Max Roser, an economist working at the University of Oxford, said that at the close of 2015, only 6 percent of Americans surveyed believed the world was getting better when, in fact—by many significant measures—it is:
- Global poverty has decreased by half in the last 20 years but only 8% of Americans surveyed were aware of that fact.
- Crime in the US has decreased by half in the last 25 years…but Americans keep thinking that crime rates are going up.
According to Future Crunch, the year 2016 saw:
- The discovery of potential cures for Parkinson’s, AIDS and sepsis, the rollout of a cheap vaccine for cholera, and dramatic declines in malaria death rates
- Big wins for LGBT activists in Japan, Finland and Slovenia, and women’s rights in India and Iceland
- Global declines in executions
- Drops in income inequality in the US and China
- Increases in German employment (despite huge refugee intakes)
- Big conservation wins for tigers in China, elephants in Chad, bees in Europe, forests in Cameroon and oceans in Indonesia
- The accelerating death of the fossil fuels industry and the incredible explosion of renewable energy around the world
…but these stories were vastly underreported.
“Forget fake news,” Future Crunch said. “Our real problem is balance. Respectable news outlets say they’re giving us an objective view of the world, yet drown us in a daily deluge of conflict and negative headlines. It’s manufactured drama and we can’t tear our eyes away. Bad news is great for business…because it’s an addictive product. That’s why it’s everywhere.”
Roser gives three more reasons for these overwhelmingly negative erroneous views:
- It is hard-wired in human psychology to watch for signs of danger.
- The 24/7 structure of the media highlights negative subjects.
- We are unaware of how inconceivably exceptional our current living conditions are from the perspective of our ancestors.