A Defence of Progress

How to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy of pessimism

The astonishing progress of humanity over the last century seems undeniable. Whether you look at the facts about nutrition, poverty, child mortality or literacy, the story is the same: vast improvements. So why does it constantly feel like humanity is on the brink of going to hell in a handcart?

The timescale in which massive changes for the better have taken place is staggering. The race to end extreme poverty began only 200 years ago: an eye-blink in the 300,000 year history of Homo sapiens. And in the last 20 years alone, world poverty has fallen from 29% of the population to 9%.

The consequences of negativity are themselves negative.

In Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things are Better than you Think, Hans Rosling offers a plausible explanation for why this good news is not known or believed by many people: ‘the feeling that as long as things are bad it’s he

Continue reading

Enjoy unlimited access to the world's leading thinkers.

Start by exploring our subscription options or joining our mailing list today.

Start Free Trial

Already a subscriber? Log in

Join the conversation