After too many evenings out, tonight was going to be in. Until a friend had a spare ticket to hear Steven Pinker talk about his new book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. It seems that at least statistically, everything in the world is getting better - fewer deaths from war, fewer deaths from famine, less human sacrifice...
A lot that he said was persuasive: we seem naturally to be gloomy about the world around us, so when we're asked how happy we are ourselves, most of us say 7-8/10 but when we're asked how happy we think other people are, most of us say 4-5/10. The media publicise bad news because it tends to be sudden, not good news because it tends to be incremental. And more.
I had gone because I thought it would be good to feel a bit more optimistic, but my 7-8/10 friend and I weren't completely convinced. The glass of wine afterwards helped, though.
Thank you for appreciating yesterday.