I’m often accused of / introduced as being a pessimist. I was recently listening to a JaysTalk when J.P. Ricciardi (The Blue Jays GM) gave the quote A pessimist is an optimist with experience.
I think the key part of that is experience. Pessimism is often considered a negative trait, though I think it also has its uses. Especially where risk management is involved. And testing is essentially a risk management exercise. So I would contend that being a pessimist is learned, and valuable, if not essential skill.
While trying to find the source of J.P.’s quote, I found this one over at Urban Dictionary
- An OPTIMIST is a person who doesn’t have all the facts.
- A PESSIMIST is an optimist who does have all the facts.
- A CYNIC is a pessimist who has seen the facts in action.
- A PARANOID is a cynic who has FINALLY realized that the facts are after him.
Perhaps then this is really some sort of scale or curve and you want to be at the Cynic point. After all, at that point history would tend to back you up on your points. Take for instance the classic justification for not fixing something; ‘No one is going to do that’. The pessimist would respond with ‘but they might’ or something similar. The cynic could respond with ‘the last time you said that, they did, and we had to rush a patch out which botched the schedule by 3 weeks’.