Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think 

Answer these 4 questions:

  1. In all low-income countries in the world today, how many girls finish high school?

a.- 20%

b.- 40%

c.- 60%

  1. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has…

a.- Almost doubled

b.- Remained more or less the same

c.- Almost halved

  1. How many of the world’s one-year-old children have been vaccinated against some disease?

a.- 20%

b.- 50%

c.- 80%

  1. Which geographical regions have the highest incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer?

a.- Those that have lots of sunlight

b.- Those that have moderate sunlight

c.- Those that have little sunlight

Someone left a copy of Factfulness by Hans Rosling in my office for me. I don’t know who it was, but I’m grateful.

It’s a book about a surprising problem: the enormous amount of ignorance about the answers to some very important questions. As Rosling points out, many of the “facts” that we accept as true and indisputable turn out to be false. And this is not a function of education. College grads prove themselves to be as ignorant as high school dropouts. In fact, monkeys do a better job of getting most of these important answers right. (I’m not kidding. Rosling has convincing evidence.)

I came upon this phenomenon about 15 years ago. Back then, you may remember, people were convinced that sun exposure was the cause of skin cancer and were doing everything they could to keep themselves and their children away from its rays. This didn’t make sense to me. The sun, after all, is the primary source of life. And as many studies have since proven, I was right to be skeptical. We now know that a healthy amount of sunlight each day promotes Vitamin D (more a hormone than a vitamin). And that wards off not only skin cancer but just about every other inflammation-related disease. (And, yes, geographical regions that get lots of sunlight have the lowest incidence of melanoma.)

Answers to the 4 questions, above:

  1. c
  2. c
  3. c
  4. c