“People often call me an optimist, because I show them the enormous progress they didn't know about. That makes me angry. I'm not an optimist. That makes me sound naive. I'm a very serious “possibilist”. That’s something I made up. It means someone who neither hopes without reason, nor fears without reason, someone who constantly resists the overdramatic worldview. As a possibilist, I see all this progress, and it fills me with conviction and hope that further progress is possible. This is not optimistic. It is having a clear and reasonable idea about how things are. It is having a worldview that is constructive and useful.”
Hans Rosling's Factfulness is a fun and engrossing account about how the World and humanity is in a better state than most people would dare to believe. It is told through eleven chapters that are reasons why we do not see the World factfully: CHAPTER ONE: The Gap Instinct
CHAPTER TWO: The Negativity Instinct
CHAPTER THREE: The Straight Line Instinct
CHAPTER FOUR: The Fear Instinct
CHAPTER FIVE: The Size Instinct
CHAPTER SIX: The Generalization Instinct
CHAPTER SEVEN: The Destiny Instinct
CHAPTER EIGHT: The Single Perspective Instinct
CHAPTER NINE: The Blame Instinct
CHAPTER TEN: The Urgency Instinct
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Factfulness in Practice
It also has a factfulness rule of thumb diagram which sums up all the chapters with quirky pictures. The various stages Hans describes also show how humanity is continuing to grow and become better equipped at dealing with current problems and also the opportunities that come with subsequent problem solving techniques. So with some examples the fear instinct means we pay more attention to scary things or with the size instinct (numerical data is often envisaged as being better than what the actual reality is...) to the gap instinct (most people are caught between a duality of extremes...).
The reader is given a book which explores various biases that may be holding us back or seeing things in a horrendous way, and how the main worldview for most people in predominantly rich countries is particularly negative and corrosive. It also doesn't become an attack on the media and journalists, but also making a case on how various sources do at times influence the masses, whether it is by genuine news or the constantly shifting stream of misinformation presented by more shadier outlets or even ones that appear trustworthy. The element of truth has a resounding echoing presence when it comes to the various problems we are all presented with, in various forms whether it is concerning climate change, ongoing conflicts in war-torn territories, levels of poverty occurring in various countries with different stages of development, economic forecasts and natural disasters, sports and technological or medical advances... Whatever the area the latter is often the most positive areas when it comes to the news we are fed from the bigger media outlets. (Obviously with a certain agenda and precedence on what they report first depending on who owns the news companies...)
What Hans cries out for with all this information being fed to us is a fact based view where we view ongoing events and happenings with a more realistic and refreshing lens. Whereas I always seem to retain a healthy scepticism and make comparisons between various sources to attempt to reach a clearer point as to what is actually going on. I did find being realistic is a necessity before reading this anyway and love the way Hans Rosling uses “possibilist” to describe himself… It is this resistance to a worldview that is often pragmatic and suffering from tunnel vision, whereby Factfulness is a compelling antidote resulting in usefulness and constructiveness. How many times do we see people moaning about the state of humanity and the World yet offer no solutions or viable alternatives? This is where the book really shines because it takes us again into that realm of problem solving where we get to work on solutions and that ongoing state of progression for betterment. The mentality behind this renaissance way of thinking is what makes it all possible and that positivity goes hand in hand with realistic actions that result from this creative process. Theory meets practicality equals beneficial results.
Overall, a compelling and digestible book that hopefully encourages the reader to view humanity and our progress in a different, more coherent manner.
Unfortunately I found out that the author Hans Rosling is no longer with us and that is a shame because he had a brilliant approach. It was also inspiring to check out his Ted-Ed talks and read this book, while also having a wonderful sense of humour as he wrote about topics and areas that effect us all and indeed making it fathomable for the everyday reader.
"“Wouldn’t you rather have few opinions that are right than many that are wrong?”
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think review
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