Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.


There is a class at Yale that is so popular they had to move it to a concert venue. The number of students in it is 1,200. Students have been begging for this class for years. And now they have it, they can’t get enough. One little problem is that the class is in a totally quack field. A field that is less credible than astrology or alchemy.

Yes, you guessed right. It’s a class on happiness informed by the “positive psychology” movement.


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4 thoughts on “Popular

  1. If a class is so popular, it fulfills some real psychological need.

    One could identify this need and present not quack, healthy ways to fulfill it.

    When I hear “positive psychology” , the association is with the book “The Secret” and its claims of bringing good things into one’s life by positive thinking. I could not understand how people fell for such claims, but wiki enlightened me that the book is not only ” pseudoscientific” but also pseudoreligious since it ” is based on a quotation from the Bible’s Matthew 21:22: “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” “


  2. Evelina Anville on said:

    I think this is the money quote right here:

    “Some students admit that they see the course as an opportunity to take a relaxed lecture with few requirements. “I wouldn’t have known about the course if not for word of mouth, but it’s low-pressure, and maybe I’ll learn a few tricks to having a less stressful life,” said Riley Richmond, 22, a senior who enrolled in the class with several of his friends.”

    Students are taking it because they know it will be easy. And I bet the professor, Santos, already has a reputation for being easy. Later in the article she claims that her course as the “hardest class at Yale”–something that all faculty say who have the reputation of leading unchallenging classes.

    This has a bit to do with students wanting to be happy but much more students wanting an easy course (and with universities puling away from assigning and expecting academically challenging subjects and coursework).


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