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woohooligan's avatar

Optimist's Wager - Ch 1



This is a science book I've been working on since the latter part of 2006.

Click the "download" link on the right for the PDF.

I hope you enjoy it! :)

EDIT: Found this cool stamp.

For those interested, here are a few of the main science sources:

The Luck Factor [link] - Richard Wiseman Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire UK

Predictably Irrational [link] - Dan Ariely, MIT professor of behavioral economics

Learned Optimism [link] - Martin Seligman, Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania

Mindset [link] - Carol Dweck professor of Psychology at Stanford (and prior at Harvard among others)

Positivity [link] - Barbara Fredrickson UNC Chapel Hill

Lastly, here's the current draft of the back cover blurb:

The hubbub over humbug…
There’s been some quarrel recently about growing popularity of New Age beliefs, Synchronicity and just plain positive thinking. As with any case of competing beliefs many are firmly planted the realist camp of “we don’t buy that nonsense” or the spiritualist camp of “you’re just close-minded”. Perhaps the skeptic and the mystic can benefit from a combined viewpoint as an alternative to “us versus them” thinking. The goal of skeptics and mystics alike is happy, healthy living, which is achieved through good habits. Our beliefs influence our habits. Thus a belief that fire burns is more help than a belief that fire tastes good. On the other hand a belief that fire tastes bad also prevents people from burning their mouths. While it’s important that we acknowledge an inconvenient truth, perhaps there can also be a useful illusion.

Nice Guys Finish First
In 1981 Robert Axelrod shocked the scientific community by suggesting in his paper the Evolution of Cooperation that animals (including humans) might have evolved to be helpful and nice. This is shocking because it’s popular in recent decades to believe that people are basically selfish and that “nice guys finish last”; a good way to discourage cooperation. Reality is often not what we think, from the flat earth to quantum physics. How many of us are unaware that peace breaking out along the front posed a significant challenge for generals during the first two years of WWI? It seems by denying our helpful nature we may be shooting ourselves in the foot.

An Experimental Solution
The tension between skeptics and mystics can be summed up in the philosophies of consciousness and determinism. The philosophy of consciousness states that your will creates physical reality. The philosophy of determinism states that consciousness is an illusion created by the chemicals in your brain. These views can’t both be entirely accurate. While you’re likely to have a strong opinion, it may not be necessary for us to know which is true. There is an element of truth in every myth. With a focus on traditional non-quantum research in medicine, economics, evolution, behavior and psychology and a liberal dose of humor, the Optimist’s Wager makes a strong case in plain language that several non-determinist beliefs may be our best bet for health and prosperity even if determinism is true.
© 2008 - 2024 woohooligan
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LostKitten's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star-empty: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Impact

Whew.. I made it to the third chapter and although I'd love to continue reading right now, I just don't have the time to. Here's my notes up to my stopping point, though:

[p. 10, last sentence, second paragraph]
(For the record I don't recommend you try it yourself.)

I don't think this is needed. It's an inspirational story and some people may benefit from trying it themselves. It demishes the quality of the message for me.

[p.13, first sentence, last paragraph]
"... the more we're blinded by anger or fear, the less effective pleas to reason become."
I love this quote, very true.

I also enjoyed your reference to American Beauty, a fantastic movie--now I want to see it again. As well as the plug for How to Win Friends and Influence People. I've yet to read it, but my husband has it and I have every intention of sitting down with it at some point. <img src="…" width="15" height="15" alt=";p" title="Wink/Razz - ;p"/> I'm told it's a fantastic book, though. <img src="…" width="15" height="13" alt=":heart:" title="Heart - :heart:"/>

It is similar to The Secret and WTBDWK, so it has sort of already been done, but you're not using any inflated vocabulary and I think that's fantastic. This is something that anyone could pick up, read, and understand.

I like that you acknowledged the fact that we can have both mindsets in different fields, too. I'm guilty of it myself; I'm convinced I'm incapable of drawing, but I love learning and seek means of expanding my knowledge-base all the time.

The cover art for this is fantastic too, I'd really like to see it on my book shelf.