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Interesting, but indeed fuzzy. Though I agree we have a basic personality, call it a temperament, in which the optimism/pessimism spectrum is a major component, I feel people who come here know themselves enough to situate their natural bent and compensate for it.

I think a lot of people on this site are constitutionally unhappy or pessimistic. That is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to analysis (see below) but it is a problem when it comes to action. Often success requires an unreasonable degree of optimism and self-confidence, and the ability to sustain it for long periods of time.

Success is perhaps easier to achieve with an unreasonable degree of optimism and self-confidence, and the ability to sustain it for long periods of time, (Sarkozy won), but it doesn't make success inevitable (Royal lost).

And I don't think the down feelings are entirely constitutional. There's an explanation there that you rightly relate to the myth of individual success in the rat race (ie the overconfident rats are getting screwed by the fat cats - overconfidence doesn't necessarily win 2). Circumstances matter too. Internet may be a new means of communication that allows for encounters and networking that surprise and delight us, it doesn't change the fact that we are atoms, one (or two) people on a terminal with a real life to live and often a fight to do that. The kind of task we see ahead is huge. It certainly calls for optimism (if you're really a pessimist, why bother?), and a degree of self-confidence is a sine qua non (can't do anything without it), but how much more optimism and confidence would we have if we had all the time we needed and the technical and financial means to work together (meaning more physical meeting and collaboration)! Whereas in fact we're each in her/is small corner, and what needs to be understood and thought is so colossal we get despondent.

What will come, will come because we care about it and it occupies our thoughts. It will come by bursts, appearing spontaneously rather than by conscious effort (though that doesn't mean there are no conscious efforts to be made!). There will be plateaus, deserts to plod through, but there'll be leafy oases.

So I wax lyrical. Pessimist, me?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 07:22:22 AM EST
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Success is perhaps easier to achieve with an unreasonable degree of optimism and self-confidence, and the ability to sustain it for long periods of time, (Sarkozy won), but it doesn't make success inevitable (Royal lost).

That just underlines the point that rat races at the very top are between unreasonable optimists. The pessimists dropped out either because they got depressed or because they realistically saw the rat race for what it was.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 07:26:45 AM EST
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I think we're dealing with different axes here. Being compulsively driven towards power isn't the same as being an optimist.

A standard problem is that it's compulsives who are often least qualified to lead effectively who push themselves into leadership positions.

This doesn't make them optimistic, so much as obsessive.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 07:33:36 AM EST
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Yeah. On a somewhat related note, my father always says that if you're "too smart" you'll never be rich, since you wouldn't take risks that you knew would have a very small likelihood of paying off.
My own personal theory is that most rich people are in league with Satan, but I don't say that out loud.
Of course, if you're "too smart" you might realise there's more to life than heap loads of cash, but that's another story...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 07:48:53 AM EST
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And I don't think the down feelings are entirely constitutional. ... how much more optimism and confidence would we have if we had all the time we needed and the technical and financial means to work together (meaning more physical meeting and collaboration)!

See? You're an optimist. Your personal explanatory style is external. I'm a pessimist, my personal explanatory style is internal.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 07:29:11 AM EST
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You're an optimist.

Well, that was my conclusion above.

But you're making plans for a commune or phalanstery, which surely makes you a raving optimist? ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 07:34:54 AM EST
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Just because I'm making plans doesn't mean I believe they would work.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 07:42:38 AM EST
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Isn't wanting to set up a commune a sign of despair?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 09:51:24 AM EST
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An optimist is someone who thinks that the world is as good as it's ever going to be.

A pessimist is someone who thinks that the world is as good as it's ever going to be.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 08:12:39 AM EST
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wax away, and may your waning be distant and distanceable.

lyrical is right!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 06:31:46 PM EST
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