Sunday, June 13, 2010

Website of the Week - Gapminder

You may say that is old news. Well, that may be true; it blew up on the scene in early 2006. Since then they have not only been updating their software, statistics and style, but also producing an ever growing number of videos promoting "a fact based world-view." I use quotation marks because that is a direct quote from the site, but also because macro facts such as these have been the folly of development economics since the 60's. However, if we are aware of their limitations, as those at Gapminder are, the numbers are still compelling.

Gapminder is best put to use when debunking myths. One of my favourite myths is the answer to the question "What stops population growth?". On numerous occasions I have taken up the task of overthrowing popular misconceptions apropos this topic.

A popular fallacy I have dealt with is that war, disease and natural disasters help to curtail the growth of our population. If we do not closely examine the issue of population growth it is easy to fall into that trap. As Dr. Rosling will show you, the complete opposite is the case:

Broadly speaking, better health care and better education are the only things that slow population growth rates. (China notwithstanding)

Many other entertaining videos can be found at including this one where Dr. Rosling predicts when the income per person in India will catch up to the US.

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