If you want to understand the world better you must have a look at the book Factfulness by Hans Rosling. This is the most impressive book that I recently read and I want to share with you which are the main ideas that I will keep in mind after this lecture.

As an opinion about this book I can say that it makes you understand the mistakes that you are making while trying to understand the word problems. There are mainly 10 mistakes presented in the book that I want to focus on:

  1. Gap. People are usually focusing on highlighting the gap between countries or populations, rather than conturing an overview and accepting that the majority is situated in the middle, not on the extremities.
  2. Negativity. People are expecting to hear bad news all the time. If there is published a news about the humanity progress it would be forgotten immediately. In the same time, a negative news had a great impact and everyone would talk about it. Think now! What it’s the last good news that you remember and what is the last bad news you can talk about? Do you have in your mind a good one in the last week? I bet no.
  3. Straight lines. When analysing a chart, people think that the lines are always straight, but the reality is that usually the lines get bended. There are a lot of examples of how things stop growing exponentially and the bended lines are zoomed in so that we can notice the variation. However, this practice is bad for understanding the exact behaviour and we get fooled by our own statistics.
  4. Fear. People tend to underestimate the risks because of the fear instinct. When a person has to take a risk, he must calm down and evaluate the situation deeply. Fear reveals the most primitive instincts and sentiments, so it won’t lead to a correct decision.
  5. Size. When comparing data, just a number means nothing. People has to compare all the data, divide it and apply the 80/20 rule: take the biggest data and analyse it.
  6. Generalisation. Even if generalisation is usually a good thing to understand the majority, sometimes it can be misleading. People have to see the differences and similarities inside the groups and across the groups. In this way the things can be analysed by considering the proportions. Beware of what the majority really means: 50% or 90%.
  7. Destiny. Even though many things like people and countries seem not to change, probably this is not true. The change occurs every day, but you are not able sometimes to notice because it is slow. Keep updated and talk with older people to better understand the evolution.
  8. Single. When trying to understand a problem, a single perspective it’s not enough. Sometimes the numbers are not all that matters, so you must understand the background before understanding the real problem.
  9. Blame. When people face a problem, they should forget the first natural instinct: to blame. Blaming is not the key for getting back on the right way, but understanding the cause that conduct to that situation and learn from the mistakes.
  10. Urgency. People have to make the difference between the situations that are urgent or not. The predictions are not always reliable, so the urgency can not be anticipated very easily. Before taking a drastic decision, the consequences must be kept in mind.

You should always analyse the problem from multiple angles and not believe any news you hear as the only source of truth. I don’t want to say that the news are fake, but the way they present the facts might sometimes make you have a wrong impression. Stay informed and always get updated!

If you already read the Factfulness book, I am more than happy to hear your opinion the comments below!

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