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Critcial Brook Reviw - Essay Example

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Your Name Prof’s Name Date A Pessimistic Take on Optimism: Bright-Sided Critical Review Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, by Barbara Ehrenreich strikes out to do an interesting thing: to disabuse its reader of everything they have ever been told about positive thinking…
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Download file to see previous pages This book does an excellent job making clear something that psychologists and sociologists have likely known all along: that people are not necessarily good at objectively weighing consequences of their actions. Through all this, however, Ehrenreich ignores some of the other major components of a lot of the issues she talks about: the structure of capitalism, for instance, and also does a somewhat middling job convincing her reader that Americans actually are the optimistic people she makes them out to be. Clearly, there are many instances in American history, even recent history, in which important people underestimated the downside of actions (the invasion of Iraq, for instance, comes to mind). Furthermore, it does an excellent job debunking faux-science that has seemed to indicate that positive thinking in and of itself has some kind of net benefit to the person doing the positive thinking. As mentioned above, there are many ways this book shines. For one thing, it corresponds well to many psychological phenomena that any psychologist will readily recognize. Psychologists, for instance, have long been aware that people tend to over-estimate the likelihood of positive things occurring while underestimating the possibility of negative things. This is the reason that lotteries, are possible, for instance, when no rational person, based on reason alone, would ever choose to participate. Ehrenreich does a good job allowing the reader to understand the psychological principals that go into this kind of thinking. She also does an excellent job demonstrating rationally how flawed the idea that positive thinking somehow creates positive results all on its own without anything else; she rips apart the faux-science that supported the idea that somehow the same actions would lead to better results if one felt better about them. She does this in many ways, but the most convincing is actually critically examining the so-called “evidence” behind the people who try to convince others that positive thinking alone can cause changes or benefit the person engaging in that thinking. The final thing Ehrenreich does well in Bright-Sided is examine circumstances in which the kind of thinking she describes, where a person optimistically overestimates the chance that something good will happen while underestimating the chance that something bad will occur, can actually cause serious consequences for people and communities. She also demonstrates fairly clearly that this kind of thinking took root in the business community and had a direct impact on the stability of the financial industry, which, in part, led to the calamitous economy of recent years (Ehrenreich 83). She makes it clear that few in the business world really took a second to question whether incredibly risky behavior could go poorly – everyone had been so indoctrinated in the positive thinking mantra that they believed they were invincible. While Ehrenreich’s book is certainly strong, it is not without its faults. Ehrenreich becomes so consumed in connecting behavior to positive thinking, she neglects other factors that clearly also had an impact on decision making. For instance, in focusing so clearly on positive thinking ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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