Factfulness 10 Rules of Thumb

2. Negativity

Expect bad news

Factfulness is . . . recognizing when we get negative news, and remembering that information about bad events is much more likely to reach us. When things are getting better we often don’t hear about them. This gives us a systematically too-negative impression of the world around us, which is very stressful.

To control the negativity instinct, expect bad news.

• Better and bad. Practice distinguishing between a level (e.g., bad) and a direction of change (e.g., better). Convince yourself that things can be both better and bad.

• Good news is not news. Good news is almost never reported. So news is almost always bad. When you see bad news, ask whether equally positive news would have reached you.

• Gradual improvement is not news. When a trend is gradually improving, with periodic dips, you are more likely to notice the dips than the overall improvement.

• More news does not equal more suffering. More bad news is sometimes due to better surveillance of suffering, not a worsening world.

• Beware of rosy pasts. People often glorify their early experiences, and nations often glorify their histories.

See all 10 Factfulness rules of thumb


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Date Posted: 2018-03-11