“A delightful and fascinating book filled with insight and wit, which will make you think twice and cheer up.” — Steven Pinker
In a bold and provocative interpretation of economic history, Matt Ridley, the New York Times-bestselling author of Genome and The Red Queen, makes the case for an economics of hope, arguing that the benefits of commerce, technology, innovation, and change—what Ridley calls cultural evolution—will inevitably increase human prosperity. Fans of the works of Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel), Niall Ferguson (The Ascent of Money), and Thomas Friedman (The World Is Flat) will find much to ponder and enjoy in The Rational Optimist.
For two hundred years the pessimists have dominated public discourse, insisting that things will soon be getting much worse. But in fact, life is getting better—and at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down all across the globe. Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people's lives as never before.
An astute, refreshing, and revelatory work that covers the entire sweep of human history—from the Stone Age to the Internet—The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.
Ideas have sex, in Ridley s schema; they follow a process of natural selection of their own, and as long as they continue to do so, there is reason to retire apocalyptic pessimism about the future of our species. Erstwhile zoologist, conservationist, and journalist, Ridley (The Red Queen) posits that as long as civilization engages in exchange and specialization, we will be able to reinvent ourselves and responsibly use earthly resources ad infinitum. Humanity s collective intelligence will save the day, just as it has over the centuries. Ridley puts current perceptions about violence, wealth, and the environment into historical perspective, reaching back thousands of years to advocate global free trade, smaller government, and the use of fossil fuels. He confidently takes on the experts, from modern sociologists who fret over the current level of violence in the world to environmentalists who disdain genetically modified crops. An ambitious and sunny paean to human ingenuity, this is an argument for why ambitious optimism is morally mandatory.
Optimism Can Be Contagious!
A remarkable description of the essential role of exchange and specialization in human progress. Bravo!
One of the most logical and positive books about mankind you'll ever read.
Matt Ridley has always been of my favorite writers. His Origins of Virtue should be mandatory reading. And now in the Rational Optimist he gives us sound evidence that man is both moral and social and human history has shown a steady progress in improving the quality of life for all.
Whenever the human compass points towards more trade and individual freedom progress for all follows.