ost damaging practices in recent memory, such as the acquisition of too many risky mortgages that led directly the financial collapse of recent years (Ehrenreich 3). This book does an excellent job making clear something that psychologists and sociologists have likely known all along: that people are not necessarily good at objectively weighing consequences of their actions. Clearly, there are many instances in American history, even recent history, in which important people underestimated the downside of actions (the invasion of Iraq, for instance, comes to mind). Furthermore, it does an excellent job debunking faux-science that has seemed to indicate that positive thinking in and of itself has some kind of net benefit to the person doing the positive thinking. Through all this, however, Ehrenreich ignores some of the other major components of a lot of the issues she talks about: the structure of capitalism, for instance, and also does a somewhat middling job convincing her reader that Americans actually are the optimistic people she makes them out to be.
As mentioned above, there are many ways this book shines. For one thing, it corresponds well to many psychological phenomena that any psychologist will readily recognize. Psychologists, for instance, have long been aware that people tend to over-estimate the likelihood of positive things occurring while underestimating the possibility of negative things. This is the reason that lotteries, are possible, for instance, when no rational person, based on reason alone, would ever choose to participate. Ehrenreich does a good job allowing the reader to understand the psychological principals that go into this kind of thinking.
She also does an excellent job demonstrating rationally how flawed the idea that positive thinking somehow creates positive results all on its own without anything else; she rips apart the faux-science that supported the idea that somehow the same actions would lead to better results if