The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happiness | Science | The Observer

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

Here’s how science can be wrong, even when there is “consensus”.

The moral of this story: NEVER STOP QUESTIONING. Being skeptical is a GOOD thing in science. ALWAYS.

Sometimes, even when 30 Helens Agree, they are wrong.

The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happiness | Science | The Observer.

It was as simple as that. The mysteries of love, happiness, fulfilment, success, disappointment, heartache, failure, experience, random luck, environment, culture, gender, genes, and all the other myriad ingredients that make up a human life could be reduced to the figure of 2.9013.

How is it that one guy can end up bringing down a popular fallacy?

“The answer,” says Brown when I meet him in a north London cafe, “is because that’s how it always happens. Look at whistleblower culture. If you want to be a whistleblower you have to be prepared to lose your job. I’m able to do what I’m doing here because I’m nobody. I don’t have to keep any academics happy. I don’t have to think about the possible consequences of my actions for people I might admire personally who may have based their work on this and they end up looking silly. There are 160,000 psychologists in America and they’ve got mortgages. I’ve got the necessary degree of total independence.”

And what do the “experts” do when they are found to be wrong?

The paper mounted a devastating case against the maths employed by Fredrickson and Losada, who were offered the chance to respond in the same online issue of American Psychologist. Losada declined and has thus far failed to defend his input in any public forum. But Fredrickson did write a reply, which, putting a positive spin on things, she titled Updated Thinking on Positivity Ratios.

She effectively accepted that Losada’s maths was wrong and admitted that she never really understood it anyway. But she refused to accept that the rest of the research was flawed.

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