Good News v Bad News: Optimism as a choice

As you absorb the news,goodbadnews
from the BBC,
or the press,
or searching the internet,
It can be only too easy to feed your expectations with what appears to be a reflection of the world as it is…

The BBC’s news agenda is set by the press, still, and it will do its weekend good news stories “and finally” etc. So you, the people, will enjoy your weekend a bit more. Relax – “the world will never end on a Friday or Saturday night!”

You have to be a determined Polyanna to miss the fact that the majority of the news has something of a heavy negative aspect – deaths, destruction, the threat of war, disease, climate change, and so on…

On the other hand you can fool yourself that the bad news we now hear and see every day means that the world is getting worse. I hear people saying this all the time, and what is more they can be amazingly sure of this fact.

But I know it is not a fact…
So when I tell them about Stephen Pinker’s research revealing that we have seen a steady fall in “man-on-man” violence since the caveman days, steady over years, decades, centuries, millennia, they dismiss it.
Whereas they don’t as easily dismiss the news that the CIA deliberately uses labyrinthine conspiracies to kill its own side to justify attacks on fake enemies.

Cognitive bias is one thing – but the notion that the world may actually, at least in some ways, be getting better is NOT something people want to hear.
I am fully aware of the many aspects of the human influenced world that may in fact not be getting better, but I choose to be an optimist despite this awareness – not by avoiding knowing about bad things.

An optimist is someone determined to work for, and set an example of, the best in humanity, because by doing so, you help it become more real.
A pessimist is someone who has deluded themselves that it is better to be right about how bad things might be, and therefore contributes to that worsening of life becoming a reality.
It is not “realism”.
Realism is knowing that optimists on average live 5 years longer, and much happier lives than pessimists, and that the maths of how violence is reducing, just like UK crime figures is a reality.
The big lies are swallowed and then regurgitated ad nauseam by people who fall for sad Daily Mail “nostalgia“, and no quantity of factual information can deny them their negative self fulfilling prophecies…


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