Factfulness facts.

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Lance Kennedy
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Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:11 pm

Factfulness is the title of Dr Hans Roslings new book, and refers to the sad reality that most people do not know the true facts about the human condition. Especially not pessimists.

I have just finished his first chapter, and I am putting up the following facts from that first chapter for comment.

1. In third world countries, as an overall average, 60% of girls complete primary school.
2. The majority of the world's population today lives in middle income nations, not poverty stricken.
3. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world's population living in extreme poverty has halved.
4. Average life expectancy in the world today is 70.
5. The number of children in the world in the year 2100 will be exactly the same as the number today, 2 billion.
6. By 2100, total population will have increased by 4 billion compared to today. The extras will mostly be mature adults, age 15 to 74.
7. Over the past 100 years, deaths from natural disasters has halved.
8. Half the world's population today is in Asia. Africa has as many as America, about 1 billion.
9. 80% of the world's 1 year old children have been vaccinated against at least one disease.
10. Globally, 30 year old men have had 10 years in school. 30 year old women have had 9.
11. In 1996, tigers, giant pandas and black rhinos were listed as endangered. None are worse off today.
12. Of all the people in the world, 80% have some access to electricity.

Do any of these facts surprise you ? Did you falsely believe the world was getting worse ?

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by TJrandom » Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:17 pm

11 None of those three is worse off is not saying much.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Anomaly » Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:59 pm

TJrandom wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:17 pm
11 None of those three is worse off is not saying much.
It could be worse.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:05 am

No doubt correct TJ.
But no comment on the other 11 statements?

Let me explain something further.
Rosling presented those 12 facts as multichoice questions, with three choices per question. He ran a major survey in which 12,000 people from North America and Western Europe were asked to reply to the questions.

We would expect from chance alone that the average correct answers would be 4 out of 12. But in fact, it was a lot less. For example, the question on how world poverty had changed over 20 years returned only 7% correct (most replies were for poverty to double, not halve.) Rosling saw pessimism triumph over reality. It appears that most people have a very jaundiced view of humans and progress. A view that is substantially incorrect.

Why is this ?

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:36 am

Its a true fact that pessimists live longer and wish the same for their fellow man whereas 80% of con artists in middle income countries are optimists with the balance being brain injured religious types. The percentage goes up down with poverty but up with religion.

I don't need to look it up to know that Africa is larger than "America" and America doesn't have near 1 Billion.

Its a fact that 99% of world species ever known have gone extinct and there is no reason to think the same won't apply to man. SCIENCE will actually be the CAUSE of our demise, not its savior. BIG BRAINS are an evolutionary dead end: we blow ourselves up, drown in our own swill, over populate allowing for diseases and population crashes, all in a combo of the above. There is no factual basis to think that SCIENCE in practical terms only 250 years old will be an exception that so far has applied universally.

but, facts are facts. There are no facts about the future. Only guesses.
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:51 am

Bobbo

You fell headlong into a trap. Not set by me, or (deliberately) by Rosling, but there nevertheless.
The word America is not a synonym for the USA. It refers to that land stretching from the northern tip of Canada to the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego. It has marginally more than 1 billion population.

Just for your information. This is not actually about prediction. Rosling was telling facts about the world as it is now, and compared to recent history.

To be fair to Bobbo, he may be reasonably accurate in his explanation for pessimism. Rosling explains the high rate of human pessimism in evolutionary terms. If a caveman sees the bushes rustle, he is more likely to survive if he takes the pessimistic view and runs away. That does not mean, in the current world of scientific accuracy, that fallacies based on pessimism are acceptable.

But another point Rosling suggests is child mortality as an indicator to human welfare. Anything that impinges badly on a child's chances of survival means poor human welfare, and the opposite applies.
In the last 100 years, average child mortality globally has dropped from 33% to 4.35%. Even in Sub Saharan Africa, the poorest of the poor, the child mortality drop is noteworthy. In 50 years, from 25% to less than 10%. Human welfare is growing even in the poorest nations.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Anomaly » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:39 am

Rosling is a treasure when it comes to presenting facts. But how one interprets facts is different. We are currently in another extinction event, that is a fact. The preservation of three species matters little. Some things are better than we believe, some things are worse.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:44 am

That is true, Anomaly. But Rosling is mainly concerned with the human condition.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:12 am

Thanks Lance..........but...........I saw it and went ahead. I think North America is America and when you add South America you got "The AmericaS". and ....I've only ever seen a map of Africa with the USA superimposed on a large but not all interior part of it. So....I acted like most Gringos and ignored Mexico and Canada because that is how we roll....and if you did put Canada on top of Africa.....most of it would melt away so.....My statement springs your trap showing it to be ill founded. That is bad, when dealing with factual facts.
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:16 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:44 am
That is true, Anomaly. But Rosling is mainly concerned with the human condition.
The hooman condition IS directly related to the extinction/ability to survive of some large subset of all other organisms. He openned the door by making such an idiot statement about those three speicies.............and I think it applies to DOZENS of large mamamls.....and even more dozens/thousands of species we haven't even noticed yet.

You need more than facts, to have meaning. Ha, ha..........almost counterproductive, speaking of traps.
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:53 am

Bobbo

Those three large animals were part of Roslings survey. I was just turning questions into statements incorporating the right answer. Certainly many other species are at risk, but that was not the point of what Rosling was doing. He was investigating how people believed stuff that is not true. His findings were that very few people had a correct view of the world. Pessimism dominated, even though a more optimistic approach was appropriate and more factually correct.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Dec 30, 2018 4:57 am

so........we should be "optimistic" that animals on the brink of extinction are still at the brink of extinction, as their natural habitat is continuously shrinking (there goes species variation and new growth forests) and all is right with the world?

I feel so releaved. Thanks......
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:03 am

I think you missed the point, Bobbo.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:07 am

Ok Lance.............which one of us.............moi or Dr Hans Roslings? Seems to me at least on the issue of the potential for imminent Large Mammal Extinctions, he wants to turn inconsequential increases in non sustainable numbers into a Mountain Peak? Or, am I just being too pessimistic?
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:45 am

Roslings book was NOT about large mammal extinctions. You seem to want to discuss that, which is unrelated. Why not start a different thread ?

Anyway, back to the good data coming from Rosling. Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty, defined as no more than $2 per day in present day dollars, has fallen. As a percentage of the total population, it was :
IN THE YEAR 1800, 85% OF THE HUMAN RACE.
IN THE YEAR 1966, 50% OF THE HUMAN RACE
TODAY, 9% OF THE HUMAN RACE.

How does that tie in with the widespread and unrealistic pessimism most people have ?
Last edited by Lance Kennedy on Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by ElectricMonk » Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:00 am

Such facts are useful for directing our efforts - but others might take them as an excuse to do nothing or even do worse - like opening up natural reservation for exploitation.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:02 am

The first step, EM, towards carrying out effective and constructive action, is to get your facts straight.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Gord » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:22 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:11 pm
1. In third world countries, as an overall average, 60% of girls complete primary school.
:golfclap:
Lance Kennedy wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:51 am
Bobbo

You fell headlong into a trap. Not set by me, or (deliberately) by Rosling, but there nevertheless.
The word America is not a synonym for the USA. It refers to that land stretching from the northern tip of Canada to the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego. It has marginally more than 1 billion population.
"America" means different things, depending on where you live. In North America it means the US. In South American, it refers to the giant megacontinent (they don't count North American and South America as separate continents in most of South America).

Why does it mean the US to so many people? Because the bastards named the country The United States of America. It implies the name of the country made of those united states is America. Compare that to, say, the united provinces of Canada or the united islands of Jamaica.

Why do most Canadian not consider themselves Americans? Because we don't want to be lumped in with our southern neighbours. Call a Canadian an American and be prepared to get a polite fist up your snoot. :slapfight:

So yes, the word America is a synonym for the USA. It's just not universally seen that way. Just as languages have regional variations, not every will consider America a synonym for the USA or banger as synonym for a sausage or lit as a synonym for wasted.
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by ElectricMonk » Sun Dec 30, 2018 4:37 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:02 am
The first step, EM, towards carrying out effective and constructive action, is to get your facts straight.
Nope.
The first step is to rank the problem and allocate resources accordingly, including for data gathering.
Some problems are so dire that we can't wait for comprehensive data - a good guess must suffice, followed by observation.
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:56 pm

Action without data is dangerous.
I do not mean getting your facts straight as a first action means going into stasis until you know everything. But it is important to know ENOUGH. Look before you leap is a vital principle.

And on the topic of preserving species, also from Roslings book.
Since 1960, the area of land protected by national parks and other reserves has gone from 2% to 15% of the Earths land surface.
Species now monitored to assess threats (and respond to those threats) between 1980 and the present has gone from 100 to 90,000.

Maybe if I keep trying, I can puncture the negativity of the pathological pessimists on this forum.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by TJrandom » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:08 pm

Natural parks and reserves will not save species at those rates. Saving habitat wherever it is found, in reserves or private property is needed. For some, restoration of habitat may be needed.

We have pathological pessimists here? Who knew?

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:43 pm

To TJ.

According to Rosling, a degree of pessimism is a part of human nature. Perceiving things from a nevative perspective may have been needed for survival, and programmed into the human brain by evolution. If so, then being a pessimist means being a primitive, following the behaviour patterns programmed in to us by a more primitive set of conditions.

The corollary to that is that the ability to over-ride the pessimism, and go with solid factual material instead, is a sign of a modern, rational and civilised person.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by TJrandom » Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:25 pm

That may be true, but it doesn’t make pessimists pathological... ill that is.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:45 pm

True.
I am using the term pathological pessimist as a tongue in cheek description. I hope it is taken that way.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:40 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:45 pm
True.
I am using the term pathological pessimist as a tongue in cheek description. I hope it is taken that way.
Ha, ha...............so is your claim of relying on data. Data vs Values: not the same thing.
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:35 am

Exactly.
Reality from me based on data.
Fantasy values based on pessimism.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:01 pm

Nothing wrong with aiming low within the margin of error.
It might even be irresponsible not to

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Dec 31, 2018 6:41 pm

Depends what you mean by margin of error.

Rosling points out that the responses to his quiz were poorer than expected by chance. The perception of various people, including many who are supposed to be experts, is appallingly bad. Rosling tells of his meeting with a number of teachers, who taught (among other things) about population growth. He asked them how many children there would be according to United Nations projections in 2100. Three options. These teachers of population growth got less than 33% correct. Less than would be expected by tossing a die. There is so much terrible ignorance, and false perception that needs correcting. The errors, by the way, tend to drift into the direction of pessimism, believing that things are worse than the reality.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Dec 31, 2018 6:48 pm

Guesses are data on perception, not facts.
We can estimate when global population will decline, but we should err on the side of caution and expect population to rise for longer.
Similarly, we should start planning NOW for a global temperature increase in the 2-3° in the next century range.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Dec 31, 2018 6:58 pm

Planning for things to be worse is good. But deluding yourself that the facts are different to what they really are, is bad.

As I will continue to assert, begin by getting your facts straight. Make allowances for things to be worse, sure. Planning that is not based on reality is doomed to fail.

Here is another fact.
Iran tends to be seen in the USA as a terribly backward country with horrible Muslim values. But it is important to get the facts and not go by preconceptions.
In the 1990s, Iran had the quickest drop in number of children per woman ever seen in history. Before, they had over 6 children per woman. After, it was less than two. Iranian women have fewer children now than the average American. This was due to a progressive and effective program with education and proper birth control clinics made available.

Would you have guessed that if I had not told you (after Roslings book told me.)?

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lausten » Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:06 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 6:58 pm
Here is another fact.
Iran tends to be seen in the USA as a terribly backward country with horrible Muslim values. But it is important to get the facts and not go by preconceptions.
In the 1990s, Iran had the quickest drop in number of children per woman ever seen in history. Before, they had over 6 children per woman. After, it was less than two. Iranian women have fewer children now than the average American. This was due to a progressive and effective program with education and proper birth control clinics made available.

Would you have guessed that if I had not told you (after Roslings book told me.)?
Headline this morning: Iran moves to ban Instagram amid social media crackdown

I get the theme, and I agree there is pessimism in the world. I'd note the survey sounds like it was in developed Europe and the US, so that would point to a problem with education and media in those areas. The two go hand in hand, since current events are not widely taught in public school and teachers are effected by media, so they pass it on. They are also swayed by the modern myth of progress that came out of the Enlightenment.

More to the point, these are capitalist success factors, and they are being measured at a time when wealth is concentrated. The poverty numbers are very recent, so they buck a trend that has been going on for decades. Granted, that trend bucks a much longer trend of not caring about poverty in other parts of the world at all. Charity across borders is very unique in history, something I hope continues, but I'm not convinced that it is genuine. Much of it is being done to get a footprint in places where there are resources to extract.
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Gord » Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:21 pm

Lausten wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:06 pm
Headline this morning: Iran moves to ban Instagram amid social media crackdown
Nice, a country after my own heart.
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:41 pm

Actually, the trend to reducing poverty has relatively little to do with charity. Not that charity is bad. It helps, but is a minor influence.

Poverty reduction comes with economic development and with trade.

We forget that economic growth is exponential. If you have growth of 3.5% per annum, then everyone gets twice as rich every 20 years. Or four times as rich in 40. Eight times as rich in 60. The fastest growing economies today are the poorer nations. The wealthy west grows only at about 2% per annum.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:10 pm

Everyone doesn't get richer when the top 1% grab 90% of the growth. More labelling to hide the facts.
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lausten » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:28 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:41 pm
Actually, the trend to reducing poverty has relatively little to do with charity. Not that charity is bad. It helps, but is a minor influence.

Poverty reduction comes with economic development and with trade.

We forget that economic growth is exponential. If you have growth of 3.5% per annum, then everyone gets twice as rich every 20 years. Or four times as rich in 40. Eight times as rich in 60. The fastest growing economies today are the poorer nations. The wealthy west grows only at about 2% per annum.
economic development and with trade - aka extraction of resources

everyone gets twice as rich every 20 years - see "everyone will be a millionaire", Jimmy Carter impersonation on SNL
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:46 pm

Lausten wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:28 pm
everyone gets twice as rich every 20 years - see "everyone will be a millionaire", Jimmy Carter impersonation on SNL
That was 20 years ago. How come I'm not a millionaire now? Something left out of the formula?????
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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:50 pm

Obviously, resources are not equally shared. That is why wealthy nations have their poor. But nations become wealthier as a whole by steady economic growth. Not by charity or foreign aid, though these can help if applied wisely.

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Re: Factfulness facts.

Post by Lausten » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:27 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:50 pm
Obviously, resources are not equally shared. That is why wealthy nations have their poor. But nations become wealthier as a whole by steady economic growth. Not by charity or foreign aid, though these can help if applied wisely.
My comment was about charity, but I didn't mean to limit my argument to just that. Economic development can be just as destructive. We went through that and corrected some of it be doing things like forgiving the predatory loans. We still dump cheap commodities instead of investing in infrastructure and continue to look the other on human rights abuses.
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