Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A More Positive View

Written by: on April 25, 2023

I am one of those people who can be inspired merely by the statistics. Which is the point that Hans Rolling is making with his seminal book, Factfulness[1]. It is a book all about challenging how we view the world through faulty perceptions that lead to wrong, pessimistic conclusions about the state we are in on this planet. Rosling weaves stories of TED talk presentations and classrooms discussions with colorful charts that challenge the assumptions that most of us have. It is not an overstatement to say most of us, as Rosling famously observes that even a chimpanzee can score higher on his world quiz[2]. He observes that “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”[3]. 


Rosling is passionate about changing the thinking of everyone, he states this is the reason he wrote the book. His very purpose is, “…to change people’s ways of thinking, calm their irrational fears, and redirect their energies into constructive activities.” It our thinking that he wants to challenge. While, hopefully not using the Gap Instinct[5], Rosling divides people into two main ways of thinking: overdramatic and fact-based worldview[6]. Overdramatic Worldview thinkers see the world through a negative lens of violence, disasters, and corruption. While those with a fact-based worldview look at the data available and refresh their worldview based on the conclusions that can be drawn by readily-available statistics. He then offers multiple instincts that can help us become more examined thinkers. 


Threshold Statistics

One of the interesting statistics that Rosling uses to ground his conclusions is child mortality. Interestingly, the child mortality rate can be used to determine the progress of a society as an indicator of how a group of people treat the most vulnerable[7]. From this indicator, Rosling is about to drawn conclusions of how a society is progressing in the areas of health, poverty and population growth. Further, this statistic reveals that in women will have less babies and the survival rate is much higher in higher level societies[8]. This statistic is a threshold observation about societies and where they align based on Rosling’s Level 1-4 poverty scale[9]. 

The Destiny Instinct

One of the many instincts that Rosling observes is the Destiny Instinct. Rosling describes this instinct as, “…the idea that innate characteristics determine the destinies of people, countries, religions, or cultures…they have always been this way and will never change”[10]. This caught my attention as it is often the adage lived by in religious cultures, which is exactly the examples that Rosling uses. The basis for his observations that things do change is the number of births per woman, which he concludes, “There is no major difference between the birth rates of the great world religions”[10]. This determining factor in the number of children born is the economic status of the country in which the families reside[11]. While many might say “nothing ever changes,” it certainly does as the economic conditions improve. 


Rosling’s book is mind-opening. While I consider myself to be an optimistic person, I was confronted with every statistic, of how I lived with bias toward people of other countries and the economic conditions that many live within. As Rosling observes, “As long as people have a worldview that is so much more negative than reality, pure statistics can make them feel more positive”[12]. Rosling weaves a convincing story from the data and one that I found very positive. While I know that numbers can reveal multiple angles to the same information, I welcome the positive perspective and hopefulness that makes this book one that needs to be considered. 

‌1. Rosling, Hans, Rosling, Ola and Rönnlund, Anna Rosling, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World – and Why Things Are Better than You Think (New York, New York: Flatiron Books, 2020).

2. Ibid., 9. 

3. Ibid. 

4. Ibid., 15. 

5. Ibid., 38. 

6. Ibid., 13.

7. Ibid., 20. 

8. Ibid., 175. 

9. Ibid. 

10. Ibid., 176. 

11. Ibid. 

12. Ibid., 51. 

About the Author


Chad McSwain

Chad is a systematic creative serving in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years, Chad is a professional question-asker and white-board enthusiast, who enjoys helping people discover their own passions and purpose. A life-long learner, he has a B.A, Philosophy - Univ. Central Oklahoma, M.A Theology - Fuller Seminary, M.Div. Perkins School of Theology at SMU and is pursuing a Doctor of Leadership - George Fox University. He is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, currently serving as Lead Pastor of Whitesboro UMC. Chad and his wife, Brandi live in Prosper, Texas along with their three children, two pugs and a chameleon.

6 responses to “A More Positive View”

  1. mm Becca Hald says:

    Chad, don’t you just love knowing that a chimpanzee can score better on his quiz than most of us? How will you use this information going forward to increase your positive perspective and optimism about the world?

  2. Tonette Kellett says:


    I too found this to be a positive and enjoyable book. I’m glad we ended the semester with it. I think if we had ended with one of the heavier readings I would have been overwhelmed here at the end with so much to do!

  3. Good observation Chad,
    This is an amazing book. Makes me wanna fact check everything I hear. Curious which instinct do you find more prevalent among those you lead than others.

  4. Chad, I appreciated how you shared about your personal realizations in your perspective and thinking. This would be the first sept of all of us don’t you think? That we first have to acknowledge that we only have one perspective and that maybe there is more that we can learn or see to better understand the world.

    I love how travel can ignite this shift in people. I was watching a cheesy romantic comedy movie (Trying to exact the reality of the amount of work I had to do.) In this move there was a line that was such a profound quote I actually wrote it down.
    “Tourists want to escape life, travelers want to experience life.” This program has made us travelers, humble learners in various contexts and cross cultural environments. I am so grateful for the perspective and the opportunity to experience things that can change instincts, or biases and allow us to see things from a new perspective. There is something about experience that changes things more than simple facts.

  5. Michael O'Neill says:

    Well done, my friend! It’s scary to witness the world get a tad less hopeless every day. It really feels like it’s happening at an exponential rate. I bet your job is difficult with all of these new conflicting perspectives. Is your congregation more fact-based or overdramatic?

  6. mm Daron George says:


    “While I consider myself to be an optimistic person, I was confronted with every statistic, of how I lived with bias toward people of other countries and the economic conditions that many live within.” I find myself in the same boat. At times it was discouraging to say to myself “look at all these biases you still hold” knowing I work hard at this. Thanks for sharing!

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