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Factfulness

Factfulness

by Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Ola Rosling

Hans Rosling

“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.”

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The Gap Instinct

  • This is that irresistible temptation we have to divide all kinds of things into two distinct and often conflicting groups, with an imagined gap in between.
  • The gap instinct makes us imagine division where there is just a smooth range, differences where ther...

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HANS ROSLING

"Human beings have a strong dramatic instinct toward binary thinking, a basic urge to divide things into two distinct groups, with nothing but an empty gap in between. We love to dichotomize. Good versus bad. Heroes versus villains. My country versus the rest. Dividing the world into two dist...

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Rember that reality is often not polarized at all. To control the gap instinct, look for the majority.

  • Beware comparisons of averages. If you could check the spreads you would probably find they overlap. There is probably no gap at all.

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The Negativity Instinct

The negativity instinct describes our tendency to notice the bad more than the good.

So when you hear about something terrible, calm yourself by asking, If there had been an equally large positive improvement, would I have heard about that?

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Remember that information about bad events is much more likely to reach us. Expect bad news.

  • Better and bad. Practice distinguishing between a level (e.g., bad) and a direction of change (e.g., better). Convince yourself that things can be both better...

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The Straight Line Instinct

This instinct describes our tendency to assume that a line will just continue straight and ignoring that such lines are rare in reality.

But don’t assume straight lines. Many trends do not follow straight lines but are S-bends, slides, humps, or double...

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It's true that the world population is increasing. Very fast. But it’s not just increasing.

The “just” implies that, if nothing is done, the population will just keep on growing. It implies that some drastic action is needed in order to stop the growth. That is the...

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The Fear Instinct

The fear instinct describes our tendency to pay more attention to frightening things.

These fears are hardwired deep in our brains for obvious evolutionary reasons. Fears of physical harm, captivity, and poison once helped our ancestors survive. In modern times, perception...

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HANS ROSLING

"For the first time in world history, data exists for almost every aspect of global development. And yet, because of our dramatic instincts and the way the media must tap into them to grab our attention, we continue to have an overdramatic worldview. Of all our dramatic instincts, it seems to...

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HANS ROSLING

“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.”

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HANS ROSLING

“Critical thinking is always difficult, but it’s almost impossible when we are scared. There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.”

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Recognize when frightening things get your attention, and remember that these are not necessarily the riskiest. Calculate the risks.

  • The scary world: fear vs. reality. The world seems scarier than it is because what you hear about it has been selected precisely because...

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The Size Instinct

The size instinct describes our tendency to get things out of proportion, or misjudge the size of things.

To avoid getting things out of proportion you need only these tools: comparing and dividing:

  • Compare. Big numbers always look big. Single...

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  • This instinct can make us mistakenly group together things that are actually very different
  • It can make us assume everything or everyone in one category is similar.
  • It can make us jump to conclusions about a whole category based on...

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How To Control The Generalization Instinct

Remember that categories are misleading. So question your categories.

  • Look for differences within groups. Especially when the groups are large, look for ways to split them into smaller, more precise categories
  • Look for similarities across groups.

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This is the idea that innate characteristics determine the destinies of people, countries, religions, or cultures. It’s the idea that things are as they are for ineluctable, inescapable reasons: they have always been this way and will never change.

Remember that many things...

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The Single Perspective Instinct

A single perspective can limit your imagination; look at problems from many angles to get a more accurate understanding and find practical solutions.

  • Test your ideas. Have people who disagree with you test your ideas and find their weaknesses.
  • Limit...

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The blame instinct describes our tendency to find a clear, simple reason for why something bad has happened.

  • To control the blame instinct, resist finding a scapegoat. Look for causes, not villains. Accept that bad things can happen without anyone inte...

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The Urgency Instinct

The urgency instinct describes our tendency to take immediate action in the face of perceived imminent danger, and in doing so, amplifying our other instincts.

To control the urgency instinct, take small steps.

  • Take a breath. When your urgency...

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