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

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Captain Ron : Wonderful talk! However, despite the convincing numbers that the world is a better place today than it was in the past, many people are incapable of seeing progress and instead dwell on current issues and problems. This is not a bad thing but focusing on the world's miseries (without acknowledging the amazing progress of human society) is a depressing way of living one's life.

yapdog : You wouldn't believe how harshly I always get attacked online when I said we're better off now than we were by nearly every measure. I've been saying this for the past 10 years, but, no matter their political leanings, people really don't like to hear it, calling me ignorant.

Abhilash S : "Knowledge is better than superstition" Thank you TED

Allen Duncan : The Paradox of Human Progress Mr. Pinker's progress metrics are human centric with a bias discounting all other life forms. The problems he mentions, which are less now than thirty years ago, do not take into account the cost of that "progress". More crops to feed more people (less famine) is making abundant clean water source(s) scarcer and therefore more expensive for everyone. The convenience of plastic containers for product transport (more hours of leisure) which when said containers are discarded and dissolve in the oceans wind up in our food sources as indigestible micro-pellets of extra burden on our gastrointestinal system. Our happiness indicators are rising, but so too is opiod addiction spreading geometrically. Do we really need drugs to keep us happy? Extended life expectancy is financially burdensome to society from a care givers perspective as well as from a standpoint of increased neurological disorders of the elderly. Less crime may be a direct result of fewer personal freedoms and governmental spying on citizens. If you don't think so, watch how the TSA humiliates citizenry in the name of a more "secure" transportation system. More pesticides means fewer bees increasing real crop prices (without farm subsidies factored in). As the globe warms (abundant and inexpensive fossil fuel use), coastlines are eroded displacing thousands and soon millions. Who will pay for this displacement? And so on. We don't need cheerleaders who want to sell their own books. We need governments and financial institutions collaborating to prioritize problems which may slow gdp and bottom-line growth, but the solving of which will protect endangered species, loss of biologically diverse habitats, and humanities future. His closing statements are well thought out, but they should in no way make his audience think human life is getting better. It can, but it needs a wider scope of included challenges to really tell a truth about what are the real challenges we face as we move into the future.

stb357 : All good stuff. The only problem is that it doesn’t matter how many people are raised out of poverty if we kill off the earth’s non-human animals, deplete our resources and destroy civilization through unbridled climate instability in order to provide those riches. So the the good things are great, but they will all be for naught if we don’t solve these civilizational problems. The danger of looking on the bright side is that it is all too inviting, and could entice us to remain as complacent as we are now, until it’s too late.

Todd Cory : infinite growth on a finite planet doesn't work... regardless of the happy talk spin.

Jason Martin : I have a theory: Perhaps people feel so poorly about the current state of the world because more and more people are having decent childhoods, thus looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses and looking at deviation from that as threatening. Basically, our increased standard of living is also increasing how threatened we feel by progress.

Mila Djordjevic : Positive things in recent years which have been making the world a better, and more positive place: 🌻 the discovery of worms that eat plastic which can help us drastically reduce the astronomical amounts of trash we've produced. 🌻 the slow beginning of charging and (better yet) banning people from using plastic bags in certain cities across the world. (message me for a map if you're interested in more info.) 🌻 the invention of the Seabin which is a vacuum that sucks up oil and trash from the ocean, including microplastic! 🌻 the explosion of fair trade, sustainable, vegan, cruelty free, and zero waste companies out there for clothing, shoes, & cosmetics etc 🌻 the invention of compostable cutlery and reusable straws 🌻 the man made iceberg which creates fresh water for deserts in the Himalayas (think how this can influence others to bring fresh water to other places in the world that are in dire need of fresh clean water) 🌻 meditation in detention centers in schools which have improved the behavior of misbehaved students 🌻 meditation in prisons which have improved inmates' livelihoods 🌻 the increase of spreading awareness and education on mental health and disease and how preventable/curable many diseases are 🌻 increase of conversations on self-love, forgiveness, and gratitude. 🌻 the increase of supply and demand of vegan food which helps make the world a greener place because animal agriculture is the leading cause of ocean dead zones/loss of biodiversity, animal extinction, deforestation especially of the Amazon rain forest which are the lungs of our planet and greenhouse gas emissions. 🌻 comment below more positive things I can't think of right now, but I KNOW there're millions more positive things to be grateful for in this world!

Goose Games : i think social media has amplified everything. things may not be as bad as 30 years ago but with social media people just love to complain, hate and voice their negative opinions.

Lana Flame : 2/3 of the world population living in democracy? Wow, show me that. Democratic regime stated on paper means nothing to a real life world situation.

Medical Cannabis Spain : Despite the rhetoric, the world is suffering inequality like never before. I tend to think 'equality' is a measurement of being better, therefore its worse

Rodrigo Rios Lee : Nice chat... but as some others have pointed out, much of this "progress" has been done to an enourmous cost, one that many prefer to deny: the destruction of the environment. Steven Pinker forgot to show statistics about the dramatic ongoing death of all species in this world. Do you really think we, humans, will go unpunished?

Dmitrii Grigorita : Indeed our world is better than 50 or 100 years ago!

darius bekker : "When was the last time the world wasn't falling apart?"

We Not Me : Oh my god, following attacks on free speech labelled as "fake news", the Hegemony has now started haranguing us with Neo-Liberal propagandists like this guy. You can prove anything with the selective use of statistics. But here are a few statistics that Pinker conveniently forgot to mention, for balance; * Fewer than 400 people own more than 50% of all the wealth on planet Earth. * The Anthropocene Age has resulted in more than half of all mammalian species going extinct in less than 100 years. * Homicide rates are down in the US, but incarceration rates are higher than in Communist China, and more than 5 times the global average, with 1:2000 adults in prison. * People living in Africa who used to eat rats and drink cattle blood now live in houses, and that's great. But the Global Financial Crisis made 3 million Americans homeless, and homeless rates have been rising ever since. * Literacy rates in America are falling, as is class mobility, fewer people have access to adequate healthcare, and child mortality rates in the US are climbing. He didn't mention Capitalism once, and he made the completely spurious claim that "Democracy" is spreading everywhere. The truth is, our societies are becoming less democratic, in terms of the measurable influence public opinion has on public policy, while political theatre abounds. We were more prosperous in the United States when rampant Capitalism was more restrained, and tax rates on the rich were > 90% Pinker is gaslighting us. You are not crazy to believe that the world is becoming less free, less just and less democratic. People like Pinker are definitely a part of the problem and should be resisted.

crudecod : so many other issues left unaddressed though

Trahvex : I miss the fact that he doesn't talk anything about that the majority of the actual problems are consequences of the capistalist system that rules the world in our days

Bitoni Lane : what country is a democracy? lost me on this one.

2OrdinaryGuys : Thank you for this video - from a student paramedic

Christos Panagiotidis : 8:40 How does one measure happiness? Don't see any chart there.

Phi : He forgets to mention the demographic decline of the west, the destruction of the environment and that happiness doesn't explicitly come from material things. I have the sense that we are more egoistic than ever before, and this is what bothers me. Not that I doubt scientific progress, I fear it. Artificial intelligence is a threat. Progress is a threat.

Peter Viking : Statistics show what you want them to show.

Billy Daily : Many of these statistics are biased and inaccurate. Less than 10% of the worlds population live in extreme poverty?!? Huh?!!?

Daniel Șuteu : We multiplied our fortunes, but we reduced our values. We talk too much, we love too rarely and we hate too often. We learned how to make a living, but not how to live a life, We added years to life, not life to years. We've gotten up to the moon and back, but we're in trouble when we have to cross the street to get in touch with a neighbor. We have conquered the cosmic space, but not the inner space. We did bigger things, but not better. We cleaned the air, but we polluted the soil. We conquered the atom, but not our prejudices. We write more, but we learn less. We plan more, but we do fewer. We learned to hurry, but not how to be patient. We have larger buildings, but smaller souls; Wider highways, but narrower minds. We buy more, but we enjoy less. We have more accessories, but less time; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts and yet more problems, more medicine, but less health. These are the times of fast-food and slow digestion, Great people, but petty characters; Rapid profits and superficial relationships. These are the times when we have two incomes, but more divorces, More beautiful houses, but broken homes. These are the times when we have one-night stands, overweight bodies and pills that can induce any feeling, from joy... to peace... to death... -- Paler, Octavian

Doaa Altarawy : Thanks. But How do we measure happiness? there is no measure we can all agree upon. If the use of antidepressants is a measure then we are getting more miserable!

iambiggus : "In understanding humanities tribulations and woes, human nature is the problem. But human nature, channeled by enlightenment, norms, and institutions, is also the solution." Steven Pinker

fragment7 : remove the main limiter of possibilities and progress, it's called money,

samljer : nuclear weapons today are also 50x stronger then yeas ago, do the devistation math on that one. or how theres X% less starvation and poverty, but those who are impoverished are worse then in human history... as the gap between the rich and poor is getting more and more ridiculous... no.. he just sticks with the numbers that look good. were no better off, the issues have just shifted.

Goku : Great talk. It's so frustrating to see how many people ignore the good of the world in favor of fatalism.

Provoked Analysis : Its the lying main stream media.

Rich Tygart : He's like the loudspeaker announcer in 1984 "Everything is ok!"

Joseph Eden : A corrupted government is not a Democracy. Water quality, habitat loss, fauna extinction and animal extinction? Inequality gap/rate? Developed world stats propped up by the developing worlds growth. How and who came up with the statistics? Mouthpiece for the rich and oppressive "free market" Oligarchs.

David Ward : This is an interesting discussion, as I find assessing it can easily swing both ways. There's no doubt that, statistically speaking, Pinker is showing what appears to be progress in our modern time. Yet, on the other hand, the tools for measuring certain pieces of this progress can probably be called into question. For example, the notion that there are more democracies in the world and more people living within those democracies doesn't get anywhere near to the heart of the corporate takeover of said democracies. Anyone who lives in, say, North America, probably understands this very well today. As a voting Canadian citizen in a first-past-the-post system, I don't really feel like there's any real democratic situation here. I know I'm not alone in that. That said, Pinker's stats when it comes to poverty, homicide rates, and war, for example, are hard to dispute. In some ways, the world today is more peaceful than it has ever been in the history of humanity.

domsau2 : Collapsology is right.

james beihl : I would like to see him try and debate Chris Hedges

NEO geek : This TED Talks is by far the most absurd I have seen. It conflicts with so many of the other TED Talks I have watched. He is clearly an optimist. In the next 50 to 100 years one third of the ocean life will die from the lack of oxygen due to the dead zones expanding and polluting the rest of the world. There are islands of trash in the ocean as big as Australia. The quality of food is dropping quickly around the world. The amount of people to have cancer Rises every year. There was a TED talks on cancer a while back that stated with facts showing with the rate of cancer I believe it said one third of everybody will have cancer in the next hundred years. He also didn't mention inflation or how wealth is divided. 3% of the world holds over 75% of all the wealth. And that 3% grows its wealth everyday. The world is certainly getting worse without a doubt. There was also a TED Talk I watch just the other day... Or at least I believe it was a TED Talks it may not have been I take that back it was not. Regardless it showed how regulations are basically counterproductive if it's not benefiting the wealthy. You can go to Cambridge University, Stanford, Harvard and they will tell you that the world is getting worse due to the wealthy. look at the huge problems China has with food, so much of their exports is so unhealthy and horrible because it's actually completely think. And I would like to mention the fact that I believe personally violence is a key every specie needs to continue evolving. It kind of ties in with the whole survival of the fittest thing. Yes more people may survive certain problems but then they could pass those problems down to their children that's making the worlds suffer more. There's so much he did not mention that really upset me. Think about slaves. If it wasn't for violence do you think we would have ever got rid of slavery? Absolutely not violence isn't the thing that brings down the quality of living in my opinion. if it wasn't for the atrocities that happened because of slavery we would probably still have slavery today. I live in the United States what are the most ignorant countries in the world. The United States likes to play the blame game. they don't believe my generation will have social security, why not? We spend 60% of our taxpayer dollars on Military that's more than the next 26 countries combined. I know personally I am less happy now than I have ever been and I know in the future I will be even less happy. I find it insane that people don't see it's undeniable that the world is in fact getting worse. I'm sure that man is a very wealthy man so his life is not entirely normal. look at Amazon and how much money they are making and how they are affecting the economy by tearing down other companies and causing them to close and lose. hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs this year. Dozens of retailers close all the time meaning all of meaning all of those employees now have to find new jobs. And before you say that Amazon must surely be creating jobs and that is not the case the reason they are so profitable is because they need far fewer employees to do the same jobs that other retailers did. Let's say for instance I make $12 an hour and I work 40 hours a week. That's less than $2,000 a month before taxes. I live in Nebraska with one of the strongest economies in the country. Our minimum wage is $9 something. I know it's already very difficult to survive off of $2,000 a month. rent on average here is about $700 a month that's not counting renters insurance or utilities. also the $700 apartments are trash. Now if you want to be optimistic let's say you have health insurance and car insurance and car payments all that adds up to about another thousand dollars a month. so then after you add your food expenses and everything else what do you really left with? now let's say you lose your job there is almost no way you can hold yourself above the debt that will accumulate instantly. The cost of living goes up due to inflation and such but minimum wage does not go up with inflation. people will say it's because then things will continue to get more expensive because it cost more to pay employees. but when most of the companies employing most the country Prophet billions of dollars every year how can they not afford to pay that? It's because of greed. there is so much wrong with the world but I think it all starts with the fact that the world is basically run by capitalism. I would add a lot more but my voice to text is getting incredibly slow from the small novel I apparently spoke to you guys LOL

joro boro : Riddle me this: Global suicide rates have increased 60% in the past 45 years. Why would more and more people opt out of Mr. Pinker's wonderful wonderful world? Life is not a problem to be solved, not a riddle to be answered. It's a journey, not a destination and while we are journeying together, be on the lookout for those of us pretending to know where we are going.

Earthbjorn Nahkaimurrao : 9:15 - someone with ability should start a news organization that focuses on tracking the improvements we are making. This would greatly inspire people to contribute to society by becoming engineers, teachers, doctors, etc.

Ann Harrison : What about Loneliness, homelessness, these Numbers have gone UP!

MrPicoli2 : Yet humans are the cause of the 6th mass extinction. Use of antidepressants is high and about everyone think there's something wrong with our world. But it's a great talk for the one percent so they can have a nice tight sleep...

Pierre Taichou : Good TED talk, but I wanted to see graphs on suicide rates.

King Sethos : Personally, I have lived through about 50+ predicted world endings. The 70's had many cars with visible exhaust, global cooling was going to destroy Earth, Iranian hostages, Patty Hearst kidnapped, mob hits in NY, Son of Sam, power outages, on and on.

Drake Santiago : This is ironclad proof that all the apologists on the religious Right, who, for decades, prognosticated doom and gloom due to an increasingly secular society, are completely wrong when they try to correlate increasing lack of belief in religion with a decline in societal well being. Despite the fact that people are abandoning religion at increasing numbers, society has not become more homicidal, bellicose, criminal, ignorant or impoverished. Just like a lot of other things that Christian conservatives like to peddle - this notion that a secular society is one that is not conducive to happiness is a myth. Statics are corrosive to sacred cows.

marcos cesar da silva a : It seems the ideas presented here are ideologically driven, I have lived and worked in more than a dozen countries in 3 different continents, the idea that the world is getting better is the equivalent of believing economists saying the economy is actually better.

Anaximander v.M : He’s the prototype of a populist: ignorant, blind and deaf but a big mouth.

Wake Up : Does this prove the wealthy elite now control the Ted talks? Or was this a one time thing? This talk was very inaccurate and hurt to watch. I don't mean to sound rude or cynical but please fact check EVERYTHING said here. You will be very surprised if you believe any of this video. Good luck and best wishes to all who triple check their data.

NAIVADA : $weet dreams.. The society and culture we're living in are driven by the worst of values to achieve anything that'd get us any closer to one where equality and morality could prevail. The whole economic culture we live in is unsustainable and it will collapse, everything will need and is going to change, one way or another. There isn't going to be an economic recovery. We will not see a decrease in poverty. The current system creates artificial scarcity > breeds competition, immorality, conflict, problem creation for the sake of profit, and much suffering. YAY

me : Only human's selfish life is better. The Earth loses 18.7 million acres of forests per year, which is equal to 27 soccer fields every minute, according to the WWF. 75% insects have disappeared in last 27 years. They are in serious trouble. It's depressing. Glaciers are shrinking at high rate. Climate scientists can't sleep at night because they know much more than we do. We hear "we need to act now". But that point is long gone, there is no turning back. Many species are disappearing. Giraffes are endangered now, last Male Northern White Rhino just dies. Many more will be in next few decades. Oceans are filled with plastics and it's killing whales. We designed all these dog breeds just because we wanted it to look certain way and it induced genetic diseases in all of them. They have suffer their whole life because of our twisted mind. We can talk about how better current time is compared to 100 years ago only because we are selfish. Earth is not just a rock in space, it's the whole ecosystem. Just like cancer cells spread and destroy our body, we did the same to this beautiful planet. NOTE: This comment is NOT JUST about climate change. It's about all types of lifeforms and Earth.

Esben Andreasen : Orwell was right when he said that most socialists do not care about the poor; they simply hate the rich. Leftists hate progress because it undermines their critique of the powers that be.

evolor : Has the population growth ever taken into account here? There are more people on earth now than 30 years ago, even if the percentages of people in poverty have been reduced, there are still far more people in poverty or extreme poverty than 30 years ago. Now are we happier now that a smaller percentage of people are no longer in poverty or should we be happier with more people now in poverty?