Remember those glorious math problems from elementary school, along the lines of, “If you have an appetite where can eat three watermelons every day, how many watermelons can you eat during April?” I thought of this the other day, not just because I used to flunk those questions with alacrity, but because the Ashley Madison scandal brought back those days of arithmetic lore.

Ashley Madison? It’s a website where much of adult America claims to feign unfamiliarity—a website devoted to those who cheat on their spouses/partners. While cheating is as old as marriage, Ashley Madison has brought it into the digital age. The news this week concerned an Ashley Madison data breach where a hacker, disgusted with a lie promulgated by the website (that they would/could make your cheatin’ heart data disappear forever for $19), exposed the website’s vulnerability by stealing ALL the website’s records, and began to make some of them public.   The hacker threatened to divulge everything unless the owners of Ashley Madison close their business. It’s the latter-day equivalent of the vice squad raiding a brothel and discovering the madam’s little black book, then threatening to take it to the newspapers.

Here’s where the math comes into play: Ashley Madison has about 40 million registered users. Assume that 80% of them reside in the US (the same ratio as web usage of US sites in the US), that brings us to about 32 million US users. There are 55 million married US households, or 110 million married people. This brings us to roughly 30% of all married people in the US registered with Ashley Madison. If 30% of all married people in the US are actively cheating, and that information is divulged publically, how many divorce attorneys will purchase Lamborghinis and vacation homes in 2016?


Faithfully yours,


Jim Shulman