Tom Bartlett blogs for the Chronicle of Higher Education on criticisms lobbed at a popular psychology book, Barbara Fredrickson's Positivity, which asserts that a "magic ratio" of positive to negative statements made to you is likely to explain how you feel about yourself. It has received a lot of positive reinforcement itself, through good reviews; its basis is a paper that appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. The criticisms started after a graduate student at the University of East London read the original paper and thought the mathematical ratio that Dr. Fredrickson relied on looked wonky. Bolstered by assistance from Alan Sokol (he of the "Social Research" hoax), Mr. Brown pursued the matter. The result: a paper published in the journal American Psychologist, with a response from Dr. Fredrickson. More here from the Chronicle.
So, does all this mean other people's verbal pats on the back can't make you happy? Bummer.