October 10, 2006

"Giving" False Hope

Hope is defined (first definition) rather inelegantly by as "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best."

In the last two weeks, I've heard the term "giving false hope" twice - once in a very personal situation with a family member and once on a television show. It got me thinking.

What is false hope? If hope is merely a feeling, an attitude, how can it be false? I know, I know, someone's feelings can be based on illogical premises. But the hope itself isn't logical, after all. If there's false hope, there must be true hope, no?

So I googled the concept of false hope. Here's what others say. - "Don't Let Any Woman Give You False Hope." I don't need to read this - the title alone covers it - someone else responsible for your hope or lack thereof. calls the promise of stem cell therapy false hope. And while the web page begins with some nice comments about hope, it lobs the term "false hope" a couple of times. Here's an example:
To offer false hope to the desperate as a means of advancing a political, social, or economic agenda is worse than merely cruel, it is objectively evil. Valuable resources are being diverted from other, perhaps more promising, areas of research, and, in the meantime, patients and their families are serving as pawns in a political arena. People facing the prospect of suffering and death deserve better than this. As patients, they deserve the best that science and medicine can offer. As human beings, they deserve honesty. No amount of false hope can alter the fact that after more than twenty years of unrestricted research on animal embryonic stem cells, this field has failed to yield a single cure for any human illness.
Unfortunately, "false hope" isn't ever defined for me. So I move on.

On July 2nd, the Washington Post ran an article "The False Hope of Biofuels," but the words appear only in the title.

I'll quit now - it's a buzzword. Why do we use the term?


Posted by hln at October 10, 2006 12:26 PM | House and Home | TrackBack