Many of us here at BHL were big admirers of Hans Rosling. As you probably know, he passed away from pancreatic cancer yesterday. Sarah and I have posted an appreciation of him over at FEE that many BHL readers might enjoy.
RIP Hans. You made the world smarter and you helped us to appreciate just how far humanity has come.
Here’s a snippet:
“The story of his life and career can be found both at Wikipedia and in this marvelous Nature profile. What those sources cannot quite convey is Rosling’s importance as a role model for intellectual honesty, personal warmth and charisma, and a willingness to go where the facts took him, regardless of whether those facts adhered to any simplistic political narrative of humanity’s past and future. Both Rosling’s intellectual fearlessness and the substance of his work have importance for those who care about human freedom and progress.
But it isn’t just the content of Rosling’s work that matters. He was an amazing rhetorician. He had a unique ability to use and present data in easy to understand and visually appealing ways that were very effective at conveying an argument. He also was able to think creatively about the linkages among the various causes of wealth and the improvements they made in human well-being. His natural storytelling ability gave him the capacity to put those complex historical factors into narratives that not only got the history right, but did so in a way that appealed to our shared humanity.
Rosling’s work opens up countless useful discussions of the importance of economic growth for increases in life expectancy, as well as what exactly concerns us about growing inequality.”