Journalists may have many biases, but among the most important is that they always see the glass as half empty. It's a phenomenon researchers call "negativity bias," and studies show all humans share it. This is why Thanksgiving is a useful holiday. It gives us a reason to think about what's actually in the bottom half of the glass.
The facts, once you look at them, are indisputable. The world in the 21st century is really a remarkable place to live, and it's getting better all the time, even for its poorest inhabitants.
-- Wars claim fewer lives today than ever in human history, by several orders of magnitude. Here's theAssociated Press:
Before there were organized countries, battles killed on average more than 500 out of every 100,000 people. In 19th century France, it was 70. In the 20th century with two world wars and a few genocides, it was 60. Now battlefield deaths are down to three-tenths of a person per 100,000.
-- Just in the last two decades, global poverty has declined by half, and there's reason to think we could nearly eliminate it in the next two decades.
-- Also just in the last two decades, the infant mortality rate has similarly declined by about half, according to the World Health Organization.
-- These spectacular changes have made the world a much more egalitarian place. While the distribution of wealth in particular countries is becoming more unequal, if you take a broader view and compare the world's poor to the world's rich, inequality appears to be declining.
-- Even within the United States, there are unambiguous signs of progress. The grand jury's announcement in Ferguson this week revealed that many people are still very frustrated by the persistent linkages between race and poverty in this country. And they should be. But some things are getting better, if slowly. Our neighborhoods are becoming steadily less segregated, for one thing.
-- Also, the crime rate has been declining for the last 25 years.
-- And since 2007, the number of people arrested for possession of marijuana annually has also declined sharply.
It's gloomy out there, no doubt about it, but there are still a few things to be thankful for.