The Guardian reports that Hans Rosling, the celebrated scientist who has made data cool, doesn’t actually like data that much:
“I don’t like it. My interest is not data, it’s the world. And part of world development you can see in numbers. Others, like human rights, empowerment of women, it’s very difficult to measure in numbers.”
Rosling is strikingly upfront about the limitations of data. Sometimes, the problem is that different countries measure things – like unemployment – in different ways, he says. In other cases, there are real uncertainties in the data that must be assessed: child mortality statistics are quite precise, whereas maternal mortality figures are not; global poverty measurements are infrequent and uncertain.
Still, Rosling does make boring and complicated numbers easy to understand, fun … and cool. Here he is on climate change and population growth: