Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Happiness Inequality" and the Politicization of Science

A Pew Poll measuring the "happiness" of the American people is out, and good news for me, people get happier as they age. But that is not why I brought it up. Rather, I was taken by the analysis of the poll presented by science writer Robert Roy Britt, Editorial Director of the on-line science journal LiveScience.com, which, I think, indirectly illuminates the left wing politics that I worry now permeates the science sector to the detriment of both science and society.

Britt mostly focuses on how happiness is aided by material prosperity, which is undoubtedly true, but which I doubt is the primary source of life satisfaction and joy. (According to a 2006 Pew Poll other factors include religious belief, marriage, living in sunny climes, etc.) But this is the paragraph that hit me as decidedly odd. From the column:

Now for the good news: A study in January found that key groups of people in the United States have grown happier over the past few decades, while other have become less so. The result: Happiness inequality has decreased since the 1970s. Americans are becoming more similar to each other on the happiness scale.
I'm sorry? We should be pleased that some people have grown unhappier so that we now have less happiness inequality?

Not to make too big a deal out of this, but the zeal for equal outcomes--in contrast to equal opportunity--has become a hallmark of the political left. If I am right about the increasing left wing political tilt of the science sector, we will need to be on guard to ensure that "scientific" findings and recommendations upon which policies are often based aren't skewed to promote desired radical egalitarian ideological outcomes.



At May 19, 2009 , Blogger Becky said...

Material goods factoring into happiness? O_o


"Money does factor into the happiness equation but only to a certain degree. Studies have shown that if people go from making $20,000 per year to $50,000 per year, their happiness will just about double, according to Harvard professor Dan Gilbert. However, going from $50,000 to $90,000 will yield only a slight increase."

At May 19, 2009 , Blogger T E Fine said...

Wesley -

Well, now you know another reason why it's your duty to die: you're older than me and you're employed; thus, you're happier than I am. How dare you, you happiness hoarder. (cue me rolling my eyes)

At May 19, 2009 , Blogger holyterror said...

How very bizarre, to even measure or write about such a thing.

In my opinion, it just means that more people are more zoned out on mind-numbing exercises in pleasure-seeking, leaving them without the moral imperative or ability to think critically or live life deliberately.

But, I am feelin pretty cranky tonight.

At May 20, 2009 , Blogger T E Fine said...

JustChris -

Thank you! (curtsey) I do my best. Actually, I was feeling cranky after I read that article because it was so silly. Ironically, I'd been fairly chipper before I read it.

At May 23, 2009 , Blogger Ianthe said...

Holyterror: That's right. It's not to be measured or written about or discussed. These things are personal and private and no one else's business.

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