Hans Rosling was a Swedish physician, academic, statistician and public speaker. ‘Factfulness’ was the last project that he completed with the help of his daughters Ola and Anna. Sadly he passed away in 2017 to pancreatic cancer and was unable to see this book published. Thankfully, his daughters finished his work. ‘Factfulness’ teaches us how to see and understand the world through data and logical facts rather than through instincts of blame, urgency and generalisation.
Instincts over Logical Thinking
The book is divided into chapters, each of them talks about different instincts that take precedence over logical thinking when it comes to analysing the current state of our world. It starts with a short test which aims to check the readers’ general knowledge about the world, i.e. how many young women go to school; how many of us live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing? I was surprised when I found out that most of us think that the world is in a far worse place than it was decades, perhaps centuries ago. Roslings tell us how media and manipulation of data can distort our worldview.
Think Before Jumping to Any Conclusions
‘Factfulness’ teaches us how to stop and think before we jump to any conclusions. When we see a big number on the screen that tells us how many people got infected with the new virus (as we are going through a pandemic this very moment, this is very important) we need to pause, take that number and compare to another one and ask what this comparison tells us, is the number decreasing or increasing? How has it changed over a period of time? The worst we can do to ourselves and the future for that matter is to panic and act on fear. Rosling himself gives us examples of how this can lead to a catastrophe. Media are designed to give us the bad news, and we cannot take them 100% for granted. Rosling also teaches us that we cannot always look to blame someone or something for every bad thing that’s happening around us. This only takes our focus from finding solutions and how to prevent bad things from happening.
I think this is an important book, especially now. We are going through a pandemic which was something that Rosling was talking about. This was one of the risks he has warned us about. Others were: financial crisis, climate change, World War III and extreme poverty. We are already experiencing most of them, due to the pandemic some countries going through the biggest recession ever seen; we hear about ice melting and global warming almost every day. Rosling said that despite all of that, the world is in a much better place than it ever was, even if things are improving slowly, they are still improving. We need to accept that things can be both bad and better. It was truly a great read and I hope many people will read it.