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human progress, world in data, poverty rate

Life has really changed over the past 200 years.

It’s unfortunate that humans are wired to notice everything bad going on in the world and to ignore the things that are going right. Our collective negativity bias was illustrated in a 2016 survey that asked people in 17 countries “Do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?”

Fifty‐eight percent of respondents thought that the world is getting worse, and 30% said that it is doing neither. Only 11% thought that things are getting better.

However, there is a wealth of data to support the idea that the world is only improving when it comes to the hallmarks of human progress: education, freedom, poverty and health.

In a recent interview with Upworthy, Chelsea Follett, the managing editor at Human Progress, explained why humans have a bias toward negativity, and the media isn’t doing us any favors.


"Historically, obviously our ancestors in a primitive environment who overreacted to danger were more likely to survive than those who underreacted," Follett told Upworthy. "But there is a point where unwarranted panic can actually be detrimental to your survival if you abandon policies or institutions that are actually working, or that have allowed you to make tremendous progress in the past.

"There's also the nature of the media," she added. "Obviously sudden, noteworthy and rare events are the ones that make headlines, whereas long-term slow, steady, incremental progress is just not as interesting."

Our World in Data, an organization that performs "research and data to make progress against the world’s largest problems" has created a revealing document that shows just how far humanity has come over the past 200 years. The graphs show how life has changed for a random sampling of 100 people over the past two centuries.

The graph covers six topics that are cornerstones of human progress: poverty, basic education, literacy, democracy, vaccination and child mortality.

Poverty

In 1820, 84 out of 100 people lived in extreme poverty, and over 200 years that number has dropped more than nine times to just 9 in 100. “The headline could be ‘The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 130,000 since yesterday’ and they wouldn’t have this headline once, but every single day since 1990, since, on average, there were 130,000 people fewer in extreme poverty every day,” Our World in Data wrote.

via Our World in Data

Basic Education

Two hundred years ago, 83 out of 100 people had no education at all. That number has been reduced to just 14 over the past 200 years.

Our World In Data says that number is only going to get better. “Focusing on the educational breakdown the projection suggests that by 2100, there will be almost no one without formal education and there will be more than 7 billion minds who will have received at least secondary education,” Our World in Data said.

via Our World in Data

Literacy

In 1820, only 12 people out of 100 could read. In 2019, that number has risen more than seven times to 86. These numbers will continue to rise because a large portion of the world’s illiterate population is older.

via Our World in Data

Democracy

Only 1 out of 100 people lived in a democracy back in 1820. Now, 56 out of 100 people live in a country where they can select their elected officials. This was a big change that came after World War II.

“In the second half of the 20th century, the world has changed significantly: Colonial empires ended, and more and more countries turned democratic,” Our World in Data wrote. “The share of the world population living in democracies increased continuously–particularly important was the breakdown of the Soviet Union which allowed more countries to democratize.”

via Our World in Data

Vaccination

Over the past 60 years, the number of people out of 100 that would have been vaccinated against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus has risen from 0 to 86.

via Our World in Data

Child Mortality

Can you imagine living at a time when almost half of all children born never lived to kindergarten age? “In 1800 the health conditions were such that around 43% of the world’s newborns died before their 5th birthday,” Our World In Data wrote. “In 2017 child mortality was down to 3.9% – 10-fold lower than 2 centuries ago.”

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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