When Spike Lee was being pestered by a reporter once about how one scene from one of his movies meant Spike had some sort of negative behavioral trait, Spike asked the fellow to step back for a moment. Spike asked the reporter to stop obsessing with a single tree in the forest. He said he hoped that in the end he would be judged for his entire body of work by cooler minds.
The “scientific thinking” and the wholly negative writing skeptics frequenting this blog will never understand what I am about to say. They are much like the reporter who wants to obsess on this, that or the other excerpt. They approach the subject much like Miscavige does – so he won’t get this either. But, those who have carefully studied Hubbard’s entire body of work and applied it to see what is workable and what is not certainly will.
One of Time magazine’s one hundred most influential people this year is Harvard physician and sociologist Nicholas Christakis. I have appended the article on him explaining why he made the list. Serious students of the subject of Scientology I think will agree that what Christakis has scientifically demonstrated to be true validates perhaps 75% of what in essence Scientology has to teach.
Ironically, Christakis’ work also serves as a great scientific justification for starting to cut some of the hyper critical, negative out from the comments section of this blog. I am all for freedom of speech. And as I’ve said before there are plenty places that welcome the defiant negative that some people are incapable of seeing beyond. I am equally for freedom of association. You want to associate with folks who are trying to move on up a little higher? Then you can start contributing to the motion by treating the others who sincerely are with some dignity and respect.
Nicholas Christakis by Dan Ariely
Social scientists used to have a straightforward, if tongue-in-cheek, answer to the question of how to become happy: Surround yourself with people who are uglier, poorer and shorter than you are — and who are unhappily married and have annoying kids. You will compare yourself with these people, and the contrast will cheer you up.
Nicholas Christakis, 47, a physician and sociologist at Harvard University, challenges this idea. Using data from a study that tracked about 5,000 people over 20 years, he suggests that happiness, like the flu, can spread from person to person. When people who are close to us, both in terms of social ties (friends or relatives) and physical proximity, become happier, we do too. For example, when a person who lives within a mile of a good friend becomes happier, the probability that this person’s good friend will also become happier increases 15%. More surprising is that the effect can transcend direct links and reach a third degree of separation: when a friend of a friend becomes happier, we become happier, even when we don’t know that third person directly.
This means that surrounding ourselves with happier people will make us happier, make the people close to us happier — and make the people close to them happier. But social networks don’t transmit only the good things in life.
Christakis found that smoking and obesity can be socially infectious too. If his thesis proves out, then the saying that you can judge a person by his or her friends might carry more weight than we thought.
Ariely is the James B. Duke professor of behavioral science at Duke University and the author of the best seller Predictably Irrational