Review: Factfullness

Bill Gates says:“One of the most important books I’ve ever read.” Factfullness by Hans Rosling, and his son and daughter-in-law, is also one of the best books I have read too. It is hard to classify, but I would define it as an eye-opening presentation of statistical reality that underscores how poorly we use our individual and collective brain power.

For most people, the first eye-opening event is taking his test, given to thousands of high-power decision makers.

Grab a piece of paper and test your knowledge about the world using these 13 questions:

1. In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?
A. 20%
B. 40%
C. 60%?

2. Where does the majority of the world population live?
A. Low income countries
B. Middle income countries
C. High income countries?

3. In the last 20 years the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has?
A. almost doubled
B. remained more or less the same
C. almost halved?

4. What is the life expectancy of the world today?
A. 50 years
B. 60 years
C. 70 years?

5. There are 2 billion children in the world today aged 0-15 years old, how many children will there be in year 2100 according to the United Nations?
A. 4 billion
B. 3 billion
C. 2 billion?

6. The UN predicts that by 2100 the world population will have increased by another 4 billion people, what is the main reason?
A. There will be more children aged below 15
B. There will be more adults aged 15-74
C. There will be more very old people aged 75 and older?

7. How did the number of deaths per year from natural disasters change over the last 100 years?
A. More than doubled
B. Remained about the same
C. Decreased to less than half?

8. There are roughly 7 billion people in the world today, which options more accurately represents where they live?
A. 1 billion in Europe, 4 billion in Asia, 1 billion in Africa and 1 billion in America.
B. 1 billion in Europe, 3 billion in Asia, 2 billion in Africa and 1 billion in America
C. 1 billion in Europe, 3 billion in Asia, 1 billion in Africa and 2 billion in America?

9. How many of the world’s 1 year old children today have been vaccinated against some diseases?
A. 20%
B. 50%
C. 80%?

10. Worldwide, 30 year old men have spent 10 years in school on average, how many years have women of the same age spent in school?
A. 9 years
B. 6 years
C. 3 years?

11. In 1996 tigers, giant pandas and Black Rhinos were all listed as endangered, how many of these three species are critically endangered today?
A. 2 of them
B. 1 of them
C. none of them?

12. How many people in the world have some access to electricity?
A. 20%
B. 50%
C. 80%?

13. Global climate experts believe that over the next 100 years the average temperature will on average?
A. get warmer
B. remain the same
C. get colder?

Give yourself 1 point for each correct answer and tally up your total score.
1. C. 60%
2. B. Middle income countries
3. C. almost halved
4. C. 70 years
5. C. 2 billion
6. B. There will be more adults aged 15-74
7. C. Decreased to less than half
8. A. 1 billion in Europe, 4 billion in Asia, 1 billion in Africa and 1 billion in America.
9. C. 80%?
10. A. 9 years
11. C. none of them
12. C. 80%?
13. A. get warmer

Did you get more correct than a monkey would (about one third)?

The idea is that we humans are not good at pausing and thinking things through. We tend to use mental shortcuts and believe things not because they have been proven true but because we simply have grown to believe them.

I for one am going to try to do much better in slowing down my responses and not deciding things until I actually can do so with a fair degree of certainty. That will slow me down, but will make me better as a person and as a citizen of the world. Try to notice when notables are not doing so, but shooting from the hip, or from biased positions.

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