Author Topic: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should  (Read 1947 times)

Keith Maitland

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Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« on: January 04, 2018, 04:02:33 PM »
Harvard Professor Steven Pinker on Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should

According to the latest data, people are living longer and becoming healthier, better fed, richer, smarter, safer, more connected–and, at the same time, ever gloomier about the state of the world. As the political scientist John Mueller once summed up the history of the West:

“People seem simply to have taken the remarkable economic improvement in stride and have deftly found new concerns to get upset about.”

How can we explain pessimism in a world of progress?

RTWH:

http://time.com/5087384/harvard-professor-steven-pinker-on-why-we-refuse-to-see-the-bright-side/

wigginhall

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2018, 04:25:18 PM »
One obvious point is that economic progress doesn't move people to see life as great or magnificent or just good.
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Nearly Sane

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 04:31:35 PM »
Some types of pessimism are progress.

Robbie

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 05:56:41 PM »
Agree with both wigginhall and NS.

Keith, not everyone is overly pessimistic and as for finding new things to be worried about, there will never be a time when there are no issues that cause concern. It doesn't mean everybody is dwelling on them all of the time. There are plenty of things to be glad about.
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Rhiannon

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 06:23:34 PM »
Economic progress of the kind that we appear to have is reliant on increasing consumption, something that isn’t sustainable, and that is one huge reason for concern.

Keith Maitland

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 06:30:19 PM »
As per usual, these claims that life is good because of all the progress we’ve made in technology, society, or whatever, is a shallow gish-gallop of empirical contingencies.

It’s interesting that Pinker acknowledges the human prioritization of the negative over the positive, and admits that there are always more ways for something to go wrong than for it to go right, but nevertheless glosses over how these and others are structural to the human condition. Pinker seems to think that ignoring this and reminding everyone of how great things are becoming will actually make things great. Until there is no more gratuitous suffering, injustice, unequal distribution of goods, violence, despair and death will I find the phrase that “life is good” to be any more than an empty platitude.

That many people are escaping poverty and getting a decent education is good, but this hardly means life is good, because poverty and education are empirical contingencies that arise from the structural negativity that is life.

Nearly Sane

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 06:35:20 PM »
Economic progress of the kind that we appear to have is reliant on increasing consumption, something that isn’t sustainable, and that is one huge reason for concern.
yes and no. We have a very shallow model of progress which if you want to look at how we managed to allow billions to live better than  most anyone who lived before them is what worked. Now the next stage could be horrible and I tend to that as my most likely expectation but it's not because of the Ponzi scheme of capitalism being unchangeable or what we are linked to beyond it's  black mirror of us. Worse to me, it seems we can create limitless consumption and ways to supply that but we will suffocate under the weight.



Nearly Sane

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 06:39:29 PM »
As per usual, these claims that life is good because of all the progress we’ve made in technology, society, or whatever, is a shallow gish-gallop of empirical contingencies.

It’s interesting that Pinker acknowledges the human prioritization of the negative over the positive, and admits that there are always more ways for something to go wrong than for it to go right, but nevertheless glosses over how these and others are structural to the human condition. Pinker seems to think that ignoring this and reminding everyone of how great things are becoming will actually make things great. Until there is no more gratuitous suffering, injustice, unequal distribution of goods, violence, despair and death will I find the phrase that “life is good” to be any more than an empty platitude.

That many people are escaping poverty and getting a decent education is good, but this hardly means life is good, because poverty and education are empirical contingencies that arise from the structural negativity that is life.

You seem to be switching between absolutes and relatives, and begging the question in the same way you take issue with Pinker. It would be simpler if you just did the basic statement of what you subjectively think is 'good' rather than indulge in shipping it in as if it is objective as you do here.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 06:54:19 PM by Nearly Sane »

Keith Maitland

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2018, 08:15:02 PM »
NS,

Your comment is ambiguous. How am I switching from absolutes and relatives and begging the question? Can you give an example?

Sriram

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2018, 01:41:31 PM »
Harvard Professor Steven Pinker on Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should

According to the latest data, people are living longer and becoming healthier, better fed, richer, smarter, safer, more connected–and, at the same time, ever gloomier about the state of the world. As the political scientist John Mueller once summed up the history of the West:

“People seem simply to have taken the remarkable economic improvement in stride and have deftly found new concerns to get upset about.”

How can we explain pessimism in a world of progress?

RTWH:

http://time.com/5087384/harvard-professor-steven-pinker-on-why-we-refuse-to-see-the-bright-side/


There is obviously a bright side to the present times.....but the down side of population growth, climate change, increasing inequality, environmental degradation ....are so significant and over whelming that whatever the bright side, it is unlikely to last very long. In the next couple of decades the bright side is likely to look less bright at the present rate of growing problems.


Humph Warden Bennett

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2018, 01:58:50 PM »
the structural negativity that is life.

At first I thought that Keith had turned over a new leaf for 2018, but this proves that he is just being his usual miserable self.

ekim

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2018, 03:09:26 PM »


Until there is no more gratuitous suffering, injustice, unequal distribution of goods, violence, despair and death will I find the phrase that “life is good” to be any more than an empty platitude.

That many people are escaping poverty and getting a decent education is good, but this hardly means life is good, because poverty and education are empirical contingencies that arise from the structural negativity that is life.
Perhaps that phrase distinguishes 'life' from 'living'.  Life itself is 'good' e.g. you can feel full of life and well being, which you can see in small children before their indoctrination kicks in.  Living, on the other hand, has its ups and downs which frequently can distract your attention from the life within.  This is possibly what lies behind the sayings attributed to Jesus 'Unless you become as a small child again' and 'I have come that you may have life more abundantly'.

floo

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2018, 04:43:55 PM »
Everyone's life has good and bad sides to it. A person who has more good than bad episodes in their life can count their blessings.

My husband's burst aneurysm and subsequent brain damage was a very bad episode in our lives. However, we can consider ourselves very fortunate to have FANTASTIC children who couldn't be more supportive. :)

Robbie

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2018, 10:33:44 PM »

There is obviously a bright side to the present times.....but the down side of population growth, climate change, increasing inequality, environmental degradation ....are so significant and over whelming that whatever the bright side, it is unlikely to last very long. In the next couple of decades the bright side is likely to look less bright at the present rate of growing problems.

Sririam, you and Keith may well be right. If we are still here twenty years from now we'll know for sure but we have to live in the here and now.

Being concerned about society and the world is right and good but we are individuals who can have and enjoy a decent life without the black cloud constantly in our thoughts.
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Sriram

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2018, 06:27:50 AM »
Sririam, you and Keith may well be right. If we are still here twenty years from now we'll know for sure but we have to live in the here and now.

Being concerned about society and the world is right and good but we are individuals who can have and enjoy a decent life without the black cloud constantly in our thoughts.


I am hardly a pessimist...Robbie.   Just pointing out the reasons why many people could be concerned in spite of so many positives today.

It may be ok for oldies like us personally.....but for our children and grandchildren, things  don't look very promising in the coming decades.

Robbie

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2018, 09:25:09 AM »
I can remember older people - not my parents - saying the same about our generation when I was a child. I don't see why there should be insurmountable hardship for my two adult girls other than the possibility of illness and accidents. We can't predict what's around the corner but I have no sense they are pessimistic about the future. I hope if & when they marry and/or have children they'll encourage my grandchildren to appreciate what is good about life without being insensitive to the negative. We'll see.
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floo

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2018, 10:14:22 AM »
I can remember older people - not my parents - saying the same about our generation when I was a child. I don't see why there should be insurmountable hardship for my two adult girls other than the possibility of illness and accidents. We can't predict what's around the corner but I have no sense they are pessimistic about the future. I hope if & when they marry and/or have children they'll encourage my grandchildren to appreciate what is good about life without being insensitive to the negative. We'll see.

My Baby Girl is 42 today, she seems optimistic about the future and that of her three children, 14, nearly 12 and 9.

Robbie

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2018, 10:42:50 AM »
That is heartwarming to hear Littleroses. She's a glass half full person!

(So it's her birthday today, hope you all have a meet up and celebration this weekend. I didn't dream you had a child of 42. My youngest is 26 this month).

It's right, in my view, to take joy in life when you can. At the same time we cannot be blinkered to happenings around the world & if there's anything we can do to help then let's do it.
True Wit is Nature to Advantage drest,
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ippy

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2018, 11:21:25 AM »
Looking on the bright side, look at how we're living a lot longer on average now days, it gives us a lot more time to have a really good time moaning, cheers us up being able to spend a lot more time moaning about all of those things and people that keep on annoying us.

I detest the modern way of listing people in a conversation and putting yourself first such as starting with, me and etc etc etc, I was brought up to see this as bad manners, where as I think it should still be where you refer to all others first and end with, and I.

I feel so unbelievably happy and brighter now I've had that moan.

Ippy   

floo

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2018, 11:26:48 AM »
That is heartwarming to hear Littleroses. She's a glass half full person!

(So it's her birthday today, hope you all have a meet up and celebration this weekend. I didn't dream you had a child of 42. My youngest is 26 this month).

It's right, in my view, to take joy in life when you can. At the same time we cannot be blinkered to happenings around the world & if there's anything we can do to help then let's do it.

As a family we only get together for significant birthdays. Our girl is quite happy with the dosh I have put into her account. I believe she is going out with her husband and children for a meal later.  :) Talking of significant birthdays, my husband and I were saying earlier that it is hard to believe our eldest girl will be celebrating her 50th in two years time. Unfortunately her senile old mother will also have a significant birthday that year too. :o

Sriram

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2018, 11:54:37 AM »
I can remember older people - not my parents - saying the same about our generation when I was a child. I don't see why there should be insurmountable hardship for my two adult girls other than the possibility of illness and accidents. We can't predict what's around the corner but I have no sense they are pessimistic about the future. I hope if & when they marry and/or have children they'll encourage my grandchildren to appreciate what is good about life without being insensitive to the negative. We'll see.


Yes...every generation thinks that the next generation is in trouble...but that is usually for local reasons within the country or community and generally relates to economic or political reasons or cultural and lifestyle changes happening within the community.  It is a relative thing.

When we talk of climate change, population explosion or environmental degradation it is not a local problem nor is it a matter of relative merits. These are real global problems that have clear and absolute consequences. 

Its not the same as old grandpa looking up from his newspaper and saying.... 'The world is going to the dogs...!'

ippy

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2018, 05:05:37 PM »

Yes...every generation thinks that the next generation is in trouble...but that is usually for local reasons within the country or community and generally relates to economic or political reasons or cultural and lifestyle changes happening within the community.  It is a relative thing.

When we talk of climate change, population explosion or environmental degradation it is not a local problem nor is it a matter of relative merits. These are real global problems that have clear and absolute consequences. 

Its not the same as old grandpa looking up from his newspaper and saying.... 'The world is going to the dogs...!'

You're right Sriram, there's no more episodes of Star Trek to look forward to any more, It's all going to the dogs.

Regards ippy 

Trentvoyager

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2018, 06:04:08 PM »
You're right Sriram, there's no more episodes of Star Trek to look forward to any more, It's all going to the dogs.

Regards ippy

There is Star Trek Discovery Ippy, although I've never seen it as I'm to mean to pay for it - but there must be a way of downloading it free somewhere.
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SweetPea

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2018, 11:03:51 PM »
Perhaps that phrase distinguishes 'life' from 'living'.  Life itself is 'good' e.g. you can feel full of life and well being, which you can see in small children before their indoctrination kicks in.  Living, on the other hand, has its ups and downs which frequently can distract your attention from the life within.  This is possibly what lies behind the sayings attributed to Jesus 'Unless you become as a small child again' and 'I have come that you may have life more abundantly'.

Yes, a child before indoctrination is a sight to behold. It is exactly what Jesus meant. They are free from the trappings of the matrix of this world. This is why the 'path is narrow' because we are surrounded by Luciferian distractions and slaves to the system. If we can free ourselves from these ties then we are truly free.
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.  George Orwell

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Eph 6:12

floo

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Re: Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2018, 08:27:07 AM »
Yes, a child before indoctrination is a sight to behold. It is exactly what Jesus meant. They are free from the trappings of the matrix of this world. This is why the 'path is narrow' because we are surrounded by Luciferian distractions and slaves to the system. If we can free ourselves from these ties then we are truly free.

Everyone should be permitted to make up their own minds about religion, including children.