"Wishful thinking” is wanting an event to happen and, perhaps, ignoring painful realities. The term “wishful thinking” is cited in the early 1900s.
“Reducing is wishful shrinking” (or “Dieting is wishful shrinking") is cited from 1954-1955, mentioned frequently in syndicated newspaper columns by New York City entertainment writer Earl Wilson.
Dieting is wishful shrinking...
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Wikipedia: Wishful thinking
Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence or rationality.
Studies have consistently shown that holding all else equal, subjects will predict positive outcomes to be more likely than negative outcomes. See positive outcome bias.
Prominent examples of wishful thinking include:
. Economist Irving Fisher said that “stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau” a few weeks before Stock Market Crash of 1929, which was followed by the Great Depression.
. President John F. Kennedy believed that, if overpowered by Cuban forces, the CIA-backed rebels could “escape destruction by melting into the countryside” in the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
In mod. use in weaker sense: expressing or indicative of a wish; chiefly in wishful thinking, thinking, esp. belief or expectation, that is influenced by one’s wishes to the extent that relevant (consciously) known facts are (subconsciously) ignored or distorted; also as adj.; so wishful thinker.
1932 Sat. Rev. Lit. 2 July 817/4 At two vitally important points Glenn Frank’s incisive analysis fades away in a vague realm of hope or even of wishful thinking.
1940 Illustr. London News CXCVI. 498/2 The possibility of any relief in that direction can only exist in the minds of wishful-thinkers.
1940 L. D. WEATHERHEAD This is Victory ii. 58, I do not mean that that which is believed has no other support than man’s wishful thinking.
1941 AUDEN New Year Letter I. 17 Twelve months ago in Brussels I heard the same wishful-thinking sigh
12 January 1954, Mason City (Iowa) Globe Gazette, pg. 8, col. 3:
Reducing: Wishful shrinking.
25 January 1955, Long Beach (CA)
WISH I’D SAID THAT: To some people, notes Ima Washout, reducing is nothing more than wishful shrinking.
5 August 1955, Troy (NY) Times Record, pg. 6, col. 2:
Dieting; Wishful shrinking.
9 August 1956, Hammond (IN) Times, Earl Wilson column, pg. C2, col. 3:
WISH I’D SAID THAT: Art Moger of Boston writes that he tried the new Rockeferrer Diet—and calls it “wishful shrinking.”
25 April 1957, Edwardsville (IL) Intelligencer, “Office Cat” by Junius, pg. 4, col. 3:
Many fat people try to reduce by wishful shrinking.
3 September 1967, Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle, Family Weekly, pg. 5, col. 3:
Each time I step upon a scale
The poundage starts me thinking:
I must go on a diet—but
I know it’s wishful shrinking.
-- Anna Herbert
New York City • Food/Drink • (0) Comments • Saturday, February 07, 2009 • Permalink