“The image of a
has never been
effectively than it is
now, while the
world has never
been less violent
and more safe.”
- Hans Rosling
How to Spend Two Hours Learning about the True
Greatness of the World & Humanity
During my early years as a student journalist, I developed a business
plan to start a national newspaper that printed only positive and
inspirational feature articles like the kind I have always enjoyed writing.
The tentative masthead was “Good News Times.” After much
consternation and false starts, I overcame this shortsighted naiveté
with the realization that nobody would consistently read such a
newspaper. Good news is boring. We are more attracted to bad news.
That’s what sells. We see it day-in and day-out in today’s mass media.
It’s typically described as “negativity bias” – a term that explains our
penchant for mostly bad news. “Realistic optimism” is its opposite.
I’m currently reading three inspirational and realistically optimistic-in-
the-extreme books that cogently address this issue of negativity bias,
along with addressing numerous other wrongheaded attitudes and
biases we possess that wind up promoting mistaken ways of thinking
about our world: “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science,
Humanism and Progress,” by Steven Pinker; “Factfulness: Ten Reasons
We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think,”
by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund; and
Pinker’s previous extraordinary book (among many), “The Better Angels
of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined,” – published in September
Enlightenment Now came out in February of this year on Kindle. Both
Pinker books are long, with Better Angels at 806 paperback pages, and
Enlightenment Now at 576 pages. Factfulness came out on Amazon on
April 3, and it is 320 pages.
As all three titles suggest, these books promote positive vibes about
humanity and our planet backed by science and data that mostly goes
unnoticed by the vast majority of us (as opposed to negativity-bias vibes
that consistently garner more eyeballs).
In Enlightenment Now, Pinker writes, “as we care about more of
humanity, we’re apt to mistake the harms around us for signs of how
low the world has sunk rather than how high our standards have risen.”
And Rosling adds how “the image of a dangerous world has never been
broadcast more effectively than it is now, while the world has never
been less violent and more safe.”
Now there’s plenty of room to refute such world-progress-oriented
statements with horrific examples of terrorism, refugees, the war in
Syria, the fact that more than one billion people live in substandard
housing worldwide, and on and on, but, from an historical perspective
there’s plenty of room to support such statements as well.
If you don’t want to, nor have the time to, read their books, force
yourself to check out how Pinker tortuously dolls out his world
positivity views with one Power Point slide after another during a one-
hour presentation he gave on Enlightenment Now in March at the Cato
Institute. Rosling, who is much more entertaining, presents his work
through his now famous bubble charts and maps, bolstered by his
infectious enthusiasm. Start with his BBC one-hour presentation in
November 2013, titled “Don’t Panic: The Facts About Population.”
Just spending two hours closely listening and watching these –
regardless of Pinker’s tediousness – will teach you a lot about the world
that you more than likely had no clue about before.
You can also see more videos of Pinker’s work at
https://stevenpinker.com/pages/media. And Rosling’s Gapminder
organization website has loads of additional great video at
Thanks for stopping by,