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Matt Ridley: The Rational Optimist

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Today we listen to a talk from June 23rd, 2010 by Matt Ridley author of "The Rational Optimist".

In this clear-sighted book, Matt Ridley demonstrates that the world is getting better, and at an accelerating rate: food, income and lifespan are up; disease, child mortality and violence are down all across the globe.

Necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing down; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the internet and the mobile phone 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 200 years.

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 unlikely 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 greatly improved.

Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will tip your way of thinking about the world for the better.

Photo of Matt Ridley by John Watson (http://johnwatsonphotography.co.uk/)

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