Apparently, there's a website called Edge.org. Now, you might expect this to be a site devoted to the woolly-capped fellow who plays the guitars in U2, but in fact, it's an on-line scientific 'salon'. (I think this means that it's got four doors; if it had two, it would be a coupe). Anyway, in the January 1st edition of The Times, they report that Edge.org has asked numerous scientists to answer the question 'What are you optimistic about?' www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2525859,00.html The Times prints a selection of the answers given, and most amusing they are too.
Steven Pinker writes about "the most important and under appreciated trend in the history of our species: the decline of violence." If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of Saddam's neck snapping in the background, and the concussion of a car-bomb in Baghdad.
Somebody called 'Simon Baren-Cohen' writes that "it has never been a better time to have autism. Why? Because there is a remarkably good fit between the autistic mind and the digital age." Fantastic! I shall henceforth claim to be autistic in all my job applications.
Daniel Dennett writes that "I expect to live to see the evaporation of the powerful mystique of religion. I think that in about 25 years almost all religions will have evolved into very different phenomena." Of course they will, Daniel; you can see the early signs of that happening even now, in all the Mosques and Synagogues of the Middle East.
And so on.