“The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.” — See the book Factfulness »

Factfulness is a relaxing habit for critical thinking. It helps you maintain a fact-based worldview. It teaches you how to recognise and avoid the most common ways information gets misinterpreted.

First: Realize that we don’t see the world as it is.

Part is to accept that humans don’t see reality just as it is. There’s too much information for us to process it all. That’s why we all have an attention filter in our heads. But this attention filter is hard wired to make us care more about dramatic information, which easily leads to a stressful over-dramatic impression of the world.

(Download illustration)


Factfulness is the skill to recognise the common types of stories that tend to get all the attention because they trigger our dramatic instincts.

In the book Factfulness the three founders of Gapminder describe in practice how to use these rules of thumb in all kinds of situations and illustrate it with vivid stories from real life situations.

Second: Recognise what types of stories trigger our dramatic instincts

Next, you need to learn to recognise the common types of stories that trigger your dramatic instincts. this will help you control your intake of drama. Most people need to think twice to control their intake of sugar and fat. And it seems to be the same with drama. Here is the list of dramatic instincts and below this list we have listed the concrete rules of thumbs that help you avoid overdramatic interpretations.

Third: Use simple rules of thumb to resist over-dramatic stories

As soon as you start recognising the ten most common types of dramatic stories that trigger your dramatic instincts, it’s much easier to control your feelings of drama, and avoid having them triggered. You can quickly question the relevance of common dramatic interpretations with some few simple questions.

Factfulness Poster

Download: Our Factfulness Poster with the ten instincts and rules of thumb here »

Put it on your wall to always keep in mind that you need to control your ten dramatic instincts.

Visit the Factfulness forum to follow the discussion and ask questions.

Teaching Factfulness

Gapminder’s gives away all its teaching material used in our lectures and workshops for free (here) because we believe in free knowledge.

Free slideshows

These slides are useful to introduce the 10 instincts, one by one: Download powerpoint file.

Date Posted: 2018-02-27