Negative news plays a part in why people underestimate the progress humanity is making, but to discern the true state of the world we only need look at the statistics.
9 reasons why the doom-mongers are wrong
The constant bombardment of negative news plays a part in why people consistently underestimate the progress humanity is making, whereas the truth is a different matter — a steady, cumulative progress is occurring on many fronts and progress has often been surprisingly rapid. To discern the true state of the world we only need look at the statistics.
Signs of improvement: 9 staggering statistics
1.The world is about 100 times wealthier than it was 200 years ago and, contrary to popular belief, the wealth is more evenly distributed. Globalisation, the decline of trade barriers, the decrease in transportation and communication costs,and the rise of vertical supply chains have all had an effect.
2. ‘The vast majority of poor Americans enjoy luxuries unavailable to the Vanderbilts and Astors of 150 years ago such as electricity, air-conditioning and colour televisions.., better medicine and sanitation allow people to live longer, healthier lives.’ – Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.
3. The number of people killed annually in wars is less than a quarter of that in the 1980s and just half of one percent of the toll in the Second World War. There is still war in the world, and though it comes as no solace to those affected by it, studies show that there is a great deal less of it overall.
4. “During the 20th century, Americans became 96% less likely to die in a car crash, 92% less likely to perish in a fire and 95% less likely to expire on the job. Street vendors in South Sudan have mobile phones whose computing power far exceeds that of the Apollo Space Capsule that landed the first humans on the moon in 1969.“ — Michael Møller, United Nations Under-Secretary-General.
5. In every part of the world IQ scores have been rising, by a staggering 30 points in 100 years, meaning that the average person today scores better than 98% of people a century ago, and the answer is thought to be better nutrition. Researchers call this the Flynn Effect.
Things are looking up!
6. Children across the globe are far likelier to go to school than they were in 1900. Research shows the rise correlates with the global decline in child labour.
7. Two centuries ago only 1% of people lived in democracies, and even there, women and working-class men were denied the vote. Now two-thirds of people live in democracies. More recently, the gradual introduction of local elections in China has improved local politics and lead to more educated politicians.
8. In 45 out of 52 countries in the World Values Survey, happiness increased between 1981 and 2007. It rises roughly in line with absolute income per head, not relative income.
9. The number of nuclear weapons in the world has fallen by 85% since its peak at the height of the Cold War. The United States ended production of fissile material for weapons and removed hundreds of tons of fissile material from weapons programs.
The underlying data unveils a picture of steady, cumulative progress
“Front pages are grim for the same reason that Shakespeare’s plays feature a lot of murders. Tragedy is dramatic.”
“Bad things often happen suddenly and telegenically. The closure of a factory; a terror attack. Hardly anyone would read a story headlined ‘NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN EXTREME POVERTY FELL BY 137,000 SINCE YESTERDAY’ , even though that has been true for every day in the past 25 years.” — Michael Møller, United Nations Under-Secretary-General said in a recent address to the Symposium for Senior NATO/PfP LEGADs (Challenges regarding Legal Interoperability. Geneva Centre for Security Policy).
Møller continued, “Looking at the underlying data, rather than sensationalist headlines, unveils a very different picture – an image not of imminent decline, but of steady, cumulative progress.”
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