Judging by the news, you’d think today is our last day on earth, that it’s the end of the world, that everyone is dying and that nothing is OK. In truth, the facts prove the opposite. In the last two decades, global poverty has declined by half, according to The Economist. Also in the last two decades, the infant mortality rate has declined by about half, according to the World Health Organization.
The crime rate has been declining for the last 25 years, and it is currently at the lowest rate in 50 years. In the last 20 years, the violent crime rate (including homicide, robbery, rape and aggravated assault) dropped in the United States dropped by 49 percent.
So, why all the insanity? Because if you were to go home today, turn on CNN and see Wolf Blitzer standing there above a headline that reads “EVERY DAY IS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER!” you’ll turn your TVs right off. Even knowing all these facts, several times throughout the day, I tune into CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Twitter moments just to feel alive. Political scientist Shana Gadarian wrote in the Washington Post, “Terrorism is newsworthy because it is inherently dramatic and threatening.”
But what does that say about us? Why do we love this crap? Because human beings have what’s called a natural negativity bias. We’re evolved to react quicker to negative or threatening words as a signal of danger. British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey specializes in the psychological effects of media violence, and he says there can be long-lasting effects from its consumption.
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