Hope, Hans, and Steven Pinker–

For the last five years, I’ve spent my time focusing on the socio-economic-political-cultural origins of the US, as well as other histories primarily during the 19th and early 20th century. Along with my loyal student followers at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of California, Riverside, we’ve collectively come to understand that previous circumstances have really been worse. However, time after time people usually rise to face the apocalypse. Flawed responses, certainly. Manipulated understandings, ignorance, racism and tribalism certainly are ever present. I would suggest that the avalanche of bad news on a daily basis can put us all into a state of fear, desperation or asking the Ostrich to share his place in the sand. We need to fight those thoughts or there really is no reason to continue . If you haven’t already I would refer you to the scholarship of Steven Pinker. His latest effort, Enlightenment Now–The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress is worth the effort. Combine this reading with the long-term analysis of Hans Rosling, “Factfulness–Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–And Why Things Are Better Than You Think,” your optimism just might return.

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