…what would it be? Maybe some other GP tutors would shake their heads and say,’Uh-ah. They should reading more than just one book’. Or something similar, to the effect that I’m setting my expectations too low. So let it be a hypothetical question then. 😉 (You students should read your TIME magazine, or some other current news source of course.)
Anyways, I bought Jessica Williams’ 50 facts that should change the world (2004) the other day from MPH and I thought this could be that one book. (Suggestions for alternatives welcome!)
Obviously, a book with just 50 facts won’t be very substantial. However, each of these facts leads into an essay with many other impressive facts. This other Web site had taken the liberty of putting up the 50 facts so, in the hope that it will get you all interested, I’ll just cut them from there and paste them here:
1 THE average Japanese woman can expect to live to 84; her counterpart in Botswana will die at 39.
2 BLACK men born in the US stand a one-in-three chance of going to jail. For white men the odds are one in 17.
3 ONE in five of the world’s population – 1.25 billion people – is undernourished.
4 NEARLY half of British 15-year-olds have tried illegal drugs and nearly a quarter are regular cigarette smokers.
5 CHILDREN living in poverty are three times more likely to suffer mental illness than children from wealthy families.
6 EIGHTY-ONE per cent of the world’s executions in 2002 took place in just three countries: China, Iran and the USA.
7 SUPERMARKETS in the UK know more about their customers than the government does. They use loyalty cards to determine your income and what your interests are.
8 EVERY cow in the EU is subsidised by £1.40 a day – three out of four Africans have less than that to live on.
9 SAME-SEX relationships are illegal in more than 70 countries. In nine – including Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia – the penalty is death.
10 EVERY hour, UK households throw away enough rubbish to fill the Royal Albert Hall.
11 THERE are 27 million slaves in the world.
12 A THIRD of the world’s population is at war. In 2002, 30 countries were fighting in 37 armed conflicts – a combined population of 2.29 billion people.
13 THE UK has the second-highest rate of teen pregnancies in the developed world, behind the US. There are 30.8 births for every 1,000 teenagers. Teenage mothers are twice as likely to live in poverty.
14 ONE in five people live on less than 50p a day.
15 THERE are 44 million child labourers in India, some working 16-hour days.
16 PEOPLE in industrialised countries eat between six and seven kilograms of food additives every year. A ham sandwich can contain up to 13 E-numbers.
17 GOLFER Tiger Woods is the world’s highest-paid sportsman, earning £44million a year, including £30,000 a day for wearing Nike caps – which Thai workers get £2.20 a day to make.
18 EVERY week an average 88 children are expelled from US schools for carrying a gun.
19 LANDMINES kill or maim one person every hour.
20 THERE are at least 300,000 prisoners of conscience, often held in appalling conditions, sometimes tortured, simply for peacefully expressing their own beliefs.
21 CARS kill two people every minute.
22 THE US owes the United Nations $1bn in unpaid dues. Yet it spends the same amount on its military programme every 23 hours.
23 TWENTY-SIX million people voted in the 2001 UK General Election. More than 32 million votes were cast in the first series of Pop Idol.
24 IN Kenya, bribery payments make up a third of the average household budget.
25 THE world’s trade in illegal drugs is estimated to be worth around £225bn – about the same as the world’s pharmaceutical industry.
26 TO fly a kiwi fruit from New Zealand to the UK means five times its weight in greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere.
27 MORE than 150 countries are known to use torture.
28 AMERICANS spend £5.6bn on pornography every year – the same amount their government spends on foreign aid.
29 THE average urban Briton is caught on camera 300 times a day. With 10 per cent of the world’s 30 million CCTV cameras, we are the most watched nation in the world.
30 IN 2001, 13.2 million Americans and 2.5 million Britons had plastic surgery.
31 BRAZIL has more Avon ladies than members of its armed forces. Physical beauty is so highly prized that calling someone vain is a compliment.
32 EIGHTY-TWO per cent of the world’s smokers live in developing countries.
33 THE world’s oil reserves could be exhausted by 2040.
34 MORE than 70 per cent of the world’s population has never heard a dial tone. In Africa just one in 40 people has a phone.
35 A QUARTER of the world’s armed conflicts of recent years have involved a struggle for natural resources.
36 ALMOST 30 million Africans are HIV-positive. By 2050 the disease may have claimed as many as 280 million lives.
37 TEN languages die out every year.
38 MORE people die from suicide than in armed conflicts. In the past 45 years, suicide rates have grown by 60 per cent worldwide.
39 SEVEN million American women and one million American men suffer from an eating disorder.
40 THERE are 67,000 people employed in the lobbying industry in Washington DC – 125 for each member of Congress.
41 SINCE 1977, there have been 80,000 acts of violence or disruption at abortion clinics in North America.
42 THERE are 300,000 child soldiers fighting in conflicts around the world.
43 MORE people can identify the golden arches of McDonald’s than the Christian cross. The same goes for the Shell oil logo, the Mercedes badge and the Olympic rings.
44 A THIRD of the world’s obese people live in the developing world. Campaigners blame Western countries for dumping cheap, processed, fatty foods on poorer nations.
45 IN 2003 the US spent $379bn on its military. This was 22 times the combined military spending of the seven “rogue states” – Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
46 MORE than 12,000 women are killed in Russia every year as a result of domestic violence.
47 SIXTY-ONE per cent of British teenagers believe aliens have landed on Earth, while 39 per cent have any belief in Christianity.
48 TWO million girls and women are subjected to genital mutilation every year.
49 IN China, as a result of the preference for sons over daughters and the country’s one-child-per-family law, there are 44 million fewer women than men.
50 SOME 120,000 women and girls are trafficked into Western Europe every year. The UN estimates the trade is worth £4bn a year.
Need more convincing to get the book?
Disinformation, a New York based current affairs website, calls it an ‘amazing’ book: ‘50 Facts That Should Change The World just might be the most important book you read this year. Every issue is simply presented with explanation and analysis backed by thorough references.’ (Disinformation also sells the book at its Disinformation store.)
Manhattan Users’ Guide.com calls it
One of the more compelling books we’ve read recently.[…] Many of the facts Ms. Williams discusses can be interpreted in more than one way, and you may not always agree with her conclusions. But it’s a thought-provoking read just the same.
And they’ve gone a step further to ‘compile a list of the organizations that Ms. Williams selects at the end of her book […] that are doing great work, where you can get more information and perhaps get involved’:
HEALTH, NUTRITION, MEDICAL CRISES
Action on Smoking and Health
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
International Committee of the Red Cross
Médecins Sans Frontièers
Slow Food Movement
I thought it might be good to pull the list of links out of MUG‘s archives.
The author Jessica Williams also spoke about the book on an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio National. You can read more about the thought that went into producing the book in this transcript.