Re: Optimism, was Re: more on Brand and the Singularity idea

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Tue Jan 16 2001 - 10:59:56 MST

On Tue, Jan 16, 2001 at 02:28:11PM +0930, Emlyn wrote:
> > Pure unadulterated optimism, to put it bluntly, is unrealistic -- and
> > everybody knows it.
> >
> > -- Charlie
> But optimism is only a useful concept in an unclear environment. If it were
> clear that outcomes would be good, there would be no need for optimism; only
> acceptance of a predictable destiny.
Yeah ...

You know the Richard Dawkins explanation for religion? His take on why
religious memes are so widespread is that they confer survival advantages
from a couple of different angles. Firstly, they reduce the carrier's
susceptibility to existential angst. Secondly, those that stress life-after-
death ensure a ready supply of warriors who can be sent forth to convert
the heathens.

> (Optimism/Pessimism/Other guiding principle) is something that you adopt in
> the face of lack of information;

So is religious faith.

(Speaking as a fanatical agnostic, I find blind faith disturbing
-- whether it's in a future world when we achieve True Communism or
Libertopia, or whether it's in the Rapture and the establishment of the
Kingdom of Christ, or whatever. Hence, maybe, my railing against
excessive optimism ...)

-- Charlie

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