Obvezno branje: Factfulness – Hans Rosling

Na žalost je Hans Rosling, človek, ki je statističnim podatkom vdihnil življenje, lani umrl. Zadnjih nekaj let pred smrtjo je delal na knjigi Factfulness, s katero je hotel pokazati oziroma nas prepričati, da moramo naša stališča utemeljiti na dejstvih. In ko to naredimo, postane svet nenadoma bolj prijazen, manj negativen, naši strahovi in teorije zarote se razblinijo na dejstvih. Oziroma kot pravi podnaslov knjige: “The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.”

Roslingov Factfulness ni samo nasprotje “fakenews“. Factfulness ni samo frontalni napad na “fakenews“. Factfulness je napad na naše inherentne porive, naše notranje tendence, da intimno raje verjamemo negativnim novicam. Da raje verjamemo slabo pojasnjenim in zato rahlo misterioznim dogajanjem, ki jim v odsotnosti polnih informacij vdihnemo neko lastno življenje z negativno konotacijo. Factfulness je napad na nas osebno. Napad na našo tendenco, da želimo ustvarjati “fakenews“, živeti v svetu “fakenews” in verjeti “fakenews“.

Factfulness je ena najpomembnejših knjig sedanjega časa. Knjiga, ki želi spremeniti naš odnos do resnice prek preprostega dejanja – upoštevanja dejstev. Težka misija.

Če slučajno kolebate nad nakupom in branjem knjige, za začetek preberite spodnjo recenzijo knjige izpod tipkovnice Tima Harforda:

“I use normal statistics that are compiled by the World Bank and the United Nations. This is not controversial. These facts are not up for discussion. I am right and you are wrong.”

That was Hans Rosling, delivering a celebrated smackdown  on Danish television to a journalist with an excessively gloomy view of the world. And although the quote displays just one facet of the the late Professor Rosling, it isn’t a bad place to start in considering his posthumous book, Factfulness (UK) (US). Rosling takes something rather ordinary – “normal statistics” – and turns it into a passionate, witty, and encouraging view of the world that also happens to be far more realistic than the “realists” have to offer.

Hans Rosling – perhaps most famous for a series of hugely popular TED talks – was the greatest and most versatile communicator I ever met. He would use spectacular graphics, but also props such as jugs of juice, bayonets (for his sword-swallowing demonstrations) and rolls of toilet paper. He was a magnificent storyteller, an inspiring guide to a complex world, and – when the situation demanded it – could display flashes of righteous anger. He was also much more than a showman: he spent long periods of time living in poorer countries and working for underfunded healthcare systems across the world, most recently participating in the fight against Ebola in Liberia.

Factfulness was co-written with his daughter-in-law Anna and his son Ola, although it is in Hans’s distinctive voice. It is a wonderful guide to an improving world, as well as being a well-stocked source of sound advice as to how to think about factual and statistical claims. The book identifies ten often-unhelpful instincts, such as the Negativity instinct (we, and our media, find sudden bad news more interesting and memorable than slow-burn good news) or the Destiny instinct (we feel that some things never change – that, for example, Nigeria will always be poor for “cultural reasons”, when in fact all societies, including modern western societies, are constantly learning and changing). And it suggests antidotes or reality checks for these instincts.

This structure works well enough, but the real joy of the book is the string of surprising facts and unforgettable stories to illustrate them: the Tanzanian midwife whose dearest wish was for a torch, so that when walking barefoot at night to a birth she could spot snakes more easily; the time Hans Rosling’s student nearly lost a leg because she tried to keep open the door of an Indian elevator (which, unlike Swedish elevators, did not have a safety sensor fitted); Rosling nearly drowning in sewage (in Sweden); Rosling thinking on his feet to avoid eating lavae in Congo; Rosling being humbled by the quality of his fellow medical students in Bangalore; and Rosling confessing to numerous mistakes over the course of his life, some embarrassing and some tragic.

Vir: Tim Harford

%d bloggers like this: