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Publisher's Summary

For fans of Freakonomics and Thinking, Fast and Slow, here is a book by Hans Rosling, the scientist called "a true inspiration" by Bill Gates, that teaches us how to see the world as it truly is. 

Factfulness: The stress-reducing habit of carrying only opinions for which you have strong supporting facts. When asked simple questions about global trends - what percentage of the world's population live in poverty; why the world's population is increasing; how many girls finish school - we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers. 

In Factfulness, professor of international health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two longtime collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective - from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse). Our problem is that we don't know what we don't know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases. 

It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn't mean there aren't real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most. Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.

©2018 Hans Rosling (P)2018 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Read not for Listening

The book shows supporting and supplemental graphs and images that are lost in thought when trying to listen through this book. I would prefer to read this book and validate the graphs/scenarios at play.

39 of 39 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Really simple, Really Slow

I only listened to 3 chapters but I have to say I've never set the speed at 3x before without missing anything.. I love Hans Rosling, but the interactive charts do so much better than this. The narrator is so slow, it's like he reads ellipses between every sentence. ... It's interspersed with irrelevant memories and anecdotes, a lot of repetition, and casual comment. Even some questionable advice on statistics: 10% differences are usually real, less than that, usually not.

For something serious on trends try Steve Pinker's Enlightenment Now, and on errors in judgment Dan Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow. I love Rosling's Gapminder. Great delivery in person; this was disappointing.

59 of 62 people found this review helpful

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I really, really wanted to like this book.

Best book Bill Gates ever read. Okay. Best book I ever read? I'll never know because I found it excruciating to listen to. The author spent so much time patting himself on his back for his brilliance that his message got lost in the self adulation.

And the narrator...please, dude. This isn't an audition for a melodrama. It's a book. Just read the freaking book and leave out the acting, would you?

Returning it. Just cannot believe that I wouldn't get more out of a 20 minute Ted talk than I would trying to slog through this nightmare.

37 of 42 people found this review helpful

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One of the most important books you can absorb

First of all. READ/LISTEN TO THIS BOOK. It teaches us so much about navigating the minefield of cognitive biases inherent to our species.
HOWEVER, I have two problems that were a rock in my mental shoe all the way through this book:
1- Hans Rosling constantly opens chapters by giving the reader multiple choice quizzes which insult our intelligence and waste our time. Since we know this book is supposed to be "shocking", of course the seemingly unlikely option will be the answer. That delayed manner of imparting wisdom is not only annoying-- but it inadvertently makes him sound like a pompous ass who-- instead of being excited to share something he has learned with the reader, decides to act as if he knew it all from birth and is disappointed at how ignorant we are to not also know it. Again, it's a horrible unnecessarily long manner to disperse such important info. And worse, I don't think he meant to come off that way.
2- The narrator has a cartoonish voice that sounds very insincere/cynical. He sounds like Martin Short's Ed Grimley character instead of someone with authority-- and moreover, talks WAYYY too slowly. I can only surmise that Rosling (or some Swedish editor) found the voice pleasing to his Scandinavian ear and just ran with it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Victoria, BC, Canada
  • 09-23-18

Good premise but rather slow.

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+.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Williamb
  • Fox Chapel, PA, United States
  • 05-26-18

Read this twice!

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Really good, not flawless,

But what should anyone expect of anything?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great book and good narrator, but dicey production

Overall, this is a book that EVERYONE should read! While there are real problems, they’re a) probably not as dire as you think, and b) probably the wrong problems. We can all learn, and facts are not a matter of opinion, despite what (self-refuting) moral relativism might tell you. The editing was a bit off: the narration what’s quite choppy where the narrator would end a sentence at one level and tone, and start the at a jarring level. Most likely, this was due to cuts where the narrator didn’t hear how he ended the last sentence. But, don’t let that dissuade you!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic, Eye-opening

Factfullness is a wonderfully composed reminder on how to consider the world. It provides an excellent conceptual framework and thinking tools which should be applied daily.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good content, so boringly delivered

This was so boring to listen to — was it the writing, perhaps translated into English from original Swedish, or the narration, or a lot of both? — that I found my mind wandering more than normal while listening to this book. At times, there was striking clarity and really powerful insights, but too few and infrequent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful