Roland Hochstrasser Roland Hochstrasser RH+ Positive developments

Test your knowledge about the world using these 13 questions:

1. In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?
A. 20%
B. 40%
C. 60%?

2. Where does the majority of the world population live?
A. Low income countries
B. Middle income countries
C. High income countries?

3. In the last 20 years the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has?
A. almost doubled
B. remained more or less the same
C. almost halved?

4. What is the life expectancy of the world today?
A. 50 years
B. 60 years
C. 70 years?

5. There are 2 billion children in the world today aged 0-15 years old, how many children will there be in year 2100 according to the United Nations?
A. 4 billion
B. 3 billion
C. 2 billion?

6. The UN predicts that by 2100 the world population will have increased by another 4 billion people, what is the main reason?
A. There will be more children aged below 15
B. There will be more adults aged 15-74
C. There will be more very old people aged 75 and older?

7. How did the number of deaths per year from natural disasters change over the last 100 years?
A. More than doubled
B. Remained about the same
C. Decreased to less than half?

8. There are roughly 7 billion people in the world today, which options more accurately represents where they live?
A. 1 billion in Europe, 4 billion in Asia, 1 billion in Africa and 1 billion in America.
B. 1 billion in Europe, 3 billion in Asia, 2 billion in Africa and 1 billion in America
C. 1 billion in Europe, 3 billion in Asia, 1 billion in Africa and 2 billion in America?

9. How many of the world's 1 year old children today have been vaccinated against some diseases?
A. 20%
B. 50%
C. 80%?

10. Worldwide, 30 year old men have spent 10 years in school on average, how many years have women of the same age spent in school?
A. 9 years
B. 6 years
C. 3 years?

11. In 1996 tigers, giant pandas and black rhinos were all listed as endangered, how many of these three species are critically endangered today?
A. 2 of them
B. 1 of them
C. none of them?

12. How many people in the world have some access to electricity?
A. 20%
B. 50%
C. 80%?

13. Global climate experts believe that over the next 100 years the average temperature will on average?
A. get warmer
B. remain the same
C. get colder?

1C, 2B, 3C, 4C, 5C, 6B, 7C, 8A, 9C, 10A, 11C, 12C, 13A


In 2017 we asked nearly 12,000 people in 14 countries to answer our questions. They scored on average just two correct answers out of the first 12. No one got full marks, and just one person (in Sweden) got 11 out of 12. A stunning 15 percent scored zero.
Perhaps you think that better-educated people would do better? Or people who are more interested in the issues? I certainly thought that once, but I was wrong. I have tested audiences from all around the world and from all walks of life: medical students, teachers, university lecturers, eminent scientists, investment bankers, executives in multinational companies, journalists, activists, and even senior political decision makers. These are highly educated people who take an interest in the world. But most of them—a stunning majority of them—get most of the answers wrong. Some of these groups even score worse than the general public; some of the most appalling results came from a group of Nobel laureates and medical researchers. It is not a question of intelligence. Everyone seems to get the world devastatingly wrong.


Rosling, Hans. Factfulness. Milano: Rizzoli, 2018.

Journalists who reported flights that didn’t crash or crops that didn’t fail would quickly lose their jobs. Stories about gradual improvements rarely make the front page even when they occur on a dramatic scale and impact millions of people.
And thanks to increasing press freedom and improving technology, we hear more, about more disasters, than ever before. When Europeans slaughtered indigenous peoples across America a few centuries ago, it didn’t make the news back in the old world. When central planning resulted in mass famine in rural China, millions starved to death while the youngsters in Europe waving communist red flags knew nothing about it. When in the past whole species or ecosystems were destroyed, no one realized or even cared. Alongside all the other improvements, our surveillance of suffering has improved tremendously. This improved reporting is itself a sign of human progress, but it creates the impression of the exact opposite.
At the same time, activists and lobbyists skillfully manage to make every dip in a trend appear to be the end of the world, even if the general trend is clearly improving, scaring us with alarmist exaggerations and prophecies.


Rosling, Hans. Factfulness. Milano: Rizzoli, 2018.

This chapter has touched on terrifying events: natural disasters (0.1 percent of all deaths), plane crashes (0.001 percent), murders (0.7 percent), nuclear leaks (0 percent), and terrorism (0.05 percent). None of them kills more than 1 percent of the people who die each year, and still they get enormous media attention. We should of course work to reduce these death rates as well. Still, this helps to show just how much the fear instinct distorts our focus.


Rosling, Hans. Factfulness. Milano: Rizzoli, 2018.

Step-by-step, year-by-year, the world is improving. Not on every single measure every single year, but as a rule. Though the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress. This is the fact-based worldview.


Rosling, Hans. Factfulness. Milano: Rizzoli, 2018.

The world has completely changed. Today, families are small and child deaths are rare in the vast majority of countries, including the largest: China and India. Look at the bottom left-hand corner. The box is almost empty. The small box, with few children and high survival, that’s where all countries are heading. And most countries are already there. Eighty-five percent of mankind are already inside the box that used to be named “developed world.” The remaining 15 percent are mostly in between the two boxes. Only 13 countries, representing 6 percent of the world population, are still inside the “developing” box. But while the world has changed, the worldview has not, at least in the heads of the “Westerners.” Most of us are stuck with a completely outdated idea about the rest of the world.


Rosling, Hans. Factfulness. Milano: Rizzoli, 2018.

There has been progress in human rights, animal protection, women’s education, climate awareness, catastrophe relief, and many other areas where activists raise awareness by saying that things are getting worse. That progress is often largely thanks to these activists. Maybe they could achieve even more, though, if they did not have such a singular perspective—if they had a better understanding themselves of the progress that had been made, and a greater willingness to communicate it to those they seek to engage. It can be energizing to hear evidence of progress rather than a constant restatement of the problem. UNICEF, Save the Children, Amnesty, and the human rights and environmental movements miss this opportunity again and again.


Rosling, Hans. Factfulness. Milano: Rizzoli, 2018.

Statistics are often used in dramatic ways for political purposes, but it’s important that they also help us navigate reality.


Rosling, Hans. Factfulness. Milano: Rizzoli, 2018.

Have you heard people say that humans used to live in balance with nature?
Well, yes, there was a balance. But let’s avoid the rose-tinted glasses. Until 1800, women gave birth to six children on average. So the population should have increased with each generation. Instead, it stayed more or less stable. Remember the child skeletons in the graveyards of the past? On average four out of six children died before becoming parents themselves, leaving just two surviving children to parent the next generation. There was a balance. It wasn’t because humans lived in balance with nature. Humans died in balance with nature. It was utterly brutal and tragic.
Today, humanity is once again reaching a balance. The number of parents is no longer increasing. But this balance is dramatically different from the old balance. The new balance is nice: the typical parents have two children, and neither of them dies. For the first time in human history, we live in balance.


Rosling, Hans. Factfulness. Milano: Rizzoli, 2018.

I fruttariani a loro volta sembrano dilettanti dell'antionnivorismo, se paragonati ai melariani. Sì, il nome evoca esattamente quello che state pensando: ammaliati dal loro proverbiale potere di togliere il medico di torno, i melariani si cibano solo di mele. Secondo i più ortodossi - perché in giro si trova sempre qualcuno di più integralista -  si dovrebbe consumare esclusivamente la varietà Stark Delicious, l'unica veramente adatta alla fisiologia digestiva dell'uomo sulla base di ricerche di cui non è dato sapere.
Non dispongo di dati sulle percentuali di aderenti a questo regime alimentare né sui tempi di abbandono, ma non mi stupirebbe scoprire un turnover piuttosto elevato, volontario o per sopraggiunte complicazioni.

Avoledo, Luca. No vegan: la verità scientifica, oltre le mode. Milano: Sperling & Kupfer, 2017.


Roland Hochstrasser

Head of sector, Cultural Observatory
Change management, Museum, Travel Industry
Location: Switzerland
Available to: Global (English, Italian, French)

Osare: il progresso si ottiene solo così.
Oser: le progrès est à ce prix.
V. Hugo, Les misérables