Rational Optimist

  • by Matt Ridley
  • Narrated by L J Ganser
  • 13 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Samuel Johnson Prize Shortlist Nominees 2011
Over 10,000 years ago, there were fewer than 10 million people on the planet. Today there are more than six billion, and 99 per cent of whom are better fed, better sheltered, better entertained, and better protected against disease than their Stone Age ancestors.
The availability of almost everything a person could want or need has been going erratically upwards for 10,000 years and has rapidly accelerated over the last 200 years: calories; vitamins; clean water; machines; privacy; the means to travel faster than we can run, and the ability to communicate over longer distances than we can shout. Yet, bizarrely, however much things improve from the way they were before, people still cling to the belief that the future will be nothing but disastrous.
In this original, optimistic book, Matt Ridley puts forward his surprisingly simple answer to how humans progress, arguing that we progress when we trade and we only really trade productively when we trust each other.
The Rational Optimist will do for economics what Genome did for genomics and will show that the answer to our problems, imagined or real, is to keep on doing what we've been doing for 10,000 years – to keep on changing.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Rationalism With a Tinge of Ideology

This book does a fantastic job at cutting through the emotion driven ideology that "things are always getting worse". It provides very compelling evidence for a world that is, on the whole, getting better. My only critique would be that in its quest to promote an idea (The world is getting better) it at times commits the same errors that pretty much defines its opponents. Namely arguing a position with insufficient impartiality and ignoring contradictory evidence. I would recommend "Better Angels of Our Nature" for a more data driven, thorough and nuanced book but overall this does a good job at being objective. Also L J Ganser is a fantastic narrator.
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- Shane

Eye opening

Great read, everyone needs to read this book. Especially those in politics and in positions of influence.
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- michael Mocatta

Book Details

  • Release Date: 27-05-2010
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited