A social direction

This happens, in all the stupidity, the harshness and the fatalities of war, we look in other directions, we look for the good in places, in people, in foods and in entertainment. Our bodies and our souls can only take so much negativity until we start seeking out positivity in any way we can. This is pretty much on all of us. The problem for some is that they CANNOT avoid the negativity. Through war, through social issues, through personal issues. It is a clambake of barriers that we set up and that keep us in place. We all have these moments and these time stages. We can try to avoid them, but the negativity draws in, just like positivity when it happens. So there I was sitting on the couch watching Blindspot season 4 on dvd when I saw ‘Saudi Arabia ranks 25th in UN World Happiness Report’ (at https://www.arabnews.com/node/2045881/saudi-arabia). Of all the things I expected to see, that was not one of them. To be honest  I have no idea where they were, but they moved up one step from 26 in a year. The full report (at https://happiness-report.s3.amazonaws.com/2021/WHR+22.pdf) gives us more. You see the numbers show that they are one place behind the UAE and both are really close to the scores of France, Belgium, UK and US. Yet there is also the setting that Arab News gives us “The report has been based on two key ideas: That happiness or life evaluation can be measured through opinion surveys, and that we can identify key determinants of well-being and thereby explain the patterns of life evaluation across countries,” That is a little more than I bargained for. I am not disputing the approach but how many people? The PDF does give us that. 156 countries and 1853 observations (per nation I guess). Yet if that is the case and we know Saudi Arabia has 35 million people, we might see that stage. Yet Belgium has 12 million people and the US has 330 million people, so how is there a stage of equality? How can 1853 people be a genuine stage for happiness in the US? How is the stage of opinions towards regression become a scale of happiness? How were these numbers created? Technical box 2 gives us more (page 20), but there is a larger issue. We see 2017 World Development Indicators (WDI) that came BEFORE covid. They use GDP time series from the OECD economic outlook no. 110 (edition December 2021) with the added ‘or if missing’ and there the problem lies. Statistical result connected to other statistical results. I once learned (1992) that this is a really wrong setting to work from. Apart from the stage that it could be based on very different people, there were different economic boundaries and other issues in play. But overall it took me three minutes to combine data into questions and reservations on this report. It is nice to see all these happy people pictures, but it is window dressing, and it makes me more apprehensive of the report then less. There is a feeling of orchestration. The image of a man wearing an ‘offline hustler’ t-shirt with the small caption of ‘every move won’t be posted’, it merely brings out the negativity in me. And it is ‘consistency of emotion changes across countries in the 5 weeks after the outbreak’, you see what date was used for the 5 week stage? December in China? When? It matters because covid hit us at different times, there seems to be no real explanation there. So how was Twitter used for these 1853 people? Is twitter separate, how many twitter observations per nation? The list goes on and grows. Still, it is an impressive piece of work, if there was a way to get better and more complete explanations it could work. But I hesitate when page 144 gives me “we approached the analyses by 2 interlinked hypotheses. (1) balance/harmony matter to all people; and (2) balance/harmony are dynamics at the heart of well-being. As we have seen, both hypotheses were corroborated to some extent” Really? 1853 observations out of 330 million Americans? How does that show any level of corroboration? 

The more of the report I saw, the more questions I ended up with. I wonder who else have a serious set of questions and I wonder when the media will ask Gallup more questions, Personally I doubt they will ever bother.

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