Monday, February 25, 2013

Study names Idaho Falls second happiest city in United States

Should we add "Have a Nice Day" to the water tower?
For a place nobody seems to know much about, Idaho Falls gets a lot of attention when it comes to stories rating places as "most liveable," "best quality of life," etc.

The latest is a story we spotted Sunday night on the U.S. News on NBCNews.com Web site, listing the happiest and most miserable cities in the United States. Wonder of wonders, among the happiest places Idaho Falls ranked second, behind Napa, Calif.

Before we go into more detail, here's a link to the page: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/22/17059015-here-are-the-happiest-saddest-and-most-miserable-us-cities,

I think that with an adequate budget for wine and regular reservations at Mustard's Grill, I could be very happy in Napa, Calif. I was surprised to see Idaho Falls beat out such places as Santa Cruz, Calif., Ashville, N.C., and Boulder, Colo., happening places that I think I could be very happy in.

The obvious question is, "How do they come up with this stuff?"

It turns out that these particular lists were based on a highly detailed survey of people on Twitter and the words they used. It released Valentine's Day by the University of Vermont, its title "The Geography of Happiness: Connecting Twitter sentiment and expression, demographics, and objective characteristics of place." It was put together by five people: Lewis Mitchell, Kameron Decker Harris, Morgan R. Frank, Peter Sheridan Dodds and Christopher M. Danforth. If you're a statistician, here's the link to the paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1302.3299.

In a blog posting today, author Lewis Mitchell said the team plotted over 10 million geotagged tweets from 2011, looking for happy words.

"With a score of 6.25, we found the happiest city to be Napa, Calif., due to a relative abundance of such happy words as 'restaurant', 'wine', and even 'cheers', along with a lack of profanity," he wrote. "At the other end of the spectrum, we found the saddest city to be Beaumont, Texas, with a score of 5.82. In general, cities in the south tended to be less happy than those in the north, with a major contributing factor being the relative abundance of profanity used in those cities."

Idaho Falls posted a score of 6.21. Here's the chart that details all the words they were looking at to determine this score (click to enlarge):
So congratulations, Idaho Falls, the happiest town in the whole U.S.A. that doesn't have to resort to a bottle of fermented grape juice to find it!