life has to be worth living

Here’s an nyt article on nostalgia.

The experimenters induced nostalgia by playing hit songs from the past for some people and letting them read lyrics to their favorite songs. Afterward, these people were more likely than a control group to say that they felt “loved” and that “life is worth living.”

More likely? This means there exist people answering these questionnaires who don’t feel loved and don’t feel like life is worth living. What do you do when you’re a researcher and someone hands your form back to you and it says that they don’t think that life is worth living?

Maybe you couldn’t read the form until after they left, because all you do is collect it. Maybe you don’t even know whose form it is, because everything’s double-blind and anonymized and analyzed only in aggregate. What if you had been walking by when they were filling those forms out at those little circular faux-wood tables like I always imagine are used in rooms for clinical studies, and you happened to see them circling the “life is not worth living” option?

What can you do? Do you give them a hug?

How can we make the world a place where every human believes that life is worth living? How? How?


1 comment

  1. It’s a very tricky situation because “is life worth living” is a normative belief and thus subjective. That means you can’t objectively prove it to be logically true. On the other hand, once you make it clear that the “is life worth living” is a question about your personal self and not about features of objective reality, it might be easier for people to see that they need help.

    Alternatively, distracting depressed people is probably the best bet.

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