We’ve cited the groundbreaking book Superabundance several times here at Mind Matters, mainly in connection to its co-author, Gale Pooley, a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty, and a speaker at the 2021 COSM conference, the yearly technology summit that has attracted speakers like Carver Mead, Peter Thiel, and others. Pooley’s co-author, Marian Tupy, who lectured at COSM 2022 on the book, does work on human progress at the Cato Institute, and published a post showing the many ways humanity has benefitted over the last century. He stands opposed to the mainstream approximations of doom that declare our world’s swift-approaching expiration date, writing,
The chance of a person dying in a natural catastrophe — earthquake, flood, drought, storm, wildfire, landslide or epidemic — fell by almost 99 percent over the last century.
Between 1982 and 2016, the global tree canopy cover increased by an area larger than Alaska and Montana combined.
In 2017, the World Database on Protected Areas reported that 15 percent of the planet’s land surface was covered by protected areas. That’s an area almost double the size of the U.S.
That year, marine protected areas covered nearly seven percent of the world’s oceans. That’s an area more than twice the size of South America.-Marian L. Tupy, Why Are We So Gloomy? – HumanProgress
It’s not that these facts aren’t true, but that they’ve been obscured by popular narratives and outlawed by a host of doomsdayers. Tupy continues,
The media compete with one another for a finite number of eyeballs. So, presenting stories in the most dramatic light pays dividends. Or, as one study recently found, for a headline of average length, “each additional negative word increased the click-through rate by 2.3%.” And so, in a race to the bottom, all media coverage got much darker over the last two decades.
We are literally scaring ourselves to death, with rates of anxiety, depression and even suicide rising in some parts of the world. To maintain your mental composure and to keep matters in perspective, follow the trendlines, not the headlines. You will discover that the world is in a much better shape than it appears. You will be more cheerful and, most importantly, accurately informed.
Danger and hype sell. We’ve seen that time and again with the AI discourse of late. It’s a lot more fun, in sort of a dark way, to read about the end of the world and extrapolate on the possibilities. A lot more boring, alas, to observe how far we’ve come.