Skip to comments.Good News
Posted on 05/21/2014 4:08:37 AM PDT by Kaslin
Are you worried about the future?
It's hard not to be. If you watch the news, you mostly see violence, disasters, danger. Some in my business call it "fear porn" or "pessimism porn." People like the stuff; it makes them feel alive and informed.
Of course, it's our job to tell you about problems. If a plane crashes -- or disappears -- that's news. The fact that millions of planes arrive safely is a miracle, but it's not news.
So we soak in disasters -- and warnings about the next one: bird flu, global warming, potential terrorism. I won Emmys hyping risks but stopped winning them when I wised up and started reporting on the overhyping of risks. My colleagues didn't like that as much.
In England, science journalist Matt Ridley also realized he had focused on the wrong things. That realization led to the more positive outlook in his book "The Rational Optimist."
Now he gives lectures about why he's an optimist. It's not just an attitude; it's an accurate assessment of how well the human race has fared over the past several hundred years.
"I discovered that almost everything is getting better, even the things that people thought were getting worse," says Ridley.
He was taught to think the future was bleak. "The population explosion was unstoppable. Famine was inevitable. Pesticides were going to shorten our lives. The Ice Age was coming back. Acid rain was killing forests ... All these things were going to go wrong."
Yet time and again, humanity survived doomsday. Not just survived, we flourish. Population increases, yet famine becomes rarer. More energy is used, yet the environment gets cleaner. Innovation and trade keep improving our lives.
But the media win by selling pessimism porn.
"People are much more interested in hearing about something that's gone wrong," says Ridley. "It sounds wiser to talk about what might go wrong than to talk about what might go right."
Or what already went right. Over the past 40 years, murder dropped by 40 percent, rape by 80 percent, and, outside of war zones, Islamic terrorism claims fewer than 400 lives a year. The last decade saw the fewest lives claimed in war since record keeping began.
One unnecessary death is tragic, but the big picture is good news.
Our brains just aren't very good at keeping track of the good news. Evolution programmed us to pay attention to problems. Good news often happens slowly. The media miss it.
There is, however, one big problem that threatens our future: the political class. Politicians offer us unsustainable debt and incomprehensible regulations. So far the economy has survived that because of what the Mercatus Center's Adam Thierer calls "permission-less innovation."
No one got approval from Washington to do Google searches, create Facebook profiles, or invent apps for Apple. If we did, they probably would never have happened. It's fortunate entrepreneurs keep making things faster than worried, control-freak government can smother them.
Google now informs us about most anything within seconds for free. Today people in the poorest countries have access to more information than the rich used to have. Email is free. So are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Skype.
The new "sharing economy" improves our lives. Companies like Roomorama and Airbnb let us share homes. Uber, Sidecar and Lyft let us share cars. EatWith.com lets us share a home-cooked meal.
Government regulators reflexively move to crush or control every such development, fearing that rooms rented online will be disruptive to neighbors, rides from Lyft too dangerous and meals found through EatWith unhealthy. There's always some reason to worry -- even though these same politicians don't worry too much about the risks of excessive government and its $17 trillion in debt.
Progress now depends on innovators finding customers faster than sleepy politicians can regulate. Better to beg forgiveness later than ask permission now. By the time bureaucrats wake up, entrepreneurs have lots of happy customers who lobby for the survival of those businesses.
You might call it "entrepreneurial civil disobedience." It's what it takes to win in today's hyper-regulated America. It's a good thing -- and our best hope of having more good things in the future.
Who are the three “guys” in the photo?
Maher is one.
Darrell Issa is in the middle.
Bill Maher, Darrell Issa, and Ellen DeGeneres?
Roman Farrow on the left..
I think that Maddow guy is on the left.
Really? I thought maybe it was a combination of science, adequate pilot training and good preventive maintenance programs...
All true, but you have government trolls tracking those planes. So it is a miracle.
She can tell you ‘bout the plane crash
with a gleam In her eye
It’s interesting when people die
Give us dirty laundry
Can we film the operation?
Is the head dead yet?
You know, the boys in the newsroom
got a Running bet
Get the widow on the set!
We need dirty laundry
Sensationalism is a proven lure for low IQ types. It takes the place of relevant and necessary information.
Following the latest sensational and lurid ‘news’ permits idiots the illusion of being ‘informed’ and ‘concerned’. In fact, they are groomed to consume manufactured and superficial crap that passes for ‘news’.
The critical issues are skirted or so far sensationalized that nothing of value is conveyed.
I don’t know about sensationalism appealing to the low IQs.
In my experience, the lower the IQ, the less people are even aware of the fear porn, much less influenced by it. Normalty bias is characterized by the inability to imagine anything except a continuation of things as they are. Imagination takes a bit of brain power. I think the fear is induced more in the medium levels of the curve.
I’m not sure such induced fear is even negative. Would anyone prep if they hadn’t considered catastrophe and decided to prepare for it? Humans are programmed to see patterns. When presented with disparate threats, it is understandable for folks to connect them into a coherent and understandable whole.
We live in such a relatively safe world, as far as most people’s lives are concerned, that perhaps we need a little fear/adrenaline to keep us on our toes, just as we need some dirt to keep our immune system working.
I enjoy reading dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction. Much of it is “ripped from the headlines” and the lines between fiction and pandering/propaganda do blur. But, overall, I don’t find myself living in perpetual fear and panic because of it. So many of the scenarios are so extreme, I just find myself identifying with the characters and wondering how I, personally, would react in such a situation, likely or not.
Both sides of the political spectrum try to utilize this sort of fear. For a simplistic example, we can perceive a tyranny that prohibits dissent or the right to self-defense. The other side perceives a tyranny that ruins their falsely idealized natural world or a natural disaster caused by nothing more than greed. That is where the danger lies, IMO. People are exposed to the idea of catastrophe and then manipulated by the idea to support societal change that would have unspoken, but real, unintended consequences.
I do agree with you when the sensationalized *news* is concerned with the personal lives of some manufactured celebrity or the latest horrific crime spun to indict traditional aspects of our culture. Fear of *trigger words* or fear of even thinking an unsanctioned thought are insane. But disasters of all sorts lurk in our artificially protected society and it may be beneficial for people to think about how they would respond if it actually happened.