Dynamic Optimism [was: Re: Psychadelic and other Garbage]

Max More (maxmore@primenet.com)
Wed, 23 Jul 1997 11:54:52 -0700

At 04:38 AM 7/23/97 -0500, Forrest wrote:

Forrest: My apologies for misattributing what Curt said to you. Your
unconventional method of quoting wasn't clear to me.

>>Once you understand the difference between dynamic optimism and wishful
>>thinking, do you still disagree with D.O.? If so, what exactly do you
>>disagree with?
>Yes, I read it a couple years ago. Maybe
>choose a more descriptive name, like "Realistic Optimism" or such.

I think "Realistic Optimism" would elicit only a "huh?" from most people.
The reactions I have mostly heard to dynamic optimism have mostly been
positive, *especially* when accompanied by a brief explanation.

>Unfortunately, it is not perceived as more than wishful thinking
>by those who have not read a definition, Gary Stix for example. His
>infamous *Scientific American* report "Nanotechnology: Waiting for the
>Breakthroughs" (April, 1996) contains wording to the effect that "..the
>dynamic optimism school of technological forecasting..." which I am fairly
>sure he got from the Extro site.

Your first sentence above suggests a universal response. How many cases are
you basing that on? It does not match my experience, though my experience
usually involves using the term and explaining it. I'm not terrible
concerned about Stix's usage, since his whole article was an irresponsible
piece of slash-and-burn attack on nanotechnology. (Scientific American even
managed some kind of apology for Stix piece on the web, thanks to Ralph
Merkle's incisive response.)

Thanks for telling me about your experience with the term. I'd like to get
a better idea of whether you are talking about one or two cases or many. If
"dynamic optimism" really does produce a negative response according to
several people, I would have to consider renaming it. However, I wouldn't
rename it simple because some people occassionally misunderstand it, not
having ever read a definition or explanation. *That* can happen to any term.



Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute: exi-info@extropy.org, http://www.extropy.org
EXTRO 3 CONFERENCE on the future: http://www.extropy.org/extro3.htm