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Oct 20, AM. Chancha 92 books view quotes. May 28, AM. Ralph 1 book view quotes. May 12, AM. Mar 17, AM. Almost no one knows about it. Some of it is that we have no exposure to it. Our view of the world comes from journalism. As long as rates of violence and hunger and disease don't go to zero, there will always be enough incidents to fill the news. Since our intuitions about risk and probability are driven by examples—the "availability heuristic"—we get a sense of how dangerous the world is that's driven by whatever events occur, and we're never exposed to the millions of locales where nothing bad happens.
I think there's also a moralistic bias at work. Pessimists are considered morally serious.
Why I abandoned Enlightenment mythology. The Enlightenment as a Creation myth
As Morgan Housel put it, "Pessimists sound like they're trying to help you. Optimists sound like they're trying to sell you something.
You beat up on Dr. Pangloss, the character in Voltaire's Candide who's fond of saying this is "the best of all possible worlds," so everything in it is perfect. If you want to be a data-driven optimist—a rational optimist, in Matt Ridley's phrase—how do you prevent yourself from becoming Panglossian?
Because there's no question, compared to years ago we're much better off, so stop complaining, you know? As Matt points out, Pangloss was a pessimist. An optimist thinks that the world can be much better than what it is today. Voltaire was really satirizing Leibniz's argument for "theodicy," namely that God had no choice but to allow earthquakes and tsunamis and plagues, because a better world was ontologically impossible.
Right now, for example, the opioid epidemic is clearly an example.
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You've also got to be aware of low-probability but high-impact events. Such as nuclear war. Such as the possibility of catastrophic climate change. Let's look at some of the groups that you see as anti-Enlightenment. The first one I want to talk about is the Romantic Green movement. What do you mean by that phrase, and who are these people? Well, my particular foil for that would be Pope Francis, and I know that arguing with a man who's infallible must be the ultimate exercise in futility. That's exactly right.
This is the idea that humanity made a terrible mistake when it began the Industrial Revolution, that we've been raping and despoiling the environment, which has been getting steadily worse and worse and worse, and that we will pay the price in a dreadful day of reckoning.