This is a review of the book Factfulness by Hans Rosling which was published in 2018. But if ever there was a time to read this book it is NOW!
Yes, okay, it was written pre-pandemic, but it addresses 10 of our most basic human instincts and why, if we trust our instincts rather than the actual data, these will lead us into the belief that the world is surely getting worse and worse, whereas in fact there are many ways in which the world is getting better and better.
Yes, you read that correctly!
Your instincts, and certainly mine were telling me the opposite. And without anything to redress the balance, it is very easy to spiral down into negativity, cynicism or to give way to a sheer sense of hopelessness.
So this is an optimistic book with a very positive message. Maybe though the authors would prefer me to say it’s not ‘optimistic’, it’s simply factual. The words ‘optimism’ and ‘pessimism’ reflecting as they do states of mind or a matter of opinion rather than a matter of fact.
Rosling challenges us to seek out facts and interpret them correctly. . He was a medical doctor, a professor of international health and a renowned public educator. He was an adviser to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, sadly he passed away in 2017 having devoted the last years of his life to writing this book.
Rosling and his co-authors, his son and daughter-in-law, are good at facts; wow, are they good at facts!
My suggestion to you would be that you do not buy this book on your Kindle, because it contains a lot of graphs, all of which are very simple, (even for the mathematically challenged such as myself) but not particularly easy to read on a Kindle – so buy a hardcopy.
Don’t be put of by the mention of charts and graphs because the book contains plenty of stories and illustrations which help you understand the principles he is trying to teach: that our instincts often lead us to be fearful. We have what he calls ‘a dramatic worldview’ which causes us to misinterpret factual information even when it is right there in front of us. He discusses subjects such as war, violence, natural disasters, man-made disasters, natural resources, poverty, world population and the environment. And whilst he never shies away from telling you things that are bad, he will also change your sense of perspective by reminding you which things are now better, SO MUCH BETTER, than they have ever been in the life of the world.
So I heartily recommend this book to anyone feeling overwhelmed by world problems which seem too difficult for anyone of us to influence. Reading this might give you a greater sense of hopefulness and put some heart back into you for being part of continuing to make the world a better place.
It might cause you to worry less and sing more…