Working with Enlightened Cognitive Dissonance

How the Global Ignorance Test  and the Gapminder Data System  works in the context of “Futuristic” Management Consulting

Tristan & Matthias Horx


What do we think about the world? The answer to this question is not trivial. In a “post-fact culture”, where rationality seems to vanish in the storms of lies and conspiracy theories, beliefs about the future are crucial. If we believe that the world can’t be rescued, we become either cynical or depressed. But facts are, as we know from cognition psychology, not facts for the brain – they are informations without meaning until they become “framed” by emotion and belief. 

We have been working in forecasting and trend research for more than 20 years, throughout the German-speaking countries and beyond. Never has the future seemed so bland, so negative, when a Zeitgeist of pessimism is tearing apart old models of past, present and future. We have been using the Global Ignorance test with small and big audiences, mostly managers and entrepreneurs. Our consultancy company ZUKUNFTSINSTITUT (40+ employees, Vienna and Frankfurt) does up to a hundred long-term consulting processes and hundreds of speeches a year. This means reaching approximately 10.000 people with power and responsibility each year. Our goal is to give them proper insight into the real changes in our world, the so-called Megatrends. The wider goal is to teach systemic thinking and multi-perspective management.



Using the Global Ignorance Test on these audiences has a wonderful cathartic effect. As the Rosling family have shown again and again, the more people think they are “experts” in terms of trends and world knowledge, the less they tend to be. The higher the ranks of management, the worse the answers to the questions such as “How much did the flow of worldwide emigrants increase in the last ten years?”. Their reactions to their own wrongness are a brief silence, followed by astonishment. In this silence, new thinking occurs. We can feel their brains aching and scratching, and we turn this energy around into a new openness and understanding. This enables us to convey a new understanding of globalisation and the implications for management and responsibility. Communicating this is such an integral part of our work, that we have published a study on it in the Summer of 2017 – The New Global (Available in German here:

Sometimes we experience quite funny open denials. A manager of a telecommunication company recently stuttered in disbelief: “This may be true, but I don’t want to be convinced!” And this is exactly where the test is so brilliant. Paired with the emotionality of the Dollar Street documentations, we can change people’s perceptions of the global world, and thus help them move in the right direction. 

Experience shows, the more you can “shock” the audience with their own misconceptions, the more they listen to new ideas and points of views in what follows. This is why starting our presentations with the global ignorance test works so well – it confronts the brain with its own cognitive dissonance and biases. 

The cathartic effect is deepened when we show the Gapminder data and how to use it. Thanks to the tools of the Rosling family, we have managed to help hundreds, if not thousands of minds think differently about the world and the future. This we hope might have helped a bit to save the world, because only constructive minds can create constructive business. If the future has to be saved “in the mind”, the Gapminder Data System  is the best “weapon” we have. Just as the aliens in the new science fiction film “Arrival” called their sophisticated language a “weapon” in the sense of future knowledge, Gapminder is a key tool for mind-changing for a better future.



Gapminder Desktop launched

Now you can use Gapminder World – with all its indicators – from your own computer, even when you have no Internet. Just download and install the new Gapminder Desktop.

A downloadable version of Gapminder World is the single most requested tool, and we are very happy to be able to now offer just that, free of charge.

Click here to downloadClick here to download Gapminder Desktop

Gapminder Desktop is particularly useful for presentations as it allows you to prepare your graphs in advance and you won’t need an Internet connection at your lecture or presentation.

In the “list of graphs” you will get at preset list of graphs on the left side, but you can also very easily create your own favorite examples. Simply arrange the graph the way you want it and click “bookmark this graph”. Your example will the appear in your own list of favorite graphs. Perfect when you want to prepare a lecture or presentation.

Click here to download Gapminder Desktop

Google launches Data Explorer

Google Public Data Explorer, a new powerful visualization tool that lets you explore, visualize and share data in a “Gapminder-like” manner, was launched by Google earlier this week.

Population without access to improved water source

The new tool lets you explore data from a number of data providers such as World Bank, EuroStat, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisitics and U.S. Census Bureau through “Bubble-charts”, maps, bar- or line charts, that you can share on your blog, web page or other media.

Three years ago, Google acquired Trendalyzer – the technology behind Gapminder World – from Gapminder. Since then, they have launched Motion Chart (a gadget that lets you make charts from you own data) and a public data search function that make it easier to find public data in a normal google search.

The new Public Data Explorer is still a Google Labs-project, which means that it is till work in progress. We hope that more data providers will make their data available through this technology to increase the use of data in the general discussion about the world.

More examples of what you can do:

Unemployment (total and in per cent) in the US

Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the U.S.

High income – rare in tropical land-locked countries

The role of geography for the prospects of development has been hotly debated the last decade. Economists, like Jeffrey Sachs, have suggested that a country that are situated in the tropics or that are landlocked face a much larger challenge in development, for a number of reasons.
Continue reading “High income – rare in tropical land-locked countries”

Hans Rosling debunks myths in new lecture-series

<br />Can the population growth be stopped? Is Brazil, Egypt and Bangladesh now improving faster than Sweden ever did? And can everyone live on the same level as the rich countries?

In a new lecture series, filmed in a studio at the Swedish Television, Hans Rosling answer yes to all questions above.

The lecture has been divided into three videos that you can find in the video-section.

Part 1 – What stops population Growth?
Part 2 – Poor beat rich in MDG race
Part 3 – Yes they can!

Request a Speaker

We lecture all over the world. If you want us to help your organization gain a fact-based worldview, please use this form to request a speaker.

Remember to tell us which sector you belong to (public, corporate, finance…), date, location, size of audience and what you hope to achieve.


Read our FAQ-section to see if what you are looking for is already there. You’ll find answers to questions such as:

If you don’t find the answer you need, feel free to write to us at [email protected] We receive a lot of questions and requests, so we might take a bit of time to get back to you – but we will.

Post Address:
Stiftelsen Gapminder
Box 38025
100 64 Stockholm

Organisation number


Statues of the Gapminder Foundation

Adopted by deed of 25 February 2005

Article 1

The name of the Foundation shall be the Gapminder Foundation. It shall be an operating foundation based in Stockholm, Stockholm County.

Article 2

The object of the Foundation shall be to promote sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by increased use and understanding of statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels.

Article 3

The object of the foundation shall be achieved by:

(1) use and development of information technology for easily understandable visualization of statistics and other information;

(2) ownership, protection and free dissemination of the development results;

(3) use, together with various cooperation partners, of the development results with a view to making statistics and other information about development available and understandable to broad user groups via the Internet and other media.

Article 4

The Foundation shall not have any religious or political affiliation.

Article 5

The activities of the Foundation shall be financed by contributions from national and international organizations that wish to promote free and independent access to broad user groups to easily understandable information about global, national and local development.

The foundation shall, in addition, seek to raise revenue for its activities by making use of its development results and expertise to sell services and licenses related to the development results.

The Foundation shall have the right to own stocks and shares in commercial limited companies and other legal persons with a view to using the Foundation’s development results and expertise and raising revenue for the Foundation.

Article 6

The affairs of the Foundation shall be managed by a Board composed of not less than five nor more than seven members which shall elect a chair from among its members. One of the Board members shall be elected by the founders for as long as any of them are still alive. The other Board members shall be elected by the Board. Members should have experience of international development cooperation, research and provision of free and independent information and statistics in various ways.

The first Board shall consist of:

Ambassador Gun-Britt Andersson, Paris

Professor Christer Gunnarsson, Lund University

Professor Bo Sundgren, Stockholm School of Economics

Professor Hans Rosling, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm

Professor Hans Wigzell, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm

Article 7

The Board shall be responsible for keeping accounts, preparing a budget for each financial yea and preparing annual accounts after the end of the year in accordance with the provisions of the Foundations Act. The financial year shall coincide with the calendar year and the annual accounts shall be prepared by 30 April each year.

Article 8

The Board shall meet at least twice a year when convened by the Chair or at the request of at least one of its members.

The Board shall, at a meeting held not later than 30 April each year, adopt an annual report together with an income statement and balance sheet for the past year.

The Board shall, at the meeting held during the period September-December, adopt an operational plan and a budget for the coming year.

Article 9

The Board’s management shall be reviewed by at least one authorized public accountant.

Article 10

The Board may take decisions relating to acquisition, sale and mortgaging of real property and to raising of loans. The Foundation’s assets shall be made interest-bearing by prudent means.

Article 11

These statues may be amended by the Board of the Foundation in accordance with chapter 6, section 1 of the Foundations Act (SFS 1994:1220).

I, undersigned, hereby certify that this is a true translation of the original Swedish document.

Robert F Crofts, 30 March 2006

Certified Public Translator from Swedish into English and from English into Swedish accredited by the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency.

Statues of Gapminder Foundation (pdf)

Stadgar (pdf in Swedish)

Stiftelseförordnande (pdf in Swedish)


2020   Prize of Integration 2020, Stiftung Apfelbaum

2020 Japanese Business Book Award Business Book Grand-prex 2020

2020 Stora retorik priset

2019 Gourmand Awards 2019, A06 SPECIAL AWARDS – PRIVATE

2019 Nominated to Utstickarpriset by Polarbröd

2019 Fostrargärningsmedaljen 

2019 Management book of the year category Management Futures

2019 Nominated for best Business Book in Japan

2019 Financial Times + McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award nomination

2019 Winner of Knowsquare Best Business Book Award, Spain

2018 Bill Gates gave a copy to all college graduates in US

2018 Wallenberg+ Nobelstiftelsen gave one copy each to all 18 years old last year in gymnasiet in Sweden

2017 Dialogpriset

2017 Resume Superkommunikatör kategory “NGOs and governmental organisations”

2017 Guldägget, Titanpriset till Gapminder

2017 Fast company World Changing Ideas Award: Dollar Street

2016 Winner of Leonardo Award 2016: Crossing Borders

2016 Winner of International Integrated Development Prize, Niras (20.000 EURO)

2015 Winner of Brewhouse Award Socialt entreprenörskap och Sociala Innovationer for Dollar Street

2015 Became a Katedralskolan Alumni. A plate on the wall.

2014 Don´t Panic wins Royal Televison Society´s Television Journalism Awards, in the category Innovative News 

2010 winner of World Technology Award , design category for Gapminder design

2010 nominated World Technology Award for Gapminder in the category  IT Software

2009 (Trendalyzer) one of Planetizen Top 10 websites 2009,

2009 received  ‘Massage of the Month January 2009’ for DIVE Browse page from Google Ads User Experience team 

2008 nominated to ‘ICT re-newer of the year’, Kompetensgalan, Sweden

2007 nominated to Webby Award, Best Visual Design

2006 nominated to World Technology Award for Trendalyzer

2004 received  ‘Appropriate and Sustainable Solution of the Month’ by Engineers Without Borders

2003 received  World Panorama Awards, Category Education for Dollar Street

2002 nominated to European Academic Software Awards for Dollar Street

New feature in Gapminder World

We have added a menu to the right of the Gapminder World to improve the usability. This new feature allows you to directly from the graph access information about the graph, find relevant links, watch tutorials, participate in discussions about the data, get tips on how to use the graph, and much more.

Go to the graph to see the new feature.

We have just started to experiment with this feature so for now we only have included a few points, but more will be added with time. Comments and suggestions are warmly welcome.

Life expectancy expanded

We have used some additional sources to add more data to the indicator “Life expectancy at birth”. You can now follow several European countries from the 19th century and India, Sri Lanka and USA from the beginning of the 20th century. Data for Taiwan, which has previously been missing for this indicator, is now available from 1928. See Taiwan almost catch up with Australia, in both life expectancy and income. Or follow Sweden for 206 years of health history, with decreasing infant mortality and increasing life expectancy, as income also increases (income is seen as bubble color in this example).

Access to the data and information on sources can always be found (for all indicators) by clicking the symbols next to the indicator name on the axis.