10 Apr '12, 3pm

80% of humans are delusionally optimistic, says science

Maybe the reason we can’t do anything about the existential crisis of climate change — or, indeed, any of the other existential crises we’re facing at present — is that 80 percent of humanity has what’s known as an “optimism bias.” (If you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet you’re among the “lucky” 20 percent whose perceptions of reality are demonstrably realistic.) People who have an optimism bias do irrational things in the laboratory, like systematically ignoring concrete information about risk, reports Scientific American Mind . For example, when test subjects were informed that they had underestimated their odds of contracting a disease or being victimized by a criminal, they failed to revise their estimates, “clinging to their earlier belief that they would probably avoid the bad luck.” In contrast, when test subjects were told they were too pessimistic about a part...

Full article: http://grist.org/list/80-percent-of-humans-are-delusional...

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