Saturday, April 27, 2013

Simple Truths

In this era of such complex, mind-boggling scientific ideas as quantum entanglement and string theory, science still comes up with some refreshingly simple, easily understood conclusions.

Here's one:   The longest-running longitudinal studies of human development, began in 1938, has followed 268 Harvard undergraduate men for 75 years, measuring an astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits—from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum”—in an effort to determine what factors contribute most strongly to human well-being.  George Vaillant, who directed the study for more than three decades, had this to say recently about the study:  “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points … to a straightforward five-word conclusion: ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ ”  See What Makes Us Happy, Revisited.  (This recalls the oft-cited -- at least by me --  letter from another scientist:  "Dear Mrs Chown, Ignore your son's attempts to teach you physics.  Physics is not the most important thing, love is. Richard Feynman.")

Here's another:  The Sax Institute's "45 and Up Study," the largest ongoing study of healthy aging in the Southern Hemisphere, follows some 250,000 Australian adults 45 years and older.   One of the conclusions from the study is -- again fairly easy to understand:  people who sit the most die the soonest.  Or, as someone else put it:  sitting = death.  See Confirmed: He Who Sits the Most Dies the Soonest.

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