In Hans Rosling’s hands, data sings. Global trends in health and economics come to vivid life. And the big picture of global development—with some surprisingly good news—snaps into sharp focus.

Why you should listen

Even the most worldly and well-traveled among us will have their perspectives shifted by Hans Rosling. A professor of global health at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, his current work focuses on dispelling common myths about the so-called developing world, which (he points out) is no longer worlds away from the West. In fact, most of the Third World is on the same trajectory toward health and prosperity, and many countries are moving twice as fast as the west did.

What sets Rosling apart isn't just his apt observations of broad social and economic trends, but the stunning way he presents them. Guaranteed: You've never seen data presented like this. By any logic, a presentation that tracks global health and poverty trends should be, in a word: boring. But in Rosling's hands, data sings. Trends come to life. And the big picture — usually hazy at best — snaps into sharp focus.

Rosling's presentations are grounded in solid statistics (often drawn from United Nations data), illustrated by the visualization software he developed. The animations transform development statistics into moving bubbles and flowing curves that make global trends clear, intuitive and even playful. During his legendary presentations, Rosling takes this one step farther, narrating the animations with a sportscaster's flair.

Rosling developed the breakthrough software behind his visualizations through his nonprofit Gapminder, founded with his son and daughter-in-law. The free software — which can be loaded with any data — was purchased by Google in March 2007. (Rosling met the Google founders at TED.)

Rosling began his wide-ranging career as a physician, spending many years in rural Africa tracking a rare paralytic disease (which he named konzo) and discovering its cause: hunger and badly processed cassava. He co-founded Médecins sans Frontièrs (Doctors without Borders) Sweden, wrote a textbook on global health, and as a professor at the Karolinska Institut in Stockholm initiated key international research collaborations. He's also personally argued with many heads of state, including Fidel Castro.

As if all this weren't enough, the irrepressible Rosling is also an accomplished sword-swallower — a skill he demonstrated at TED2007.


What others say

“Rosling believes that making information more accessible has the potential to change the quality of the information itself.” — Business Week Online

Hans Rosling on the TED Blog
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In Brief

A Hans Rosling quiz, a newly-discovered “Godzilla of Earths,” a new doc from Sebastian Junger, and why octopus arms don’t tangle

June 3, 2014

Members of the TED community saturated the news in the past two weeks. Below, just a few of these headline-makers: Eight years ago, Hans Rosling shared “The best stats you’ve ever seen” at TED2006, flipping our thinking on global health. BigThink.com is marking the anniversary of that talk. Take their very fun quiz that tests […]

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Global Issues

Hans Rosling shatters the myth of “developed” versus “developing” nations

February 4, 2013

Hans Rosling has given nine TED Talks, each sharing a carefully measured dataset to change misconceptions about global issues. Now, the Gates Foundation shares a new demonstration from Rosling. Here, using powerful moving charts, Rosling shatters the fallacy of the “developed” world versus the “developing” world. By looking at the facts, we are able to […]

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Playlist

What are Steve Case, Hans Rosling and Brandon Boyd’s favorite TED Talks?

November 21, 2012

Over the past week, 21 amazing names in the worlds of technology, entertainment and design have curated lists of their favorite TED Talks, to celebrate TED’s billionth video view. The talks they’ve selected have run the gamut from Ben Affleck, who loved Bryan Stevenson’s “We need to talk about an injustice” among others, to Alexis […]

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Quotes from Hans Rosling

Health cannot be bought at the supermarket. You have to invest in health. You have to get kids into schooling. You have to train health staff. You have to educate the population.
Hans Rosling
TED2006 • 8.5M views Jun 2006
Informative, Fascinating
I have shown that Swedish top students know statistically significantly less about the world than the chimpanzees.
Hans Rosling
TED2006 • 8.5M views Jun 2006
Informative, Fascinating
My experience from 20 years of Africa is that the seemingly impossible is possible.
Hans Rosling
TED2007 • 2.6M views Jun 2007
Jaw-dropping, Inspiring