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Progress - Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future
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Progress - Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,024 ratings  ·  145 reviews
Varje dag översköljs vi av samma budskap: vi är på väg åt fel håll. Det handlar om finansiella krascher, migrationskriser, arbetslöshet, hungersnöd, krig och miljökatastrofer. Det är inte konstigt om känslan är att världen kollapsar.

Men i motsats till vad många tror har mänsklighetens framsteg under de senaste decennierna varit oöverträffade. Oavsett vilken statistik du re
304 pages
Published (first published October 11th 2016)
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Reasons to Be Cheerful

Johan Norberg's message is simple: Things are much better than you think. So stop worrying and get back to making things even better still. This is a popularisation of the similar but more academic line that the (uncredited) economist Deirdre McCloskey has been promoting for the last decade. While Norberg's emphasis is on technology, and McCloskey's is on the generative ideas for technology, they are at one in a celebration of middle-class living and its prospects.

It had to
Paul Bryant
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, modern-life

According to Johan Norberg those people who were wearing shades because the future was so bright were right. His introduction is called “The Good Old Days Are Now” and his book is an antidote to the daily news because the news is one of the very few things Johan thinks isn’t getting better. That’s because they only report the bad news because the bad news is rare and dramatic, which of course gives us all the idea that terrible things are happening all the time, which of course, they are somewhe
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers interested in current events, sociology, psychology, history as well as statistics
Human Progress?

Norberg brings up plenty of facts and statistics on a broad canvas as he paints a picture of human progress through time. The book is divided into sections on food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the environment, literacy, freedom, equality as well as the next generation. It is crammed with information about each topic. Using statistics Norberg really makes a strong case for that humanity (overall) drastically has progressed in a positive direction in all of these
Morten Greve
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is difficult to rate.

In my view, it warrants two very different reviews.

Review 1: Assuming that Norberg’s intentions are morally innocent, “Progress” must be described as a brilliant, free-flowing, well-supported account of how humankind has managed to improve the world and the way we live with each other in countless ways. Improved sanitation, increased life-expectancy and literacy, enforcement of human rights, poverty reduction (at least in relative terms), etc. etc. From this viewpo
George P.
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Johan Norberg, Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future (London, OneWorld, 2016).

“Nothing is more responsible for the good old days,” wrote Franklin Pierce Adams, “than a bad memory.” The good old days, in other words, weren’t so good. Indeed, if Johan Norberg is to be believed, the good old days are right now.

Drawing on a variety of social science data, Norberg points to ten ways the world has progressed over the last three centuries:

Food is plentiful and cheap.
Clean water an
Daniel Wright
Doom and gloom is everywhere at the moment - ask any politician, on the right or the left. Everything is getting worse day by day.

Except this is nonsense. With a barrage of statistics on several key metrics - food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, and literacy - Johan Norberg proves that in practical terms, there is no better time to be alive than now. Except possibly the future. There cannot be a timelier corrective to the narrative we usually feed to ourselves.

This is not a flaw
Mart Roben
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Media is the immune system of society. It seeks out possible threats and helps channel resources into dealing with them. But just like the biological immune system, it can go into overdrive and start hurting the thing it's supposed to protect. In today's attention economy, the news are distorted towards negative and outrageous. If people in a democratic country use no other sources of information to base their decisions on, it can lead to overreactive and harmful policies. Calls for "strong lead ...more
Frank Calberg
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Parts I found particularly useful:

Agriculture innovation
- Page 14: In the early 20th century, the chemists Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch carried out thousands of experiments which resulted in the development of artificial fertilizer, a hugely important agricultural innovation that resulted in an increase in food.
- Pages 18 and 23: After thousands of crossings of wheat, Borman Borlaugh developed a high-yield hybrid that was parasite resistant and wasn't sensitive to daylight hours so it could be gro
Andrew Carr
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
It’s hard to be an optimist these days. Not because the facts don’t back it up, but because there’s a strong social pressure to instantly caveat any praise with “but of course things aren’t perfect”.

I could tell you, following Johan Norberg's excellent new book, that since 1981 extreme poverty has dropped from 44% to 9%. That in the 1960s people in 51 countries consumed under 2,000 calories per person, today it’s just one. That 63% of countries are now democratic and that 95% of the health and e
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Food, Sanitation, Life Expectancy, Poverty, Violence, The environment, Literacy, Freedom, Equality and The Next Generation...

I enjoyed reading this informational text. The statistics and research was well presented and easy to digest. Considering all we hear these days are bad things and that the human race is doomed, I finished this book feeling a bit more optimistic and actually proud of the human race for coming so far in such a such period of time.
Nick Imrie
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is very interesting that most people don't know how much improvement has been made around the world. Only 10% of British people think that poverty has fallen worldwide and more than half think it has doubled. We're getting it wrong more than chance would predict, which means that many of us have inaccurate beliefs based on misleading information. The truth is that 200 years ago people in Europe were poorer than sub-Saharan Africans are now, but extreme poverty was eliminated in Europe by the ...more
Charlie Vincent
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a big fan of Max Roser and his work on providing data to show the way in which the world has improved, this was right up my street. Focusing on improved healthcare, increased longevity, the decline in violence, and a number of other reasons we should be positive about the future, this is a concise and well-researched read for those looking to escape the perpetual negativity put out by the media. It's incredible to think that, in the last twenty years, extreme poverty has halved and yet this i ...more
The Laughing Man
Highly Helpful

Another book that helps you grasp the world better and understand the trends while adopting a more positive world view. Definitely a must read for everyone, especially the leftists and left liberals who are hell bent on the idea of the world coming to an end because of capitalism.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Things I liked:

-It's based on actual verified data. It uses real numbers, statistics and information.

-It's not based on some cheap populism, as many books and papers —mostly opposite to this book—do.

-It puts in display things that mainstream media does not. It tells us how the world has changed in an incredibly positive way, which most people are unaware of.

Things I didn't like:

-It's selective with its data. For example: it tells us that Asian countries like Korea, weren't expected to ever grow
You’ve seen those odd TED talks about how things are getting better? This book is a description of many ways in which things are getting better in the world. The author looks for the positive perspectives on the growth of humanity. Food – more plentiful now than in the past. Life expectancy – much longer than even 100 years ago. Poverty – lower by our measures and dropping rapidly. Clean water, sanitation, literacy, war, environment (at least in some ways), freedom, equality, all these areas con ...more
Adri Nurellari
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Equipped with numerous historical facts this author provides plenty of counter-arguments against the current pessimists who nurture a nostalgia towards the past. I really needed to read this optimistic book after reading a series of quite depressive alarmist books. This book is tribute to the great advances achieved by humanity in the last two centuries as well as a great reminder of the fact that we should not take for granted what we have today. It is very similar to an earlier book of Johan N ...more
Arthur Yatsenko
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great read, that is also backed up by facts and data. I could not help keep looking back to the annex, in order to double check the numbers. Not all is lost for humanity, the progress does not stand still and despite creating new problems on world scale, we as humanity are also finding ways to mitigate existing issues. It is quite remarkable how the humanity was able to advance in the last 100-200 years, and sometimes I am anxious about what’s it gonna be in the next 50 years? Absolute ...more
D.L. Morrese
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
The reason some people think 'things' are getting progressively worse, or who look on the past with uniformed nostalgia, is because that don't realize how difficult, dangerous, and dreadful things used to be. They fail to appreciate that progress has been made, that it continues to be made, and that 'things' over time have dramatically improved. That's the message Johan Norberg is attempting to relate in this book. With some statistics and anecdotes, he takes readers on a quick, high-altitude fl ...more
Alan Cook
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
All pessimists (such as myself) should read this book. Check that. Everybody should read this book. It tells about what few people realize--that we are living in the best of times, and that the human race has made enormous progress in the past few hundred years, and even in the past fifty years. And it is continuing as we speak. Norbert talks about the following topics: food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the environment, literacy, freedom and equality. We have made huge advanc ...more
Mbogo J
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I previously thought that the greatest invention of the modern era was the internet, but Johan has convinced me that the Haber-Bosch process is the top contender for that prize. This is the process that enabled industrial scale synthesis of Nitrogen to produce artificial fertilizer. Increased food yields led to all this progress we are witnessing today. Before that famines were so common that there are recorded cases of human flesh being sold in the open market.
This book serves to remind us of t
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book to read , put things into perspective
Takes u away from the doom and gloom of everyday news
It portrays a truthful picture of the progress that humanKinds have achieved in the last couple of centuries
A must read for anyone who lost faith in humanity
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, math
A flippant summary that mostly misses the point of this book would be: "Smile! Don't you know just how wretched all of humanity was 200, 100, or even just 50 years ago?"

While undeniably and sometimes cringily from a white, decently well-off, European male perspective (hello, one instance of "Oriental" that just got slipped in, for instance. Also little mention of the impact of European colonialism and imperialism in the first three chapters: Food, Sanitation, and Life Expectancy--thanks for fina
Max Evans
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I heard about this book on the late Mark Steyn Show that used to be on I very much liked the show and was really disappointed when it was taken off, which has never been explained.

This book talks about the great benefits that capitalism has brought to the world. Most of the book I already knew. Things like how the appliances have given the average person, especially women, in the western world has the leisure to enjoy things that used to be enjoyed only by the most wealthy and privileg
Justin Drew
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Most of us are not swayed by rationalised argument or fact but we are much more influenced by our personal narratives and how we emotionally or intuitively respond to the information we receive through our senses. And most of us seem to feel that we have never lived in such trouble times and that we've never had it so bad. And this has resulted in us making decisions such as leaving Europe or voting for a president in America who seems closer to narcissistic madness because "things are bad, real ...more
I feel humbled by how little I know. The author uses statistics relentlessly to show the rate of progress in a number of areas - health, the environment, war and peace, equality - and the improvement, particularly since 1950, is incredible, and not just in the First World, but in the developing world too, with a huge amount after the millennium. I am really encouraged by this, that the work of a number of global organisations really does pay off - the UN in its various active forms, the WHO, the ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2017, non-fiction
The world is improving.

If you just look at the TV news and read headlines, you'd get the sense that the world is descending into chaos, with terrorists and murderers, diseases and poverty, wars and pollution. However, the more interesting fact is that all these problems are decreasing. Terrorism kills fewer people than in a long time (although Europe has seen a recent increase, the levels are far lower than in the 1970's.) The murder rate has decreased continuously for millennia, and is now sev
José Antonio Lopez
Choose your right Swede.

Johan Norberg offers a recount of how the world is much better today than anytime in history. Progress covers different facets of human life.

* Food
* Sanitation
* Life expectancy
* Poverty
* Violence
* Environment
* Literacy
* Equality
* Childhood (Next generation)

In all of these Norberg lays out evidence on how, thanks to values of the Enlightenment and their implementation in capitalism and liberalism, life has dramatically improved. Only this system allowed amazing progress
Nick Duretta
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like many people I know, I often get depressed by what I hear in the media--terrorism, violence in our cities, global warming, hate crimes, rampant bigotry, the almost daily horrors of Donald Trump (the man who wants to 'make America great again'.) It was a blissful tonic to read this book, which clearly explains (with facts!) how people in today's world live vastly better lives in so many ways than their forebears, even those in recent generations--they're better fed, they live longer, have gre ...more
Tony Fitzpatrick
The premise of this book is that whilst we all live in the best of times, relatively few people believe it. The author tries to show how the world is better fed, clean, safer and more disease free than at any point in human history. He argues that mainstream media exaggerates problems rather than good news, and that consequently too many people believe life was better in the past. He is hugely optimistic about the future, arguing that as the benefits of technology, information and education spre ...more
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