Myth-busting and eye-opening book, based on what’s actually “fact”, that corrects the many incorrect beliefs that we have of the world.
The book is eminently accessible, despite being focused on facts :) I flew through it as I wanted to learn more about where I’d previously gone wrong. Focusing on facts, the author challenges us to also focus on facts so we can correctly understand the world as opposed to what’s presented in the media or worse, social media.
The biggest take-away for me from the book is Rosling splitting the world into 4 levels, as opposed to our previous definitions of “developed” and “developing”. Additionally, despite the sensationalism of our media, the world is getting better.....it’s just that many of these changes are small, but overtime this gradual change results in a huge change.
The book reveals what is versus generalized false assumptions. Cabbies, Police Officers, Unbiased Scientists, Unbiased Teachers, Volunteers for most Non-profit Organizations already have an idea of. E.g. Medical doctors in low income communities, Peace Corp. Officers etc. Data driven policies are critical for all our endeavors. Great Book.
I think Rosling is correct that per capita carbon emissions is the key metric for climate change responsibility. He stressed that and I was convinced. But his writing about climate does not reflect the way quantitative earth system scientists understand global human caused climate change. And it misses the fact that human plans and commitments to reduce emissions are enough to stop the rise of atmospheric greenhouse gases at any projected date in the future. Or the fact that species and ecosystems keep declining as they have since the start of the industrial revolution. I think Rosling tries to be clear eyed about the facts of the world and that he succeeds more than not. He is very well qualified to write on this important subject but I for one found it slow going with little new information. Since I have to quantify my rating I’m giving it a 3+.
I found it uplifting and inspiring in contrast to what I generally hear reading the news. The primary take-away for me is that-regardless of the constant 'world is going to hell in a handbasket' drum-beat coming from news sources, politicians and other salespeople who benefit from panicked and thoughtless decision making- the world is in fact improving dramatically for almost everybody. Toward the end of the book, the author admits to hasty decisions that he was part of that cost lives. Wow. Very tough stuff to own and share. I think the author is a good guy, maybe cheering a bit too much for America to get knocked off the top of the heap for my tastes, but what do you want? He's Swedish.
While Richard Harries' narration is a bit slow, this is a well read delivery. (Listen at 1.5.) The balance of anecdote and facts is very nicely balanced. Anecdotal illustrations are personal and meaningful. I have retold many of Hans Rosling's stories many times to illustrate the misunderstanding he was addressing most of his life. His reflective style that confesses his own erroneous outlook is a great way to build empathy. Rosling offers excellent advice about being suspicious of numbers without comparisons. Ratios are strong comparisons. Two valuable takeaways: there is no "them" and "us", and question your own cultural assumptions. Read or listen to this book twice - you will be wiser for it.