What if we carried only the opinions for which we have strong facts? This is a nutshell is the legacy of statistician Hans Rosling.
Many opinions, assumptions, hypotheses, and conjectures remain such until we can find evidence to back them up. For example, everything is not getting worse, despite the gloom and doom headlines, more people are in the middle than at the extremes — think bell curve. These are among the few rules of thumb Hans and Ola Rosling have introduced with their work.
A side benefit of adopting the stress-reducing habit Rosling recommends is the ability to see and understand the big picture more clearly. The term “factfulness” is a short hand to mean “possibilist” and describes an appeal to logic recognizing that things can be both bad and better.
It's a useful approach to filter the avalanche of messages coming at us in social media and conversations with others. To have high-resolution conversations, we should find evidence and ground the information we use in real data. Evidence is empowering — it helps build credibility.
People often call me an optimist, because I show them the enormous progress they didn't know about. This makes me angry. I'm not an optimist. That makes me sound naive.
I'm a very serious 'possibilist.' That's something I made up. It means someone who neither hopes without reason, nor fears without reason, someone who constantly resists the overdramatic worldview.
As a possibilist, I see all this progress, and it fills me with conviction and hope that future progress is possible. This is not optimistic. It is having a clear and reasonable idea about how things are. It is having a worldview that is constructive and useful.
Possible based on data. Rosling's book Factfulness is publishing posthumously thanks to the work of his son and daughter-in-law to complete the manuscript. “If you have a fact-based worldview of today, you might have a chance to understand what's coming next in the future,” says Ola.
The book is already among one of the most important readings recommended by Bill and Melinda Gates.
Hans Rosling who was a medical doctor and professor of international health and renowned public educator dedicated the last years of his life to writing this book. As an adviser to the World Health Organization and UNICEF and co-founded Médecins sans Frontières in Sweden and the Gapminder Foundation he had a deep reservoir of data from which to draw.
“This book is my last battle in my life-long mission to fight devastating ignorance… Previously I armed myself with huge data sets, eye-opening software, an energetic learning style and a Swedish bayonet for sword-swallowing. It wasn’t enough. But I hope this book will be.”
Learning to identify the things that matter is critical to making an impact and yes, leaving a legacy. Ultimately, we're all limited in what we can accomplish, so it makes sense to focus our energy on the things that have the most potential for us to make an impact.
One of the most eye-opening, opinion changing books I have ever read, pre-order Factfulness now.