Global health expert, Hans Rosling, spent much of his career redefining how global health was perceived and engaged with. In his final book, Factfulness, Rosling challenges the reader to look at current global realities from a different perspective. While the world can feel as if little to no progress is being made in multiple areas, Rosling argues that in fact, the world has been continuing to improve across so many facets over the last several decades and will continue to do so. He provides the ’10 Dramatic Instincts’ which can be considered tendencies we all may have to look at statistics, current happenings, and realities from a lens that may not be an accurate representation of reality. These ten instincts are:
- The Gap Instinct
- The Negativity Instinct
- The Straight Line Instinct
- The Fear Instinct
- The Size Instinct
- The Generalization Instinct
- The Destiny Instinct
- The Single Perspective Instinct
- The Blame Instinct
- The Urgency Instinct
As Rosling explores each of these in depth, he provides a combination of statistical data and anecdotes for the points he is making as well as what I’d consider simple steps or strategies to take at the conclusion of each section to combat that specific instinct. For example, similarly to Agarwal’s discussion of unconscious biases, Rosling describes that “everyone automatically categorizes and generalizes all the time. Unconsciously.” This easily causes individuals to jump to conclusions and make false assumptions and Rosling encourages that to tend away from this instinct, it is important to look for similarities and differences within and across different groups. Perhaps most strongly aligned with our program, he discusses that “cultures, nations, religions, and people are not rocks. They are in constant transformation” within the destiny instinct. Rosling encourages that we not confuse slow change with no change when looking at a given culture or nation. Additionally, taking the pulse on cultural changes, ensuring the information we are gathering is current, and following the gradual improvements taking place will help to not fall into the trap of having a worldview that sees certain cultures or nations are unchanging.
There were several ties to this book that I feel connected to previous texts that I wanted to make mention of:
- Friedman: The need to be differentiated to lead well includes how we think about and make decisions around any given topic. The self-differentiated leader needs to be able to identify these instincts in themselves and others.
- Chivers: The importance of good, reliable, and accurate statistics and data is crucial to make sound decisions, but it is also our responsibility to question the numbers and the stories connected to them.
- Agarwal: The strong leader needs to be able to identify unconscious biases when looking at certain issues, especially within global health, as well as the data that surrounds it.
- Kahneman: The importance of being able to identify which system of thinking is being utilized with these instincts as well as which system is most helpful to combat it. More than likely, System 2 is encouraged on all fronts when we attempt to see the world accurately.
- Van der Kolk: The role of our brain in retrieving, processing, and organizing information and having the critical thinking skills needed to make sound and rational statements and decisions.
The main criticism I had of this book was addressed in later chapters, but not fully. Throughout the first several instincts, the media – their bias, false information, propensity to push the negative – was the main culprit of why we get things so wrong. Later, Rosling addresses that the media and journalists are not to blame in that they are getting it wrong just as much as everyone else. But it does leave me with questioning how to know what sources offer reliable and accurate data? If we cannot trust the mainstream media, where do we turn to find accurate statistics about global health issues? For some, Roslings ties with Bill Gates would automatically disqualify the information that is being presented while others would receive it on strong authority. How do we truly know if the data presented by any organization, government, or institute is unbiased and accurate? As a Christian leader, how do I not contribute to the drama and best approach seeing the world differently – not only from a perspective that addresses these 10 instincts, but also from an eternal perspective that knows the end of the story already?
 Rosling, 146.
 Ibid., 170.
 Ibid., 179-180.
 Ibid., 168.