When the chimp wins the Factfulness test


The Factfulness book includes 13 questions at the beginning which you should have completed before reading this, as well as receiving your results. How did you go?

We will provide a full summary of the results from Cuffelinks readers in a couple of weeks, comparing them with Australian and worldwide results.

On the Gapminder website where the work of the Rosling family is shared, they include the results for five of the questions by respondents in Sweden, Norway, the US and South Africa.

They also highlight with a chimp logo and a yellow line where a random response would occur, such as with three possible responses, a chimp would average a 33% correct response. The amazing finding is that in most questions in most countries, people do far worse than simple random guesses. We are so badly informed about the world, with such bias built into the way events and numbers are reported, that we perform worse than if we had a blind stab at the answer.

To read each of these charts: the four coloured bars show the proportion of people from each country who selected answers A, B or C, and the darker shading shows the correct answer. For example, in question 1 for the US, 66% of responders said the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has ‘almost doubled’ in the last 20 years, whereas the correct response of ‘almost halved’ was recorded by only 5%.

Question 1

Question 2

Question 6

Question 9

Question 11

Look out in a couple of weeks for a report on all the questions, and how we compare with Australia-wide results.

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4 Responses to When the chimp wins the Factfulness test

  1. Emma Davidson October 14, 2018 at 7:25 AM #

    You probably are very well read on all the doom and gloom Roy! We never get to hear all these positive facts because they just don’t get air time. That said, I think things are changing, people want to hear more good news.

    I adore Hans Roslings’ work and I’m so chuffed Cuffelinke have shon the spotlight on his incredible work.

  2. Robbie October 11, 2018 at 3:53 PM #

    It’s important for us to know that even though there is still extreme poverty and ugliness in the world, that such amazing progress has been and is being made to improve humanity. Wouldn’t more people be happy to support charitable and aid organisations if these facts were more widely communicated? Kudos to the Factfulness team!

    • Warren Bird October 11, 2018 at 4:11 PM #

      Except that the reason for the improvements is not because of charities, it’s because of China.

      I support a few charities who I think do good work, but they’re all just chipping away at marginal improvements. Getting government that’s supportive of their country exporting its production and import what it can’t produce as cheaply itself is far more potent. If only Donald Trump realised this – he’s setting things back by his trade war behaviour.

  3. roy lawrence October 11, 2018 at 12:23 PM #

    A real eye-opener to me and I thought I was well-read

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