This is in Swedish, but there are English subtitles.
Hans Rosling points out what too many people seem to be completely unaware of – if you get your news from the media, you will have an extremely distorted view of the world. In a few cases this distortion is intentional (cough, Fox News) but even without malicious intent there is an implicit and overwhelming distortion in the news.
News, by definition, reports on events. Events like war, death, and disease. Things that catch your attention. Things that change slowly are not news (again by definition). Most people think the world is becoming worse, but by almost all measures (life expectancy, number of wars, violent death) the world has been and continues to improve dramatically. But that isn’t news, it is just facts.
Take one example, transportation. Every time there is an airplane crash it is all over the news, with photos and much wringing of hands by survivors and the relatives of casualties. But 1.3 million people die in car crashes every year (and an additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled). Do those make the news? Usually only if it is someone famous. As a result, far more people are afraid of flying than they are of driving. Even though flying is a hundred times safer than driving, and has been steadily getting safer over time.
I doubt that there is any deliberate conspiracy to make people more afraid of air travel (even at Fox News). However, airplane crashes are news, and car crashes are usually not. The result is the same.
Rosling’s point is that war and revolutions are news, but peaceful elections are not. Famine and disease are news, but steady improvements in living conditions are not.
Many Americans think the world is a scary and dangerous place. We are afraid of immigrants, calling them criminals and rapists. We go to war based on the flimsiest of excuses, against people and governments we are afraid of. We don’t trust Iran to honor the agreement to not develop nuclear weapons, because we think they are state sponsors of terrorism. When in reality our fear drives us to sponsor far more terror than Iran does.
Yes, we are surrounded by terrorism and terrorists, but much of it is self inflicted. We have met the enemy, and he is us.