Working with Enlightened Cognitive Dissonance

How the Global Ignorance Test  and the Gapminder Data System  works in the context of FuturisticManagement Consulting

Tristan & Matthias Horx

 

What do we think about the world? The answer to this question is not trivial. In a post-fact culture, where rationality seems to vanish in the storms of lies and conspiracy theories, beliefs about the future are crucial. If we believe that the world cant be rescued, we become either cynical or depressed. But facts are, as we know from cognition psychology, not facts for the brain – they are informations without meaning until they become framedby emotion and belief. 

We have been working in forecasting and trend research for more than 20 years, throughout the German-speaking countries and beyond. Never has the future seemed so bland, so negative, when a Zeitgeist of pessimism is tearing apart old models of past, present and future. We have been using the Global Ignorance test with small and big audiences, mostly managers and entrepreneurs. Our consultancy company ZUKUNFTSINSTITUT (40+ employees, Vienna and Frankfurt) does up to a hundred long-term consulting processes and hundreds of speeches a year. This means reaching approximately 10.000 people with power and responsibility each year. Our goal is to give them proper insight into the real changes in our world, the so-called Megatrends. The wider goal is to teach systemic thinking and multi-perspective management.

 

 

Using the Global Ignorance Test on these audiences has a wonderful cathartic effect. As the Rosling family have shown again and again, the more people think they are expertsin terms of trends and world knowledge, the less they tend to be. The higher the ranks of management, the worse the answers to the questions such as How much did the flow of worldwide emigrants increase in the last ten years?. Their reactions to their own wrongness are a brief silence, followed by astonishment. In this silence, new thinking occurs. We can feel their brains aching and scratching, and we turn this energy around into a new openness and understanding. This enables us to convey a new understanding of globalisation and the implications for management and responsibility. Communicating this is such an integral part of our work, that we have published a study on it in the Summer of 2017 – The New Global (Available in German here: https://onlineshop.zukunftsinstitut.de/shop/generation-global/).

Sometimes we experience quite funny open denials. A manager of a telecommunication company recently stuttered in disbelief: This may be true, but I dont want to be convinced!And this is exactly where the test is so brilliant. Paired with the emotionality of the Dollar Street documentations, we can change peoples perceptions of the global world, and thus help them move in the right direction. 

Experience shows, the more you can shockthe audience with their own misconceptions, the more they listen to new ideas and points of views in what follows. This is why starting our presentations with the global ignorance test works so well – it confronts the brain with its own cognitive dissonance and biases. 

The cathartic effect is deepened when we show the Gapminder data and how to use it. Thanks to the tools of the Rosling family, we have managed to help hundreds, if not thousands of minds think differently about the world and the future. This we hope might have helped a bit to save the world, because only constructive minds can create constructive business. If the future has to be saved in the mind, the Gapminder Data System  is the best weaponwe have. Just as the aliens in the new science fiction film Arrivalcalled their sophisticated language a weaponin the sense of future knowledge, Gapminder is a key tool for mind-changing for a better future.

 

 

Rosling’s World – a documentary about Hans Rosling

About the Documentary

A 55-minute documentary about Hans Rosling’s life & thoughts. Hans Rosling is a professor in international health. His presentations on global development evokes laughter, rejoice and reflections. He wants everyone to question their prejudices about the world – as he himself has needed to do. A documentary by Pär Fjällström, SVT.

(With subtitles in English)

Gapminder Desktop launched

Now you can use Gapminder World – with all its indicators – from your own computer, even when you have no Internet. Just download and install the new Gapminder Desktop.

A downloadable version of Gapminder World is the single most requested tool, and we are very happy to be able to now offer just that, free of charge.

Click here to downloadClick here to download Gapminder Desktop

Gapminder Desktop is particularly useful for presentations as it allows you to prepare your graphs in advance and you won’t need an Internet connection at your lecture or presentation.

In the “list of graphs” you will get at preset list of graphs on the left side, but you can also very easily create your own favorite examples. Simply arrange the graph the way you want it and click “bookmark this graph”. Your example will the appear in your own list of favorite graphs. Perfect when you want to prepare a lecture or presentation.

Click here to download Gapminder Desktop

Google launches Data Explorer

Google Public Data Explorer, a new powerful visualization tool that lets you explore, visualize and share data in a “Gapminder-like” manner, was launched by Google earlier this week.

Population without access to improved water source

The new tool lets you explore data from a number of data providers such as World Bank, EuroStat, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisitics and U.S. Census Bureau through “Bubble-charts”, maps, bar- or line charts, that you can share on your blog, web page or other media.

Three years ago, Google acquired Trendalyzer – the technology behind Gapminder World – from Gapminder. Since then, they have launched Motion Chart (a gadget that lets you make charts from you own data) and a public data search function that make it easier to find public data in a normal google search.

The new Public Data Explorer is still a Google Labs-project, which means that it is till work in progress. We hope that more data providers will make their data available through this technology to increase the use of data in the general discussion about the world.

More examples of what you can do:

Unemployment (total and in per cent) in the US

Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the U.S.

High income – rare in tropical land-locked countries

The role of geography for the prospects of development has been hotly debated the last decade. Economists, like Jeffrey Sachs, have suggested that a country that are situated in the tropics or that are landlocked face a much larger challenge in development, for a number of reasons.
Continue reading “High income – rare in tropical land-locked countries”

Human rights & democracy statistics

About this Video

In this video, made for the Oslo freedom Forum 2009, Hans Rosling discuss the difficulty in measuring progress in Human Rights in the form of comparable numerical statistics. He also shows the surprisingly weak correlation between existing estimates for democracy and socio-economic progress.

The reason may be that democracy and human rights measurements are badly done. It may also be that democracy and human rights are dimensions of development that are in themselves difficult to assign numerical values. But it also seems as much improvement in health, economy and education can be achieved with modest degrees of human rights and democracy. Hans Roslings concluding remark is that Human rights and Democracy maybe should be mainly regarded as values in themselves rather than means to achieve something else.


Related content

Democracy and GDP per capita in Gapminder World


Links:

http://oslofreedomforum.org
http://www.amnesty.org/en/human-rights/human-rights-by-country
http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/stats-on-human-rights/
http://www.systemicpeace.org/polity/polity4.htm

 

Breast Cancer Statistics

About this Video

Breast Cancer is the most common form of cancer among women. Unlike cervical cancer, breast cancer is more common in rich countries than in low- and middle-income countries and also tends to increase as a country gets richer.

But with higher income there are also better chances to save women who get cancer. The data from IARC, now presented in Gapminder World shows how breast cancer has increased in countries like Sweden, but also how death rates are falling. Today, most of the women who get breast cancer in Sweden will survive.

The challenge is to make sure that also low- and middle-income countries will be able to afford treatment for its women when the number of breast cancer now will increase, as they continue to develop.

Related content

See Breast Cancer graphs in Gapminder World.
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Data source: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

Cervical Cancer Statistics

About this Video

Cervical cancer is common among middle-aged women.  It is caused by a sexually transmitted papillomavirus that causes a lesion in the lower part of the uterus that, in some women, can develop into cancer.

By introducing screening test, so called ”pap smear test”, many countries have managed to reduce the number of women affected by cervical cancer dramatically, and by doing so saving thousands of women every year.

Unlike some other cancers (e.g. breast cancer) cervical cancer is decreasing with higher income.

In this video Hans Rosling compare two nordic countries, Denmark and Norway that, at different times, introduced the Pap smear screening and the effect it has had on the number of women who got cancer.

Related content

See Cervical Cancer graphs in Gapminder World:
Denmark and Norway
Cervical cancer and income in the whole world.

Shanghai, New York, Mumbai

About this Video

See the development of three centers of trade, Shanghai, New York and Mumbai.
Also, a comparison of the capitals: Beijing, Washington, D.C. and New Delhi.
And finally, a note from Professor Rosling on how one can measure the progress of President Obama’s intentions to improve the health system of the US.

Related content

Gaps within China, India, US