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Optimism vs. Pessimism

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/17/2018 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,491 times Debate No: 106810
Debate Rounds (4)
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An optimist is a person with a positive outlook on life. A pessimist is a person with a negative outlook on life. Dispositional optimism and pessimism are typically assessed by asking people whether they expect future outcomes to be beneficial or negative. In this debate, I will be arguing that it is overall better to be an optimist than a pessimist.

Upon my opponent's acceptance, I will begin the debate in Round 2. I look forward to a thought provoking and fruitful discussion.


I accept arguing that pessimism is better than optimism, and I'm looking forward to what I believe will be an interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 1


"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
-- Winston Churchill

Optimism and Physical Health

Optimism improves one's physical health. Research shows that optimists are less likely to have certain diseases or have them develop over time [1]. Studies also find that optimists are more likely to live longer than pessimists. According to one study of more than 97,200 women by the Women's Health Initiative, the most optimistic women are 30 percent less likely to die of heart disease, and 14 percent less likely than their pessimistic counterparts to die from any disease [2].

This may be due to optimists having healthier lifestyles. For example, they smoke less, they are more physically active, they consume healthier foods, and they consume alcohol moderately [3]. This makes sense: optimistic people are happier [4] and happier people are healthier people [5]. Furthermore, optimism also plays a role in the recovery from illness and disease. Multiple studies have investigated the role of optimism in people undergoing treatment for cancer, and have found direct links between one's attitude (optimism) and level of improved health [6].

Optimism and Mental + Emotional Health

Optimists have less stress than pessimists, which can not only be observed in their behavior, but at the physiological level as well. Pessimists have shown higher levels of cortisol (the "stress hormone") and trouble regulating cortisol in response to stressors [7]. This impacts people's ability to deal with assignments (sometimes encouraging anxiety) as well as their relationships and interactions with others. Further, pessimism is linked with higher instances of depression [9]. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that optimism is important in coping with difficult life events and tragedy [6].

Optimism and Success

Optimistic people are more successful. In order to even begin taking on a project or venture, one must believe in their idea and their abilities. Pessimistic people will not be inclined to challenge themselves or take risks (therefore forfeiting potential rewards) because they might not have faith in their success. Moreover, "optimists fare better in situations where persistence and not giving up, even in the face of extreme adversity, may take them farther than people who focus only on what will go wrong, blocking them from their goal" [2].

Optimists emerge from difficult circumstances with less distress than do pessimists. That is, optimists seem intent on facing problems head-on, taking active and constructive steps to solve their problems, while pessimists are more likely to abandon their effort to attain their goals [8]. "Evidence for the connection between motivation and optimism or pessimism was found in a new study by Abigail Hazlett and colleagues published in Social Cognition. In two initial studies, optimists were found to have a 'promotion focus.' In other words they preferred to think about how they could advance and grow. Pessimists, meanwhile, were more preoccupied with security and safety" [9].

Being optimistic doesn't mean being careless and taking profound risks. It means having the audacity of hope ( to take reasonable risks in the first place. Consider a scenario where a young person tried out for a sports team but didn't make the cut. A pessimist would think, "I'm such a failure! I'm no good and not trying out anymore." Meanwhile, an optimist would say "That's unfortunate, but it's just one try out. I can practice and try again, or try something else I might be better at."

Based on this mentality, optimism inspires greater results. "Optimists don't necessarily have more muscle mass or greater athletic ability than pessimists. But what they do have is hope. In a study co-authored by Martin Seligman, PhD, director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, a group of swimmers was instructed to swim their hardest then were told a false time - one that added several seconds. The optimists used this negative feedback to fuel an even faster time on their next swim; the pessimists performed more poorly than before" [10].

Based on these characteristics, it's no wonder that optimists get more call-backs for job interviews and promotions [10]. We can therefore assume that optimistic people are better off financially than their pessimistic peers. Indeed, it's no surprise that optimists have been measured to make more money [13].

Optimism and Happiness

Optimistic people have a positive outlook on the world, and thus experience a greater level of contentment. If you think that the world is inherently good, and that life will work out in your favor, you're more likely to rate [perceive] your own health and sense of well-being as being better. A recent meta-analysis of optimism supported past findings that optimism is positively correlated with life satisfaction. This has been verified by statistics from a study of more than 150,000 people living in 142 countries [10].

Optimistic people are in the habit of being thankful; they tend to feel more fulfilled. Since research shows that gratitude is consistently linked to happiness, it proves optimistic people are happier [11]. And remember - happier people are healthier. Optimism promotes laughter. It is also obviously associated with your daily mood. This is consistent with optimistic people being happier and healthier in mind/body overall.

Optimistic people are also more fun to be around. Being surrounded by people and beloved in your social circles promotes well-being and increases one's support system. Plus, optimism promotes communication and bonding. Studies show that optimists make better dates [10]. If and when things go awry with a friend, optimism encourages forgiveness and the possibility of moving on.

As you can see, optimism significantly improves our relationships with others. However it also improves one's relationship with the self. Optimism promotes constructive change and growth. This sometimes takes the form of heightened awareness and spirituality [12].


In Round One I have proven that optimism is highly beneficial.

In the upcoming rounds, I will detail the dangers of pessimism.

Con will have to prove that pessimism is more advantageous than optimism in order to win this debate.

To re-cap: optimism gives you a reason for living. It enables you to handle your emotions and put your feelings in check, which is a way to deal with disappointment or failure in a positive and constructive way. Optimism also promotes self-respect and self-esteem, thus increases one's propensity to act admirably and with integrity.

Optimism gives you confidence, and the ambition + hope to be proactive and productive. It inspires people to reach for their dreams and bring new adventures or success to one's self and others. This is not only good for the individual, but society as a whole. If scientists, engineers or explorers did not believe it was possible to succeed in their endeavors, we would not have some of the discoveries or insights that help us today. Furthermore, optimists take fewer sick days [10]. They are arguably better for the overall economy based not only on how much they produce, but by encouraging new ventures, discoveries and opportunities.

Optimism enhances your coping skills and ability to problem solve. It is inspiring and fosters ingenuity. It also makes you a more tolerant person. After all, if you are not likely to be rattled or thrown off by every little criticism or failure, you have more patience and less irritability. This makes you more pleasurable to be around and you will have larger and more supportive social circles.

Furthermore optimism increases your overall sense of satisfaction. This is directly associated with one's level of happiness. Happier people are healthier people. So in a practical way, optimism increases one's level of health, improves their immune system, boosts their recovery and promotes longevity.

Countless studies have been conducted on optimism, and the vast majority of them support the same conclusions: optimism is healthy! Optimists even have healthier babies. Are there downsides? There are a few. However there is a large, scientifically valid body of research that indicates that optimistic people are generally better off in life than pessimists. Thus it is better to be an optimist than a pessimist.

I look forward to my opponent's reply.




When I saw the speed at which Danielle crafted her response it seemed a bit hinky to me so I searched her history, and she’s simply copied and pasted a previous debate. I would call this bad conduct, and maybe even plagiarism. I want to go on the record as stating that I’m disappointed. I was expecting to have an original debate with her, and now feel cheated/duped into having a cookie cutter debate to which she has put no new thought into, and was so lazy as to not even change the wording from 10 months ago.

I will present my argument here and respond to her in round 3.

Pessimism gets a bad rap, but it’s no better or worse than optimism. Both have their place, and when it comes to what is most important in life, humans can’t afford to be optimistic. It’s human nature to take for granted what we have, but that doesn’t mean that the foundations that hold us where we are, aren’t more important than our current situation.

Aristotle said, “All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.” Don’t you think you would be happier if you didn’t have to work, and were free to be creative and engage with others? But even though this is something we all innately know, it’s not something we do? Why do we choose working over happiness? Why don’t we quit our jobs and choose the optimism of being free over the pessimism that you need money to live?

The reason we choose a job over happiness is because of a hierarchy of needs that we have. Take air for instance, it’s not something we think about, but it’s something that has the highest priority in our lives. We all prioritize these needs, and Abraham Maslow created a hierarchy of them with the most basic and most important ones at the bottom and the more complex and more frivolous ones at the top.

In this debate, I will prove that when it comes to the most important things in life expecting future outcomes to be negative is in your best interest.

1) It won’t all work itself out

2) You need a job if you like to eat

3) Buying lottery tickets and going to casinos isn’t a good investment strategy

4) They will do it again

5) Doormats are the pavement for other people’s happiness

1) It won’t all work itself out

Don’t have a place to stay like the tens of thousands of homeless in America? I’m sure that the 1,000+ people who die each year in America to Hypothermia where optimistic about their chances of living through the night, they would have been much better served to be pessimistic and found shelter.

For the 49 million Americans struggling to put food on the table, it’s a much better plan to go to a food bank than to be optimistic about finding food or expecting it to work itself out. Let the pessimism of starvation flow through you to overcome your humiliation as you eat that free food to maintain your strength. Without your strength, you won’t have enough energy to get out of the cold, and we’ve already been down that path haven’t we?

2) You need a job if you like to eat

I wrote a book that I was pessimistic about, so I didn’t quit my job. Had I been optimistic… well no sales for a year would have left me with no money, and no money would have left me with nothing to eat. There is a pattern here on how my arguments are going to build on top of each other. Shelter from the cold is most important, then comes food, then comes security, then comes the “good life”, and lastly comes relationships. It is all based on Maslow’s hierarchy of what is most important, and I won’t be arguing anything past level 3 in this debate.

To build on that, it’s not enough that you are optimistic because you have a job. You need to be pessimistic about how much your job pays or you’ll be like the third of the people in this country who are the working poor who have no security. They were optimistic that all they needed was a job, rather than being good little pessimists like they should have been.

3) Buying lottery tickets and going to casinos isn’t a good investment strategy

I think we can all agree the lottery is paid for by optimists. And it’s because of this optimistic nature that most lottery winners go broke. There are links in the article about how lottery winners aren’t happier, and healthier (but that’s level 4 on the chart so I won’t get into it), but the sentence that is the most telling is this one: “Studies found that instead of getting people out of financial trouble, winning the lottery got people into more trouble, since bankruptcy rates soared for lottery winners three to five years after winning."

If you think the lottery is bad, then you haven’t been to a casino. It’s the mecca for taking advantage of optimists. As this article puts it “They put opportunities in your path” "As [guests] walk back and forth past all the bells and lights and flashy accoutrements,"… "they're tempted to throw a coin in here and there, and many times stay and play for a while." The optimist sees these as opportunities to get rich, the pessimist sees them for the money sinks they really are. Be a pessimist with your money, and you’ll have finical safety.

4) They will do it again

It’s easy to be optimistic that you will change that person, and the only reason they cheated with you was because of how special you are. The cold hard pessimism of intimacy is that they are cheaters, and they are 3.5 times more likely to cheat on you again. As the pessimistic saying goes “once a cheater, always a cheater”.

How many times have you heard about an optimist who stays in an abusive relationship because they believe the person will change? Yet 44% are arrested for another domestic violence charge within two years. “The chances are high that an abuser will be abusive again”. Be pessimistic, and expect them to do it again… then leave because no one deserves to be in an abusive relationship.

5) Doormats are the pavement for other people’s happiness

Stories of friends taking credit and advantage of others are common, I would be surprised to hear someone who’s worked in corporate America and hasn’t experienced it. “Deceiving and manipulating us to get what they want, covert aggressors very actively try to control other people.”

Be the pessimist, and don’t let your “friends” work on possible future returns, instead expect them to pull their weight in the friendship right now. If “her coworkers constantly take advantage of her kindness and willingness to help.”, don’t be optimistic about them changing, be pessimistic or as Michael Josephson said “What you allow you encourage”. Being optimistic encourages others to treat you like a doormat because you are always giving for a return on your investment that the pessimist knows will never happen.


Maybe once you get past the basics it’s worthwhile to be optimistic, but as I’ve shown (if a bit cheeky) is that on the important issues like staying alive, eating, shelter, money, relationships, and partners being pessimistic is the best choice. Sure, you can be optimistic and believe that cottonmouth just wants to cuddle, but it’s better to expect a bad outcome and give the deadly snake a wide berth. It’s important to understand that as we look at Maslow’s chart we can see that most of the perceived benefits of optimism don’t come into play until the high end of the chart. (my arguments are all in levels 1 – 3) I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet an optimistic dead person.

Debate Round No. 2



The fact that I have debated this topic before, and copy and pasted my first round (though it has been edited) has no bearing on the integrity of this debate. People debate the same topic quite often, and typically utilize the same arguments from previous debates when they do. These arguments are my own. There is no standard that one must come up with entirely new arguments or wording each time they debate the same topic. Because this is common practice, and more importantly because Coveny will not be able to demonstrate that I have broken any rules - this irrelevant point must be dropped. Con should have a different rebuttal than my previous opponent, and therefore my next round will be entirely new. It is a non-issue.

* * *

To begin, Con argues that pessimism is no better or worse than optimism.

Note that when Con accepted the debate in Round One, he said he would be arguing that pessimism is better than optimism. Now he's saying that pessimism is "no better" than optimism, which means he has already conceded this debate.

* * *

Con begins by saying "humans cannot afford to be optimistic." He suggests that progressivism is not always optimal. However if progressivism is optimal and beneficial much of the time (and I argue it is) then optimism is useful, and I will prove it is more useful than pessimism. In the last round, I gave several examples of industries that have allowed humanity to flourish and thrive as a result of progressivism -- industries like medicine, engineering, exploring, etc. Con must prove that it is better for humanity to remain completely stagnant both in culture and technology. He won't be able to do so.

Indeed Coveny's position is to propose that the evolution of our culture and society has been problematic to the point of being (overall) negative. To prove this, he writes that it is not fun to have a job. Admittedly most people do not enjoy going to work. Yet most people would not enjoy foraging for food most of their life from sun rise to sun down while battling the elements either. That's what our lives would be like if we did not evolve as a species. Many people today enjoy luxuries such as air conditioning, internet, cars and have their basic medical needs taken care of. Things like polio are no longer fatal. We have improved the quality of our lives thanks to new science and technology; my opponent will not be able to deny that. Optimism and hope that we could achieve better is precisely what encouraged these advancements.

Science is not the only way that we have advanced as a society. Our culture has evolved over each generation as well. Just a few decades ago, in this progressive, western country (USA) an interracial couple could not get married. Having gay sex was considered a criminal act that was punishable by law. Women could not own property without their husband. Yet because people like Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that things could change, he and people like him worked to create a better and more fair, just and overall good world.

A pessimistic person could not have achieved this. A pessimistic person would be deterred at every turn. Not only would they quit at the first sign of distress, and not have the fortitude to persevere through adversity, but they likely wouldn't even try to change things for the better in the first place. Thus I have proven that evolution and progression is beneficial to society both in terms of tangible things (technology, etc.) and in terms of culture.

* * *

Con writes that he will prove "when it comes to the most important things in life, expecting future outcomes to be negative is in your best interest." Please note that the most important things in life are entirely subjective.

To begin his argument, Coveny points out that things don't always work themselves out. For instance, a homeless person is not likely to miraculously find a home, so it's better they be pessimistic and go to a homeless shelter. Yet one could challenge whether going to a homeless shelter is the pessimistic choice in this scenario. Why go to a shelter if you have no will to live; no will to improve your current situation? A pessimist might assume that they couldn't find a shelter, that the shelter wouldn't have room, or find another excuse to remain stagnant and in desperation, rather than have faith that they could do something to improve a situation.

Con notes in his second point that "you need a job if you like to eat." Yet really his point here is that optimism can lead to unrealism, which is also his third point when he talks about people who buy lottery tickets. He notes that gamblers are optimistic that they'll win. However their optimism here is not logical (based on probability). I agree that BLIND optimism can promote naiveté. Blind optimism is to be optimistic without any reason. There is a difference between optimism and wishful thinking. There is also a difference between blind optimism and determined optimism.

A blind optimist would notice a stray dog, and assume that someone would take care of it. A determined optimist would notice a stray dog, and assume that someone would take care of it because they would work to find it a new home. A pessimist would assume that nobody wants the dog (or that the dog would die anyway) and leave it to fend for itself.

In the last round, I wrote that being optimistic doesn't mean being careless and taking profound risks. It means having the audacity of hope to take reasonable risks in the first place. Thus Con's examples of failed business ventures have already been addressed.

Next, Con writes that optimism is bad because it encourages repeat bad behavior. In other words, people will keep making the same bad choices because they have faith that things will change. In his fifth point, Coveny notes that this allows others to take advantage of vulnerable (optimistic) people. Yet we must look at the examples he provided through the correct scope of this debate.

Con describes a scenario where someone stayed in an abusive relationship, or let people take advantage of them to show that optimism leads to people being doormats. Yet a pessimistic person is more likely to stay in bad situations according to science. Pessimism leads to frustration, anger, discouragement, feelings of helplessness, feeling of hopelessness, fear, anxiety and low self-esteem [1]. Low self-esteem is the reason that people stay in situations where they are being exploited or undervalued.

According to the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, "a gloomy viewpoint, an inclination to focus on the negative part and exaggerate its significance, low self-esteem as well as a pessimistic view on what the future holds are interlinked with neurophysiological processes in the right-hemisphere (RH). The RH mediation of a watchful and inhibitive mode weaves a sense of insecurity that generates and supports pessimistic thought patterns" [2]. Thus the characteristics that compel one toward harmful relationships are associated with pessimism, not optimism.

I explained in the last round why optimists have better, healthier relationships than pessimists. Optimists tend to draw stronger and more supportive social circles, per my aforementioned sources and explanation. In close relationships, optimism predicts enhanced satisfaction and better cooperative problem-solving [3]. The American Psychological Association notes that individuals who are the happiest overall, and who have a greater ability of highlighting the most positive attributes of their marriage or relationship are optimists [4].

Yet going back to the idea that an optimist would endure a bad relationship, we can look at it from the perspective than an optimist believes they deserve more. An optimist has the confidence and self-esteem to leave a bad situation for a better one. I've proven that pessimism is linked to low self-esteem, which is the primary reason one does not leave a bad relationship according to psychologists [5]. We have no reason to assume that a pessimist would be in better company than optimists. Con hasn't proven as much, and I provided evidence to the contrary.

* * *


In conclusion of this round, it's obvious that our survival and well-being require a balance between optimism and pessimism. Undue pessimism makes life miserable, and excessive optimism can lead to dangerously risky behaviors. We know that life demands moderation, and one state is more appropriate in a given scenario than another. However in this debate, we're having a philosophical discussion about which state is overall preferable - which state promotes the most good by itself.

I have proven that optimism is better at promoting happy and healthy relationships; that it's better at encouraging society to progress in various ways; and that the world is an overall better place when people have hope compared to despair.

* * *





I never claimed Pro broke any rules by serving me a re-heated debate. The point still stands that it’s poor conduct in my opinion.

I have not conceded this debate. I don’t deny now, nor have I ever denied that optimism has its benefits. My stance is that EVEN though they are equal, when it comes to the most important things pessimism is better. My stance is that when it comes to staying alive pessimism is better.

If Pro felt what I said was a concession then Pro concedes when she (plagiarizes?) this quote:

“Our survival and wellness require a balance between optimism and pessimism. Undue pessimism makes life miserable; however, excessive optimism can lead to dangerously risky behaviors.”

Versus her quote

“that our survival and well-being require a balance between optimism and pessimism. Undue pessimism makes life miserable, and excessive optimism can lead to dangerously risky behaviors.”

By her logic I should win the debate, because she concedes that optimism isn’t better, but we need a balance. That is how she view it when I said it.

Again, I’m arguing you cannot enjoy your optimism once you have used pessimism to keep you alive. So, pessimism may make you sad, but optimism makes you dead. Being alive is more important than being happy because, as I previously stated (and it has not been refuted) I have yet to meet an optimistic dead person.

Pro has a broken chain

I’m not going to refute Pro’s arguments point for point. All I need to do is prove that happiness, success, and health could be attributed to something other than optimism, and her argument falls apart. Pro states failed to prove that optimism causes these effects. If you did well would you be optimistic about your future? Of course, you would, and therefore success would cause your optimistic not the other way around. So I’ll address all of Pro’s claims from that point of view.

Money does buy you happiness

Happiness comes from getting your basic needs met and getting past the need for pessimism. The proof of this can be seen in the fact that money can buy you happiness.

Money buys you happiness because it satisfies basic needs, and you can afford to move past your pessimism. Let’s compare poor countries to rich countries. When we do, we see that as a country gets richer they are happier. This has nothing to do with optimism, and everything to do with Maslow’s chart.

“countries increase their GDP per capita, the more happiness levels rise... The richer people get, the more satisfied they are with their lives.”

Most people are optimistic. “80 percent of humans are delusionally optimistic” so if optimism was the cause of happiness then there would be no difference in happiness between the rich and the poor countries. This proves that the cause of happiness is not optimism but moving up Maslow’s chart past basic needs being met. Because it’s BETTER to be a pessimist when you are addressing basic needs the most important part of life. So pessimism is better if you must choose between optimism or pessimism.

Money makes you healthier

Money makes you healthier not optimism. “The more years your parents owned their own home, the less likely you were to develop a cold.” Meaning being rich causes you to be healthier not optimism. And this is true not because of rainbows and butterflies but a laundry list of things that makes rich people have higher physical/mental health.

“Better access to medical care.”

“Safer homes and neighborhoods.”

“eat healthier food.”

“Low-income people suffer more from stress.”

“ability to delay gratification.”

Success causes optimism, pessimism causes success

I’ve proven that success creates optimism. To drive the nail in the coffin I’m going to use a quote Pro seems to believe (without the need to prove because she can’t) “We can therefore assume that optimistic people are better off financially than their pessimistic peers”, and nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s look at optimism in the business world.

“Studies that compare the actual outcomes of capital investment projects, mergers and acquisitions, and market entries with managers’ original expectations for those ventures show a strong tendency toward overoptimism. An analysis of start-up ventures in a wide range of industries found, for example, that more than 80% failed to achieve their market-share target.”

“focus on their own company’s capabilities and plans and are thus prone to neglect the potential abilities and actions of rivals. Here, again, the result is an underestimation of the potential for negative events”

“Affirmation feels good, but it doesn't prompt you to summon the resources and strategies to actually accomplish the task.”

Pro wants to judge “sticking to it” as a positive trait, and that’s the reason optimists do so poorly in the business world. “If you're destined to fail, wouldn't it be better to get it over as soon as possible” the longer you draw out a loss the more time and money you waste on the business venture.

Optimism isn’t the reason for everything…

My opponent has tried several times to give optimism more power than it deserves to deflate pessimism. Statements about how we would advance because we don’t have hope, or we would just sit there and die rather than do something about it, are a trick, and nothing more. I could use this same trick to say that the only reason why people do anything is because they are scared of something bad happening if they don’t, or if we weren’t scared of dying we wouldn’t want to live. Motives are complex, and pro is attempting to boil that complexity down to the single emotion of optimism and that’s not how humans work. Pessimism isn’t depression, or anxiety, or sadness, or blah blah blah, any more than optimism is happiness, or care free, or joy. It is an expectation on what will happen. It’s little more than if a person feels lucky or not. So please don’t buy into Pro’s tricks to make optimism this great force for good in the world… it’s not. (or those poor countries wouldn’t be poor) The agreed upon definition of optimism for this debate is “people whether they expect future outcomes to be beneficial” and the definition of pessimism is “people whether they expect future outcomes to be negative”. That doesn’t equate to action for optimism any more than it equates to paralysis for pessimism.

Let me show you this trick in action on the pessimism side. I would say something like: Optimists don’t appreciate people because they feel like everyone is replaceable, and that replacement will be better than what they already have, and pessimists on the other hand are the only ones who appreciate what they have, because they don’t expect to get better, and don’t want to lose it. Then I post a quote and an article “supporting” this goofy claim that isn’t really pessimism but makes it look like pessimism is the reason for you appreciate:

“Seneca, for example, taught his students to remind themselves that their loved ones would one day die. The thoughts may be dark, but they can allow you to appreciate all that you have without taking it for granted.”

Again it’s about what you expect to happen in the future, nothing more. Pro’s has a wide range of claims that look exactly like this, and Pro claims they are optimism when they really aren’t.

I want to touch on the one Pro repeats a lot with this trick. Pessimism doesn’t mean you won’t go forward. Let’s take a scenario everyone should be familiar with, becoming a painter. Most people have heard that painting takes a long time to become good, and in this scenario the person believes (as they should) that they will fail at being a painter many times before becoming a master painter. Understanding that you will fail helps you to keep from getting jaded as the failures are expected. If you have tried to do anything in your life that was remotely hard there was a point where you had failed, and you expected to fail more before you achieved what you wanted to achieve. Rather than listening to Pro silken words think about that time. Did knowing that you would fail more make you depressed, or cause you to sit at home and starve to death because life wasn’t worth living? We’ve all walk away or given up on things as well, does these mean you can’t be optimistic? Of course, you can still be optimistic, and you didn’t lay down and die, so don’t fall for that rhetoric when your personal experience proves otherwise. (it’s a trick and nothing more) It is realistic pessimism that gives you the strength to get through those failures. This is one of my favorite quotes on the subject: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” – Stephen McCranie. Having realistic pessimistic expectations in no way prevents you from succeeding, and I’ve shown with business (and with your life) pessimism is important for success.


As I have shown most people are optimistic, and I think we all know that most people are not successful. For my opponent to attempt to have optimism as the cause for success makes no logical sense, and yet this the basis of Pro’s whole argument. For Pro to win you must accept that optimism is the cause of the traits, and Pro has not, and cannot do that. Pro agrees that pessimism is just as important as optimism, and has argued that when it comes to the top of Maslow’s chart optimism wins, I don’t contest this because I don’t disagree with it, nor do I need to. A person must walk before they run, and when it comes to the basics (as my opponent agrees) pessimism wins and optimism loses. Or to put another way once you understand you shouldn’t cuddle with a cottonmouth then you can enjoy cuddling with that boa.

Debate Round No. 3



I have negated Coveny's "poor conduct" argument by highlighting the fact that (a) I have not broken any rules -- which he admits, (b) this practice is standard, (c) it has not been deemed poor conduct or problematic by the community, and finally (d) the integrity of the debate is not threatened: the arguments are my own, and Con's original rebuttal to Round One means the rest of the debate is entirely new.

This argument will be dropped by the audience.

Con also suggests I plagiarized a single line from a source that I highlighted as one I used in the last round. I think the audience can tell he is looking for a conduct point that is not warranted.

* * *

Coveny accepted this debate stating that he would argue pessimism was BETTER than optimism, which he said in Round One. That is his burden in this debate. We are not arguing that optimism and pessimism are equal. We are each trying to make a case for why one is independently preferable to the other by its own sake, even though we acknowledge that both perspectives have utility.

* * *

Coveny retracted his promise to prove that pessimism was better. He claims that he intends to argue pessimism is better for survival, even though he acknowledges optimism as "equally" useful. Note this distinction was never clarified in the opening round, it was never clarified in the acceptance round, and it was not made clear in Con's opening argument that survival was the premise for his viewpoint.

It seems Con accepts that optimism helps societies to flourish and thrive, so he's implying that we couldn't live at all without pessimism. He writes "optimism makes you dead" and notes that he has never met an optimistic dead person. But is it true that optimism leads to death?

I've spent two rounds highlighting how optimism improves one's physical, mental and emotional heath. I also pointed out that optimists thwart disease, and have been measured to live longer than pessimists. Con has not challenged a single one of these claims. Therefore optimism promotes survival and life longevity better than pessimism, so Con defeats his own argument here.

* * *

Coveny writes, "All I need to do is prove that happiness, success, and health could be attributed to something other than optimism, and her argument falls apart."

That is painfully wrong.

Indeed we can see how poor this logic is by using this standard and applying it to his very own argument. If I can prove that survival can be attributed to anything other than pessimism, his argument would allegedly fall apart. So allow me to do that now.

I've already explained that optimism promotes survival. But we also know that survival is sustained by food, water and shelter [1]. An optimistic or neutral person with these things could still survive, thereby Con's argument would be entirely negated if we utilize his standard.

* * *

In his "Broken Chain" argument, Con suggests that I did not prove how optimism leads to better health and happiness. That is patently false. Forcing me to copy and paste what was already written is arguably an abusive waste of my character space. Not only did I provide a sufficient explanation, but I linked to multiple scholarly sources with medical, empirically backed data.* The audience can see the arguments plainly underneath each underlined heading (Round Two).

* * *

Con states that optimists are only optimistic because they've already been successful, which he did not prove at all. People who fail and who have miserable lots in life can still choose to be optimistic. I gave examples of this in previous rounds, i.e. people who did not make a sports team but decide to try out again, or people who are sick and having their optimism promote better health outcomes. I also pointed out that people who change the world (Martin Luther King Jr.) often face oppression, adversity and set backs, but their optimism allows them to persevere through. Thus Con's point that you need success to be optimistic is not at all true.

* * *

Next Con argues that money can buy you health and happiness. He says that I have not explained why it's true we should assume optimistic people are more successful. Ironically, he highlights my sentence where I point out that I have "therefore" explained this assumption is true. I reached the "therefore" point after noting optimism is required in order to take on a new business venture. Con knows this; he is optimistic that his future website will be a success, despite the pessimism of others. If he were a pessimistic person, he would not be pursuing this opportunity in the first place.

I also pointed out that pessimists are deterred more easily; optimists deal better with set backs. In an optimist's mind, hurdles "are simply problems that need to be solved. Therefore, instead of complaining or blaming, they go to work trying to figure out why things happened" and work to fix it [2]. The Huffington Post notes that optimism helps people succeed in business because they are more resilient and positive [3]. Inc business magazine notes that companies run by optimists are healthier; they do not dwell on problems, but work toward opportunities [4].

Peer reviewed research after an in depth study at the University of Pennsylvania posits, "Our data support the claim that positive leadership is correlated with employee engagement and performance, and further extends the importance of optimism in the workplace" [5]. They also found that optimists are more successful than equally talented pessimists in business, education, sports and politics [6].

Moreover, according to Harvard Business Review, optimists are better at finding new jobs [7]. Job seekers who think positively will interview more effectively, receive higher salaries, and enjoy more career options [8].

Based on these and my aforementioned findings, I have thoroughly explained why optimistic people are more financially secure with better job prospects. Therefore, Con cannot say I haven't explained this point sufficiently.

* * *

I would like to repeat that life requires a balance between optimism and pessimism, which my opponent and I both admit. A new study by organizational psychology researchers finds "that for the best (and happiest) results, you want to embrace a hybrid approach and be a 'realistic optimist,' someone who maintains a positive outlook, but also pays close attention to potential downsides" [9]. The reason you shouldn't be a realistic pessimist, however, is because that would promote stagnation.

My opponent has ignored all of my points about stagnation from the last round. He failed to explain one iota how pessimism leads to progression of any kind. You can be a realist and make wise decisions, but seeing things in an optimal way is what helps you create a better situation.

* * *

Instead of dealing with this incredibly significant argument, Con focuses on the "trickery" of my words. He wants to reiterate that this debate "is about what you expect to happen in the future, nothing more." Of course this completely dismantles his point about survival, and the ridiculous notion that only pessimists could survive. If we are simply debating the merit of believing there will be good or bad in the future, then Con MUST address my point about progression (medicinal, technological, cultural, etc.) and yet he hasn't and it's too late for him to do so.

Remember: I pointed out that people who fought for civil rights et. all would not have been motivated to do so if they did not believe beneficial change was possible for the future. That same logic applies to scientists and doctors looking to cure disease and find other advancements. Again Con has failed to explain how a pessimistic attitude would make any of these things possible, and this is one of my strongest arguments in the debate which Coveny has dropped.

* * *

Shockingly, Con provides a closing argument that proves my case.

In describing a scenario in which a painter perseveres through adversity, he writes, "Understanding that you will fail helps you to keep from getting jaded." In other words, Con advocates that one should have a positive outlook and recognize they will eventually overcome their deficits. That is an OPTIMISTIC perspective!

In fact, I used a similar example previously when I noted an optimistic person is one who did not make the cut of a sports team, yet decided to practice and try out again. That is no different than a painter who is optimistic they will improve and doesn't give up. I have spent a good deal of time articulating examples of how optimism compels one to move forward rather than remain stagnant. It is incredible that Con would use an optimistic attitude in defense of pessimism.

* * *


In this debate, I have explained why optimistic people are happier, healthier, more driven, more likely to overcome obstacles, more likely to create progression in society, and live overall better lives than pessimists. Businesses, the economy and individuals are more successful overall when there is optimism.

I've also explained that optimism doesn't necessarily mean naiveté. I acknowledged the utility of pessimism and realism, and noted that balance is required along with the need for determined optimism. However I argued that optimism is independently stronger than pessimism. Con conceded that pessimism is NOT better than optimism (he says they're equal, undermining his own position in this debate).

Assuming one looked at the facts objectively, having an optimistic outlook would promote better results if the data indicated all else being equal. In other words, if there was a 50/50 chance at something failing or succeeding, the mindset that something or someone would be successful is the only thing that can create beneficial change.



I’m going to address the equality of optimism to pessimism first as this is a double standard which Pro continues to perpetrate. Let’s start with my opening statement which Pro has repeatedly taken out of context “Pessimism gets a bad rap, but it’s no better or worse than optimism. Both have their place, and when it comes to what is most important in life, humans can’t afford to be optimistic.” Pro stops at the first sentence and wants you to pretend the second one doesn’t exist. My argument has always been that when it comes to what is most important in life pessimism is better. Pro sees the statement of “no better or worse” as conceding, but I qualified that statement unlike Pro. If anyone has conceded the match Pro has with same statements of “a balance between optimism and pessimism” and “I acknowledged the utility of pessimism and realism, and noted that balance is required along with the need for determined optimism.”. Pro and I agree they are equal and balance is required. My argument is a sub-set of that: which is more important if you can only choose one. This debate is optimism versus pessimism and while I agree a healthy happy person needs both for life and death situations, pessimism is the better choice.

I have shown that expecting a negative is better than expecting a positive outcome in my points 1-5

1) It won’t all work itself out
1a) Shelter – Better to expect it won’t be created for you
1b) Food - Better to expect that it won’t be given to you

2) You need a job if you like to eat

2a) Job – Better to expect you won’t just find job
2b) Pay – Better to expect you will need a good paying job

3) Buying lottery tickets and going to casinos isn’t a good investment strategy

3a) Lottery – Better to expect you will not win the lottery
3b) Casino – Better to expect you are not going to win

4) They will do it again

4a) Cheater – Better to expect they will cheat again
4b) Abusers – Better to expect they will abuse again

5) Doormats are the pavement for other people’s happiness

5a) Coworkers – Better to expect they will continue to take advantage of you
5b) Friends – Better to expect they will not return all your time and energy at some future date

Basic needs are the foundation of all other needs
Pro can try to contend that basic needs aren’t the most important aspect but we all know innately that when you are starving/freezing to death you don’t care how many friends you have. When you can’t afford to feed and house your children you don’t care if you’re the life of the party. When you finally get a little bit of money we know that blowing it on long shot expectations is a bad move. We ALL have seen and likely dealt with individuals who take and never give, and we know that they will never change. For the first three levels of Maslow’s chart expecting the negative is not only important it’s a matter of survival. I agree once you get past that point optimism is more important, that has never been my argument. My argument has always been pessimism is better when it comes to what is “most important in life”.

For basic needs, pessimism is best

We live in a great country and many of us don’t spend time thinking about the basics of life nearly as much as we should but when we do (as I have proven) pessimism is the best choice. Adults have all seen enough of life to know that expecting things to magically get better doesn’t work. To get anything done we must expect the negative, work toward fixing it, and “expect” that it won’t happen unless we do it. This is pessimism that is driving you, you are not expecting positive results so you must create those results. As I mentioned in round 3 “Affirmation feels good, but it doesn't prompt you to summon the resources and strategies to actually accomplish the task.” This is a key point to Pro’s trickery. An attempt to take everything good and attribute it to optimism but that’s simply not how it works.

Expectation is not the same thing as hope

Maybe Pro truly believes that expecting success at the end of expecting failure is optimism and that pessimism somehow doesn’t exist in that scenario. But take a step back and think about your expectations because this debate is all about expectations. As a painter who’s made a few paintings and failed miserably, expect that you will fail more to get better, you don’t “know” that you will ever be a great painter, but you may have hope that you will, but that is NOT an expectation. This is the flaw where Pro tries to attribute everything to optimism as I have shown before. Being hopeful that something will happen isn’t optimism.

Example - Expectation is pessimism even if you have hope

As this seems to need another example. You have a wad of paper and you are 30 feet from the waste basket. From experience, you expect to miss this shot, this means you are pessimistic about the outcome of throwing that wad of paper and it’s completely natural. It doesn’t make you want to curl up in a ball and die or slit your wrist because you’ve lost the will to live. You can be hopeful that you make the shot but do you expect the shot to land? This is the key part of Pro’s trickery. You aren’t expecting (optimistic) to make the shot, it’s too far, you missed the shot before, and you expect (pessimism) to miss the shot again but that doesn’t stop you from trying the shot, does it? Don’t buy in to Pro’s attempt to attribute everything good to optimism.

Rebuttal – Cause and effect

Saying that optimism causes happiness is not the same thing as saying it’s better to expect the worst even if you hope for the best. I’m not claiming (as Pro is) that pessimism causes you to achieve your basic needs, I don’t believe pessimism (or optimism) have that much power. I’m claiming that to achieve your basic needs it is better to expect a negative outcome than a positive one. It’s better to expect that my point 1 and 2 are true and that it won’t work itself out, that you need to get a good job to cover your needs. There is no contradiction when I say that if I can prove other things cause happiness Pro’s points are broken because Pro’s argument (unlike mine) is about cause and effect. My argument is that being pessimistic gives you a better chance at success, not that it causes success.

Pro is delusional

I think Pro’s whole argument comes down to her delusional associations to optimism. This is best shown that Pro believes that I’m an optimist when it comes to stating “optimism is required in order to take on a new business venture.” Con knows this; he is optimistic that his future website will be a success, despite the pessimism of others. If he were a pessimistic person, he would not be pursuing this opportunity in the first place.” I have freely stated to pro in the forums that creating is a bad business venture for me, and I expect failure for several years with it. I have set it up in such a way to cover zero income for 3 years because not only do I not expect it to be successful, but I expect it to cost me money.

Pro still views me as optimistic, because I am starting a business? Obviously if I don’t EXPECT to be success for years, I’m not optimistic. My expectation is that it won’t be successful, even going so far as to say, “well see” as to what will happen in at the end of those three years when the money runs out. I’ve never owned a website, I don’t code, and I have weak deescalating skills. Based on all of these facts I would be a fool to expect to be successful at this. The reason I’m doing it is my passion for debating. I want somewhere to debate 1v1 like this, that is online all the time, isn’t buggy, isn’t slow, and people actually vote on debates. I’m not optimistic about the results. So much so, that after searching for another viable option and failing to find one, I am sinking 10k into this venture. This is not out of any form of optimism but out of sheer desperation.

Sidebar - Con’s views on life

As Pro brought up my views on life I’m going to make an exception in etiquette and add information in my last round. My belief is that when it comes to the things like your financial future or where you're going to get your next meal, you had best be pessimistic. Don’t expect some rosy outcome or some white knight to come and save you, expect that no one is going to help you out. If you want safety, security, and freedom you WILL have to fight to get it. The system is rigged against you and you had better factor that in if you ever hope to achieve success. As the saying goes “plan for the worst but… hope for the best.”


Pro wants to talk about how success equals optimism and how if you are successful or expect to be successful you must be optimistic. I contend that’s trickery on Pro’s part to make optimism more than it is. So, I’m going to leave you with this thought. If Pro’s stance is logically correct then according to her logic this situation should be true because they were successful:

Someone who is successful at committing suicide is an optimist.

Debate Round No. 4
91 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Wylted 3 months ago
Yeah, schizotypy covers a lot more than schizophrenia.
Posted by Coveny 3 months ago
That you are certain that you haven't fallen for Dunning Kruger effect should be proof alone that you have (100% certainty in your abilities perfection is an overestimation), but while the article you linked is very interesting, it is flawed.

"how individuals with self-reported schizotypy, typically recruited from undergraduate college populations, endorse levels of pathology similar to older chronic outpatients with schizophrenia in key variables yet fail to show evidence of this pathology during objective assessment."

So this research is specific to 100 "self-reporting" schizotypy 19 year olds who fail to show evidence objectively or the concomitant objective dysfunctions. In layman's words people who say they are schizophrenic, don't test out as schizophrenic, and don't have the normal dysfunctions of schizophrenia. That's a both as small and narrow field research. (amount of subjects, age bracket, self-reporting, failed testing, no dysfunctions, etc)

It is an interesting article even if it doesn't apply to you.
Posted by Wylted 3 months ago
I"ve never once fell victim to the Dunning Kruger effect. It doesn"t happen to my kind
Posted by Coveny 3 months ago
You don"t balance a scale by putting equal amounts [of weight] on both sides idiot.
You do it [balance a scale] by putting equal amount of weight [on both sides]

Ya man completely different sentences, balance and equal are completely different words, and it's me who's the idiot. (I feel like I'm talking to someone in kindergarten here) Can you say Dunning"Kruger effect? Keep talking man, you look dumber and dumber with every word you type, and it's hilarious to me. ROFL
Posted by Wylted 3 months ago
You don"t balance a scale by putting equal amounts on both sides idiot. You do it by putting equal amount of weight. You are the only person stupid enough to think balancing things requires all things balanced to be equal in every way.
Posted by Coveny 3 months ago
The guy who couldn't keep track of 5 needs, and can't understand that you balance scales by putting equal amounts on each side... wants to talk about me eating crayons? ROFL You look like a fool when you say that I was blaming freezing/starving children lost in the woods for their OPTIMISM. Their optimistic? I mean how stupid are you? Go talk to some children they have more real world knowledge than you and could give you some valuable pointers. (wow you are dumb as a rock)
Posted by Wylted 3 months ago
Then you should either stop pretending to have a retard level IQ, or if you are honestly as stupid as you made yourself look in this debate, maybe stop trying to engage in intellectual pursuits and do something more fitting, like eating crayons and wearing helmets.
Posted by Coveny 3 months ago
As previously stated you aren't my "lead" moderator, and I will treat you the way that you treat me. You want to talk smack, we'll talk smack, you want to be civil, we'll be civil, that's all up to you.
Posted by Wylted 3 months ago
That"s no way to treat your lead moderator.
Posted by Coveny 4 months ago
Threats of hurting your feelings? (what a wimp) Talk about able to dishing it out but can't take it. Are you so sensitive that you need to mods to protect you from my mean words???? You poor thing.

You attack me, and then report me when I tell you I'll attack you back if you don't stop...while continuing to attack me. Don't talk sh1t to me if you need a protector sunshine, because you obviously can't handle me. And the mod's aren't going to do anything to me for calling you names back. (wow you are like a 3rd grader)
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