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25 April 2024

Data guru Hans Rosling dies at 68

Pic: Getty Images


Data guru Hans Rosling, a Swedish public health expert famous for combating scientific ignorance with catchy YouTube videos in his mission to promote a "fact-based world", has died at the age of 68, his foundation announced.

Rosling, who described himself as an "edutainer", was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year ago and passed away on Tuesday surrounded by his family in Uppsala, Sweden, the Gapminder foundation said.

A professor of international health at Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet, in 2007 Rosling decided to "drop out" to devote his time to promoting "a fact-based world view by converting the international statistics into moving, interactive, understandable and enjoyable graphics".

Challenging misconceptions about "developing" countries and finding ways to make data interesting, Rosling came to international notice with a 2006 TED talk on "The best stats you've ever seen", which has been viewed more than 11 million times online.

In the talk Rosling says with results from one test on knowledge of global health he showed "Swedish top students know statistically significantly less about the world than the chimpanzees".

"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," his TED biography says. "Even the most worldly and well-travelled among us will have their perspectives shifted by Hans Rosling".

Microsoft founder Bill Gates tweeted on his sadness at the death of Rosling, "a great friend, educator and true inspiration for our work".

The Trendalyzer data visualisation software developed by his foundation was bought by Google in 2007.

"Across the world, millions of people use our tools and share our vision of a fact-based worldview that everyone can understand," Gapminder said in a statement announcing his death.

"We know that many will be saddened by this message. Hans is no longer alive, but he will always be with us and his dream of a fact-based worldview, we will never let die!"