Someone I spoke with recently essentially said that he was afraid to travel to Indonesia because it was a "third world country", or something to that effect.
It was all I could do to keep from bursting out laughing. Indonesia is incredibly clean, beautiful, full of happy smiling people like nowhere I've ever been, and feels as safe as any western country I've ever been to (and in some cases definitely more so; *ahem* Naples). And it definitely has all the modern comforts you could possibly need.
But all this raises a broader point of ignorant ignorance -- people being truly unaware that their worldview could possibly be wrong. So before we formulate rather powerful opinions about how the world is (or about anything for that matter), we should really make sure we get our facts straight.
Traveling will help enlighten you like nothing else, but not everyone can take that much time out of their busy schedules. Luckily for us we have plenty of robust data published by international organizations that helps tell the story in a very accurate (albeit more dry) manner.
A friend recently asked me to take the Myers Briggs personality test. She was certain that I was an extrovert and wanted to confirm.
She was dead wrong. The result came out 85% introvert. Nevermind the fact that I think the test has glaring flaws and my first instinct was to answer almost every question "well, it depends... What are you reeally getting at?" (and maybe that says more about me than the end result), but I did my best to arrive at an answer, weighting the frequency of occurrence of the different circumstances underlying each question in my mind and estimating the resulting value.
In the end, I'm pretty sure the test got it right. While I love occasionally meeting up with friends or getting myself into the biggest loudest rave, most of the time I prefer curling up in bed with a good book, or rewatching a favorite movie.