Great Myths of the Modern Age

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Everything seems much clearer, and we can laugh at the follies of previous generations. The greatest collection of these follies may well be "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions" (MEPD) — by Charles Mackay, written in 1852. The collection was so extensive it covered three volumes.

One might wonder, after Charles Mackay in 1852, did people suddenly wake up and stop believing myths, delusions and "fake news"? Well, of course not. Fools and their money are still easily parted by Ponzi schemes, and "fake news" is still willingly publicised by gullible journalists eager for any sensational story.

If anything, it's got worse, and become institutionalised or state-sponsored. A classic example is the UK State Pension scheme. Older people, reaching pension age, might naively and innocently think all the money they "invested" has been carefully saved and wisely used by the state, and they are now getting it back (with interest).

No such luck! - the state spent it years ago! What pensioners receive *now* is in effect only what the younger "investors" are *now* paying in. The danger with any Ponzi scheme is when the supply of new investors dries up. So it is with the State Pension scheme, as people are living longer (so drawing more out of the scheme) and at the same time, the birth rate is declining (so there are fewer people paying in to the scheme). Hence the need to kick the can down the road by raising the retirement age. Like a carrot on a stick in front of the proverbial donkeys.

Government policies and projects costing billions can still be based on the flimsiest and flakiest "scientific evidence" and "consensus". Against the might of the state, what hope is there for anyone brave enough to stand up and voice a contrary opinion, or suggest the Emperor Has No Clothes?

In that light, Hans and Ola Rosling deserve much praise and respect for their myth-busting work with Gapminder.

Especially the wonderful : "How not to be ignorant about the World". Well worth watching, if not least to discover why Zoo Chimps are more intelligent than University Students.

I am delighted to see that more than a million people have watched Rosling's videos.

This interview with Hans Rosling is particularly revealing. Hans persists until it dawns on the TV interviewer that the media bubble the interviewer is in reflects a very partial view of reality.

This does matter, because (if we were to believe the headline TV news or newspaper reports) most everything is negative, nasty and doom is just around the corner.

Just ask yourself : how often have you ever seen a TV news or newspaper report that it's peaceful, people are healthy and enjoying their lives? Is that close to zero? And why is that? Because good news doesn't sell newspapers or grab the TV news headlines.

Yet, as Hans so clearly demonstrates, most of the world is more peaceful and prosperous than it has ever been and better than the mainstream media would have us believe.

Have you got a Gapminder Certificate yet? (I have).

Almost nobody knows the basic global facts!
Take the 13 Basic Global Facts test.

Don’t Panic! The world might not be as bad as you might believe!

Next : Being intelligent about intelligence

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