Friday, September 30, 2016

The evolution of pessimism.........?

     "It's incredible," he says, "this moaning pessimism, this knee-jerk, things-are-going-downhill reaction from people living amid luxury and security that their ancestors would have died for.  The tendency to see the emptiness of every glass is pervasive.  It's almost as if people cling to bad news like a comfort blanket."  In trying to make sense of this pessimism, Ridley, like Kahneman, sees a combination of cognitive biases and evolutionary psychology as the core of the problem.  He fingers loss aversion - a tendency for people to regret a loss more than a similar gain - as the bias with the most impact on abundance.  Loss aversion is often what keeps people stuck in ruts.  It's an unwillingness to change bad habits for fear that the change will leave them in a worse place than before.  But this bias is not acting alone.  "I also think there could be an evolutionary psychology component," he contends.  "We might be gloomy because gloomy people managed to avoid getting eaten by lions in the Pleistocene."

-Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, Abundance:  The Future Is Better Than You Think

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