Mistakes found

Here we list all mistakes found since the first English language edition of the book Factfulness from April 2018. These errors will not be found in most translations. If you have spotted a mistake that is not listed here, please let us know so we can add it to the list and improve future printings of the book.

Send an email to [email protected].

Author’s Note


Page 3, Test Yourself : Some translations of  Fact Question 1 has this problem

The English fact-question one reads correctly “In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?” The term “primary school” refers to the five first school-years, roughly up to ages 11, with some variations across countries. In many countries the term “primary education” has no clear correspondence to commonly used terms in the national education system. In some translated editions of Factfulness, the term “primary education” has accidentally been translated to a well known term instead, which unfortunately refers to longer schooling. E.g. in Swedish the term “grundskola” means 9 years of schooling, and in Norwegian the term “grunnskole” means 10 years. Readers of these translations will get the wrong impression that a majority of girls in low income countries complete nine or even ten years of schooling, which is absolutely wrong! In fact, only 34% of girls in low income countries finish seven years of schooling, according to recent Data from UNESCO-UIS: Lower secondary completion rate, female, % of relevant age group in Low-Income countries. We will correct this mistake in the upcoming re-prints of translated editions and we will also run a re-phrased version of this fact-question in public polls in the 14 countries in our study, explicitly mentioning “five first grades” in the question to see if this leads to different responses.

(Thanks to Aleksandar Kondic for pointing this out in our feedback forum here.)

CHAPTER ONE: The Gap Instinct

Page 37, line 1: “more than $64” should be “more than $32

Page 40, last paragraph: “Let’s get a better sense of the reality behind the numbers. First, let’s change the scale on the vertical axis. Using the same numbers, we now get a very different impression.” should be “If we change the scale on the vertical axis, the same numbers can be used to give a very different impression.”

(The claim “this gives a better sense of reality” accidentally appeared before the wrong pair of charts. It was meant to refer to the third pair of charts showing overlapping bell-curves. Now on page 41. Thanks Christian Berggren for pointing out this mistake.)

Page 41, first paragraph: “Now let’s look at the same data in a third way. Instead of looking at the averages each year, let’s look at the range of math scores, or incomes, in one particular year.” should be “Now, let’s look at the same data in a third way, which gives a better sense of the reality behind the numbers. Instead of looking at the averages each year, let’s look at the range of math scores, or incomes, in one particular year.”

CHAPTER TWO: The Negativity Instinct

Page 49, line 11: “housing market in 2007” should be “housing market in 2008

Page 49, line 24: “30 countries” should be “30 countries and territories”

Page 60, graph Legal Slavery: “out of 194” should be “out of 195

Page 60, graph Death Penalty: “out of 194” should be “out of 195

Page 60, graph Leaded Gasoline: “out of 194” should be “out of 195

Page 61, graph Smallpox: “out of 194” should be “out of 195

Page 62, graph Women’s Right to Vote: “out of 194” should be “out of 195”, and the number in the chart for 2017, should say “194” as only one country in the world is restricting women’s rights to vote compared to men.

Page 62, graph Democracy:

The improvement graph showing democracy is replaced with this graph showing improvement of number of teams in the Summer Olympics.

(Democracy in the world has definitely been improving in the long time perspective, but the quality of democracy has been falling during the past 10 years, and therefor some readers have complained that we shouldn’t call it an “improvement”.)

Page 68, line 2-3:violent crime rate” should be “crime rate”

Page 68, line 7:violent crime” should be “crime”

 CHAPTER THREE: The Straight Line Instinct

Page 92, line 16-17: “all children in the land around the Nile died” should be “all children died”

Page 97, line 5: “as a percentage of all deaths” should be “as a percentage of all child deaths”

 CHAPTER FOUR: The Fear Instinct

Page 115, line 11:Eight miles” should be “Eighteen miles”

Page 131, line 9: “never been lower.” should be “never been lower since the measuring began.”


 CHAPTER FIVE: The Size Instinct

 CHAPTER SIX: The Generalization Instinct

Page 148, graph: “Fact Question 2” should be “Fact Question 9”

 CHAPTER SEVEN: The Destiny Instinct

Page 177, line 5: “as Sweden was leaving Level 2” should say “as Sweden was leaving Level 1”

Page 182, line 5: “the chairwoman of the African Union” should be “the chairperson of the African Union Commission

 CHAPTER EIGHT: The Single Perspective Instinct

Page 201, line 13: “in 2016” should be “in the years 2012–2016”.

 CHAPTER NINE: The Blame Instinct

Page 216, line 20-29: should read “For example, Mao was undoubtedly an extraordinarily powerful figure whose actions had direct consequences for 1 billion people. Most often when I show the low birth numbers in Asia, someone says “That must be because of Mao’s one-child policy.”

But the infamous one-child policy had less influence than is commonly thought. The huge, fast drop from six to three babies per woman in China, happened in the ten years preceding the one-child policy. During the 36 years the policy was in place, the number never fell below 1.5, […]”

Page 217, line 6: should be added “[…] powerful man. And it wasn’t even Mao’s policy. It was introduced after his death.”

Page 218, line 1: “Mao’s one-child policy” should be “The one-child policy”

 CHAPTER TEN: The Urgency Instinct

Page 225, line 30:Kitwik” should be “Kikwit”

Page 232, line 23: “the vast majority of the world knows that.” should be “the vast majority of people living on Level 4 know that.”

Page 238, line 25: “loan crash in 2009” should be “loan crash in 2008

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Factfulness in Practice



Page 265, line 10:Torkild Tylleskär” should be “Thorkild Tylleskär”

APPENDIX: How Did Your Country Do?

Page 269, graph Fact Question 4 Results: We accidentally printed the wrong graph, the correct graph looks like this:

Page 271, graph Fact Question 7 Results: “Correct answer: more than doubled” should be “Correct answer: decreased to less than half


Page 275, line 16:“Prospect 2017” should be “Prospects 2017”

Page 277, Fact Question 6, line 3: “0.37 billion more children” should be “0.037  billion more children”

Page 280, line 32:184 countries” should be “144 countries”

Page 283, line 15: “Keilman (2010)” should be “Keilman (2001)”

Page 289, line 5:Anders Forø” should be “Andreas Forø”

Page 291, line 14-15: “destabilize countries—especially countries on Level 1—rather” should be “destabilize countries on Level 1, rather”

p. 295, line 4-6: The sentence marked as a quotation is not a quotation. Erase quotation marks.