My rating: 90/100
See Book Notes for other books I have read. If you like my notes, go buy it!
Tagline: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
Just based on the surprise I got from how wrong I was on the quiz at the beginning, I give this book a high rating. I suppose it’s not surprising at all that we do get the world wrong, considering our brains are developed for hunting and gathering, and are extremely good at drawing fast conclusions from limited data. The breakdown occurs when we start making fast conclusions on data at the level of the world. I realize how incredibly important it is to take a step back and look at data objectively, and to verify the data is correct before moving forward with large decisions. A must read for politicians, policy-makers, and anyone making decisions that affect groups of any size, and anyone that just wants to feel better about the world in general.
- In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school? A. 20% B. 40% C. 60%
- Where does the majority of the world population live? A. Low income countries B. Middle-income countries C. High-income countries
- 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
- What is the life expectancy of the world today? A. 50 years B. 60 years C. 70 years
- There are 2 billion children in the world today, aged 0 to 15 years old. How many children will there be in the year 2100 according to the United Nations? A. 4 billion B. 3 billion C. 2 billion
- 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 (age below 15) B. There will be more adults (age 15 to 74) C. There will be more very old people (age 75 and older)
- How did the number of deaths per year from natural disasters change over the last hundred years? A. More than doubled. B. Remained about the same. C. Decreased to less than half.
- There are roughly 7 billion people in the world today. Which answer shows best the current population distribution (in billions)? A. 1 Americas, 1 Europe, 1 Africa, 4 Asia B. 1 Americas, 1 Europe, 2 Africa, 3 Asia C. 2 Americas, 1 Europe, 1 Africa, 3 Asia
- How many of the world’s 1-year-old children today have been vaccinated against some disease? A. 20% B. 50% C. 80%
- 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
- In 1996, tigers, pandas, and black rhinos were all listed as endangered. How nmany of these three spcies are more critically endangered today? A. Two of them B. One of them C. None of them
- How many people in the world have some access to electricity? A. 20% B. 50% C. 80%
- Global climate experts believe that over the next 100 years the average temperature will … A. get warmer B. remain the same C. get colder
Answers: 1 C, 2B, 3 C, 4 C, 5 C, 6 B, 7 C, 8 A, 9 C, 10 A, 11 C, 12 C, 13 A
It is not a question of intelligence. Everyone seems to get the world devastatingly wrong. Not only devastatingly wrong, but systematically wrong.
People constantly and intuitively refer to their worldview when thinking, guessing, or learning about the world. So if your worldview is wrong, then you will systematically make wrong guesses.
The overdramatic worldview is so difficult to shift because it comes from the very way our brains work.
Chapter 1 The Gap Instinct
This chapter is about the first of our ten dramatic instincts, the gap instinct. The irresistible temptation we have to divide all kinds of things into two distinct and often conflicting groups, with an imagined gap – a huge chasm of injustice – in between.
This first one is the worst. By diving the world into two misleading boxes – a poor and rich – it completely distorts all the global proportions in people’s minds.
The world used to be divided into two but isn’t any longer. Today, most people are in the middle. There is no gap between the West and the rest, between developed and developing, between rich and poor.
We asked people in Sweeden and the United States: Of the world population, what percentage lives in low income countries? The majority suggested the answer was 50% or more. The average guess was 59%. The real figure is 9%. Only 9% of the world lives in low income countries.
I am often quite rude about the term “developing countries” in my presentations. Afterwards, people ask me, “So what should we call them instead?” But listen carefully. It’s the same misconception: we and them. What should “we” call “them” instead? What we should do is stop dividing countries into two groups. It doesn’t make sense anymore. It doesn’t help us to understand the world in a practical way. It doesn’t help businesses to find opportunities, and it doesn’t help aid money find the poorest people.
Hans presents a new, more useful way of thinking about wealth: dividing into 4 levels.
Level 1: $0-2/day
Typically water from a well, walking is the only form of transportation, cooking is over a fire, and food is scarce. Medication is out of reach financially.
Level 2: $2-8/day
Access to clean water, can afford some animals, bicycles are a common form of transportation, cooking with gas, and enough to afford a mattress to sleep on.
Level 3: $8-32/day
Cold water tap, electricity, fridge, motorcycle, vacations become possible.
Level 4: $32+/day
Water in a sink from a tap, 12 years of education typically, eat out once a month, have hot and cold water indoors, can afford a car.
Just 200 years ago, 85% of the world population was still on Level 1, in extreme poverty.
Human beings have a strong dramatic instinct toward binary thinking, a basic urge to divide things into two distinct groups, with nothing but an empty gap between. We love to dichotomize. Good vs Bad. Heroes vs Villans. My country vs the rest.
There are three common warning signs that someone might be telling you (or you might be telling yourself) an over dramatic gap story and triggering your gap instinct. Let’s call them comparisons of averages, comparisons of extremes, and the view from up here.
Comparison of Averages
Averages mislead by hiding a spread (a range of different numbers) in a single number.
Comparison of Extremes
Chapter 1 Summary:
Factfulness is… recognizing when a story talks about a gap, and remembering that this paints a picture of two separate groups, with a gap in between. The reality ifs often not polarized at all. Usually the majority is right there in the middle, where the gap is supposed to be.
To control the gap instinct, look for the majority:
- Beware comparisons of averages. If you could check the spreads you would probably find they overlap. There is probably no gap at all.
- Beware comparisons of extremes. In all groups, of countries or people, there are some at the top and some at the bottom. The difference is sometimes extremely unfair. But even then the majority is usually somewhere in between, right where the gap is supposed to be.
- The view from up here. Remember, looking down from above distorts the view. Everything else looks equally short, but it’s not.
Chapter 2 The Negativity Instinct
This chapter is about the negativity instinct: our tendancy to notice the bad more than the good. “Things are getting worse,” is the statement about the world that I hear more than any other.
In the year 1800, roughly 85% of humanity lived on Level 1, in extreme poverty. The majority of the world population was on Level 1 until the year 1966 when it was 50%. It is now below 9%.
The average life expectancy across the world today is 72.
[scan pgs 60-64]
Selective Reporting: Stories about gradual improvements rarely make the front page even when they occur on a dramatic scale and impact millions of people.
Educating girls has proven to be one of the world’s best-ever ideas.
Chapter 2 Summary
Factfulness is recognizing when we get negative new, and remembering that information about bad events is much more likely to reach us. When things are getting better we often don’t hear about them. This gives us a systematically too-negative impression of the world around us, which is very stressful To control the negativity instinct, expect bad news.
- Better and bad. Practice distinguishing between a level (e.g. bad) and a direction of change (e.g. better). Convince yourself that things can be both better and bad.
- Good news is not news. Good news is almost never reported. So news is almost always bad. When you see bad news, ask whether equally positive news would have reached you.
- Gradual improvement is not news. When a trend is gradually improving, with periodic dips, you are more likely to notice the dips than the overall improvement.
- More news does not equal more suffering. More bad news is sometimes due to better surveillance of suffering, not a worsening world.
- Beware of rosy pasts. People often glorify their early experiences, and nations often glorify theiry histories.
Chapter 3 The Straight Line Instinct
UN experts expect that in the year 2100 there will be 2 billion children, the same number as today. They expect no further increase.
Factfulness is … recognizing the assumption that a line will just continue straight, and remembering that such lines are rare in reality.To control the straight line instinct, remember that curves come in different shapes.Don’t assume straight lines. Many trends do not follow straight lines but are S-bends, slides, humps, or doubling lines. No child ever kep up the rate of growth it achieved in its first six months.
Chapter 4 The Fear Instinct
Yet here’s the paradox: the image of a dangerous world has never been broadcast more effectively than it is now, while the world has never been less violent and more safe.
If we look at the fact behind the headlines, we can see how the fear instinct systematically distorts what we see of the world.
The drop in deaths per capita has fallen to just 6 percent of what it was 100 years ago.
In 1986 there were 64,000 nuclear warheads in the world; today there are 15,000.
People escaped the province [of Fukushima Japan] as fast as they could, but 1,600 more people died. It was not the leaking radioactivity that killed them. Not one person has yet been reported as having died from the very thing that people were fleeing from. These 1,600 people died because they escaped. they were mainly old people who died because of the mental and physical stresses of the evacuation itself or of life in evacuation shelters. It wasn’t radioactivity, but the fear of radioactivity that killed them. (Even after the worst-ever nuclear accident, Chernobyl in 1986, when most people expected a huge increase in the death rate, the WHO investigators could not confirm this, even among those living in the area.)
This means that a fact-based understanding of topics like childhood vaccinations, nuclear power, and DDT is still extremely difficult today. The memory of insufficient regulation has created automatic mistrust and fear, which blocks the ability to hear data-driven arguments. I will try anyway.
Terrorism is one of the exceptions to the global trends discussed in chapter 2 on negativity. It is getting worse. So are you right to b e very scared of it? Well, first of all it accounted for 0.05 percent of all deaths in the world in 2016, so probably not. Second, it depends where you live.
It was on Levels, 1, 2, and 3 that there was a terrible increase in terror-related deaths. Most of that increase was in five countries: Iraq (which accounted for almost half of the increase), Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria.
On US soil, 3,172 people died from terrorism over the last 20 years – an average of 159 a year. During those same years, alcohol contributed to the death of 1.4 million people in the United States – an average of 69,000 a year.
In the United States, the risk that your loved one will be killed by a drunk person is nearly 50 times higher than the risk he or she will be killed by a terrorist.
Factfulness is … recognizing when frightening things get our attention, and remembering that these are not necessarily the most risky. Our natural fears of violence, captivity, and contamination make us systematically overestimate these risks.
To control the fear instinct, calculate the risks.
- The scary world: fear vs. reality. The world seems scarier than it is because what you hear about it has been selected – by your own attention filter or by the media – precisely because it is scary.
- Risk = danger x exposure. The risk something poses to you depends not on how scared it makes you feel, but on a combination of two things. How dangerous is it? And how much are you exposed to it?
- Get calm before you carry on. When you are afraid, you see the world differently. Make as few decisions as possible until the panic has subsided.
Chapter 5 The Size Instinct
Paying too much attention to the individual visible victim rather than to the numbers can lead us to spend all our resources on a fraction of the problem, and therefore save many fewer lives. This principle applies anywhere we are prioritizing scarce resources.
In the test questions about global proportions, people consistently say about 20 percent of people are having their basic needs met. The correct answer in most cases is close to 80 percent or even 90 percent. Proportion of children vaccinated: 88 percent. Proportion of people with electricity: 85 percent. Proportion of girls in primary school: 90 percent.
The data shows that half the increase in child survival in the world happens because the mothers can read and write.
Oil+coal+gas give us 87 percent of our energy.
If the UN forecasts for population growth are correct, and if incomes in Asia and Africa keep growing as now, then the center of gravity of the world market will shift over the next 20 years from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. Today, the people living in rich countries around the North Atlantic, who represent 11 percent of the world population, make up 60 percent of the Level 4 consumer market. Already by 2027, if incomes keep growing worldwide as they are doing now, then that figure will have shrunk to 50 percent. By 2040, 60 percent of Level 4 consumers will live outside the West. Yes, I think the Western domination of the world economy will soon be over.
To get the child mortality rate, we divide the number of deaths (14.4 million) by the number of births (97 million). That comes out to 15%. So in 1950, out of every 100 babies who were born, 15 died before their first birthday.
In 2016, 141 million children were born and 4.2 million died. Dividing the number of births by the number of deaths comes out to just 3%. [Child mortality in 2016 is just 3%]
Factfulness is … recognizing when a lonely number seems impressive (small or large), and remembering that you could get the opposite impression if it were compared with or divided by some other relevant number.
To control the size instinct, get things in proportion.
- Compare. Big numbers always look big. Single numbers on their own are misleading and should make you suspicious. Always look for comparisons. Ideally, divide by something.
- 80/20. Have you been given a long list? Look for the few largest items and deal with those first. They are quite likely more important than all the others put together.
- Divide. Amounts and rates can tell very different stories. Rates are more meaningful, especially when comparing between different sized groups. In particular, look for rates per person when comparing between countries or regions.
Chapter 6 The Generalization Instinct
The gap instinct divides the world into “us” and “them,” and the generalization instinct makes “us” think of “them” as all the same.
The main factor that affects how people live is not their religion, their culture, or the country they live in, but their income.
It makes no sense to talk about “African countries” and “Africa’s problems” and yet people do, all the time. It leads to ridiculous outcomes like Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone affecting tourism in Kenya, a 100 hour drive across the continent. That is farther than London to Tehran.
If someone offers you a single example and wants to draw conclusions about a group, ask for more examples. Or flip it over: ask whether an opposite example would make you draw the opposite conclusion. If you are happy to conclude that all chemicals are unsafe on the basis of one unsafe chemical, would you be prepared to conclude that all chemicals are safe on the basis of one safe chemical.
Factfulness is … recognizing when a category is being used in an explanation, and remembering that categories can be misleading. We can’t stop generalization and we shouldn’t even try. What we should try to do is avoid generalizing incorrectly.
- Look for differences within groups. Especially when the groups are large, look for ways to split them into smaller, more precise categories.
- Look for similarities across groups. If you find striking similarities between different groups, consider whether your categories are relevant.
- Look for differences across groups. Do not assume that what applies for one group applies for another.
- Beware of “the majority”. The majority just means more than half. Ask whether it means 51 percent, 99 percent, or something in between.
- Beware of vivid examples. Vivid images are easier to recall but they might be the exception rather than the rule.
- Assume people are not idiots. When something looks strange, be curious and humble, and think, In what way is this a smart solution?
Chapter 7 The Destiny Instinct
The destiny instinct is the idea that innate characteristics determine the destinies of people, countries, religions, or cultures. It’s the idea that things are as they are for ineluctable, inescapable reasons: they have always been this way and will never change.
Thirty year women have on average spent nine years in school, just one year less than men.
Today Muslim women have on average 3.1 children. Christian women have 2.7. There is no major difference between the birth rates of the great world religions.
Today a stunning 15% of the Earth’s surface is protected, and the number is still climbing.
But look at how quickly attitudes to homosexuality have changed [in the US]. In 1996, a minority of 27% supported same-sex marriage. Today that number is 72% and rising.
Factfulness is … recognizing that man things (including people, countries, religions, and cultures) appear to be constant just because the change is hapening slowly, and remembering that even small, slow changes gradually add up to big changes.
To control the destiny instinct, remember slow change is still change.
- Keep track of gradual improvements. A small change every year can translate to a huge change over decades.
- Update your knowledge. Some knowledge goes out of date quickly. Technology, countries, societies, cultures, and religions are constantly changing.
- Talk to Grandpa. If you want to be reminded of how values have changed, think about your grandparents values and how they differ from yours.
- Collect examples of cultural change. Challenge the idea that today’s culture must also have been yesterday’s, and will also be tomorrows.
Chapter 8 The Single Perspective Instinct
Single perspective instinct: a preference for single causes and single solutions.
For example, the simple and beautiful idea of the free market can lead to the simplistic idea that all problems have a single cause – government interference – which we must always oppose; and that the solution to all problems is to liberate market forces by reducing taxes and removing regulations, which we must always support. Alternatively, the simple and beautiful idea of equality can lead to the simplitic idea that all problems are caused by inequality, which we should always oppose; and that the solution to all problems is redistribution of resources, which we should always support.
Just as Cuba is the poorest of the healthy because of its commitment to a single idea, the United States is the sickest of the rich.
The United States spends more than twice as much per capita on health care as other capitalist countries on Level 4 – around $9,400 compared to around $3,600 – and for that money its citizens can expect lives that are three years shorter. The United States spends more per capita on health care than any other country in the world, but 39 countries have longer life expectancies.
Instead of comparing themselves with extreme socialist regimes, US citizens should be asking why they cannot achieve the same levels of health, for the same cost, as other capitalist countries that have similar resources. The answer is not difficult, but the way: it is the absence of the basic public health insurance that citizens of most other countries on Level 4 take for granted. Under the current US system, rich, insured patients visit doctors more than they need, running up costs, while poor patients cannot afford even simple, inexpensive treatments and die younger than they should. Doctors spend time that could be used to save lives or treat illness providing unnecessary, meaningless care. What a tragic waste of physician time.
Even Democracy is Not the Single Solution
This is risky, but I am going to argue it anyway. I strongly believe that liberal democracy is the best way to run a country. People like me, who believe this, are often tempted to argue that democracy leads to, or is even a requirement for, other good things, like peace, social progress, health improvements, and economic growth. But here’s the things, and it is hard to accept: the evidence does not support this stance.
Most countries that make great economic and social progress are not democracies. South Korea moved from Level 1 to Level 3 faster than any country had ever done (without finding oil), all the time as a military dictatorship. Of the ten countries with the fastest economic growth in the years 2012-2016, nine of them score low on democracy.
Anyone who claims that democracy is a necessity for economic growth and health improvements will risk getting contradicted by reality. It’s better to argue for democracy as a goal in itself instead of a as a superior means to other goals we like.
Factfulness is … recognizing that a single perspective can limit your imagination, and remembering that it is better to look at problems from many angles to get a more accurate understanding and find practical solutions.
To control the single perspective instinct, get a toolbox, not a hammer.
- Test your ideas. Don’t only collect examples that show how excellent your favorite ideas are. Have people who disagree with you test your ideas and find their weaknesses.
- Limited expertise. Don’t claim expertise beyond your field: be humble about what you don’t know. Be aware too of the limits of the expertise of others.
- Hammers and nails. If you are good with a tool, you may want to use it too often. If you have analyzed a problem in depth, you can end up exaggerating the importance of that problem or of your solution. remember that no one tool is good for everything. If you favorite idea is a hammer, look for colleagues with screwdrivers, wrenches, and tape measure. Be open to ideas from other fields.
- Numbers, but not only numbers. The world cannot be understood without numbers, and it cannot be understood with numbers alone. Love numbers for what they tell you about real lives.
- Beware of simple ideas and simple solutions. History is full of visionaries who used simple Utopian visions to justify terrible actions. Welcome complexity. Combine ideas. Compromise. Solve problems on a case-by-case basis.
Chapter 9 The Blame Instinct
The blame instinct is the instinct to find a clear, simple reason for why something bad has happened.
We like to believe that things happen because someone wanted them to, that individuals have power and agency: otherwise, the world feels unpredictable, confusing, and frightening.
Blaming an airplane crash on a sleepy pilot will not help to stop future crashes. To do that, we must ask: Why was he sleepy? How can we regulate against sleepy pilots in the future? If we stop thinking when we find the sleepy pilot, we make no progress. To understand most of the world’s significant problems we have to look beyond a guilty individual and to the system. #rootcause
If you really want to change the world you have to understand it.
Why does the media present such a distorted picture of the world? Do journalists really mean to give us a distorted picture? Or could there be another expaination? (I am not getting into the debate about deliberately manufactured fake news. That is something else altogether and nothing to do with journalism. And by the way, I do not believe that fake news is the major culprit for our distorted worldview: we haven’t only just started to get the world wrong, I think we have always got it wrong.)
In 2015, 4,000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea as they tried to reach Europe in inflatable boats.
The cost was 1,000 euros per person for a seat on the inflatable death traps.
Perhaps they could not afford to fly? … there were plenty of tickets from Turkey to Sweden or from Libya to London for under 50 euros.
And they can afford a ticket, and the planes are not overbooked. But at the check-in counter, they are stopped by the airline staff from getting onto the plane. Why? Because of a European Council Directive from 2001 that tell member states how to combat illegal immigration. this directive says that every airline or ferry company that brings a person without proper documents into Europe must pay all the costs of returning that person to their country of origin. Of course the directive also says that it doesn’t apply to refugees who want to come to Europe fbased on their rights to asylum under the Geneva Convention, only to illegal immigrants. But that claim is meaningless. Because how should someone at the check-in desk at an airline be able to work out in 45 seconds whether someone is a refugee or is not a refugee according to the Geneva Convention?
Refugees from Syria, with the theoretical right to enter Europe under the Geneva Convention, are therefore in practice completely unable to travel by air and so must come over sea.
Most of the human-emitted CO2, accumulated in the atmosphere was emitted over the last 50 years by countries that are now on Level 4. Canada’s per capita CO2 emissions are still twice as high as China’s and eight times as high as India’s. In fact, do you know how much of all the fossil fuel burned each year is burned by the richest billion? More than half of it.
Most often when I show the low birth numbers in Asia, someone says, “That must be because of [their] one child policy.” But the huge, fast drop from six to three babies per woman had happened in the ten years preceding the one-child policy. And during the 36 years the policy was in place, the number never fell below 1.5, though it did in many other countries without enforcement, like Ukraine, Thailand, and South Korea.
Factfulness is … recognizing when a scapegoat is being used and remembering that blaming and individual often steals the focus from other possible explanations and blocks our ability to prevent similar problems in the future.
To control the blame instinct, resist finding a scapegoat.
- Look for causes, not villains. When something goes wrong don’t look for an individual or a group to blame, Accept that bad things can happen without anyone intending them to. Instead spend your energy on understanding the multiple interacting causes, or systems, that created the situation.
- Look for systems, not heroes. When someone claims to have cause something good, ask whether the outcome might have happened anyway, even if that individual had done nothing. Give the system some credit.
Chapter 10 The Urgency Instinct
“Act now, or lose the chance forever.” They are deliberately triggering your urgency instinct. The call to action makes you think less critically, decide more quickly, and act now. Relax. It’s almost never true. It’s almost never that urgent, and it’s almost never an either/or.
We do not seem to have a similar instinct to act when faced with risks that are far off in the future. In fact, in the face of future risks, we can be pretty slothful. That is why so few people save enough for their retirement.
This attitude toward future risk is a big problem for activists who are working on long timescales. How can they wake us up? How can they galvanize us into action? Very often, it is by convincing us that an uncertain future risk is actually a sure immediate risk, that we have a historic opportunity to solve an important problem and it must be tackled now or never: that is, b y triggering the urgency instinct.
This method sure can make us act but it can also create unnecessary stress and poor decisions. It can also drain credibility and trust from their cause. The constant alarms make us numb to real urgency. The activists who present things s more urgent than they are, wanting to call us to action, are boys crying wold. And we remember how that story ends: with a field full of dead sheep.
Exaggeration undermines the credibility of well-founded data.
I insisted [to Al Gore when presenting data on climate change data] that I would never show the worst-case line without showing the probable and best-case lines as well.
Thanks to great satellite images, we can track North Pole ice cap on a daily basis.
If you can’t track progress, you don’t know whether your actions are working. #OODA #qualityassurance
When a problem seems urgent the first thing to do is not to cry wolf, but to organize the data.
A long jumper is not allowed to measure her own jumps. A problem-solving organization should not be allowed to decide what data to publish either. The people trying to solve a problem on the ground, who will always want more funds, should not also be the people measuring progress. That can lead to really misleading numbers.
Data must be used to tell the truth, not to call to action, no matter how noble the intentions.
Urgency is one of the worst disasters of our worldview. The overdramatic worldview in people’s heads creates a constant sense of crisis and stress. The urgent “now or never” feelings it creates lead to stress or apathy: “We must do something drastic. Let’s not analze. Let’s do something.” Or, “It’s all hopeless. There’s nothing we can do. Time to give up.” Either way, we stop thinking, give in to our instincts, and make bad decisions.
The Five Global Risks We Should Worry About
The Spanish flu that spread across the world in the wake of the First World War killed 50 million people – more people than the war had, although that was partly because the populations were already weakened after four years of war. As a result, global life expectancy fell by ten years, from 33 to 23.
An airborne disease like flu, with the ability to spread very fast, constitutes a greater threat to humanity than diseases like Ebola or HIV/AIDS.
World War III
The richest countries emit by far the most CO2, and must start improving first before wasting time pressuring others.
Factfulness is … recognizing when a decision feels urgent and remembering that it rarely is. To control the urgency instinct, take small steps.
- Take a breath. When your urgency instinct is triggered, your other instinct kick in a and your analysis shuts down. Ask for more time and more information. It’s rarely now or never and it’s rarely either/or.
- Insist on the data. If something is urgent and important, it should be measured. Beware of data that is relevant but inaccurate, or accurate but irrelevant. Only relevant and accurate data is useful.
- Beware of fortune-tellers. Any prediction about the future is uncertain. Be wary of predictions that fail to acknowledge that. Insist on a full range of scenarios, never just the best or worst case. Ask how often such predictions have been right before.
- Be wary of drastic action. Ask what the side effects will be. Ask how the idea has been tested. Step-by-step practical improvements, and evaluation of their impact, are less dramatic but usually more effective.
Chapter 11 Factfulness In Practice
- We should be teaching our children that there are countries on all different levels of health and income and that most are in the middle.
- We should be teaching them about their own country’s socioeconomic position in relation to the rest of the world, and how that is changing.
- We should be teaching them how their own country progressed through the income levels to get to where it is now, and how to use that knowledge to understand what life is like in other countries today.
- We should be teaching them that people are moving up the income levels and most things are improving for them.
- We should be teaching them what life was really like in the past so that they do not mistakenly think that no progress has been made.
- We should be teaching them how to hold the two ideas at the same time: that bad things are going on in the world, but that many things are getting better.
- We should be teaching them that cultural and religious stereotypes are useless for understanding the world.
- We should be teaching them how to consume the news and spot the drama without becoming stressed or hopeless.
- We should be teaching them the common ways that people will try to trick them with numbers.
- We should be teaching them that the world will keep changing and they will have to update their knowledge and worldview throughout their lives.