Friday, May 21, 2010


I was charmed by this talk on optimism and programming languages (written version) by Reg Braithwaite. I also recently read "Learned Optimism" by Dr. Martin Seligman (which I'm not linking to because everyone links to Amazon, and hey, let's buy from our local bookstores instead, what say?)  The talk is pretty long, but it's good, and if you're only interested in the optimism angle (and if you think optimism is dumb, as I used to, you should be), just read until he starts talking about code.


  1. How very interesting. I just (like about an hour ago) read an article by Barbara Ehrenreich poo-poohing Seligman's work.

  2. Is it a good article? If so, post it here!


    you can be the judge:-)

  4. I didn't understand Seligman's book to be about "positive thinking" at all. I understood it to be about understanding (and affecting, if we wish to) our biases with regards to the explanations we give ourselves for why things happen and what it means. How we understand ourselves and our place in the world.

    Having been subjected to the relentless and horrific badgering of "positive" thinking myself, I agree that it is no better than "negative" thinking. I just don't see Seligman's work as being either. I think Ehrenreich misses the mark in her article. Maybe Seligman is a terrible interviewee, maybe he's a terrible person, maybe he's even a first class grouch - I have no idea. But I found his book to be useful, and the last thing I do as a results is "positive thinking".

    One data point for you, anyway! Read the book and judge for yourself. Ultimately that's all anyone can do anyway, right?

  5. Ah, here's a thoughtful article about this very topic, which I recommend. And it's not too long, either: