Debunking Some Third World Myths

With insightful data backed by some spectacular charts Hans Rosling shows how some pre-conceived notions and grand generalizations (about the Third World countries, in this case) can be sharply in contrast with the facts.

In the beginning of his talk, Rosling discusses how he accidently “discovered” that the Swedish (undergraduate) students knew statistically significantly less about the world than the Chimpanzees. We know that this example is merely a humorous segway into the rich discussion that follows, his comment is worth taking a note “the problem is not ignorance, it’s the pre-conceived ideas.”

The video (with better quality) can be viewed also on the TED web-site (link). This web-site is a great collection of such fascinating talks given by some leading thinkers of our times.

While the logarithmic scales can be misleading, some simplifications demand further inquiry, and the authenticity and accuracy of data from the Third World countries can be questionable, the essence of this talk is quite striking. John F Kennedy once said “The great enemy of truth is very often not a lie – deliberate contrived and dishonest, but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”

P.S. Those uber-cool graphs and motion charts in Rosling’s presentation were created by Trendalyzer software that was developed by Gapminder Foundation (now acquired by Google).


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