- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

What’s this? A massive new Gallup poll finds that 71 percent of the planet report they regularly feel much happiness and reassurance, among other positive emotions. The pollsters based this number on interviews with 138,000 people around the planet - 1,000 respondents in each of 138 countries. Residents in Latin America appear to be the happiest; the U.S. ranks 24th on the list.

Interesting. Reassuring, perhaps. But this is not the impression the news media offers the public.

“Are you worried about the future? It’s hard not to be. If you watch the news, you mostly see violence, disasters, danger. Some in my business call it ‘fear porn’ or ‘pessimism porn.’ People like the stuff; it makes them feel alive and informed. Of course, it’s our job to tell you about problems. If a plane crashes - or disappears - that’s news. The fact that millions of planes arrive safely is a miracle, but it’s not news,” says Fox News host John Stossel in a recent op-ed for the network.

He confessed that he stopped winning Emmy Awards when he started reporting real news rather than “overhyped” risks.

“The media win by selling pessimism porn,” Mr. Stossel says, despite contrary trends in the population. “Over the past 40 years, murder dropped by 40 percent, rape by 80 percent, and, outside of war zones, Islamic terrorism claims fewer than 400 lives a year. The last decade saw the fewest lives claimed in war since record keeping began. One unnecessary death is tragic, but the big picture is good news.”

The veteran newsman noted, “Our brains just aren’t very good at keeping track of the good news. Evolution programmed us to pay attention to problems. Good news often happens slowly. The media miss it.”

But the positive emotions continue despite the fear porn in news coverage. Here are more numbers from Gallup:

71 percent of the world’s population report regularly feeling “lots of positive emotions” like enjoyment, self-respect, happiness and feeling “well rested”.

87 percent of residents in Paraguay, 86 percent of those in Panama, 83 percent of those in Guatemala, 83 percent of those in Nicaragua and 83 percent of those in Ecuador agree; they are the top five countries on the list of 138 nations polled.

54 percent of those in both Serbia and Bosnia/Herzegovina, 53 percent of those in Lithuania, 52 percent of those in Chad and 36 percent of those in Syria agree; they are the bottom five nations on the list.

78 percent of Americans report regular, consistent positive emotions; the U.S. is 24th on the list.

76 percent of both Chinese and French, 74 percent of Germans, 73 percent of British residents, and 71 percent of Japanese agree.

64 percent of Afghans, 63 percent of South Koreans and Iranians, 61 percent of Russians and 60 percent of Ukrainians also report positive emotions.

Source: A Gallup Positive Emotions Index Survey of 1,000 adults in each of 138 countries conducted throughout 2013 and released May 21.

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