Outstanding article Ed- really appreciate your writing and the serious research that's gone on behind it. You echo my thoughts exactly on Pinker's writing.
My tuppence on this is based on "Factfulness", in particular, the Gap Instinct. P.S. Factfulness was also a Gates' pick. This instinct is the manifestation of our temptation for binary thinking i.e. “dividing all things into two distinct and conflicting groups with a huge gap in between”. Binary thinking resolves a continuous spread into a single point, thereby negating all manner of nuance. Things either are or aren’t, people are either rich or not, countries are either developed or not.
I'd really appreciate if you could read my article and feedback!