Forget Pessimism

Just this morning I came across the following exchange with Noam Chomsky, which reminded me of what Steve said last night in his talk on Syria…

Interviewer: Did you go through a phase of hopelessness, or…

Chomsky: Yeah, every evening.

Interviewer: I feel like I’m kind of stuck in one.

Chomsky: Every evening. I mean, look: if you want to feel hopeless, there are a lot of things you could feel hopeless about. If you want to sort of work out objectively what’s the chance that the human species will survive for another century, probably not very high. But I mean, what’s the point?

Interviewer: You’ve just got to work at it.

Chomsky: Yeah, what’s the point? First of all, those predictions don’t mean anything—they’re more just a reflection of your mood or your personality than anything else. And if you act on that assumption, then you’re guaranteeing that that’ll happen. If you act on the assumption that things can change, well, maybe they will. Okay, the only rational choice, given those alternatives, is to forget the pessimism.

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