How not to be ignorant about the world | Hans and Ola Rosling | Summary and Q&A

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September 11, 2014
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TED
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How not to be ignorant about the world | Hans and Ola Rosling

TL;DR

Hans Rosling and Ola Rosling discuss the importance of global knowledge and how preconceived ideas and biases contribute to ignorance.

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Key Insights

  • 💀 Deaths from natural disasters have decreased significantly over the last century, with the number of deaths falling to less than half since 1900.
  • 🎓 Women in the world have almost caught up to men in terms of years of education, with women now going to school for as long as men.
  • 💰 The percentage of people in the world living in extreme poverty has almost halved in the last 20 years.
  • 🐵 The general public, including the Swedish, often have a lower level of knowledge and awareness about global trends compared to random guesses.
  • 🌍 Preconceived notions and biases can contribute to ignorance about important global issues, such as income distribution, education, and poverty.
  • 📊 The media also display a lack of knowledge about global facts, highlighting the need for increased awareness and education.
  • 🌐 The Ignorance Project aims to measure and address the widespread ignorance about global issues through knowledge certification.
  • 🤔 Generalizing and adopting rules of thumb can help overcome misconceptions and improve knowledge about global trends and issues.

Transcript

Hans Rosling: I'm going to ask you three multiple choice questions. Use this device. Use this device to answer. The first question is, how did the number of deaths per year from natural disaster, how did that change during the last century? Did it more than double, did it remain about the same in the world as a whole, or did it decrease to less tha... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the number of deaths per year from natural disaster change during the last century?

According to the data from disaster researchers, the number of deaths per year from natural disasters has decreased to much less than half.

Q: How long did women 30 years old in the world go to school?

Women 30 years old in the world go to school as long as boys, more or less, according to data from Gapminder Foundation.

Q: In the last 20 years, how did the percentage of people in the world who live in extreme poverty change?

The percentage of people in the world who live in extreme poverty almost halved in the last 20 years, based on the data presented by Hans Rosling.

Q: What is the percentage of the world's one-year-old children who have received basic vaccines against measles?

The percentage of the world's one-year-old children who have received basic vaccines against measles and other diseases is 80%, according to the data.

Q: Why are people so ignorant about global facts and trends?

People are ignorant about global facts and trends due to personal bias, outdated education, sensationalist media, and human intuition, which often leads to misconceptions and an illusion of confidence.

Summary

In this video, Hans Rosling and his son Ola Rosling discuss the misconceptions and ignorance surrounding global development and present a project called the Ignorance Project. They ask the audience multiple choice questions about global development and reveal the correct answers, highlighting how many people have incorrect perceptions. Ola then introduces the concept of a global knowledge certificate that organizations can use to certify themselves as globally knowledgeable. He also provides some tricks for overcoming misconceptions and improving knowledge about global development.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the number of deaths from natural disasters change in the last century?

The number of deaths from natural disasters has decreased significantly. In 1900, about half a million people died every year from natural disasters. However, after the Second World War, the number of deaths started to fall and it is now much less than half of what it was. The world has become more capable of protecting people from natural disasters.

Q: How long did women 30 years old in the world go to school?

Women 30 years old in the world now go to school for almost the same length of time as men. While there are still areas where girls face difficulties in accessing education, in the majority of the world, girls go to school as long as boys, more or less.

Q: How did the percentage of people in the world living in extreme poverty change in the last 20 years?

The percentage of people in the world living in extreme poverty has almost halved in the last 20 years. However, when asked about this, only a small percentage of the public, including the audience, got the answer right.

Q: What is the pattern of ignorance regarding global development?

There are several factors that contribute to ignorance about global development. Personal bias, outdated teaching materials, sensationalized news stories, and human intuition all play a role in shaping misconceptions about the state of the world.

Q: How do Ola and Hans plan to address global ignorance?

Ola and Hans have started a project called the Ignorance Project, which aims to measure and address ignorance about global development. They plan to create a knowledge certificate that organizations can use to certify themselves as globally knowledgeable. They also provide some tricks and rules of thumb for overcoming misconceptions and improving knowledge about global development.

Q: How are personal bias and outdated teaching materials contributing to ignorance about global development?

Personal bias and outdated teaching materials contribute to ignorance about global development by shaping individuals' worldview based on their own limited experiences and the information they were taught. Outdated teaching materials perpetuate inaccurate information, and teachers may unknowingly pass on outdated worldviews to their students.

Q: How does sensationalized news contribute to ignorance about global development?

Sensationalized news tends to focus on unusual events and exaggerate them, particularly events that evoke fear. This can skew people's perceptions and make them believe that certain issues are more prevalent or dangerous than they actually are. For example, a rare shark attack on a Swedish person would receive prolonged media coverage, leading people to believe that sharks are more dangerous than they statistically are.

Q: What is the role of human intuition in contributing to ignorance about global development?

Human intuition, which evolved to help us generalize and make quick decisions, can sometimes lead to misconceptions and faulty judgments. Our intuition tends to exaggerate our fears and seek causality where there might not be any, which can lead to an overestimation of risks and misconceptions about global development trends.

Q: What are the benefits of the global knowledge certificate proposed by Ola and Hans?

The global knowledge certificate would provide organizations with a way to certify themselves as globally knowledgeable. This would ensure that they make fact-based decisions and have an accurate understanding of global development. It would also help individuals assess their own knowledge and provide a benchmark for measuring and improving global knowledge.

Q: What are some tricks or rules of thumb for overcoming misconceptions and improving knowledge about global development?

Ola shares four rules of thumb for overcoming misconceptions: 1) Instead of thinking that everything is getting worse, assume that most things improve. 2) Rather than assuming that the gap between rich and poor is increasing, recognize that most people are in the middle. 3) Don't assume that only rich countries can achieve social development; the majority of countries already have certain achievements. 4) Be aware of your personal biases and avoid exaggerating problems you are afraid of. These rules of thumb can help individuals make more accurate and fact-based assessments of global development.

Takeaways

Misconceptions and ignorance about global development are widespread. Personal bias, outdated teaching materials, sensationalized news, and human intuition contribute to this ignorance. The Ignorance Project aims to address this ignorance by measuring knowledge about global development and providing a global knowledge certificate. By using some tricks and rules of thumb, individuals can overcome misconceptions and improve their understanding of global development. Having an accurate understanding of global development is important not only for understanding poverty and inequality, but also for making informed decisions about the future.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Hans Rosling asks the audience three multiple choice questions about global statistics using a device to answer.

  • The audience performs better than the Swedish public and the media in answering the questions about deaths from natural disasters, education for women, and extreme poverty.

  • Ola Rosling suggests using rules of thumb and generalizations to improve our understanding of global facts and challenges.

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