Why Don’t We Know The World Is Getting Better?

It’s ironic that in a world where knowledge and education are improving dramatically, there is widespread abysmal ignorance about the improving state of the world. “More than 9 out of 10 people do not think that the world is getting better.”

Our World In Data suggests that the media are partly to blame. The media does not tell us how the world is changing, it tells us where the world is going wrong. It tends to focus on single events particularly single events that have gone bad. By contrast, positive developments happen slowly with no particular event to promote in a headline. “More people are healthy today than yesterday,” just doesn’t cut it.

The result is that most people are ignorant about how the state of the world has changed. In both the U.K. and the U.S. most people think that “the share of people living in extreme poverty has increased! Two thirds in the US even think the share in extreme poverty has ‘almost doubled’.”

Steve Denning