Factfulness - Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling passed away in 2017, but his "Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World - and Why Things are Better than You Think" (2018) carries his legacy on. For those familiar with Hans and his work, this is a good summary of a career working to educate. For those unfamiliar with Hans, this is an excellent place to start. The book summarizes ten reasons we (everyone) tend to be wrong, or hold incorrect assumptions, drawing upon examples over the decades. This is an excellent introductory book for students interested in global health.

The book can't be simply summarized, as it covers a lot of ground, however, I would like to highlight one point Hans makes, which seems to be the foundation of a career that aimed to help us think about how to make better decisions:

  • "This is the cruel calculus of extreme poverty. It felt almost inhuman to look away from an individual dying child in front of me and toward hundreds of anonymous dying children I could not see. I remember the words of Ingegerd Rooth, who had been working as a missionary nurse in Congo and Tanzania before she became my mentor. She always took me, "In the deepest poverty you should never do anything perfectly. If you do you are stealing resources from where they can be better used." Paying too much attention to the individual visible victim rather than to the numbers can lead us to spend all our resources on a fraction of the problem, and therefore save many fewer lives. This principle applies anywhere we are prioritizing scarce resources. It is hard for people to talk about resources when it comes to saving lives, or prolonging or improving them. Doing so is often taken for heartlessness. Yet so long as resources are not infinite - and they never are infinite - it is the most compassionate thing to do to use your brain and work out how to do the most good with what you have." (p. 127-128)
Land Tenure in Eritrea (1966)
Fictions of Feminist Ethnography

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