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How the Other 7 billion People in the World Really Live

My most recent non-fiction book was “Factfulness” by Dr. Hans Rosling who is a professor of world health in a university in Sweden. When the author speaks to audiences in high-income countries, he begins with a 13-question, multiple choice test about the living conditions of the world’s 7 billion people. He has been amazed that well-educated audiences such as world business leaders and political leaders have scored worse than if they flipped a coin to choose answers.

The following are the correct answers to the questions:

  1. In all low-income countries across the world today, 60 percent of the girls finish primary schools.
  2. The majority of the world population live in middle income countries.
  3. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has almost halved.
  4. The life expectancy of the world today is 70 years.
  5. There are 2 billion children in the world today, aged 0-15 years old. In the year 2100, according to the United Nations, there will still be 2 billion children of that age.
  6. The UN predicts by 2100 the world population will have increased by another 4 billion people. The main reason is there will be more adults aged 15-74.
  7. The number of deaths per year from natural disasters in the last 100 years decreased to less than half.
  8. There are roughly 7 billion people in the world today. The greatest number, 4 billion, live in Asia.
  9. 80 percent of the world’s 1 year old children today have been vaccinated against some disease.
  10. Worldwide, 30-year-old men have spent 10 years in school on average and women of the same age spent 9 years in school.
  11. In 1996, tigers, giant pandas, and black rhinos were all listed as endangered. None of those are more critically endangered today.
  12. 80 percent of the people in the world have some access to electricity.
  13. Global climate experts believe that over the next 100 years, the average temperature will get warmer.

My wife and I did not do very well on the test either.

The author agrees part of the reason we are so misinformed is the media which emphasizes all the bad news of the world and ignores all the good.  However, the author says that is because bad news gets our attention and good news does not.  He believes in the hunter-gatherer age our genes became hard wired that way. Expecting bad news made us alert to potential safety hazards and prepared us to fight or flee for survival.

The author spends the remainder of the book emphasizing the red flags that should worn us to look deeper for the true facts.

Ralph Coker, Author