Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Factfulness by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund

Factfulness bridges the gap between reality and illusion. Driven by data showing that the world is a lot less dramatic then it really is.

Our instincts get in the way of seeing the facts and truth of reality.

An instinct is a fixed behavior in response to a stimuli. Usually triggered, becoming aware of these instincts can Improve your worldview

The 10 human instincts that distort our vision mentioned in Factfulness are:

  1. The Gap Instinct
  2. The Negativity Instinct
  3. The Straight Line Instinct
  4. The Fear Instinct
  5. The Size Instinct
  6. The Generalization Instinct
  7. The Destiny Instinct
  8. The Single Perspective Instinct
  9. The Blame Instinct
  10. The Urgency Instinct

The First Instinct is the Gap Instinct

Thinking a binary way can take us to the extremes without seeing the information in the middle. Good/Bad, Love/Hate, Peace/War, Us/Them. Instead of thinking binary, the authors suggest we think on 4 levels based on daily income. Level 1 living on two dollars a day, level 2 two to eight dollars a day, level 3 eight to thirty-two dollars a day, and level 4 more than thirty-two dollars a day. Changing our worldview to the four levels puts into perspective that there are people on all levels in every country and to avoid comparing the averages and extremes. Usually the majority falls in the gap.

The Second Instinct is the Negativity Instinct

“Our Tendency to notice the bad more than the good.” Hans describes himself as a possibilist which is different than an optimist. A possiblist is someone having a clear and reasonable idea about how things are.

“just 20 years ago, 29 percent of the world population lived in extreme poverty. now that number is 9 percent.” with more wealth comes greater living situations and more opportunities for freedom and innovation. After you change your worldview from binary to levels, recognize things can be both better and bad and that negative news steals our attention.

The Third Instinct is The Straight Line Instinct

When we see a chart going up we make an assumption that it will continue in that direction forever. In reality most trends have patterns that we should recognize. On a chart most trends follow: S-bends, slides, humps, or doubling lines.

The Fourth Instinct is the Fear Instinct

Our ancestors where living on level 1. Fight, Flight and survive where what kept us alive. We had to be in this state because basic health care was not there. If we were to get bit by a poisonous spider or snake it most likely meant death. Contamination and captivity were also feared. In modern times most of these problems now have affordable solutions, but the ancestral fears are still natural instincts that everyone has. As stated by Will Smith,

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”

When we focus on fear, a perceived risk, we drain our energy which could be better spent on creating a better world. Take notice when fear arises and realize our first instinct is fight or flight. A fearful state creates an emotional panic and has us making decisions that we may not have wanted if we were to have taken the time to think things through.

The Fifth Instinct is the Size Instinct

We make things out of proportion when we focus on a single point. Comparing can bring things back into perspective. Also, the 80/20 rule, which states 20% of what you do contributes to 80% of the results. Find the rate, the rate means a lot more than the amount. The rate will show which way things are going.

The Sixth Instinct is the Generalization Instinct

Our instinct is to generalize and halt our curiosity. “Americans”, “Westerners”, “Hispanics”, “all guys are the same”. In every society, culture, race, gender there are differences. There are people on every level in every country. Continue to look for the similarities and differences across groups, and keep your curiosity open by asking questions. Some similarities are these 10 instincts that we all have.

The Seventh Instinct is the Destiny Instinct

A habit is a daily practice that eventually solidifies. Habits take time to solidify and can sometimes look like no progress is being made. We are living in a very fast passed world where information is freely shared and easily accessible. It is critical now to keep up-to-date with trends and remember that what happens today can be different then what happened yesterday. Remember: “just 20 years ago, 29 percent of the world population lived in extreme poverty. now that number is 9 percent.”

The Eighth Instinct is the Single Perspective Instinct

I like to connect this instinct to the ego. Our ego makes us believe that our perspective is the true perspective. Asking questions not only stops us from generalizing (the sixth instinct), but keeps our mind open to seeing new perspectives. Become your own scientist and test new theories, new ideas. Experiment with different perspectives and expand your worldview. One way I like to do this is by traveling. When I travel I meet people with different backgrounds and stories.

The Ninth Instinct is the Blame Instinct

We see in moments and when something happens we do not always see what might have caused it. Instead our first reaction is to point a finger and play the blame game. Blaming blinds us from other explanations. If we can’t see what caused something we repeat the same process until eventually something happens and we learn our lesson. I like to think of karma, both good and bad. Jocko Willink, a former navy seal, talks about taking extreme ownership of everything in our life. When you own up to everything and claim responsibility nothing can be taken.

The Tenth Instinct is the Urgency Instinct

Fight or flight is urgent, I need to kill this spider or run if I don’t I could die. Marketers use this instinct to get you to act now because you are more likely to make poor decisions when something is urgent. When we have more time to think things through we get to analyze what is in our best interest. There are certainly things that should be seen as urgent like climate change and poverty, but most day-to-day things are never as urgent as depicted.

Factfulness illustrates that our natural instincts create a worldview different then a reality based on facts. Being humble enough to say I do not knowing something leaves room for something to be learned.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (Habit 5, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey)

To get a better understanding of a worldview based on fact I would recommend reading Factfulness. Throughout the book there are questions and charts to visually see the progress humans have made.

How does your worldview look?

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Today is a Good Day to #ImproveYourHabits

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