Book Review – Factfulness

By | April 11, 2020

Given that I was reading Factfulness during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, the book was a pleasant release from the bitter news each day, even though Ebola, tuberculosis, the swine flu, and the Spanish flu play important roles in the book. In chapter ten in the section “The five global risks we should worry about”, Global Pandemic comes first. To quote from that section, “Serious experts on infectious diseases agree that a new nasty kind of flu is still the most dangerous threat to global health. The reason: flu’s transmission route. It flies through the air on tiny droplets”. Okay, some parts weren’t so relaxing but Hans Rosling was prophetic.

Your score from taking the quiz at the beginning of Factfulness is both all-important and of little importance, depending on the perspective. One of the core premises of the book is that we have a much more negative view of the state of the world, especially of countries that are typically referred to as “developing”, than is the reality. In that sense, the results of the quiz are all important. But in the many areas in which most of us will have little prior, detailed knowledge, it is easy to be off in your guesses and to do poorly. I did very well on the quiz but it wasn’t because of any special knowledge I had other than knowing that core premise in advance.

Regardless, it’s a delightful, well-researched book that I found to be highly educational.

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