Monday, August 7, 2023

Book Report: Factfulness by Hans and Anna Rosling

General Overview: 

Factfulness is a book written by Anna and Hans Rosling. This book dives into how the majority of people look at the world and how the way they look at it is oftentimes incorrect or overestimated. It discusses how people tend to think about certain things such as fear, looking at the negative aspects of the world, generalizing groups, and misjudgment. After each concept that the authors discussed, they would give tips or ideas of how people can deal with these instincts. It seems as though the media is much to blame for these instincts that occur with many people. 

Favorite Part:

I found the chapter about the negativity instinct to be the most interesting and my personal favorite part. I feel as though this is something that is very common today with the media. When watching news networks it seems as though more and more bad things just continue to happen. The book mentions how bad news tends to stick with us more also. The book also mentions how people have a bad habit of overestimating. For example, if one were to look at the news and see that a plane had crashed, they’d likely start to believe that flying isn’t safe and that it might happen to them. But the news isn’t covering the 10s of thousands of flights that had actually made it to their destination safely. The bad news reaches the people easier and their negativity instinct kicks in and they look at something a lot worse than it actually is. 


    The content that we’ve learned throughout this course that I’d relate this book to the most is fast thinking. In the lecture Ways of Thinking, we learned about fast thinking and how “we think like this automatically and effortlessly. The biases and fallacies relating to fast thinking such as The Halo Effect, In Group Bias, The Gambler's Fallacy, and Black and White all relate a lot to the content of the book. The book talks about the different types of instincts that we have as humans and how they often happen automatically. 


    For Factfulness, it seemed to me as though a lot of these instincts come from the news networks constantly providing people with information about violent acts which triggers the Fear and Negativity instincts, or things a certain group of people are doing which triggers the Generalization or Size instincts, or even when listening to how biased most news networks are with politics whether it’s Fox or CNN which might trigger the Single Perspective or Blame instincts. I found a video that I thought was interesting where a man, Rolf Dobelli, completely cut out paying attention to the news and how it affected his life. 


    There are a couple real life problems that this book's information could possibly help with solving. The negativity instinct and fear instinct chapters can bring awareness to the sort of hysteria that occurs in the United States through the media outlets. It can also maybe, help the public with dealing with the information that they are provided with. The negativity chapter tells us how there is always good and bad in the world simultaneously and how we should always keep that in mind. The negativity in the world seems to spread like wildfire and reach us more often than the positivity leaving us with the idea that only bad things are happening. The same thing applies to the fear instinct. The authors stated that the image of a dangerous world has never been broadcast more effectively while the world is less violent and more safe than ever. I do believe that many people see all of these violent acts happening in the world and believe that the chances that it happens to them is a lot higher than it really is. It is a sad thing and can be scary if you are looking at it like that but in reality, the percentage of people that actually go through those things in America is very very low compared to the whole population. The authors recommend that to control the fear instinct, calculate the risks of what is triggering the fear. Meaning actually look into the percentage of people who, for example, get stabbed every year in the United States.

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