Thursday, April 30, 2020

Factfulness Book Report

Factfulness is a unique and interesting read. Hans Rosling doesn't just throw in big facts and statistics in his book to prove a point, but he actually analyzes the changes in those statistics to reveal the truth about certain topics. I really enjoyed this book because Hans uses a lot of slow thinking and critical thinking to explain his reasoning and prove a point rather than using fast thinking and just giving readers scary looking statistics to make them assume something. Hans uses this slow thinking technique to break down many of the issues that most people don't truly understand because of fast thinking. The author helps readers understand the topic and how to view it in slow thinking rather than fast thinking and it makes the reader realize how close minded fast thinking, stereotyping, assuming, etc.. could be.

One part of this book that really stuck with me was in chapter 2 when Hans was explaining the negativity instinct. The negativity instinct is recognizing the bad more than the good. Hans explains how things have gotten a lot better in this world over the past 100 years. For example, more females being educated, less people with less food, higher life expectancy, etc... but he explains how people notice dips in the incline a lot more than overall increase. Even with bad things going on, it is important to recognize the progress being made. This is so true and can be seen very easily today. With everything going on with the Corona virus, all I keep seeing on the news and on social media is about how people are dying and how they can't see their loved ones, but almost nowhere do you see the news reporting about how the spread has decreased, they are opening places back up, and they are nearing a vaccine. The author suggests that to control this negativity instinct and to realize that things aren't as bad as our fast thinking mind makes them out to be, we should always be prepared for bad news.

Another concept Hans covered that I enjoyed was the fear instinct. Hans explains that how sometimes things that aren't even necessarily that risky to us still frighten us more than it should. Our natural fears of physical danger, captivity and contamination causes us to panic and overestimate the danger/risks in certain things. I know this to be true because I see it in society all the time and I even see it even in myself. In society people are overly afraid of a terrorist attack or school shooting, which is so unlikely to happen, but people are willing to surrender their freedom to bear arms because of fear. I also see it in myself when I panic for a quiz I know i'm going to get 100 on. Fear is a natural feeling meant to protect us. When it stops protecting us and starts only causing stress is when it becomes counterproductive. We overestimate how bad things are and we do not think clearly when we are scared. To control this fear, truly calculate the risks. The world seems scarier than it really is.

One of the most important concepts that Hans covers is about the density instinct and realizing that slow change is still change. He explains how many people see "third world countries" to be "stuck" where they are and that their poverty and quality of living will never improve. That is both negative and simply not true. Yes, these countries may not be developing as quickly as other well off countries in the past, but the difference in certain countries like Afghanistan in the past 10 years has been monumental, with more women slowly gaining more rights and the overall quality of life improving. To control the density instinct, update your knowledge and realize that slow improvement could amount to a lot.

There are many great lessons to be learnt from this book and thinking slowly. Humans are so controlled by and used to their patterned, generalized and stereotypical fast thinking that it can be really hard to rewire your brain to think without "blinders. "Blinders" being all the assumptions, stereotypes and fast thinking that your brain is used to doing that narrows  thinking. People need to stop generalizing everything and just see things for how they are without a negative pre-existing filter. If people stopped and thought critically when they saw new information instead of just thinking fast and going straight to their stereotypes and generalizing, we would have a much more productive and peaceful world.

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