Historians are trained skeptics. I often like to state that we graduated with distinction from the John Lennon School of Skepticism.

All kidding aside, historians are trained to question everything: not to take carte blanche any argument put forward by other scholars, nor rely on the surface and contextual meanings of documents, artifacts, and other various mediums of the past. In fact, the historical “school” of thought known as Post Modernist, question the very ability of historians to come anywhere near the “truth” in depicting the past.  Now that’s skeptical!

Thus, it was refreshing to see Hans Roling’s “200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes: The Joy of Stats” video which I have linked here.

I was not so much blown away by the video – which is outstanding – as much as I was with Rosling’s final summation, the way he looked at the totality of human history, the trends that have been set, and how Rosling insisted that better days await.

My historical thinking – prior to watching the Rosling video – was rooted in the Hobbsian view that life is “nasty, brutish, and short…” and that what we now live in is nothing more than an anomaly that will one day correct itself returning, as a matter of course, back to days of nastiness, brutishness, and life expectancies under forty.

After watching the Rosling clip, now I have to question even myself. Now that’s skepticism.

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