The world is only getting better, not worse.

I think the common belief that it is going bad with the world is wrong.

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The world is only getting better, not worse.

#1  Postby hyena » Feb 24, 2014 5:11 pm

The world is getting better, not worse.

A lot of people think it's getting worse and worse in this world, never were there such weapons that could do mass murdering. They think in the future we will be some kind of George Orwell - 1984. I think this is a very wrong idea, and will try to debunk it with statistical evidence.

Many of us have the idea the world to be bad, sometimes we even feel like the universe is conspiring against us! Now I do understand that there are different ways to look at it, but what I consider good is 'A good well being of the species.' This thread will not be about the psychological flaws, hidden biases that make us see it that way. It will just be statistical evidence. And you can choose what to do with it.

War

With things happening now, such as North Korean concentration camps, and all those wars the last years, they seem to be increasing. The twentieth century seemed one of the worse ones. Though nobody realizes this is still the lowest number in history The last couple of 100 years have been the most peaceful.

It feels like there is much much more war, but there is much more information available to us. We all have social media, TV, so you're bound to hear a lot of bad news. Sadly they never report good news a lot, and if they do, we don't take time to appreciate, almost like we want the world to be bad? Lets take a look at some statistics.

Image

The number of deaths seem to be down, we're living in one of the most peaceful times of history.

And it's not just war, it's all violent deaths... In 14th century England, some cities had a homicide rate as high as 110 per 100,000 citizens. London's homicide rate in 2012 was just under 1 per 100,000.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... -violence/

Poverty

In the last twenty years, 1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty. That is 1/7th of the world! From 1990 to 2012, the number of the world's extreme poor was cut in half! This is no statistical trick, they account for total living conditions -- infrastructure, schools, access to clean water, everything...

China has climbed 1000%, In India, incomeshave tripled in just the last 10 years. These are about 2.5 billion people...

Teens are less likely to take drugs, smoke, drink and get pregnant.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has been surveying tens of thousands of high schoolers for almost four decades, and not only is drug use down, but almost every form of substance abuse is down. This counts for the 'large' drugs, the use marijuana is increasing.

The percent of smoking teens, was lowest in history in 2012. While teen mother shows are obviously increasing, the teens themselves are getting less likely to get pregnant! In 2009 it had reached its lowest point.

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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#2  Postby trubble76 » Feb 24, 2014 5:21 pm

I agree with you, and others have made the same point. The trouble is, I think, with the ease of communication when combined with the human tendency to concentrate on negatives. All we see is negatives but the truth is that the world is improving.
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#3  Postby tuco » Feb 24, 2014 5:33 pm

I am not sure. With all those people coming out of poverty it seems to be only a question of time when there will not be enough resources for everyone. Perhaps there will be, I do not have a crystal ball, but to claim the world is getting better, or worse, I would not dare. Then again, it might be because I do not recognize value judgements of this kind in the first place. BTW world = humans?
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#4  Postby Mazille » Feb 24, 2014 5:34 pm

hyena wrote:
A lot of people think it's getting worse and worse in this world, never were there such weapons that could do mass murdering. They think in the future we will be some kind of George Orwell - 1984.


I agree with your general point. Pinker's last book dealt with that idea as well. It might interest you, if you haven't read it already.

Still, a general trend upwards doesn't mean we should ignore the bad things that happen. It might not be 1984 yet, but with drones, NSA scandals and similar shit, it pays to have an eye on the situation.
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#5  Postby Sendraks » Feb 24, 2014 5:38 pm

I agree that the world is a better place, but with that comes the responsibility to keep fighting to make it better still.

We dwell on the isolated negatives, yes, but then we should do so and do what we can to prevent them from becoming commonplace negativity that we ignore.
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#6  Postby I'm With Stupid » Feb 24, 2014 5:50 pm

I remember a story a while back about how Vienna was the best city to live in. They interviewed people from Vienna, and every single one of them pointed out how it's actually not that good. The point being that the very fact that they're always dissatisfied is probably why they're living in the best city in the world.
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#7  Postby Mazille » Feb 24, 2014 5:59 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:I remember a story a while back about how Vienna was the best city to live in. They interviewed people from Vienna, and every single one of them pointed out how it's actually not that good. The point being that the very fact that they're always dissatisfied is probably why they're living in the best city in the world.

No, that's just a Viennese thing. We call it "raunzen" (similar to "grumble" or "grouse") and we're very good at it. 8-)
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#8  Postby Scarlett » Feb 24, 2014 6:17 pm

Mazille wrote:
I'm With Stupid wrote:I remember a story a while back about how Vienna was the best city to live in. They interviewed people from Vienna, and every single one of them pointed out how it's actually not that good. The point being that the very fact that they're always dissatisfied is probably why they're living in the best city in the world.

No, that's just a Viennese thing. We call it "raunzen" (similar to "grumble" or "grouse") and we're very good at it. 8-)


Do they tell you the truth when you ask "How are you?"?

Brits are famous for lying, we say "Fine thanks" even if we're utterly shite :lol:

P.s. Vienna is top of my list of cities to visit some day, it's my husband's favourite city. He travelled a lot with the RAF, lucky bugger :roll:
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#9  Postby Mazille » Feb 24, 2014 6:30 pm

Scarlett wrote:
Mazille wrote:
I'm With Stupid wrote:I remember a story a while back about how Vienna was the best city to live in. They interviewed people from Vienna, and every single one of them pointed out how it's actually not that good. The point being that the very fact that they're always dissatisfied is probably why they're living in the best city in the world.

No, that's just a Viennese thing. We call it "raunzen" (similar to "grumble" or "grouse") and we're very good at it. 8-)


Do they tell you the truth when you ask "How are you?"?


Depends on who's asking. :mrgreen:

Scarlett wrote:Brits are famous for lying, we say "Fine thanks" even if we're utterly shite :lol:

P.s. Vienna is top of my list of cities to visit some day, it's my husband's favourite city. He travelled a lot with the RAF, lucky bugger :roll:


Oh, do come over and we'll grab a hot beverage of your choosing.
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#10  Postby Scarlett » Feb 24, 2014 6:37 pm

I prefer my beer cold :beercheers:
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#11  Postby DougC » Feb 24, 2014 7:01 pm

Scarlett wrote:I prefer my beer cold :beercheers:

What about your revenge. :muahaha:
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#12  Postby hyena » Feb 24, 2014 7:15 pm

tuco wrote:I am not sure. With all those people coming out of poverty it seems to be only a question of time when there will not be enough resources for everyone. Perhaps there will be, I do not have a crystal ball, but to claim the world is getting better, or worse, I would not dare. Then again, it might be because I do not recognize value judgements of this kind in the first place. BTW world = humans?


Well resources were never the issue. It was mainly caused by no economical system, because when ever they build one it get broken down by wars, and of course many other things. The main argument was, why send money in a black hole? Because cultural differences sometimes made economics hard. Many, many other reasons... Though, lack of resources surely not.

Yes, world = humans in these references, society as whole.

I agree with you, and others have made the same point. The trouble is, I think, with the ease of communication when combined with the human tendency to concentrate on negatives. All we see is negatives but the truth is that the world is improving.


Yes, we don't compare our country to some other country, we compare it to an imaginary perfect one that we just made up and/or gleaned from pop culture. Startrek for example. You subconsciously look at that and say, "What's wrong with the world that we can't just get along and leave our greed and anger behind?" Though they didn't have to work out the logistics of how, say, you keep a population happy when everyone wants to be starship captains and nobody wants to be janitors in a world that needs far more of the latter.

They also concentrate on negatives, even on wonderful things. If we ban the evil oil millionaires from buying political ads to advance their agenda (i.e., getting "big money" out of elections), we also have to prevent the weed legalization groups from buying theirs,environmental and gay rights groups are among those lobbyists who'll be banned.

That's just one example...
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#13  Postby Agrippina » Feb 24, 2014 7:25 pm

In my post I argued exactly this. Since the beginning of time, old people have been scratching their chins and whining about how "young people aren't the way they are when we were young." It's really nice to see someone saying the opposite. I also think that despite all the drama of social revolution going on all over the place, it is far better than it was in the past. :thumbup:
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#14  Postby tuco » Feb 24, 2014 8:08 pm

If everyone in the world would live like I do, I am not sure there would be enough resources for everyone. In such situation, I would not dare to say .. its getting better .. no matter what kind of statistic from past I could gather. But as I said, I would not call (current) state of the world better or worse as I do not operate with such term so statistics do not really matter. I could, for example, take loan after loan to increase my well-being, do graphs and say: I am getting better, while in reality I was in deep shit fooling myself.

Its interesting that the world = humans. How about butterflies for example, is it getting better for them too? And if not, how does it reflect to the world = humans? etc etc Ecosystems we live in, while indifferent to statistics, have huge influence over what some call getting better. I do not see the statistics presented to reflect this human debt to ecosystems.
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#15  Postby hyena » Feb 24, 2014 9:34 pm

tuco wrote:If everyone in the world would live like I do, I am not sure there would be enough resources for everyone. In such situation, I would not dare to say .. its getting better .. no matter what kind of statistic from past I could gather. But as I said, I would not call (current) state of the world better or worse as I do not operate with such term so statistics do not really matter. I could, for example, take loan after loan to increase my well-being, do graphs and say: I am getting better, while in reality I was in deep shit fooling myself.


Then in Long-term, statistics could still show you're doing worse. I'm not exactly sure if I understand what you're trying to say here. Are you saying, these statistics do not show the psychological well-being of the species, thus you can't really see if they're getting better? Or even that it's to subjective, so mathematical statistics don't work with subjectivity because it over simplifies?

tuco wrote: Its interesting that the world = humans. How about butterflies for example, is it getting better for them too? And if not, how does it reflect to the world = humans? etc etc Ecosystems we live in, while indifferent to statistics, have huge influence over what some call getting better. I do not see the statistics presented to reflect this human debt to ecosystems.


Well, this post is about humans, here the word world refers to the humans. We could also take in other species if you wish, though that's not what I'm trying to debunk. The common belief is that humanity is getting worse, that more people die brutal deaths, and that corruption is on its peak. I'm trying to show this isn't the case.

Though, I would still argue that these things are surely linked. Most of those in the west-world look down upon those who rip of the fur of animals and beat them to dead in the third world. Though, because the well-being of the people in the third-world isn't like us, they don't take time to think if it's bad or good to hurt the environment, their survival is first, which is very logical...

Ecosystems we live in, are getting better as well. For example. the antarctic ozone hole is shrinking.

http://discovermagazine.com/2013/may/02 ... -shrinking
http://www.livescience.com/27049-ozone- ... d-low.html
http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/11 ... ar-102613/
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#16  Postby tuco » Feb 24, 2014 10:00 pm

Lets take peak oil, for example, and lets assume its a possibility. Lets also use the same wiki article to demonstrate:

"peaking is one of these fuzzy events that you only know clearly when you see it through a rear view mirror, and by then an alternate resolution is generally too late."

Statistics tell us, the ones you presented anyway, nothing about where the world is getting. They tell us (changes in) numbers about wars/deaths, poverty and teens not getting drunk or pregnant. If someone wants to call this better its fine with me but I do not need to accept such judgment.

Ecosystems we live in are getting better as well? I am not to debate such complex claim. If I will refer to global warming, for example, will you still hold it true? Do not answer it.

I have two points.

1. Whats better is subjective and since reasons of the people mentioned in OP: A lot of people think it's getting worse and worse in this world are not stated nor obvious, I fail to see what the statistical evidence is to support. Oh yeah, that the world is getting better ..

2. Statistical evidence presented has limited value as it covers fraction of what the world consists of. It does not cover butterflies for example. While humans are .. the most important things in this world, they do not live in vacuum. Then to talk about the world as equal to human, predefined, well-being is at least simplistic.

BTW are people today happier than people say I dunno 5000 years ago? They should be since they are getting better.
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#17  Postby I'm With Stupid » Feb 25, 2014 2:32 am

Agrippina wrote:In my post I argued exactly this. Since the beginning of time, old people have been scratching their chins and whining about how "young people aren't the way they are when we were young." It's really nice to see someone saying the opposite. I also think that despite all the drama of social revolution going on all over the place, it is far better than it was in the past. :thumbup:


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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#18  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Feb 25, 2014 3:13 am

The environment is fucked, globalisation is out of control-what's not to like? :doh:
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#19  Postby Frank Merton » Feb 25, 2014 4:50 am

I'm happy with the way the world is going, more or less. What I'm not happy with is that I seem to steadily get older.
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Re: The world is only getting better, not worse.

#20  Postby mindhack » Feb 25, 2014 4:54 am

tuco wrote:I have two points.

1. Whats better is subjective and since reasons of the people mentioned in OP: A lot of people think it's getting worse and worse in this world are not stated nor obvious, I fail to see what the statistical evidence is to support. Oh yeah, that the world is getting better ..

But isn't "better" (an) objective after "good" is defined, like "progress"? Can't it be said an entity is objectively better when the good has been improved?

People generally consider "suffering" a bad thing. Fighting suffering by reducing poverty and violence could then be considered a good thing, and succes in this fight would make the world "better".

2. Statistical evidence presented has limited value as it covers fraction of what the world consists of. It does not cover butterflies for example. While humans are .. the most important things in this world, they do not live in vacuum. Then to talk about the world as equal to human, predefined, well-being is at least simplistic.

I wouldn't say simplistic. In the web of life humanity is our clan. Their suffering is our suffering. Their fate is also mine. Yet, on occasion, we have room to care for butterflies too. Perhaps even more so in the future if our suffering is further addressed succesfully :)

BTW are people today happier than people say I dunno 5000 years ago? They should be since they are getting better.

I don't know. Let's think of an example: I would say that the loss of a child would make a parent very unhappy. I would contend that this was also the case for parents 5000 years ago. With not many options to prevent having children and not many options to prevent them from dying you would have to claim that people 5000 years ago don't depend much on their children for their happiness. That losing a child wasn't so much of a big deal as it is now. I don't know if I can see it that way.
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