I’m reading Factfulness by Hans Rosling et al. One of the basic points that he is making is that the world is a different place from how most of us generally see it, and that it is a better place. In presenting some data on increases in average life expectancy at birth, which has generally increased over time, he included what I found to be an astonishing piece of data. It’s highlighted in the chart that follows, which is created from the data on his Web site, and refers to the significant drop in average life expectancy that is shown to have occurred in 1960. When I saw this I tried to search my mind to recall what had happened in that year to cause such a drop, without success. Then Rosling reveals the cause: it was caused by the deaths of between 15M and 40M people in China, when the latest multi-year national food plan failed. Local party officials in the villages didn’t want to have to confront the party hierarchy with the bad news, so they harvested their few crops and sent them into the cities. It looked there as if everything was OK, despite all those deaths. These facts weren’t known until 1996. Astonishing.