“The first step toward wisdom is the realization that the laws of the universe don’t care about you. The next is the realization that this does not imply that life is meaningless, because people care about you, and vice versa.” ― Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
There's a lot of doom and gloom in today's world, with inequality, disease and death seemingly around every corner. Fortunately, this isn't quite as it seems - while there is still progress to be made, humanity has come a long way in the last few centuries, with present day being the safest and arguably best time to be alive, until it outdone by tomorrow. Throughout Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker shows the raw data on how much better things have gotten and some of the reasons why - namely the focus on Enlightenment values such as reason, science, humanism and progress - and that this progress is set to continue.
This is similar to his previous book - The Better Angels of Our Nature - but covers a far broader range of topics. Some interesting bits of data found:
In 1800 you would have to toil for six hours to afford to burn a candle for 1hour at night - in 1994 you would need to toil for half a second to afford 1 hour of lightbulb time, and with the rise of cheap LED bulbs this cost is likely even lower and helping light to become more available to parts of the world with little to no electricity.
Time spent doing laundry fell from 11.5 hours a week in 1920 to an hour and a half in 2014
You’re 37 times less likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than you were at the turn of the century