… is from page 107 of the late Hans Rosling’s 2018 book, Factfulness:
Yet here’s the paradox: the image of a dangerous world has never been broadcast more effectively than it is now, while the world has never been less violent and more safe.
Fears that once helped keep our ancestors alive, today help keep journalists employed. It isn’t the journalists’ fault and we shouldn’t expect them to change. It isn’t driven by “media logic” among the producers as much as by “attention logic” in the heads of consumers.
DBx: It is indeed a paradox, one with a significant impact. As the world becomes more and more safe, even small negative deviations from this trend become more and more unusual and, hence, noticeable and “newsworthy.” And these deviations – not understood in historical context – cause outsized anxiety and fear.
Ironically, this anxiety and fear can become self-fulfilling. Because, as Rosling notes, we human beings do not reason well regarding the long run when we are gripped by fear, fear leads us to make choices that in fact will make us worse off in the long run. Most obviously, fear leads us not only to tolerate the state grabbing more power over us, but even to demand that the state slap on us more binds and shackles. Yet bound and shackled, we cannot continue to innovate and create the prosperity that alone can truly reduce our exposure and susceptibility to the physical hazards that for so long mercilessly mowed down our ancestors.