Thursday, November 16, 2023

What Actually Makes People Happy

The Veritasium videos are very well produced and usually scientifically sound, but the latest, What Actually Makes People Happy, According to Science, was disappointing.

It cited research finding correlations between marriage, multiple personal relationships, happiness, longevity, and physical activity. They said that relationship and exercise cause happiness and long life. Money helps also.

My guess is that it is the other way around. Healthy happy people attract friends and spouses. The longer-lived people exercise more because they are healthy enough to do it.

No one wants to be around unhappy people. The unhappiness comes first, and then the relationships go bad.

The guests on the show seemed very scientific, except when they contradicted each other. And they really didn't have a scientific argument for causality

Supposed you picked 1000 people at random, and then randomly arranged for half to get married and the other half to get divorced or stay single. And then you did followup studies over 20 years to see which group was happier. This might give evidence for whether marriage causes happiness.

Nobody has done such a study, of course. But we can do studies of lottery winners. The winners are randomly made rich, and can be compared to a control group of losers. This might tell us if a monetary winfall leads to happiness. The video implied that it does not, but it was not clear. At one point it said that happy people can become even happier, with more money.

The video claimed that married men live 12 years longer than unmarried men, so marriage adds 12 years to a man's life. It is hard to believe that marriage could make so much difference. I think that women like to marry healthier men.

1 comment:

CFT said...

humans quite literally were meant to be found in pairs. Look at your DNA. Two strands. Two genetic parents. Not three or four or one.

An actual human isn't a male, or a female, it's both functioning together as sex IS a part of our biology, as the organism isn't complete until all it's required elements for functioning (which very much includes reproduction) are present. A single celled Amoeba is a complete organism, a man is not, he's half of one.

If you prefer a more mythological narrative from antiquity illustrating this, one of the earliest versions of Adam and Eve was quite a bit different than the one most Christians know form the Old Testement. In this earlier version of the story, Adam was a complete being, both male and female. Despite being complete, Adam was lonely, so God created Adam's first wife Lilith by literally cleaving Adam in half. The two while different sexually, shared all of Adam's desires identically, including the desire to be dominant partner, and so this first pairing didn't work out, and God sent Lilith away. The story goes she defiantly went on to become the mother of vampires, demons, and all manner of monsters.