Book Review: Factfulness by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Rönnlund

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Picture taken from amazon.

Authors: Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Rönnlund.
Published: 2018

Goodreads: 4.4/5
Amazon: 4.6/5
(Aug 2020)

The Factfulness is one of its kind, I have never read any book like this before. Even now, when I have done reading this book and try to find a similar one, I couldn’t find one with comparable content and insights.

The Factfulness is about showing us an objective view of the world and identify our common mistakes when consuming information. While how we see the world depends mostly on the news, it is ironic that what are reported are usually not the representative of the truth. Only extreme cases get views, thus, journalists are reluctant to write about normal trends that have been happening for years or decades, even though they are the more important facts that provide the audience with real, intact knowledge.

It is not that what is showed on the news are wrong, they are probably the truth, but they are just a part of the truth, a very very small part of the truth but can make us think that they represent the whole. When the TVs report some murders, what that is supposed to mean is some murders, but not that people everywhere are killing each other, and not that the murder rate has not decreased in the modern world. When the TVs constantly report murder at the same rate years over years, the audiences often assume that the actual murder rate has also remained constant, which is not true. So, are the journalists the ones to be blamed for distorting our view of the world? No, they are not, as it is us, the audiences, who prefer to hear the extreme news that drive them to do so. Henceforth, we are the only ones responsible for filtering, generalizing, critically thinking of our input to have our views right.

Another source of falsified information comes from education. The teachers were once students and learned knowledge. However, the knowledge they learned was right at the time they were students but might be not anymore at the time they teach their students. That may be one or several decades gap, which is enough for some big changes to happen. It is noteworthy that in general, people, including teachers, almost never update their knowledge about the world. If we have known that country X is poor for a long time, we tend to assume country X is poor forever, every time we are asked, even years later, we say that X is a poor country.

In Factfulness, Hans and the other authors identify 10 common human “instincts” that often get in the way and sabotage our information-processing process. Together with the definitions and examples of these instincts, there are also beautiful charts and amazing facts about how the globe is changing. In my opinion, these facts are really interesting and may entirely change how you see the world.

My final thoughts

I strongly encourage everyone to read Factfulness. This book is not only enjoyable but also compelling and beneficial. If you still need some more reasons to read it, I suggest taking the short 13-question quiz in the introduction section. Take the quiz to see how many answers you get right, maybe you will change your mind. (The quiz is available in the preview of this book on Google Books here.)

The book: 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.

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