Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My glass is always half-empty

I have recently been confronted with how pessimistic I really am. Darby and I were having a discussion about statistics, and I said that statistics don't comfort me at all. If someone says, "There's only a one in a million chance of dying in a plane crash," I think, "Yeah, but that doesn't matter if you're the one." In fact, statistics often make me worry more because I think how sad it would be to be the one in a million. If your family member dies of a heart attack, for example, you are sad, but you realize that heart attacks happen to a lot of people. If your family member dies of some rare, flesh-eating bacteria, you have to think, "Why them? It was so improbable!" I realize that logically this makes no sense, but it's the way I think.

I discussed this further with Brittany, and I think I came up with the reason why I think this way. I read too much. Books, newspapers, and magazines don't focus on the 999,999 people who don't contract the flesh-eating bacteria; they focus on the one who does. The smaller number is much more important in literature than the bigger number. Plus, I become very emotionally invested in books. So, although I personally have not been the victim of improbability, I feel like it happens all the time. The English major is very depressing. Science is much more uplifting. In science, the big number matters. So, Darby, it's not my fault that I'm pessimistic; it's my major.


Brittany Baumgartner said...

Ahh yes, blame it on your major! Or maybe it's because you're left-handed? :)

John Pierce said...

I think you're right on the English major stuff. Seriously, I've thought about it. Who's ever met a non-depressed English major? Even the happy ones are only happy when they're depressed.

And I also think that optimists are idiots. I wrote an essay on the subject once, which I had to post for the class to read. It didn't seem to be a very popular opinion in that class. But that was because they were idiots. Be happy that you're a pessimist.

Laci said...

I love your writing! The fun part is, is that I can totally picture you saying those things, and hear the tones of your voice in my head while I read it! hahah! I read this to Eric and he thought it was funny too!

John Pierce said...


I actually just went ahead and posted the essay/article I'd requested on my blog. I was actually sort of conflating in my mind two pieces that I had written, and they only just touch on the subject of optimism. They're there though, if you're still interested.

Anonymous said...

I am the one-in-a-million (in the reverse). I am a HAPPY, NON-IDIOTIC, OPTIMISTIC ENGLISH MAJOR! :-)

Your blog cracks me up....You rock...
Aunt Katina