Following up on the post The Progress Paradox here are some additional thoughts about why we may not perceive something as progress although there are objective signs that there is actually progress. I can think of three reasons why this perception of no-progress may be there:


  1. Not noticing due to sensory adaptation or lack of experience. One reason, one that I already mention here is that we may adapt to our new and improved situation due to which we stop perceiving our situation as better, or even good. Also we may benefit from things which our parents and earlier ancestors did not have but we fail to appreciate them really because we never knew what it was like to have to do without them.
  2. Negatively interpreting the changed situation. Although the situation may have become better in some respects, people may think that in other respects the situation has only become worse. Or they may think that the perception of progress is delusional. For instance one may think (rightly or not) that new technologies and practices may have some advantages but that they also bring along great perils and disadvantages and that the advantages do not outweigh the disadvantages.
  3. Raising the bar of our expectations. A separate reason why we may be dissatisfied with reality in spite of objective progress is that we may have raised the bar of our expectations. For example, violence may have declined but at the same time we have become more and more intolerant for violence. Due to this the remaining level of violence may be seen just as unsatisfactory as the previous level of violence used to be.


Do you recognize these?


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