The facts are hard to deny. We live longer, infant mortality continues to fall, we are richer, less subject to violence-- and despite uneven progress, the world is more democratic than it was 50 years ago.
And yet so many people are gripped by pessimism and fear.
Donald Trump was elected President after repeatedly claiming "our country is going to hell." A recent poll found that just three-in-ten Americans think the country is headed in the right direction. The number of Americans who think the country has a strong national character declined sharply in the last two decades.
Our guest, journalist Gregg Easterbrook is author of the new book, "It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear."
"If you're an optimist you think that problems can be fixed," says Gregg. "If you're a pessimist, you think the world is going to hell and there is nothing I can do about it."
We look at why our pessimistic outlook has been blurred by the rise of social media, and is getting in the way of urgently needed reforms, from reducing climate change to fixing the national debt.