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Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know (Summary).

These materials below are based on a summary of the main findings in the book;

How to use the materials:

Firstly, look at the questions that relate to the topic and the contents of the article - we will start the conversation by answering these. Then read the article and translate any new vocabulary in it - Any new vocabulary can be learnt most effectively using Anki flashcards.

The main focus of fluency building lessons is to use natural conversation to give you the opportunity to really develop your speaking skills, identify missing vocabulary, correct grammatical and pronunciation errors and actively learn the skills that will bring your English forwards. By basing the lessons on different source materials we are able to have a clear structure to the contents of the lesson as well as giving you some excellent exposure to good English to learn from as preparation for the lesson.



1. The book starts with a poll; how do you think the respondents answered?

2. How would you have answered the question? And why?

3. Having read the article, which of the points stood out the most? And why?


The results of the Poll and possible explanation

A meagre 11% of people responded with “things are getting better”. In the US, it was even worse at only 6%. This could be explained in a number of ways;

Firstly, There’s an asymmetry between positive and negative experiences. Negative events impact us more than positive events. The authors suggest that the media often think along the lines of, “News is bad news; steady progress is not news.” Because many of us follow the news – and the news tends to dwell on negative events – we often think that the world is far worse than what it actually is. In 1973, Kahneman and Tversky identified a cognitive bias they called the “availability bias”. Therefore, we have a tendency to think that the examples that come readily to mind are much more representative than what is actually the case. Because of this, the authors suggest that focusing on the news creates a bias towards being overly pessimistic about progress.

Secondly, It has been suggested that humans’ over-emphasis on negative trends may be due to evolutionary psychology, “A Stone Age man hears a rustle in the grass. Is it the wind or a lion? If he assumes it’s the wind and the rustling turns out to be a lion, then he’s not an ancestor. We are the descendants of the worried folks who tended to assume that all rustles in the grass were dangerous predators and not the wind.” Humans developed to be cautious, instinctively focusing on potential negative events. Despite this, “the upshot is that we are again often misled into thinking that the world is worse than it is.”

Thirdly, we underestimate the progress (of humanity) because as we make progress, our attention is captured by newer problems, rather than the progress we have made so far. Daniel Gilbert and his colleagues suggest, “When problems become rare, we count more things as problems. Our studies suggest that when the world gets better, we become harsher critics of it, and this can cause us to mistakenly conclude that it hasn’t actually gotten better at all. Progress, it seems, tends to mask itself”.


The Article Summarising the Book:

Why do so many smart people wrongly believe, all things considered, that the world is getting worse?

According to Marian Tupy author of “10 Global Trends That Every Smart Person Should Know” the answer is simple: Perception is not reality. The Earth your children will inherit will be far wealthier, healthier and more peaceful than the one you inherited. So before you despair about the state of the world, here are 10 global trends that every smart person should know.

1. The Most Important Graph Ever

Ready? Here it is:

This is the “Great Enrichment”. It means that inflation-adjusted, the globe’s GDP per capita has more than tripled since 1800. In other words, the average person today is about three times richer than the average person two centuries ago. And that’s not just exclusive to North America. The same is true for Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The world is getting richer, and that’s a good thing. However, I’d be remiss not to mention that creator of this graph and NYU professor Jonathan Haidt had this to say:

“When I show this graph in Asia,” Haidt told Reason, “the audiences love it, and seem to take it as an aspirational road map… But when I show this graph in Europe and North America, I often receive more ambivalent reactions. ‘We can’t just keep growing forever!’ some say. ‘We’ll destroy the planet!’ say others. These objections seem to come entirely from the political left, which has a history, stretching back centuries, of ambivalence or outright hostility to capitalism.”

2. The End of Poverty

University of Paris economist François Bourguignon estimates that in 1820 nearly 84 percent of the world’s population lived in abject poverty (roughly $1.90 in today’s dollars). By 1981, that number had fallen to 42 percent. And by 2013, it was down to 10 percent. The latest data from the world bank estimates that about 9.2% of the world, or 689 million people, live in extreme poverty. Yes, we still have work to do, but the trend is clear.

3. Commodity Prices Have Fallen

In short, falling commodity prices, as adjusted for wage growth/inflation, have made the world richer. Commodities that took 60 minutes of work to buy in 1980 only take 21 minutes of work to buy today. That’s a big deal. Important to point out that this data was taken before the Russia-Ukraine conflict, so things could change

But for now, commodities are still cheap compared to years past. Moreover, as Tupy points out, the totality of our resources is neither known nor fixed. Every day, we find new sources of oil, gas, and minerals, and we keep discovering more efficient ways to extract them.

4. Is Overpopulation a Concern?

No. Here’s another important graph:

Besides the UN,many experts believe that global population (currently at 8 bil) will cap out around 2080 and then begin a DRAMATIC decline. Women are having fewer than two babies in the US and much of Western Europe; additionally, China is actually having a crisis with the majority of its young people being male and a shrinking workforce. The Chinese even revoked their one-child policy. Crazy times. Lastly, college-educated women are having the fewest babies. This is Elon Musk’s point about being underpopulated. He’s concerned that the smartest people are having the fewest kids. We need to figure that out.

5. We Have Too Much Food

Can you believe that on average the world is eating 3,000 calories per day? …yeah, me neither.

The world is awash in food. We are so good at producing food that it’s becoming a problem. In 2016, the world produced 17 percent more food than it did in 2000. This means the amount of food wasted each year is enough to feed every single person on the planet. It’s depressing like the time I saw a turtle with a Covid mask stuck on its head. Better distribution and less waste are the key here, not more production.

6. More Land for Nature

On one hand, Tupy points out that the “amount trees in the United States and China have increased by 34 percent and 15 percent, respectively.” On the other hand, biodiversity continues to decline as we encroach on animal habitats and overfish the oceans. There’s also a startling report that animal populations have experienced an average decline of almost 70% since 1970. So, while there’s been some progress, we still have a long way to go to protect the planet’s animals.

7. Planet City

Cities are the centers of innovation, engines of growth, and home to the richest segment of the population — just think of Delhi, London, New York, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo.”

— Marian L. Tupy

The world’s population is increasingly urban. In 1800, only 3 percent of the world’s population lived in cities. By 1950, it was 30 percent. Today, more than 54 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2100 the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development estimates that 85% of the world’s population will be urbanized. Speaking as a New Yorker, this is a bit of a Catch-22.

I love living in the city, but it’s also really crowded and quite dirty, and everyone I know has a story of how they were almost stabbed, shot or raped at gunpoint. Everyone.

As Hunter S. Thompson once said of NY, “It gives one perspective, I think, that would be impossible to get anywhere else in the world. But god have mercy on those who can live with this perspective.”

8. Democracy: Coming to a Theater Near You

Democracies aren’t expanding as fast as they used to, but they are still spreading.

In 1900, only 10 percent of the world’s population lived in a democracy; today, more than 60 percent of the world’s population is governed by democratically elected leaders. Thank you democracy, very cool.

9. World War 3

Trend №9 was initially titled “The Long Peace” in large part because there hasn’t been a world war since 1945. Now, “The Long Peace” has been replaced by a potential “World War 3.”

If you have time read “We Are On a Path to Nuclear War” by Jeremy Shapiro. Shapiro is the director of research at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former advisor to the US State Department under President Barack Obama. He basically says that Russia and Ukraine both want a “maximalist victory” meaning neither is backing down and this war keeps escalating — not to mention the US isn’t helping to NEGOTIATE a fucking peace deal!!—so the chances of a nuclear war increase by the day.

10. Death

Death is down.

Deaths in climate-related disasters have declined 99% from a century ago according to data conducted by Bjørn Lomborg a statistician and president of the think tank Copenhagen Consensus Center. So while death is still very much a thing, we are getting better at avoiding it. Bjørn even estimates that fewer people than ever will be flooded by 2100. So death, on the whole, is down which is great news…


Useful Language Exercise:

Which prepositions are needed in the following;

1. According ________ somebody.

2. to despair ________ something.

3. The state ________ something. (the world etc).

4. to live ________ something. (poverty, squalor etc).

5. to fall ________ something. (a number etc)

6. compared ________ something.

7. to figure something ________. (syn to solve).

8. to be good ________ doing something.

9. to live ________ a democracy.

10. to be governed _________ somebody.

*the answers are below.


Answers to the exercise:

1. According to somebody.

2. to despair about something.

3. The state of something. (the world etc).

4. to live in something. (poverty, squalor etc).

5. fall to something. (a number etc)

6. compared to something.

7. to figure something out. (syn to solve).

8. to be good at doing something.

9. to live in a democracy.

10. to be governed by somebody.

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