[ExI] Wash post comment
pharos at gmail.com
Sun May 20 21:06:45 UTC 2012
On Sun, May 20, 2012 at 9:38 PM, Jeff Davis wrote:
> I read the two links, and it looks to me like the "We're doomed!
> We're doomed!" energy catastrophe echo chamber. (That's been my
> impression of The Oil Drum for some time now.) It's a version of
> that human weirdness that gives us the "Truthers" and the "Birthers".
> When enough people get together and reinforce each other's belief in
> something, it becomes like received truth. It's religious, it's
> tribal, it's weird, and it can sometimes be scary. And I'm not saying
> I'm above it all, under the right circumstances any of us can fall
> victim to this kind of "stuff". Just the right kind of
> misinterpretable "evidence" is all it takes. (For the Truthers it was
> the striking visual similarity between the collapse of the WTC towers
> and the collapse of buildings in fact brought down by controlled
> demolition.) At which point otherwise level-headed people just go all
Ahh, Professor. I think we have a severe case of Optimism Bias here.
We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures. We watch our
backs, weigh the odds, pack an umbrella. But both neuroscience and
social science suggest that we are more optimistic than realistic. On
average, we expect things to turn out better than they wind up being.
People hugely underestimate their chances of getting divorced, losing
their job or being diagnosed with cancer;
The belief that the future will be much better than the past and
present is known as the optimism bias. It abides in every race, region
and socioeconomic bracket.
Even if that better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear
benefits in the present. Hope keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress
and improves physical health.
While healthy people expect the future to be slightly better than it
ends up being, people with severe depression tend to be
pessimistically biased: they expect things to be worse than they end
up being. People with mild depression are relatively accurate when
predicting future events. They see the world as it is. In other words,
in the absence of a neural mechanism that generates unrealistic
optimism, it is possible all humans would be mildly depressed.
Are we all depressed now? :)
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