Saturday, July 26, 2008

ONE HAPPY RAT and ONE DEPRESSED RAT

A straightened-out paper clip and a tiny screwdriver were all it took to get my laptop's CD drive unstuck and working again when I took it to the repair shop the other day. I was shocked. I figured I’d be without a computer for a week!

I must confess: Lurking in my soul, in spite of a generally sunny, upbeat exterior, is a pessimist. Yes, I guess I admit to the half-empty glass.

Which reminds me now of a very funny article that appeared a number of years ago in the New York Daily News. Written by Sherryl Connelly, it told of a scientific test conducted on two rats. Both of these rats were doomed at the start. But one had been pampered and rewarded at every turn, thus becoming a happy-go-lucky, optimistic varmint. The other was met with an electric shock at every turn and as one would expect, he exhibited signs of depression

Both rats were tossed into a deep vat of water. The depressed rat made a few perfunctory tries at getting out and then simply gave up the ghost and sank to the bottom. The happy rat swam and swam and swam, sure that he would somewhere find his reward, but he too ended up at the bottom of the vat. The scientists said it was a lesson to us all: the depressed rat gave up too soon, and the optimistic rat tried to prevail against overwhelming odds. Somehow the scientists interpreted this as giving points to the optimistic rat, but the test observers disagreed, saying both were dead just the same and the depressed rat’s reality was far more accurate that of the optimistic rats's.

When the tests were moved from rats to people, the surprise was that the non-depressed people were the ones who consistently made perception errors. According to the results, depressed people were more objectively correct in their sense of controlling the outcome of the test than the non-depressed people. The scientists were loathe to admit that these finding flew in the face of their best rat theories, but they had to admit that the pessimists' perception of reality may be closer to actuality than that of all those "up" people.

Now, this was a serious scientific study but a tongue-in-cheek article, and I laughed all the way through it. As a closet pessimist, I felt vindicated, somewhat like the lady whose tombstone read, "I told you I was sick!"

Anyway, I looked for the worst in my computer situation and expected the worst. So the paper clip and the tiny screwdriver sure made my day! I guess that is one way to insure serendipities!

1 comment:

Bobby Gail said...
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