Guess whether this quote is from 1775 or last year in 2020.
Five years have seldom passed away in which some book has not been published pretending to demonstrate that the wealth of the nation was fast declining … manufacturing decaying, and trade undone.
Adam Smith wrote that in the Wealth of Nations in, you guessed it, 1775. Pessimism is nothing new.
In the early 1970’s, a computer model called World3 predicted the world would run out of all supplies of oil and natural gas by 1992. We did our best.
Doomsday prophets have predicted the end of the world a laughable number of times. Seriously, I was going to try and be cheeky by listing like 10 dates. There are hundreds.
A pessimistic stat: 0% accuracy so far. I guess all it takes is one.
Dire predictions? Heard them all.
Our brains are hard-wired to pay extra attention to bad news. We can’t help but gawk at the car accident. Media entities know this. That’s why we cover bad news stories so well.
But pessimism has its uses as well. For the vast majority of human history heretofore, bad news has been local.
It was helpful and salient and might just have saved your life and the lives of your family members.
Because it was stuff like “don’t go that direction, there are fires that way”. “Don’t eat those berries, because Cousin Ned did and now Cousin Ned is dead.”
Make pessimism local again. (New campaign slogan?)