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Author: Tang Syau

There’s more to life than being happy?

刚在微博上看到严锋老师转发了一场 TED 演讲 There’s more to life than being happy (by Emily Esfahani Smith)。有人总结到「追求快乐让人变得不快乐」,严锋老师说「过份追求快乐让人变得不快乐」。这个话题让我突然有很多话想说。

我们先来看一看 Emily 的开场白:

I used to think the whole purpose of life was pursuing happiness. Everyone said the path to happiness was success, so I searched for that ideal job, that perfect boyfriend, that beautiful apartment. But instead of ever feeling fulfilled, I felt anxious and adrift. And I wasn’t alone; my friends — they struggled with this, too.

我曾经认为生活的全部目的就是追求快乐/幸福(按:happiness 既可以表示短暂的快乐又可以表示较长时段的幸福状态)。每个人都说通往快乐/幸福的道路是成功,所以我追求理想的工作,追求完美的男朋友,追求漂亮的公寓。但是我没有感到满足,我感到的是焦虑和迷茫。不只是我,我的朋友们也有同样的困扰。

后来 Emily 就去学习积极心理学(positive psychology),读了很多心理学、神经科学和哲学的书——恰好也是我最感兴趣的三个领域。她发现,数据显示,追求快乐反而让人不快乐,尽管大家的生活条件越来越好,但抑郁、甚至自杀的人却越来越多。而研究认为这并不是因为他们缺少快乐,而是缺少生活的意义。于是 Emily 开始追问快乐(being happy)和生活的意义(having meaning in life)有什么区别。

Many psychologists define happiness as a state of comfort and ease, feeling good in the moment. Meaning, though, is deeper. The renowned psychologist Martin Seligman says meaning comes from belonging to and serving something beyond yourself and from developing the best within you. Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but I came to see that seeking meaning is the more fulfilling path. And the studies show that people who have meaning in life, they’re more resilient, they do better in school and at work, and they even live longer.


接下来的演讲就是 Emliy 分享自己找到的怎样寻求人生意义的四种方式(four pillars of a meaningful life):归属感(belonging)、目的(purpose)、超越(transcendence)、讲故事(storytelling)。Emily 的确讲了很多故事,四种方式各讲了一个故事,讲完还继续讲了自己的故事和父亲的故事。这里就暂且略过。最后她总结到:快乐的感觉有来有去捉摸不定,意义才能让我们掌握人生(Happiness comes and goes. But when life is really good and when things are really bad, having meaning gives you something to hold on to)。


我觉得虽然这是一场 TED 演讲,但其实论证方式特别像心灵鸡汤。我直奔主题,我们思考一下,Emily 的演讲从头到尾证明的是在人生中除了快乐之外还有其他重要之事(there’s more to life than being happy)吗?或者说她证明的是追求快乐反而会让人不快乐吗?

回到 Emily 的开场白,谁说追求快乐就一定等同于追求世俗意义的成功呢?Emily 和她的朋友追求好工作、好伴侣、好房子没有获得满足,最多只能证明这些追求快乐的途径可能有问题,但并不能证明「追求快乐」本身有问题,不能证明不应该「追求快乐」。Emily 说自己通过追求这些没有获得满足,感到焦虑和迷茫,也就是追求某些目标让人感到不快乐,可以得出的结论应该是:这些具体目标,或者追求这些目标的方式方法可能不太对。也许我们追求另外一些目标更容易获得快乐,也许同样是追求这些目标,但换其他一些追求方式我们更容易获得快乐。

Emily 随后讲的意义,以及寻求意义的四种方式(归属感、目的、超越、讲故事),其实都可以认为是她找到的另一些追求快乐的方式。撇开她举例论证的效力问题,她可以证明的其实只是某些目标或者某些方式不容易实现快乐,而追求另一些目标或者另一些方法比较容易实现快乐,这并没有贬低快乐本身,也没有必要去抬高一个玄乎的人生意义(积极心理学之父给出的关于意义的定义实在很想吐嘈)。


前段时间 Slowly 上的笔友对中国文化感兴趣,但我一时不知道推荐什么资源,总觉得无论是传统文化还是流行文化都很少有现成的资源给外国人看。金庸先生去世之后我才想到,金庸的作品算是现成的资源。YouTube 上也有加英文字幕的电视剧(虽然未必是正版)。今年《射雕英雄传》的英译本 The Legend of the Condor Heroes 也出了第一卷。各大外媒也写了介绍和纪念金庸的文章,顺便在此汇总一下。

The Power of Collider

最近一直在读之前提到的 The Book of Why,我觉得 collider 的概念可能是这本书里最重要的几个概念之一。本来我也可以用自己的语言写一个介绍,但好像懒得动笔,就节选书中几段话放在这里(顺序是我刻意安排的)。

X 与 Y 相关的三种解释:

  1. X 是 Y 的原因;
  2. X 和 Y 有共同的原因;
  3. collider。

We live our lives as if the common cause principle were true. Whenever we see patterns, we look for a causal explanation. In fact, we hunger for an explanation, in terms of stable mechanisms that lie outside the data. The most satisfying kind of explanation is direct causation: X causes Y. When that fails, finding a common cause of X and Y will usually satisfy us. By comparison, colliders are too ethereal to satisfy our causal appetites.

Judea Pearl. 2018. The Book of Why. Chapter 6

什么是 collider?

ABC. This is the most fascinating junction, called a “collider.” Felix Elwert and Chris Winship have illustrated this junction using three features of Hollywood actors: TalentCelebrityBeauty. Here we are asserting that both talent and beauty contribute to an actor’s success, but beauty and talent are completely unrelated to one another in the general population.

We will now see that this collider pattern works in exactly the opposite way from chains or forks when we condition on the variable in the middle. If A and C are independent to begin with, conditioning on B will make them dependent. For example, if we look only at famous actors (in other words, we observe the variable Celebrity = 1), we will see a negative correlation between talent and beauty: finding out that a celebrity is unattractive increases our belief that he or she is talented.

This negative correlation is sometimes called collider bias or the “explain-away” effect. For simplicity, suppose that you don’t need both talent and beauty to be a celebrity; one is sufficient. Then if Celebrity A is a particularly good actor, that “explains away” his success, and he doesn’t need to be any more beautiful than the average person. On the other hand, if Celebrity B is a really bad actor, then the only way to explain his success is his good looks. So, given the outcome Celebrity = 1, talent and beauty are inversely related—even though they are not related in the population as a whole. Even in a more realistic situation, where success is a complicated function of beauty and talent, the explain-away effect will still be present. This example is admittedly somewhat apocryphal, because beauty and talent are hard to measure objectively; nevertheless, collider bias is quite real, and we will see lots of examples in this book.

Judea Pearl. 2018. The Book of Why. Chapter 3

另外两个 collider 的例子:

Try this experiment: Flip two coins simultaneously one hundred times and write down the results only when at least one of them comes up heads. Looking at your table, which will probably contain roughly seventy-five entries, you will see that the outcomes of the two simultaneous coin flips are not independent. Every time Coin 1 landed tails, Coin 2 landed heads. How is this possible? Did the coins somehow communicate with each other at light speed? Of course not. In reality you conditioned on a collider by censoring all the tails-tails outcomes.

Judea Pearl. 2018. The Book of Why. Chapter 6

The correlation we observe is, in the purest and most literal sense, an illusion. Or perhaps even a delusion: that is, an illusion we brought upon ourselves by choosing which events to include in our data set and which to ignore. It is important to realize that we are not always conscious of making this choice, and this is one reason that collider bias can so easily trap the unwary. In the two-coin experiment, the choice was conscious: I told you not to record the trials with two tails. But on plenty of occasions we aren’t aware of making the choice, or the choice is made for us.

The distorting prism of colliders is just as prevalent in everyday life. As Jordan Ellenberg asks in How Not to Be Wrong, have you ever noticed that, among the people you date, the attractive ones tend to be jerks? Instead of constructing elaborate psychosocial theories, consider a simpler explanation. Your choice of people to date depends on two factors: attractiveness and personality. You’ll take a chance on dating a mean attractive person or a nice unattractive person, and certainly a nice attractive person, but not a mean unattractive person. It’s the same as the two-coin example, when you censored tails-tails outcomes. This creates a spurious negative correlation between attractiveness and personality. The sad truth is that unattractive people are just as mean as attractive people—but you’ll never realize it, because you’ll never date somebody who is both mean and unattractive.

Judea Pearl. 2018. The Book of Why. Chapter 6

在控制变量的时候,一定不要控制 collider,因为:

[I]n a collider, ABC, exactly the opposite rules hold. The variables A and C start out independent, so that information about A tells you nothing about C. But if you control for B, then information starts flowing through the “pipe,” due to the explain-away effect.

Judea Pearl. 2018. The Book of Why. Chapter 4


第117集 说真话:不用虚假替代真实
第118集 装扮习惯:虚假生态中的文人
第119集 伪精英:空谈是他们唯一的生命方式
第120集 判断真伪文人的基本标准
第121集 面对前辈:不要把尊重变成迷思
第122集 泰斗还是「太逗」:艺术在创新中展开生命力

余秋雨 中国文化必修课


怎样将 Apple Music 设定为日语

也许这是一个比较小众的需求,我就不展开解释具体为什么要这样设定了。大体来说就是如果系统语言为英语(不管是 iOS, macOS 还是 Windows),Apple Music 日本区的很多日文曲目、中文曲目也会变成拉丁字母显示,一堆罗马音实在很难接受……但如果单纯将系统语言改为日语,Apple Music 仍然不会改变语言。

前几天我终于发现 Apple Music(其实还包括 App Store)的语言到底受什么因素影响。Apple Music 使用什么语言,取决于登录 Apple Music / iTunes Store 时的系统语言。所以如果要想更改,先要更改系统语言,然后在 iTunes Store 首页底部 Sign Out,在系统语言为日语的前提下 Sign In,Apple Music, iTunes Store 和 App Store 就会是日语的了。这时再把系统语言切回英语,也不会对 Apple Music 有任何影响,就像之前系统语言切成日语,Apple Music 仍然保持英语不变一样。但系统语言为英语时不能有再次输入密码的操作,也就是说不能购买,购买必须在日文系统下购买,否则买回来就可能是罗马字。

Windows, macOS, iOS 的操作原理都相同。

2018 年 10 月 31 日更新:已购项目的问题现在我也基本上弄明白了。

首先,对新购买的歌曲,需要在日文系统下购买,否则买回来就可能是罗马字的,还会把整个 Apple Music / iTunes Store 变回英文——相当于购买行为是重新登录了一次,登录时的系统语言会改变 Apple Music 的语言。

对于已经购买的歌曲,如果是罗马字标题希望换成日文,那么可以先在 Library 里删掉,然后在日文系统下打开 iTunes,点选菜单栏的 Account(アカウント) – View My Account…(マイアカウントを表示) 输入密码(注意这里又算登录了一次,所以必须是日文系统下输入密码),然后在页面里找到 iTunes in the Cloud 里面的 Hidden Purchases,点 Manage 之后就能把之前删掉的已购项目找回来(点选「表示する」),然后再在已购项目里重新下载就可以了。

所以一面要用英文系统,一面要用日文 Apple Music 真的是神烦。