In Hans Rosling’s 2018 book, Factfulness, our assumptions about the nature and the state of our world are challenged. Rosling organizes his book with “10 reasons why we’re wrong about the world, and why things are better than we think” (p.7). He devotes one incorrect perception with our world per chapter. A brief summary concludes the book and provides practical advice on how to spot and manage false information when we encounter it in our lives.
This unique book can be classified between the disciplines of personal growth, social science, and global statistics. This crossover dynamic is part of the appeal. The book is expertly-researched and challenges what we think we know on every page. His enthusiasm for the material is obvious: “I have found fighting ignorance and spreading a fact-based worldview to be a sometimes frustrating but ultimately inspiring and joyful way to spend my life” (255). I went to YouTube and watched one of his Ted Talks and his fervor for the truth about our world is readily apparent and contagious.
Chapter five was especially appealing to me. His point in this chapter is that we tend to get problems out of proportion and consequently, we make mistakes in solving it. To make this point he turns to child mortality rates in Mozambique and how this problem could have been better treated. These types of uncovered truths can lead to smarter policies by governments to solve social problems intelligently and efficiently. There are implications like these in every chapter of this book.
Chapter ten is another case in point. He labels this as, “The Urgency Instinct” and he debunks how now or never thinking can block our minds to the truth. Knee-jerk reactions to anything perceived as a threat, when it is not, will have unintended consequences. And these over-reactions usually cause more damage than the perceived threat ever would have. These type of myth-busting truths reveals how the media, governments, businesses all are guilty at times of using a sense of urgency to install fear into people. The book is reassuring and there is a sense of relief about the state of our world.
The book shares this similar achievement with Pragya Agarwal’s book, Unraveling Unconscious Bias. Truth always liberates us, whether it is spiritual, biological or social. We desire to see and understand the world as it really is. There is a tug we feel towards to truth and this book tugs at us to keep reading and better understand the realities of this world. But as we learned in Winchester’s book, The Map That Changed the World, sometimes truth takes a beating before it arrives in everyone’s consciousness. But fortunately for all of us, Rosling’s book became a best seller in the very year it was released.