Gates 2017 Annual letter

by ike1 min read15th Feb 20174 comments


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I was surprised at this:

In a recent survey, just 1 percent knew we had cut extreme poverty in half, and 99 percent underestimated the progress. That survey wasn’t just testing knowledge; it was testing optimism—and the world didn’t score so well.

The survey seems to be the one described here:

It reveals that 87% of people around the world believe that global poverty has either stayed the same or gotten worse over the past 20 years, when the exact opposite is true – it has more than halved.

People’s opinions and understanding vary hugely both between and inside countries. In China for instance, 50% of those surveyed think correctly that poverty has decreased, compared to only 8% in Germany and the US. “Chinese people can actually witness the success in tackling extreme poverty in their own country. It is instructive that people in richer nations cannot,” Lampert said.

I would be curious to see the question as asked, looks like actually ran the survey, but could not find any details on the results on the full report from glocalities (I presume they sell it)

It seems extraordinary that fully 92% of people in the US think that poverty is unchanged or worse since 1990 for example.

There are a lot of people with incentives to convince you that things are horrible.

Notable categories are people who want to mobilize you to do something, e.g. protest, and people who want your money.

It's a testament to the mainstream media's ability to inform it's audience of import facts about the world.

Given the debate we have about alternative facts, the inability of our media matters.

Not all of this is right - for instance, they're not putting a lot of work into causal attribution - but they are getting one key thing right: focusing on outcomes rather than inputs. Benefits, rather than costs.