Norberg, the optimist.

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Lance Kennedy
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Norberg, the optimist.

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:59 am ... the_Future

Johan Norbert, a Swedish writer, in his book, Progress, points out that the world is becoming a better place for humans, and that the present day is the best time of any in history to live.

A few statistics.

The number of people in extreme poverty has decreased by 137,000 people per day, and this has been decreasing at that rate for the last 25 years. In China, for example, 30 years ago, 90% of the population were in extreme poverty and today it is only 10%. Since 1945, the percentage of people globally who are undernourished has cropped from 50% to 10%. Global average income (adjusted for inflation) has gone from $ US 1,000 to $ US 8,000 in 100 years. Today, the increase in wealth is greater in developing nations than in rich countries.

Since 1820, illiteracy globally has fallen from 90% to 10%. Murder rates fell. Deaths in war fell. Child mortality fell. Death in childbirth fell. Deaths from all disease fell. More people die of cancer these days, but that is only because more people live long enough for cancer to strike. Global life expectancy in 1900 was 31 years. Today it is 71 and still increasing.

Yet a recent survey in Britain showed that only 10% of people thought poverty was falling. Most thought things were getting worse. The reason for this ignorance, of course, is journalists, who harp on bad news.

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Re: Norberg, the optimist.

Postby Io » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:56 am

I suppose it's common sense, when you think about it, that things in general are improving. There are lots of horrible things that used to go on in the past but which now don't - or don't so much; disease, slavery, mistreatment of one of society's classes by another, etc. Should be fairly clear.

In the past, any given individual probably had far less idea of what was going on in the world and less comprehension of how numerous and terrible were the numerous and terrible things that were going on. Whereas today our extensive and instant communications networks bleat out woes every hour on the hour 24 hours a day. Any given individual probably feels like things are getting worse when they're just getting 'more known'. Plus, journalism doesn't always have "tell everyone the truth because it's important people know the truth" as their guiding principle so some of what we're told is balls.

I can't think of anything else terrible that's going on now that definitely wasn't in the past (I have just woken up though). If there is anything it'll be related to tech.

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