply walk into any public place and announce you have a vagina and the line of men suddenly waiting to talk to you could be seen from space.

    It’s not rocket science.

  4. nic Says:

    MO…the sexes are equal because people are people. A man should be the first to speak but the woman needs to send the “I’m open and approachable” signal which only requires a nice friendly smile in his direction. The Jager is just a bonus.