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Step away from "news" and read Better Angels of our Nature by Stephen Pinker: https://www.amazon.com/Better-Angels-Our-Nature-Violence/dp/...

Not only is the world better than ever, it is getting better faster than ever, and it's accelerating.

The news is getting more negative as the world gets better. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1461670X.2018.1...

This is happening because as subscription revenue dries up, the media is incentivized toward click-bait, and the human brain is biased toward negativity. As a hunter-gatherer, a negative incident can have much worse consequences than can a positive one, so we've evolved toward a negative bias for survival reasons.




There are two main problems with Pinker's thesis.

First, he claims to show a tendential decline in war. But most casualties of war are the result of a small handful of apocalyptic wars: the sixty years wars, the Napoleonic wars, and the world wars. Each of these events has been bigger than the last. The consistent pattern is for there to be fewer wars over time, but for these apocalyptic wars to become more destructive. Clearly, that's the result of technological progress. If we extrapolate this trend forward, it would suggest that there will be an apocalyptic war in the next century that will destroy most of the world. Pinker acknowledges these long-tail events, but minimises or ignores their significance.

Second, his case is built on the back of a few remarkable trendlines: fewer wars, declining violence, better governance. Pinker does this very well. It's convincing and insightful. But these are data without context. Pinker's argument has no historical or sociological depth. If you want to understand what's taking place in the world, you have to recognise how the forces of modernity - capitalism, nation-states, techno-science, individualism - have led to both everything Pinker celebrates (pacified populations pursuing commercial gain in well governed centralised states in a globalised world) and a whole host of dangers (increasingly destructive technology, competition between nation-states, inequality and Darwinian economic competition, decentralised capitalism, climate change, and the destruction of nature, etc.).


I haven't read the Stephen Pinker book, but it sounds similar to one of my favourite books "Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think" which sounds like it covers similar topics.

As douglaswlance says, the world is getting better faster than ever!


Is there any good news for the natural world in that book? Specifically mass extinction of species cute and not.




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