It’s no secret around the place that I’m a bit of a cricket nerd, but my childhood fondness for cricket opened the door to a whole field of knowledge: that field was statistics, and to this day it’s the only area of mathematics in which I dare claim any competency. Batting averages. Bowling averages. Run rates. Net run-rates. Averages in first and second innings. Duckworth-Lewis. Etc. It’s nice when an otherwise useless sporting interest has such a useful payoff.
In the video below, watch Swedish statistician Hans Rosling combine the oldest form of regular statistical collation known to man (census data recording life expectancy, occupation and income, data-gathering concepts going back to Roman times) with the newest: some truly bedazzling computer technology.
And be amazed by the story he tells.
Once you’ve watched it once, go back and watch out for some individual details: China bouncing around like a rubber ball during the ‘Great Leap Backwards’, the effect of the 1918 ‘flu epidemic, HIV in some African countries but not others. And, above all, the Industrial Revolution, which has made monarchs of us all.