Happiness:… and now Finland is the first

World Happiness Report 2018:

”The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. The World Happiness Report 2018, ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants.

The main focus of this year’s report, in addition to its usual ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, is on migration within and between countries.

The overall rankings of country happiness are based on the pooled results from Gallup World Poll surveys from 2015-2017, and show both change and stability. There is a new top ranking country, Finland, but the top ten positions are held by the same countries as in the last two years, although with some swapping of places. Four different countries have held top spot in the four most recent reports- Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and now Finland….”.

”… Perhaps the most striking finding of the whole report is that a ranking of countries according to the happiness of their immigrant populations is almost exactly the same as for the rest of the population. The immigrant happiness rankings are based on the full span of Gallup data from 2005 to 2017, sufficient to have 117 countries with more than 100 immigrant respondents….:

Best States ranking of U.S. states

Best States Overall Ranking has been published today. Iowa. Minnesota, Utah top the list.

What Goes Into the Overall Score?

Health Care 16%

Education 16%

Economy 14%

Opportunity 13%

Infrastructure 12%

Crime & Corrections 11%

Fiscal Stability 10%

Quality of Life 8%

If you are interested in the methodology, read the link here.

Measuring dominance and understanding the formation of hierarchies

Measuring dominance

There is a long tradition to observe animal behavior. Cave painters liked to illustrate animals. According to the archaeologists the oldest date animal cave painting identified so far, is a pig that has a minimum age of 35,400 years old was found in Indonesia. It is known that the most common subjects in cave paintings are large wild animals.
The History of Animals by Aristotle (384–322 BCE) contains many accurate eye-witness observations. However, the continuous observation of the social behavior of animal groups in their natural environment with the smallest possible intervention proved to be very difficult. Ecologists and ethologists use wireless sensors and Global Positioning System (GPS) to track and monitor the behavior and interaction of freely moving animals.

The emergence of dominance hierarchy

Linear dominance hierarchies proved to be very efficient for resource management in the community of social animals. Since more and more data have been accumulated, it is possible to test hypotheses about the possible mechanisms of the formation have. Within the framework of the Amboseli Baboon Research Project data on the behavior of wild baboon has been obtained and and analyzed. Ten thousands observation of agonistic encounters have been made. The encounters have \dots winners and losers, so basically the individuals participated in a tournament. Guess what is the method animal behavior researcher use to analyze the results of past ”games” and predict the outcome of the future ones? The Elo rating method! The so-called ”winner and loser effects” seems to be convincing. It describes the phenomenon in which winners tend to become more likely to win in subsequent encounters, and losers tend to become more likely to lose.

Self-organizing dominance hierarchies in a wild primate population

Hormones, stress and ranking

The level of the hormone testosterone is a good measure of social dominance both in monkeys and humans. Higher testosterone levels were measured in socially dominant individuals as compared to those of socially inferior individuals. Experiments suggested that victory and defeat implied the increase or decrease of testosterone level of male sportsmen (observed not only in football, rugby, tennis and wrestling, but also in chess). Changes in the testosterone level was measured not only in sportsmen, but also fans of sporting events.

Three hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine show correlation with stress. Is it good to have some stress? Partly yes, stress is to help us animals to survive in a dynamic environment. As new threats arise, the animal must be able to quickly perceive, comprehend and asses the situation and making plans and act accordingly. When an animal is stressed, its pituitary gland and adrenal cortex release stress hormones. These stress hormones will then have a number of physiological effects on the animal’s body, such as increased heart rate, increased muscle tension, and suppressed digestion and reproduction. Naively it was believed that the subordinate members of a group were the ones to display greater levels of stress hormones. This was imagined to be true due to the stress of losing a fight or not having access to priority resources. Data both on monkeys and humans, however, are at least, controversial. High-ranked animals also show stress, but its duration is short-lived, and helps them to win the next competition (which implies further increase in their rank). Lower-ranked males, who are subject of being bullied, have chronically elevated stress hormones, and it is really harmful, and leads to further reduction of their social rank.

Here is a listicle ”8 Reasons a Little Adrenaline Can Be a Very Good Thing”


1. It might help you on a deadline
2. Your vision gets better
3. You’ll breathe easier
4. Other experiences are heightened
5. It can block pain
6. It can boos your immune system
7. You’ll get to tap into a little extra strength
8. It might help slow aging
We already know, lists are just lists. I don’t read this listicle as the ”final truth”, but as an
educated opinion.

Bridges to connect mathematicians to neurobiologists, economists and even to philosophers?

János (John) Szentágothai (JSz), one of the most distinguished neuroanatomist of the
XX. century,  has an Erdős number 2, since he has a common paper with Alfred Rényi published in 1956 (actually about the probability of synaptic transmission in Clarke columns). It seems to be a plausible hypothesis that JSz is the bridge to connect the community of mathematicians to neurobiologists and even to philosophers. JSz has a common book with two other scientific nobilities, Nobel prize winner neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles , and with Masao Ito. In this case, JSz should be a bridge between two separated communities. It is interesting to note, that JSz himself was thinking on the graph of the network of the cerebral cortex, in terms of what it is called today “small world”. JSz hinted that the organization of the cortical network should be intermediate random and regular structures. He estimated that “any neuron of the neocortex with any other over chains of not more than five neurons of average.” . Sir John Eccles has a book with Sir Karl Popper The Self and its Brain) so there is a direct math-neurobiology-philosophy chain.

Another non-mathematician with Erdős number 2 via Rényi is András Bródy, a Hungarian economist. They also published a paper in the same memorable year, in 1956. (It was about the problem of regulation of prices.) So, another question is induced. Since most likely all people with number 1 are mathematicians, it would be interesting to know, how many non-mathematicians have Erdős number 2, and how any other scientific communities are involved in the Collaboration Graph?

Dominance and Prestige: please, help!

I read today Jon K. Maner’s paper “Dominance and Prestige: A Tale of Two Hierarchies “.

Dominance and prestige are two distinct mechanism navigate in the to social ladder. Dominance is an evolutionary more ancient strategy, and is based on the ability to intimidate other members in the group by physical size and strength. The group members don’t accept the social rank freely, only by coercion. Prestige is based on skills and knowledge appraised by the community, and it is maintained without pressure. It is not a surprise, that the people adopting different strategies differ in their personality traits. People using dominance are more aggressive, manipulative, and narcissistic. However, people who use prestige instead are more conscientiousness, had higher self-esteem, and are able to make agreement with others. Both strategies might have some negative consequences. Dominant leaders has a higher priority is to keep power than to achieve group goals, while leaders having prestige sometimes prioritize their social approval over group goals.

Several years earlier Cheng JT and his coauthors also analyzed the two pathways:

Two Ways to the Top: Evidence that Dominance and Prestige are Distinct yet Viable Avenues to Social Status

They gave examples for the two ways:

From 1945 to 1980, Henry Ford II—grandson of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company—built Ford into the second largest industrial corporation worldwide, amidst a turbulent post World War II economy. Ford II attained his success, in part, by developing a  reputation for erratic outbursts of temper and unleashing humiliation and punishment at will upon his employees, who described him as a terrorizing dictator, bigot, and hypocrite. When challenged or questioned by subordinates, Ford II would famously remind those who dared  contradict him, “My name is on the building”. Yet, despite being widely regarded as one of the most intimidating and autocratic CEOs to ever grace the company, Ford II was an enormously  successful leader, and he has been credited with reviving the Ford business legend during a period of turmoil and crisis (Iacocca, 1984).

A contrasting example of effective leadership can be seen in the case of Warren Buffett,  chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, who was ranked the world’s third wealthiest person in 2010. Unlike Ford II, Buffett ran his company by developing a reputation for subtly steering rather than controlling every decision-making process. His autonomy-generating approach to  leadership is said to instill confidence and boost performance among his executives, whom Buffett describes as brilliant coworkers he trusts and respects. Buffett thus exemplifies a style of leadership quite opposite to that of Ford II, yet both individuals reached what can only be  considered the highest level of social status possible in any industry. This raises the question: are  here multiple ways of attaining social status and influence in human societies?

Please, could you write examples for the two prototypes! (My Hungarian fellows: please please forget about the present day local “heroes”!