Why All The Pessimism?

Do we live in the best of times?  Why all the pessimism?

Presenter: Francois Villaneuve

September, 2018

Steven Pinker, a noted Humanist, argues we live in the best of times.  There is no better time to be born other than today.  In his book, Enlightenment now, he argues that human progress has been tremendous.  Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress are central tenets of his message. 


Longevity, famines, wars, murders, abject poverty, women rights and so on have all been trending positively.  There is still room for improvement, there is always room for improvement, but that doesn’t mean things haven’t got a lot better and fast.

Humanism emphasize critical thinking and evidence.  Trend lines not headlines should be a basis for rational thinking but looking at the main stream media reporting many people are left with the impression we live in the worst of times, progress has been slow and that some things are getting much worse. Many people seem unsatisfied and are looking for radical change to progress already made or that things were better in the good old days.

Climate change may be the most challenging problem of our time.  Isn’t climate change just another problem to be solved as many other have been solved before?  Compared to earlier problems is it so bad?

So which one is it? 

Is today the best time ever or is society circling down the drain?

Is the future bright and promising or was the past really that much better?

Should we burn down the ‘corrupt’ institutions of the last 200 years and rebuild from scratch or is a continued incremental approach to progress still desirable?

Leaving the limited value of anecdotal evidence aside, come prepared to discuss which way we are really heading.