The Philanthropist’s Paradox

Many people interested in effective charity worry about whether it’s better to give now or invest and give later. I’ve realised there is an additional worry for people who (like me) are sceptical of the value of the far future. Roughly, it looks like you’re rationally committed to investing your […]

June 24th, 2017|

A taxonomy of happiness interventions

Abstract: If we want to maximise happiness we should establish what the full range of options are first and then pick the best ones. As no comprehensive list of options seems to exist I take a first pass at creating one in this chapter. This provides a check-list to ensure we […]

May 18th, 2017|

Intuition Jousting: What It Is And Why It Should Stop

Word count: 1,152

Over the past year or so I’ve become steadily more aware of and annoyed by a phenomeon I’m going to call, for lack of a better term, ‘intuition jousting’ (‘IJ’). My experience, and obviously I can only speak for my own, is that IJ is a quite a […]

March 24th, 2017|

Exploring hedonic adaptation and its implications for happiness maximisation

Word count: 4,163

  1. Introduction

If we want to increase happiness it follows we need to understand what makes people happy and for how long. In this paper I explore the purpose and mechanisms of hedonic adaptation – the process by which the affective intensity of constant of repeated stimuli diminishes over […]

March 21st, 2017|

What Philosophy Should, But Won’t, Learn From Silicon Valley

We publish philosophy like hardware even though we write it like software.

Word count: 1,203

(update, 19/03/2017: I notice this has now been picked up on reddit in both philosophy and badphilosophy.  As context, I wrote this a couple of days ago to vent my frustration at how slowly philosophy (including my own) […]

March 16th, 2017|

What’s happiness for anyway? Why nature doesn’t want to keep us happy and what we can do about it. Public lecture at Oxford Brookes

We’ve become wealthier, healthier, safer, smarter and long-lived over the last 60 years but, surprisingly, no happier. But if those things don’t seem to work, how should we pursuing happiness instead?

In this lecture Michael explains what we can and should mean by the word ‘happiness’, how it gets measured, why […]

March 1st, 2017|

Advanced Tools and Techniques for Becoming Happier in 2017

Word count: 1,988

In the past, I’ve thought New Year’s Resolutions were a waste of time. If something is important enough to start, shouldn’t it be important enough to start now, rather than waiting for the Sun and Earth to be in a particular, arbitrary configuration? Nevertheless, this year I’ve decided to […]

January 16th, 2017|

Are You Sure You Want To Donate To The Against Malaria Foundation?

Word count: 1,838

In advance of the Christmas charity season, GiveWell has announced that the Against Malaria Foundation (‘AMF’) is once again their top pick for the world’s most effective charity. The explanation for this is quite straight forward: AMF provides bednets that stop very young children (mostly under-5’s) dying prematurely from […]

December 3rd, 2016|
I’m Michael Plant. I research happiness for a PhD in Philosophy at Oxford. I’m CEO of Hippo, the FitBit for your mind. In this blog I mostly write my thoughts on how we can make ourselves and others happier.

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As a consequence of trying to simultaneously start a start-up and finish a PhD, I don’t have much spare time, including for this blog. However, if you have an opportunity or introduction you think could increase world (or my) joy, please email me at the address below. For the reasons stated above, I can only promise to respond to suggestions that fit my current schedule and interests.

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