Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Smile or Die

This is a cool 11-minute video about mandatory optimism in our society today and how it can be used for social control. It brings up a few good points. A longer video that not only includes the presentation by Barbara Ehrenreich but also a question and answer session is here. In the workplace context and the political arena it seems very convincing. Critical voices are disliked and pushed into the background or fired. Whistle blowers are poorly perceived by society in general.

In the private sphere it is not so obvious. Let's take patients with an illness. Are they more likely to recover if they have a positive attitude, i.e. hope, even if false hope?

Just as the author argues, realism should come first. If something is rotten, it should be outed. With realism solidly in place, optimism could fill the voids to give us a positive outlook whenever we have little information to go on. In other words: how about being optimistic by default until realism contradicts are positive assumptions at which point realism overrules positivism.

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