Pay attention. Prepare to smile. The world is not more dangerous than ever before


2016-17Donald Trump’s election win. Brexit. Is it any wonder so many people seem depressed? But in real terms, the world is not as insecure it might seem. Here’s a psychologist’s entirely sensible explanation for why we’re so gloomy. Steven Pinker, who has researched and written about how violence has waned in human history, told NPR that the Syrian war has had a big impact on our perceptions.

“Because of the Syrian civil war, the rate of death in warfare has drifted upward a little bit in the last five years,” he said.

For the US, there’s “been a small increase in homicide …in the last three years,” he added.

But here’s the key takeaway. “Both of those figures are at a fraction of what they were in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,” said Mr Pinker.

The doubts, however, may persist. Not just in terms of security. Prosperity too. Even the World Trade Organisation appears downcast, cutting its forecast for trade growth in 2016 to 1.7 per cent, down from 2.8 cent in April. It cited slowing GDP and trade growth in developing countries and North America, all in the context of a “growing anti-globalisation sentiment”.