, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 439-442
Date: 14 Nov 2012

A Good Question?

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Are you optimistic or pessimistic? One hears the question often these days—about the state of the country, the culture, the arts, the family, the healthcare system, the public schools, and of course the academy. I’m not sure it’s a good question. Regarding the academy, for example, are you optimistic or pessimistic that traditional scholarly values will be reinstated, substantive and challenging curricula restored, fair grading and evaluation reinstituted, free speech and intellectual debate reinvigorated? Is that a good question?

Some say the attitude itself will bear its own brand of fruit. The optimist helps bring about better outcomes by virtue of his positive outlook, whereas the pessimist will see his unhappy thoughts materialized more and more. On the other hand, optimism can lead to bland complacency or even serve to cover willful blindness, while pessimism might better supply the grit needed in a long struggle with few immediate rewards.

And optimism can support the baneful as w ...