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Book of the Month: Factfulness

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

By Hans Rosling

Grade Levels: 9+

In this nonfiction text, Professor Hans Rosling presents a guide to seeing the world through data-based eyes, rather than making assumptions based on unconscious biases. He walks the reader through several misconceptions that leading experts get wrong.

Before his death in 2017, Professor Rosling was a Swedish physician, academic, statistician and public speaker. His career took him all over the world in pursuit of public health initiatives in the developing world. He has been the speaker in several TED Talks about the use of data. He helped found the Gapminder organization, which is an educational nonprofit focused on helping people combat their global misconceptions through factful thinking.

Rosling is as engaging a writer as he was a speaker, and this book takes the reader on a delightful journey of self-discovery and enrichment. The book begins with a series of questions about global trends such as ‘what percentage of the world’s population lives in poverty’ or ‘why the world’s population is decreasing.’ He has asked these questions in hundreds of venues and found that people’s instincts about these topics are so wrong that a chimpanzee guessing answers at random will consistently score higher than even experts at the top of their fields. Why are these experts so bad at this quiz? There are unconscious biases in all of us that lead us down incorrect paths.

The book covers ten instincts that cause people to distort their perspectives and come to conclusions that are not based in facts. He covers concepts such as fear-based media consumption, the general belief that most things are getting worse, and dividing the world into us vs them camps. Rosling walks the reader through why these instincts exist and how to combat them and become a more informed, fact-based consumer.

Through a series of personal anecdotes and moving stories, Rosling teaches how to approach the world through a fact-based lens that shows that the world isn’t quite as bad as our instincts might want you to think. Rosling has a great deal of hope for the future despite the difficulties we face.

Take a journey with Rosling to develop your own fact-based worldview and find that it actually opens your eyes to a much brighter future.

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