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Anxiety. Depression. Substance Abuse. Suicidology.  Why are these debilitating mental health disorders on the rise while poverty, famine, crime, war, and conflict are on the decline?  When we are provided with the empirical truths that today may be one of the greatest times to be alive, we remain skeptical.  Yet, facts from credible scientists, journalists, researchers, and psychologists prove the trendlines are positive.

“There can be no question of which was the greatest era for culture; the answer has to be today, until it is superseded by tomorrow.” –  Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

It is this premise that the Getting Better Foundation was created.  In the ’80s, Phelps Agency CEO, Joe Phelps became aware of a widening perception gap.  Though the world was becoming a safer, more productive, and more convenient place to live, people’s happiness wasn’t increasing at the same steady rate. Joe began to study and inquire of academics researching “confirmation bias”, though the phrase hadn’t yet been popularized.   Thus began a lifelong quest to share the knowledge that it may just be one of the best times to be alive. 

In 2015, Phelps sold his west coast ad agency. That’s when he started and funded the Getting Better Foundation (GBF), a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to “Building trust through the truth about the positive trends in human progress.”  The Foundation attracted a world-class advisory board of academics, psychologists, journalists, and media literacy experts.  It supports media literacy curriculum in schools and in 2020 produced the award-winning documentary titled “Trust Me”.  The film follows several case studies where misinformation from the internet led to crisis, health scares, polarization of communities, threats to democracy, and death. 

After seeing “Trust Me” at an international screening of journalism students and U.S. consulate representatives, Janja Šestak, a junior at Croatia University said: “Watching ‘Trust Me’ at THISAM academy left a significant impact on me.  My fellow students and I didn’t understand how people can be so gullible and misled by news… we didn’t get how crises arise from it.  We now appreciate how our career choice to become journalists is so important.  By using media literacy in our work, we will make a difference in the world.”

Media Literacy may be one of the most important topics of our time… and one that may lead to the resolution of many other problems our world faces.