Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World - And Why Things Are Better Than You Think (英語) ハードカバー – 2018/4/3
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'A hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases.' BARACK OBAMA The perfect Christmas gift: a message of hope for our troubled times. *the #1 Sunday Times bestseller * instant New York Times bestseller * an Observer 'best brainy book of the decade' * #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller * Irish Times bestseller * Audio bestseller * Guardian bestseller * ---Longlisted for the 2018 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year--- 'One of the most important books I've ever read - an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.' BILL GATES 'Hans Rosling tells the story of "the secret silent miracle of human progress" as only he can. But Factfulness does much more than that. It also explains why progress is so often secret and silent and teaches readers how to see it clearly.' MELINDA GATES Factfulness: The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts. When asked simple questions about global trends - why the world's population is increasing; how many young women go to school; how many of us live in poverty - we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers. In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and a man who can make data sing, Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens, and reveals the ten instincts that distort our perspective. It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most. Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world.
It was such a hopeful book - it's about why society is better off than we think and how many of the problems we think exist, don't -- Talita von Furstenberg * Vogue * [A] smart read -- Books for the Beach * Sunday Express * [An] accessible, smart-thinking read which reveals the preconceptions that make us misunderstand the way the world works -- Caroline Sanderson * Daily Mirror * An insistently hopeful, fact-based booster shot for a doomsaying, world-weary population [which] parts the dingy curtains of global pessimism to reveal an alternate and uplifting perspective on the state of world issues today. Co-written with Rosling's son and daughter-in-law, the book effectively educates, uplifts, and reassures readers. . . In compelling readers to comprehend the positive aspects of world changes using practical thinking tools, Rosling delivers a sunny global prognosis with a sigh of relief. - Kirkus I had very high expectations; the book exceeded them. Superb guide to the world and how to be wiser about it. Great storytelling. An inspiration. -- Tim Harford The message is refreshingly clear: when you only hold opinions about things you know the facts about, you can see the world more clearly. * Mr Hyde * An unexpectedly uplifting read. * Emerald Street * Rosling's final work is about the misconceptions most people hold about the world we live in - it's better than we think - and a plea to think critically. -- Robert Muchamore * Metro * Factfulness is a fabulous read, succinct and lively. It asks why so many people - including Nobel laureates and medical researchers - get the numbers so wrong on pressing issues such as poverty, pandemics and climate change... a just tribute to this book and the man would be a global day of celebration for facts about our world. -- Jim O'Neill * Nature * Bestselling books about statistics are as rare as unicorns. One that gets to No.1 is as rare as a lunar unicorn. Factfulness by Hans Rosling is that moon-based creature . . . engaging. * The Times * Triumphant. * Sunday Times * Factfulness has the power to shift your entire perspective. If you want to understand the world, read it now! -- Rolf Dobelli Thoroughly researched and clearly written . . . this is a measured, objective, and ultimately optimistic account of where we are and how we got here. * Independent * Three minutes with Hans Rosling will change your mind about the world. -- Amy Maxmen * Nature * Hans Rosling tells the story of "the secret silent miracle of human progress" as only he can. But Factfulness does much more than that. It also explains why progress is so often secret and silent and teaches readers how to see it clearly. -- Melinda Gates [Bill] Gates had selected the tomes as his favourite summer reads . . . [which included] feel-good non-fiction . . . celebrating technological progress and genius, such as Hans Rosling's Factfulness. -- Gillian Tett * FT Magazine * We need more of this way of thinking, both in business and politics. Where better to start than a new book by one of Gates' favourite gurus, the late Swedish statistician Hans Rosling . . . in an age of so-called post-truth, this is a celebration of the all too often repudiated but underlying story of relentless human progress. -- Jeremy Warner * Sunday Telegraph * A wonderful guide to an improving world, as well as being a well-stocked source of sound advice as to how to think about factual and statistical claims . . . The book is a pleasure to read - simple, clear, memorable writing - and when you've finished you'll be a lot wiser about the world. You'll also feel rather happier . . . Factfulness - the relaxing peace of mind you get when you have a clearer view of how the world really is . . . I strongly recommend this book. -- Tim Harford An assault both on ignorance and pessimism . . . helping countries improve their governance and public health and opening them up to the rule of law and market exchange works. But not by some sort of magic. Because we act. And to this, as Rosling argues, we first have to understand the world we live in. -- Daniel Finkelstein * The Times * An immensely cheering book in these anxious times. -- Christina Hardyment * The Times * Wonderful... a passionate and erudite message that is all the more moving because it comes from beyond the grave... His knack for presentation and delight in statistics come across on every page. Who else would choose a chart of "guitars per capita" as a proxy for human progress? * Financial Times * Factfulness ... , a light-hearted but data-rich book, calibrates our view of the world and explains how our cognitive processes can lead us astray -- Steven Pinker * New Statesman, The best books of 2018 * A powerful antidote to pervasive pessimism and populist untruths. -- Andrew Rawnsley * Observer, Book of the Year * One of the most important books I've ever read-an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world. -- Bill Gates A hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases. -- Barack Obama
アクティビストの発言を、ジャーナリズムは検証もせずに、勉強もせずに、記事化する。 政治はそれを法律化する。 ファクトベースで物事を判断する、そうした文化を醸成するため、有権者の多くの人にも読んでもらいたい本。
However, the book format allows him to move way beyond this and Factfulness is by far the best book about developing sound real-world thinking and practical judgment that I have ever read. It ranks way up there on this hard-to-teach topic alongside studying the lives and words of people like Lee Kuan Yew, Charlie Munger and Charles Darwin.
The book entertainingly spans evidence-based reasoning, statistical thinking (as opposed to its more common cousin - anecdotal outrage), psychological cognitive biases, self-awareness, looking through media biases (usually towards sensationalist, fear-mongering bad news) and thinking through effective, actionable solutions to material real-world problems including non-intuitive, indirect ones. Rosling is unusual in his ability to abstract out a range of conceptual tools that we can use across situations, while using examples from his experience to keep such concepts relatable and grounded.
Rosling's day job was as a medical doctor specialising in controlling epidemics around the world. He has witnessed gut-wrenching tragedy first-hand. However, rather than despair or be guided by emotions, he objectively looks for the most effective solutions that can help do most good even if it worsens the situation immediately confronting him. As an illustration, the most effective tool to limit high population growth in poor countries isn't family planning propaganda but better sanitation (infant mortality is disproportionately caused by contamination of water with sewage and reducing this automatically causes parents to try for fewer children). This then has spillover benefits for family health, women's empowerment and fewer children getting more attention and resources, making it far more likely that the family will escape from abject poverty over a generation.
Rosling is a nuanced thinker, able to convey seemingly contradictory thoughts in a way that allows the reader to navigate a grey, messy world rather than a neat, binary one popularised by academics and journalists. As an illustration, he paints a nuanced picture of how things can be both bad and better at the same time. Often, activists are so outraged by things being bad (all we have to do in a place like India is to look around) that they deny any notion that things are actually getting better in many ways. In reality, acknowledging, appreciating and understanding how things are getting better is the way to fix what is still clearly bad.
This is the kind of book that all of us should read, as a great starting point towards being lesser idiots in whatever we have set out to do.
The book literally begins with a tone of “Why I am right and everyone is wrong” – because I gave simple questions to a lot of people and they all got it wrong. Well, people got it wrong because they have been conditioned to it, it’s the failure of our education and society in general, nothing wrong with that. The whole premise of the book is that we need to open up our eyes to the wide array of positive changes that are taking place in the world, and the world is getting better at most of the metrics be it child mortality, per capita income, healthcare, deaths to due to diseases, children being vaccinated, literacy levels, gender equality and what not. On the face of it, yes, mostly the world is getting better and it can be proved with data and statistics.
What did I like about the book?
1. Rosling tells you to believe that world is getting better (and he proves so with the use of data), and at the same time keep an eye out for the bad things (because they need to be improved too). I think this is a realistic world view, where you celebrate the progress and keep working on improving the things that need attention.
2. Every statement is supported by facts, figures, charts and a lot of data (simple to understand).
3. The book basically imbibes a more realistic (if positive is too strong a word here) outlook towards the world.
4. You learn to look at data cautiously, trying to overcome your bias and instincts.
5. You learn to look at media publications, news etc with a pinch of salt and would know better than they prefer showing ‘bad’ stuff rather than ‘good’ stuff. The media blows everything out of proportion and unfortunately, most people believe it.
6. Finally, you learn about your 10 instincts and would be more aware of them whenever you hear any news or information that talks about how bad the world has become. You learn to look at things from multiple perspectives, suppress these instincts, and eventually be more rational.
What I did not like about the book?
1. The book is based on figures and statistics to prove the point. But as it’s true with statistics, there’s more to it than what meets the eye. For example, Rosling says there’s no such thing as a ‘Developed’ and ‘Developing’ country anymore, a majority of the countries are now ‘Middle Income’ countries. He’s right, no doubt about that. But what makes up a ‘Middle Income’ country. If you make more than $2 a day, you are in the middle-income group. But does that ensure a good living? What is the meaning of $2 in the context of living standards? Isn’t this progress so slow that many generations will not even witness the progress?
2. Rosling has used averages to convey the point of progress while cautioning the user against them at the same time. As compared to maybe a few decades ago, there are only 1 Billion people living at Level 1 (Extreme Poverty) and trends show you that this number has decreased drastically. But if you look at it in absolute terms, we are talking about 1 Billion people on this planet who don’t get enough food to eat on a daily basis! That’s a huge number.
3. Rosling has underplayed suffering and lack of resources, and covered it with the statistically correct ‘progress’. It’s like saying, so what if your food lacks nutrition and variety, at least you’re getting better than what you were getting a decade back. It’s funny really and seems such a farce at times. Definitely, he’s not wrong when he says progress has happened, but the meaning of ‘progress’ would differ for different people. His overall thesis, that we live in a much better world than we imagine, is comforting, but “better” might still be “terrible” in some cases.
Let’s look at the book summary now! Rosling talks about our ten ‘Dramatic Instincts’ (and 10 reasons why we are wrong about the world). Here they are –
1. The Gap Instinct - We tend to divide the things into 2 distinct groups and imagine a gap between them. To control gap instinct, look for the majority. Beware of the averages, if you look at the spread, the majority will overlap. Beware comparisons of extremes (Media loves to do it).
2. The Negativity Instinct - We tend to instinctively notice the bad more than the good. We need to learn to acknowledge the fact that things can be both ‘better’ and ‘bad’ at the same time. Example, education levels have improved over time, but still, 10% of the children don’t get any education, that’s bad. We also need to know that good news is never reported, media would hype the bad stuff always. Subsequently, gradual improvement isn’t reported either. Countries, government, media often try to glorify the past, so we need to be beware of these rosy pasts.
3. The Straight Line Instinct - When we see a line going up steadily, we tend to assume the line will continue to go up in the foreseeable future. To control this instinct, remember that curves come in different shapes. Finally, don’t assume straight lines if data doesn’t show it.
4. The Fear Instinct - We tend to perceive the world to be scarier than it really is. We overestimate the risks associated with violence, captivity, contamination etc. The world seems scarier because what you hear has been carefully selected to be told. Remember, Risk = Danger x Exposure, and act accordingly. Make decisions only when you’re calm, not when you are afraid.
5. The Size Instinct - We tend to see things out of proportion, over-estimating the importance of a single event/person that’s visible to us, and the scale of an issue based on a standalone number. A lonely number may seem impressive in isolation, but can be trivial in comparison to something else. Hence, always look for comparisons. Use the 80/20 rule. When comparing countries, look for rates per person.
6. The Generalization Instinct - We tend to wrongly assume that everything or everyone in a category is similar. Hence, we must look for differences within a group, look for similarities across groups and look for differences across groups. We should beware of the term ‘Majority’ – it can mean 51% or 99% or anything in between. Beware of vivid images, which are easier to recall but can be exceptions than the general norm.
7. The Destiny Instinct - We tend to assume that the destinies of people, cultures, countries etc. are predetermined by certain factors, and such factors are fixed and unchanging, i.e. their destinies are fixed. To control this, we must keep track of gradual changes and improvements. We should update our knowledge on different subjects, and look for examples of cultural changes.
8. The Single Perspective Instinct - We tend to focus on single causes or solutions, which are easier to grasp and make our problems seem easier to solve. It is better to look at problems from multiple perspectives. To control this, always test your ideas and allow people to find weaknesses. Don’t claim to be an expert at all times, be humble about your limited expertise in different areas.
9. The Blame Instinct - When something goes wrong, we instinctively blame it on someone or something. To control this, resist finding a scapegoat. Look for causes, not villains. Finally, look for systems and processes, not heroes.
10. The Urgency Instinct - We tend to rush into a problem or opportunity for fear that there’s no time and we may be too late. To control this, take small steps. Always insist on data rather than making hunch based hasty decisions. Always be aware of the side effects of your hasty decision to avoid making the same.
Favorite Quotes from the Book:
- “The world cannot be understood without numbers. And it cannot be understood with numbers alone.”
- “Being always in favor of or always against any particular idea makes you blind to information that doesn’t fit your perspective. This is usually a bad approach if you like to understand reality.”
- “Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot. Sure, my foot is part of me, but it’s a pretty ugly part. I have better parts.”
To sum up, Factfulness is a good book that explains how our instincts sometimes distort our understanding of our world and why it's crucial to learn established facts that are now reliably and readily available. Our instincts might help in certain situations, but in others, critical thinking beyond emotions is necessary. However, we must learn to look beyond the displayed ‘progress’ also, because even lesser suffering can mean ‘progress’ statistically.
Truly inspirational and life affirming - read it now!
If you've ever felt that you're being spun by a politician or a journalist, this easy-to-read book will set you straight.
The entire world will appear different after reading this - big claim I know, but before reading Hans Rosling my global view was more confused than that of a troop of chimpanzees.
What's more, the facts in this book should be on every school curriculum so that the next generation is not as misled as the current one is!
After reading this tedious book that could be summarized in a couple of charts, or 17” TED talk, I think if I were seated next to Hans Rosling on an airplane [FIRST CLASS, OF COURSE!], I’d be searching for an empty seat in tourist class, next to the bathrooms. Or a parachute. Or maybe just jump.
It is dangerous to put a book out there with dubious statistics, deceiving people who cannot see through the figures. It is avoiding actual figures regarding global warming, quality of life and biodiversity.
It seems to play into the rhetoric that the "poor" in highly developed, industrialized counties (those who earn slightly more than $32 a day), shouldn't complain, even though they cannot afford to live in the counties they were born in and their own countries define them as living below the poverty line.
This misleading definition seems to perpetuate the very serious issue of distain for the poor in wealthy countries too or the erroneous belief that they don't want to work or are lazy (you can work full-time in the USA and still only earn $300 a week - not enough to cover even the most basic of costs). His very limited and agenda driven income levels does little to improve their prospects of earning a living wage too. This flawed assertion alone, calls into question all of the commentary by the author - which given his nationality and credentials, is certainly earning far and above the poverty line in his country and seems oblivious to the very real poverty issues (and their associated social costs) in highly developed, industrialized countries outside of Scandinavia (where there are socialized safety nets for the poor - other wealthy counties are not so lucky).
I had hoped this book would provide facts, but it seems it is just presenting a flawed belief system that continues to ignore a large group of already frustrated people - people who are now embracing nationalistic ideologies that may result in damaging the precarious peaceful picture this book is trying to present.
Rosling, a doctor originally, illustrates some of the points he makes with personal experience, particularly examples where an incorrect assumption about facts he has made has led to potentially disastrous circumstances. But the core of the book makes use of a series of 12 multiple choice questions on the state of the world which, on the whole, we answer worse that choosing randomly - because almost universally we think the world is far worse than it really is.
Although Rosling claims not to be an optimist, making it clear that he isn't saying everything is rosy - there's still a lot to improve - the fact is that most of our ideas of, for example, how bad world poverty is, education of girls, size of families and far more reflects what the world was like 50 years or more ago - where in practice it is now much better.
One essential point that Rosling makes is that our division of the world into developing and developed gives a hugely misleading picture - because in reality (like most distributions) the majority of countries aren't in the very worst or very best part of the distribution, but somewhere in the middle. He advocates moving from the either/or split of developed/developing to four levels, based on average earnings, which gives a much better picture of the reality. Apparently the World Bank has adopted this approach but the UN and others still haven't got the message.
In Factfulness, Rosling looks at a set of ways we have a biased view of reality and what we can do to modify this. So, for example, he talks about our urge to divide populations into two ('the gap instinct') - rich or poor, privileged or not etc, etc. - where the reality is almost always a continuum with no gap. Elsewhere he takes on our tendency to extrapolate into the future with a straight line, where many trends are, for example S-shaped, the danger of always looking for someone to blame and much more.
This is a very powerful piece of work that should be required reading for any politician, businessperson, educator and administrator. The whole thing is presented in a light, approachable fashion with lots of graphs and bubble charts. It's an easy read practically speaking, but a difficult one in the sense that the reader is encouraged to face their own misconceptions (and we almost all will have them - I certainly did).
It's a shame there isn't a bit more on implications. For example, how we target aid would perhaps change if we took note (in the UK, for example, our biggest aid recipient is not a Level 1 country). I also occasionally felt that (for all the right reasons) the wording of the questions used to evaluate our views was a little manipulative to get the required results. And although Rosling warns of the danger of lone numbers without context, he has a tendency to use percentages without context - which is also potentially highly misleading. (For example, if violent crime rises 100% in a year it's terrifying. But if you know there was 1 incident the previous year and 2 this year, it's not so dramartic.)
Just one example of the slightly weighted questions: one reads 'In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?' The options are 20, 40 or 60 percent. Rosling's 'right' answer is 60 percent, then later he tells us 'there are only a very few countries in the world' where fewer than 20 percent of girls finish primary school. The trouble is, that word 'all' in the question. I'd argue the logical answer is 20, because that's the only number that applies to all countries - if larger numbers complete primary school, then 20 percent certainly do. It can't be true that 60 percent finish in all countries if under 20 percent do so in some.
These are, however, minor concerns - Rosling and his associates have a powerful message that needs shouting from the rooftops.