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Like many others, I first heard about the work of the late Hans Rosling through his TED lectures, in which his animated bubbles (nations over the decades shown as bubbles proportional to population size, rising or falling against some criterion, such as lifespan) revealed the mostly good news about human progress across the world. The lecture content was not a surprise. For decades the UN, WHO and other institutions had been showing welcome improvements in health and educational attainments in formerly poor countries. Documentaries in the 1980’s and 1990’s had illustrated the living circumstances of people at different levels of income. I can still remember an African man at the lowest living standards proudly showing off his heart-breaking annual material gains: a good shirt, a pair of trousers, and some shoes. The daily battle of the poor to get water, firewood and other necessities was contrasted at the end of the scale with a middle income European, where water came without any problem from taps in the home, the toilets flushed, and electricity and food were always available. It was all the more impactful because the Austrian’s income was low and his flat was modest, but it seemed bathed in luxury when set in global context.

This good message was amplified by many authors. Matt Ridley’s “Rational Optimist” was an excellent example. For centuries having light at home was a cumbersome and expensive business. The Romans had oil lamps with simple wicks. Candles were a great improvement, paraffin lamps with mantles (I grew up with those) an improvement on candles, and then incandescent bulbs were a paradigm shift, making night work possible. Since then the cost of lighting has fallen even further, with LED lighting consuming a fraction of the wattage of the older lamps. A good story of human ingenuity.

Hans Rosling, with whom I shared a Nobel Prize in 1985, follows a noble tradition of clear-headed helpfulness. A doctor specialising in public health, he used research to focus efforts on bringing health to poor (and poorly ) countries. Like all good educators, he begins with a quiz. The revelation of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom. I did pretty well on his questions, but felt I had cheated. From previous publications and some of my reading I knew the global story was a good one, so if in doubt I just went for the most positive outcomes. There are 13 questions, and I claim 9 right. By the way, question 7 is about the number of deaths from natural disasters. Page 5 says the deaths halved over the last 100 years (true) but page 271 says they doubled. Not good to criticize punters for getting questions wrong if the book can’t consistently get the answers right.

What is the book about? The major theme is that the state of the world is far better than people realise. Rosling does not regard himself as an optimist, but a possibilist. He shows that improvements are possible. While giving the figures, Rosling tries to explain why they come as a surprise to so many people, including aid workers, government officials, journalists, documentary film makers, and leaders of global corporations. He does very well on this, showing that we make a number of errors, particularly in using news broadcasts about exceptional events as a fallible benchmark regarding country differences. A lot of the book is about the proper management of data, and all this is good, and informative. He clearly shows that bad things are decreasing, and explains that publicizing these facts is not tantamount to declaring that no further effort is required to make things even better. Crime seems to be going up because we find murder stories more interesting than proper crime statistics. So long as we get an awful crime story once a week we can maintain our subjective feelings about society falling apart. Rosling is also good about the perils of simple extrapolation, and stresses the need to think in curves rather than just straight lines. Many global statistics are S shaped: a slow start when nothing seems to work, then a very rapid improvement, and then a gently rising plateau.

All this is very well, yet it would be wrong not to mention what the book leaves out. The underlying assumption is that all people all over the world are fundamentally the same, and although some countries have persistently rotten governments the people themselves are sensible, and have worked to achieve the great advances that the book records. Rosling puts no stock on the effects of ideology or religion, but believes that the data show that incremental improvements occur everywhere, despite those supposed differences.

There is validity in this argument, but it is far from a full picture. It is good to show that people make their own decisions about family size regardless of religion. I think that the “fundamental-sameness-of-people” argument somewhat elides obvious objections. Why should the good citizens of Africa require the services of a Swedish epidemiologist? Why not use home-grown talent? Rosling gave up his Christmas to hurry to Africa to sort out the Ebola crisis, having noticed the exponential rise of cases which normally denotes an epidemic. Once there he did a bit of work to distinguish between suspected and confirmed cases, showing that there was an understandable fear-driven over-diagnosis, super-imposed on a real epidemic, but that the steps taken so far were having the desired effect of reducing real cases. Good stuff. How come, some five or six decades after liberation from the colonial yoke, that no one on the ground in Africa had done the necessary spade work with the spreadsheets? (If they had, an apology is required from the authors).

David Landes’ conclusion, having studied the economic history of the world to determine how a nation becomes wealthy, can be summarised in one word: innovate. Rosling never mentions innovation. African inventions should be making their impact by now, at the very least challenging Asian and Indian businesses. He does not mention that China and India shot ahead by turning away from full central planning to their own versions of free enterprise. Rosling sees the growing level 2 world mostly as an investment opportunity for Western businesses. Some Africans have higher ambitions, and would like to be welcomed in Europe as wealthy tourists, once their own economies flourish in the globalised world economy. Too early to say when that will happen.

On the predicted African population boom Rosling is confident the UN is right to predict global population in 2100 as 11 billion, and that getting people out of extreme poverty will bring Africa down to the world pattern of less than 2.5 children per woman. However, he accepts that by 2100 there are predicted to be 3 billion more Africans and 1 billion more Asians, for a world picture of 1 billion Americans, 1 billion Europeans, 4 billion Africans, 5 billion Asians. He says that by 2014 60% of wealthy people (level 4) will live outside the West, and that Western domination of the world economy will be over. I feel that, in a mobile world, and given the track record of African governments, an extra 3 billion Africans will present the world with some problems, not least of which will be African migration to Europe.

Rosling is what the English would call “a good bloke”. Anyone who has done a fraction of his noble work would be justifiably proud of themselves. He is not afraid to distance himself from popular hysterias. For example, he points out, politely, that DDT was given a bad name by an alarmist book, and has never been shown to harm a human being, whilst its prohibition has contributed to many preventable deaths. He shows that the alarmist response to Fukushima killed many elderly people who were unnecessarily evacuated. He is clear-eyed about the Cuban regime. He does not buy the story that climate change must take priority over other pressing needs. Most of the time, Rosling is evidence-based.

Rosling is good at tracking down cognitive errors in medicine, such as not noticing the patients one does not see. Practical medicine in poor countries should be community and not hospital based. Don’t expend too much effort on perfect treatment of the visible individual case if it distracts you from the hundred invisible cases that could be helped with minimal imperfect interventions. Always put numbers in context. Don’t let them be lonely. Don’t be swayed by big number scares.

Rosling at times almost argues that we should we forget countries, and just talk about 4 global levels of income: the four strata of humanity. I forsee problems with that.

In his section “Africa can catch up” Rosling talks about the different status of Africa north of the Sahel, noting that Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Egypt have life expectancies of 72 years, but does not mention that they have higher intelligence. Indeed, as you would expect from these sorts of publications, there is no mention of intelligence at all.

Although the book is replete with statistics, there is no attempt to model them and identify causal links. In that sense, it is not a research-based book on national progress rates. They are described, and the causes are ascribed, often with stories. Questions about the relative impacts of capitalism, international aid, Chinese appetite for resources and globalization generally are not considered. It might have been too much for one book, but sometimes the anecdotes, entertaining as they are, get in the way of analysis.

I give this book two cheers: one for showing the improving state of the world, and the other for being clear headed about statistical and epidemiological matters. I cannot cheer this book for ignoring any discussion of human capital. In another decade or two we will see whether Rosling or Rindermann is the better guide to national prosperity.

• Category: Economics • Tags: Africa, Development 
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  1. m___ says:

    Very prudent critique, we deduct James Thompson is suggestively, and prudently inclined to see future outcomes that matter as different from the simplistic predictions of the Roslings.

    Rosling is himself a victim, and a willing perpetrator on the career level of “public intellectualism”, of opportunistic myopia. In a limited context of reality one can “proof” anything.

    His magician – data scientist mix, very original and enjoyable, of a population peak and “middle-class” living standards for most of the global population are deviations of the relevancy of the real issues. Population levels even today. Proportionate race, group, sub-group identities and their numbers, toxicity, resource exhaustion. In short any definition of quality of life. He is of course not the only “thinker” omitting part of the context, all and any theoretical economist does better.

    A glorious day, the original Rosling being still marketable post mortem.

  2. Anonymous [AKA "SimpleSoodo"] says:

    “Hans Rosling, with whom I shared a Nobel Prize in 1985” — huh?

    • Replies: @anon
  3. drives me nuts how these TED talkers omit the most important variable – intelligence! doing so gives them a larger audience & more \$. he’s a sell out, but you are not!

    I take it you were both members of the “International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War” that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize? belated congratulations:)

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  4. Read the book.

    • Replies: @hyperbola
    , @pyrrhus
  5. @egregious philbin

    Yep. It has not changed my life.

  6. Polynices says:

    Interesting topic. I’m reminded of Nassim Taleb’s frequent warnings about black swans. Sure, things look to be getting better and better but the turkey sees things getting better and better all year right up until late November.

    Another thing Taleb rails against: if you’re talking about the problems of “Africa” you mean sub-Saharan Africa and bringing in North Africa is as unhelpful as bringing in any other unrelated distant part of the world. They’re different places with different people that only happen to be on the same physical continent.

  7. songbird says:

    In my reading of this genre – world development or aid – the authors typically make no acknowledgement of human differences. Indeed, they take pains to ignore them, but, in the end, they almost always acknowledge them – albeit in an exceedingly blind sort of way: by acknowledging regional differences in development.

  8. “China and India shot ahead by turning away from full central planning to their own versions of free enterprise”.

    China was the poorest country on earth in 1949, far poorer than Afghanistan today. India was rich by comparison. Yet China had overtaken India in every metric by 1979–one generation–under central planning. Today, still under central planning (if the US Government’s recent statements are to be believed), it is overtaking the USA in almost every metric, too.

    There’s nothing wrong with central planning if your planners are competent and honest and your people smart and cooperative.

  9. DDT was not banned for the application of protection of households, and as an example, South Africa still allows that application. The ban was on the application to crops, which require far more DDT due to dilution by rain. Such dilution produces run-off, which then produces low concentration DDT environments, ideal for evolution of resistance to DDT. In most of the cases where DDT has been discontinued in the application of human protection, it was due to the development of DDT resistance.

    • Replies: @byrresheim
  10. m___ says:
    @Godfree Roberts

    Today, still under central planning (if the US Government’s recent statements are to be believed), it is overtaking the USA in almost every metric, too.

    We agree,

    There is a “thousand” ways into relative(as compared to distinct entities) riches. For nations, for corporations(decidedly authoritarian), for systems(Western public sector steerage of currency). All these venues are more or less “central planning”. The difference is mainly by whom.

    There is no such venue-way into wealth for all(including the to be generations, understood as sustainability) spanning the globe yet. The explanatory ambition of the art-y graphics of Rosling are equally primitive. Why? Pick any entity, Global corporations as in the West, interacting public entities such as the World Bank, the EU… “central planning economies”, economic theories. Not a single one includes the variables of population, resources, toxicity, a long-term vision. Neither is there any hint to a clear goal such as quality of life. The funny suggestion, pushed as of lately to convert the globe’s population into eating as vegetarians. Eating as a vegetarian to obsolete cattle, has the serious drawback of now humanoids producing the same amount of Co2 per calorie as a cow. The examples of running against the wall for not expanding the context of theory to reality are endless.

    Back to Rosling myopia: how on earth can he suggest, without questioning the basic feasibility for physical limits of resources and toxicity a “middle class” status(a relative concept by the way), for all? This is just a single example. Rosling is a statistics clown, proof of how numbers can lie better then words. His prowess lies in being a clown, he made as one of the first ones, graphics, statistics sexy for the crowds.

  11. @Johan Meyer

    That, and the words about Cuba.

    If not even scientists can be relied upon to check their working hypotheses (we all hate prejudices, don’t we) from time to time, who can?

  12. is an excellent website for reminding oneself that we are very clever monkeys adding a positive rate of compound interest to our achievements. At least since the industrial revolution.

    Africa hasn’t been compounding for so long, certainly away from West Africa. That said there is a cluster of innovations around cell phone use for microbanking (more than credit), market price reporting ànd so on. Hardly Silicon Valley but a definite cluster (in Kenya). That said, India does more bottom billion invention than SSA. Even India does not translate that into much innovation but then, Argentina, a case study in throwing it away by bad institutions not racial intelligence.

  13. Argentina is always a case study. The day it rains soup they will have a fork in their hands.

    • LOL: Philip Owen
    • Replies: @myself
    , @hyperbola
  14. Thinking like this is the reason why Sweden is now overrun with Third World rape gangs.

    But Rosling is right about one thing: The world is a lot better than many people believe. This provides the answer to a question that would otherwise remain inexplicable and mysterious, viz. Why hasn’t the collapse happened yet? With the global economy stagnant, the debt piling up, the geopolitical situation fraying, the demographic inversion looming, and with so many fragile systems operating close to the red line, why haven’t there been any more obvious cases of the system starting to fall apart?

    It is because there is much more inertia in the system than we typically realize. The design margin is being used up, but it was much thicker than we imagined. God and nature can be quite forbearing, but there will come a time when their patience is over. We have trended in the wrong direction for too long to be able to get away with just making minor adjustments to what is a fundamentally unbalanced and unrealistic order. Not only is the world not good, it is downright terrible. It’s just that the full fruits of that terribleness have yet to be borne.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  15. myself says:
    @James Thompson

    Argentina is always a case study. The day it rains soup they will have a fork in their hands.

    Is that the same as saying that they never miss an opportunity . . . to miss an opportunity?

  16. The idea that this planet already is heavily overpopulated, I do not see.
    How to lower the African birth rate, I have no idea.
    Then ‘forget nations’, what is this supposed to mean ?
    They exist.

    • Replies: @Dave Bowman
  17. @Godfree Roberts

    China is not centrally planned anymore.
    Central planning everywhere was unable to deliver those products and services that consumers want.

    • Replies: @foolisholdman
  18. Anonymous [AKA "Conall"] says:

    “Factfulness”? sounds a bit like “Truthiness”!

    so long as you throw in a few “providing that”s you can claim almost anything!

    Population Problem Solved? Politicians heave a sigh of relief and defund messy and unpopular (with religious bigots) programmes. But they missed the ‘providing that’ sotto voce that delightfully Rosling included.

  19. @Godfree Roberts

    Could not agree more. Everything hinges on who runs the central planning and what motivates them. BTW, a majority of China’s economy is still state-owned and run, including critical sectors such as finance. Guess (((who))) doesn’t get a slice of that pie!

  20. Sean says:

    I suppose Stonehenge was a sign of progress, then the Bell Beakers turned up.

    Rosling at times almost argues that we should we forget countries… Rosling puts no stock on the effects of ideology or religion,

    Show me an intellectual who doesn’t discount everything that makes the world go round. Well, John Gray hates meliorism even more than the nations, ideologies, and religions that espouse it admittedly.
    What does it mean to say that a communist who yearns for the coming of the classless society is really expressing just the same view as a millenarian looking to the reign of Christ on earth? The form of the belief may be roughly similar, but the content is entirely different. And if these are “inherited” ideas standing in a “lineage”, what is the evidence of a continuous chain of transmission – from, say, the 16th-century radical Anabaptists of Münster (whose chaotic quasi-communist experiment Gray describes in graphic detail) to the Bolsheviks of Petrograd and Moscow? As for the religious myths “renewing themselves” in a secular guise: this seems perilously close to the mindset of Dawkins’s theory of “memes”, which Gray has scornfully dismissed as hardly a theory at all. […] But if the same impulse can produce a religious idea in one period and a secular one in another, it seems that the impulse is something that stands behind both, itself neither secular nor religious. In which case, the modern atheisms may be not so much reproducing religious beliefs as expressing some basic yearnings that are pre-religious or non-religious in themselves.

    The world could go on forever if we were just looting, woman stealing, and murdering between tribes. But the cancer of history (Bell Beakers) started to innovate technologically and amalgamate into bigger and bigger units; some countries are achieving the critical mass to invent the Final Program. Co-operation and the attendant technological advances will be humanity’s tomb. As Marshall McLuhan taught us, everything must overheat and become its opposite. Progress will too.

  21. @Intelligent Dasein

    The world is a lot better than many people believe. (…)
    Not only is the world not good, it is downright terrible. It’s just that the full fruits of that terribleness have yet to be borne.

    Now I don’t really feel like someone should go ‘n’ get this one figured out. I’m quite sure though, “that there’s something funny going on, I can just feel it in the air…” ( Bob Dylan, Lilly, Rosemry ‘n’ the Jack-of-Hearts / Blood on the Tracks).

    (I’m tired, it’s time for a nap.)

  22. Anonymous [AKA "Thulean Perspective"] says:

    I cannot cheer this book for ignoring any discussion of human capital.

    It is well worth pointing out that during the height of (recent) migration crisis of 2015, Rosling went on national Swedish TV and claimed, without missing a beat, that this was a “glimrande ekonomisk möjlighet”, which can be translated into “golden economic opportunity”.

    He was also extremely arrogant and dismissive of anyone who thought otherwise. So I am not surprised that his book is flawed in fatal and very basic ways. He was vastly overrated and largely typical of a neoliberal class which usually picks on the dumbest low-IQ ignorants in society (climate change deniers etc) while being essentially creationists on hbd and then patting themselves on the back, while conveniently ignoring more intelligent criticism because they essentially have no answer. His book is a perfect illustration of this.

    It’s also a reminder that we shouldn’t overestimate the so-called intelligence of the current ruling class, given the gigantic flaws in their thinking (or often lack thereof).

  23. eleuterio says:
    @Godfree Roberts

    India was centrally planned between 1947 and 1990:

    China did improve by introducing reforms that relaxed the “central” and the “planning”’s%20Great%20Economic%20Transformation.pdf

    Also I think Indian GDP per capita was still higher in 1979.

    • Replies: @foolisholdman
  24. @Godfree Roberts

    There’s nothing wrong with central planning if your planners are competent and honest and your people smart and cooperative.

    Them’s some pretty big “ifs” there, pardner!

    And, there is something wrong with central planning and it’s big. Yooge even. It’s a tempting target for the worst among us. If anyone is so obtuse as to need proof, look at what has run the US for the past century.

    It appears that the good angels haven’t started breeding yet, and if they did, I’d advise them to steer clear of the affairs of men.

    • Replies: @Stan d Mute
  25. hyperbola says:
    @James Thompson

    Rosling is obsolete. As are his diatribes about globalism. Even many of the most abusive globalists have seen through Rosling.

    Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism

  26. hyperbola says:
    @James Thompson

    Argentina has been cursed with a corrupt, racist-supremacist, abusive sect for a LONG time already. Now that they have a zionist Peter Singer buzzard-lackey (Macri) as president, Argentines will again suffer. Just imagine putting Argentina again in the hands of foreign jewish bankers!

    Los otros lugares contemplados para un Estado judío antes de la creación de Israel en territorio palestino


    …. El propio Herzl considera Argentina como una posibilidad para un asentamiento masivo de judíos en una parte de su libro “Der Judenstaat”, bajo el epígrafe “¿Palestina o Argentina?”, en el que hace referencia al al país sudamericano como “uno de los más fértiles de la tierra, de inmensa superficie, población escasa y clima templado”.

    Leon Pinsker, autor de “Autoemancipación” (1882), considerado un texto fundacional del sionismo y que sirvió de inspiración a Herzl para su “Estado judío”, fue un defensor de la opción argentina, al igual que Maurice de Hirsch, uno de los impulsores de las colonias judías en América……

    Argentina: 4 errores que llevaron a Mauricio Macri a pedir auxilio al FMI para evitar una crisis económica en el país

    Macri victory in Argentina is unequivocally good for Israel and the Jews

    Argentine Rabbi Appointed Minister in Newly Elected Macri Government

    Argentina: Targeted by World Government
    …. International Zionism – Since its founding by the Russian Jew León Pinsker (whose main writing was “Self-Emancipation”) and Viennese lawyer Theodor Herzl, these founding fathers of Zionism thought in terms of creating TWO Jewish States: one in Palestine (finally imposed by force in 1948 by Zionist terrorist groups, notably Irgun Zvai Leumi, Stern Gang and Hagganah, with the support and abetment of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union), and the other in Argentina. Pinsker called the former the “ideal State” (i.e., in Palestine which they claimed as a Jewish homeland), and the latter as the “practical state” (i.e., in Argentina). In his seminal book founding the militant International Zionist Movement, called “The Jewish State”, (published in 1896), Herzl wrote a chapter that carries the eloquent title of “¿Palestine or Argentine?” in which he says (the highlighting is ours), “Which shall we choose, Palestine or Argentine?…Argentina is, by its nature, one of the richest countries in Earth, with an immense territory, scarce population and moderate climate. The Argentine Republic would have the greatest Interest to cede to us a part of its territory. The infiltration of Jews that is presently taking place these has not been to their liking, naturally, and we will have to explain to Argentina the radical difference that exists with the new Jewish emigration.” Clearly, we are confronted with a plan reaching back many, many years, that ….

  27. Anonymous [AKA "Californication"] says:

    There’s a strain of pessimism that’s really US statist propaganda to divert your attention from meliorist approaches that the whole world has adopted. Take this crap,

    That “neoliberalism” handwringing is just some weak tit HuffPo hireling pulling a nickel from behind your ear. Don’t fall for it. Kleptocratic geisha girl Arianna Huffington hired some struggling hack to tell you economic human rights failed, while intently neglecting to notice that the US fights them tooth and nail. Alone.

    They got failed academic turned administrative parasite Nils Gilman to parrot dumb libertarian crap. Gilman equates economic rights with equalitarianism, proving he wouldn’t know the ICESCR from a bar of soap. Gilman buys a crackpot notion he read somewhere that 1970s human rights were exclusively civil and political. In the actual world, economic rights continued to be articulated while the US fought them tooth and nail, alone.

    Gilman doesn’t seem aware of any of this stuff, or else he would know he needs to mention it a little.

    Look at accessions to the ICESCR (the drop-down menu redraws the map.)

    The dark blue shows countries committed to continual review by ECOSOC of their progressive attainment of ICESCR duties. There’s no hint Gilman ever heard of ECOSOC, its General Comments, or the Limburg Principles. The US government is absolutely alone on that map. They signed the convention to try and undermine it, and failed. Then the US voted absolutely alone against the overarching right to development. The US tries to destroy countries that govern in strict accordance with the ICESCR, like Libya and Venezuela. That’s about all they can do as the whole world runs with it. State duties that take precedence over guns and bombs and blowing shit up: this is an institutional innovation that US nationals are indoctrinated to ignore.

  28. @Anonymous

    It’s more of a mentality, what Rosling is promoting, than critical thinking: Just go with the flow…

    (The strength of this approach lies in it’s limitedness. Sancta simplicitas!)

  29. Gracebear says:

    Did Thompson win a Nobel Prize in 1985? Why would he joke about this?

    • Replies: @dearieme
  30. @Anonymous

    It’s also a reminder that we shouldn’t overestimate the so-called intelligence of the current ruling class, given the gigantic flaws in their thinking (or often lack thereof).

    It’s willful ignorance. It’s refusing to even entertain ideas “too terrible to contemplate”. Which, to me, speaks to the lack of moral/ethical underpinnings of the “thinker.” And I believe most people have such massive deliberate blind spots that ALL their thinking is compromised.

    Yeshuans can’t contemplate a reality where their foundational assumptions are simply primitive myths (nor can Mohammedans etc). Race deniers can’t contemplate a reality where race is as demonstrably obvious and solid as the Himalayan mountains. Why? Why do they so desperately need a God? Or to believe all humans have the same inherent biological capabilities? Fear? Of what? Of themselves?

  31. anon[228] • Disclaimer says:

    Yes ?? he nevr won one and he never shared one with the author

  32. @jacques sheete

    And, there is something wrong with central planning and it’s big. Yooge even. It’s a tempting target for the worst among us. If anyone is so obtuse as to need proof, look at what has run the US for the past century.

    Exposure to the general public helps in understanding this I think. Go to a mall, watch Mark Dice videos online. People are astonishingly stupid. Staggeringly stupid. It’s incredibly easy to think that half the population would die within a year if they lacked smarter people to direct and assist them.

    And that would just be “too terrible to contemplate” wouldn’t it?

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  33. dearieme says:

    Perhaps he thinks one should always joke about the Nobel Peace Prize.

  34. dearieme says:

    “the dumbest low-IQ ignorants in society (climate change deniers etc)”: are you suggesting that we are all going to burn in hell because of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming? Are you happy to promote this implausible apocalyptic quasi-religion? Your relevant expert knowledge consists of what?

    • Replies: @interesting
  35. One cancer cell to another: why so glum? We’ve never had it so good!

  36. Interesting Gates is quoted on cover. He’s being lambasted by Africans for “trying to sterilize” them while the West is pretty carefully avoiding coverage of this aspect of the Gates Foundation on the Dark Continent.

  37. Anonymous [AKA "lol at this guy"] says:

    rosling is dead wrong. but that’s in line with being swedish. swedes are completely disconnected from reality. ask rosling if the violent crime rate in sweden is improving. is the rape rate improving? how about the test scores in the schools. improving? be interesting to see rosling check in on sweden in 2030 and see how much things have ‘improved’.

    how are things in london. getting better? police state presence. diversity bollards to prevent cultural enrichment via automobile. local britons unable to afford housing. schools being turned into islam centers. improving?

    i’m an american. mexico is on the border of my country. mexico is at the all time high violent crime rate – right now. record murder rate. record kidnapping rate. record drug traffic. in the US, record deaths from imported mexican drugs. and record suicide rates. murder rates went up in several cities over the last couple years to near or actual record highs. school test scores decline year over year now, slowly, but steadily, and nobody is surprised – that is the accepted direction, even as billions of dollars are flushed down the drain on ‘education’ every year these days. america’s leftist political enemies even appear to have deliberately fudged the curriculum, and fudged the well designed, well established standardized tests that came from ‘the bad old days’ of america, in order to dumb down the public school population. overpaid teachers demand ever more money every couple years, so that they can teach the exact same lessons they’ve been teaching for the last 20 years, work 9 months a year, retiring at 60 with full salary for the rest of their life.

    puerto rico, part of america, reached it’s all time high murder rate just a few years ago (with a declining population!). and now, cannot even keep the electric grid up. everything is always improving? it’s pure BS, of course. the ricans know it, and are steadily vacating the island…for the mainland.

    in order to maintain ‘all this global peace’ we enjoy today, the US government has gone into 21 trillion dollars of debt. what happens when the US government is no longer able to afford to keep the US navy in near complete control of the earth’s oceans? US naval control of the planet is artificial now, relies totally on debt, and won’t last. it won’t come crashing down in the next year or two, but we’ll see in a few decades what it’s like when uncle same can no longer afford to send 1 or 2 ford class carriers and 5 virginia class subs anywhere it wants on 3 days notice. 700 BILLION per year now for the defense budget. it’s the roman empire, on a global scale. oh, and the news, that the USS fitzgerald was piloted by a woman when it crashed last year. the navy, under 8 years of obama, is in decline, and 1 or 2 terms by a real president won’t undo the diversitroops campaign they’ve been on for decades. women, africans, homosexuals, and now transsexuals, do not make for a real military. the moment the next democrat president takes office, the military goes right back to diversitroops. that’s probably the main reason for the higher number of ship collisions lately. puerto ricans crashed a DC 130 into a highway just last week.

    definitely, some things are steadily improving. while others are not. as always, almost ALL the improvements are due to the sustained, decades long efforts by intelligent, conscientious, and out-group indifferent europeans. once they’re gone, things go downhill.

    rosling, like pinker, is probably being tricked by a local minimum/maximum effect on their data set. they’re alive, during the peak influence of europeans on the planet. 2000 is an ahistorical time. a historical anomaly, like high school graduates in 1960 america being able to simply walk into a good paying blue collar job, buy a house, a car, and a wife, and have 3 kids, all on a 9 to 5 gig with no college education. the company offered you a pension for life (something that private companies never offered before, and will NEVER offer again), and gasoline was 10 cents a gallon. an era that will never return. just like the year 2000 or so.

    all the positive effect the european peoples are having on earth, is at it’s all-time high, and will begin to decline steadily over the next few decades, as european populations decline, and are replaced with third worlders. is declining already, in some places. the fact that abject poverty has been somewhat reduced in some third world countries (mainly due, again, to the sustained, deliberate effort of europeans like norman borlaug) is irrelevant. no amount of work from bill gates to ensure that 1 billion africans can turn themselves into 3 or 4 billion africans is going to change the actual trajectory the planet is on with regard to human capital and human performance levels, and, probably, the minor dark age that we’re about to enter. in 2100 the situation on earth will be, the chinese fighting the muslims for control of the planet, while africans and latin americans attempt to overrun everything with an unprotected border.

    • Replies: @m___
  38. @Stan d Mute

    Exposure to the general public helps in understanding this I think. Go to a mall, watch Mark Dice videos online. People are astonishingly stupid. Staggeringly stupid.

    I’m so stupid I never even heard of Mark Dice and despite the idea that I have an extremely high CI (Curiosity Index) I am not even tempted to have such a desire. Anyway, I’m constantly amazed at how stupid we humans can be, yet remarkably, we stumble along. It baffles the bl**p outta me.

    And that would just be “too terrible to contemplate” wouldn’t it?

    Oh, yes, it would!!! 😉

  39. m___ says:

    Some snips of the comment are beauties. Original poetry.

    We cannot ask Rosling much, deceded is he?

    • Replies: @anon
  40. @Anonymous

    “which usually picks on the dumbest low-IQ ignorants in society (climate change deniers etc)”

    stopped reading right there, muhahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

    see, I’m right. the world is much worse than we can imagine.

  41. @dearieme

    isn’t it amazing to have somebody say “ignorants” and then follow with that fake meme……

    What’s even better is ignorants isn’t even a word…….not that I of all people should point that out……but my spell check did.

    • Replies: @foolisholdman
  42. anon[256] • Disclaimer says:

    Original poetry.

    Indeed. Poetry (the abuse of language in order to produce a knee-jerk reaction) isn’t worth reading, and neither is the post of a one-timer who doesn’t bother with capitalization.

  43. Wally says:

    “low-IQ ignorants in society (climate change deniers etc) ”

    More projection from those who follow yet another faux-science leftist religion.

    First it was ‘global cooling’ in the 1970s, ‘global warming’ after that, and now it’s ‘climate change’.
    Of course the climate always changes, always has, always will.

    It’s always been about money & political power for the neo-Marxists.

    Real science doesn’t hide it’s data.
    Real science doesn’t need to alter data.
    Real science produces ‘models’ which generate real, observable results.
    Real scientists don’t get nailed in Climate Gate.
    Real science doesn’t try to silence differences of opinion.
    Real science doesn’t advocate the arrest of those that disagree with them.

    NASA Data Proves Trump Right to Exit Paris Climate Accord

    100% Of US ‘Warming’ Is Due To NOAA Data Tampering

    Most Massive Scientific Fraud In Human History

    NOAA 2.5 Degrees F Data Tampering – ‘Science Doesn’t Get Any Worse Than This’
    exc: “The data tampering at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is even worse than we thought: over the last century it has exaggerated “global warming” in the U.S. by as much as 2.5 degrees F.
    In other words, pretty much the entirety of the 20th century warming in the U.S. “measured” by the world’s primary temperature record gatekeeper may be fake.”
    “NOAA’s US temperature record shows that US was warmest in the 1930’s and has generally cooled as CO2 has increased. This wrecks greenhouse gas theory, so they “adjust” the data to make it look like the US is warming.”

    Now 400 Scientific Papers in 2017 Say ‘Global Warming’ Is a Myth
    The fake ‘97% climate consensus’ crumbles further with 485 new papers in 2017 that debunk it

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  44. Sorry Dr. Thompson but this is bull! You have one Best Case Scenario built on another. This is the Black Swan that Taleb wrote about. You are whistling in the dark. The continent of Africa could collapse from disease almost overnight. The simplistic idea that everything in Africa will work out is nonsense. This is a child like understanding of ecology and environmental science. You sound like Obama. I have friends who work in Africa in the medical field and they just shake their heads how hard it is to get these people in the health areas to do basic standard protocols.

    You do not understand the law of systems. By the time man figures that a system is overwhelmed it’s usually too late. Our oceans are being destroyed by plastic, overfishing, a myriad types of toxins and it’s showing in the falling numbers of fish. This is just one example. This doesn’t get better. And don’t tell me about aquaculture because I’m an expert in it and it will not be the salvation of mankind. You have a black race that thinks it’s going to take over by eliminating all the whites and they will have a magic kingdom…good luck with that.

    Overpopulation will destroy the planet and it doesn’t need to be much greater than it is right now for systems to collapse. There are signs everywhere and too many scientists hide in their offices afraid to speak out fearing reprisals.

    Garrett Hardin was right. His Law of the Commons is as relevant today as when first wrote it. Idiot economists and left winged pseudo scientists attacked Hardin as you would expect but Hardin knew what he was talking about. Overpopulation will destroy the planet and there are number of different ways it could happen. The predictions of Africa by Rosling are based on ideal conditions not the real world. They are also based on rational, civil citizens with common goals. That sir, will never happen.

  45. pyrrhus says:
    @James Thompson

    Why? It’s just a rehash of the standard wishful thinking and willful deception we can find in the Economist or NYT just about any week. A few years ago, Bill and Melissa Gates predicted in the WSJ that half of subSaharan Africa would be middle class by 2030. That was completely delusional, but none of the talking heads dared to call them on it. All of subSaharan Africa relies on imported food now, what will happen when the population doubles again? This is a question that is currently verboten, and TED talkers like Rosling are only making the problem worse….

    • Replies: @Factorize
  46. @jilles dykstra

    When I was in china in 1964, there were many small businesses that went a long way towards filling the gaps left by central planning.

  47. @eleuterio

    Also I think Indian GDP per capita was still higher in 1979.

    Yes, very probably, 1979 was just after the Great Cultural Revolution.

  48. @interesting

    I have heard, I cannot vouch for its truth, that King Henry VIII decreed that any free-born Englishman was permitted to invent a word, if he felt like so doing and launch it into the language. I don’t see why, seeing that English is now mother-tongue for many non-English; other people should not be allowed the same freedom.

  49. Factorize says:

    pyrrhus, yes, it is very true, the current development path of Sub-Saharan Africa is completely alarming. Some of these nations have essentially reached (or breached) psychometric critical
    points in which complete socioeconomic collapse might be inevitable if innovative thinking is not tried. It is disturbing how entirely blissfully ignorant most of the developed world is about this unfolding tragedy (one of my recent comments on the Piffer’s Equation thread also mentioned the idea of reaching a critical psychometric minimum). The present circumstances of Zimbabwe or Uganda clearly suggest that they might have reached such a minimum threshold.

    At the same, I think that there is an enormous opportunity that exists in some of these very same
    places. The technology is emerging that will allow for manipulation of the psychometrics of entire nations. Adding a standard deviation or two of IQ would have dramatic effects on the development potential of many African nations. I am waiting to see when the truly heavy duty money starts to make a move into some of these opportunities. The potential to step outside of the tiresome debates that have done little to improve lives of many of the world’s most vulnerable people and actually help them will soon be too self-apparent to ignore. Of course there are quite a few people that would be all too happy to accept the recognition that would result from successfully coordinating
    such a transformation. Given the extremely serious nature of the development challenges facing many nations of Sub-Saharan Africa, there should no longer be any doubt that a psychometric upgrade will occur there over the medium term.

    • Replies: @Dave Bowman
  50. @jilles dykstra

    How to lower the African birth rate, I have no idea.

    Help is here for you. That’s normally called “Sterilization”.

    • Replies: @Factorize
  51. @Factorize

    I – and I would guess others here also – really have no clear idea of exactly what you mean by “psychometric critical points”, “critical psychometric minimum”, or “psychometric upgrade”. But since “psychometric” seems to be your word-of-the-week, and it means “the science of measuring mental capacities and processes”, I’ll deduce that, in this context, you’re trying to say that the advancing mental capacities and processes of Africans will over time produce changes in African productivity, economic performance and social status.

    That is akin to saying that when the ship begins to sink, the crew which failed it will need to stop doing what they’re doing and do something different. The whole point to be taken from this article, and the whole problem at debate, is that there is not the slightest evidence based on centuries of past performance that the African “crew” will do any such thing, for any reason, including a severely critical one.

    Then following this, the very truism you have stated is immediately offset by the mystery of your further words:

    Adding a standard deviation or two of IQ would have dramatic effects on the development potential of many African nations

    How, EXACTLY, would you propose that a “standard deviation or two of IQ” could be actually “added” to African nations ? In the same way, presumably, that a brand-new leg is simply “added” to a man who has had an unfortunate encounter with a landmine ? You seem to be playing with words, simply for the sake of speaking, since your statement, deciphered and paraphrased in the same manner as the above, surely simply means “the African peoples would perform much better in a demanding and fast-changing world if they were substantially more intelligent and hard-working /resourceful / productive / self-sufficient”.

    Yes, of course they would. That is simply another meaningless, valueless truism. But just as the backward, uneducated, work-shy, useless, Stone-age minded, religiously-deranged inhabitants of the greater Islamic world have a very much lower genetic IQ than the rest of the planet outside Africa, sub-Saharan Africans are NOT, and never will be, as intelligent, industrious or productive as will be necessary to survive a disastrously over-populated and starving long-term future. Worst of all, no amount of any form of “aid” or assistance is going to simply “upgrade” their IQ. That is a very, very large, serious and intractable problem, not just for Africa, but also, eventually, for the rest of the planet.

  52. Factorize says:
    @Dave Bowman

    There is now a very good understanding of how to greatly lower fertility rates in developing nations. Sterilization is probably recognized as one of the less effective methods. When this was used in India, the government was quickly voted out of office. However, in the decades to follow, the tool set was found that could lead to very large declines in fertility without resorting to coercion.

  53. @Godfree Roberts

    China is a single nation; 90% Han.

    India is hundreds, if not thousands, of nations — deeply divided in terms of, language, culture, identity, genetics…

    Contrary to the oft-repeated, nonsensical trope, China’s lack of diversity is its strength; India’s diversity, its great weakness.

    India also has a much lower average IQ than China — about 82 vs. 100 or so. The high-caste H1B pajeets that we get in the US are far from a random sample of the Indian population.

    Semi-OT: anyone who wants to see a good Chinese vs. Indian slapfight, take a look at the comments on this article. A bunch of them have been deleted, but the remaining ones are still pretty entertaining — at least to someone with no personal stake in the outcome.

    “You are such a f**king dumbass idiot. None of your stupid IQ arguments make sense and shithole India is so much inferior to China you should be ashamed by claiming superior IQ.

    Not one South Asian country has superior engineering or economics or high level of development better than East Asia country.”

    “Really cause facts show otherwise here disgusting yellow malaria skinned fecal eating mongolian”


  54. @Dave Bowman

    How, EXACTLY, would you propose that a “standard deviation or two of IQ” could be actually “added” to African nations ?

    Unless he has some sort of secret plan for population-wide genetic engineering? The only environmental intervention that comes close to this sort of gain is iodine supplementation in severely deficient populations.

  55. Factorize says:
    @Dave Bowman

    Thank you very much for replying. This gives me an opportunity to more clearly state my point.
    The reason I became so fixated on the “psychometric critical point” concept was because I became quite excited by my comment in the Piffer’s equation thread where I was able to piece this together. In that thread I noted that those women who would respond the most to programs aimed at reducing fertility would be the high IQ women, while the lower IQ women would not be as responsive. res, I was not overly impressed by this insight. Admittedly it is not much to be proud about. Yet, the point is that it should be clear that aid agencies efforts to reduce fertility in a developing nation would likely be judged on the basis of how much they could reduce national fertility rates not on what this would imply for dysgenics. I found this idea quite alarming.

    Some developing nations do have IQs of 70 or less. Introducing dysgenic fertility in such a context could be very dangerous. I also noted in this previous post that when you shift the Bell curve there is a great magnification in the direction of the shift. So, when you shift the Bell curve up by 1 SD, there is a large increase in the proportion of people with IQs of 2 SD or greater and a large reduction in the proportion of people with IQs of -1 SD or less. The same would happen in reverse when the Bell Curve shifted downward.

    This is the background for the comments about the psychometric critical points. This then sparked the idea of what might happen in a community that was pushed in a direction by a misguided fertility planning program or otherwise. What is actually amazing to think is that it might even be possible with such a program to move below the IQ range needed to exhibit modern human behavior. Apparently Tasmania actually did devolve modern human behaviors when left isolated over the period of thousands of years.

    The idea of IQ enhancement relates to the soon to be published article in Nature Genetics. They apparently will report on finding 37.6 SD of Educational Attainment. It is now becoming increasingly obvious to everyone on this forum that an intelligence upgrade for humanity is approaching. It is widely understood that embryo selection should give a 1 SD enhancement of intelligence in every of the next several generations. Due to the polygenic nature of human intelligence such enhancement is expected to be possible in all human populations. Clearly increasing human IQ by 3-5 SD could have very dramatic effects on human civilization. What I find especially interesting now is that Africa could become the great motivator for moving enhancement forward. In many Western nations there appears to be substantial resistance developing to IQ upgrading. However, with many African nations there is a legitimate concern that if such a technology were not to be introduced, that yet further tragedies such as the Rwandan genocide, the near total collapse of Zimbabwe’s society among others would occur. IQ upgrade might soon be seen as essentially a requirement to help Africa move ahead.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  56. @Wally

    OK but, destroy environment to build idiotic big industrial cities IS NOT ”morally” acceptable anyway!!

    with or without climate anthropogenic change…

  57. @Factorize

    African fertility will be massively reduced by educating girls. African IQ will be raised standard deviations by better diet, education and exposure to modern communications. India has deeper structural problems.

    • Replies: @Johan Meyer
  58. @Philip Owen

    Urbanisation, with or without such education, results in reduced fertility. Peasants tend to have high fertility. Usually, robbery, teen pregnancy and murder are closely correlated, when a population is already urbanised, but when a peasant class exists, even when the peasant class is being liquidated by urbanisation, e.g. NAFTA’s ongoing effect on Mexico, teen pregnancy is not correlated with crime.

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