What Battlestar Galactica Can Teach Us About Suicide Prevention

Last May, I wrote about how my brother's suicide shattered my life and my attempt to move on. Writing that story was profoundly healing and helped me feel less shame about his death.

Today, in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, I'm continuing the conversation with a story about why people become suicidal and what can be done to help them. I won't draw from real life this time (my brother’s story is not mine to tell). Instead, I'm using one of the most realistic depictions of suicide from science fiction – SyFy Channel's Battlestar Galactica.

I should warn you – this article includes details about the final season of Battlestar Galactica. If you want to avoid spoilers, it's best to save this for later.

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The Top 10 Science Fiction Film & TV Scores from the 2000s

Just a couple of psychologists celebrating science fiction and music at the  Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum .

Just a couple of psychologists celebrating science fiction and music at the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum.

A few days ago I wrote about how music changes the way we act, think, and feel. What I didn't mention is how much I'm obsessed with film and TV scores - they suck me in, focus my mind, and make the rest of the world disappear.

While some write off Hollywood composers as "sell outs", the genre is essentially the same as the romantic era of music (you know, the time period that gave us Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9", Strauss's "Blue Danube", and Holst's "Mars") - both use music to tell a story that produces very specific feelings.

Science fiction is home to some of the best film and TV scores. To celebrate the musical contributions of science fiction, I'm starting a series highlighting the 10 best scifi scores of each decade, beginning with the 2000s (2001 - 2010). Check back for updates or save this link to view the whole series.

Here we go...

#10: Wall-E, Thomas Newman

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Since Wall-E rarely speaks, the film relies on Thomas Newman's score to communicate how the robot is thinking and feeling. This is done effortlessly. I also love how fun the score is. While things start seriously with "2815 A.D.", there's goofiness to "Wall-E", a sense of wonder to "Bubble Wrap", and playfulness to "First Date". Listen to samples of these tracks below.

If you like this score, check out Newman's scores to Skyfall, Finding Nemo, and American Beauty.

#9: District 9, Clinton Shorter

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It was great to see a science fiction film that doesn't revolve around the United States. That's also what I enjoyed about Clinton Shorter's score to District 9 - South African vocals are integrated throughout resulting in a unique sound. Highlights include “District 9”, “Exosuit”, and “Heading Home”.

I listen to District 9 during my morning subway commute. It gets me fired up to take on the hoards of New York City pedestrians.

#8: Moon, Clint Mansell

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Moon is one of the best science fiction films that no one has seen. The score is clean and delicate. It makes you feel the loneliness of being stuck on the moon. Just listen to "Welcome to Lunar Industries", "Memories (Someone We'll Never Know)", and "The Nursery" to get an idea of what I mean.

To hear more from Mansell, try his scores to Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, and Black Swan.

#7: Tron: Legacy, Daft Punk

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Tron: Legacy was a letdown, but the score exceeded all of my expectations. Daft Punk created a true synthesis of electronic and orchestral music that has yet to be replicated. Standouts include "The Game Has Changed", “Fall”, and “TRON Legacy (End Titles)”.

I listen to this album anytime I need an extra boost of motivation - at the gym, during chores, and when I'm behind on paperwork. Tron: Legacy just makes me want to get things done.

#6: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jon Brion

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Like Moon, Eternal Sunshine's score is razor sharp. Here, the focus is on a man desperately trying to hold on to fading memories and the music highlights the fuzziness of that process. Favorites include "Peer Pressure", "Row", and "Elephant parade".

I use this score for short bursts of contemplation, usually when I'm planning something new.

#5. The Dark Knight, Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard

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Both Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard did the right thing when Christopher Nolan rebooted Batman - instead of competing with Danny Elfman's heroic original theme, they created a murkier score. While elements of Batman’s theme were teased in Batman Begins, they weren't fully fleshed out until The Dark Knight. For a sample, listen to “A Watchful Guardian” (Batman), “Why So Serious” (Joker), and “Harvey Two-Face” (Harvey Dent). 

While The Dark Knight Rises's score has some nice moments (I love the chaos in "Gotham's Reckoning"), it lacks the subtly of the first two movies (probably because Howard wasn't involved). The Dark Knight remains the best film and score of the trilogy.

#4: Children of Men, John Tavener

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Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men has been compared to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. The score is more similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey, both in style and gravitas. Unlike 2001, John Tavener composed original music for the film in addition to using existing orchestral music. "Fragments of a Prayer, "Eternity's Sunrise", and "Mother of God, Here I Stand (For String Orchestra)" are all powerful examples of the film’s style.

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Like the movie, the score feels fresh and modern. Spock's theme is reflective and tragic ("Head To Heart Conversation") while Kirk's is searching for a purpose ("Hella Bar Talk"). The best part is Giacchino's take on the original 1966 Star Trek theme ("End Credits") - it honors the past while boldly moving the franchise forward.

When JJ Abrams picks a composer for Star Wars Episode VII, I hope he selects Giacchino – I’d love to see what he can do with that universe.

#2: LOST, Michael Giacchino

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This decade witnessed the rise of Giacchino. Along with Star Trek, he composed Alias, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible 3, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Super 8, and Up (for which he won an Oscar). He also did the music for Disneyland’s revamped Space Mountain and Star Tours rides and a bunch of video games. His most creative work remains the score to TV’s LOST. Throughout the series, Giacchino expresses complex emotion with a few simple notes and uses silence as a way of building or releasing tension. He even used pieces of an airplane fuselage to create some of the show’s strange sounds. Below are some of the best moments from LOST's six seasons including "Oceanic 815", "Hurley's Handouts", "Claire-A Culpa", "The Constant", "Sawyer Jones and the Temple of Boom", "The Tangled Web", and "Closure".

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To keep Battlestar Galactica from sounding like just another space opera, McCreary used non-traditional orchestral instruments like the duduk, taiko drums, an erhu, sitars, gamelans, and bagpipes. Their synthesis results in a score that transcends all genres and is just really beautiful music.

I could go on and on about McCreary's score, but I'll just touch on some of my favorite themes of the series. The Adama theme ("Wander My Friends") highlights the role of family in the show. "Roslin and Adama" is rich and soothing while "The Sense of Six" is cold and unnerving. "Prelude to War" combines strings and percussion to create a dramatic standoff. "Heeding The Call" sets up the biggest reveal of the show and "Diaspora Oratorio" takes the series into its final act.

If you haven't heard of Battlestar Galactica, go to Netflix right now and watch the pilot. It’s that good. You won't be disappointed. 

Honorable Mentions

Inception, X2, The Island, Firefly, and Halo (yes, the video game) came close to making the list, but beyond the signature themes the scores weren't that memorable.

Notable Exceptions

Nothing from the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" (Iron Man 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers) came close to reaching the top 10. None of the music from these movies is memorable.

We didn't get anything fresh from John Williams. I liked his Minority Report theme, but the Star Wars prequels, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Artificial Intelligence scores sounded A LOT like his previous work. Similarly, James Horner's score to Avatar reminded me of James Horner's score to Titanic

The 2000s saw the passing of Jerry Goldsmith, one of the greatest science fiction composers (Planet of the Apes, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien). I really miss hearing his music.

That's it for now. Let me know what you think. What did I get right or wrong? What would you put on your list? And don't forget to come back for my list of the top scifi scores from the 1990s. 

 

5 Leadership Lessons From Science Fiction

Today is Presidents Day in America. While the holiday is supposed to honor President George Washington's birthday, we don't actually do anything to celebrate besides take the day off work and buy stuff that's on sale. 

This year's holiday has me reflecting on leadership. I just completed a one-year term as the executive leader of a psychological association. As a part of that leadership transition, I wrote a letter to my successor about the lessons I learned, the mistakes I made, and advice I had for the future of the organization.

I referenced science fiction many times in that letter. It wasn't just because both of us are big geeks (though that certainly helped). After writing that letter, I realized how much the genre influenced the decisions I made as a leader in psychology.

Here's a peek at what I wrote in that letter. 

1) Have a bold vision.

I used to believe that an organization's greatest challenge is limited resources (money, staff, tools). I now know that what is much more important is having a bold plan for the future. Creating a simple (and powerful) mission, vision, and strategic plan is the most important job for a leader. When done correctly, a strategic plan energizes all members of a group, prioritizes tasks and the allocation of resources, and helps the organization move forward. Without it, organizations risk fading into obscurity.

Science fiction has one of the most inspiring mission statements ever written and you probably already have it memorized.

Space, the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Starfleet captains prioritize exploration above all else. 

Starfleet captains prioritize exploration above all else. 

The mission of Star Trek's U.S.S. Enterprise is short, powerful, and makes you want to enlist in Starfleet. Everything on the Enterprise is organized around its mission. That's why Captain Picard has so many scientists on his starship while the Klingons have drunk warriors with swords (their mission is to fight honorably and drink blood wine). This also explains why the Federation has become the dominant group in the Alpha Quadrant—they have a plan that inspires while their neighbors keep changing their minds about who they are and what to do next.

2) Build a leadership pipeline.

I didn't seek my position. I was encouraged to run by someone else. Once I was elected, my predecessors trained me. Since most individuals won't seek out leadership opportunities (because they’re intimidating), it's the job of those who are currently in positions of power to always be on the lookout for potential successors. That's how leadership works—experienced people transitioning out mentor new passionate folks in. This type of leadership pipeline keeps an organization nimble and creative.

The Jedi have perfected their leadership pipeline.

The Jedi have perfected their leadership pipeline.

The Jedi (and Sith) of Star Wars know this well. As Yoda said, "Always two there are…a master and an apprentice." Jedi masters identify children with a strong connection to the force and pass down their knowledge through an apprenticeship. What I love about this example is how integrated it is throughout the Star Wars universe—anywhere you see a Jedi Knight or Sith Lord, not too far away you'll find their apprentice observing, learning, and getting ready to step in and continue the mission of their mentors. 

3) Honor the past.

I campaigned on a platform of change. After settling into my position, I learned in order to be an effective agent of change I had to balance change with continuity. That meant learning my organization's history, understanding how it worked, and talking to experienced staff and leaders about the changes they (not I) would like to see happen. By honoring the past, leaders ensure consistency with an established plan and open people to the possibility of change.

Can human and cylon leaders overcome the mistakes of their ancestors? 

Can human and cylon leaders overcome the mistakes of their ancestors? 

Understanding the past is a major theme in Battlestar Galactica. Both the cylons and humans believe "All this has happened before…All this will happen again." Patterns of creation, destruction, and rebirth are common throughout the 12 Colonies. Past leaders failed to understand how these patterns repeated. The major question of the series became whether or not the current generation could understand the mistakes of the past in order build a peaceful future.

4) Diversity makes a team stronger.

In the first meeting I chaired, I tried to get everyone to agree with each other. That was a mistake. Not only is it impossible to get complete consensus, but that type of groupthink is also incredibly dangerous. I learned the hard way that a leader's responsibility is to create a space that allows people with different perspectives to engage in honest dialogue. Then, the team acts on an idea that makes the most sense for the existing strategic plan. Without diversity in a group, leadership is stuck kicking around the same stale old ideas.

Charles Xavier: "I always believed I couldn't be the only one in the world. The only person in the world who was different."

Charles Xavier: "I always believed I couldn't be the only one in the world. The only person in the world who was different."

Someone who knows about the advantage of diversity is the founder of the X-Men, Professor Charles Xavier. He built a team of mutants with different powers and personalities. While members of his team often clashed (the conservative Cyclops never really got along with the anti-establishment Wolverine), the X-Men were much more powerful because of the diversity of talent within the group.

5) With great power comes great responsibility.

Sitting in a meeting surrounded by many of the psychologists I grew up reading about helped me realize that my position gave me privileges others did not have. Shaping the future of science, education, healthcare, and public policy skyrocketed my career forward. But with that power came a lot of responsibility—meetings to attend, agendas to review, reports to write, emails to send, conference calls to schedule, and crises to resolve. The work was crushing, especially since it was on top of my day job. Last year all of my vacation time was used just to attend meetings, which really took a toll on my friends and family. The experience was deeply meaningful, though it was not without sacrifice.

Power and responsibility play a major role in the origin of Spider-Man. 

Power and responsibility play a major role in the origin of Spider-Man. 

Marvel's Spider-Man had a similar experience. A radioactive spider bit Peter Parker, giving him arachnid strength, agility, and the ability to climb walls. Peter first used his powers for fame and ignored an opportunity to stop a criminal. Later, the same criminal killed Peter’s uncle. The experience helped him understand what his uncle meant when he said, "With great power there must also come great responsibility". Accepting the responsibilities of power is what separates heroes from the villains.

Based upon your own experiences, what advice would you give to individuals entering leadership positions?

Star Wars Episode VII, Star Trek into Darkness, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, and the Adaptability of Fans

There have been some major surprise announcements in the world of science fiction these past few weeks regarding the future of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica. Together, these stories highlight the adaptability of all fans. 

The granddaddy of them all was the October 30th revelation that Disney purchased Lucasfilm and was already developing Star Wars Episode VII for a 2015 release (watch George Lucas explain why he sold Lucasfilm in the video below). No one saw this coming. In the 70s and 80s, George Lucas teased fans with the idea of a 12 part Star Wars movie series – one prequel trilogy and two sequel trilogies. However, for the past 15 years Lucas has maintained that the prequel trilogy completed the story he envisioned and there will be no more Star Wars films. With and without the prospect of new films, the Star Wars fan community has thrived. Just look at the number of fan films and gatherings that have occurred in the last decade.    

Similarly, Trekkies have flourished in the face of a declining franchise. In 2005, after years of disappointing television ratings for Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Nemesis’s dismal box office performance, production on new Star Trek was suspended (the first time in 18 years). While fans were disappointed, many continued to flock to conventions and websites were full of activity. Now, with Star Trek into Darkness (a sequel to J.J. Abrams’s highly successful 2009 rebooted film) on the horizon, Trekkies are devouring any information they can get from the notoriously secretive director (e.g. scrutinizing a three-frame clip of the movie shown on Conan, see below). When it was announced last week that a 9 minute preview of the new movie will be shown before The Hobbit IMAX 3D, presale tickets for Hobbit skyrocketed (this was the only reason I purchased my tickets). Regardless of the franchise’s strength, Trekkies are an intensely active community.

Fans of the acclaimed Battlestar Galactica franchise also have reason to celebrate - after years in limbo, the 2nd prequel to Battlestar Galactica, Blood and Chrome, suddenly premiered on November 9th (see the trailer below). Many fans worried they would never see the webseries after the universally panned spinoff movie, The Plan, and the cancellation of Caprica (Battlestar's first prequel series). Like Star Wars and Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica fans have remained active on and offline despite uncertainty in their franchise.

Just what is happening? How are science fiction fans able to accept the "end" of their beloved franchises and why do they later embrace their return?

The answer starts with a core psychological process – sensory adaptation. This is the process by which we adjust to our environments. Our nervous system is wired to lookout for changes around us (e.g. a new noise outside the window). New information is literally exciting for our neurons. But once changes remain constant (e.g. the noise does not go away), our senses get used to the stimuli and neurons stop firing. Adaptation also occurs with emotions. With time, we get used to our feelings and habituate back to how we feel most of the time (our baseline). Given enough time, the excitement of being on vacation wears off, the sadness of moving from a warm to cold climate fades away, and your new smartphone fails to bring you joy. Not only does adaptation shape the way we see the world, it might be the reason we evolved the way we did

Adaptation has also influenced the psychology of happiness (positive psychology). Researchers have discovered that life circumstances (i.e. the things that happen to you) have little influence on our overall happiness. Why? Because we get used to the circumstances we find ourselves in. How we respond to circumstances is far more important than what happens to us (for a great overview of this, check out Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness). While changes in our circumstances do impact our short-term happiness, over the long-term we adjust and return to a stable level of happiness. This is called the hedonic treadmill. Think of your happiness like a thermostat – while the temperature (your feelings) might fluctuate here and there, overall it tends to stay around 70 degrees (your average level of happiness). Everyone's average is different, and we can change our behavior to live in the upper range of our average, but we will always bounce back to our baseline. Some people won't bounce back and develop depression, anxiety, or other emotional problems, but I'll save that story for another day. 

My favorite example of hedonic adaptation comes from the classic 1978 study on lottery winners and paralyzed individuals. You would expect that lottery winners would be much happier after winning up to $1,000,000. You might also predict declines in happiness for recently paralyzed individuals. In this study, while there was an initial bump in happiness for lottery winners and a decline in the paralyzed groups, overall in the long-term everyone returned to how they felt before winning the lottery or becoming paralyzed. Like a thermostat, these participants bounced back to how they felt prior to their life-changing circumstances. 

Adaptation also helps us understand the relationship between income and happiness. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Chick-Sent-Me-Hi) described in If We Are So Rich, Why Aren’t We Happy that after overcoming poverty, increased income only minimally affects our happiness. Once you can comfortably pay your bills, being able to purchase more stuff doesn't make you feel that much better (it does result in better healthcare, education, and opportunities to spend time with friends and family though). Our cultural belief that the road to happiness is financial wealth, combined with the empirical finding that we are very bad at predicting how we will feel in the future, results in many Americans pursuing a goal they have no chance attaining (just like the protagonist in 1999's Fight Club, see below). 

This line of research has major implications for fans. We were sad when the original Star Wars trilogy ended and Star Trek The Original Series was canceled, but we bounced back (hedonic treadmill). When both franchises returned, we celebrated (our nervous system is wired to see change) and we eventually got used to Jar Jar Binks and Wesley Crusher. Fans will accept Disney control of Star Wars, much as they came to terms with J. J. Abrams’s lens flares. Battlestar Galactica’s Blood and Chrome may not be perfect, but we will get used to it’s video game like effects because we love the universe so much. Even with “dead” franchises (e.g. Firefly, Harry Potter), fans find a way to stay engaged.

We see the same type of adaptation outside science fiction with sports fans following their teams despite their performance and political zealots supporting their candidates despite success or failure at the polls. The decline of a franchise might prevent a new generation from becoming fans (which is why Lucas decided to bring back Star Wars via Disney and J. J. Abrams rebooted Star Trek), but it doesn’t prevent current fans from continuing to find a way to enjoy the characters and stories they love so much.

Anger and Hope in the Presidential Elections of Roslin/Baltar & Obama/Romney

Note: This article contains spoilers for Lay Down Your Burdens, season 2 episodes 19 and 20 of Battlestar Galactica.

Living in New York, I’ve been sheltered from the 2012 presidential ads. Since the state is all but guaranteed to vote for Barack Obama, neither candidate has spent much money on advertising here. However, when I was in Virginia this past weekend, I was inundated with political ads. These ads reminded me of another pivotal election in which a once popular incumbent (who also inherited a horrible situation) declined in polls after a failed debate against a candidate no one expected to win – the presidential race between Battlestar Galactica’s President Laura Roslin and Vice President Gaius Baltar.

Obama's ads claim Romney's policies would result in more economic decline. 

Obama's ads claim Romney's policies would result in more economic decline. 

Romney's ads claim the economy continues to decline. 

Romney's ads claim the economy continues to decline. 

Vice President Baltar was an “empty suit” of a politician, light on experience, socially awkward, and perceived to be a man of privilege. His campaign was unable to gain traction against the incumbent, President Roslin. However, Roslin was not universally popular. Many questioned whether this “schoolteacher” should have been sworn in as president at all (as the Secretary of Education, she was 43rd in line of succession after the destruction of her homeworld during the Cylon genocide). Primarily due to Roslin’s alliance with the military, polls expected her to be re-elected to a 2nd term.  

All of that changed when the fleet stumbled upon a planet hidden in a nebula that was capable of supporting life – New Caprica. Roslin rejected the idea of permanent settlement due to the brutal landscape of the new planet. Baltar’s aid, Tom Zarek saw this planet as an opportunity:

“It may look dreary. It may be dreary, but it's solid ground under your feet, and a real sky over your head. You'd be surprised what a powerful idea that is to people cooped up in metal boxes for nine months."

Baltar agreed and centered his campaign on the prospect of settlement. Roslin defended her platform, criticized Baltar for promoting a plan that could put the fleet in danger, and reiterated the need to move forward despite any hardships they will encounter.

Baltar went on to win the election because of his projected optimism and Roslin’s cold realism. During the final presidential debate, he gave the fleet hope that they could finally stop the onslaught of Cylon attacks.

"The President uses fear to drive her campaign…fear of the gods, fear of the Cylons, fear of fear itself. Isn't it time to stop being afraid? I am asking all of us to stop running from our lives and start living them."

As was best summarized by Tory Foster, Roslin's chief of staff, “People vote their hopes, not their fears, they don't want to hear the truth.”

B altar won the election due to his optimism about permanent settlement.
Baltar won the election due to his optimism about permanent settlement.

What I love about the election of Baltar is that it highlights much of what we know about the psychology of voting. People vote for many reasons, but political preferences are influenced by a complex interaction of genetics, environment, and psychology. In a recent paper, Peter Hatemi and Rose McDermott reviewed the role of each variable in determining political views. What Hatemi and McDermott found was up until individuals move out of their parents’ homes, both identical twins (who share almost the exact genetic structure) and fraternal twins (who share about half of their genetics) have the same political opinions. After leaving one's home, fraternal twins can develop different political views while identical twins retain the same views. In other words, genetics, family, and culture play a major role in influencing political opinion growing up, but change can occur if and when one leaves their home.

By itself, this is not surprising – family influences your politics due to your genes and the values you grow up with (the same is true of temperament and we’ve known that for a long time). What is surprising is the strong role basic emotions play in year-to-year elections, specifically anger and hope.

A group of University of Michigan political scientists, led by Nicholas Valentino, created an experiment in which participants wrote about an experience that made them angry, anxious, or enthusiastic. Later, participants were asked about their participation in politics. Those who were in the angry situation had statistically higher intentions to participate politically compared to the anxiety and enthusiasm groups. The authors found similar results when analyzing national electorate data from 1980 – 2004. Bottom line – to make voters more engaged and mobilized in your cause, get them pissed off at your opponent. Unfortunately, Valentino and his colleagues identified a side effect of anger – it leads individuals to become closed-minded (something 60 Minutes recently detailed in their analysis of the U.S. Senate).

Gridlock within the Senate may be due to anger and hostility. 
Gridlock within the Senate may be due to anger and hostility. 

Along with anger, “people vote their hopes”. The triumph of optimism in U.S. presidential elections was first identified in a series of studies led by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Harold Zullow. Researchers analyzed the acceptance speeches of all major candidates at their political conventions throughout the 20th century for optimism, pessimism, and focus on negative events. Their analysis used a technique called CAVE (Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations), which is based on the finding that depressed individuals discuss events differently than non-depressed individuals (e.g. “I’m alone because I don't deserve to be loved” versus “I’m alone because I haven’t met the right person yet”). Results indicated that between 1900 through 1984, the more optimistic candidate who focused less on negative events won 80% of the elections (the exceptions were FDR in his three reelection races and Nixon). Candidates who inspire hope have a significant advantage with the electorate (exemplified by Clinton’s “A bridge to the 21st century”). Why is optimism so important? Optimistic individuals continue to work hard, even in the face of defeat, and optimistic messages may resonate better than neutral or pessimistic messages.

In the Battlestar Galactica election, Roslin failed to understand the importance of emotions in elections. She relied upon her perceived experience, authority, and judgment to win re-election. Baltar capitalized on the underlying anger of the fleet, funneling it towards the incumbent, while also inspiring the electorate with hope for a better future. 

Today’s election between President Barack Obama and Govenor Mitt Romney puts us in a different situation. President Obama’s 2008 landslide victory was the result of a campaign that effectively integrated messages of “hope and change”. But many believe Obama has failed to deliver on his promises. As New York City Mayor recently stated in his endorsement of Obama

“In 2008, Obama ran as a pragmatic problem-solver and consensus-builder. But as president, he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists, which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, job creation and deficit reduction. And rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice, he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it.”

While, Governor Romney has effectively used the depressed economy to instill anger at Obama, many find him to be uninspiring and untrustworthy due to his political pivots from moderate Governor to a conservative presidential nominee.

It is not surprising that this election is too close to call. There’s plenty of anger to go around and neither candidate has inspired the American people. Combined, the campaigns have spent $2 billion attacking each other rather than giving us a reason to believe in a better future (Obama’s closing argument – “Romney’s proposed policies failed our country in the past, we can’t trust him”, Romney’s – “Obama’s failed our country, we can’t trust him”). There is no New Caprica in this election, nothing to make the American people excited about the prospect of change. Rather, we’re faced with the cold reality that the next four years are going to be nearly as difficult as the last. Utlimately, this election boils down to the following question – which candidate do you dislike the least?