Factfulness by Hans Rosling (Quotes and Excerpts)

Here is a collection of thought-provoking quotes on the state of the global world, humanity, our future and progress by the late Swedish doctor and professor Hans Rosling, taken from his bestseller Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

If you wish to read the book in its entirety, here is a link to amazon



Hans Rosling Quote: 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.
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.
Hans Rosling
Hans Rosling Quote: I do not believe that fake news is the major culprit for our distorted worldview: we haven’t only just started to get the world wrong, I think we have always gotten it wrong.
I do not believe that fake news is the major culprit for our distorted worldview: we haven’t only just started to get the world wrong, I think we have always gotten it wrong.
Hans Rosling
Hans Rosling Quote: Almost all the increased child survival is achieved through preventive measures outside hospitals by local nurses, midwives, and well-educated parents. Especially mothers: the data shows that half the increase in child survival...
Almost all the increased child survival is achieved through preventive measures outside hospitals by local nurses, midwives, and well-educated parents. Especially mothers: the data shows that half the increase in child survival in the world happens because the mothers can read and write. … So if you are investing money to improve health on Level 1 or 2, you should put it into primary schools, nurse education, and vaccinations.
Hans Rosling
Hans Rosling Quote: I want people, when they realize they have been wrong about the world, to feel not embarrassment, but that childlike sense of wonder, inspiration, and curiosity that I remember from the circus...
I want people, when they realize they have been wrong about the world, to feel not embarrassment, but that childlike sense of wonder, inspiration, and curiosity that I remember from the circus, and that I still get every time I discover I have been wrong: “Wow, how is that even possible?
Hans Rosling
Hans Rosling Quote: There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.
There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.
Hans Rosling
Factfulness Quote: People often call me an optimist, because I show them the enormous progress they didn't know about. That makes me angry. I'm not an optimist. That makes me sound naive. I'm a very serious “possibilist”...
People often call me an optimist, because I show them the enormous progress they didn't know about. That makes me angry. I'm not an optimist. That makes me sound naive. I'm a very serious “possibilist”. That’s something I made up. It means someone who neither hopes without reason, nor fears without reason, someone who constantly resists the overdramatic worldview. As a possibilist, I see all this progress, and it fills me with conviction and hope that further progress is possible. This is not optimistic. It is having a clear and reasonable idea about how things are. It is having a worldview that is constructive and useful.
Hans Rosling
Hans Rosling Quote: Every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent, and more hopeless—in short, more dramatic—than it really is.
Every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent, and more hopeless—in short, more dramatic—than it really is.
Hans Rosling
Hans Rosling Quote: This book is my very last battle in my lifelong mission to fight devastating global ignorance. It is my last attempt to make an impact on the world: to change people’s ways of thinking...
This book is my very last battle in my lifelong mission to fight devastating global ignorance. It is my last attempt to make an impact on the world: to change people’s ways of thinking, calm their irrational fears, and redirect their energies into constructive activities. In my previous battles I armed myself with huge data sets, eye-opening software, an energetic lecturing style, and a Swedish bayonet. It wasn’t enough. But I hope that this book will be.
Hans Rosling
There was a balance. It wasn’t because humans lived in balance with nature. Humans died in balance with nature.
Hans Rosling
The world cannot be understood without numbers. But the world cannot be understood with numbers alone.
Hans Rosling
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.
Hans Rosling
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.
Hans Rosling
[Melinda and Bill Gates] have spent billions of dollars to save the lives of millions of children in extreme poverty by investing in primary health care and education. Yet intelligent and well-meaning people keep contacting their foundation saying that they should stop. The argument goes like this: “If you keep saving poor children, you’ll kill the planet by causing overpopulation.” …
“Saving poor children just increases the population” sounds correct, but the opposite is true. … The only proven method for curbing population growth is to eradicate extreme poverty and give people better lives, including education and contraceptives.
Hans Rosling
Think about the world. War, violence, natural disasters, man-made disasters, corruption. Things are bad, and it feels like they are getting worse, right? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; and the number of poor just keeps increasing; and we will soon run out of resources unless we do something drastic. At least that’s the picture that most Westerners see in the media and carry around in their heads. I call it the overdramatic worldview. It’s stressful and misleading. In fact, the vast majority of the world’s population lives somewhere in the middle of the income scale. Perhaps they are not what we think of as middle class, but they are not living in extreme poverty. Their girls go to school, their children get vaccinated, they live in two-child families, and they want to go abroad on holiday, not as refugees. Step-by-step, year-by-year, the world is improving. Not on every single measure every single year, but as a rule. Though the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress. This is the fact-based worldview.
Hans Rosling
In 1972, as a fourth-year medical student, I studied at the medical school in Bangalore. The first class I attended was on examining kidney X-rays. Looking at the first image, I realized this must be kidney cancer. I decided to wait awhile before telling the class, out of respect. I didn’t want to show off. Several hands then went into the air and the Indian students one by one explained how best to diagnose this cancer, how and where it usually spreads, and how best to treat it. On and on they went for 30 minutes, answering questions I thought only chief physicians knew. I realized my embarrassing mistake. I must have come to the wrong room. These must not be fourth-year students, these must be specialists. I had nothing to add to their analysis.

On our way out, I told a fellow student I was supposed to be with the fourth-years. “That’s us,” he said. I was stunned. They had caste marks on their foreheads and lived where exotic palm trees grew. How could they know much more than me? Over the next few days I learned that they had a textbook three times as thick as mine, and they had read it three times as many times.
I remember this whole experience as the first time in my life that I suddenly had to change my worldview: my assumption that I was superior because of where I came from….
Hans Rosling
It seems that when we hear someone say things are getting better, we think they are also saying “don’t worry, relax” or even “look away.” But when I say things are getting better, I am not saying those things at all. I am certainly not advocating looking away from the terrible problems in the world. I am saying that things can be both bad and better.

Think of the world as a premature baby in an incubator. The baby’s health status is extremely bad and her breathing, heart rate, and other important signs are tracked constantly so that changes for better or worse can quickly be seen. After a week, she is getting a lot better. On all the main measures, she is improving, but she still has to stay in the incubator because her health is still critical. Does it make sense to say that the infant’s situation is improving? Yes. Absolutely. Does it make sense to say it is bad? Yes, absolutely. Does saying “things are improving” imply that everything is fine, and we should all relax and not worry? No, not at all. Is it helpful to have to choose between bad and improving? Definitely not. It’s both. It’s both bad and better. Better, and bad, at the same time.

That is how we must think about the current state of the world.
Hans Rosling



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Factfulness Info

Published: 2018

Factfulness is a book written by the Swedish doctor and professor of international health Hans Rosling.

The book explores global trends, and state of human beings and promotes the attitude to view the world from an fact based perspective.

Read the whole book