Hans Rosling

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Celebrated data guru Hans Rosling admits he doesn’t like data | 

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:

Melinda, Hans, Mr. Condom and Graca on TEDxChange | 

The TEDxChange event, sponsored by the Gates Foundation, was intended to promote public awareness of and support for the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs.

The TEDxChange event took place while the actual UN MDG summit was underway.

So I decided to try to watch both the TEDx event and the UN webcast of the summit conference in New York.

First, let me just say it was kind of weird to listen at one moment to the President of Israel Shimon Peres talking about the need for peace in the Middle East and then, flipping back to TEDxChange, listen to Thailand’s Mr. Condom (his actual name is Mechai Viravaidya) make jokes about serving hot dogs to promote vasectomies at an event held in a ballroom. (Get it?) Continue reading