Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

Book - 2018
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"One of the most important books I've ever read--an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world." - Bill Gates

"Hans Rosling tells the story of 'the secret silent miracle of human progress' as only he can. But Factfulness does much more than that. It also explains why progress is so often secret and silent and teaches readers how to see it clearly." -- Melinda Gates

" Factfulness by Hans Rosling, an outstanding international public health expert, is a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases." - Former U.S. President Barack Obama

Factfulnes s: The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.

When asked simple questions about global trends-- what percentage of the world's population live in poverty; why the world's population is increasing; how many girls finish school --we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.

In Factfulness , Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens . They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective --from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them ) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).

Our problem is that we don't know what we don't know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases.

It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn't mean there aren't real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.

Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.


"This book is my last battle in my life-long mission to fight devastating ignorance...Previously I armed myself with huge data sets, eye-opening software, an energetic learning style and a Swedish bayonet for sword-swallowing. It wasn't enough. But I hope this book will be." Hans Rosling, February 2017.

Publisher: New York : Flatiron Books, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781250107817
Branch Call Number: 302.12 R732F 2018
Characteristics: x, 342 pages : illustrations, maps (some color), charts ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Rosling, Ola
Rönnlund, Anna Rosling


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Jun 29, 2020

Recommended by Bill Gates

WCL_Rosie Apr 15, 2020

The world is better than we think, and not only that, it is constantly improving. In Rosling’s very personable and highly readable non-fiction, he examines areas of the world that people constantly underestimate, from the education of girls, to global poverty levels.

The same 13-question quiz at the beginning of his book he encourages his readers to take, he has also given to teachers, journalists, investment bankers, and Nobel laureates. On average – the humans he tested got only 2 out of the 13 questions correct. That is worse than if people had just guessed at random. So why do we consistently think the world is getting worse instead of better? Using personal stories, colorful infographics, and reliable data from international sources, Rosling demonstrates why and how our perceptions may be wrong.

Factfulness is an encouraging book with data easily demonstrated for even beginners in non-fiction forays. Recommended for those who is interested in global welfare and statistics. Also recommended to anyone who is feeling discouraged about the state of the world and would like to read something to demonstrate why (despite what we often hear) we are improving yearly.

Jan 28, 2020

Hans Rosling was a physician and researcher. 𝘍𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴, his last project, is an insightful and well-researched guide to navigating the boisterous world through examining statistics and avoiding falling victim to 10 certain human instincts. Here are the first 5. ⁣⁣
1⃣️The Gap Instinct ⁣⁣
We tend to see the world in “us vs. them.”⁣⁣
Eg: Democrats vs. Republicans, Developed countries and the Not. We forget that in each case, most people are in the middle of the spectrum. Binary thinking is a trap.⁣⁣
2⃣️The Negativity Instinct ⁣⁣
We instinctively pay more attention to negative ideas, which in turn give them priority in media.⁣⁣
Eg. We would know if Japan is having a major earthquake, but who would hear if they have a peaceful year?⁣⁣
Great stuff happens all the time, but no one knows. ⁣⁣
3⃣️The Straight Line Instinct ⁣⁣
Humans assume that growth occurs linearly, but did you know that while good teeth often represent wealth in developed countries, in poorer ones it was often the reverse, as bad teeth could be indicative of the sweet diet that the poorest could not afford? ⁣⁣
4⃣️The Fear Instinct ⁣⁣
There’s a Chinese proverb that goes, “Bitten by the snake once, spends the next ten years fearing the rope.” To examine whether a fear is reasonable, we should ask ourselves what information we have to see to change our mind. ⁣⁣
5⃣️The Size Instinct ⁣⁣
Looking at statistics is important for critical analysis, but numbers should not be taken by themselves. ⁣⁣
Eg. If 500 children die from a given disease today, it is a tragedy. But if 5000 children died from the same cause on this day last year before the creation of a new vaccine, does this not show progress? ⁣⁣
6⃣️The Generalization Instinct ⁣
“Asians,” “Activists,” “Gangsters.” As we’re reading these words, associations invariably appear in our minds. However, while group generalizations might have once helped our ancestors survive, they often hinder understanding today. ⁣

7⃣️The Destiny Instinct ⁣
When we think of religious people from the Middle East, we often think of large families. But did you know that in Iran, birth rate has dropped from 6 to less than 3 children per woman in 15 years?⁣
Me neither. ⁣
Cultural values change faster than we realize. Simply think about the differences between our grandparents and ourselves. ⁣

8⃣️The Single Perspective Instinct ⁣
There is usually more than one reason/solution to a problem.⁣
Eg. While we might prioritize training teachers in order to improve student grades in certain poor communities, it has been found that the single most helpful factor is to provide electricity for homework. ⁣
Don’t view issues through a narrow scope. ⁣

9⃣️ The Blame Instinct ⁣
We think that when something bad happens, it’s probably one person’s fault, but individuals usually do not have as much influence as systems. ⁣
Eg. Those who have read Bad Blood and have followed Elizabeth Holmes’ court trial might be shocked at the fraud, but rather than only looking at her, we should examine why such frauds were possible. ⁣
Is it Silicon Valley’s fake-it-till-you-make-it culture? Is it the investors’ blind trust for one another? Is it the media’s lack of research before promulgation? What else?⁣

🔟The Urgency Instinct ⁣
Why do shops hold flash sales? ⁣
When there is a sense of urgency, urgency instinct decreases our ability to think clearly and amplify the other obstructive ones. So next time there is a sale, maybe ask whether you really need to buy those three extra books.⁣

The 10 reasons covered in the book are human instincts that once helped our ancestors survive in the wild, but which are now outdated and can actually obstruct our ability to think rationally.⁣⁣
As Rosling says, “Things can be bad, and [simultaneously] getting better.” ⁣⁣
The world might not be as bad as we think.

For more book reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead !

Jan 20, 2020

Factfulness presents the best argument for immunization I have ever seen.
Read the chapter notes too: 35% of people in France are skeptical about the value of vaccinations versus 0% from Bangladesh. I suspect the 0% figure comes from Bangladeshi collective memory of the 7% child mortality rate measles * used to bring. **
* World wide mortality rate in 1990. Higher in rural Bangladesh that year?
** “Most children who catch measles recover, but there is still no cure and even with the best of modern medicine one or two in every thousand will die of it.”
Book teaches how to frame and correct our thinking about the changing world. The flyleaf quotes Bill Gates: “One of the most important books I’ve ever read – and indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.” Well put.

IndyPL_LeahK Dec 26, 2019

I’ll admit I sometimes can be pessimistic about the world. Can you blame me? Sometimes a person needs some good news and a new framework with which to see the world. Published posthumously, Hans Rosling challenges the reader to a 13 fact question quiz about the world to illustrate how outdated our thinking may be. I will not disclose my dismal score on said quiz, but I will tell you I enjoyed the fact based evidence Rosling provides detailing that some things are actually getting better. If you need an uplifting perspective about the world, check out this book. And if you want to see Rosling's sword swallowing, check out his TED Talk.

SCL_Heather Dec 21, 2019

A nice book to end the year with. I find I do tend to feel a constant despair about the state of the world and the subtitle of this book captured my attention. While I think the author necessarily simplifies some of his ideas, it did make me feel better and offered some useful suggestions on how to reframe our thinking.

Dec 19, 2019

practical and common sense advice on how to deal with the BS we are continually subjected to

HelenMep Dec 04, 2019

As someone who worries an awful lot about the goings-on in the world this book was a very welcome read. It introduces you to facts about the world that can challenge what you thought you knew, whilst making you realise just how twisted and misleading what you read and see in the media can be.

JCLChrisK Sep 07, 2019

An accessible and easy to read important book. It is loaded with well explained and illustrated tools to correct some of the worst instincts of human nature and teaches readers to see the world more clearly. Recommended to everyone.

Jul 07, 2019

One of the best books read in 2 days!

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JCLChrisK Sep 07, 2019

Every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent, and more hopeless—in short, more dramatic—than it really is.

JCLChrisK Sep 07, 2019

Here’s the paradox: the image of a dangerous world has never been broadcast more effectively than it is now, while the world has never been less violent and more safe.

JCLChrisK Sep 07, 2019

“When someone threatens you with a machete, never turn your back. Stand still. Look him straight in the eye and ask him what the problem is.”

JCLChrisK Sep 07, 2019

Resist blaming any one individual or group of individuals for anything. Because the problem is that when we identify the bad guy, we are done thinking. And it's almost always more complicated than that. It's almost always about multiple interacting causes--a system. If you really want to change the world, you have to understand how it actually works. . . . Blaming an individual often steals the focus from other possible explanations and blocks our ability to prevent similar problems in the future. . . . Accept that bad things can happen without anyone intending them to.”

Oct 02, 2018

Canada's per capita CO2 emissions are still twice as high as China's and eight times as high as India's. pg 215

Jul 28, 2018

"Keep track of gradual improvements. A small change every year can translate to a huge change in decades." page 184


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