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View Full Version : Is it possible to be both cynical and optimistic?


CuriousCake
03-07-2010, 02:53 AM
I've been wondering at this for a while. I consider myself to be very cynical; for example, for any of you in Australia, I believe that the "Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme" or whatever the hell it was called was designed simply as a cash grab for the government, and my gut reaction to seeing the word 'democracy' about 5 times on one page in an english textbook is that they are trying to brainwash us into being good patriotic children. Despite this, in general situations I consider myself to be fairly optimistic - I always tend to think to myself, 'there are plenty worse off with I' and simply get over my problems.

Thoughts?

Hail Ants
03-07-2010, 04:19 AM
Don't know if this belongs in GQ, but I consider myself the same way and I don't feel its a contradiction. I'm optimistic, but not blindly optimistic. I maintain a high set of standards for things and since most other people don't they see my constant criticism of what I see as mediocrity (but they see as normal) to be cynicism.

My optimism comes from always finding (so far anyway) at least a few people, places, things etc. that attempt to get things right.

Sage Rat
03-07-2010, 04:24 AM
I can take raw sewage, put it in a device that captures and burns gasses, and power a light with it.

The question isn't what you have to work with, but whether there are methods in place to turn it toward good.

panache45
03-07-2010, 10:30 AM
The best answer to this comes from Anne Frank: "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."

What an astoundingly optimistic statement from someone who was experiencing one of the most horrible circumstances in human history (though she wasn't yet experiencing the worst of it when she wrote that). I tend to get extremely cynical at times, especially when watching the news. But if I take a few steps back, I can get optimistic about humanity's future. We have gone through some pretty crappy times in our history, and in some respects we're currently in one of those crappy times. But we've also achieved greatness, and there's a lot of that right now as well.

Another quote: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Tim R. Mortiss
03-07-2010, 10:33 AM
A quote from Heinlen (from memory, not verbatim): "I am a pessimist by policy, but an optimist by temperament. I try to anticipate everything that can go wrong, and plan accordingly. Then I can play out the game happily, knowing that I've covered every possibility."

Okay, that's hopefully mangled from Heinlein's verbiage, but covers the gist.

Turek
03-07-2010, 11:47 AM
I think I'm a cynic because I'm an optimist. I expect the best outcome, but I'm almost always disappointed.

RealityChuck
03-07-2010, 01:04 PM
Many cynics are optimists at heart; they just have become wary of being too optimistic.

Colibri
03-07-2010, 01:36 PM
Since the OP is seeking opinions, I am moving this from GQ to IMHO.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

Trom
03-07-2010, 06:06 PM
"Behind every cynic is a disappointed idealist."

-George Carlin

Markxxx
03-07-2010, 06:58 PM
I...I believe that the "Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme" or whatever the hell it was called was designed simply as a cash grab for the government,

The reason you think this is because you're not wrong.

What confused you is your unfamiliarity with marketing

What happened is a bunch of bureaucrats in Canberra said to themsleves, "How can we bring more money into the government?"

This is not unreasonable, they need money to run the government.

But what they said next was, how can we do it.

Suggestions get thrown out and this Carbon Pollution thing was among them.

Then the bureaucrats said, "Of all the options laid on the table which one sound least offensive to the public and will likely not cause a backlash?

And that Cash Pollution...option was put into force.

You see it wasn't purposely set out but it was merely the best of many options

Spice Weasel
03-07-2010, 10:57 PM
A quote from Heinlen (from memory, not verbatim): "I am a pessimist by policy, but an optimist by temperament..

I am the exact opposite, a pessimist by temperament but an optimist by policy. I am neurotic as hell, can be downright morose in the short term, but tend to live my life pretty optimistically over the long term, deliberately, and against my nature. It is for this reason I believe perseverance is one of my strongest qualities. It is true that others are capable of sticking to their goals, but I don't think many people have to contend with a self-sabotaging negatively oriented brain like mine. I have learned to train my brain to argue with itself in its own best interest. The result is that I basically come out a good-natured realist.

Serenata67
03-08-2010, 07:31 AM
I think so. I am pretty cynical about the day to day, but I have hope that things will be great. I'm optimistic that I'll live to a ripe old age, loving and being loved by my husband, with happy children, etc. If I were purely cynical, I'd say that most likely one of us will die or we'll get divorced and my PCOS will prevent me from having a couple of happy, healthy children, etc.

While I may be cynical about all the entitled a-holes that come to the bank, I'm optimistic about the future.

kelly5078
03-08-2010, 11:17 AM
"Behind every cynic is a disappointed idealist."

-George CarlinYep, that's me.

ToeJam
03-08-2010, 11:31 AM
I tend to be more optimistic towards external things and more cynical towards my own self or things that will deal with me. But I'm trying to balance the two out now.

I do consider myself to be a cynical optimist though and not an optimistic cynic.

Theodore Striker
03-08-2010, 11:40 AM
I'm with the Carlin quote as well, you have had to have your ideals and optimism for those ideals to be spoiled before you become cynical, and you still hold hope that that things will become better.

Trom
03-08-2010, 12:23 PM
I'm with the Carlin quote as well, you have had to have your ideals and optimism for those ideals to be spoiled before you become cynical, and you still hold hope that that things will become better.

After a bit more googling, that might not be his exact quote - but the idea is there. I've also seen it as:

“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist”

and

"Scratch any cynic, and you’ll find a disappointed idealist."

tdn
03-08-2010, 12:37 PM
I consider them to be polar opposites. I also believe that attitude can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hope for the best but expect the worst? The worst is likely to happen. Live as if everything will work out the best, but let go of the outcome is the way to go.

But that's a very personal philosophy.

MacTech
03-08-2010, 04:54 PM
Murphy's statement on the power of negative thinking;

"It is impossible for an optimist to be pleasantly surprised"

Harmonious Discord
03-08-2010, 06:30 PM
Is it possible to be both cynical and optimistic?

I doubt i,t but it could be.

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