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The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (P.S.) Paperback – June 7, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Ridley comes to praise innovation's ability to forestall any number of doom and gloom scenarios, everything from climate change to economic catastrophe. While sounding strikingly similar to narrator Anthony Heald, L.J. Ganser keeps a steady reading pace of Ridley's prose that keeps listeners engaged through the more challenging quantified material (statistics, data, lists) and the more nuanced conceptual material. His escalation, speed, deliberation, and pauses faithfully guide listeners through the text and at times improves upon the dry prose. However, Ganser is prone to over-project, and his forceful overemphasis can wear on the listener's attention. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 12). (June) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Science journalist Ridley believes there is a reason to be optimistic about the human race, and he defies the unprecedented economic pessimism he observes. His book is about the rapid and continuous change that human society experiences, unlike any other animal group. Ideas needed to meet and mate for culture to turn cumulative, and “there was a point in human pre-history when big-brained, cultural, learning people for the first time began to exchange things with each other and that once they started doing so, culture suddenly became cumulative, and the great headlong experiment of human economic ‘progress’ began.” Participants in the exchanges improved their lives by trading food and tools. Ridley believes it is probable that humanity will be better off in the next century than it is today, and so will the ecology of our planet. He dares the human race to embrace change, be rationally optimistic, and strive for an improved life for all people. --Mary Whaley --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
Specialization is good.
Trade is good (and we are the only species that trades).
Together, specialization and trade enable us to efficiently use our talents in the best way to get the best of what others produce.
Self-sufficiency leads to poverty, because no one can master all of the skills and have all the tools necessary for anything above a subsistance living.
Cross-fertilization of ideas is necessary. Rarely if ever does one invent something entirely on his own. Inventions come from putting together ideas others have had in novel and unique ways. (As a patent holder, I can attest to this.)
Use of energy from other than human beings is what allowed the effective end of slavery (Yes,it still exists, but is criminal nearly everywhere).
The more compact the form of energy, the better for the environment.
The higher the real per-capita income, the longer and better people live.
In the next century, real growth will allow us to deal with any ill effects from global climate change, and lift Africa out of poverty, if we but act reasonably intelligently.
I don't have the book in front of me just now, so I may have left something out. But I assure you, Matt Ridley did not. Get it, read it, and be sure to look at the graph at the beginning of each chapter.
What Mr. Ridley offers is a connected argument to the effect that, broadly speaking, the world is much better place than it used to be, and that this improvement is powered by deep forces explained by both evolutionary biology and economics.
Not surprisingly, this point of view will be repellent to many who, wedded to various political and philosophical views, would rather hear that mankind is spiraling into chaos and misery.
Mr. Ridley is a credentialed scientist with a doctorate in zoology from Oxford, and an experienced popular-science writer with brisk, smooth style. Well worth reading, even for pessimists. Especially for pessimists.