A life changing Book – Factfulness by Hans Rosling

The headline of any article is the most important part of any content which is being published today. Why ? Because most of us don’t even care to read through the article.

On June 4, the satirical news site the Science Post published a block of “lorem ipsum” text under a frightening headline: “Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting.”

Nearly 46,000 people shared the post

Perhaps it is too much content and too less time which inhibits people from clicking through. Or is it the need of being recognized as as person with a POV on social media, with instant gratification? Maybe a deadly concoction of all of the above with a generous pinch of cognitive bias which has always clouded human judgement. A bias which is being made stronger by the day with customized content we keep getting on our gadgets. How do we have an objective view of the world when we are only fed with content which only leans the way we do?

No wonder there has been so much concern about “fake news” as none of us wants to or in some cases can go deep into the facts to corroborate what is being said out there. If the headline sounds ok we tend to press the share button. And some new age digital content is making full use of this tendency. In this backdrop reading this book called Factfulness by late Hans Rosling was like a breath of fresh air. It establishes the fact that majority of the so called educated people carry so many myths, with a series of facts, on some key issues which the world faces today. In this book he has proven, repeatedly, that a set of chimpanzees are likely to do better then best of the intellectual human minds in surveys pertaining to key matters. Such is the biased or uninformed view we are carrying collectively.

So what does the book say? It says that we must look at the data before me make up our mind on any matter. We must alter our mindsets nurtured by years of sensational story telling by our popular media. It says that it is not all doom and gloom, as some might suggest, because there has been significant progress in important social parameters like poverty, education, medicine etc. Hans Rosling says that progress and positivity is evolutionary. The pace is mostly slow and developments gradual, not dramatic enough, not a big bang which can be showcased with a lot of drama. That is where data comes in and if seen over a time span of a few decades the patterns become visible. He also embellishes the book with anecdotes from his own life and makes the book a very worthy narrative.

It tells us to identify our own urge to associate with the dramatic worldview and encourages everyone to go beyond the façade with an arsenal of data-points which project the real truth. The book highlights certain inherent instincts we all have which lead to these dramatically exaggerated views leaving everyone exasperated.

So do give this one a try. It will compel you to not jump at conclusions and look for the non -glamourous facts which contradict all the drama and sensation.

“You should not expect the media to provide you with a fact-based worldview any more than you would think it reasonable to use a set of holiday snaps of Berlin as your GPS system to help you navigate around the city.”

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