Max Roser on why we have much to be optimistic about last year. There is a strong negativity bias in the news reported by the media and in the news remembered by individuals.
The consequence of this is that we have no knowledge about the poverty, poor health and the often high levels of violence that characterized our past. It is this ignorance that makes it possible to tell stories of decline, because it means that we are unaware of how inconceivably exceptional our current living conditions are from the perspective of our ancestors.
The story that we tell about ourselves is the most important story of all. Journalists and intellectuals who almost exclusively focus on what goes wrong risks us losing our faith in one another, and that faith is the essential foundation without which our ideal of a free and democratic society is impossible. A constant supply of news that make us afraid with little to instill trust in one another and in our institutions has always been the best press demagogues can hope for.
Freedom is impossible without faith in free people, and if we are not aware of our history and produce and demand only the information on what goes wrong, we risk to lose faith in one another.Roser also has an excellent post highlighting how living conditions have changed around the world over the last 200 years.
The headline could be “The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 130,000 since yesterday.”
The Guardian also explains why 2016 isn't as bad as you think.
There is much good news going on around the world and much to be thankful for and happy about.
Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and a great start to 2017!