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It was a free, advertising-supported dating site trying to scrape by in a market crowded with dozens of competitors and two hegemons: e Harmony and

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The book arrives on Tuesday, bearing the kind of Gladwellian title — “Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One’s Looking” — meant to tell readers that a Big Idea lies between the covers.

Rudder’s talk at the Empiricist League borrowed from the book’s first chapter, covering the basics of whom we’re attracted to and why.

n mid-August, couples and lonely hearts packed a Brooklyn basement to hear scientists make sense of something the crowd could not: love.

It was the 11th meeting of the Empiricist League, a kind of ad-hoc, small-scale TED Talks for scientists and the New Yorkers who adore them.

To make these posts, it would take Rudder weeks to sort through the data his colleagues provided.

He’d hunker down with a huge data set, load up Excel, and, as he puts it, “embrace the darkness.” “I’m very grim when I’m doing this stuff, as I’m sure you could imagine, and it’s just something about the grimness. If I have one talent it’s the ability to sit in front of anything, whether it’s Pro Tools or Excel or some postmodern novel or whatever it is, and just, like, do it.” Sometimes the darkness doesn’t ebb even when Rudder hits publish.

The posts covered such topics as the best camera angle for a profile picture and how people lie on their profiles — the mysteries online daters wonder about.

Soon, Rudder’s insights and wry wit were attracting millions of views.

The site runs the answers through some calculations to determine a match percentage for any given couple and then shows it to them. Rudder, who lives in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, is married and has never been on an online date.

He co-founded the site in 2003, but he stayed out of the business for several years while touring with his rock band, Bishop Allen.

“Women who are, say, 28 find guys who are also 28 about the most attractive, and so forth.

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