Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

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Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
Factfulness Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.jpg
AuthorHans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Ola Rosling
PublisherFlatiron Books
Publication date
April 3, 2018
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
WebsiteGapminder: Factfulness (the book)

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think is a 2018 book by Swedish statistician Hans Rosling with his son Ola Rosling and daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund. In the book, Rosling suggests the vast majority of human beings are wrong about the state of the world. He shows that his test subjects think the world is poorer, less healthy, and more dangerous than it is.[1][2] Rosling recommends thinking about the world as divided into four levels based on income brackets. He suggests ten instincts that prevent us from seeing real progress in the world.[3][4] These are listed as Gap, Negativity, Straight Line, Fear, Size, Generalization, Destiny, Single, Blame, and Urgency.[5]

Bill Gates highlighted the book as one of his suggested 5 books worth reading for summer 2018.[6] A Business Insider review notes that although Rosling argues that the future will be better than expected because birth rates are stabilizing, life expectancy around the world is increasing, the gender gap is nearly closed, and the extremely impoverished population is shrinking, others point out that populations are still expanding (with many still under-nourished), life expectancy in the US is decreasing, the gender gap is only nearly closed in education and not in employment, and extreme wealth has become more extreme.[4]


(Left to right) Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling discuss their book Factfulness in 2016.

The four income levels[edit]

Rosling criticizes the notion of dividing the world into the "developed world" and the "developing world", saying it's a outdated view. He shows that today most countries are "developed" and the ones that aren't don't fit how developing countries were when the term became popular. Instead, he offers a four category model based on income:

  1. $1–$4 a day
  2. $4–$8 a day
  3. $16–$32 a day
  4. $32+ a day

The world is getting better[edit]

One frequent and recurring theme of Factfulness is the notion that the world is getting better. It also stresses that many people think the world is getting worse when in fact it is not. The survey at the beginning states that with over 10,000 poll recipients 80% knew less about the world than chimps would have [had] they just guessed. This, the authors claim, shows that the media systematically skew data, trends, and uses selective stories to make people think that the world is getting worse. However several experts have questioned these claims, as discussed in Wikipedia's main article on Rosling, and suggested that Rosling's own thinking shows a bias towards optimism or Pollyannaism.


  1. ^ Hardyment, Christina (2018). "Review: Factfulness by Hans Rosling, read by Simon Slater". The Times.
  2. ^ Millen, Robbie (2018). "Review: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling". The Times.
  3. ^ Mahadevan-Dasgupta, Uma (2018). "Factfulness review: The miracle of human progress". The Hindu.
  4. ^ a b Brueck, Hilary (April 4, 2018). "The author of one of Bill Gates' favorite books says the world isn't as apocalyptic as you might think - here are five of his top reasons why". Business Insider. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  5. ^ "Factfulness 10 Rules of Thumb". Gapminder. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  6. ^ Gates, Bill (May 21, 2018). "5 books worth reading this summer". Retrieved October 4, 2018.