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Book Review – Factfulness by Dr Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling-Ronnlund


Dr Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling-Ronnlund


RRP: $29.99

If you want a great overview of important international issues; if you have an interest in the big issues for the day and want to quickly sift through the various views and succinctly determine the ‘facts’, if you want a framework to assess the validity of information in the future, then this book is for you. It is very readable, easily digested and after reading it I feel like I’ve received some sensible advice.

This amazing little book, tackles population growth, poverty, education, pandemic, climate change and much more and helps put it all into perspective. Things aren’t as bad out there in the ‘big bad world’ folks as we might think! Not that eminently well qualified author, the late Dr Hans Rosling (advisor to the WHO, UNICEF, co-founder of Medecines Sans Frontieres in Sweden etc) and his collaborators Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling-Ronnlund are advocating sitting on our laurels (or anyone’s else’s), they’re not. They are very conscious of the work to be done especially in five global risks areas they identify.

They test our assumptions by asking some key questions and then set about presenting us with the facts, hence the title ‘Factfulness’. By disabusing us of our perceptions and wrong thinking they believe they are enabling us to focus on the things that threaten us the most. The ‘Factfulness rules of thumb’ are simple tips that remind us to do reality checks whenever we’re assessing information.

A case in point is climate change (one of the five global risks they say we should worry about). After running the ‘Factfulness rules of thumb’ over the issue and in what seems like reasonable thinking to me, they write: “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 alarmists messages. They must look at the worst case scenarios but also remember the uncertainty in the data. In heating up others, they must keep their own brains cool so they can make good decisions and take sensible actions, and not put credibility at risk.” Now I can listen to that sort of talk.

About the Author

Hans Rosling was a medical doctor, professor of international health and renowned public educator. He was an adviser to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, and co-founded Medecins sans Frontieres in Sweden and the Gapminder Foundation. His TED talks have been viewed more than 35 million times, and he was listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. Hans died in 2017, having devoted the last years of his life to writing this book.

Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund, Hans’s son and daughter-in-law, were co-founders of the Gapminder Foundation, and Ola its director from 2005 to 2007 and from 2010 to the present day. After Google acquired the bubble-chart tool called Trendalyzer, invented and designed by Anna and Ola, Ola became head of Google’s Public Data Team and Anna the team’s senior user experience (UX) designer. They have both received international awards for their work.

About Eleanor Bodger

Eleanor Bodger

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