Our Ignorance is Breathtaking – We Should be Humble

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

We humans consistently miss the big picture. The world is improving dramatically, but our brains are addicted to worry and fear.

Last week’s edition of Nature includes a highly readable article about Swedish global health professor, Hans Rosling. He makes fantastic videos that help us see the world more clearly. (I’ve written about some of them here and here.)

Embedded in that Nature article is a remarkable TED talk, filmed in Berlin two years ago. The first 10 minutes are eye-popping.

Using multiple choice questions, Rosling demonstrates that most of us are wildly misinformed about big picture trends. Since each multiple choice question has three possible answers, a chimp choosing at random would get the correct answer 33% of the time. But humans routinely score worse than the chimp.

Rosling begins by talking about those who perish due to natural disasters. Over the past century, he asks, has the…

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