It may be hard to believe, especially if you watch the TV news, but the world is a safer place now than it has been in several generations.
Without further delay, I'm going to show you some charts. Many (but not all) of the charts come from this article.
So let's dive right in.
Murder, Murder, Everywhere
Watching the TV news is like watching the Murder Show. "If it bleeds, it leads" is the old saying. Which explains why people are so terrified of each other these days.
Who knows when the guy sitting next to you will lose it and start killing people. You could be next!
That's the public's perception of the violent crime rate.
And this is reality.
The rate of murders by guns has dropped 49%
And even that understates the drop in gun-related violence. The drop in non-fatal gun crime has dropped even more dramatically - 75%.
Not only that, the trend is more than just America.
Remember the slaughter that is going on in Mexico? We've all seen the stories. Now let's put it into historical context.
England, Canada, and most other industrialized countries have also seen their homicide rates fall in the past decade. Among the 88 countries with reliable data, 67 have seen a decline in the past 15 years.
Even places famous for crime have seen unprecedented declines in murder.
Bogotá, Colombia has witnessed a fivefold decline in homicides in the last 20 years.
Murders in Medellín, Colombia have dropped 85% in the same two decades.
In São Paolo murders are down 70% in a decade.
In Rio de Janeiro they are down almost 2/3rd in five years.
In Russia they are down 46%. In South Africa the murder rate has been cut in half.
This is reality folks. These are facts. What's more it is really good news. So why is there so much resistance from believing the good news?
What about rapes? There's an epidemic of sexual assaults, right?
According to the FBI
, forcible rapes have dropped from 41.1 per 100,000 to 26.9.
The 35% drop in forcible rapes is likely understated because studies have shown that rape victims have become more willing to report the incidents, yet the fear is that rape culture is getting worse.
But our children are in danger. Won't anyone think of the children!
In a review of the literature on violence against children in the United States published earlier this year, the sociologist David Finkelhor and his colleagues reported, “Of 50 trends in exposure examined, there were 27 significant declines and no significant increases between 2003 and 2011. Declines were particularly large for assault victimization, bullying, and sexual victimization.”
In fact, the violent crime rate is about to hit a century low
This is fairly preliminary data, but Rick Nevin reports that if current trends keep up, we'll end 2013 with the murder rate in America at its lowest rate in over a century.
These numbers also translate over to racial violence, where by almost every measure interracial violence is declining
The world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.”
That's what Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last year during a Senate hearing. More dangerous than during the Cold War or WWII.
That's pretty scary, right? I mean we have ISIS and al-Qaeda, and lots of other scary people out there. Just watch the news for Gawd Sakes!
News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, “Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out”—or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. As long as violence has not vanished from the world, there will always be enough incidents to fill the evening news. And since the human mind estimates probability by the ease with which it can recall examples, newsreaders will always perceive that they live in dangerous times.
The number of wars are considerably less than a few decades ago. What's more they aren't as bloody as they have been.
You should have noticed that all this killing began a dramatic decline in the early 90's. Why were the early 90's so important?
It's a real simple rule of thumb: people are less incline to kill each other when there is another way for their concerns to be heard.
Or to put it another way - democracy promotes peace.
Who could forget the Ebola scare this past year? What was there, like six cases in all of the United States?
Let's talk about a real pandemic. The only real one that the United States has faced in the past century.
And now let's look at the rest of the world.
How come a gradual, and extremely hard-fought battle that we are winning in the struggle against the global AIDS pandemic gets almost no attention, but a handful of ebola cases gets people into a panic?
Why is it that people are more afraid even while there is less reason to be afraid?
Why are people so skeptical of real data that shows the world getting better, and have much less skepticism towards data that shows things getting worse?
I have a few theories.
First of all, the political establishment realized after 9/11 that a frightened populace is easier to control and maipulate.
Secondly, the news media knows that its easier to get people to watch if you tell them they are "ALL ABOUT TO DIE!" than if you tried to actually inform people.
Thirdly, you have various special interests. Gun nuts, the military-industrial complex, police unions, private prisons and private security, and most importantly, the many political advocacy groups, both liberal and conservative, such as victims groups.
Finally, there is the public itself. We've been trained for more than a generation to be afraid of our neighbors. To be afraid of people who look different, think different, act different. Being afraid is a comfort zone now. Not being afraid puts you outside of the herd.
One thing is for certain:
Denying that the world is a much less violent place than a generation ago means you are willing to deny proven facts in the same way that some people deny climate change and evolution.
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