A reading club with a view to the future

275 Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund: Factfulness

The world is not as bad as we think; understanding data and breaking free from biased thinking leads to a more accurate view.

Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund: Factfulness


Using data and stories, the authors challenge commonly held misconceptions about the world, demonstrating that things are better than we believe and highlighting areas where progress is still needed.


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

Authors: Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund

Publishing Year: 2018

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Length in Hours: 7 hours and 59 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The "overdramatic" worldview is pervasive but inaccurate.
  2. The world has made significant progress in areas such as poverty and health, but we often fail to recognize it.
  3. The ten instincts that lead to biased thinking, such as the gap instinct and negativity instinct, can be overcome with awareness and education.
  4. The importance of data literacy and critical thinking in developing a fact-based worldview.
  5. The need for humility and constant learning to combat ignorance and promote progress.
Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund: Factfulness

5 funny quotes

  1. "Cows don't change the climate, but they do produce hamburgers and milkshakes."
  2. "I'm sorry to be so emotional, but facts are facts and they're the foundation of rational decision making. If you don't believe in them, I don't see how you can make any decision at all."
  3. "The circus did not come to town the year I was born, but it did come a few years later. This is not a fact that is going to change the world."
  4. "I would never have believed that I could write a book that presents a fact-based worldview in which I am repeatedly portrayed as a chimpanzee."
  5. "We need to teach everyone how to avoid being mesmerized by statistics--including me."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "People often call me an optimist, because I show them the enormous progress they didn't know about. That makes me angry. I'm not an optimist. That makes me sound naive. I'm a very serious 'possibilist.' That's something I made up. It means someone who neither hopes without reason, nor fears without reason, someone who constantly resists the overdramatic worldview."
  2. "When we have a fact-based worldview, we can see that the world is not as bad as it seems--and we can see what we have to do to keep making it better."
  3. "We need to teach humility and curiosity, because they are the antidotes to politically motivated, fear-based worldview."
  4. "The world cannot be understood without numbers. And it cannot be understood with numbers alone."
  5. "In the long run, the pessimists may be proved right, but the optimists have a better time on the trip."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing the need for data with the danger of oversimplifying complex issues.
  2. The tension between acknowledging progress and recognizing areas where improvement is still needed.
  3. The challenge of promoting a fact-based worldview in a world where misinformation and biases are prevalent.
  4. Balancing the need for optimism and hope with the danger of complacency.
  5. The role of individual responsibility versus systemic change in addressing global issues.

5 examples

  1. Bill Gates' support for data-driven philanthropy and Hans Rosling's collaboration with him.
  2. The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and their progress indicators.
  3. The Gates Foundation's work on eradicating polio.
  4. The authors' own work at Gapminder, a foundation dedicated to promoting a fact-based worldview.
  5. The World Bank's data and research on global poverty and inequality.

Referenced books

  1. "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined" by Steven Pinker
  2. "Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress" by Steven Pinker
  3. "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari
  4. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
  5. "The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves" by Matt Ridley

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"We need to teach everyone how to avoid being mesmerized by statistics--including me."

Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund: Factfulness
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