@amit's notes





Often it takes several generations for a family to move from Level 1 to Level 4. (Location 515)

Documentaries pit the fragile individual against the big, evil corporation. Blockbuster movies usually feature good fighting evil. (Location 532)

People often call me an optimist, because I show them the enormous progress they didn’t know about. That makes me angry. I’m not an optimist. That makes me sound naïve. I’m a very serious “possibilist.” That’s something I made up. It means someone who neither hopes without reason, nor fears without reason, someone who constantly resists the overdramatic worldview. As a possibilist, I see all this progress, and it fills me with conviction and hope that further progress is possible. This is not optimistic. It is having a clear and reasonable idea about how things are. It is having a worldview that is constructive and useful. (Location 826)

Remember that the media and activists rely on drama to grab your attention. Remember that negative stories are more dramatic than neutral or positive ones. Remember how simple it is to construct a story of crisis from a temporary dip pulled out of its context of a long-term improvement. Remember that we live in a connected and transparent world where reporting about suffering is better than it has ever been before. (Location 862)

They no longer needed large families for child labor on the small family farm. And they no longer needed extra children as insurance against child mortality. (Location 1017)

Because “frightening” and “dangerous” are two different things. Something frightening poses a perceived risk. Something dangerous poses a real risk. Paying too much attention to what is frightening rather than what is dangerous—that is, paying too much attention to fear—creates a tragic drainage of energy in the wrong directions. It makes a terrified junior doctor think about nuclear war when he should be treating hypothermia, and it makes whole populations focus on earthquakes and crashing planes and invisible substances when millions are dying from diarrhea and seafloors are becoming underwater deserts. I would like my fear to be focused on the mega dangers of today, and not the dangers from our evolutionary past. (Location 1456)

“In the deepest poverty you should never do anything perfectly. If you do you are stealing resources from where they can be better used.” (Location 1521)

Over a period of two weeks, 31 people had died from swine flu, and a news search on Google brought up 253,442 articles about it. That was 8,176 articles per death. Over the same two-week period, I calculated that roughly 63,066 people had died of tuberculosis (TB). Almost all these people were on Levels 1 and 2, where TB remains a major killer even though it can now be treated. But TB is infectious and TB strains can become resistant and kill many people on Level 4. The news coverage for TB was at a rate of 0.1 article per death. Each swine flu death received 82,000 times more attention than each equally tragic death from TB. (Location 1611)

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