The world is doing much better than the bad news makes us think
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post
Posted: December 16th, 2019
There is a natural human bias toward bad news. The title of a 1998 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology sums it up: Negative Information Weighs More Heavily on the Brain. Negative stimuli get our attention much more than positive stimuli which makes evolutionary sense for survival. Nice things are enjoyable; bad things can be deadly, so focus on them. And given that, in the news media, attention equals money, we can see the commercial reason for a lack of headlines such as Millions not going to bed hungry tonight. Frequently, however, the bad-news bias gives us a highly inaccurate picture of the world. For example, according to a 2013 survey, 67% of Americans think global poverty is on the rise, and 68% believe it is impossible to solve extreme poverty in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, starvation-level poverty has decreased by 80% since 1970, according to economists at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The truth is that while there is plenty to worry about on any given day, the world is generally getting better. Fresh, comprehensive evidence of progress comes in the new Legatum Prosperity Index, based on data from 167 countries ... on 300 social and economic indicators of well-being. Across those dimensions, from 2009 to 2019, 148 of the 167 countries have seen net progress much of it dramatic, and especially so among the poorest countries in the world.
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