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Is the world getting better or worse? A look at the numbers

Started by droqen, May 10, 2022, 07:49:57 AM

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Quoteif you combine our cognitive biases with the nature of news, you can see why [people have been perceiving that] the world has been coming to end for a very long time

Quick conclusion: Is the problem with the nature of news? Should we, and can we, move on from valuing 'news' at all? First of all, what is news? Is it what it sounds like?

QuoteNews (nūz), n [From New; cf. F. nounelles. News is plural in form, but is commonly used with a singular verb.]

1. A report of recent occurrences; information of something that has lately taken place, or of something before unknown; fresh tidings; recent intelligence.
Evil news rides post, while good news baits.
— Milton.

2. Something strange or newly happened.
It is no news for the weak and poor to be a prey to the strong and rich.
— L'Estrange.

3. A bearer of news; a courier; a newspaper. [Obs.]
There cometh a news thither with his horse.
— Pepys.

Back to Steven Pinker:

Quote from: 10:12bad things can happen quickly, but good things aren't built in a day. The papers could have run the headline, 137,000 people escaped from extreme poverty yesterday, every day for the last 20 years. That's 1.25 billion people leaving poverty behind, but you never read about it.

Is there too much of a focus on the "strange and newly happened", on discovering reports of "recent occurrences"?

I suppose that 'press' and journalism in general is distinct from news. I like receiving "information about something before unknown," but some days it feels as though we are enter a post-unknown world, where everything and everything is becoming further and further documented because of how driven we are by the news, by discoveries, by changes in the world...

What could replace it? What could be as compelling, once we are omniscient?


Quote from: 12:50.. the unsolved problems facing the world today are gargantuan, including the risks of climate change and nuclear war, but we must see them as problems to be solved, not apocalypses-in-waiting, and aggressively pursue solutions like deep decarbonization for climate change, and global zero for nuclear war.


Quote from: 17:22We will never have a perfect world, and it would be dangerous to seek one. But there's no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing.


See also Why is Gen Z Humor So Weird? [external youtube link, not an internal link to a Close Reading thread], especially 6:55 onward

- oversaturation
- depression
- existential dread