Thursday, November 29, 2012

Singapore: rich, but emotionless

Singapore received some media attention recently for being the most emotionless country in the world. This stemmed from a Gallup study which interviewed residents in more than 150 countries, asking if they experienced five positive and five negative emotions the previous day:
  • Did you feel well-rested yesterday?
  • Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?
  • Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?
  • Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?
  • Did you experience enjoyment, physical pain, worry, sadness, stress, and/or anger?
The "yes" responses were then averaged. Here only about a third (36% to be exact) of Singaporeans experienced one of these emotions the previous day, the lowest in the world. The global average was about half, and the most emotional country was Philippines, with a score of 60%.

This, ironically, led to some emotional responses from Singaporeans. For instance, one local politician rebutted the findings by listing a number of recent incidents which sparked public outrage and interest.

On the other hand, a Gallup partner commented that "if you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world... but if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they're not doing so well".

Is Singapore really "not doing so well"? Is it because of our high GDP?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Are there really lucky numbers?

According to Chinese numerology, some numbers are considered lucky, and some unlucky. For example, the number "4" sounds like the Chinese word for "death", and is considered to be highly unlucky. "8", on the other hand, sounds like "wealth", so it is considered to be one of the luckiest numbers.

Such beliefs affect our actions in a tangible manner. When giving "red packets" of money to friends and relatives, for example as a gift during a wedding, it is considered rude to give amounts like $144. On the other hand, amounts like $128 and $188, are favoured, so it is good to keep some change handy.

Are such numbers really lucky? How can we test it out?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What are the odds that Obama will be re-elected?

As The Express Tribune puts it,

"Capping a long and bitter campaign, Americans began casting their votes at polling stations across the country on Tuesday, with many polls showing a statistical dead heat between President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney".

Yet, when forced to put money on the table, and forced to take sides, what are the odds of Obama or Romney winning?