2017 Another Year of Progress, despite Trump

Fewer children are dying from disease and malnutrition and more children than ever before are escaping extreme poverty, illiteracy, and repressive government.

That’s the heartening message, and it isn’t “Fake News.” It is the real deal, as is the vast majority of reports from the mainstream press, and as presented by Nichloas Kristoff in his 1/6/2017 oped from the New York Times Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History.
Kristoff notes that journalists and consumers of news spend most of our time reading about the bad shit happening all over the world. Yet as I have pointed in numerous blogs here and HERE before, the progress in science and social improvement advancing simultaneously along with the world’s problems is rarely reported or considered. Bravo, Mr Kristof for giving us proper perspective:

“A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell.”
“Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000…325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean drinking water.”

He continues:
“As recently as the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate and lived in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 15 percent are illiterate, and fewer than 10 percent live in extreme poverty. In another 15 years, illiteracy and extreme poverty will be mostly gone. After thousands of generations, they are pretty much disappearing on our watch.”
“Just since 1990, the lives of more than 100 million children have been saved by vaccinations, diarrhea treatment, breast-feeding promotion and other simple steps.”

In an era of Trumpism especially, with our daily news dominated by his next divisive, absurd or outright false statement about just about anything to maintain his fantasy of being the biggest alpha male of all time with the biggest everything…we lose track of the steady, inexorable progress in improving our lives: health and freedoms for more people on the planet than ever before. We are all too often inundated by Trump and the Conservatives doom and gloom outlook (based mostly as I have maintained for four years on this blog, by religious thinking).

“President Trump rode this gloom to the White House. The idea “Make America Great Again” professes a nostalgia for a lost Eden. But really? If that was, say, the 1950s, the U.S. also had segregation, polio and bans on interracial marriage, gay sex and birth control. Most of the world lived under dictatorships, two-thirds of parents had a child die before age 5, and it was a time of nuclear standoffs, of pea soup smog, of frequent wars, of stifling limits on women and of the worst famine in history.”

Some of Mr. Krristof’s data and perspectives are drawn from Our World in Data a Gates Foundation funded research organization and data bank run by economists from Oxford University. From their “about” page:

“Because the daily news are not enough to know about the world…
The media focuses on events, Our World in Data focuses on slow but long-lasting developments. News channels that focus on events are not able to show how our world is changing since many of the long trends that transformed our world do not get covered in the news and surely never make the headlines.

Here is an example: The number of people living in extreme poverty fell from close to 2 billion in 1990 to 0.7 billion in 2015 (see here). On no day in this 25 year period was the headline of any newspaper in the world “The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 137,000 since yesterday”. This is despite the fact that – on average – this would have been an accurate headline every single day during these 25 years.”

People like Trump, dictators and Baptist ministers want us to be sure we are looking backwards in failure, lawlessness or sin, to a time that never was, to maintain their power:

Religions concentrate on our weaknesses and life’s bad times: “Man is innately depraved, born to sin” “Life is all about suffering.” The New Enlightenment instead, focuses on our incredible creativity and empathy which has allowed the staggering progress that Our World in Data documents so well:

“The empirical view of our world over the long term shows how the Enlightenment continues to make our world a better place. It chronicles how human societies became less violent and increasingly more democratic. The empirical evidence shows how new ideas continue to improve living standards, allowing us to live a healthier, richer and happier life. It is the story of declining poverty and better food provision in a world we care about.”

Our World in Data’s founder Max Roser continues:
“The empirical view on our world shows how misplaced doom and defeatism often were and my aim is to encourage those who work to make our world a better place still. At the same time my hope is also to help to change the mind of those of you who do not think that we are creating a better world.”

“…change the minds of those who don’t think we are creating a better world”
To me, that refers much to religionists of any stripe and those conned by Trump’s MAGA soundbite. Trump is scientifically illiterate and proudly so. Religions remain our main source of science denial in the 21st century. People like Nicholas Kristoff and Max Roser are out to provide the real deal about the formidable progress beyond the daily events dominated by negative occurrences which we humans have an evolved and understandable bias for.

As Kristof concludes:
“The most important thing happening right now is not a Trump tweet, but children’s lives saved and major gains in health, education and human welfare.”

Trump is only important and in power because of the negative perspectives of archaic religious thought that yet pervade our modern culture. Folks like Mssrs. Kristof, Roser and a whole host of others are out to educate the public, not hose or denigrate them.

end religion now
All of them





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