The power of hope, concretely speaking

You’ve probably heard the survivor’s rule of three at some point in your life:

A human being cannot survive:

• 3 Seconds Without Spirit and Hope
• 3 Minutes Without Air
• 3 Hours Without Shelter in Extreme Conditions
• 3 Days Without Water
• 3 Weeks Without Food
• 3 Months Without Companionship or Love

It’s not precisely true, but it’s certainly worth internalizing the importance of hope. H/T Mack Story of Blue Collar Leadership:

This research, in many ways, builds on the work of late Johns Hopkins professor Curt Richter. In the 1950s, he conducted a gruesome experiment with domesticated and wild rats. He first took a dozen domesticated rats, put them into jars half-filled with water, and watched them drown. The idea was to measure the amount of time they swam before they gave up and went under. The first rat, Richter noted, swam around excitedly on the surface for a very short time, then dove to the bottom, where it began to swim around, nosing its way along the glass wall. It died two minutes later.

Two more of the 12 domesticated rats died in much the same way. But, interestingly, the nine remaining rats did not succumb nearly so readily; they swam for days before they eventually gave up and died.

Now came the wild rats, renowned for their swimming ability. The ones Richter used had been recently trapped and were fierce and aggressive. One by one, he dropped them into the water. And one by one, they surprised him: Within minutes of entering the water, all 34 died.

“What kills these rats?” he wondered. “Why do all of the fierce, aggressive, wild rats die promptly on immersion and only a small number of the similarly treated, tame, domesticated rats?”

The answer, in a word: hope.

“The situation of these rats scarcely seems one demanding fight or flight—it is rather one of hopelessness,” he wrote. “[T]he rats are in a situation against which they have no defense … they seem literally to ‘give up.’”
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Richter then tweaked the experiment: He took other, similar rats and put them in the jar. Just before they were expected to die, however, he picked them up, held them a little while, and then put them back in the water. “In this way,” he wrote, “the rats quickly learn that the situation is not actually hopeless.”

This small interlude made a huge difference. The rats that experienced a brief reprieve swam much longer and lasted much longer than the rats that were left alone. They also recovered almost immediately. When the rats learned that they were not doomed, that the situation was not lost, that there might be a helping hand at the ready—in short, when they had a reason to keep swimming—they did. They did not give up, and they did not go under.

“After elimination of hopelessness,” wrote Richter, “the rats do not die.”

There are obviously many differences between humans and rats. But one similarity stands out: We all need a reason to keep swimming.

The Remarkable Power of Hope
(Emphases added)

(These “forced swim” experiments are used to test the effectiveness of antidepressants.)

Again, it’s worth noting this difference in response is about three orders of magnitude more effort from the rats. In areas of life where effort matters, depressed people simply cannot compete with people who have trained themselves in optimism. (Also, primitivist mindset ideologues BTFO.)

About Aeoli Pera

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19 Responses to The power of hope, concretely speaking

  1. boneflour says:


    • Obadiah says:




      *Does Double-flipski off stage of ASAP Trilldawg concert into San Poco harbor while the Jeffster films it*

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        Turn down that godawful music!

        • Obadiah says:

          >He’s not a young blood Trillionaire
          >He doesn’t crush it at the ‘Poc

          BEEP BOOP

          *rips a fat one while the Jeffster films it, ASAP Trillionaire’s “Freak Bitch” blaring in the background*

  2. Fox says:

    I have a different take on this.
    The “hopeless” wild rats left the gruesome laboratory much faster than their domesticated cousins.

      • Fox says:

        That meme was funny, but I am serious though.
        A species with a failproof “deadswitch” cannot be enslaved or domesticated, and neither can it be tortured or perverted. “Hope” is one of the most insidious weapons there are, for it disables that switch and takes the freedom to leave the world away (just like that sadistic scientist removed the rats from the jar only to put them back in later)..

        “Sterling carried a vial of cyanide for many years. When asked about it he said, “A prison becomes a home if you have the key”.”

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          > “Hope” is one of the most insidious weapons there are

        • Fox says:

          Only those engulfed by despair need hope – “hoping” means clinging to an outcome one deems unrealistic – an outcome which one regards to be “against the odds”. it’s a rebellion against one’s own expectations, and therefore a fake solution, a pityful attempt to emotionalize one’s way out of a dire situation – an attempt to fool oneself, just like the rats fooled themselves into thinking they wouldn’t be put back into the jar.
          Sometimes, a better solution is to just die.
          Sometimes, a better solution is to change one’s frame (and thereby one’s expectations), and so to gain belief and conviction (instead of “hope”).

          • Aeoli Pera says:

            >Only those engulfed by despair need hope

            The definition of despair is not having hope.

            >“hoping” means clinging to an outcome one deems unrealistic – an outcome which one regards to be “against the odds”

            That is not a correct definition. You’ve redefined it to mean “false hope” to support your harangue.

            >Sometimes, a better solution is to just die.

            Explains your attitude toward constructive work.

            >Sometimes, a better solution is to change one’s frame (and thereby one’s expectations), and so to gain belief and conviction (instead of “hope”).

            This is literally the same thing as what you’re decrying as “hope”, except you’ve redefined it as correctly reframing.

            • Fox says:

              Your definitions are wrong.
              Would you call it “hope” if someone who’s in hospital with a broken foot believes he’ll get better and run again in three months?
              However, someone with a disease deemed incurable (by the medical mainstream) who, despite actually believing in that mainstream, still wants to believe that he’ll get well is indeed hoping.

            • what says:

              >your definitions are wrong

              It’s better to adopt the language of those who aren’t trying to kill you in order to better express the concepts that you wish to express. Fighting against perceived futility is a form of hope. I don’t know false hope is, one can only realize something is false after the fact; believing that something is futile and accepting it as futile is despair, therefore false hope is despair. Believing something is futile but still attempting it in order to test out the odds is arguably a form of hope.

              Fox’s proposal is to give up because having hope in a hopeless situation is pointless (and gay). Contradiction: you’re gay. Do everything you possibly can to succeed in God’s eyes lest he looks on you unfavorably. Why do I have to put in the effort to do things????? Of course, because you actually believe in what you’re saying. Why isn’t everything perfect already?????

              Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly? (Jobs 3:11)

              >As a free barbarian of the steppes, I reserve the right to kill myself at any moment.

              This but unironically. Not to make people respect me, but to make them realize I’m not wholly committed to the act of living. Add in disheveled hair and clothes and eyes that convey antipathy. No, but seriously, I did have to accept this as being a core principle, more literally as “I must consider myself already dead”, as the idea of living without the backdrop of my eventual expiration was too much of a contradiction, and didn’t allow me to move or take any action. Why would I take action if I will eventually crumble like dust and be cast into the wind, forgotten and wretched?

  3. bicebicebice says:

    cope is faster and far more effective than hope, no real Christian would ever say “I hope” you just trust the Lord-having done all you can. aversion towards hope I feel that itz not Christian better to have a real survival instinct instead. mouse utopia is flawed for the same reason, animals know they are being experimented on. but coping ends when you become a Christian or you haven’t actually become one yet, a very simple measuring stick in a sense. bats can’t be christians, in french known as the chauve-souris aka bald mouse. can even anyone have hope?!?

    “In areas of life where effort matters, depressed people simply cannot compete with people who have trained themselves in optimism. (Also, primitivist mindset ideologues BTFO.)” the primitive people are still out there happily chasing skinks geckos lizards and even other humans. or are we talking youtubers and internet-paganism? You shoulda fleshed this out a bit more, im not really feeling anything too concrete nor too tangible, it could also be that im a lazy reader because I want more posts about people eating bat-soup and the podcast with the peoples champion before new york succumbs to the bats. this is a mixed comment response to the post and what fox said, hence even more (better) confusion.

    clock is ticking are you scared or are you prepared? itz over

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      I have to admit, I’m a bit shocked that death squared runs so deep that I have to make the positive case for hope as a virtue. Is this really a matter that requires debate?

      “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Except not, lol!!! Charity is cucked and I reserve the feeedom to kill myself at any moment!

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