When asked simple questions about global trends―what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school―we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.
I kid you not. This is the outrageous-sounding claim made by Hans Rosling, the Swedish physician, academic and statistician who made it his life’s work to seek to correct the huge misconceptions and biases that drive our thinking. Such as the ‘dramatic attention filter’ above. This is a man who ‘makes data sing’: for proof can I suggest that you go straight here htttp://bit.ly/2HsKkCe and enjoy the astonishment engendered by his ‘bubble data’ in a Ted talk that ought to be compulsory viewing in every university and classroom?!
And when you’ve done that, you can have a look at it in more detail here, bit.ly/2YFqF8a. This Gapfinder site feels very important to me, because this key data is the basis for so much opinion, information and misinformation in our fast moving world, and Rosling found a way to offer it so that it’s encouraging, helping us to think better about it. And it’s free. What a lovely man.
It seems to me to align exactly with the Thinking Environment call on Information as a vital element in helping people to think clearly and well. To think well we need accurate data and facts, not bias and personal opinions. If every child currently at school and every CEO currently running a business was to be presented with the bubble data so much would change.
Rosling’s book Factfulness has been my read of the year, and fills me with the same excitement and sense of coming home to truth as did Time to Think when I first read it in 2007. It has given me back a much needed sense of balance and possibility, alongside a heightened and useful awareness of how much and how often we miss the point because we are missing the facts. Do read it, or watch the talk, or visit the Gapfinder site, and do please let me know how you might apply more factfulness!