The Bizarre Cult of Happiness Studies

All of the ways we currently measure happiness are filled with errors, says University of Illinois professor Deirdre McCloskey, who argues today's society is not especially consumerist. 

What's the Latest Development?

All our rules regarding the measurement of happiness fall quickly away upon close examination, says Deirdre McCloskey, who teaches economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Perhaps the most tried and "true" method for measuring happiness is asking people under what conditions they feel happiest. But this cannot work: People feel the same experiences differently (some like it hot, others not as much). And besides, some people are naturally happier than others. "The deeper happiness," said McCloskey, "is not measurable."

What's the Big Idea?

To the mainstream critics of our modern "consumerist society," McCloskey points out that the population at large is given to buying more trinkets today simply because we make more money, not that our values have shifted or become corrupted. Humans have always spent their disposable income on their vices, only today there are more people with more money, hence the appearance of more vice. McCloskey also writes that, historically speaking, more economically vibrant societies have also produced greater cultural works, whether than means symphonies, education systems or good literature. In short, income has the effect of enriching life.

Photo credit:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less