Thursday, April 30, 2020

Factfulness Book Report

The book I chose to read was Factfulness by Hans Rosling. It was a fascinating read about how the world is not really the way we view it; most people’s worldview is severely outdated even though they have access to newer information. Rosling put together lectures and TED talks and tried to show the people who attended how much better off the world is than people think it is. He discovered the ten instincts that people have when it comes to how we view the world and he details them all in his book.
Rosling talks about the Generalization Instinct and how it causes people to make generalizations that can distort our worldview and causes people to divide the world into “us” and “them”. Generalizations are important because they allow us to categorize things, recognize them as being similar, and help us structure our thoughts but the problem with generalizing is that it causes people to overlook certain groups. The best ways to avoid incorrect generalizations is to look for differences within and across groups because you want to split them into more specific categories but also realize that what works for one won’t necessarily work for another, look for similarities across groups because people are more similar than we realize, always beware of the majority because it could just mean 51% which causes you to miss out on the other 49% of people, beware of vivid examples because they aren’t necessarily the standard, and never assume people are idiots just because they don’t come to the same conclusion as you.
In the Gap Instinct, Rosling details the four income levels that he came up with to replace the terms “developed” and “developing” countries. Level one is the lowest income level, they make $1 a day and live in extreme poverty, they can’t afford medicine or to eat food they didn’t grow themselves. Level 2 makes $4 a day, they can afford to buy food they didn’t have to grow and they can save money to buy things like sandals and mattresses. Level 3 makes $16 a day and they can buy a fridge that allows them to store food, their savings are enough to cover medical expenses and not risk falling a level. And level 4 is the highest level, and they make $64 a day, they are the rich consumer, have several years of education and can afford vacations.
The Destiny Instinct is in my opinion the most dangerous one. To believe that one’s lot in life is fated to never change and always be the same is dangerous because you’ll allow yourself to get stuck somewhere in your life that you do not want to be. And culture is not unchanging or unchangeable, cultures move, and they adapt to new things, but they aren’t always so easy to see. People assume that Africa is destined to remain poor and lag behind the rest of the world, as a continent Africa is far behind the rest of the world currently but looking at the individual countries, you see that many of them are not doing too badly. In the whole of Africa, the average lifespan of a newborn is 65 while in Western Europe the average is 82, but averages can be misleading and there are many African countries that have life expectancies above the world average of 72. They are changing and will continue to change, no one is destined to be stuck anywhere.
Reading Factfulness changed my worldview entirely. I always thought of the world as either “developed” countries and “developing” countries, because that’s how it is portrayed in the news. And improvements and new developments in poorer countries are rarely reported in the news, usually only the worst news is reported. It’s great to know that the world is not in the terrible state we all think it’s in.

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