Optimism (1)

Stay confident, urge Peter Schwarz and his co-authors at the end of The Long Boom. OK, their book was overtaken by events even sooner than futurist musings usually are, but they make a good case for the optimists. (see their original article in Wired)

I see debates about futures generally dividing between the optimists (about human nature, about technology, sometimes about everything under the Sun) and pessimists. Way too simple, of course. But I think there is a basic difference of temperament which can be a way of placing people, or perhaps help put an appropriate discount on some of their prognostications.

Which leads to a question. Who gets the award for most optimistic/pessimistic author of a vision of the future?

In non-fiction, Schwarz and Co are pretty optimistic, as a deliberate choice – almost a duty. I suppose Ray Kurzweil outdoes them, as be remains convinced we’re all going to live for ever.

Most pessimistic? Jim Lovelock’s last book Revenge of Gaia was largely a Jeremiad.

There’s also a discussion to be had about which mode is most effective at spurring readers’ to action – Mark Lynas’ remark in Six Degrees that it never occurred to him people might find his work depressing suggests this is hard to get right. But first, any other candidates for most starry-eyed optimists, or deeply gloomy pessimists?

Explore posts in the same categories: optimism

2 Comments on “Optimism (1)”

  1. Clare D Says:

    Have you read Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD – I would say that is the bleakest I’ve ever come across. I loved it.

  2. jonturney Says:

    No, but I’ve heard that… One day when I’m feeling strong.

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