Factfulness Summary
by Hans Rosling

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Factfulness Summary

Factfulness by Hans Rosling uses statistics to try and dispel the generally gloomy worldview that the majority of the world's population seems to hold.

The author uses real-world examples in a very interesting manner. Child mortality rates for different countries tell us that the world has made substantial progress in the fields of sanitation, primary health care, education and other parameters that inform us about how developed a society really is. For example, in Saudi Arabia, during the 60s, there were 242 infant deaths per 1000 births. By 1995, the number had come down to 35.

It's a folly to divide the world into "Us" versus "Them." The line between the rich and poor countries is getting blurrier by the day. Most of the world's population today lives in middle-income economies and leads a comfortable life. Less than 10% of the world's population lives in low-income countries. However, quizzes reveal that across Europe and North America, the popular misconception is that nearly 60% of the global population lives in poverty.

The book challenges binary thinking that is instinctive to us. The author terms this instinct the "Gap Instinct." "Good" versus "Bad" and "Developed Countries" versus "Developing Countries" are two examples of this thinking that is fallacious and not borne by statistics. The way to control the "Gap Instinct" is to compare averages, compare extremes, and take a holistic view of things.

The author, while questioning the general opinion that things are getting bad, does acknowledge that there are problems such as overfishing, dead areas in the oceans, and terrorism. Yet, there are literally billions of good things that happen globally that contribute to making the world a better place.

The global average life expectancy in 1800 was 30 years. Today, it's 72 years. Other good things that have happened over the decades include reductions in oil spills, rejection of slavery, fewer battle deaths, and fewer deaths from disease as well as hunger.

The author concludes by stating that the idea of Factfulness does not seek culprits for what's wrong. Instead, it chooses to focus on causes that, once found, can be remedied.