"Steven Pinker Continues to See the Glass Half Full." That is the headline on a book review published in The New York Times on March 2, 2018.
Pinker's book is getting a good deal of attention. Its title is Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.
The Times also reviewed It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear, by Gregg Easterbrook.
In general, the The New York Times was kind to Pinker, and not so kind to Easterbrook, who is identified as an "unreliable witness."
I am all for optimism. In fact, as I was growing up, an optimistic approach to life was more or less a paternal commandment. That said, and with all deference to Pinker and Easterbrook, we do live on Planet Earth, with limited resources, and we are pushing the limits. Elon Musk wants to send us to Mars, but Mars (I think) is not an option.
Being optimistic that we can meet and surmount the challenges that confront us (virtually all of them being of own making) doesn't mean we should ignore just how daunting those challenges really are. That's my view.
And as for being optimistic, I suggest that we can all do worse than taking our cue from Mother Maybelle and the Carter sisters:
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