The Rational Optimist

How Prosperity Evolves
Author: Matt Ridley
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780062025371
Category: Business & Economics
Page: 480
View: 2084

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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.

The Rational Optimist

How Prosperity Evolves
Author: Matt Ridley
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
ISBN: 0007267118
Category: Economic development
Page: 438
View: 8471

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The "New York Times"-bestselling author of "Genome" and "The Red Queen" offers a provocative case for an economics of hope, arguing that the benefits of commerce, technology, innovation, and change--cultural evolution--will inevitably increase human prosperity.

The Evolution of Everything

How New Ideas Emerge
Author: Matt Ridley
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 0062296027
Category: Business & Economics
Page: 368
View: 2405

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The New York Times bestselling author of The Rational Optimist and Genome returns with a fascinating argument for evolution that definitively dispels a dangerous, widespread myth: that we can command and control our world. Human society evolves. Change in technology, language, morality, and society is incremental, inexorable, gradual, and spontaneous. It follows a narrative, going from one stage to the next; it creeps rather than jumps; it has its own spontaneous momentum rather than being driven from outside; it has no goal or end in mind; and it largely happens by trial and error—a version of natural selection. Much of the human world is the result of human action but not of human design: it emerges from the interactions of millions, not from the plans of a few. Drawing on fascinating evidence from science, economics, history, politics, and philosophy, Matt Ridley demolishes conventional assumptions that the great events and trends of our day are dictated by those on high, whether in government, business, academia, or organized religion. On the contrary, our most important achievements develop from the bottom up. Just as skeins of geese form Vs in the sky without meaning to and ter-mites build mud cathedrals without architects, so brains take shape without brain-makers, learning happens without teaching, and morality changes for no reason other than the prevailing fashion. Although we neglect, defy, and ignore them, bottom-up trends shape the world. The Industrial Revolution, cell phones, the rise of Asia, and the Internet were never planned; they happened. Languages emerged and evolved by a form of natural selection, as did common law. Torture, racism, slavery, and pedophilia—all once widely regarded as acceptable—are now seen as immoral despite the decline of religion in recent decades. In this wide-ranging and erudite book, Ridley brilliantly makes the case for evolution, rather than design, as the force that has shaped much of our culture, our technology, our minds, and that even now is shaping our future. As compelling as it is controversial, as authoritative as it is ambitious, Ridley’s deeply thought-provoking book will change the way we think about the world and how it works.

Abundance

The Future Is Better Than You Think
Author: Peter H. Diamandis,Steven Kotler
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 145161683X
Category: Science
Page: 432
View: 2679

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The authors document how four forces--exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the Technophilanthropist, and the Rising Billion--are conspiring to solve our biggest problems. "Abundance" establishes hard targets for change and lays out a strategic roadmap for governments, industry and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism.

Pandora's Seed

Why the Hunter-Gatherer Holds the Key to Our Survival
Author: Spencer Wells
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN: 0812971914
Category: Nature
Page: 256
View: 4899

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Originally published in hardcover in 2010.

The Case for Rational Optimism


Author: Frank Robinson
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1351485490
Category: Philosophy
Page: 344
View: 6641

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The Case for Rational Optimism tackles a host of challenging subjects in an engaging, accessible, down-to-earth style. It is intellectually serious, ceaselessly intriguing, and devoid of banalities. While other books in this genre tend to be oriented toward self-help, this volume brings evolutionary biology, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, economics, and a keen sense of history to the topic. Robinson begins with three goals: making the case for feeling good about oneself, about humanity in general, and about the global situation. He addresses such seemingly disparate subjects as selfi shness versus altruism, mind and free will, human nature, and issues relating to economics, technology, the environment, and more. Unifying these ideas into a coherent philosophical whole are central concepts: evolution has endowed our species with more good qualities than bad, and why; those qualities, and our use of reason, are the foundations of civilization, and how; and, consistent with our nature, we make a better world by valuing human life therefore enabling others to fl ourish in ways they freely choose. The Case for Rational Optimism argues that the highly challenging conditions confronting early man created a Darwinian selective pressure for cooperation, even altruism, among members of a tribe. Th e author fi nds evidence for this in the way our brains work, and in observable human behavior. He argues against existential despair over the human condition. Even though there probably is no grand celestial design investing life with meaning, he considers this liberating, giving every person the freedom to craft their own meaning. To Robinson, whether sentient beings experience suff ering or joy is the only thing that matters; without emotive highs and lows, the Universe would hardly matter.

The Red Queen

Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
Author: Matt Ridley
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 0141965452
Category: Psychology
Page: 416
View: 3482

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Sex is as fascinating to scientists as it is to the rest of us. A vast pool of knowledge, therefore, has been gleaned from research into the nature of sex, from the contentious problem of why the wasteful reproductive process exists at all, to how individuals choose their mates and what traits they find attractive. This fascinating book explores those findings, and their implications for the sexual behaviour of our own species. It uses the Red Queen from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ – who has to run at full speed to stay where she is – as a metaphor for a whole range of sexual behaviours. The book was shortlisted for the 1994 Rhone-Poulenc Prize for Science Books. ‘Animals and plants evolved sex to fend off parasitic infection. Now look where it has got us. Men want BMWs, power and money in order to pair-bond with women who are blonde, youthful and narrow-waisted ... a brilliant examination of the scientific debates on the hows and whys of sex and evolution’ Independent.

It's Getting Better All the Time

110 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years
Author: Stephen Moore,Julian Simon
Publisher: Cato Institute
ISBN: 1935308084
Category: Political Science
Page: 294
View: 1718

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And now, a dose of good news. In a new book that will put the gloom-and-doom industry out of business, the Cato Institute says more human progress has been achieved in the last 100 years than in all of the previous centuries combined. No matter what the variable -- life expectancy, wealth, leisure time, education, safety, gender and racial equality, freedom -- the world is a vastly better place today than it was a century ago, say co-authors Stephen Moore and the late Julian Simon in It's Getting Better all the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years. Of course, if things are so great, why do we hear so much bad news? False scares and junk science are partly to blame, but the media also play a role in shaping people's perceptions. In 1998, the authors point out, there was not a single commercial airline crash despite the hundreds of thousands of commercial flights and billions of air passenger-miles traveled. While there was no major news coverage of this amazing record, the media devoted weeks of coverage to the 1999 crash of an Egyptian airliner. This focus on the bad lets us forget how much is good about life in modern America.

I Live in the Future & Here's How It Works

Why Your World, Work and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted
Author: Nick Bilton
Publisher: Crown Business
ISBN: 0307591123
Category: Business & Economics
Page: 293
View: 5271

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A technology guru at the forefront of Internet developments provides a layperson's explanation of how a radically changed media world is influencing human behavior, sharing recommendations for short- and long-term responses.

Nature Via Nurture

Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human
Author: Matt Ridley
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060006781
Category: Science
Page: 326
View: 8551

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Documents the 2001 discovery that there are fewer genes in a human genome than previously thought and considers the argument that nurture elements are also largely responsible for human behavior.

Managing Without Growth

Slower by Design, Not Disaster
Author: Peter A. Victor
Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing
ISBN: 1848442998
Category: Business & Economics
Page: 272
View: 4002

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Managing Without Growth offers a compelling argument for the need for a new policy focus in the rich nations. Peter Victor argues that it is time for our obsession with economic growth to end. A new focus on human well-being must replace our more is better philosophy. Brett Dolter, Briarpatch Magazine Peter Victor clearly presents the arguments as to why already relatively rich countries may have to manage low or no growth in their economies if they wish to address rather than continue contributing to global environmental problems. His modelling suggests that managing without growth need not be the economic disaster that is so often assumed. This is a lucid book that provides an excellent introduction to this important but neglected area. Paul Ekins, King's College London, UK At last, Managing Without Growth, a book that puts economics in its proper place within the real world and points the direction we must go in confronting the ecological crisis of the planet. As an economist, environmental studies professor Peter Victor is eminently qualified for the task. He examines some of our most fundamental assumptions and beliefs about the market, pricing, free trade and growth, prosperity and happiness that too often preclude a serious consideration of the environment and economy. His book couldn t be a more timely and important analysis of the destructive consequences of aspiring to endless growth and downloading the costs onto nature itself. He makes a powerful case for the need to work deliberately towards a steady state economy where the real world of the biosphere should set the limits to our activity. Victor s book should be at the basis for our discussion of these critical issues today. David Suzuki, broadcaster and activist Peter Victor analyses the critical policy question of our time, how to manage our economy equitably and efficiently without growing beyond biophysical limits. He reasons carefully and rigorously, yet pulls no punches in drawing conclusions that some will consider radical. A superb book! Herman E. Daly, University of Maryland, US Overcoming our addiction to economic growth is one of the most important challenges for the 21st century. Peter Victor s masterful summary of the history and fallacies of this particularly pervasive and increasingly dangerous addiction will be a great help in getting over it. A sustainable and desirable future requires clearly differentiating between bigger and better and a recognition that in the overdeveloped West these two have parted ways. Peter Victor s book will help us slow down by design, not disaster, and understand how that slowing down will in fact increase our quality of life. Robert Costanza, The University of Vermont, US Peter Victor s book is a carefully crafted argument for managing without growth . It is not only an up-to-date survey of the latest thinking on energy, climate, and population, it offers practical policy responses to these challenges. This book is a must read for academics and policymakers concerned with environmental integrity and human wellbeing. John Gowdy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, US Peter Victor challenges the priority that rich countries continue to give to economic growth as an over-arching objective of economic policy. The challenge is based on a critical analysis of the literature on environmental and resource limits to growth, on the disconnect between higher incomes and happiness, and on the failure of economic growth to meet other key economic, social and environmental policy objectives. Shortly after World War II, economic growth became the paramount economic policy objective in most countries, a position that it maintains today. This book presents three arguments on why rich countries should turn away from economic growth as the primary policy objective and pursue more specific objectives that enhance wellbeing. The author contends that continued economic growth worldwide is unrealistic due to environmental and

The Happiness Advantage

How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life
Author: Shawn Achor
Publisher: Currency
ISBN: 0307591565
Category: Self-Help
Page: 256
View: 3143

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Our most commonly held formula for success is broken. Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe. In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, who spent over a decade living, researching, and lecturing at Harvard University, draws on his own research—including one of the largest studies of happiness and potential at Harvard and others at companies like UBS and KPMG—to fix this broken formula. Using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work. Isolating seven practical, actionable principles that have been tried and tested everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms, stretching from Argentina to Zimbabwe, he shows us how we can capitalize on the Happiness Advantage to improve our performance and maximize our potential. Among the principles he outlines: • The Tetris Effect: how to retrain our brains to spot patterns of possibility, so we can see—and seize—opportunities wherever we look. • The Zorro Circle: how to channel our efforts on small, manageable goals, to gain the leverage to gradually conquer bigger and bigger ones. • Social Investment: how to reap the dividends of investing in one of the greatest predictors of success and happiness—our social support network A must-read for everyone trying to excel in a world of increasing workloads, stress, and negativity, The Happiness Advantage isn’t only about how to become happier at work. It’s about how to reap the benefits of a happier and more positive mind-set to achieve the extraordinary in our work and in our lives.

Inheritors of the Earth

How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction
Author: Chris D. Thomas
Publisher: PublicAffairs
ISBN: 1610397282
Category: Nature
Page: 320
View: 3523

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Human activity has irreversibly changed the natural environment. But the news isn't all bad. It's accepted wisdom today that human beings have permanently damaged the natural world, causing extinction, deforestation, pollution, and of course climate change. But in Inheritors of the Earth, biologist Chris Thomas shows that this obscures a more hopeful truth--we're also helping nature grow and change. Human cities and mass agriculture have created new places for enterprising animals and plants to live, and our activities have stimulated evolutionary change in virtually every population of living species. Most remarkably, Thomas shows, humans may well have raised the rate at which new species are formed to the highest level in the history of our planet. Drawing on the success stories of diverse species, from the ochre-colored comma butterfly to the New Zealand pukeko, Thomas overturns the accepted story of declining biodiversity on Earth. In so doing, he questions why we resist new forms of life, and why we see ourselves as unnatural. Ultimately, he suggests that if life on Earth can recover from the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs, it can survive the onslaughts of the technological age. This eye-opening book is a profound reexamination of the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Lukewarming

The New Climate Science that Changes Everything
Author: Patrick J. Michaels,Paul C. Knappenberger
Publisher: Cato Institute
ISBN: 1944424040
Category: Science
Page: 250
View: 6505

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In Lukewarming, two environmental scientists explain the science and spin behind the headlines and come to a provocative conclusion: climate change is real, and partially man-made, but it is becoming obvious that far more warming has been forecast than will occur, with some of the catastrophic impacts implausible or impossible. Global warming is more lukewarm than hot. This fresh analysis is an invaluable source for those looking to be more informed about global warming and the data behind it.

The Moral Arc

How Science Makes Us Better People
Author: Michael Shermer
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
ISBN: 0805096930
Category: Science
Page: 560
View: 7577

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Bestselling author Michael Shermer's exploration of science and morality that demonstrates how the scientific way of thinking has made people, and society as a whole, more moral From Galileo and Newton to Thomas Hobbes and Martin Luther King, Jr., thinkers throughout history have consciously employed scientific techniques to better understand the non-physical world. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment led theorists to apply scientific reasoning to the non-scientific disciplines of politics, economics, and moral philosophy. Instead of relying on the woodcuts of dissected bodies in old medical texts, physicians opened bodies themselves to see what was there; instead of divining truth through the authority of an ancient holy book or philosophical treatise, people began to explore the book of nature for themselves through travel and exploration; instead of the supernatural belief in the divine right of kings, people employed a natural belief in the right of democracy. In The Moral Arc, Shermer will explain how abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism--scientific ways of thinking--have profoundly changed the way we perceive morality and, indeed, move us ever closer to a more just world.

Economics Explained

Everything You Need to Know About How the Economy Works and Where It's Going
Author: Robert L. Heilbroner,Lester Thurow
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 0684846411
Category: Business & Economics
Page: 240
View: 2753

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Explains the basic concepts of economics, describes how our economy runs, and discusses big business and international economics

Genome

The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters
Author: Matt Ridley
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0062253468
Category: Science
Page: 368
View: 854

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The genome's been mapped. But what does it mean? Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers. Questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life. Genome offers extraordinary insight into the ramifications of this incredible breakthrough. By picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine. From Huntington's disease to cancer, from the applications of gene therapy to the horrors of eugenics, Matt Ridley probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome. It will help you understand what this scientific milestone means for you, for your children, and for humankind.

The Beginning of Infinity

Explanations that Transform The World
Author: David Deutsch
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 0141969695
Category: Science
Page: 496
View: 7681

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A bold and all-embracing exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge from one of today's great thinkers. Throughout history, mankind has struggled to understand life's mysteries, from the mundane to the seemingly miraculous. In this important new book, David Deutsch, an award-winning pioneer in the field of quantum computation, argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe. They have unlimited scope and power to cause change, and the quest to improve them is the basic regulating principle not only of science but of all successful human endeavor. This stream of ever improving explanations has infinite reach, according to Deutsch: we are subject only to the laws of physics, and they impose no upper boundary to what we can eventually understand, control, and achieve. In his previous book, The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch describe the four deepest strands of existing knowledge-the theories of evolution, quantum physics, knowledge, and computation-arguing jointly they reveal a unified fabric of reality. In this new book, he applies that worldview to a wide range of issues and unsolved problems, from creativity and free will to the origin and future of the human species. Filled with startling new conclusions about human choice, optimism, scientific explanation, and the evolution of culture, The Beginning of Infinity is a groundbreaking book that will become a classic of its kind.

Progress

Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future
Author: Johan Norberg
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
ISBN: 1786072327
Category: Political Science
Page: 288
View: 9715

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A Book of the Year for The Economist and the Observer Our world seems to be collapsing. The daily news cycle reports the deterioration: divisive politics across the Western world, racism, poverty, war, inequality, hunger. While politicians, journalists and activists from all sides talk about the damage done, Johan Norberg offers an illuminating and heartening analysis of just how far we have come in tackling the greatest problems facing humanity. In the face of fear-mongering, darkness and division, the facts are unequivocal: the golden age is now.