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195m optimists U can't hold back

Here are two great numbers I heard of today.

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the United States, reached 300,000,000 on 17/10/06. In less than 40 years since the 200 million mark, the net population increased by 50 percent.

A survey (mentioned by Dennis Dutton of Arts & Letters) in a radio piece about the population and consequences of general optimism in the US.

In a 2005 Pew Global Attitude Survey the question was - "Do you think success in life is determined by forces beyond our control?"


In the U.S 65% of population said no. In Europe 65% of the population said yes.

The striking difference is that people in the US have a sense of autonomy and optimism about shaping their own futures that is vastly different from people in Europe.

In 1988 Public Enemy famously released their album "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back". In fact it seems about 195m people (65% of 300m) don’t actually believe that.

There is an enormous amount of energy that comes from creating something new and that comes from an optimistic outlook. In many ways the optimism highlighted in the survey above is something that we in NZ need a bit more of.

If that survey was taken here - what results would we get? and what would your answer be?