Pre thinking:

Concern about climate change is nothing new – speculation has been going on for over 50 years. Despite prophesies of dire, even cataclysmic consequences, Larry Brilliant   a former Google Director remains optimistic. See why in this engaging talk presents in 2007 at Oxford University.

Who is he:

A Michigan native, Dr. Brilliant attended the University of Michigan and received his MD from Wayne State University. After many, interesting, years abroad with the World Health Organization he returned to his home and became a professor of international health at the University of Michigan as well as starting numerous charitable and business ventures.

In April 2009, he was chosen to oversee the “Skoll Global Threats Fund” established by eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll.

Why you should view:

His wish when he won the $100,000 was to “”To build a powerful new early warning system to protect our world from some of its worst nightmares”.

Anyone voicing such lofty sentiments is certainly worth 20 minutes and 48 seconds of our time!!!

This is a great talk.

Discussion questions:

  1. Do some research on the concepts of “optimism” and “pessimism”; what are the psychological consequences of each explanatory style. The place to begin your research might be by looking at the work on attributional style done by Martin Seligman.
  2. What is the “Gandhi test” for decision making?
  3. What does he consider the cases for optimism and pessimism in light of the megatrends he sees?
  4. What is the “dark side” of technology?
  5. What are his reasons for optimism?
  6. How does the story of his work with small pox support his optimism?

 Making connections:

Take a look at the web site for Positive Psychology to learn more about the power of an optimistic explanatory style:


The case for informed optimism with Larry Brilliant


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