“Better and Bad”

Result from the rest of the world.

I’m on a new book now titled Factfullness with the subtitle “Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.” One of the main points of the book is that we (especially people who live in relative wealth [defined as >$32 per day]) have a tendency to see the world worse than it is. He bases this on years of surveying various groups including professionals in international relations (read the book if you want more details). This is not to say that we should stop worrying about the state of the world or that we should stop trying to improve things. Rather we need to focus our efforts appropriately.

Without getting into a philosophical discussion on what is truth/ reality/ objective/ fact, data tells a story, and one can argue that data and statistics give us the closest thing we have to “truth.” And the data shows how much progress we’ve made in medicine, in education, in public health, in conservation etc. While some of this progress seems obvious, educated people consistently performed worse than random on the multiple choice surveys asking questions about the current state of the world.

Anyways, the author, Hans Rosling, talks about things being simultaneously better and bad. Just because there is some messed up shit in our present world doesn’t mean things aren’t better than they were. If we want to continue making things better, we must proceed with a clear picture of our present and a clear vision for our future. And just as looking back through history at our mistakes serve as lessons on what not to do, looking at how far we’ve come is important to knowing where we should go and how we should get there. Thoughts?

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