Call it a practical application of social engineering technology…

Professor James Murray of Oxford University has devised a mathematical formula which he says is 94 per cent successful in predicting which newly-wed couples will eventually divorce.

Murray and his research team filmed more than 700 newlywed couples discussing issues deemed likely to cause stress, such as sex and money, for periods of 15 minutes at a time. The researchers then graded the subjects’ statements and responses as either positive or negative. The resulting scores were then tallied to determine the likelihood that the relationship would last.

The same couples were contacted again, at one or two year intervals over the next 12 years to see how they were doing. Which is how Murray determined that his predictions, based on the math, had been so amazingly accurate.

“Some couples might as well get divorced right away,” Murray told reporters.

There’s no word as to whether Murray’s formula will be made available, on a commercial basis or otherwise, to marriage counsellors, clergy or others who counsel those preparing to marry. We wonder if there’s a mass market for a consumer test in which couples — upon payment of an appropriate fee, of course — could film themselves discussing specified topics, post the results to an official analysis Web site and, then, get back a report on their long-term prospects. We want stock in that company…

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