Matthias Horx Futurist

Der Faktivist

In memory of Hans Rosling, master of global confidence

Oh Hans, that was unnecessary. Your mission, our mission, is far from over. It has only just begun. The crazy thing is, the crazy clownman monster Trump is willingly contributing to this mission. For the first time in ages I have the feeling that differentiated news about the future of humanity is in great demand. This definitely connects to the “post truth” victory march, and its now growing counter trend. The more bizarre the truth claims of populists become, the more people become interested in the actual truth. For which you stand like no other. Your work lives on, your family and team will continue your mission of “factivistic” enlightenment.

Hans Rosling

Photographer Jörgen Hildebrandt, www.gapminder.org/about-gapminder/press-and-media/

But now, lets go about this sequentially.
Hans Rolsing died on the 7th of February, 2017. He was a Doctor, health-statistician, Big-Data lover, Professor in Uppsala, Father, Grandfather and the wonderful guru of Factivism. He was a special statistician. In his massive Data website, GAPMINDER.ORG, he analysed and presented the trends of the global world. He believed in the enlightening power of Numbers, but was also an empathetic, emotional person. His speeches, viewed millions of times on the internet were not only “presentations”, but direct, emotional communication with his audience.

I have learnt a lot from you. You went onto a stage with a washing machine packed with books, to explain the principle of technological progress. How many women can afford a washing machine nowadays, instead of having to heat water with fire and wash with their hands – and what does this mean for global education? Never have I heard someone stand on a stage, their fist in the air, whilst praising the chemical industry that invented washing powder – that let our mothers read to us instead of wash all day!

Your basic message is very simple, but so shocking, that when presented to my audiences, the people squirm in their seats. All big parameters of humanity are generally moving in the right direction. Global education is rising, child mortality rates are dropping, and even birthrates in Afrika are slowly diminishing. Poverty has been drastically reduced, a giant global middle class has emerged. The world is more peaceful and wealthier than any other time in history. In your Data about the global developments we find a world that despite, maybe even because all of its crisis and problems is on the right track – and that we can DO something to keep that movement going. So it can get even better.

But nothing is harder to understand than a message of confidence, that pulls us back to responsibility.

Nothing is harder than to understand, that we foster a completely twisted, pessimistic world view, and actually feel quite well in doing so. I call this “apocalyptic cocooning”. The “problem” was, that you took peoples fear by questioning their alarmist narratives, e.g. the population growth, invasions, all the way to rumours about constantly growing war brutality.

None of your provocative questions works better than the question as to which countries have higher birthrates, christian or islamic ones? (Answer: on average they are the same!)

You were a holistic thinker, that worked with correlations and causalities instead of moral upsurges. You could get incredibly mad when people thought e.g. that lowering infant mortality would lower birthrates. The exact opposite is the case: the more children survive, the quicker birth rated decline and move towards small, nuclear families.

You wielded the weapon of humour, which you used relentlessly. You wore suspenders on stage and swallowed swords with the message: if you can swallow swords, you can defeat global poverty. Once I met you in the garden of Oxford College, just before a speech. You had a pocket knife on you and were looking for a twig to use as a pointer. As an indicator instead of a laserpointer – and the audience followed your twig all the more focused.

Let us be honest: in the great media mainstream your Impact has left a little Echo (we share the same fate). No real talkshows, political debates, in which your worldview was the centre of discourse. You legendary Global Ignorance test, through which one can test ones own world-knowledge was published by the SPIEGEL, but discretely forgotten soon after. You showed us how little our perception is influenced by TRUTHs, but instead dominated by felt realities that follow the media’s arousal culture.

The world is getting worse and worse! This conviction is depressing and widley accepted – my left friends share this with my conservative friends, everyone appears to be convincing everyone that the world is going down the drain. But this mindset is dangerous, because populists construct it to advertise their new totalitarianism.

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