Here is how one person described it:
"You start with a mailing list of investors say 5000. You can easily purchase one from a variety of mailing list companies (for example investment magazines that sell their subscriber lists).
You print up post cards that claim you have the most amazingly insightful designed-by-MIT AI specialists super-secret stock market analytical tool. It will predict, with 99.99% accuracy, the direction of the stock market.
You offer to prove this by offering them the correct prediction for the stock market.
To 2,500 you write "The market will go UP" and to the other half "The market will go DOWN" in some period of time, for example a month.
A month later you are now right with 2,500 people and wrong with the other 2,500 people.
The next mailing goes out only to the first 2,500 people who got the "correct" prediction and it does the same thing again. You claim to be able to predict the next months stock market direction.
Again you split it into "UP" with 1,250 and down with the other half.
The first round of the successful prediction isn't likely to have impressed the investors. After all everyone is right sometimes, right?
But now you have two successful picks with 1,250 people. You probably have their attention, although there are likely to be some doubters.
So you send out a third post card doing the same thing again.
Now you have 625 people who have received no less than 3 successful predictions for the direction of the stock market from you. You have proven your case. You could even run another round of the same split. You end this by telling them to send you $5,000 for more information on the stock market. If only 10% of the 625 people respond you've made $300,000 which would pay for the initial cost of the mailing list and the post cards.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat."
It struck me that personals ads in places like Craigslist's Personals could play on the sense of extreme coincidence in creating a sort of instant, although erroneous, sense of connectedness with a succession of otherwise even or low chance events that one after another lend a sensation of extreme accuracy and improbability.
As one person described the sensation of meeting someone who was hard to find, "it was like meeting my soul mate".
This is also a variation on the way astrology works, but in this case it should work even better for you than for the astrologer trying to bilk you out of your hard earned ducats.
It would go something like this:
You place an ad on Craigslust(sic) saying you want to meet someone who has an incredibly rare and specific set of characteristics (and no I don't mean cute and blond with a nice ass). For example, born in a particular state, child of a single parent, loves Metallica, was a victim of incest, is a recovering alcoholic, is a successful lawyer and so on.
Alternately you could simply describe a set of characteristics that comes close to describing your most recent ex-boy/girl/rock.
Now you might say "1318, this is a recipe for disaster! The odds against finding someone who fits all those criteria is very remote! You'll never find a date this way!". And you might be right. However, here is the pseudo-logic behind this.
In astrological "predictions" the con-artist er I mean astrologer says broad vague things that mostly generate vague, but sometimes positive responses from you. When there is a "hit" on a particular area they can then move forward and make more predictions. However the more specific the predictions the more likely to "miss" but the more powerful when they do hit. Since online ads, like newspapers, are a high volume medium even the most extreme prediction is bound to be true for someone! And like the loyal astrological horoscope reader they tend to discard the false predictions but remember the correct ones. In a live reading they only have a $10 or $20 "downside" but as they get more exacting a few lucky hits can turn that person into a fountain of cash-for-readings as they become sure you have "the gift".
So someone in your audience is reading your ad and bingo they hit one, two, three, four or more out of say 7 extremely rare items or common items but not commonly all-in-one person. They are now convinced that you are looking for someone "like them" - it is cosmic syncronicity! In the same way you answer a job ad that has 5 or 6 of the "required skills" you possess. After all there is a lonely boy/girl/rock on the end of those ads who wants to find some connection.
Most ads are written on the opposite principle which seems intuitively more likely to succeed in a mass sort of way:
"Successful athletic boy/girl/rock seeks good looking, successful, financially secure, tall boy/girl/rock for camping/swimming/skiing/walks on beach, maybe something more with the right person"
I think many people aren't put off by this ad, but many don't feel a "connection" to it.
After all who doesn't like camping/swimming/skiing/walks on the beach? And everyone seems to describe themselves as "good looking" "cute" "curvy" and so on - but those terms mean radically different things to different people.
Does this mean you lie? Well, I don't recommend lying (unless you have to son!). But telling the truth might actually be rewarded here. The point being that you find the things that are the most extremely unique about yourself, in your past experience, or in those you tend to like, and put that out there:
For example, you were raised by lesbians and forced to live in the Neo-Nazi underground until you were rescued by Geraldo. You could say you are looking for people who've had that experience as well. Now someone is like to not have had the identical experience. They were raised by Neo-Nazis and had to live in the lesbian underground until rescued by Judge Judy. However the (un)commonality should strike the reader.
Kicked out of the girlscouts at 9? Grew up white in a non-white inner city? Grew up black in the white suburbs? High IQ score, schizophrenic breakdown, Child of an Adult Survivor of Alcoholics, ex-EST member, Eagle Scout?
The possibilities are endless.
There are secondary aspects to this approach. Assuming you find the only other half-basque, IQ-145, champion wrestler, rubiks cube failure, chain-smoker of KOOLS in your state you are going to instantly have that "we're like each other" bond that comes when people feel that, er well, someone is like them. "Unique, just like me!"
At the very least your personals ad should stand out from all the "I like tall women. I am a successful sensitive guy who likes walks on the beach, send me your picture" type ads. And I do mean stand out.
"But 1318" you plea "I am not special. I am not unique. I am a little nerdy, but I can't say that I like LOTR and GTA3? I weigh 350 lbs and have bad acne and was scarred during my teen years. I couldn't put that could I?" Well, in a sense, sure you could. Although I wouldn't limit myself to simple physical characteristics and commonly popular preferences. Find the most obscure video game you like, the most obscure food you like, the most obscure book, and pepper in some of your more unusual background elements you don't often share. I mean even if it wasn't the other persons experience it might be something they can relate to ('a scarring experience' or 'alienation'). And if it turns out I'm right it would support my theory that no matter what kind of girl/boy/rock you are there's someone out there that's into your thing.
Note: this article is intended as humor. Should you submit any personals ads, offer astrological readings or amazingly accurate stock prediction schemes using this story as advice you are on your own. YMMV.