Ideas · Knowledge · Technology

Don’t Heed the Fear-Mongers


It seems inevitable that part of every generation’s zeitgeist is the belief that the generation before had it easier and the world is going to hell in a hand basket. This generation is no different, and with the propagation of digital technology making it easier for fear mongering to resonate in the echo chamber of chosen media channels, it is ever more important to routinely step back and get perspective.

One opportunity to get that perspective is a great blog post by Morgan Housel found here. Highlights for me include:

  • 700,000 fewer American children die before the age of five than 115 years ago
  • In 1985, a computer mouse cost US$179, or ~US$400 adjusted for inflation. With US$400 you can buy an entire computer, with mouse included, today
  • According to the World Health Organization, the measles vaccine has saved 17.1 million lives worldwide since 2000. More than 17 million!
  • In the US, there are more than 9,000 fewer murders per year between 1994 and 2014
  • Workplace deaths have decreased by a factor of ten in the US since 1933
  • The percent of people living on the equivalent of less than US$2 per day has been cut in half over the last 40 years
  • The number of Americans living past 100 is expected to quintuple by 2030
  • During the 1980’s, Americans spent 9% of their income on energy. Today it is less than 4%
  • In 1901, 46% of the average American’s budget was spent on food. Today that number is 13%
  • The high-school graduation rate was 80% in 2012, a record high

Bottom line: the world is not going to hell. Technology is making life better for humans overall. It is okay to be cautiously optimistic and to not propagate fear.

What are some statistics that struck you?


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