A former Google Data Scientist used Big Data to discover the secrets of happiness and success. Find out how to be happy, how to find love and how to make a fortune according to the data…
We already know that Big Data allows companies to make better decisions. What if it was possible to use it to achieve happiness and success in your personal life ?
This is the idea of Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, former Google Data Scientist. His new book, entitled ” Don’t Trust Your Gut “, begins with the sentence: “ you can make better life decisions. Big Data can help you “.
After seeing the effectiveness of Big Data in baseball or finance, Silicon Valley or the business world, Seth wanted to try to apply it to personal decisions for which we are all hesitating.
In order to discover the answers to questions such as ” what predicts a happy marriage? ” or ” how to become rich ? “this expert has mined vast volumes of data.
Table of contents
Men lie, but not numbers
Invited by the Next Big Idea podcast, Seth revealed some information on this fascinating topic. According to him, the most basic facts about the world are simply hidden from our view.
Previously, he had already written a book about the secrets that can be discovered through Big Data on subjects such as sexuality or racism. The most people lie or hide what they really think.
Also, many people hide their wealth or exaggerate it. It is therefore very difficult to know where the money really circulates. And the media contribute to this confusion by drawing attention to sensational stories.
For example, if magazines are to be believed, all successful entrepreneurs are in their twenties. In reality, the media pick them carefully, because a young man making a fortune is a better story. In the real world, the average age of successful entrepreneurs is 42.
The functioning of the world is thus deformed in our eyes. And that’s why Big Data is so useful for making decisions.
How to find love via dating sites?
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s book looks at how data science can help to find love. Especially on the web.
By analyzing data from the dating site OkCupid, Christian Rudder discovered that it is possible to increase its chances of success by being extreme.
A person with a very particular style will be able to meet success on online dating sites, because some people will be very attracted to him/her. However, the purpose of dating is precisely to to find a person who finds you beautiful rather than being considered passable by everyone else.
What are the secrets of a happy marriage?
The book by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz also discusses a study conducted by Samantha Joel and 85 other scientists from a set of data of more than 11 000 couples. Its aim was to predict the ingredients of a successful love relationship.
However, this study mainly shows that it is very difficult to predict happiness in love. It is very complicated to predict whether two people will be happy together in the long run.
One of the authors of the study, interviewed by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, admits that he eventually came to the conclusion that relationships are chaotic systems similar to the weather. The smallest changes in the initial conditions can have disastrous consequences or, on the contrary, be beneficial.
Nevertheless, the study suggests that one factor strongly increases the chances of being happy in a love relationship. This is to be happy outside this relationship.
A person being generally happy in life will be it also in his love relationship. It seems therefore important to develop oneself personally before to seek happiness from others.
What are the right decisions as a parent?
Regarding parenting, Seth cites a study conducted by one of his former professors named Raj Chetty. Along with other researchers, he analyzed the data of tens of millions of taxpayers American.
Their goal was to measure how much the neighborhood in which a child grows up influences his or her future. To find out, the researchers compared children from the same families who moved at a certain age.
This study found that living in certain neighborhoods provides an advantage in everything that can be measured from tax-related data. This includes income, education, or marriage at a certain age.
From this study by Raj Chetty, Seth concludes that the choice of which neighborhood to educate one’s child is the only truly critical decision as a parent. For the rest, the choices made by parents have little impact on the destiny of their children.
What are the keys to business success?
On the subject of entrepreneurial success, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s book reveals that the data puts to rest several myths. Youth is not always an advantage. In fact, the chances of success as an entrepreneur increase at age 60.
Also, being an “outsider” is not always an advantage. Contrary to what one might think, being too close to a domain is not necessarily a barrier to creative problem solving. On the contrary, the data show that the chances of success increase the closer one is to a domain.
Finally, the data prove Paul Graham wrong about the power of the marginalized. In an essay, this British man claimed that not being successful was an advantage when starting a business. In fact, the data show that most successful entrepreneurs were already in the top 0.1% of income earners when they started their business.
Big Data seems to highlight a formula for business success. The secret would be to spend many years mastering a domain then to prove his value in this field, and finally to create his business.
The recipe for human happiness
As Seth points out in his book, GDP has doubled over the last fifty years, new technologies allow us to learn and communicate more easily, but we are not happier than we used to be. While 30% of Americans described themselves as very happy in 1972, the percentage is still the same 50 years later.
Can Big Data reveal the recipe for happiness? Two British economists have decided to take advantage of the smartphone boom to question thousands of people about their level of happiness.
They put together a set of data on more than 60,000 peopleand over 3 million “happiness points”. From this data, they conducted several studies to determine what tends to make people happier.
The former Data Scientist himself admits to bringing several changes to his personal life After reading the results of this study. One of the main findings is the importance of activity.
The activities that bring a lot of happiness tend to require a lot of energy: walking, exercising, hunting, fishing, climbing, or even traveling to see a show or visit a museum.
In contrast, people whose hobbies require little energy generally report being unhappy. This concerns activities such as surfing the internet, watching television, reading, or playing on the phone. In conclusion, dynamic activities are those that lead to happiness !
As highlighted in the book “Don’t Trust Your Gut” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Data Science reveals surprising truths about human happiness, professional success or romantic relationships. It’s up to you to choose to adopt a data-driven lifestyle To thrive and make better decisions!