Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Ronnlund

So why is the misconception of a gap between the rich and the poor so hard to change?
I think this is because human beings have a strong dramatic instinct toward binary thinking, a basic urge to divide things into two distinct groups, with nothing but an empty gap in between. We love to dichotomize. Good versus bad. Heroes versus villains. My country versus the rest. Dividing the world into two distinct sides is simple and intuitive, and also dramatic because it implies conflict, and we do it without thinking, all the time.
Journalists know this. They set up their narratives as conflicts between two opposing people, views, or groups. They prefer stories of extreme poverty and billionaires to stories about the vast majority of people slowly dragging themselves toward better lives. Journalists are storytellers. So are people who produce documentaries and movies. Documentaries pit the fragile individual against the big, evil corporation. Blockbuster movies usually feature good fighting evil.
The gap instinct makes us imagine division where there is just a smooth range, difference where there is convergence, and conflict where there is agreement. It is the first instinct on our list because it’s so common and distorts the data so fundamentally. If you look at the news or click on a lobby group’s website this evening, you will probably notice stories about conflict between two groups, or phrases like “the increasing gap.”

3 thoughts on “Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Ronnlund

  1. shinichi Post author

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

    by Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Ronnlund

    CHAPTER ONE: The Gap Instinct

  2. shinichi Post author

    Final Words

    I have found fighting ignorance and spreading a fact-based worldview to be a sometimes frustrating but ultimately inspiring and joyful way to spend my life. I have found it useful and meaningful to learn about the world as it really is. I have found it deeply rewarding to try to spread that knowledge to other people. And I have found it so exciting to finally start to understand why spreading that knowledge and changing people’s worldviews have been so damn hard.

    Could everyone have a fact-based worldview one day? Big change is always difficult to imagine. But it is definitely possible, and I think it will happen, for two simple reasons. First: a fact-based worldview is more useful for navigating life, just like an accurate GPS is more useful for finding your way in the city. Second, and probably more important: a fact-based worldview is more comfortable. It creates less stress and hopelessness than the dramatic worldview, simply because the dramatic one is so negative and terrifying.

    When we have a fact-based worldview, we can see that the world is not as bad as it seems—and we can see what we have to do to keep making it better.


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