Just finished this book and VERY strongly recommend it.

First do this quiz is at the main site for the book (with lots of other very useful material):

Do above first for quick preview without spoilers. Numerous surveys done with this quiz. Consistently show that most people including most “experts” do worse on choosing between 3 plausible answers to basic factual questions about the world than random one out of three guesses of “Chimpanzees”.

I wrote some comments in reply to a negative posting based on coverage in the mass media here:


Also intend to add longer review and call for other articles analysing it in depth later here. Meanwhile I have ticked 50 of the many categories of this site to indicate how many in depth articles could fruitfully be written in response to this book!

But first do above quiz to avoid spoilers.


Now, AFTER you have done that quiz, see also:

Very positive reviews from neutral site:

Main book page with videos and links to their excellent statistics etc

Book page with blurb and purchase links

Brief poster style summaries with links to download copies and detailed statistical background.

Full details for free download so you can really understand a good summary without reading the book:

Whether you like it or not this stuff is getting a wide mass audience, complete with teaching materials to introduce it into primary and secondary education.

If you think they are wrong you need to know what they are saying to refute them.

I have only noticed one clear factual error. Book correctly says no “population control” measures are needed other than development as people have less children as they become less desperately poor. Wrongly claims Mao introduced China’s “one child” policy (which is now ending). Fact is it was introduced by opponents of Mao in current regime.

Wikpedia correctly states the actual facts:


The one-child policy, a part of the family planning policy, was a population planning policy of China. It was introduced in 1979 and began to be formally phased out near the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016.

During the period of Mao Zedong‘s leadership in China, the birth rate fell from 37 per thousand to 20 per thousand.[6] Infant mortality declined from 227 per thousand births in 1949 to 53 per thousand in 1981, and life expectancy dramatically increased from around 35 years in 1948 to 66 years in 1976.[6][7] Until the 1960s, the government encouraged families to have as many children as possible[8] because of Mao’s belief that population growth empowered the country, preventing the emergence of family planning programs earlier in China’s development.[9] The population grew from around 540 million in 1949 to 940 million in 1976.[10] Beginning in 1970, citizens were encouraged to marry at later ages and have only two children.

Mao died on September 9, 1976 and his regime was overthrown by the current regime a month later.

“Family planning policy” is of course a euphism. The policy from 1979 was legal coercion including even forced sterilization. This is totally different from the family planning policy which China previously encouraged for the same reasons as advocated in “Factfulness”.

As of 2018-05-25 there is no correction for this error in the list of mistakes dated 2018-03-08 at:


The fact that the excellent team of authors got this wrong and that the simple factual error has still not been picked up despite extensive coverage of the book in mass media and wide readership is itself an indication of how badly this book needs to analysed thoroughly.

Fundamentally, “Factfulness” is advocating the “concrete analysis of concrete conditions” with a progressive world outlook like Mao’s. This has been so thoroughly obliterated that the authors do not seem aware that is what the real left looks like and stands in diametric opposition to the pseudoleft.

Free download of the book from Library Genesis:

title = {Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think},
author = {Hans Rosling, A. Rosling Rönnlund, O. Rosling},
publisher = {Flatiron Books},
isbn = {1250107814,9781250107817},
year = {2018},
series = {},
edition = {},
volume = {},
url = {http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=2d87818a58bb1bd03e3885b269e109d5}

If unable to access that URL prefix due to local internet censorship workarounds are here:


Please mention here which workaround works for you so that others in same country as you can use it.

Format of above is .epub file, not .pdf.

epub reader software should be included with any PC (Linux/Mac/Windows). There are lots of free ones for both PCs and mobile devices.

I use FBreader on Android which is available free on ALL platforms and supports a very wide range of other file formats as well.


With access to Library Genesis you will may end up with too many books to handle conveniently.

Calibre is the best software for maintaining a library of downloaded book files.


10 thoughts on ““Factfulness”

  1. Many thanks for this, Arthur. I love this kind of thing. I regard myself as someone who generally looks on the bright side but I only scored 38%, as I underrated the extent to which there has been progress in the world.

    I’ll share the link as far and wide as I can, and hope others will do so.

    Your point about China’s One Child Policy is a good one and I encounter it in conversations about China. People look at me dumbfounded when I insist that Mao did not introduce that policy and actually said that “Of all things on Earth, people are the most precious”.

    Have you formally written to the publisher to point out the factual error? If not, I’m happy to do so.


  2. Thank the authors. I did immediately email correction to the address they provide after posting. No harm in you also doing so with your additional “dumbfounded” reactions anecodote.

    Be great if you also followed up on series of articles. Presentation is definately from a radical reformist perspective that can be united with against reactionaries. The Mao error highlights need for deeper revolutionary presentation of these facts. eg One divides into two – polarization and obsolescence of the old rather than just “progress”.


    • Sent an email to gapminder, congratulating them on their publication and also requesting correction of the factual error about Mao and China’s One Child Policy. Will report back if/when I hear back from them.


  3. Reply from gapminder:
    “The error you mentioned has been added to our list of book errors and will be analysed when we have time to start going through that list!”


  4. I am now listening to the audiobook and also noticed the Mao error. It was not essential to the point the author was making, but still a bit disappointing…


    • Hope others do follow up. Their corrections are all short so anybody following up would need to lookup the pages and draft similar very short changes to specific lines. Impression created by this correction looks inadequate to me but I don’t have time to look do above:

      “CHAPTER NINE: The Blame Instinct
      Page 216, line 20-29: should read “For example, Mao was undoubtedly an extraordinarily powerful figure whose actions had direct consequences for 1 billion people. Most often when I show the low birth numbers in Asia, someone says “That must be because of Mao’s one-child policy.”

      But the infamous one-child policy had less influence than is commonly thought. The huge, fast drop from six to three babies per woman in China, happened in the ten years preceding the one-child policy. During the 36 years the policy was in place, the number never fell below 1.5, […]”

      Page 217, line 6: should be added “[…] powerful man. And it wasn’t even Mao’s policy. It was introduced after his death.”

      Page 218, line 1: “Mao’s one-child policy” should be “The one-child policy””


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