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14 March 2007

Half full or Half empty?

I was thinking the other day about how people use the hall full or half empty argument to specify whether or not someone is a pessimist or an optimist.

I don't think this is accurate. In fact, I think the people who follow that line of reasoning are likely to ignore things such as facts.

So is the glass half full or half empty? I have found a solution to make it more technically correct at all times. Simply think "at least" when answer.

Example:

If the glass is 1/3rd liquid, then you could say that it is [at least] half empty, but you could not say it is [at least] half full.

If the glass is 51% liquid, you could say it is [at least] half full, but could not say it is [at least] half empty.

What about 50/50? Then you could say it is [at least] half full and you could say it is [at least] half empty. Both are technically and factually correct. It doesn't make you an optimist or pessimist -- both are factually correct.


This same mechanism could be applied to other things as well.

Switzerland is not [at least] 1/6th the size of Oregon; but Oregon is [at least] 6 times larger than Switzerland.