Anthony Berger's Reviews > The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain

The Optimism Bias by Tali Sharot
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Jul 29, 2011

it was ok

Sharot's interesting attempt to break down the naturally-selected tendency of mentally projecting an overly optimistic future falls short. While there are definitely some insightful theories, the "science" she believes she has explored is nothing more than a few shoddy observational experiments.

It's not all that bad, though. I think every human can agree that when we project the future, we prefer optimism to pessimism for the sole reason that it makes us eager to achieve the best possible outcome. The book was trying to address a simple question: why do we do that; given that empirical data has established we systematically predict a better future than what typically unfolds? It didn't answer this question though. There were some painfully general and nonspecific ideas...but that's about it. I would have been much happier if there was some discussion about the proposed sequence of evolved traits. Did irrational optimism precede the human desire for fulfillment and a hope for a better tomorrow, or vice-versa? What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Luckily, the book's short, and easy to get through. If you've bought it, read it. If you haven't...eh, there are better books out there.
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