Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World -
- and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
by Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling
The world is actually in a better state than we tend to think -
- we need to focus on unbiased, updated and correct information.
Questions & Facts
(just to make it a real test, the answers are below)
In all low-income countries across the world today,
how many girls finish primary school?
Where does the majority of the world population live?
A. low-income countries
B. middle-income countries
C. high-income countries
In the last 20 years the proportion
of the world population living in extreme poverty has?
A. almost doubled
B. remained more or less the same
C. almost halved
What is the life expectancy of the world today?
A. 50 years
B. 60 years
C. 70 years
There are 2 billion children in the world today aged 0-15 years old,
how many children will there be in the year 2100 according to the United Nations?
A. 4 billion
B. 3 billion
C. 2 billion
The UN predicts that by 2100 the world population
will have increased by another 4 billion people, what is the main reason?
A. there will be more children aged below 15
B. there will be more adults aged 15-74
C. there will be more very old people aged 75 and older
How did the number of deaths per year
from natural disasters change over the last 100 years?
A. more than doubled
B. remained about the same
C. decreased to less than half
There are roughly 7 billion people in the world today,
which options more accurately represent where they live?
A. 1 billion in Europe, 4 billion in Asia, 1 billion in Africa and 1 billion in America
B. 1 billion in Europe, 3 billion in Asia, 2 billion in Africa and 1 billion in America
C. 1 billion in Europe, 3 billion in Asia, 1 billion in Africa and 2 billion in America
How many of the world's 1-year-old children today
have been vaccinated against some diseases?
Worldwide, 30-year-old men have spent 10 years in school on average,
how many years have women of the same age spent in school?
A. 9 years
B. 6 years
C. 3 years
In 1996 tigers, giant pandas and Black Rhinos were all listed as endangered,
how many of these three species are critically endangered today?
A. 2 of them
B. 1 of them
C. none of them
How many people in the world have some access to electricity?
Global climate experts believe that over the next 100 years
the average temperature will on average?
A. get warmer
B. remain the same
C. get colder
Correct answers: 1C, 2B, 3C, 4C, 5C, 6B, 7C, 8A, 9C, 10A, 11C, 12C, 13A
Surprised? The world is better than you have thought, right?
No need for explanation - just from the book:
“Think about the world.
War, violence, natural disasters, man-made disasters, corruption.
Things are bad, and it feels like they are getting worse, right?
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer;
and the number of poor just keeps increasing;
and we will soon run out of resources unless we do something drastic.
At least that’s the picture that most Westerners see in the media
and carry around in their heads.
I call it the overdramatic worldview.
It’s stressful and misleading.
In fact, the vast majority of the world’s population
lives somewhere in the middle of the income scale.
Perhaps they are not what we think of as middle class,
but they are not living in extreme poverty.
Their girls go to school, their children get vaccinated,
they live in two-child families,
and they want to go abroad on holiday, not as refugees.
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 the fact-based worldview.”
How to be smart about facts
- Gap Instinct:
While we used to divide things in two and compare extremes
the reality is often not polarized.
Do not only compare extremes or averages
but rather look at the majority.
- Negativity Instinct:
As good news is no news, expect to receive the negative ones.
Gradual improvement is rarely recognised.
Things can be bad, but getting better.
- Straight Line Instinct:
Trends do not follow straight lines.
Do not forecast the future basing only on the past.
- Fear Instinct:
Frightening things (like violence or contamination) get our attention.
The world is not as dangerous as the media present it. Calculate your real risk:
how dangerous something is & if you are really exposed to this danger.
- Size Instinct:
Small or large numbers are impressive
but mean nothing if they are not put into perspective.
Single numbers are misleading - compare them.
Focus on rates (ex. x per person) especially when comparing different groups.
- Generalization Instinct:
A generalisation is useful but not everything can be put into categories.
Look for differences within groups
and for differences and similarities across groups.
- Destiny Instinct:
Gradual changes are rarely recognised.
Countries, cultures, people, values are not constant,
so always keep your knowledge updated.
Do not assume that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday
just because today is similar.
- Single Perspective Instinct:
Single perspective limits real understanding and solutions.
Question and test your ideas
and remember that even an expert's knowledge is limited.
Be open for complexity and combine ideas - do not get trapped by simple solutions.
- Blame Instinct:
Blaming someone blocks other explanations and possible solutions for the future.
Accept what happened but focus on causes without blaming.
Do not prize individual if the solution came from the system.
- Urgency Instinct:
Urgency limits analytical thinking.
Do not take drastic actions - base your decisions on facts (relevant and accurate)
and analyse possible outcomes, assuming that predictions may fail.
- Every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent,
and more hopeless—in short, more dramatic—than it really is.
- There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.
- Here’s the paradox: the image of a dangerous world
has never been broadcast more effectively than it is now,
while the world has never been less violent and more safe.
- I want people when they realize they have been wrong about the world,
to feel not embarrassment, but that childlike sense of wonder,
inspiration, and curiosity that I remember from the circus,
and that I still get every time I discover I have been wrong:
“Wow, how is that even possible?
- Fame is a dangerous thing. It's what the post-industrial society wants.
They want fame and many followers on Twitter.
But to really make the world understandable,
that challenge is remaining.
- 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.