Is declinism really a thing people believe in?
Why incorrect public perceptions can be a problem
Are things getting better or getting worse? We can look at this question from a personal situation, but what happens when we look at this question and form opinions on the state of our community, country or a world in general — whether is improving or declining? We all have opinions on topics related to our economics , our security, etc.— so how do we form those opinions and what’s epistemology behind it? Should we care whether the society we live in is generally pessimistic or optimistic? I think that we should care, in a sense, especially if majority of people are pessimistic. Being pessimistic means being unsatisfied with the current state of society, which is consequently encouraging changes that politicians will make. Pessimism is shaping public policies — sometimes in a good way, but in the present time, pessimism is shaping policies that are many times wrong in their essence. It’s because we end up prioritizing wrong things and then make changes that are not effective. I would argue that the main reason for pessimism is because of being unaware of the current state of the world (not knowing the facts), as well media is playing a huge role with blatant sensationalism making it hard to believe that the world is improving rapidly. When I say “the world is improving” I mean that almost every single aspect of our lives is better than 10 years ago, drastically better than 30 years ago. This isn’t wishful thinking, or “it’s better for you not for me” — it is based on the huge number of researches which I will state below. Of course, what works for macro, may not necessarily work for micro, but this is just a good way of encouraging ourselves to think big, as the world is more open and connected than ever. There is a reason why we need rational optimism. Consider this: People watch news on the TV and they are mostly showing what crime has happened during the day or a week. Usually those crimes happen in super small numbers — considering the number of population of a current city or a country. Yet, media will present it as it is a major problem that needs to be changed — people usually then form a pessimistic belief on the state of their personal security and encourage politicians to bring more policing and more regulations, which is consequently creating smaller freedom for citizens. This is an example of non-effective change — but those non-effective changes are happening in all other fields, especially in economics, as majority of people are pessimistic about economics, no matter the current situation of their wealth or wealth of their country. The government starts to use resources (taxpayer’s money) with no efficiency.
Why should we battle irrational pessimism? Along with mentioned things, another thing is health. Studies showed that cardiovascular health is connected with our psychological beings. They found that a positive psychological outlook is strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. For more reference check this research and this one.
Current state of the world is better than ever
- On the daily basis, for the last 25 years of globalization, on average, 138,000 people are moving out of poverty:
2. People are better fed than at any time in history, even in less developed countries:
3. More people are attending universities than ever
4.Politicians speak of wage stagnation, but markets reduce prices and raise living standards:
5. People are working less hours annually however they are also being more productive..
6. The primary school completion rate in Botswana is approaching that of Norway.
7. GDP, on avarage, is increasing around the globe.
And much more facts from data which are clearly showing the improvements humanity is going through constantly. In my last article, I was talking about that organizing people through politicians can’t make people better — but despite that, this is one more reason why the politicians, in the current world, can’t make changes. It’s the individuals who need to change themselves first and then the community around them. Stepping back, and putting a thought on the real, current state of our community and the world is necessary to form rational, definite optimism. We see what’s working from actual data, not from some pointless metrics.