Obama declares world 'less violent' than ever

During a White House event on Wednesday in which President Barack Obama took questions from Tumblr users, the president was asked to speculate on what his post-presidency would look like in a decade. During the president’s extemporaneous response to that question, he asserted that the world is as safe as it has ever been – ever.

[T]he truth of the matter is that for all the challenges we face, all the problems that we have, if you had to be — if you had to choose any moment to be born in human history, not knowing what your position was going to be, who you were going to be, you’d choose this time. The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed then it’s ever been. It is more educated than it’s ever been.

Via Real Clear Politics:

In spite of the fact that the headlines would lead many to believe that this is an inexplicable assertion based on nothing more than wishful thinking, there is evidence to support Obama’s claim.

In a recent TED talk delivered by Harvard University psychology professor Steven Pinker, he claimed that research suggests that violence has been on the decline for thousands of years. It is true, he says, that the present moment is one of the least violent periods in our species existence.

He expanded on this theory in the pages of The Wall Street Journal in 2011, noting that violence is declining not only on the micro but the macro level.


It is a wonder, then, that Obama made this claim just a day after he insisted that America is plagued “off the charts” gun violence and school shootings which happen “now once a week.” This claim was picked up by Obama’s ideologically simpatico media outlets and advocacy organizations, some of which propagated the notion that there have been 74 school shootings in just the last 18 months.

But a dive into this research, chronicled by HotAir’s Erika Johnsen, shows that this figure was wildly inflated by the inclusion of suicides and gang-related accidental homicides. In fact, the true trends indicate that gun violence in America has been on the decline for decades.

It turns out the president is right to claim that the present moment in human existence is one of the least violent, even though he probably wishes he weren’t.