One of those books that will change the way you think about the world and interpret data. Great reading to stimulate critical thinking. Useful for breaking stereotypes and reaching for facts. Hans Rosling shows us a series of pitfalls that we fall into when thinking about the world around us. By conducting simple tests with audiences, he shows that even what would appear to be the most educated people in tests of knowledge, such as demographic projections, do not achieve the results obtained by chimpanzees.

What, according to the author, is factfulness?

Factfulness is based on 10 principles (instincts):

Factfulness – graphics from

1. The Gap Instinct

Spot images with deep differences and remember that reality is often not so polarized. Usually most of them are somewhere in the middle, where we expect a gulf.

2. The Negativity Instinct 

Remember that bad news arrives faster and is spread more by the media. When the situation improves, we are no longer informed about it. This affects the negative perception of the surrounding world and causes anxiety and stress. The real situation is much more optimistic.

3. The Straight Line Instinct

Looking at the charts, we are convinced that the trends will follow a straight line. Please note that such lines are rarely found in real life.

4. The Fear Instinct

When we feel fear, we do not think logically, when we find ourselves in a crisis situation, we can quickly generate the worst-case scenario, which happened to the author when he worked as an inexperienced doctor and misinterpreted the situation.

Fears are ingrained in our minds for obvious evolutionary reasons… these dangers still instinctively fear in us today – Hans Rosling

Fear can be useful if it is for the right things. The fear instinct is a terrible advisor when it comes to understanding the world. It makes us focus our attention on unlikely threats and ignore the really serious ones – Hans Rosling

The world seems scarier than it really is when, just like in point 2, we receive scary and selected information that draws our attention.

5. The Size Instinct

Here it helps to understand that individual numbers can make an impression, but it is worth comparing them to others or just dividing them to get indicators. For example, when comparing countries, regions, groups of people, you should analyze per-person indicators.

6. The Generalization Instinct

We should look for incorrect generalizations, see situations when categories are used to explain a phenomenon. – look for differences within the group – look for differences and similarities between groups – watch out for the “majority” and exceptions

7. The Destiny Instinct

Even though changes are extremely slow, they still lead to transformation. This applies, for example, to changes in culture, society, values ​​and religion. Follow the gradual progress to see it. Collect examples of such changes.

8. The Single Perspective Instinct

It is perhaps the well-known metaphor of a hammer and nails. When we have a hammer in our hand, it all looks like nails. This approach is used by experts who want to use the approach arising from their field.

Expertise can make it difficult for experts to see what is really effective. The solutions they propose are appropriate for some problems, but none of them will solve all the issues. It’s better to see the world from different perspectives – Hans Rosling

Better to see through the eyes of a beginner.

There are many possibilities in the mind of a beginner, a few in the mind of an expert – Shunryu Suzuki

9. The Blame Instinct

This is a well-known blame game of finding the scapegoat. Whoever did not experience this type of behaviour at work, raise your hand. System thinking helps to fight with this attitude. Rosling recommends that we look for the causes, not the culprits, as this will help redirect our energy to understanding the more complex factors that make up the system. Do the same with the heroes. Ask the important question if it would have happened without the “hero”.

The instinct to look for the guilty makes us begin to exaggerate the importance of individuals or specific groups. In addition, it interferes with our ability to create a true, factual view of the world. It distracts us from the most important issue when we obsess over the culprit and then blocks our ability to learn … as a result, our ability to solve problems or prevent them from happening again is weakened because we use a much simpler strategy – blame others. Hans Rosling

10. The Urgency Instinct

Recognize situations where the decision seems rash. In a rush, unsurprisingly, our ability to analyze fades away. Under this pressure, ask for time and data.

To close the presentation of this great book I cannot the 5 global threats that we should worry about according to Hans Rosling.

In the first place – a global pandemic. The next ones include the financial crisis, World War III, climate change, and extreme poverty.

The book is considered to be one of the most important books ever read by Bill Gates.

Książka Factfulness. Dlaczego świat jest lepszy niż myślimy…

Factfulness quiz