Guys, it’s really not that bad. In fact, it’s the best it’s ever been.
That’s Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker’s argument in his new book “Enlightenment Now” (Viking). We may be inundated with horrific stories of school shootings, natural disasters due to climate change and Russian hacking — but Pinker still believes there’s never been a better time to be alive.
His 550-page door-stopper, a spiritual follow-up to 2011’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” which argued the world is less violent than ever, shows that our planet is also smarter, safer, richer and happier. Bill Gates is one of the most vocal supporters of the new tome, calling it “my new favorite book of all time.”
“The world has made spectacular progress in every single measure of human well-being. Here is the second shocker: Almost no one knows about it,” Pinker writes.
He argues that the 18th century Enlightenment ideals of reason over irrationality, science over dogma, and humanism and peace over tribalism and war have been cornerstones of progress — and are now in need of a passionate defense.
“Not every problem is a Crisis, Plague, Epidemic or Existential Threat, and not every change is the End of This, the Death of That or the Dawn of a Post-Something Era. Don’t confuse pessimism with profundity: problems are inevitable, but problems are solvable, and diagnosing every setback as a symptom of a sick society is a cheap grab for gravitas,” Pinker writes.