Personal Growth

Bill Gates Believes the World Would Be Better If Millions Read This Book

If Bill Gates knows one thing besides technology, it's books. The Microsoft mogul dedicates at least an hour a day to reading and powers through a whopping 50 books a year. So when Gates recommends a book to you, you can assume he knows what he's talking about. When he says that millions of people should read one book in particular, well, that's really saying something.

What the Fact?

How do you give a supremely glowing book review? Probably something like this: "This is one of the most educational books I've ever read," Gates says in a YouTube video. "It covers a space that is not easy to go learn about. The world would be better if literally millions of people read the book. I give it my highest recommendation."

The book in question here is "Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think," and it's clearly one of Gates' new favorite books as of April 2018. The author, Hans Rosling, was a Swedish statistician, global health expert, and a friend of Gates. The book was published posthumously, with a little help from Rosling's son, Ola, and daughter-in-law, Anna.

"Factfulness" offers a new and helpful way of looking at the world. The takeaways from this book illustrate why your life is way better than it may seem. For instance, as Gates writes on his blog, Rosling shatters the idea of lumping countries of the world into two overly simplistic buckets: "developed" and "developing." In reality, it's much more complicated and varied. Rosling suggests an easy way of considering wealth levels around the world, by breaking them up into four levels. These are the levels, as described on Gates' blog:

Level 1 (1 billion people): You survive on less than $2 a day and get around by walking barefoot. Your food is cooked over an open fire, and you spend most of your day traveling to get water. You and your children sleep on a dirt floor at night.

Level 2 (3 billion people): You survive on between $2 and $8 a day and you can buy shoes and maybe a bike, so it doesn't take quite so long to get water. Your kids go to school instead of working all day. Dinner is made over a gas stove, and your family sleeps on mattresses.

Level 3 (2 billion people): You survive on between $8 and $32 a day and you have running water and a fridge in your home. You can afford a motorbike so you can get around easier. Some of your kids start — and even finish — high school.

Level 4 (1 billion people): If you spend more than $32 a day, you're here. You have at least a high school education and can likely afford a car and a vacation every now and then.

Battle of the Bias

In a nutshell, the book "Factfulness" serves as a tool to combat our innate biases, or as Gates writes, "ten instincts that keep us from seeing the world factfully." Some of the ten instincts outlined in the book include the fear instinct (the tendency to pay more attention to things that scare us), the size instinct (the idea that numbers, on their own, can look more impressive than they really are), and the gap instinct (the thought that most people fall between two extremes). Gates writes that Rosling's book gave him breakthrough thoughts that ultimately drive the humanitarian work that Bill and his wife Melinda dedicate so much time to. "Factfulness" may help you see that progress is happening all over the world, things may not be as bad as they seem, and life is only getting better.

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Written by Joanie Faletto April 30, 2018

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