Changing World: Is Ignorance Bliss?

The first thing to think about the future
is to know about the present. -Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling is a professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute. The ‘celebrity statistician’ began his wide-ranging career as a physician, spending many years in rural Africa, where he tracked and discovered the paralytic disease that he later named Konzo. Rosling’s first TED Talk in 2006, The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen earned him the reputation as “the man in whose hands data sings”. Since then, he has given 9 additional TED talks and has been hailed as the “Jedi master of data visualization”.

Moving forward, Hans Rosling and his son, Ola Rosing, set up the Gapminder Foundation to make the world’s data available in a way that everyone can understand. The visualization software they developed, called Trendalyzer, was purchased by Google for an undisclosed sum. Bill Gates credits Rosling’s work and clarity as his inspiration for donating billions to the developing world.

Hans Rosling: 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

Hans & Ola Rosling: How Not To Be Ignorant About the World

TED Talk: Full transcript

Thoughts & Questions for Discussion
• Does it matter if what the majority of people think about the world is often wrong?
• Does the media capitalize on our fears and distort our thinking?
• If our world views WEREN’T exaggerated, would we be inspired to act?
• Is the internet making our world views more, or less accurate?
• What impact might increased access to information have on younger generations?
• What are some steps we can take to improve our perceptions?
• Finally, are we happier when we are ignorant?

More Hans Rosling
TED Speaker Bio & List of TED Talks
Gapminder Foundation
Science Magazine: Hans Rosling Takes On Ebola

“I’ve never called myself an optimist,
but I do say I’m a possibilist. And I also say the world is much better than many of you think.” -Hans Rosling

Optional Homework: Please watch the following 1 hour Gapminder documentary, “DON’T PANIC” from Hans Rosling: and we will continue our discussion at the beginning of class next week.

Keep the conversation going! Please leave additional thoughts and comments below.

2 Comments on “Changing World: Is Ignorance Bliss?

  1. The news network I mentioned in class today is One America News. In Maryland it is only available if your cable provider is Verizon FiOS – but you can always go to the website!

  2. Thanks for some more availability of facts, to see reality.

    Less news entertainment, and more reality would help.

    Our culture needs, reality therapy.

    Short version of reality therapy is to see what is,
    plan baby steps towards what you want,
    rinse repeat with no judgments or blame.

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