Monday, June 11, 2018

This Week's Message: Many Things Have Gotten Better With Time

Keeping this week's message brief, as there'll be quite the number of pending issues we're likely to circle back with over the next few days...
We here at PWA, on behalf of our clients, have to set aside our personal politics -- as well as our proclivities toward optimism or pessimism -- and forever let the data instruct what we do inside of client portfolios. While I know that can be frustrating at times -- particularly when we state empirically proven facts that conflict with certain public policies -- trust me, you shouldn't want it any other way!

Below is a little something that risks getting under the skin of the perennial pessimist, but, frankly, in many ways the world has indeed gotten better with time. We're simply talking statistics. 

From a recent The Economist magazine interview with Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now:
ECONOMIST: There is something that people find a bit irksome about this kind of glad-confident-morning Dr. Pangloss approach.
PINKER: Well, Pangloss was a pessimist; he said that this is the best of all possible worlds. And the fact is the world can be much better than it is today. It's not Panglossian to say that people can live to the age of 80 today and 200 years ago they lived to the age of 30, is that Panglossian or is that an objective statement of fact? It's not Panglossian to say that the rate of extreme poverty has fallen to less than 10%, that's just a fact, that's not Panglossian. It's not Panglossian to say that there are no wars in Southeast Asia or Western Europe or Latin America, there used to be, that's a fact. It's not Panglossian to say that the rate of homicide in the United States has fallen by 50% in a couple of decades, that's a fact. People are so incapable of even grasping the idea of progress, they consider a simple readout of the data to be Panglossian.

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