Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The rational optimist: how prosperity evolves (updated)

Matt Ridley, bestselling author of The Red Queen, Nature via Nurture, and other books, tells the story of human cultural and economic evolution in his latest work, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. Combining the best of economics and biology, he explains both the "how" and "why" of the amazing (and recent) explosion in worldwide human well-being. Against the pessimism of many of today's intellectuals and commentators, Ridley presents a compelling case for why progress will continue, but only if cultural evolution is allowed to develop in the direction of more contact, trade, and openness between people.

Update: Matt Ridley, the Rational Optimist, Answers Your Questions over at the Freakonomics blog.


Eric Crampton said...

You'd seen Easterly's review, right?

Paul Walker said...

Yes I have but I fell Arnold Kling has a point when he says:

"I think that is a fine sentiment, and I think it would be appropriate for Easterly to make his complaints about Ridley on his blog or in some libertarian publication. However, the way Easterly chose to attack the book in the New York Times will do nothing but give Times readers an excuse not to read the book and to stay within their ideological cocoons. Easterly could have focused his review on the strengths of the book, while adding a paragraph on what he saw as the weaknesses. Instead, he portrays a book that is almost all weaknesses and no strengths. If Easterly really believes that, then I disagree with him. If he does not believe that, then I think he went overboard."