“Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think ,” by Hans Rosling

“There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.” 
    — Hans Rosling, “Facfullness”

“This book is my last battle in my life-long mission to fight devastating ignorance…Previously I armed myself with huge data sets, eye-opening software, an energetic learning style and a Swedish bayonet for sword-swallowing. It wasn’t enough. But I hope this book will be.”
 — Hans Rosling, February 2017.

Author Rosling’s website with links to other useful sites including “Dollar Street”


***** Post-Meeting Results *****

On December 18, 2018, we met about this book at the Veggie House. The mean evaluation results, on a five point scale, are as follows:

Readability: 4.29
Content: 4.14
Overall: 4.14 

“Loved it. Excellent organization with fun anecdotes to demonstrate the author’s points”

“Nobody believes [the book’s statistics] when I talk about it.”

“Not the best for audible but still enjoyed the book”

“Easy read, very useful information, interesting”

“Way longer than it needed to be”

Organizer comment: Not the most advanced, information dense book, but very well-written. The data the book does outline is remarkable and contrary to the beliefs of virtually everyone. The author is approachable and writes in pleasing style. An enjoyable book that is likely to change the way you view the world and the progress of modern civilization.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Author Rosling starts the book with a series of questions about the world that he has asked thousands of people—questions that people always get wrong. Did you answer these questions for yourself? How did you do on his quiz? Which questions were most surprising to you?
  2. Each chapter highlighted a different trap we can fall into if we are not careful with our data. Which of these common misunderstandings most resonated with you? How have you seen these instincts play
    out when you describe the world around you?
  3. Rosling’s data proves two main things: first, “Every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent, and more hopeless—in short, more dramatic—than it really is.” And second,
    “Though the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress.” This research is summarized in Rosling’s subtitle: “Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are
    Better Than You Think.” Did either of these truths surprise you? How have they shifted the way you look at some of the major global challenges we face?
  4. Why is it so dangerous for business leaders, politicians, and change agents to have such a skewed view of the world? How might our “un-factful” understanding of global issues be impacting our policy, business decisions, and strategic plans? And what can we do to change this?
  5. What is one change you are going to make—in research, thought, the way you speak, or the way you perceive the world—after reading this book? What steps will you take to cultivate and practice a more “factful” worldview?

Videos about the Book

About the Author

Hans Rosling (1948 – 2017) was a Swedish physician, academic, statistician, and public speaker.

He was the Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and was the co-founder and chairman of the Gapminder Foundation, which developed the Trendalyzer software. He held presentations around the world, including several TED Talks in which he promoted the use of data to explore development issues.

One comment

  1. I really enjoyed this book; it is helpful in today’s climate when skewed information is being provided to the masses and impacts the individual’s world view. I particularly enjoyed the graphs that were in the book that showed an increase and decrease in issues that are regular talking points by academia and the political world. The visuals were extremely helpful and the level breakdown of the population was a powerful aide in understanding the information he presented. He puts everything in a new perspective that allows for some hope for the future and this world.


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