What is the Gap Instinct, and how to control it?
In his book, “FACTFULNESS”, Hans ROSLING asked people in Sweden and the United States of America: Of the world population, what percentage lives in low-income countries? The majority suggested the answer was 50 percent or more. The average guess was 59 percent.
The real figure is 9 percent. Only 9 percent of the world lives in low-income countries.
Think about the world, the rich and the poor, the developed and the undeveloped, the gap is big, and it feels like it is getting bigger. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer; and the undeveloped countries will never be as the developed ones unless a miracle happens. At least this is the picture that most people see in the media and carry around in their heads. This is a mega misleading misconception.
This leads us to ask the following question:
What is the Gap Instinct, and why is it so hard to change?
There are many reasons why it is so hard to change the misconception of a gap between the rich and the poor:
1-Human beings have a natural urge to a binary thinking: they have a strong instinct to divide things into two distinct groups, with nothing but an empty space in between.
2- People love to dichotomize; Good versus bad, heroes versus villains, my country versus the rest of the world.
3- The media; news and social media websites are full of stories about conflict between two groups, where phrases like “the increasing gap” are very common.
The gap instinct makes us imagine divergence where there is convergence, division where there is just a smooth range, and conflict where there is agreement. So, if you are more interested in correcting your opinion than in continuing to live in a lie; if you are willing to change your mind; and if you are feeling curious, humble, and ready to be astonished then please read on.
The Truth is different
The world has changed over the years. However, the worldview has not, at least in the heads of many people. Most of them are stuck with a completely outdated idea about the world. They still have this irresistible temptation to divide all kinds of things into two noticeably different and often-conflicting groups, with a huge gap in between. By doing so, people become derailed from the truth.
Today, using the simple pairs of categories that suggest there is a gap between developed and developing, rich and poor should stop because it is outdated. Most people are in the middle between the two extremes.indeed, there are still some countries with a majority living in extreme poverty; at the other side is the wealthy world where the richest people live. But the vast majority of the seven billion people living in one world, 75 percent to be more precise, are already in the middle of those two extremes. They are not ultra rich, and they don’t live in an extreme poverty, they have TVs in their homes, electricity, refrigerators and they can send their children to school. This is based on statistics provided by the world bank and the united nations.
The majority of people live neither in low-income countries nor in high-income countries, but in middle income countries. This category doesn’t exist in the divided mind-set, but in reality it definitely exists. It’s where 75 percent of humanity lives, right there where the gap is supposed to be. Or, to put it another way, there is no gap.
How to Control the Gap Instinct?
There are three necessary ways to control the gap instinct
• Beware comparisons of averages. An average comes as a single number that represents the general significance or behaviour of a set of unequal values. Averages are an efficient way to convey information, they usually tell us something useful, but it can be misleading by hiding a spread in one single value.
• Beware comparisons of extremes. Extreme examples are easy to recall, we are naturally drawn to them. But they don’t describe the truth as it is. Extremes exist, but they are minority and that doesn’t tell us much about the world, because the majority is usually to be found in the middle, and it tells a very different story.
• The view from up here. People from higher income levels don’t notice the differences in the other lower income levels, because from up there it is difficult to assess the differences in levels of income. They all look the same, even if they are not.
Maybe it will take so many years for people to understand that they live in a misconception. But eventually they will realise that things are no longer as they used to be. they have to show the data and describe the reality behind it. Everything is available on the internet and United Nations website.