Monthly Dinner Meetings—It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear


In the year of COVID and fear, it can seem that everything is getting worse. But is that really true? It’s Better Than It Looks (published 2018, paperback now out) argues that by almost all objective measures, life in the United States, and in most of the world, has never been better.

  • Long term declines in most forms of pollution
  • Long term declines in war and criminal violence—even with recent uptick of urban crime, 2020 is the safest year in human history
  • Long term rise in longevity, decline in most diseases
  • American and global education levels the highest ever
  • Living standards, the highest ever (“destroyed middle class” statistically not true)
  • Long term decline in discrimination against minorities and gays; long-term rise in opportunities for women
  • Till COVID, economy in fine shape (“manufacturing destroyed” statistically not true); once there’s a vaccine, previous positive economy trends likely to resume

It’s Better Than It Looks shows than in nearly all past crises, the optimistic view proved far more likely to be correct than the pessimistic view. Optimism is a better guide to life than pessimism, simply because optimism is usually right. One of my goals is to make optimism intellectually respectable again—right now the Ivy League, New York Times etc. tolerate only alarmists and doomsayers.

The lesson learned is that for today’s really troubling issues – climate change, inequality, the virus – the optimistic view is likely to prove correct. For that reason, we should not fear reforms. Historically, most reforms have had the positive result of making the world better.

It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook Cover review, New York Times Book Review; feature stories on NPR, BBC and in the New Yorker; starred reviews; "masterly" the Wall Street Journal; "excellent" Walter Isaacson.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about past crises
  • Understand why optimism is better than pessimism
  • Obtain a positive outlook on the future

About the Speaker

Gregg Easterbrook Headshot

Gregg Easterbrook

Gregg Easterbrook is the author of eleven books, including the New York Times bestseller It’s Better Than It Looks. He has been a staff writer, national correspondent or contributing editor of The Atlantic for nearly 40 years. Easterbrook has written for the New Yorker, Science, Wired, Harvard Business Review, the Washington Monthly, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He was a fellow in economics, then in government studies, at the Brookings Institution, and a fellow in international affairs at the Fulbright Foundation. In 2017 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About The Monthly Dinner Meetings

The PMI Washington DC Chapter's Monthly Dinner events are held in the Washington DC area, on the third Tuesday of each month (subject to change). Chapter members and non-members seeking to advance their careers by beginning their journey with a PMI certification are welcome to join. These events host the best speakers and networking experiences held in the Washington, DC area for your professional development.

The Chapter's Monthly Dinner events offer informative industrial trends for people in the field of Project Management & Discipline Agile within a variety of industry and government agencies. Each event will present specific learning areas that focus on the PMI talent triangle of technical, leadership, strategic, and business management skills or Agile. Each Monthly Chapter Event offers 1 Professional Development Unit (PDU).


Event Details

Date & Time

15 December 2020

7:30 PM - 8:30 PM (EST-05:00)


Virtual Meeting