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Peer Review

The Dark Side of Positive Thinking



Overall Rating:

4.25 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Sep 13, 2012 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: The site provides a 10 minute live illustrations to the selected part of a discussion that author and activist Barbara Ehrenreich is having about her book ‘Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America’ (2009). The illustration delivers a critique of the all-American faith in optimism and positive thinking. The mindgatemedia website also provides a brief summary of the Learning Objectives, Discussion Questions, and written transcript of the presentation. For extra teaching materials, faculty can sign up for free or log in if a member of Mindgate Media.
Learning Goals: • Students will be able to garner a quick overview of how information is being received and interpreted in our society today. • Students will get an idea about the different types of thinking – positive, negative, realistic, vigilant - that can respond to the same piece of information received
Target Student Population: • Beginner/Introductory/Survey Economics, Introduction to Macroeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, Introduction to Microeconomics, Principles of Microeconomics • Non-economics students taking an Macroeconomics or Microeconomics as a minor
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic computer skills and access to the Internet
Type of Material: Presentation
Recommended Uses: • The presentation can be used as an opening OR a summary/closure to the chapter on ‘Positive and Normative Analysis’ both in class and online. • It can also be used to facilitate in-class and/or online discussion to connect to the related concepts covered. • The online video can also be used as a team project or report to relate the content to their immediate surroundings and how issues are being death with in the current times.
Technical Requirements: Internet Explorer 8 or the equivalent Firefox browser will suffice. Flash.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: • Very detailed and in-depth explanation positive thinking • Provides easy to understand of principles • Identifies a clear and succinct set of learning objectives Numerous examples of concepts and theory • The illustration is of a high quality and provides a succinct view of the impact of the positive thinking on attitude in the United States.
Concerns: • Had very little introduction to presentation • The author provided little background on the topic, no real explanation impacts • The instructor will need to spend some time customizing it.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: • Animation works well with the voice-over by lecturer • Provides considerable depth of explanation and supporting details • The instructor can take advantage of the ‘Discussion Questions’ provided at the website as an opening , a summary or closure to the chapter on ‘Positive and Normative Analysis’ both in class and online. • It can also be used to facilitate in-class and/or online discussion to connect to the related concepts covered.
Concerns: • Did not find an indication of what perquisite knowledge would be required for this presentation • Did not clearly define learning to be accomplished, has a lot of information, a summary of learning would be beneficial • Session last for 10:22 minutes was not long enough to dig deep into subject • End-users could go directly to the original RSA website or the youtube website, thereby bypassing the Mindgate Media site that also comes with the extra teaching materials provided but requires login for instructors. • Since the author has a political inclination, some audience might not be able to overlook the associated bias to appreciate the content.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: • Website was easy to connect to and easy to maneuver on the page • Webpage was easy to understand how to view the animation and hear voice-over • The main strength of this video is the lively and captivating animation that condenses so much information into a short 10 minute presentation. • Although the video was done in 2010 and has references to the Bush Administration, it can still be used to get a general idea on the subject and then relate to the financial crisis. • There is a copy of the transcript that is available on the Mindgate Media website that helps students inclined with a read/write learning style.
Concerns: • Needed to be more explanation as to how the presentations would or could be applied to an academic setting • Introduction to site needs to better explain and define that the site will allow the student to migrate into “positive thinking” topical areas. • The actual website is from the where the presentation is about 35 minutes long at . The site is UK-based, and in UK, the book is called ‘Smile or Die: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America’ published in 2010.

Other Issues and Comments: Lecture, accompanied by amusing illustrations, author and activist Barbara Ehrenreich delivers a powerful critique of the all-American faith in optimism and positive thinking. Learning Outcomes: Introduction: Americans are relentlessly optimistic. It’s practically a religion. Nowhere is this seen more powerfully than in corporate life where anything less than a totally “can do” attitude is seen as negativism. Studies have shown that a positive attitude actually does have many physical, mental, social, and business advantages. But does this become delusional (and hence dysfunctional) if and when it reaches the point that people think that believing strongly that something good will happen will make it so? Or if they refuse to consider the possibility of negative outcomes because they feel that doing so will somehow make them more likely to occur? Barbara Ehrenreich, a widely read columnist and author, suggests in this lecture that people who tried to raise red flags about the looming sub-prime crisis a few years ago were literally and figuratively dismissed, as were those political advisors who expressed doubts about the wisdom of invading Iraq. She argues that “realism” and “vigilance” are more appropriate attitudes for running companies and countries than is optimism Lecture and animation would be of benefit for 400 level undergraduate and graduate students.