· 2 mins read

:memo: Please Note
  • The following book summary is the result of a collection of personal notes, highlights and thoughts extracted from the book.
  • Most of the content is a direct quotation from the book and original authors work.

In this book, Hans Rosling points out how a large number of people has an inaccurate view of our world and some key trends that are now taking action (e.g. politics, immigration, life-expectancy). Therefore, in Factfulness Hans tries to help us to update our perception about things and make it instead rely on actual facts and statistics. In order to help us to build a fact-based view of our world, Hans proposes 10 fundamental mental filters to use before coming to any conclusion.

Takeaway Points

  1. The Gap Instinct: we have a natural tendency to divide things into two different conflicting groups.
  2. The negativity instinct: we tend to notice more the bad aspects of things than their positives (e.g. we tend to think things will get worse in the future).
  3. The Straight Line instinct: we tend to think that things will continue to follow the same trends they are now in, rather than change in the future.
  4. The Fear instinct: if something bad happens, we tend to focus on the negative signs rather than the bigger picture.
  5. The Size instinct: we tend to think about things out of proportion than what they actually are (e.g. overestimating positive/negative trends because they are not taken in the right context).
  6. The Generalization instinct: tendency to assume that different groups of people/country are intrinsically all the same.
  7. The Destiny instinct: many people believe that each individual is born with some innate characteristics which determines what they will be able to do in their life (they do not try do shape their knowledge/interests and do not believe in personal change).
  8. The Single perspective: when we try to get an understanding about a topic, we tend to rely on a limited amount of sources instead of taking into account different perspective.
  9. The Blame instinct: we tend to oversimplify why something bad has happened and what/who might have been the cause.
  10. The Urgency instinct: if we are given a sense of urgency to do something, this can more easily lead us to make wrong decisions (because we don’t get enough time to make sure to avoid all of the before mentioned instincts).


“Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot.”

“The world cannot be understood without numbers. But the world cannot be understood with numbers alone.”

“Look for causes, not villains.”

“Being intelligent—being good with numbers, or being well educated, or even winning a Nobel Prize—is not a shortcut to global factual knowledge. Experts are experts only within their field.”

“The only proven method for curbing population growth is to eradicate extreme poverty.”

“The goal of higher income is not just bigger piles of money. The goal of longer lives is not just extra time. The ultimate goal is to have the freedom to do what we want.”

“Cultures, nations, religions, and people are not rocks. They are in constant transformation.”

Book Authors: Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling


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