A Better World Through Pessimism

Optimism is overrated. Optimists always preach to pessimists,  “Stop being Dave and Debbie Downers. Just be happy. Life is too short to be downcast. You’ll never get anything done if you always dwell on the negative.”

Well, oh ho, let’s look at all the great life enhancing inventions pessimists have gifted the world.

1)) The first one is the parachute. Sure, optimists brought us the magnificient airplane. That gets shot down in war. Parachutes, concieved by pessimists, enable pilots to survive a crashing plane.

2) Fire extinguishers, neglected by optimists who built opera houses and movie theaters, help patrons to escape a fire.

3) Seat belts help drivers and riders to live through car crashes, sometimes unharmed. It took a look time for pessimists to win the battle on that one.

4) Air bags for cars. You had to be pessimistic about fatal automobile crashes to come up with that idea.

5) Backing up files on computer, on memory sticks, and the cloud. You had to be pretty darn negative here to think up that.

6) Hiring CPAs, tax attorneys, and the lot to do your taxes.  Depressed about doing your taxes correctly and avoiding an audit, weren’t you?

7) Insurance. Preventing you from being financially devestated by a unlikely distaster. Imagine, an entire thriving industry built on pessimism.

8) Our armed forces. We are indeed pessimistic that something horrible will happen to our nation and the world without a military to protect us.

9) Our police force. Our negativity constantly anticipates loss of property from thieves and murderers.

10) Antiseptics and ether. Would you chance surgery without them?

11) Locks on your house. The chance of your house being burgled is clearly less than 100%, yet we all get them and feel more secure as a result.

12) Alarm clocks. We don’t think we can get up in time without them.

13) Firemen. We can be pretty optimistic than we’ll never need a fire station. Yet thanks to pessimists they get built over and over. Homes and lives get saved.

14) Multiple engines on early airlines. Customers were so pessimistic about engine failure, that airlines were forced to add engines to the planes. Airline travel has flourished ever since. Can you imagine our world with air travel?

15) The eraser. Enough said.

There are many, many other life-enhancing inventions spurred on by pessimists. Please feel with ones that come to your mind. Thank you,

Anyway, three cheers for pessimists. I feel more optimistic knowing they’re around.


Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on


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