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Is the World Really as Scary as We Think?

There is an ongoing debate among intellectuals about the current state of the world. Some say that we live in one of the scariest, darkest periods in the history of humanity, citing Ebola outbreaks, the rise of Islamic State (ISIS), North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, among other things.

On the other hand, many experts remind us that despite all of that, humans live much longer, more and more parts of the population are educated and have access to modern technology, overall crime is in decline and despite what it feels like, the world is more peaceful now than at any other point in history.

Is the World Really as Dangerous as We Think?

But I hear about scary things all the time

Thanks to global coverage by news agencies and the rise of the internet, we learn about many things that we wouldn’t have been exposed to before. Everything is brought to us in an instant, without filtration and often, without verification. We are constantly bombarded by information (often contradictory) that would likely confuse even most pundits.

So who’s right?

The answer to that depends on the individual’s point of view. The media learned that blowing up an issue out of proportion brings them ratings, and ratings equals profit. When the news warns you day and night about a new disease, religious radicals, insane dictators and their ilk, you’re bound to be terrified. 

Is the World Really as Dangerous as We Think?

We perceive the world through a screen of emotions, projected onto partial information we receive from those with their own agendas and filtered by our experience and present situation. This process leads to all of the information we’re exposed to, ending up mixed together in our subconscious. The result often leads to irrational thoughts and fears that skew our perception and lead us to believe in falsies.

Is the World Really as Dangerous as We Think?

So how do I know what to believe in?

Is the World Really as Dangerous as We Think?

The easiest answer would be numbers: According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, since the 1990’s, the number of victims of violent crimes has dropped from 5.1% to 1.5%. The Center for Systemic Peace reports a clear decline in armed conflict since the end of the Cold War. From about 30% of nations being engaged in armed conflict, the number dropped to around 13%. According to the UN, since the 1950’s worldwide infant mortality rates dropped while life expectancy rose.

This comes to show that while things are far from perfect, they are still significantly better than they used to be.

So everything is pink and rosy?

Is the World Really as Dangerous as We Think?

In one word – no. There are many indicators pointing at increasing climate changes, global terrorism has doubled itself in the last 10 years (source), strains of bacteria are becoming immune to antibiotics due to overuse, and so forth.

So where does all of this put me?

We’re all living in the gap between extremes. Some lean one way, some lean to the other, some lean more and some lean less. But the best way to approach information is through critical thinking. When you hear someone quoting a statistical number, investigate it. A politician will dangle a decline in crime during their term, but a quick research can show that the decline is countrywide, or that it started during a predecessor. When the news report a “scary” story, take it with a grain of salt and think who benefits from that story.

Is the World Really as Dangerous as We Think?

In conclusion, use your intelligence and don’t let others think for you. Don’t accept blanket statements and always verify the source of the information. This might take some effort, but it will also mitigate fears and give you more control over your life.

Bonus video:Is War Increasing or Decreasing - A Perspective

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