World Laughter Day 2008
I received a note from Michaela Schaeffner asking whether we might monitor the celebration of laughter. She described it nicely:
"This year celebration of the 10th World-laughter-day will be at 2008 May the 4th. About 6000 Laughterclubs (each with about 10 to 50 members) at 60 countries all over the world will have events with laughter-yoga where we are laughing at public parks or places with interested people. And some of the laughter-yoga-teachers will bring laughter at social institutions, like hospitals, homes for seniors and so on. Beyond this we have an international appointment for two actions:
1. at 12:00 GMT world wide laughter - we all laugh
together for 3 minutes
from 12:00 - 12:03 GMT. The following hours we repeat this
every full hour.
Reading about the Global Consciousness Project, I`m very curious to know if there is any effect measurable caused by world wide laughter. Laughter will be more present at the mind of people this day, forced by the actions, radio and press-reports. Will it be possible to see a positive effect? Is it possible to get the results from the 4th May from your measurement?"
I responded that I thought it a good idea to take a look, and since she had provided such complete and precise information, it was straightforward to make a formal hypothesis to test. It would be a composite (literally a concatenation) of the 3-minute periods plus the 1-minute radio broadcast. Of course we know that single events can't reliably be interpreted, and we have good evidence that most of the effects are driven by events of longer duration, an hour or two at least. Nevertheless, I specified the formal hypothesis for 4*3 minutes, plus 1 minute, as specified by Michaela.
The result is a fairly flat trend for most of the time, which culminates in a Chisquare of 780.687 on 780 df, for a p-value of 0.486 and Z-score of 0.035. This is, as noted, not to be interpreted too strongly, but it suggests that the laughter around the world, though delightful, wasn't noted by our operationally defined global consciousness. (It should be further noted that this small amount of data was collected during the aftermath of the major disaster in Myanmar, and its trend is counter to that seen in the long term development following the cyclone.)