Updated: Jan 22, 2021
“Don’t get married, and don’t have children if you’re a woman who wants to be happy.” That is the latest volley in sexual culture wars circulating the “trusted” NewsGuard-verified websites. It started with a New York Times article that promulgated a study showing conservative religious wives are the happiest of all spouses. The global left immediately reacted with peak cognitive dissonance. Unfortunately for them, the study was thorough and methodical.
But what visions would make the global left convulse so acutely? In leftwing sociopolitical culture:
Large families are shameful because they are destroying the environment
A religious male patriarchy oppressed women for time immemorial
Promiscuity is a positive form of “liberation” (i.e. slut walk, “sex-positive” academic invocations)
Suburban traditional family life is stifling, hypocritical, miserable, and boring (i.e. dark suburban drama and related genres of movies)
A person who accepts these visions as true, would certainly be perturbed by a study that shows conservative religious wives to be the happiest.
And what did the leftists do in response to such cognitive dissonance? Did they exhibit that incredible open-mindedness they advertise as a feature of the left? Or perhaps they showed respect for “science” and analytical results, that they proclaim as an advantage of leftist politics?
Their reaction was to kick and scream emotively and fish for contradictions. It only took one week for the “trusted” websites to dig up a counter-narrative, using an unjustified professor to feed their confirmation bias. And boy, did the leftists suck his Ivy Lie through a straw.
In typical propagandistic modus operandi, carbon-copy articles across “trusted” websites popped up in unison: The Guardian, The Independent, MSN, Daily Express, Metro, Whimn, Harper’s Bazaar, Yahoo, and The Telegraph to name a few.
The premise, espousing the feminist visions listed above, asserts:
“We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.”
That “expert” is Paul Dolan. It’s always amusing when people invoke “science” like “god,” when they regularly disrespect empirical results that challenge their preconceptions. By “the science,” of course, the high-IQ journalists, mean to exclude the thorough study demonstrating the happiness of conservative religious wives, while supplanting it with Paul Dolan’s bogus “science.”
It is worth noting that Paul Dolan is a Head of Department and Professor of Behavioral Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He had a Nobel Prize winner author the foreword to his book on happiness economics. Also, as a man who has devoted his life to studying humanity, he claims that he has never read a novel.
Of course, for those of us who have actually studied culture for purposes that make or break major human endeavors – we would find Paul Dolan’s willing ignorance of literature to be monumentally foolish. There are aspects of our humanity that are best understood through our creation and consumption of fiction.
If I was assigned to develop a new corporate or institutional culture, I’d have to write a story about the founders and the history of the institution, and all of the people it has impacted over the years. Stories, stories, and more stories! Some are true, some are embellished, and some are outright fiction. There is more truth in a classic novel than there is in many biographies of politicians and celebrities.
But Paul Dolan knows better than us all, doesn’t he?
Probably not. His analytical methods are as defunct as his cultural understanding. He refers to the ATUS data to assert that never-married women without children are the happiest. The Well-Being module in the ATUS is a banal questionnaire, which asks respondents to list what activities they did yesterday. Then they are to choose a number between 0 and 6 to indicate how happy they were during that activity. Examples include “driving home from work,” and “watching TV.”
If you’re Paul Dolan, you would add up the happiness scores of people based on marital and parental status, and gender, and then make unjustified claims to feed the confirmation bias of childfree culture.
If you’re an honest and intelligent analyst, you’d never dream of creating such a lie. How many of those women are using alcohol or psychiatric medicine for artificial happiness? Around 26% of adult women take happy pills. The same report points to studies showing a surge in alcohol escapism. A person who is genuinely happy with their life is not using chemicals to manufacture happiness.
Psychiatric condition is not the only problem with Paul Dolan’s use of the ATUS. What is the average age people get married? Are young adults living on credit, parents, hope, and new experiences happier than middle age adults who are paying their debts, struggling with health problems, losing their prime, and facing the limitations of their lives?
Which of the two age groups are likely to be married and childfree? Is a childfree 19-year-old watching TV happier than a 52-year-old with child and spouse, who has seen it all before? The 52-year-old with spouse and child is not as likely to answer “six” on happiness to the same question. The 19-year-old may very well be much less happy when they turn 52, with no children, and no spouse. So Dolan’s “study” confuses happiness from age with happiness from being childfree.
Correlation is not causation. Isn’t that the first lesson they drive into our heads in sociology 101? Why did Paul Dolan miss that lesson? And how does a university-employed charlatan rub elbows with Nobel prize winners, when he doesn't respect sociology 101?
At any rate, these age and psychiatric distinctions are just a few of many that make Paul Dolan’s chosen dataset useless to support his claims. Perhaps if he read some novels, he might understand humanity enough to discern such nuance in his behavioral science? We can’t have science without accurate observation.
Truth be told, I have no vested interest at all in answering the questions of these researchers. While the study that showed conservative religious wives to be the happiest was meticulous and thorough, and Paul Dolan’s use of the ATUS was completely bogus, “happiness economics” is a very dangerous field of scientism (analytical inquiry that claims scientific authority, but deserves none).
In the book Economic Sovereignty, I showed why we should be highly skeptical of “quantified intangibles.”
At best, surveys of collective happiness can measure how relatively placated populations are at a particular moment. Being placated is not genuine happiness. An impoverished child with a lollipop is the happiest person on the planet. The sadistic serial killer who stalks right next to him, is just as gleeful about the person they killed moments ago. Values, visions, happenchance, and patterns of behavior combine to produce emotional disposition. That formula varies from person-to-person infinitely.
A person can say they were happy at a moment, during an activity, but emotions are fleeting, and often the cause of a mood is not articulated even to ourselves. Can you remember times when you had a positive or negative mood, and you couldn’t quite put your finger on the reason? Happiness economics eternalizes this confusion by associating myriad demographic factors, and activities which may have little to do with our temporal happy feeling.
Students of Alvarism are already thinking critically about quantifying intangibles, thanks to Economic Sovereignty. I hope that students of Alvarism correct these charlatan “thought leaders.” Their falsehoods are leading to very wasteful and destructive public policies and trends in society. Politicians are using the bogus studies to make laws, and institutions use them for labor management. Europe, New Zealand, and China are just a few regions using this harmful scientism to poorly govern, and corrupt labor markets.
Unlike Paul Dolan, I have read countless novels in my life. They reflect my real experience with people: I am always amazed at what pleases and displeases every individual. The fluctuation of emotional states and motivations of people are as unpredictable and prone to adaptation as the most limber gymnast. I allow them this liberty by refusing to atomize their emotional dispositions, as if people’s feelings are some kind of equation to be formulated.
Instead, we can learn from tradition and history what is harmful or helpful in very specific terms, with social norms. When we broad-stroke those norms with demographics and legal status, we’re guaranteed to violate sociology 101, confusing correlation with causation.
It is utterly irresponsible to tell people of all sorts of capabilities, interests, virtues, and defects, that a very specific lifestyle is necessarily the singular ticket to happiness. The more vulnerable amongst us would use such scientism poorly, interrupt their own self-knowledge, and get thrown off-track by the Ivy Lie.
I’m sure there are some wine-guzzling childfree, never-married women who are artificially happy because of their constant escapism and chemical dependency. I’m sure there are some genuinely happy childfree elder women – I have met some nuns of the Catholic Church who fit that description.
I’m also sure there are masses of miserable conservative wives with children. They might be miserable because of a debilitating health condition. They might be miserable because their child was crippled by drug cartel criminal assaults. They might be miserable because obesity restricts their desired activities.
Whatever their cause of happiness or misery, it would take a very arrogant, unjustified, and unintelligent “trusted” professor to assert that cause with any amount of certainty, much less reduce it to their parental or marital status. Some approximations are thorough and meticulous, though still problematic, such as the study on religious families. Others are outright nonsense, such as Paul Dolan’s molestation of the ATUS well-being survey.
That is “happiness economics.” Global news consumers certainly obtained the confirmation bias they sought, during this latest round of sexual culture wars.
Between the “prestige” of Ivy League universities and NewsGuard “trusted” websites, more people will be taking Denzel Washington’s disposition when they encounter journalists and professors: