If you read one non-fiction book this year, make it ‘Factfulness: Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think’ by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund.
If the name of Hans Rosling does not ring a bell, maybe you want to go read my previous blogpost about him. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2017, when he was still working on the book – apparently he took some chapters of the manuscript with him to the hospital. His son Ola and daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund had already contributed and collaborated on the book, and finished it after Hans’ death. Go here for a video clip that includes all three authors.
Now, what is the book all about? It is about realising that many of the world views that all of us hold are very, very wrong. For instance, have a guess. What is the life expectancy of the world population’ (from gapminder.org/ignorance/)
A. 50 years
B. 60 years
C. 70 years
Well, it’s C. 70 years! Similarly, you most likely have other, outdated or outright wrong views of the world on how long girls on average go to school, how many children get vaccinated etc. (I don’t want to insult your intelligence or your knowledge – it’s just that the gapminder crew has done surveys of over 12000 people, and most of them were mostly wrong. And that includes people sitting on UN committees who should know better.)
So the book will first open your eyes that the world is much better than you think, and then teach you how to overcome this ‘overdramatic worldview’ by some ‘rules of thumb to control your dramatic instinct’. You will be given tools to become more factful. In fact, you can even see these rules of thumb without reading the book on the website of the gapminder foundation – but the book is short and entertaining, and the stories that precede the ‘lessons for factfulness’ make the lessons much more memorable – so go off and read.
And if I can’t convince you to read this book, maybe Bill Gates can? He not only highly recommends it, but thinks it is important enough to give it for free to all students graduating in the US this year.
You can find more information, a fun video clip by the authors, and links to buy the book here, on the gapminder website.