Factfulness – A beautiful book full of positivity

It was the first book I’ve read in the year 2022, and it’s totally worth my time. A really good start for my reading journey this year. The book was full of positivity, as the main focus of the author was to spread the message of a better world that we are living in.

The overarching theme throughout the book is that the world we live in is better than we perceive, and people’s lives are still improving everyday, despite us being aware of the slow and incremental change. That is very encouraging, especially given the fact that we are being bombarded on a daily basis by the media with all the shocking and tragic world stories that seemed to portray a world that is getting worse and more dangerous. Fortunately, that is directly opposite to the truth, and by showing the data and facts, the author set out on a journey to change our perception, one person at a time.

The author also outlined 10 misleading instincts that prevent a lot of people from having a fact-based worldview, and how to combat them with facts and data. It’s really astounding to discover that human are worse than chimpanzees by a mile when it comes to factual knowledge test, and it’s even more shocking to find out that, the more educated the group is, the worse they fared in the test. Probably it is the information sources that those well educated people have access to and what they are being told. It clearly shows that people may just be educated with the wrong knowledge, and that the media rarely tell objective and credible news.

The most interesting and thought provoking myth that was debunked by the author is the gap instinct. It’s a deep rooted concept that has been ingrained into us since we were young. We always think of the world as us vs them, with a vacuum in between. Human vs alien. Hero vs villain. Developed vs developing countries. And that narrow frame of mind has led to many other instincts and misunderstandings mentioned in the book. The suggested breakdown of the world into 4 income levels is a brilliant concept. It reframes the way we think about the world, reduces the gap between countries and realigns our generalizations in a better way (after all, we still need a way to generalize and categorize things around us, due to the vast number of individuals that go far beyond our ability to comprehend and assess them all at one go). Besides, correcting our gap instinct also has an impact on our fear instinct, straight line instinct, size instinct and destiny instinct, so if you have time only for one chapter, that is the one you should read, in order to get the most out of this amazing book (of course you are welcome to devour it all).

By now, if you still have a nagging feeling that this book is all well and good, but it has nothing to do with you, and the concepts are more for the people at the top, well, nothing is further from the truth. Some of the instincts there are as applicable to us as they are to heads honchos. For example, the news tend to be heading towards negativity and shock factor, so keep that in mind when reading the news. Good news is hardly news at all, and the world is much safer now in spite of all the shocking news all around us. And we should look at things from different perspectives and seek different opinions and viewpoints in order to have a more well rounded view of events that happen around us, and thereby making more informed decisions. Another applicable advice is to avoid blaming others when things don’t go according to plan. Instead, look into the system and see what to fix the system in order to avoid such issue in the future. And remember, most of the deadlines are negotiable and not set in stone, so take ample time to consider before making decision, and don’t get yourself pushed into making knee jerk reaction. Don’t procrastinate, but also don’t blindly jump into action without enough information. Those are all practical advices that can improve our lives everyday.

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