Steven Pinker, psykologiprofessor på Harvard skriver i senaste Cato Policy Report om fenomenet att vi blir mer pessimistiska i en värld som ständigt blir bättre. Artikeln är mycket tänk- och läsvärd. Här några av de förklaringar Pinker pekar på:
What is the average cost of overreacting to a threat? Well, it’s not zero, and we can all document cases where we have paid in forgone opportunities for reacting to a threat that never happens. But what’s the cost of underreacting to a threat? It’s a plausible hypothesis that for most of human evolutionary history, the fitness cost of underreaction was much greater than the fitness cost of overreaction. In other words, the typical threat in the environment in which our brains evolved was probably much greater than it is today, now that we have exerted technological mastery over so much of our environment. The implication is that our current psychology is tuned to a world that was more dangerous than the world that we’re in today, and that therefore our sense of risk and fear and anxiety is not optimally tuned to the objective risks that we face.
The bad-dominates-good phenomenon is multiplied by a second source of bias, sometimes called the illusion of the good old days.
People always pine for a golden age. They’re nostalgic about an era in which life was simpler and more predictable. The psychologist Roger Eibach has argued that this is because people confuse changes in themselves with changes in the times. As we get older, certain things inevitably happen to us. We take on more responsibilities, so we have a greater cognitive burden. We become more vigilant about threats, especially as we become parents.