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Optimism versus Pessimism


Optimism versus Pessimism

In this edifying panel conversation at the Battle of Ideas 2010 festival, five speakers weigh up the future of our society in light of different challenges and ask whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic about the future.  Speakers include, Shreela Ghosh, director at the Free Word Centre; Stephen Hargrave, chairman at Reform, Mick Hume, editor-at-large and writer at Spiked-online; Humphrey Hawksley, BBC World Affairs correspondent; Marcus Sedgwick, author and writer-in-residence, Bath Spa University.

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Shreya said:

Very interesting talk… the story of Pandora’s Box comes to mind, as there have always been and will always be reason to despair in the world, but optimism –hope in spite of all the bad- is the only way to progress further. If no one ever thought about a world beyond the ills of the day, then we could have never moved further. I really liked the bit about creativity never giving up, and Shreela Ghosh’s speech.

Vera Darling said:

I’m taking particular exception to the idea that neuroscience is now quoted as scientific and factual in relation to quetions of social optimism or pessimism. It sounds like neo-phrenology (remember the head-bumps = personality equation) albeit with much better brain imaging technology.

I also think Mick Hume is right with his deductive reasoning that we have a kind of ‘pessimism in denial’ to contend with.

Camille said:

We’re all optimists because we want to see what happens next, otherwise we’d just go and kill ourselves – haha great point Marcus. Interesting that in this debate they didn’t mention anything to do with realism. Surely people are a mixture of optimism and pessimism at different times? Although I would like to be an optimist, I do tend to expect the worst… but both can be powerful tools if you put them to the right use. Fonsi moment — great advice!

Jenny said:

Absolutely agree with Shreela Ghosh optimism changes the world and is giving to people progress in life. I believe optimism makes you stronger. People should believe in better and believe that their dreams will come true.