Factfulness, by Hans Rosling.
In an effort to combat my increasingly dismal view of the world (thanks Dad!), I finally picked up Factfulness, by Hans Rosling, which I had noticed on the new fiction carousel at the Cutchogue Library for the past few weeks. The subtitle reads, “Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think,” and truth be told, I do feel more optimistic after reading it! Rosling, who passed away in 2017, was a Swedish physician, International Health Professor and Public Educator who presented TED talks and advised UNICEF, Medicines Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Boarders), and the Gapminder Foundation (a Swedish independent “Fact Tank”- check it out online…fascinating). Essentially, this book addresses the issue that "we don’t know what we don’t know," and that “even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable bias.” A simple multiple choice test is presented in the introduction asking questions about world population, education and economic resources and the resulting scores from various groups: people of different nationalities, groups of experts at conferences on economics, health care, etc., even from a troop of chimpanzees, is disclosed. In the ensuing chapters, he then presents the reasons why there are profound discrepancies between fact and perception. The narrative reflects the dry sense of humor and straight to the pointedness I have come to appreciate in Scandinavian writers. The book is liberally annotated with excellent graphs and photographs to support his research as well as great personal accounts of his experiences working in Africa and throughout the world. Reportedly, Bill and Melinda Gates have become disciples of Rosling’s worldview, and have used his theories to construct the framework for much of their humanitarian philanthropy. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.