Perhaps it would also be slightly illuminating if I explain my primary viewpoint.
I am a very, very deep skeptic. From what I've seen and experienced in the real world, evil (which covers, among other things, those who intentionally cause loss for others in order to achieve gain for themselves) almost always wins. People who are unfailingly selfless inevitably get taken advantage of and tossed aside by those who are unfailingly selfish.
And in fact, in a way, physics itself supports this viewpoint. Entropy is a hard law of nature: the universe naturally gravitates towards disorder, it takes energy to fight it, and the use of that energy ends up merely adding to the disorder in the end.
So when something amazingly good happens, I naturally start looking for the offsetting cost. There has to be one, right? If someone I don't know were to give me something of great value, I'd immediately start to look for the catch, something to indicate that the person in question is attempting to gain something of even greater value, and somehow at my expense. If I were to "win the lottery", I'd start looking for the catch and for how the game was rigged so that I somehow "magically" won it in order to somehow be taken advantage of.
I'm an "optimist" because, when I make a prediction, things usually turn out even worse than I predict.
So when we have people who really know what they're talking about claiming we're going to win big, I start looking for how we're also going to lose, because in my experience with and observation of the real world, such things never happen in such a way that good, selfless people can actually benefit from it in the end. I start looking for the cost that exceeds the value of the gain. It has to be there somewhere, right?
Maybe I'll somehow be wrong about that this time, somehow. But I can't help but look really hard for the downside, because I've never, ever failed to find it before.
Last edited by kcbrown; 07-22-2010 at 4:24 AM..