[M]y favorite ad hominem attack of the week came from a blogger who read my Time essay on children and happiness and wrote: “Dr. Gilbert is a very bitter and misguided man who needs to experience fatherhood before he again attempts to write with authority on the subject.” Yes, it was painful for me to learn that I am bitter and misguided. But it was even more painful to learn that I am not a father. I called my 30 year old son to give him the bad news, and he too was chagrined to find that we are unrelated.
Daniel Gilbert, ‘Tears in the Wayback’, July 24, 2006
The benefit of knowledge is that it makes the world more predictable, but the cost is that a predictable world sometimes seems less delicious, less exciting, less poignant.
Timothy Wilson, David Centerbar, Deborah Kermer & Daniel Gilbert, ‘The Pleasures of Uncertainty: Prolonging Positive Moods in Ways People Do Not Anticipate’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 88, no. 1 (2005), p. 5
The more quickly people reach an understanding of negative events, the sooner they recover from them. […] Virtually all tests […], however, have examined people’s understanding of negative events. The AREA [attend, react, explain, and adapt] model is unique in predicting that explanation also leads to the diminution of affective reactions to positive events. We predict that anything that impedes explanation—such as uncertainty—should prolong affective reactions to positive events. […] These studies highlight a pleasure paradox, which refers to the fact that people have two fundamental motives—to understand the world and to maintain positive emotion—that are sometimes at odds.
Timothy Wilson and Daniel Gilbert, ‘Explaining away: A model of affective adaptation’, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 3, No. 5 (September, 2008), pp. 377-378
There are many different techniques for collecting, interpreting, and analyzing facts, and different techniques often lead to different conclusions, which is why scientists disagree about the dangers of global warming, the benefits of supply-side economics, and the wisdom of low-carbohydrate diets. Good scientists deal with this complication by choosing the techniques they consider most appropriate and then accepting the conclusions that these techniques produce, regardless of what those conclusions might be. But bad scientists take advantage of this complication by choosing techniques that are especially likely to produce the conclusions they favour, thus allowing them to reach favoured conclusions by way of supportive facts. Decades of research suggests that when it comes to collecting and analyzing facts about ourselves and our experiences, most of us have the equivalent of an advanced degree in Really Bad Science.
Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness, New York, 2005, p. 164
Nozick’s “happiness machine” problem is a popular among academics, who generally fail to consider three things. First, who says that no one would want to be hooked up? The world is full of people who want happiness and don’t care one bit about whether it is “well deserved.” Second, those who claim that they would not agree to be hooked up may already be hooked up. After all, the deal is that you forget your previous decision. Third, no one can really answer this question because it requires them to imagine a future state in which they do not know the very thing they are currently contemplating.
Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness, New York, 2005, p. 244, n. 16