The world has undergone some radical change in the past fifty years, but our perception of it continues to lag behind. Don’t believe me? Hans Rosling’s Test app on Facebook could prove my point. Rosling is a professor of international health in Sweden and has become famous for transforming statistics into eye-catching presentations that anyone can understand. His organization, Gapminder, is bent on making valuable global statistics accessible to everyone. Their Rosling Test app is a short quiz that pits your understanding of global health issues against those of a virtual chimp. Is your view of the world stuck in the 1960s? Only one way to find out. I challenge you to play the game without resorting to Google or any other cheats. My guess is that the chimp can beat you.
This Facebook app is based off of Rosling’s famous presentation at TED in 2006 that we’ve discussed before. In that presentation he describes the ways in which many nations around the Earth have undergone radical change in the past century. Life expectancy has increased, birthrates decreased, and prosperity shifted. Rosling uses stats collected by global institutions to debunk the myths we still have about the Third World. There is still much to do to close the gap between low and high income nations, but things have (and continue) to evolve every year.
I’m always impressed with Hans Rosling and Gapminder. Try as we might to be rational, we so often decide on our public policies based on out-dated perceptions of the world around us. Cold hard statistics can be a cure for that condition, but they are often difficult to understand, let alone enjoy. Rosling and Gapminder change cold hard statistics into warm exciting statistics – imaginative graphs and displays we can take in and use to change our minds. The Hans Rosling Test app is a too-brief taste of their creativity. You really have to explore the rest. I highly recommend The Joy of Stats – a BBC documentary featuring Rosling that we covered before. It’s now available for free on the Gapminder website.
So go, watch it, and see if you can’t beat that Chimp.
[image credit: Gapminder]