I’ll say it again. Read the book. It has so much more to say than I have the energy or willpower to cover here.

I began my Facebook introduction to these blog posts with the central thesis of the book, which I will repeat here:

“(H)ow can we soundly appraise the state of the world? The answer is to count.”

Counting helps us escape our preconceived notions. It serves as an objective arbitrator. It shows us that our gut feelings and anecdotal recollections can give an inaccurate picture. It helps us to know ourselves.

“Remember your math,” Pinker tells us on the final pages of the book,”an anecdote is not a trend. Remember your history: the fact that something is bad today doesn’t mean it was better in the past.”

But it does mean that, by applying the ideals of the Enlightenment and our own ingenuity and compassion, we can make it better tomorrow. I believe we will.

 

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