It only just occurred to me that C3P0 is basically a tin version of Jock from the TV show Dad’s Army. And there’s also Eeyore and Chicken Little and the whole “Sky is Falling” thing.
So, I don’t know the whole psychology of learned pessimism and catastrophising, but here are some guesses.
- It’s prophylactic- if the worst happens you are (slightly) prepared, and if it doesn’t then you are pleasantly surprised, having managed to lower your expectations.
- It’s pleasurable- as in “disasturbation“.
- Also, invoking “game theory”* you don’t lose credibility. To predict the “worst” makes you look tough-minded, where optimism is regarded as woolly idealism and naivete.
- It ties in with the whole Conspiracy-Apocalypse-Paranoia Complex that I wrote about yonks ago and should dig off the hard drive and post somewhere.
This is all true, but dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system is hegemonic, in the sense of it being something that changes the rules of the game. And were are too cognitively limited, as a species and often as individuals, to spot that. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted, I guess. If you were tolerably rich.
[* I've done no such thing of course, just used the term (too) loosely to give a patina of profundity. But once I get my head around GT properly, I'll blog on it. A lot of it is tosh, and I recently read some rather good chapters in Philip Ball's “Critical Mass” on the subject. But I digress...]