Jun
14

# Pessimist? Optimist? Realist?

Filed Under (program evaluation) by Molly on 14-06-2017

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

~~Winston Churchill

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

~~Harry S. Truman

Two sides of the same coin? A different way to say the same thing?

### Pessimist, optimist, realist?

So do you see the glass half empty–or half full?

OR are you a realist being able to refill the glass (with ice and a couple of shots of your favorite beverage)?

Evaluation is a field which includes all sorts of folks.

The optimist says that they can find a way.

The pessimist says that it isn’t likely.

The realist says it is possible and probable.

### Working it out

One way to work it out is to use a logic model.

Another is to use a  theory of change.

Keep in mind that you might be wrong even if you apply either/both of the above.

(I remember a major professor of mine said that the theory may be wrong; it was.)

So sometimes, using the tools of evaluation may not get you where you want to be.

There are many approaches to learning something. For example: You can test a Hypothesis (Bill Nye the science guy says that a hypo thesis is an idea below). First, develop a plan; then you test it by gathering data. You analyze the data. And yes, there is some support for your hypothesis.

Or, you have an see an occurrence which repeats itself under various conditions.  You find that the emergent idea is dominant. So you control the situation and see if the idea emerges once again. It does!

I’m sure you can do trial and error; you can guess what the outcome will be; or you and follow what your parent did (worked for him/her, should work for you).

If you apply the scientific method  to the learning, you usually will test the hypothesis.

You will deal with humons at some point. The humon situation will be your guide.

### But what if…

The people you are working with/for want it their way?

What if the end result is really a power and control issue and not one of transparent findings (good or bad).

How do you, the evaluator, address the implied (or actual) power and control.

Where does Standard III (Propriety) and the Guiding Principle D and E (Respect for People and Responsibilities for General and Public Welfare, respectively) enter into the discussion?

Out of your hands, you say? NO. Not really.

You do have a responsibility.

And an obligation.

You will have an opportunity

Does that make you a pessimist? Or an optimist? Or a realist? Only you will decide.

my  .

molly.

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## 1 Comment So Far

Steven S on 4 December, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

Interesting thoughts.

Wanted to comment on the pessimism vs realism point. I think the fundamental differences between pessimism and realism is that of an emotionally-driven negativity. You can simply be honest with the fact that things in life aren’t always smile inducing or amazing, but that doesn’t make them nothing but horrible and bad, even if they aren’t “great,” it appears more like a relationship with emotion vs thought.