What’s More Taboo Than Optimism?

Things are better than they seem. Honest.

The idea that America’s best days are behind it is no longer just a rhetorical device: It’s conventional wisdom…But is it true? America is characterologically, almost definitionally, optimistic. The country, after all, was founded on the idea that anyone could come here and make a better life for himself. And for 234 years and counting, millions of people have done just that.

We All May Have Actual Souls

A Complete Guide to the Soul

There is an aspect to the question of what the soul is which is startling and strange, but so widespread that it cannot be avoided. It is connected to the popular idea that we all have a guardian angel. According to a US poll in the 1990s, sixty-nine per cent of Americans believe in angels. Forty-six per cent have their own guardian angels and thirty-two per cent have felt an angelic presence.

The Selfish Benefits of Pronoia

Want to Ward Off the Evil Eye? Just Be Nice

The more the volunteers anticipated being envied in a threatening way, the more helpful they were. Interestingly, they were actually less helpful than controls if they anticipated benign envy, suggesting that their preemptive altruism was motivated by fear rather than sympathy for the less fortunate. The experimenters ran another version of this experiment in which some participants clearly deserved their good fortune and others clearly did not, and as expected, those who were undeserving helped more to compensate for their unearned windfall.