The Rational Optimist

The Rational Optimist

How Prosperity Evolves

Downloadable Audiobook - 2010
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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. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people's lives as never before. The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for two hundred years. Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization-which started more than 100,000 years ago-has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair. This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet, from the stagnation of the Ming empire to the invention of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the likely consequences of climate change. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the twenty-first century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.
Published: [United States] : Harper Collins Publishers : Made available through hoopla, 2010.
Edition: Unabridged.
ISBN: 9780061997655
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 audio file (13hr., 38 min.)) :,digital.
Additional Contributors: Ganser, L. J.


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Jul 12, 2016

Imagine a reasoned argument that states, in spite of all the Chicken Littles constantly bemoaning "This Is The End" with regard to whatever change du jour is trending in the news, humans are in fact prospering. Not just the privileged 1%, but everyone. And not just for a limited time, but indefinitely. This is no fairy tale assertion. The facts speak for themselves. Why we don't hear more about it is probably because a headline like "Everything's Getting Better" doesn't sell. Does the thought of globalization keep you up at night? Or how about larger-than-life calamitous events like climate change, over-population or running out of food? Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist may convince you your fears are unfounded if you read with an open mind, but also know that pessimism is a hard habit to get around. We humans are apparently wired for it. This book is the David that stands in direct opposition to all the blowhard media Goliaths proclaiming that "things are bad and gonna get worse." As a whole, things are certainly not getting worse. The opposite is true in fact. For a comparable reference, see Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.


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