Well that settles it then, doesn't it?
It's up there with "Porn viewers are more likely to be respectful of women" on the science sub-reddit, I didn't even bother to read the article because come. on.
Here the "broad conclusion drawn" is that depressed people see the world more realistically -- which if true could have sweeping implications in many areas of life (e.g. they would make better stock pickers, they should be put in command of armies).
The single specific experiment is a 1979 study on correlation between a light bulb and a button. Has this study been replicated? Is the result robust to trivial variations, like predicting a biased random walk, or a continuous correlation (like how hard someone hits a pad versus how many lights light up)? Where's the literature review article for the broad conclusion? (Oh right, this is Vice!)
Now that the nitpick is out of the way, suppose the conclusion is true. A thought experiment would be would a person who estimates light-button correlation accurately be the best at a particular job?
If you wanted to get the best statistical estimate of a correlation, then the more realistic estimator is best for the job. But imagine a situation where you press a button and a green light would light up 10% more often if you press the button versus not. If your goal instead is to get the maximum amount of green light, you'd actually want the person to be pressing the button as often as possible. You'd actually want the person who overestimates his own effectiveness because he'll put in more effort and yield better results!
Generally speaking, it's possible that someone who moderately overestimates her own effectiveness in the world will be better at getting things done in the world, versus the realistic estimate.
Partially related, but I'm reminded of Elon's quote:
> I’d Rather Be Optimistic and Wrong Than Pessimistic and Right
It seems that you are bringing up the main issue with modern scientific production. Research studies that do not have sweeping/popular/weird conclusions do not get press and the ones that do get coverage. That creates a perverse incentive for researchers to either do research in "popular" topics and to have new insights/conclusions even when these are not really supported by the results.
It is not an accident that you are reading about this specific study in vice rather than the 100s of other incrementalist studies about depression that got published over the past year.
Agnostics also have to assume that a human brain is capable of weighing evidence in a reasonable way.
If you adopt a perspective of totalising scepticism then, of course, you will shrink into a solipsistic disbelief of everything. But the fact there is no Archimedean foundation of knowledge doesn't mean we ought to treat all truth claims equal. There are logical and mathematical truths that are a condition of the world being intelligible to us, and that structure the internal working of nature insofar as we can understand it. We can have justified beliefs about many things, but we cannot have a justified belief in God, which requires dogmatic faith.
Also, there are glaring internal contradictions in the major world religions. If God is good and omnipotent, then why is there pain and suffering? How can God be one and three things at the same time, as the doctrine of the Trinity tells us?
Be careful if you truly want to find the answers to those questions, it is a dangerous road.
Think of Jesus as just a literary character in an epic myth. I could care less if you don’t believe in the things as facts. Most christians I know believe in a factual Jesus without believing in the mythical Jesus.
What actually makes this mythical character from classical literature so appealing? Don’t read the book as a bunch of facts, think about what it means. It is less relevant to me that the creation of Adam was a literal creation from dust, and not some step in the evolution of biological life, it is what that mythical character means, what he represents to our psyche that is of first importance.
This really isn't the place for this discussion, but I can see evidence that at least suggests something that looks like logic or rational thought exists. The ability of people to seem to be able to do simple arithmetic is evidence for both. I don't need faith in it, I'm aware the world could exist with both things being an illusion.
The existence of God is something that it's nearly impossible to even imagine what external evidence for it would truly be. It relies solely on internal faith.
That said, I don't like the wholesale write off of faith as "delusions to make you happy." Just because I can't understand it doesn't necessarily make it rubbish.
If you’re homeless, and treated like crap left and right, by yourself and others, lacking in the dignity every human deserves, the idea that a god (a king) would care about the lowest of low, and even be on your side is something powerful.
The ability to not crumble under suffering from oppressive evil men, and instead have it be your glory, is not easy with no idea of a good god. That is why the story of blacks in America is glorious. They endured through hell, again and again (even after slavery), and now have the potential to be a powerful people if they can cast off that which binds them. The pessimist says they’re victims, the optimists says they are and can be victors.
A depressed person’s view is completely warped from reality. One of the key parts of cognitive behavioral therapy is slowly training yourself out of horribly inaccurate views about yourself and the world.
I get depressed (I take SSRIs, too) because we live in 2021 and I see people taking advantage of each other on a daily basis, killing each other over things that don't matter. I have a front row seat to watching some of the world's greatest minds argue over semantics. That's the real world. That's realistic.
Whether you take that to nihilism is something else. I know the pit of despair depression you are talking about but it is a spectrum.
The flipside is my struggle with weight.
I (ill-advisedly and not entirely purposefully) was off of my SSRIs for about a week while I was already mildly depressed about my weight gain.
I was much more depressed about it in that week, and I definitely feel like this was because I was forced to deal with the reality of the situation, whereas on my SSRIs I was more easily able to push it out of my mind. There are times when your depression is driven by tough reality (for me, that diet, exercise and un-ending hard work are needed for weight loss), and the only way to become happy in spite of this is either commit to the work or choose to ignore it.
When it comes to your weight, it's not about pushing the thought of your weight gain out of your head. It's about combating the lies that you are telling yourself about your weight gain: that it means you are lazy, unlovable, disgusting, etc. The way you be happy in spite of your weight gain is not to either commit to the work or choose to ignore it (although for peoples health it's definitely good to commit to the work) but is rather to not view your weight gain as a statement of your self. You are not your problems, you are not your weight.
Since the experiment was set up to provide low control, those with feelings of low control (depression) were more likely to be right. If the experiment was biased to provide a lot of control, the depressed would not be "realistic" - they would under-value how much control they actually have.
Maybe I am misunderstanding the experiment but that's what I see.
In reality, you have a TON of agency in your life where your attitude drives the outcome. Eg - if you are depressed and out of shape, you will believe "I can never get fit" so you won't bother getting off the couch and this your pessimistic prediction will come true. Meanwhile someone else can believe they can do this, get off the couch and start exercising. So they will then make their own prediction come true.
In the end it's as the serenity prayer says: G-d, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change...
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.
Nihilism and depression are no more realistic than mindless optimism. But if you had to chose one, chose action because it can drive change
Judging a green light doesn’t seem like an accurate representation of “reality” when it comes to the complexity of an actual human existence.
And if someone can tell me objectively what reality is I’ll give them a million dollars. It’s literally impossible to arrive at (for a life situation) since every human filters existence through their own brain determined by genetics and their experience to date.
does this generalize? probably not. I'd be more concerned about coming up with a characterization of who is 'depressed'..but presumably people have made some progress on that?
It's quite easy to be depressed about things like financial inequality, conscious pollution of the planet, relationships. Not because those things are lacking or in excess, but because they often govern our surroundings.
I've had my fair share of depressive slumps myself. I made mistakes in my late teens, and then in mid 20s also (although they didn't seem like mistakes at the time), but it doesn't necessarily give me a very strong sense of realism.
And perhaps this is anecdotal, but it's quite rare to meet a genuinely happy person.
So reversing the title's causality:
People who see the world realistically are more depressed.
Ok, That does tick a lot of boxes in the tech World.
Shame mental health support for depression is geared towards more average IQ levels and even then, their go to is have some pills.
Pessimists would guess the score they got on a test and be pretty spot on, optimists would guess they did better than they did, yet the scores of the optimist on average were higher than that of the pessimist.
Yeah, we all are going to die and everything is pointless on the grand scheme of things, who cares?
Enjoy the ride, not the destination.
What an absurd article.