The world is a lot better than we think … Factfulness’ Anna Rosling joins me at the European Business Forum 2019

September 25, 2019

Anna Rosling first met her father in law when staying over at her boyfriend’s house at the age of 16. Next morning, Ole, her boyfriend now husband’s father, was founded counting shoes and measuring sizes in the hallway, trying to work out who the extra guest was.

Hans Rosling became a sensation of our time. His youtube videos transfixed audiences worldwide with his fast and simple statistical analysis of our changing world. His message was that “the world is better than you think”, and that we constantly underestimate how much progress has been made.

Two years after Hans passed away, daughter in law Anna is continuing the family message. She joined me on stage today, at the Thinkers50 European Business Forum 2019, with an updated view of the world.

Here are some quotes from her session:

“If we were to ask questions about vaccination etc. to chimpanzees, they would come out at 33 %. When asking humans at international conferences, they often come out worse.

“When we asked 12000 people in 14 countries 12 questions about the world, 15 % got all of them wrong. Which is quite impressive. None of them got all of them right. 

“If your mindset is that the world is getting worse, if you see a question, then you’ll probably go for the bad answer.

“People seem to be aware of bad stuff, but they don’t notice all the small but highly important areas where the world is getting better.

“More people are being vaccinated, less planes crash, we have more movies, a bigger portion of the Earth is protected nature. But we can’t see these global trends when looking out of our windows. And when we turn on the TV, we see catastrophes, wars and disasters. This is not false information, but it’s not the full picture.

“There is no longer a divided world, because all countries are in a constant move.  

“One of the major problems of understanding the world is that we think we can learn it at one time, but in fact it is constantly changing.

“We often use cultural stereotypes when discussing countries, but we need to look at income levels instead.

“An easy framework for understanding the world are four levels of income. If you’re on level one, you walk, level two, you bike, level three, you have a motorcycle, level four, you drive a car.

“Now, most people are on level 2, but many will move to level 3 soon.

“Asian cities are changing rapidly, whereas Stockholm is still the same. When we live in a static world ourselves, we tend to believe that the rest of the world is also static, while in fact it’s not.

“To understand the world, we need facts and frameworks, and an ability to control our instincts.

“Above all, we need to realise that the world can be bad and better in the same time.”

Finally here is a reminder of Hans Rosling, one of the most watched Youtube videos of all time:

Anna Rosling joined me at the Thinkers50 European Business Forum 2019. With thanks to Jane Thoning Callesen for transcript.