Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World - And Why Things Are Better Than You Think
Scientists, Chimpanzees, and You
Climate change apart though, it is the same story of massive ignorance
(by which I mean the lack of correct knowledge)
highly educated people who take an interest in the world. But most of them — a stunning majority of them — get most of the answers wrong.
It is not a question of intelligence. Everyone seems to get the world devastatingly wrong.
the humans I have tested get on average just two out of 12 on the same test.
Why Don’t We Beat the Chimpanzees?
How can so many people be so wrong about so much?
When you use the GPS in your car, it is important that it is using the right information
So how could policy makers and politicians solve global problems if they were operating on the wrong facts?
I realized the problem couldn’t simply be that people lacked the knowledge,
Only actively wrong “knowledge” can make us score so badly.
was an upgrade problem:
people who took my tests over the years, did have knowledge, but it was outdated,
So, to eradicate ignorance, or so I concluded, I needed to upgrade people’s knowledge.
started to develop animated graphs.
The ignorance we kept on finding was not just an upgrade problem. It couldn’t be fixed simply by providing clearer data animations
after the lecture, they were still stuck in their old negative worldview.
Why was the dramatic worldview so persistent? Could the media be to blame?
at the World Economic Forum
This top international audience who would spend the next few days explaining the world to each other did indeed know more than the general public about poverty.
But on the other two questions, about future population growth and the availability of basic primary health care, they still did worse than the chimps.
Their ignorance could not possibly be down to an outdated worldview. Yet even they were getting the basic facts about the world wrong.
Our Dramatic Instincts and the Overdramatic Worldview
Things are bad, and it feels like they are getting worse, right?
I call it the overdramatic worldview.
It’s stressful and misleading.
Step - by - step, year - by - year, the world is improving.
Though the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress. This is the fact - based worldview.
if your worldview is wrong, then you will systematically make wrong guesses.
the overdramatic worldview is so difficult to shift because it comes from the very way our brains work.
illusions don’t happen in our eyes, they happen in our brains.
Our brains often jump to swift conclusions without much thinking, which used to help us to avoid immediate dangers.
We have many instincts that used to be useful thousands of years ago, but we live in a very different world now.
our quick - thinking brains and cravings for drama — our dramatic instincts — are causing misconceptions and an overdramatic worldview.
we need to learn to control our drama intake.
Factfulness and the Fact - Based Worldview
it is data as therapy. It is understanding as a source of mental peace. Because the world is not as dramatic as it seems.
CHAPTER ONE: THE GAP INSTINCT
“It’s not the numbers that are interesting. It’s what they tell us about the lives behind the numbers,”
The Mega Misconception That “The World Is Divided in Two”
the first of our ten dramatic instincts, the gap instinct. I’m talking about that irresistible temptation we have to divide all kinds of things into two distinct and often conflicting groups, with an imagined gap — a huge chasm of injustice — in between.
By dividing the world into two misleading boxes — poor and rich — it completely distorts all the global proportions in people’s minds.
Hunting Down the First Mega Misconception
The bubble chart became our weapon of choice in our battle to dismantle the misconception that “the world is divided into two.”
What’s Wrong with This Picture?
It doesn’t really matter which terms people use to describe the world, as long as the words create relevant pictures in their heads and mean something with a basis in reality.
The chart on the next page shows babies per woman and child survival rates for all countries.
This picture clearly shows a world divided into two groups, with a gap in the middle.
Why did I give my student who referred to “us and them” such a hard time?
Because this picture shows the world in 1965 !
The picture below shows what the world looks like today.
The world has completely changed.
Only 13 countries, representing 6 percent of the world population, are still inside the “developing” box.
But while the world has changed, the worldview has not,
the world used to be divided into two but isn’t any longer. Today, most people are in the middle. There is no gap
Only 9 percent of the world lives in low - income countries.
those countries are not nearly as terrible as people think.
The idea of a divided world with a majority stuck in misery and deprivation is an illusion.
Help! The Majority Is Missing
The majority of people live neither in low - income countries nor in high - income countries, but in middle - income countries.
So What Should “We” Call “Them” Instead? The Four Levels
It’s the same misconception: we and them. What should “we” call “them” instead?
dividing countries into two groups. It doesn’t make sense anymore.
One reason the old labels are so popular is that they are so simple.
Instead of dividing the world into two groups I will divide it into four income levels,
most people are living on the two middle levels.
You start on Level 1 with $ 1 per day. Your five children have to spend hours walking barefoot with your single plastic bucket, back and forth, to fetch water from a dirty mud hole an hour’s walk away. On their way home they gather firewood, and you prepare the same gray porridge that you’ve been eating at every meal, every day, for your whole life — except during the months when the meager soil yielded no crops and you went to bed hungry. One day your youngest daughter develops a nasty cough. Smoke from the indoor fire is weakening her lungs. You can’t afford antibiotics, and one month later she is dead. This is extreme poverty. Yet you keep struggling on. If you are lucky and the yields are good, you can maybe sell some surplus crops and manage to earn more than $ 2 a day, which would move you to the next level. Good luck ! (Roughly 1 billion people live like this today.)
You’ve made it. In fact, you’ve quadrupled your income and now you earn $ 4 a day. Three extra dollars every day. What are you going to do with all this money? Now you can buy food that you didn’t grow yourself, and you can afford chickens, which means eggs. You save some money and buy sandals for your children, and a bike, and more plastic buckets. Now it takes you only half an hour to fetch water for the day. You buy a gas stove so your children can attend school instead of gathering wood. When there’s power they do their homework under a bulb. But the electricity is too unstable for a freezer. You save up for mattresses so you don’t have to sleep on the mud floor. Life is much better now, but still very uncertain. A single illness and you would have to sell most of your possessions to buy medicine. That would throw you back to Level 1 again. Another three dollars a day would be good, but to experience really drastic improvement you need to quadruple again. If you can land a job in the local garment industry you will be the first member of your family to bring home a salary. (Roughly 3 billion people live like this today.)
Wow ! You did it ! You work multiple jobs, 16 hours a day, seven days a week, and manage to quadruple your income again, to $ 16 a day. Your savings are impressive and you install a cold - water tap. No more fetching water. With a stable electric line the kids ’ homework improves and you can buy a fridge that lets you store food and serve different dishes each day. You save to buy a motorcycle, which means you can travel to a better - paying job at a factory in town. Unfortunately you crash on your way there one day and you have to use money you had saved for your children’s education to pay the medical bills. You recover, and thanks to your savings you are not thrown back a level. Two of your children start high school. If they manage to finish, they will be able to get better - paying jobs than you have ever had. To celebrate, you take the whole family on its first - ever vacation, one afternoon to the beach, just for fun. (Roughly 2 billion people live like this today.)
You have more than $ 64 a day. You are a rich consumer and three more dollars a day makes very little difference to your everyday life. That’s why you think three dollars, which can change the life of someone living in extreme poverty, is not a lot of money. You have more than twelve years of education and you have been on an airplane on vacation. You can eat out once a month and you can buy a car. Of course you have hot and cold water indoors.
Human history started with everyone on Level 1.
Today the vast majority of people are spread out in the middle, across Levels 2 and 3, with the same range of standards of living as people had in Western Europe and North America in the 1950s.
why is the misconception of a gap between the rich and the poor so hard to change?
because human beings have a strong dramatic instinct toward binary thinking, a basic urge to divide things into two distinct groups, with nothing but an empty gap in between.
We love to dichotomize. Good versus bad.
How to Control the Gap Instinct
Three common warning signs that someone might be telling you
an overdramatic gap story
01. Comparisons of Averages.
02. Any simplification of information may also be misleading.
03. Averages mislead by hiding a spread (a range of different numbers) in a single number.
The majority is usually to be found in the middle, and it tells a very different story.
In reality, even in one of the world’s most unequal countries, there is no gap. Most people are in the middle.
Realize that most of your firsthand experiences are from Level 4; and that your secondhand experiences are filtered through the mass media, which loves nonrepresentative extraordinary events and shuns normality.
CHAPTER TWO: THE NEGATIVITY INSTINCT
The Mega Misconception That “The World Is Getting Worse”
the negativity instinct: our tendency to notice the bad more than the good.
The majority of people think the world is getting worse. No wonder we all feel so stressed.
It’s harder to know about the good things: billions of improvements that are never reported.
over the last 20 years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has almost halved.
until 1966. Until then, extreme poverty was the rule, not the exception.
just 20 years ago, 29 percent of the world population lived in extreme poverty. Now that number is 9 percent.
We should plan a party !
Instead, we are gloomy.
Back in 1800,
life expectancy was roughly 30 years
The average life expectancy across the world today is 70.
The Sweden I was born into in 1948 was where Egypt is on the health - wealth map today.
every country in the world has improved its life expectancy over the last 200 years.
Most things used to be worse, not better. But it is extremely easy for humans to forget how things really did “used to be.”
We are subjected to never - ending cascades of negative news from across the world:
No wonder we get an illusion of constant deterioration. The news constantly alerts us to bad events in the present.
intensified by our inability to remember the past;
When they say the world is getting worse? They are not thinking. They are feeling.
I’m not an optimist. That makes me sound naïve. I’m a very serious “possibilist.”
I see all this progress, and it fills me with conviction and hope that further progress is possible.
When women are educated, all kinds of wonderful things happen in societies.
90 percent of girls of primary school age attend school. For boys, the figure is 92 percent.
I see no conflict between celebrating this progress and continuing to fight for more. I am a possibilist.
How to Control the Negativity Instinct
A solution that works for me is to persuade myself to keep two thoughts in my head at the same time.
that things can be both bad and better.
Does saying “things are improving” imply that everything is fine, and we should all relax and not worry? No,
It’s both bad and better.
Keep in mind that the positive changes may be more common, but they don’t find you. You need to find them.
The evidence about the terrible past is scary, but it is a great resource. It can help us to appreciate what we have today and provide us with hope
I Would Like to Thank … Society
Thanks to my family, free education, and free health care, I made it all the way from that ditch to the World Economic Forum.
CHAPTER THREE: THE STRAIGHT LINE INSTINCT
The Most Frightening Graph I Ever Saw
The Mega Misconception That “The World Population Is Just Increasing and Increasing”
the world population is increasing. Very fast.
But it’s not just increasing. The “just” implies that, if nothing is done, the population will just keep on growing.
85 percent of people picked the fake lines.
The number of future children is the most essential number for making global population forecasts.
The numbers are freely available online, from the UN website, but free access to data doesn’t turn into knowledge without effort.
The Straight Line Instinct
5 billion were added in under 100 years.
our straight line intuition is not always a reliable guide in modern life.
The world population today
it’s growing fast. Still, the growth has already started to slow down,
the curve will flatten out at somewhere between 10 and 12 billion people
The Shape of the Population Curve
the population will keep growing, mainly because there will be more adults.
The radical change that is needed to stop rapid population growth is that the number of children stops growing. And that is already happening.
the annual number of births in the world has already stopped increasing, which means that the period of fast population growth will soon be over.
The 1 billion new adults come not from new children, but from children and young adults who have already been born.
by 2100, world life expectancy will have increased by roughly 11 years, adding 1 billion old people
Until 1800, women gave birth to six children on average.
On average four out of six children died before becoming parents themselves, leaving just two surviving children
There was a balance.
The new balance is nice: the typical parents have two children, and neither of them dies.
The poorest 10 percent combined still have five children on average.
Parents in extreme poverty need many children for the reasons I set out earlier: for child labor but also to have extra children in case some children die.
“Saving poor children just increases the population” sounds correct, but the opposite is true. Delaying the escape from extreme poverty just increases the population.
The only proven method for curbing population growth is to eradicate extreme poverty and give people better lives,
In four decades, Bangladesh has gone from miserable to decent. From Level 1 to Level 2.
How to Control the Straight Line Instinct, or Not All Lines Are Straight
remember that curves naturally come in lots of different shapes.
Many aspects of the world are best represented by curves shaped like an S, or a slide, or a hump, and not by a straight line.
To understand a phenomenon, we need to make sure we understand the shape of its curve.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE FEAR INSTINCT
There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.
None of us has enough mental capacity to consume all the information out there. The question is, what part are we processing and how did it get selected? And what part are we ignoring? The kind of information we seem most likely to process is stories: information that sounds dramatic.
The media can’t waste time on stories that won’t pass our attention filters.
because of our dramatic instincts and the way the media must tap into them to grab our attention, we continue to have an overdramatic worldview.
When people are asked in polls what they are most afraid of,
snakes, spiders, heights, and being trapped in small spaces.
public speaking, needles, airplanes, mice, strangers, dogs, crowds, blood, darkness, fire, drowning, and so on.
Fears of physical harm, captivity, and poison once helped our ancestors survive
You can spot stories about them in the news every day:
These fears are still constructive for people on Levels 1 and 2.
On Levels 3 and 4,
these biological memories probably cause more harm
The media cannot resist tapping into our fear instinct. It is such an easy way to grab our attention
Yet here’s the paradox: the image of a dangerous world has never been broadcast more effectively than it is now, while the world has never been less violent and more safe.
Fears that once helped keep our ancestors alive, today help keep journalists employed.
Natural Disasters: In Times Like These
The death rate is always higher when a disaster hits a country on Level 1,
the number of deaths from acts of nature has dropped far below half.
The reason natural disasters kill so many fewer people today is not that nature has changed. It is that the majority of people no longer live on Level 1.
With more money comes better preparedness.
in 2015 the world was watching the images from Nepal, where 9,000 people had died. During the same ten days, diarrhea from contaminated drinking water also killed 9,000 children across the world. There were no camera teams around as these children fainted in the arms of their crying parents.
40 Million Invisible Planes
2016 was the second safest year in aviation history. That is not newsworthy either.
Second World War, in which 65 million people died.
Today, conflicts and fatalities from conflicts are at a record low.
In 1986 there were 64,000 nuclear warheads in the world; today there are 15,000.
In the 1940s,
DDT’s creator won a Nobel Prize.
A fear of insufficient regulation and of irresponsible companies was ignited and the global environmental movement was born.
the world today has decent chemical and safety regulations
DDT was banned in several countries and aid agencies had to stop using it.
But. As a side effect, we have been left with a level of public fear of chemical contamination that almost resembles paranoia. It is called chemophobia.
This means that a fact - based understanding of topics like childhood vaccinations, nuclear power, and DDT is still extremely difficult today.
The memory of insufficient regulation has created automatic mistrust and fear, which blocks the ability to hear data - driven arguments
ask yourself, “What kind of evidence would convince me to change my mind?” If the answer is “no evidence could ever change my mind about vaccination,” then you are putting yourself outside evidence - based rationality,
In 2006 the World Health Organization finally finished reviewing all the scientific investigations and, just like the CDC, classified DDT as “mildly harmful” to humans, stating that it had more health benefits than drawbacks in many situations.
fear of an invisible substance has run amok and is doing more harm than the substance is itself.
If there’s one group of people who have fully understood the power of the fear instinct, it’s not journalists. It’s terrorists
accounted for 0.05 percent of all deaths in the world in 2016,
it depends where you live.
in the ten - year period from 2007 to 2016, terrorists killed 159,000 people worldwide: three times more than the number killed in the previous ten - year period.
No matter how much I love Wikipedia, we still need serious researchers to maintain reliable data sets.
Terrorism deaths in the richest countries
accounted for 0.9 percent of all terrorism deaths in 2007 to 2016.
During those same years, alcohol contributed to the death of 1.4 million people in the United States
an average of 69,000 a year.
the victim was not the drinker: car accidents and homicide. A very conservative estimate would give us a US figure of roughly 7,500 deaths a year.
the risk that your loved one will be killed by a drunk person is nearly 50 times higher than the risk he or she will be killed by a terrorist.
Fear vs. Danger: Being Afraid of the Right Things
Fear can be useful, but only if it is directed at the right things.
natural disasters (0.1 percent of all deaths), plane crashes (0.001 percent), murders (0.7 percent), nuclear leaks (0 percent), and terrorism (0.05 percent).
None of them kills more than 1 percent of the people who die each year, and still they get enormous media attention.
“frightening” and “dangerous” are two different things.
CHAPTER FIVE: THE SIZE INSTINCT
This chapter is full of data about dead children because saving children’s lives is what I care about most in the whole world.
Getting things out of proportion, or misjudging the size of things, is something that we humans do naturally.
The two aspects of the size instinct, together with the negativity instinct, make us systematically underestimate the progress that has been made in the world.
At the same time, we systematically overestimate other proportions. The proportion of immigrants in our countries. The proportion of people opposed to homesexuality.
half the increase in child survival in the world happens because the mothers can read and write.
if you are investing money to improve health on Level 1 or 2, you should put it into primary schools, nurse education, and vaccinations
To avoid getting things out of proportion you need only two magic tools: comparing and dividing.
avoid lonely numbers. Never, ever leave a number all by itself. Never believe that one number on its own can be meaningful.
always ask for at least one more. Something to compare it with.
In Sweden, a fatal bear attack is a once - in - a - century event. Meanwhile, a woman is killed by her partner every 30 days. This is a 1,300 - fold difference in magnitude. And yet one more domestic murder had barely registered, while the hunting death was big news.
each death was equally tragic and horrendous.
In 1918 the Spanish flu killed around 2.7 percent of the world population.
In the first months of 2009, thousands of people died from the swine flu.
Over a period of two weeks, 31 people had died from swine flu, and a news search on Google brought up 253,442 articles about it. That was 8,176 articles per death.
Over the same two - week period, I calculated that roughly 63,066 people had died of tuberculosis (TB).
The news coverage for TB was at a rate of 0.1 article per death.
the 80 / 20 rule
around 20 percent of the lines sum up to more than 80 percent of the total. You can save a lot of money by making sure you understand these lines first.
The PIN code of the world is 1 - 1 - 1 - 4.
number of billions,
Americas: 1, Europe: 1, Africa: 1, Asia: 4.
By 2100 the new PIN code of the world will be 1 - 1 - 4 - 5.
the Western domination of the world economy will soon be over.
Arguing about emissions per nation was pointless when there was such enormous variation in population size.
a rate per person — will almost always be more meaningful.
The safest lives in history are lived today by people on Level 4. Most preventable risks have been eliminated.
CHAPTER SIX: THE GENERALIZATION INSTINCT
The Generalization Instinct
Categories are absolutely necessary for us to function. They give structure to our thoughts.
Once again, the media is the instinct’s friend. Misleading generalizations and stereotypes act as a kind of shorthand for the media, providing quick and easy ways to communicate.
Wrong generalizations are mind - blockers for all kinds of understanding.
The gap instinct divides the world into “us” and “them,” and the generalization instinct makes “us” think of “them” as all the same.
If you suffer from the misconception that most of the world is still too poor to buy anything at all, you risk missing out on the biggest economic opportunity in world history while you use your marketing spend to push special “yoga” pads to wealthy hipsters in the biggest cities in Europe.
We always need categories. The challenge is to realize which of our simple categories are misleading
One of the best ways to do this is to travel,
your country has become so safe that when you go abroad the world is dangerous for you.”
Here are five powerful ways to keep questioning your favorite categories: look for differences within and similarities across groups; beware of “the majority”; beware of exceptional examples; assume you are not “normal”; and beware of generalizing from one group to another.
stay open to the possibility that your experience might not be “normal.” Be cautious about generalizing from Level 4 experiences to the rest of the world. Especially if it leads you to the conclusion that other people are idiots.
CHAPTER SEVEN: THE DESTINY INSTINCT
The destiny instinct is the idea that innate characteristics determine the destinies of people, countries, religions, or cultures.
Historically, humans lived in surroundings that didn’t change much. Learning how things worked and then assuming they would continue to work that way rather than constantly reevaluating was probably an excellent survival strategy.
today, this instinct to see things as unchanging, this instinct not to update our knowledge, blinds us to the revolutionary transformations in societies happening all around us.
Cultures, nations, religions, and people are not rocks. They are in constant transformation.
50 years ago, China, India, and South Korea were all way behind where sub - Saharan Africa is today in most ways,
The destiny instinct makes it difficult for us to accept that Africa can catch up with the West.
Today, Muslim women have on average 3.1 children. Christian women have 2.7.
In my own living memory, Swedish values around sex were extremely conservative.
A woman’s right to an abortion is supported by just about everyone in Sweden today.
in the 1960s. Abortion in Sweden was still, except on very limited grounds, illegal.
The cultures changed.
many wives are still expected to take care of their husband’s parents, as well as taking full responsibility for the care of any children.
many men who are proud of these “Asian values,”
see it differently.
a brilliant young banker. She was 37 years old
She said, “I am thinking about children every day.” Then she looked me straight in the eye. “It’s the idea of a husband I can’t stand.”
How to Control the Destiny Instinct
Societies and cultures are in constant movement. Even changes that seem small and slow add up over time:
To control the destiny instinct, don’t confuse slow change with no change.
Be Prepared to Update Your Knowledge
Because everything changes.
Nkosazana Dlamini - Zuma, the chairwoman of the African Union,
you don’t have any vision.”
my 50 - year vision is that Africans will be welcome tourists in Europe and not unwanted refugees.”
CHAPTER EIGHT: THE SINGLE PERSPECTIVE INSTINCT
Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot.
The Single Perspective Instinct
We find simple ideas very attractive
The world becomes simple.
There’s just one small issue. We completely misunderstand the world. I call this preference for single causes and single solutions the single perspective instinct.
Being always in favor of or always against any particular idea makes you blind to information that doesn’t fit your perspective.
Instead, constantly test your favorite ideas for weaknesses.
Be humble about the extent of your expertise. Be curious about new information that doesn’t fit, and information from other fields.
I have found two main reasons why people often focus on a single perspective when it comes to understanding the world.
The obvious one is political ideology,
The other is professional.
The Professionals: Experts and Activists
I love experts, but they have their limitations. First, and most obviously, experts are experts only within their own field.
And sometimes “experts” are not experts even in their own fields.
You probably know the saying “give a child a hammer and everything looks like a nail.” When you have valuable expertise, you like to see it put to use.
So, people with math skills can get fixated on the numbers.
Great knowledge can interfere with an expert’s ability to see what actually works.
A wise prime minister looks at the numbers, but not only at the numbers.
some of the most valued and important aspects of human development cannot be measured in numbers at all.
the end goal of economic growth is individual freedom and culture, and these values are difficult to capture with numbers.
The world cannot be understood without numbers. But the world cannot be understood with numbers alone.
ideologues can become just as fixated as experts and activists on their one idea or one solution, with even more harmful outcomes.
US politicians want to make fact - based decisions, they should be driven not by ideology but by the numbers.
The United States spends more than twice as much per capita on health care as other capitalist countries on Level 4
and for that money its citizens can expect lives that are three years shorter.
39 countries have longer life expectancies
The answer is not difficult, by the way: it is the absence of the basic public health insurance that citizens of most other countries on Level 4 take for granted.
Under the current US system, rich, insured patients visit doctors more than they need, running up costs, while poor patients cannot afford even simple, inexpensive treatments and die younger than they should.
The communist system in Cuba is an example of the danger of getting hooked on a single perspective
The health - care system in the United States is also suffering from the single - perspective mind - set: the seemingly reasonable but actually bizarre idea that the market can solve all a nation’s problems.
Even Democracy Is Not the Single Solution This is risky, but I am going to argue it anyway.
Most countries that make great economic and social progress are not democracies.
South Korea moved from Level 1 to Level 3 faster than any country had ever done (without finding oil), all the time as a military dictatorship.
Of the ten countries with the fastest economic growth in 2016, nine of them score low on democracy.
It’s better to argue for democracy as a goal in itself instead of as a superior means to other goals we like.
There is no single indicator through which we can measure the progress of a nation. Reality is just more complicated than that.
It’s not either / or. It’s both and it’s case - by - case.
To control the single perspective instinct, get a toolbox, not a hammer.
CHAPTER NINE: THE BLAME INSTINCT
The blame instinct is the instinct to find a clear, simple reason for why something bad has happened.
We like to believe that things happen because someone wanted them to, that individuals have power and agency: otherwise, the world feels unpredictable, confusing, and frightening.
The blame instinct makes us exaggerate the importance of individuals or of particular groups.
it steals our focus as we obsess about someone to blame,
This undermines our ability to solve the problem, or prevent it from happening again, because we are stuck with oversimplistic finger pointing,
If you really want to change the world you have to understand it.
some of the people we most love to point the finger at: evil businessmen, lying journalists, and foreigners.
let’s throw a parade for the unsung heroes of global development: institutions and technology.
It must make one ask if the leaders are that important. And the answer, probably, is no. It’s the people, the many, who build a society.
invisible people working in a web of related services that make up society’s institutions.
The Industrial Revolution saved billions of lives not because it produced better leaders but because it produced things like chemical detergents that could run in automatic washing machines.
resist blaming any one individual or group of individuals for anything. Because the problem is that when we identify the bad guy, we are done thinking. And it’s almost always more complicated than that.
To control the blame instinct, resist finding a scapegoat. Look for causes, not villains.
CHAPTER TEN: THE URGENCY INSTINCT
When we are afraid and under time pressure and thinking of worst - case scenarios, we tend to make really stupid decisions. Our ability to think analytically can be overwhelmed by an urge to make quick decisions and take immediate action.
“Act now, or lose the chance forever.” They are deliberately triggering your urgency instinct. The call to action makes you think less critically, decide more quickly, and act now. Relax. It’s almost never true. It’s almost never that urgent, and it’s almost never an either / or.
now that we have eliminated most immediate dangers and are left with more complex and often more abstract problems, the urgency instinct can also lead us astray when it comes to our understanding the world around us.
Very often, it is by convincing us that an uncertain future risk is actually a sure immediate risk, that we have a historic opportunity to solve an important problem and it must be tackled now or never: that is, by triggering the urgency instinct.
This method sure can make us act but it can also create unnecessary stress and poor decisions
We should ideally show a mid - forecast, and also a range of alternative possibilities, from best to worst. If we have to round the numbers we should round to our own disadvantage. This protects our reputations and means we never give people a reason to stop listening.
those who care about climate change should stop scaring people with unlikely scenarios.
Let’s instead use that energy to solve the problem by taking action: action driven not by fear and urgency but by data and coolheaded analysis.
Anyone emitting lots of greenhouse gas must stop doing that as soon as possible.
Crying wolf too many times puts at risk the credibility and reputation of serious climate scientists and the entire movement.
People who are serious about climate change must keep two thoughts in their heads at once: they must continue to care about the problem but not become victims of their own frustrated, alarmist messages.
Urgency is one of the worst distorters of our worldview.
The overdramatic worldview in people’s heads creates a constant sense of crisis and stress.
The Five Global Risks We Should Worry About
The five that concern me most are the risks of global pandemic, financial collapse, world war, climate change, and extreme poverty.
they are quite likely to happen: the first three have all happened before and the other two are happening now;
I don’t tell you not to worry. I tell you to worry about the right things. I don’t tell you to look away from the news or to ignore the activists ’ calls to action. I tell you to ignore the noise, but keep an eye on the big global risks. I don’t tell you not to be afraid. I tell you to stay coolheaded and support the global collaborations we need to reduce these risks.
Be less stressed by the imaginary problems of an overdramatic world, and more alert to the real problems and how to solve them.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: FACTFULNESS IN PRACTICE
How can you use Factfulness in your everyday life: in education, in business, in journalism, in your own organization or community, and as an individual citizen?
We should be teaching our children the basic up - to - date, fact - based framework — life on the four levels and in the four regions — and training them to use Factfulness rules of thumb — the bullet points from the end of each chapter. This would enable them to put the news from around the world in context and spot when the media, activists, or salespeople are triggering their dramatic instincts with overdramatic stories.
They would protect the next generation from a lot of ignorance.
we should be teaching our children humility and curiosity.
Most Western employees in large multinationals and financial institutions are still trying to operate according to a deeply rooted, outdated, and distorted worldview. Yet global understanding is becoming more and more crucial, and more and more possible.
Journalists, Activists, Politicians
they should regularly check and update their worldview and develop factful ways of thinking.
it is not journalists ’ role, and it is not the goal of activists or politicians, to present the world as it really is. They will always have to compete to engage our attention with exciting stories and dramatic narratives
it is up to us as consumers to learn how to consume the news more factfully, and to realize that the news is not very useful for understanding the world.
Could everyone have a fact - based worldview one day? Big change is always difficult to imagine. But it is definitely possible, and I think it will happen, for two simple reasons.
First: a fact - based worldview is more useful for navigating life.
Second, and probably more important: a fact - based worldview is more comfortable. It creates less stress and hopelessness than the dramatic worldview.