comScore Don't Worry, Science Can Fix Your Optimism | The Mary Sue
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Science Has Found a Cure for Optimism in Case You Were Feeling Good About Today

The glass is half full... of lies. I'm going back to bed forever.


Human beings aren’t invincible, but nobody told teenagers and young adults. They often have a problem with “unrealistic optimism,” which is an underestimation of the likelihood of future misfortune also known as “what gets us through the day.” Don’t worry; science has found a way to turn off that optimism and make you realize that the world is an empty hole of misery and death. Thanks, science!

I guess they figure that all of the sadness and depression in the world has been cured, so why not tackle the other end of the spectrum? Or, maybe they’re trying to make antidepressants look more effective by leveling the playing field and bringing those on the optimistic side of the spectrum down a bit.

Either way, scientists in a study on PubMed did just that and made their participants more likely to see higher risk. Although, they did this with a technique called vestibular caloric stimulation, which involves having air or water of different temperatures irrigated into your ear. Of course, in the pursuit of turning off optimism, they shot cold water into people’s ears.

You know what? I don’t even have to try it. I’ll tell them right now that I’ll feel a whole lot less optimistic when someone shoots a bunch of cold water into my ear, because that pretty much sounds like the last thing anyone’s day needs. I have several other cold water-based ideas for turning off optimism for them. Why not just dump it on people’s heads to wake them up like they do all the time in movies? Or, just turn off the hot water in their house. Optimism solved.

According to the study, those who got the cold water wake-up call in their left ear were significantly more likely to assess higher amounts of risk in situations than those who got the treatment in their right ear, who exhibited no appreciable difference. They also concluded that their tests pointed to a link between unrealistic optimism and anosognosia, which is a neurological disorder that prevents you from realizing the seriousness of present symptoms of an illness. They now believe that both might stem from a single underlying mechanism.

So, your belief that everything is going to be fine is probably just a neurological disorder. Don’t you feel better now that you know? No? Good. You’ve been cured. You’re welcome.

(via Discover, image via Steven Depolo)

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