Hans Rosling: Stats that Reshape Your Worldview

In his talk, Rosling evokes the feeling of a horse race. Balls move across the screen, some faster than others. In the meanwhile Rosling provides enthusiastic commentary and we even get an ‘instant replay’.
Rosling shows us the economic and health developments of all countries in a moving diagram. People tend to think about the world in terms of large regions, but the statistics prove us wrong. So countries – represented through balls, the size determined by the countries’ population – zip across the screen, as we see their development from the 1960s onwards. They move on two scales: child survival and wealth.
If we just watch the development for larger regions, the balls keep being surprisingly close to one another. But, if we start looking at more regional statistics, larger differences become visible. Even between neighbours, like Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, variations are huge and more useful to provide explanations and solutions. Differences between South-Africa, Uganda and Niger are vast, though still we tend to compile them as ‘Africa’.
“The statistics must be more highly contextualized and detailed”, pleads Rosling. Data from the United Nations, independent countries and universities should be combined to gain this more detailed view. He has worked on Gapminder, a program which compiles the data, but it still needs a decent search function in order to make the data useful.

Blog by: Ruud Vos

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