Source: As seen below chart via Slate
The fact that less people get murdered through interpersonal conflict (as opposed to war and other violent conflicts) is probably something most people have trouble believing. I mean, how can this be? With all the carnage we see on the news hie can it be that homicide rates are decreasing?
As I have mentioned several times before, it is the “selective bias” of the news media that is responsible for that, especially in this case! Usually, I say that the negative news reporting is a big part of the problem, but in this case I think it’s the main perpetrator!! As Max Roser of OurWorldInData puts it ” the news doesn’t report on things that didn’t happen”, like crimes avoided, casualties prevented or potential damage averted. They even fail to put the incidences into perspective, like the fact that more people die in traffic accidents, or because of tobacco, or Malaria etc., than due to terror attacks!
Each victim of terrorism is of course a tragedy, but so are the 8,000,000 children dying below the age of 5 or the 2,500,000 that die because of alcohol. No one is reporting about them of course because it doesn’t sell as well. It isn’t dramatic enough because the tragic fate of the individual drowns in the anonymity of the vast number of victims!
Imagine for a second there would only be 10 murders a day across the globe and no other crime of any sort. Now imagine how you would feel if the news media extensively covered only these murders everyday and nothing else. You would most likely feel unsafe and get the impression that the world is a violent and dangerous place. You may even think it’s getting worse, depending on how they report. Looking at the larger context, this of course would be completely untrue. In fact, the opposite would be the case. With only 10 murders a day and no other crime the world could be considered by all intents and purposes, a truly peaceful place!
My intention with this extreme example is to show you how the everyday news distorts our reality and what we think is true (purposely or not). If there is 50% good and bad news around, they will focus on the 50% that’s bad (with some exceptions here and there to change things up every once in a while ). If there’s 80% good and 20% bad, the news will report on the 20% and so on and so forth. So no matter how good it gets, on the news things always look bad because the focus is always on the ugly, completely ignoring that things have vastly improved!!!
Pardon my long rant, but I needed to get that of my chest!
Going back to the first chart, you can see that the world as a whole decreased its homicide rate from approximately 7 to almost 6 per 100,000 people, which represents a drop of roughly 13% in little over 10 years. The United States managed an even greater decrease of around 50% since 1990, which is the lowest level in more than 50 years despite what Donald Trump may want to make you believe! Here some other countries that have experienced a significant decline in homicides:
I know this chart is a little stuffed with information, but I wanted to make a point in showing you how many countries have witnessed a decline in homicides over the past decades. There are only a few like Uganda or Mexico that have suffered a recent increase. There are of course some more countries with rising homicide rates, but the vast majority show a drop in murder rates. Even countries where you would find it hard to believe that fewer and fewer people are being murdered, countries like: Namibia, South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Romania, Niger, Senegal, Ukraine, Philippines and even Irak and Iran among many others!!
Last but not least impressive is the data concerning the homicide rates in some european nations:
Depending on which country you choose, homicides have dropped between 10- and 50-fold (!!!) since the middle ages…..WOW….so much for the good old times!
Think about this before you use that figure of speech the next time!
Featured image courtesy of Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay