World Safer = More Worry

The News Telegraph is reporting that the world is safer than ever, but some people are never satisfied. It’s a well known fact, and is discussed extensively in Pinker’s Blank Slate, that a human’s risk of violent death is far lower in the modern world than at any time in history. Pinker uses this fact to debunk the myth of the "Noble Savage."

Yet a cottage industry of doomsayers and peacemongers act as if we are living in a time of unprecedented war and chaos, with destruction right around the corner. Some people even think we are running out of ideas, and are headed for a new dark age. I guess some people are just destined to have ulcers. Oops! Have to scratch that old myth too, since ulcers are now known to be caused by bacteria, and unrelated to worry.

Inventing bogeymen has always been a favorite human pastime. It helps to distract attention from real and present danger. Which in our case happens to be ignorance. Fundamentalism and terrorism? Check. Doomsaying and mistrust of science? Check. Teaching creationism 2.0 in the schools? Check. Burning fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow? Check. Denying global warming as the hurricanes roar? Check.

Ignorance, stupidity. The only thing we have to worry about. The only unforgivable sin.

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