With the exception of 2001 and 2002 (9/11 effect?), between 52% and 89% of Americans every year since 1990 have thought that crime is on the rise. That’s a pretty remarkable statistic, given that crime declined steadily nationally throughout the 1990s and has remained essentially level in the 2000s. Whatever the year-to-year correspondence is, we know that people have gotten the big picture wildly wrong, year after year.
That is, people pretty much always seem to think that this year is worse than last, regardless of the actual trends.
Does this sound like anything else to you? How about: This generation is so much stupider/lazier/ruder than the last; politics is so much dirtier these days; the world is going to hell in a hand basket.
A friend of mine once pointed out that, while each generation is thought to be dumber than the last, the people of a thousand years ago are thought to be dumber than people today (single digit literacy rates, burning of witches, etc.). So generational intelligence is a function that increases despite being everywhere locally decreasing.