April 18, 2016

EP. 119 — Which Civilization in History Was the Happiest?

If you could go anywhere in time to live the rest of your life, where would you go? It probably depends on what you’re looking for. Would you be looking to live in a time of relative peace, a time of great technological advancement, or simply a time where there wasn’t some horrible plague killing off everybody you know and love? Doc Brown thought he had it all in the 1880s, but that period probably wouldn’t be super awesome if you were a woman or a minority. Actually most time periods would be pretty bad in those circumstances. Not to mention that humans knew nothing about medicine and just generally not dying all the time until very recently. So obviously it’s a difficult question with an unclear answer: when was the best time in human history to be alive? Hell, the answer might just be today. As in, whatever day you’re reading this. This is the best day. To figure out this question, Jack O’Brien is first joined by Peter Stearns, author and professor at George Mason University to talk about the place of happiness in human history: which civilizations had it, which didn’t, and when and where were they? Later, Jack talks about Cracked Podcast pet subject the Flynn Effect with none other than Jim Flynn, the guy who put his name on it. If every generation is getting slightly smarter than the last, how does that affect quality of life, and is there a limit to how smart humans can get?


Peter Stearns, ‘Teaching Consumerism in World History’: http://goo.gl/dO3XrD

The Flynn Effect Summary of Findings: http://goo.gl/AYYIYO

Smithsonian Interview with James Flynn: http://goo.gl/rX1AZn

James Flynn’s Torchlight Reading List: http://goo.gl/iVkaLY

James Flynn TED Talk: https://goo.gl/i6vw2v

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