Facts – and what they mean

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that one of the things I care about is using facts and interpreting them in a meaningful way; using numbers and putting them into context.

This week (first week in April 2018) BBC Radio 4 had a fascinating Book of the Week, broadcast in 5 episodes each morning from 9.45 to 10 am. Not maybe the most helpful slot in the day but as I’m retired I have been able to listen to them.

They are also available on the radio iplayer of the BBC. Below is a link to each of the episodes:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

The book is Factfulness by Hans Rosling. I don’t know much about Hans Rosling beyond the information on his Wikipedia page. What is clear is that his training as a statistician in particular gave him the ability to contextualise numbers in a way that is so often missing in today’s discussions.

In the episode aired on Thursday, the fact that grabbed me was his assertion that a lot of activists and campaigners don’t always know enough of the facts around their issue and therefore tend to make things sound worse than they are. Now things are not good on many fronts, but making them sound worse than they are can be very counterproductive because it can instil a sense of hopelessness.

There are many ways in which we can learn from Hans Rosling. So I encourage you to listen to the programmes the BBC aired, to read his book: Factfulness (the link is to the English Kindle edition – for which apologies – but it is a very easy format to access) or to listen to his TED talk.


And enjoy!

About martinaweitsch

I'm interested in politics and rational political debate which isn't afraid of the facts or the complexities and contradictions inherent in most important issues.
This entry was posted in Behind the Headlines, contextualising numbers, Facts, Statistics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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