Why Gapminder Exists
We humans are born with a craving for fat and sugar. But that’s not all…we are also born with a craving for drama. We pay much more attention to stories that are dramatic, and we get bored if nothing happens.
Journalists, politicians, and lobbyists tell dramatic stories. That’s their job. They tell stories about extraordinary events and unusual people. These dramatic stories fill up people’s minds, creating an overdramatic worldview that can be very stressful. It leads to thoughts like: “The world is getting worse!”, “It’s us versus them!”, “Other people are strange!”, “The population just keeps growing!” and “Nobody cares!”.
For the first time in human history, reliable statistics now exist. There’s data on almost every aspect of global development, and it shows a very different picture: a world where most things improve; a world that isn’t divided; a world where people across all cultures and religions make decisions based on universal human needs, which are easy to understand. The world is getting better, not worse.
The rapid population growth we’ve seen over the last hundred years will soon be over. The total number of children in the world has already stopped growing. The remaining population growth that we’ll experience is an inevitable consequence of the large generations born several decades ago. We live in a globalized world, and not only in terms of trade and migration: More people than ever before care about global development! The world has never been less bad. It’s not perfect, of course — far from it — but it is better than ever before.
The dramatic worldview has to be dismantled. It leads people to focus on the wrong things, and bad decisions. We know this because we’ve measured global ignorance among the world’s top decision-makers in the public and private sectors. Worryingly, their levels of ignorance are high — just like those of journalists, activists, teachers, and the general public. This has nothing to do with intelligence. It’s simply a lack of factual knowledge.
Unfortunately, facts don’t come naturally — they have to be learned. Drama and opinions, on the other hand, do come naturally. To remedy this situation, we need to be teaching global facts in schools and corporate training. This is an exciting problem to work on and we invite all our users to join the Gapminder movement for global Factfulness.
The problem can be solved because the data exists!