Factfulness – Hans Rosling Book Summary

Factfulness – Hans Rosling | Free Book Summary

Factfulness – Hans Rosling

Step-by-step, year-by-year, the world is improving. Not on every single measure every single year, but as a rule. Though the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress. This is a fact-based worldview.

The Fear Instinct Part 2

Recognize when frightening things catch your attention and remember that these are not always the most dangerous. Determine the risks.

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The scary world: fear vs. reality. The world seems scarier than it is because what you hear about it has been selected precisely because it is scary.

Risk = danger × exposure. How dangerous is something? And how much are you exposed to it?

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The Size Instinct

The size instinct describes our tendency to exaggerate or misjudge the size of things.

You only need two tools to avoid getting things out of proportion: comparing and dividing.

Compare. Big numbers always appear to be big. Always look for parallels.

Divide. Rates and amounts can tell very different stories. Rates are more meaningful, especially when comparing groups of varying sizes.

The Generalization Instinct

  • This instinct can make us mistakenly group together things that are actually very different. 
  • It can make us assume everything or everyone in one category is similar.
  • It can make us jump to conclusions about a whole category based on a few, or even just one, unusual example.

The Generalization Instinct Part 2

Remember that categories are misleading. So question your categories.

  • Look for differences within groups.  
  • Look for differences across groups. Do not assume that what applies to one group also applies to another.
  • Beware of “the majority.” Ask whether it means 51 percent, 99 percent, or something in between.
  • Beware of vivid examples. They might be the exception rather than the rule.
  • When something looks strange, be curious and humble.

The Destiny Instinct

This is the idea that innate characteristics determine the destinies of people, countries, religions, or cultures. It’s the idea that things are as they are for ineluctable, inescapable reasons: they have always been this way and will never change.

Remember that many things appear to be constant just because the change is happening slowly, and remember that even small, slow changes gradually add up to big changes.

The Single Perspective Instinct

A single perspective can limit your imagination; look at problems from many angles to get a more accurate understanding and find practical solutions.

Test your ideas. Have people who disagree with you test your ideas and find their weaknesses.

Limited expertise

Don’t claim expertise beyond your field; be humble about what you don’t know. Be aware too of the limits of your expertise and others.

Be open to ideas from other fields.

History is full of visionaries who used simple utopian visions to justify terrible actions. Combine ideas. Compromise. Solve problems on a case-by-case basis.

The Blame Instinct

The blame instinct describes our proclivity to seek a clear, simple explanation for why something bad has occurred.

To control the blame instinct, avoid looking for a scapegoat. Look for causes rather than villains.

Look for systems rather than individuals. When someone claims to have caused something good, consider whether the outcome would have occurred even if that person had done nothing.

The Urgency Instinct

The urgency instinct describes our tendency to take immediate action in the face of perceived imminent danger, amplifying our other instincts in the process.

Controlling Urgency Instincts

Take a deep breath. When your urgency instinct is activated, your other instincts take over, and your analysis is put on hold. Request more time and information.

Be wary of drastic measures. Inquire about the potential side effects. Inquire about how the concept has been tested.

Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view of me by looking only at a picture of my foot.

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