“Factfulness” is a must read book

“Factfulness” is a must read book

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Factfulness is written by several members of the Rosling family. Dr. Hans Rosling has made his career in global health. Along the way he noticed that what most people think about the state of the world is wrong. He has surveyed thousands of people on topics such as global literacy, health, population, poverty, economies and much more. His surveys contain questions with 3 answers, meaning if you answer the questions randomly, you’ll get 1/3d of the questions correct.

But his actual results find that typically just 10-20% of respondents – worse than random  – answer these questions correctly.

Most people think the world is far, far worse than it actually is – in general, the state of the world and its people are getting better, often a LOT better. And is no where near as bad as most people think it is.

This is because our “attention filter” only notices that which is out of the ordinary – or scary and dramatic.

Most people view everything through the dismal eyes of the media and various propagandists that want us to take some action – and they have managed to persuade most of us that everything in life is terrible and getting worse. But that is not actually true.

The answer, Dr. Rosling says, is to pay attention to facts – and to observe the methods used to persuade of untrue things so that we can recognize when we are being manipulated into believing things that are not true.

For example, Fear is often used to convince us – once we are scared, we lose sight of facts and jump to conclusions that are often erroneous. His book covers ten different ideas – that once we see them – are clues that we are losing sight of facts or misinterpreting the data. The goal of his book is to get us to engage in factfulness – that is, to actually look at the data.

Unfortunately, most people are not factful – they are instead emotional, and easy targets to for mass propaganda.

Read the book and learn how most every thing you may believe in turns out to be false. The world is actually doing surprisingly well, has been becoming better for all and is continuing to improve globally.

The concepts of the book and how to become factful are summarized here (the authors’ web site).


Today is a climate activist student walk out day. I read a little about it and saw some surprising and untrue claims being made such as “the world is on fire” (no its not), climate disasters are getting worse (they are not), “we are going to be extinct” (nope) and more.  All of this dire (and untrue) propaganda has led to children now being treated with drugs for “eco-anxiety”.

Just a few days back I wrote:

No kidding: “America and its young people live in an age of near-constant bad news. OregonLive, like other news websites, is replete with headlines that stoke young people’s existential fears: stories highlighting climate change, mass shootings, political hate and the like.” [quote from the Oregonian itself]

We actually live in the best of times with plummeting global poverty and illiteracy rates, rising incomes and middle income lifestyles that exceed the super wealthy of just 100 years ago. In the U.S., crime, including violent crime, is in a long term declining trend. But you probably do not know this because of the media’s focus on gloom and doom.

News and social media are literally killing our youth via increasing suicide rates as they are flooded with unnecessary fear mongering. The constant negativity is damaging – yet the media will continue down this path even while acknowledging their own role.

The world itself is not making people sick – but the fantasized world that propagandists and overly dramatic media are forcing upon young people is making them sick to the point of suicide or treatment with medication. This is a bona fide health problem but no one is marching in the streets to point this out and seek healthier outcomes for our youth.

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