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Effective Presentation of Statistical Information
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Hans Rosling has been voted as one of the most influential people in the world by several organizations and major magazines. He is an amazing statistician and public speaker; one can rarely help but get swayed when he adduces evidence in the form of statistics. He is a researcher and a doctor who has revolutionized the world with extensive researches that have helped make the world a better place. It is useful also to note that Mr. Rosling is also a thought leader, innovator, and an author among the very many things he does. In this talk delivered at the US States Department, Hans Rosling tries to sell an idea about a world view.
In the talk, Rosling points out that there are two opposing and contradicting mindsets. His goal was simply to show the different mindsets and to lobby for the new modern one. Interestingly, Hans Rosling only gets his facts from the green tree of real life. For example, he gives the illustration of how he captured the essence of the old mindset when he asked his students who are the ‘We’ and ‘Them’ when they are talking about the global issues. He got a simple straightforward answer; the ‘We’ represents the western world whilst ‘Them’ in that context represents the developing world; that answer eptomizes the old mindset. The argument for the old mindset is simple, funny but also true; the difference between the western world and the developing world is that in the western world, the parents decide to have fewer children and provide them with a higher life expectancy. Directly contrasting to this is the developing world, mostly consisting of African countries and few Latin American and Asian countries whose families are large and life expectancy is very short.
Did this video change my mindset? Well, yes, it did. I have pointed earlier that Hans Rosling is a statistician, and statistics does not lie. When I started watching the video, I was full of skepticism and had that same old mindset, but by the time he was concluding, I did not have an iota of doubt that it was time to embrace this new way of thinking; the new mindset. Rosling effectively pointed out that there is no ‘we’ and ‘them’ in this world. He claimed that the world is converging into one, meaning that there will come the time that all countries will be at par socially and economically. All the countries in the world were once at par or thereabouts, but then others started developing faster than the rest; the ones that lagged behind are now starting to catch up albeit through the aid and grants from the high iincome countries.
Rosling argues that there is no such a concept as developing world; he has a different view where he refers to “them” as low income countries. His argument is simple: these countries are also developing and you cannot generalize the whole continent or the whole country. For example, there are charts of life mortality against fertility rate, and the child mortality rate against the income of a country. These two graphs explicitly show that there are low income earning countries that are faring better towards achieving the fourth Millennium Development Goal, which is reducing infant mortality rates better than some western countries.
This video and the concepts advanced by Mr. Hans Rosling still are applied in 2012 and beyond. This is because the world is converging not around one superpower but just aggregates into one. His projections show that it is only a matter of time before poverty, high infant mortality rates, HIV, and other vices and pandemics that are ailing the least developed countries are eradicated through the applied knowledge. The countries like China and Japan will have their economies sky rocket in a short span. This may take a while, but that convergence is inevitable as Rosling’s research tries to bring out.