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Summary of Factfulness 

Short summary

Is the world becoming better or worse? What are the metrics you use to assess the world? How can you be accurate when you talk about the state of things in the world? We could be forgiven for thinking that we live in a dark and hopeless place, yet when you really think about it, there’s a lot of good in the world. We focus so much on the negatives that we don’t see the beauty all around us. Maybe it’s time we opened our eyes and stopped worrying about the ‘what if’s! In Factfulness, Hans Rosling and his two long-time collaborators Anna and Ola, reveal several stunning statistics about the world that challenge our notions. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective, showing that unconscious and predictable biases inform even our guesses. “There's no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.” ~ Hans Rosling

Key points


A set of simple thinking tools that can improve your sense of how the world works

The world isn’t a completely terrible place, yet the overwhelming majority of people see it differently from how it is in reality. Yet, many people underestimate the things that need to change, such as education issues, healthcare, violence, climate change, and population growth. Why is that? Is it because we think that we know everything, but in reality, we don’t know that much at all?

People do not upgrade their knowledge. The level of education doesn't seem to matter; in fact, it looks as though the higher the level of education, the poorer the results. People have a worldview that dates to when their teachers left school.

Overdramatic worldview is another problem. Even when people have the latest information, they tend to get the facts wrong because their worldview tends to blow things out of proportion. This tendency makes people provide negative answers to factual questions.

Changing an overdramatic worldview is problematic because it is connected to how our brains work. We jump to conclusions very quickly, and we also have a craving for drama, making us interested in gossip and dramatic stories.
We need to control our drama intake the same way we need to control our tendency to jump to conclusions and eat excess sugar and fat.
You will learn to recognize overdramatic stories and how to practice faithfulness. In the same way, you can eat a healthy diet, exercise, and learn to control your dramatic instincts, which will enable you to make better decisions, identify real dangers, and avoid constantly being stressed about the wrong things. In short, you will develop a fact-based worldview.

If you are more interested in being right than thinking critically, this is not a book for you. However, if you are willing to change your worldview and replace your instinctive reaction with a more critical and factual response to the world, please you’ve chosen the right summary.
Changing how you think isn't going to happen overnight, but if the old way isn't working, what other option is there?

The idea of a divided world, full of misery, isn't accurate

Humans have around ten dramatic instincts, and one of the most problematic is the gap instinct. The gap instinct is a tendency to compartmentalize things into two groups that often conflict and have a gap between them. It creates a picture in people's heads of a world split into two kinds of countries or two kinds of people. This instinct is a mega misconception because it has an enormous impact on how people misperceive the world.
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Our natural fears make us overestimate risks and underestimate real dangers


Misleading generalizations and stereotypes act as a way in for the mainstream media


You can be highly intelligent in one area but completely clueless in another


The blame instinct causes us to point the finger at individuals, whether they deserve it or not


The urgency instinct pushes you to want to take action straight away when faced with danger



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