False hope has been a major, if not the biggest, cause of human suffering throughout human history. Belief in the success of endeavours that have a zero, or close to zero, chance of succeeding can consume a lot of resources and time which could be used in a much more productive and fruitful manner.
But what exactly is false hope? and how does it differ from thinking big, day dreaming, optimism, grit and tenacity?
Some of you might see the difference between them as a matter of degree rather than absolutes, but is it so? Let me explain with some ‘non-false hope’ examples-
1a. Consider the wish to start and own a successful restaurant, bar, food truck or a similar small business. While the initial failure rate for such endeavours can be quite high- success is possible and easily observable as almost every one of us knows somebody who has been able to run a successful small business. Moreover failure in the first or second attempt does not preclude ultimate success.
2a. Many people want to age well as they get older. Once again.. a combination of lifestyle, exercise, diet, supplements, medications can greatly increase your chances of aging well. While you cannot completely insulate yourself from genetic disease, chance and sheer bad luck- it is certainly possible to reduce age-related deterioration of the body.
3a. It is possible to increase your success with women by not being a supplicating, timid pushover with oneitis. While you may not meet your ‘soul mate’, it will certainly get you more (and likely better) ass than you can get as a conscientiousness nice guy.
Now that we have covered a few examples of non-false hope, let us turn to some that illustrate false hope.
1b. The chances of becoming really rich, super-rich, famous or powerful are practically non-existent for most people unless you get really lucky or were born into it. I am not implying that it is impossible, just very unlikely and not worth wasting much sleep, let alone serious effort, over. It also does not help that no amount of money or power can make you immortal or omnipotent. Your very slim chances of becoming the next famous sport star, actor, performer or business mogul are not worth the almost certain loss of your youth, time and health.
2b. The chances that you will survive most metastatic cancers is slim to none. While a few less common cancers (most testicular cancers, many lymphomas, most childhood leukemias etc) are survivable even after significant metastasis, the common ones (most types of breast, colon, lung)are simply not worth treating with the intention to cure or slow down once they cross certain levels of metastasis. Indeed, treating such widely disseminated cancers aggressively causes far more suffering and loss of life quality than symptomatic treatment and palliative therapy.
3b. While the chances of having a pleasant and relatively stable domestic life have never been particularly high at any time in human history, trying to do so today is a fools endeavour. Between the high risk of divorce, child support, betrayal, economic ruin on one side and a relatively sexless marriage with lots of passive-aggressive bullshit from aging cunts on the other- it is hard to recommend long-term relationships with women.
The difference between non-false hope and false hope is therefore best understood as the chance and usefulness of success in any given endeavour divided by the risk of failure and the magnitude of the loss or sunken costs.
The first three examples in this post had moderately respectable rates of useful success with moderate risks from failure. The second three examples had very low rates of useful success with high risks and costs from failure.
What do you think? Comments?