Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Factfulness by Hans Roslin talks about the experiences Hans himself has gone through as times have changed from his childhood up to 2018. Through that time, he has learned to look at things in a more rational way instead of becoming paranoid when bad news pop up. What he teaches his readers to do is to have introspection so they can realize the 10 instincts, or I should call them 10 flaws, that we all have and how to properly work our way around them to notice that the world, in reality, is getting better, not worse.
The 10 instincts, or flaws are: The Gap Instinct, The Negativity Instinct, The Straight Line Instinct, The Fear Instinct, The Size Instinct, The Generalization Instinct, The Destiny Instinct, The Single Perspective Instinct, The Blame Instinct, The Urgency Instinct. The overall idea of these instincts is that humans should learn to remain objective and not paranoid upon hearing news in the media as it is often more bombarded in bad news than good news (Roslin explains why it makes sense and it's profitable for the news channels to broadcast bad news more often than good ones). One of the interesting things of the book is how he approaches us. He first explains how things were back in the 19th century and mid 20th century, mostly citing Sweden as an example of how progress is a slow process and that most countries today are going through that transition of better life quality for humanity across all four levels of income.
My favorite chapter of the book is Chapter 8: The Single Perspective Instinct, because in one of the stories he tells he's explaining how people were not willing to give up information about their income level when taking a test for sexually transmitted diseases. People reacted evasively saying "Why are you asking us this? That is an extremely private question."  However, a few years later Roslin asked a team at the World Bank to organize a global income survey for random people to fill out. These surveys included the questions about sexual activity of the participants. Not surprisingly, people were happy to talk about their income, but they wouldn't answer anything about their sexual activity. I love the reasoning he used behind this saying "It's strange where people end up drawing their lines and how well behaved they feel if they stay inside their boxes." I believe this story most closely resembles Heuristic #40: Ignoring Frames because "how a problem is framed determines our choices
more than purely rational considerations would imply" in other words, if we approach people in a way that makes them feel more exposed based on how unrelated the question is to the main question, they'll feel wary about answering it or if they feel it has a negative connotation within that context. As a whole, the book is mostly related to the topic of Heuristics and Mass Delusions because the human emotions are triggered with all the negative news often portrayed in TV or internet thus making it easier for people to really believe that the world is becoming more dangerous and worse. Fact is that the world is really getting better.
People just need to do the math; the statistics speak for themselves. and most importantly not forget "what life was really like in the past so that they do not mistakenly think that no progress has been made." If people read this book, they will learn to see the world in a way they never thought about. They'll learn to look at things more objectively and remain calm while also acknowledging that bad things are happening, but that many things are also getting better. In chapter 10, Roslin teaches us that The Urgency Instinct triggers a cascading effect that makes us more prone to react with our 9 other Instincts wrongfully. In reality, most of our everyday decisions are rarely urgent. So take small steps, breathe and think critically.
Hans Roslin points out that we should only carry strong opinion on things that are based on fact. Thinking this way is a very relaxing and easier way of living since you won't run across bad surprises. Watch this clip to learn to think in the Factfulness Mindset: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw0qTj2tfqM

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