Factfulness is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. As soon as I looked at the World Health ‘bubble chart’ on the first page I was hooked. Data can definitely be sexy.
The book starts with a 13-question quiz testing our knowledge of the world. Our perception of our planet is so skewed that the average score for the first 12 questions is two. A chimpanzee could do better picking random answers! I scored 7, how did you do?
Why do we have these misconceptions?
We have 10 instincts that don’t always serve us well in the 21st century. The author discusses and analyses them throughout the book with the aid of polls, graphics and entertaining anecdotes. Each chapter is about the different ways we get things wrong. Hans gives us the facts which show that the world is improving dramatically.
To give an example, I’ll briefly outline the first chapter, The Gap Instinct. We always think of ‘us’ and ‘them’, the ‘developed world’ versus ‘the developing world’. However, Hans has a theory that the world is split into four. A relatively small proportion of less than a billion (those on Level One) live in abject poverty. Most people (about five billion) live in the middle two categories where children are vaccinated and educated, have access to water and food and a roof over their head. About 1 billion people live on Level Four – so we are by no means the majority. I found the photos comparing and contrasting how people on each level live extremely interesting.
There is a fantastic website called Gapminder, an independent educational non-proﬁt ﬁghting global misconceptions, which was co-founded by Hans and Ola Rosling. Visit it to challenge your perceptions! One of the sections, Dollar Street, enables you to watch everyday life in hundreds of homes on all income levels across the world, to counteract the media’s skewed selection of images of other places. It’s great for kids as well as adults,
Hans was a visionary
In 2016, when the book was written, Rosling identified five global risks we should worry about: a global pandemic, financial collapse, World War III, climate change and extreme poverty. Looking at the current global political situation, how right he was. In fact, with its optimistic outlook this is a good book to read in these troubled times.
I am in awe of Hans Rosling’s drive, optimism, humour and downright goodness. We need more people like him on the planet. I was so sad to find out he’d died during the writing of this book but he has left a superb legacy. I for one have changed the way I think about the world and would encourage everyone to read this book. It might change your life too.
About the author
Annette Peppis leads the team at Peppis Designworks, a creative hub of established publishing industry experts who create books, branding, marketing material and design templates for leading publishers and businesses. Keep in touch by subscribing to Annette’s bi-monthly emails.