I just deleted my own question about the sentence in the Time magazine (July 8) article titled “The Happiness of Pursuit” (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2146449,00.html) as I noticed that I overlooked a word (poor) in the quoted sentence.

However, I came across another line I cannot make out in the same copy block:

“Rich isn’t just better; it’s much better. That is how things shake out at the national and global level. At the individual and community level, it can be much different. If you’re rich, your experiences are not the same as every other rich person’s, and the same is true if you’re poor. “A reporter once asked me, ‘Yes or no, does money make people happy? No scientific waffling, Just yes or no.” says psychologist Edward Diener of the University of Illinois, “I hit Delete.”

What does the ending phrase, “I hit Delete” mean? Is it the same as the 'Delete’ practice as we do, and I did on my question an hour before in EL&U site?

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    A monk asked Jōshū, "Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?" Jōshū answered, "Mu."
    – MetaEd
    Jul 27, 2013 at 18:09
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    MetaED. I was surprised and pleased to know you are familiar with the very first phrase of the Rule (chapter)1 of 趙州狗子 of Zen classic, 無門関. Joshu taught the monk that a single letter of 無 – nothing - is the key gate to enter Zen world. ‘The Lecture on 無門関’ written by Japanese Zen priest, Genpo Yamamoto at hand is published in 1960. It seems I was absorbed in Zen, and bought the book around that time. Good to see your unique comment I didn’t fancy to meet in this site. Jul 27, 2013 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


I assume the reporter asked the question via email, and so Diener simply hit the Delete key on his email application. In other words,

"This [the reporter's question] is a stupid question – I'm not going to bother with this."

As for it being idiomatic English, expressions like that one are used every now and then, where we use computer or technology jargon to explain something, perhaps metaphorically, such as "rebooting my life" (when turning over a new leaf), or "pulling the plug" when we want to, say, abandon a project.

  • Because D of delete is capital letter, it occurred to me that Delete could mean “Delete” tag of e-mail as an after-thought. But I couldn’t believe at first that a reporter could ask the renowned scientist a question in such a blunt way as “No scientific waffling, just yes or no.” Jul 27, 2013 at 16:24
  • Cont. by e-mail, not during an interview. Jul 27, 2013 at 16:48
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    I think the bluntness of the question was an attempt to try to "corner" the psychologist, that is, to get him to acknowledge that a certain viewpoint has some validity. Considering the person being interviewed spent six years studying the issue (from the article: "A massive study Diener led .. analyzed the responses of 806,526 people in 135 countries collected over the course of six years"), and reporter was insisting on a one-word response, I can't blame Diener for hitting 'Delete'. You're right – the reporter was being either rude or ignorant, if not both.
    – J.R.
    Jul 27, 2013 at 17:14

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