Quote of the week

“There are two things that have been true throughout history in big hunks. You  can find differences in ten years, but in 50 year hunks, 100 years hunks, you’ll find two things to be true. One, the world is always getting better. Two, people always think it’s getting worse.”

Penn Jillette, From the film Examined Life Michael Moore Hates America

10 Responses to “Quote of the week”

  1. Sean Crawford

    I’ve always wanted to re-find a spirited poem I only once come across, back in a school text in the 1970’s, that combined the “two things.” It was a long comic poem where each verse was gloomy, but with an incongruous one-line refrain about how seen from this end of time (like a fifty year chunk) things were somehow better.

  2. bb

    Just watched the movie Examined Life, and a) Penn Jillette is not in the movie, and b) these words are not uttered by anyone who does appear in the movie, either quoting Penn Jillette or saying it themselves.

    Not saying Penn never said this, but just saying that he never said it (nor was he quoted as saying it) in Examined Life.

    1. Scott Berkun

      Blake / BB: Thanks for catching this.

      It’s from the movie Michael Moore hates America, not from Examined Life. I saw both films in the same week or so, and just made a complete idiotic mistake. Corrected now.

  3. Blake

    Out of curiosity, Scott, where did you get this quote from? Like did you firsthand see it in Examined Life? A couple of us watched the movie, and Penn isn’t anywhere in it, and I’m not sure he’s quoted anywhere in it either.

    Not to say that he didn’t say this at some point (there’s a Bullshit! episode about this very topic where he clearly has this sentiment), I’m just curious how it got attributed to Examined Life.

  4. bitlink

    might be true … but then again you would prove all the “when I was your age” sayings false :-)

  5. Paul Milne

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by “the world”. The world certainly hasn’t been getting consistently better for the thousands of non-human species that our activities have caused to become extinct over the last few centuries.

    For the poorest people on the planet it hasn’t gotten better as natural resources are increasingly sucked into the top percentile of the world’s wealthiest nations.

    In fact, civilisations have risen and fallen, and ours will as well. 100 years from now I suspect few people will be saying “the world” is better than it is now.



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