Spreading TED’s Stats
May 3, 2014
Go watch TED Talks right now. No, not Seth MacFarlane’s teddy bear, Ted, but the relatively short videos of opinion leaders. Hop over to ted.com and watch any of the 1,400 videos, they are amazing.
TED is a nonprofit that holds an annual conference (since 1984). It originally was about technology, entertainment, and design. According to the History of TED, “the first TED included a demo of the compact disc, the e-book and cutting-edge 3D graphics from Lucasfilm, while mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated how to map coastlines using his developing theory of fractal geometry.” TED Talks are so much more now.
Many of my friends, coworkers, even my mother, are educators. Naturally, the first TED Talk shared with me featured a woman named Rita Pierson about how “Every Kid Needs a Champion.” I was very impressed by how inspiring it was. With one video down and 1,399 to go, I found myself looking for more stimulation.
Enter Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician who co-founded the Gapminder Foundation. He was filmed for The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen in February 2006. The main point is debunking third-world myths. What’s interesting is how he concludes and convinces you that there is a need for being able to access all publicly funded data. He brings the audience in with humor. Little things like how his top Swedish students know statistically significantly less about the world than chimpanzees.
He doesn’t present his information with a typical PowerPoint and a video. He used Gapminder World, software that allows you to see animated
statistics. You can visually see what he’s explaining and how trends are affecting what’s going on. We all know wars affect people’s lives, the AIDS epidemic changed life expectancy during the 80s, and that the richest 20% take about 74% of the world’s income. These are arguably boring facts, but the mix of the visually appealing statistics, humor, and enthusiasm not only makes engagement easier, but open your eyes to what’s going on in the world around us.
So go watch The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen or any of his other TED Talks. If you’re really interested, watch 15 TED Talks That Will Change Your Life. They’re “ideas worth spreading.”