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.

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

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.

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

writerconsidered : He is absolutely correct, within the parameters he is operating in. What he is leaving out could fill volumes.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Michael L : Its the lying main stream media.

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

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

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.

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?

John Trauger : Pinker makes a lot of sense. If you are a conservative you may need to filter for ideology, but I've found his point endures nicely. I find it ironic that Pinker quotes global warming as a major treat on the one hand, suggests questioning authority on the other and does not see how how unquestioned the assumption of human-caused warming is, but that could be ideology on *my* part. :)

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

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

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.

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.

Nicola Dibiase : Do you really think that the world is better now than 30 years ago? That's funny, it means that the brainwashing news are doing their dirty job well and this TED is on the same line, using selected parameters to quantify the improvements of today vs. 30 years ago. Let's consider other parameters as the freedom from over safety... Mandatory helmets for scooter drivers almost everywhere in the world, baby seat in cars, mandatory safety belts, terrible restrictions in what is allowed to carry in a plane, restrictions on passing each country border and discouraging laws to move in other countries are just few examples. Let's see the amount of divorces, the numbers of babies per family, the number of split families, the rate of loneliness of babies, of elder people and of adults of course. Let 's consider the amount of plastics waste that are crowding our oceans, the monoxide emissions (worldwide), the new viruses coming back and the increased use of chemicals for each and any little ailment. We have never had so much democracy like today says this TED, but did you ask yourself what kind of democracy? Multinational capitalistic democracy? No thanks we can live without it. Not to mention the new wave of anti-science and charlatans of every kinds who can spread to the world the "new truth" about anything. And last but not least the lack of cultural new ideas in music. Sorry I don't agree that the world is getting better, give me back the 70's, the rock, the drug, the freedom, the Apollo missions. We are tired of safety.

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.

Ibm w : This guy worth of thousands journalists...

Willy Tanner : I'm an optimist, I agree is getting better, but....only 10% of extreme poverty?? Whaaaaat? I've traveled to China, India, Africa, Southeast Asia....combined they make more than half the world's population, and I'm sure that number is wrong!

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

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

Dack Hacksaw : A refreshingly non-Afrocentric video. Thanks, TEDAfrica!

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.

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

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!

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.

David Roberts : Liars, damn liars, and statisticians.

GOGETA GOD : Coming out of extreme poverty dosent mean u r out of poverty lol

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

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.

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

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

Apiary Apsaras : statistics, if your population is 2 and one person is killed that's a 50% mortality rate. Of course numbers have gone down if the population has gone up and vise versa, the PERCENT of crime and deaths were higher when the population was lower in the past. But there are 300 million people living today in India without electricity, that's about the population of America. Over 80% of the population in India do not have health insurance. Social Security in the United States is underfunded and will be exhausted in 2037 that's only 19 years away. The US National debt is currently 21 trillion dollars. Biodiversity is shrinking, many species are now facing extinction from habitat loss or global warming. The top selling vehicle for Ford in 2017 was the F series truck that gets 17 mpg. A 1970's VW bug gets about 30 mpg. There have been improvements for sure, slavery is no longer legal but that bar isn't very high is it, we ought not to be patting ourselves on the back and claiming progress for correcting horrible conditions that should never have existed. The MEASURE of success can be deceiving. If 10 innocent people are in a room and one is murdered and nine survive that doesn't mean justice was successful because the majority, 9 out of 10, innocent people were protected. Justice failed to protect the innocent, period. But as this talk shows we live in a reality of probability, what seems to work most of the time determines our value system. The problem with a value system based on probability is denial.

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

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!

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.

Georgios Tsirtsidis : One thing Dr. Pinker didn't mention is that 30 years ago 1 person (mostly man) could feed a family with 1 job, and now 2 people have to work 1 or even 2 jobs. It kinda sucks doesn't it? I don't know if I'm being naive here. Of course women are more than welcome to work, my problem is that they HAVE to work.

George Pligor : The metrics are good but who told you that one would give the same value that you are giving to those metrics? One might measure society success in other metrics such as "how frequently one would visit a family member in person?" etc.

Belarithian : I'm a TINY BIT sceptic about the statistics. Do you know how they "solved" extreme (below subsistence level) poverty in my country's statistics? They lowered the bar... (our govt. also has the habit of encrypting "sensitive" [pronounced: it's about a LOT of money] data for 50+yrs) Just like Churchill said, "I only believe the statistics I faked myself."

Vaes Joren : I was wondering if there may be a relation with perceived poverty due to what is shown around 8:00 regarding work hours, domestic appliances, and time spent on "housework". As we spend less time working, and less time doing house work, we free up time to do other things in our spare time. This means we have more time to spend money, an even if we have more money, we feel like we don't because we don't have as much of an increase in income as we have an increase in time. So where maybe you could go out for a nice dinner every time you got all the work done, now we have so much more opportunities to do so we can no longer fill all of them (we still fill more of them, but the ratio declined). Add to this the fact that we now have more stuff to spend money on that we perceive as basic necessities - TV, microwave, computer, laptop, smartphone, internet, ... all of which we didn't spend (as much) money on before, this leads to the perception of lower wealth - when we are done buying the things we feel we ''have'' to buy, we might have less money left, even though our luxury and well-being has gone up (the convenience of the phone for communicative, navigation etc, being able to watch videos on the internet or read wikipedia when we have questions, reheating food easily allowing us more freedom to schedule our meals,...). I think perhaps, at least to some extent, this also impacts people feeling like things were better before - we didn't have the time to notice they weren't.

ProllTarodies : They cut out the last part... AND NOW I PRESENT TO YOU WW3! Enjoy!

Muhammad Mirsab : So many hard words used, I had to write down about 30 words throughout this video. Ted captions should also have small definitions for hard words.

machia0705 : If you study literature throughout history , there is a constant thread that runs throughout it ; “Life is getting worse“....But when we look back we call it the “Good old days“. Enjoy today .