ALTC2008: Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling got the conference off to a fabulous start with a Keynote. He started from the premise that the hardest time to teach someone is when they think they know. The particular example he used was getting a group of students to select which of a pair of countries had the worst child mortality rates. Of the five pairs, students got, on average, 1.8 correct … i.e. worse than Chimps guessing, as he pointed out. Even Professors only scored 2.4. He didn’t seem to be too impressed with PBL – commenting that students don’t always end up knowing facts.

This, combined with the fact that numbers are remarkably hard to interpret lead him to develop (with his son & daughter in law) the wonderful Gapminder visualisation software, that I’ve mentioned several times before. He demonstrated (with the aid of a ladder & long stick)



some of the misconceptions (in this particular case the idea that “Western World = small family, long life & Developing World = large family, short life). Watching the change from 1951 to today dispelled that theory.
It was both entertaining & educational – a great opening!
(The keynotes are being recorded – so should be available)

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