Skip to content

It's Getting Better All the Time

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

I receive the most criticism when I post about positive things happening in the world. I find that fascinating.

It could be because a lot of people rely on negative outlooks to fuel their jobs, hobbies, or identities.

Steven Pinker experienced this himself on a grand scale when he published Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress one year ago. He has since been called every name in the book, even though his work is based on science and math, and should be considered a rather sober account of the progress of humanity.

Yesterday he published a long article examining the strange reaction to book.

“The question of whether progress has occurred is matter not of “optimism” but of what Hans Rosling calls “factfulness”: calibrating our understanding of the world to empirical reality. If measures of well-being, such as health, prosperity, knowledge, and safety, have increased over time, that would be progress. In fact, they have.

Since progress does not mean that the world is perfect, only that it is better, acknowledging progress does not mean being indifferent to the very real suffering of people today, nor to the very real threats that humanity continues to face.”

It’s a long, thoughtful look at why you publish about progress at your own peril, and why you should do it anyway.