Nor is intellectual culture equipped to treat the Negativity bias. Indeed, our vigilance for bad things around us opens up a market for professional curmudgeons who call our attention to bad things we may have missed. Experiments have shown that a critic who pans a book is perceived as more competent than a critic who praises it, and the same may be true of critics of society. “Always predict the worst, and you’ll be hailed as a prophet,” the musical humorist Tom Lehrer once advised. At least since the time of the Hebrew prophets, who blended their social criticism with forewarnings of disaster, pessimism has been equated with moral seriousness. Journalists believe that by accentuating the negative they are discharging their duty as watchdogs, muckrakers, whistleblowers, and afflicters of the comfortable. And intellectuals know they can attain instant gravitas by pointing to an unsolved problem and theorizing that it is a symptom of a sick society.