It's on the television, in the papers, and in our minds. Every day we're bludgeoned by news of how bad everything is - financial collapse, unemployment, growing poverty, environmental disasters, disease, hunger, war. But the rarely acknowledged reality is that our progress over the past few decades has been unprecedented. By almost any index you care to identify, things are markedly better now than they have ever been for almost everyone alive.
Examining official data from the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization, political commentator Johan Norberg traces just how far we have come in tackling the issues that define our species. While it's true that not every problem has been solved, we do now have a good idea of the solutions, and we know what it will take to see this progress continue. Dramatic, uplifting, and counterintuitive, Progress is a call for optimism in our pessimistic, doom-laden world.
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By J. Drew on 15-09-17
Things aren't necessary getting worse
Most of us are not swayed by rationalised argument or fact but we are much more influenced by our personal narratives and how we emotionally or intuitively respond to the information we receive through our senses. And most of us seem to feel that we have never lived in such trouble times and that we've never had it so bad. And this has resulted in us making decisions such as leaving Europe or voting for a president in America who seems closer to narcissistic madness because "things are bad, real bad" - but that's just my story and how I might be feeling, after all bad news is all around us and on a never ending stream of news bites. However, what this book does is present a wide range of factual arguments that draw on history and numbers/ data (and other wonderful works that include Angus Deaton and Steven Pinker) that actually show that we are living in a much better times and that we can only truly realise through perspective and seeing how fortunate we are than those in the past. Violence is a lot less of problem then it is ever been in the past. In 1900 the majority of people lived the same life span of the chimpanzee (of about 40 years) and now we average a life span almost twice as long. We no longer die by the thousands and millions of diseases such as cholera, smallpox, measles and the plague. Sanitation and medication save many more lives along with the ability to grow foods that we now no longer live in worry of starvation and famine and are now more risk of death and amputation through obesity. Did you know that there has never been a famine in any democratic nation, I never knew. Though slavery is prevailing we actually have many more people living under liberty and freedom than serfdom and enslavement. And governments of the world are there are at least trying to stop slavery and see it is been long. In my lifetime I've seen progress in gay rights equality, racial equality, gender equality and disability equality. The book covers a number of themes including poverty, sanitation, education, life expectancy, violence, equality, literacy, The environment and the future. I'm still going to worry about climate change though. A few facts from the beginning of the book include these: We’ve made more progress over the last 100 years than in the first 100,000 • 285,000 more people have gained access to safe water every day for the last 25 years • In the last 50 years world poverty has fallen more than it did in the preceding 500. Well worth a read if you think we're living in terrible times that have never been worse. And perspective is a wonderful thing. The problem is that people are more interested in bad news and stories (something that helps explain why people watch "Eastenders") than ideas that might reflect we're living in good times.
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By wbiro on 07-06-18
A Refreshing Positivist Perspective on the Future
You have a choice - read doomsayers and doomsdayers, or read futurists and positivists. This book is the latter, exposing the fallacies and erroneous, fashionable dogma of the former.
By Alexandra Hopkins on 22-09-17
Global Uptrends That May Surprise You
This book describes global socioeconomic up-trends that most people are unaware of. This is important stuff to understand—we need to know what has gone right, not just focus on disasters. A lot has gone right since the Scientific Revolution of the 1500’s and the Enlightenment of the 1700’s: increases in income, literacy, democracy, and women’s rights, and, even remarkably large decreases in crime and violence.
The book gives a lot of the credit for the up-trends to free market capitalism, which, in many cases is quite accurate. But the book, published in 2017, ignores the Great Recession and growing income inequality and even growing poverty in countries like the U.S. It implies that at this time more free market capitalism is just what the doctor ordered. A more objective analysis would point out that given the cracks that are developing in the U.S. economic system, it’s time to re-evaluate our next steps.
The author, Johan Norberg, is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank. His transparent agenda to reduce governmental regulation reduces the book’s objectivity. How can the author imply that free market capitalism has somehow IMPROVED the natural environment? He fails to mention or give credit to the dedicated environmental organizations which battled the corporations to increase regulations and ameliorate some of the worst corporate pollution problems. The book has the taint of propaganda. This is unfortunate, because the important and accurate statistical data presented on the many global up-trends should be better known.