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The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity…

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Matt Ridley

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515919,696 (3.91)24
Title:The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
Authors:Matt Ridley
Info:Harper (2010), Hardcover, 448 pages
Collections:Your library, Wishlist

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The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley (2010)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Very thought-provoking. While I don't agree with all Ridley's arguments, the overall thesis is interesting, and the book is definitely worth reading.
( )
  castiron | May 10, 2013 |
I am an optimist - and do think that people and the world will adapt and continue to flourish. But there was a lot in this book that I either don't really agree with or that was over simplified. ( )
  reddragonfly | Apr 12, 2013 |
Very tempting title and first several chapters - life has been steadily improving. However, some of these happy platitudes seem to fall apart the further I read.

I'm not going to dispute the benefits of free trade, the exchange of ideas, and the steady march of technology. On the contrary. I'm even pleased to remark that he has some reasonable understanding of GM crops and is willing to defend them.

What does bother me is the incomplete and baffling treatment that global warming received. The good effects are a surprising touch, yes, but the bad effects are not wholly neutralized. He dismisses them breezily. I am finding this to be more worrisome than most.

This is a refreshing breath of fresh air, yes, but one should be prepared to evaluate and analyze all statements, optimistic or otherwise. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
A British author and one time non-executive chairman of British bank Northern Rock, which experienced a meltdown in the 2008 sub-prime mortgage debacle leading to his resignation, Matt Ridley is better known for his writing exploring human economics, anthropology, evolution and other cross discipline topics.

This book addresses topics right at that intersection arguing persuasively at times that human kind will have a bright future even as populations increase, the atmosphere warms, fossil fuels become scarce, species go extinct, etc. Claiming he picks up on the ideas developed by Adam Smith and Charles Darwin, viewing man's progress built on the concepts of exchange and natural selection, he derides the pessimist's, the environmentalist, the bureaucrats who support a dire outlook for the world.

His optimistic viewpoint is refreshing and occasionally compelling. Other times I thought his arguments were specious.
  rbartholomew | Aug 15, 2011 |
This book leaves me puzzled. It offers a dazzling overview of human history drenched in an optimistic "progression"-approach. Especially the emphasis on the evergrowing and intertwined role of exchange, specialisation and innovation is an eye-opener. For me, he is also rather convincing in his condemnation of the always returning doomthinking, especially on the climate-change issue.
But, on the other hand, this is also a radical, ultra-liberal pamphlet. Ridley glorifies in one-sided freemarket retoric, scorches governments and bureaucracies as catastrofical instruments, and he is extremely apologetic about the record of corporations (although he keeps silent about his own role in the Northern Rock-debacle).
So, I'm puzzled: this book is breathtaking ("thoughtprovoking") and horrible at the same time. It doesn't leave you indifferent, for sure. Let me conclude: this is a must-read! ( )
  lamotm | Apr 7, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
"In the second century of the Christian Era, the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilised portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valour. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury." Thus the first paragraph of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and thus, more or less, the entire contents of Matt Ridley's latest book.
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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.… (more)

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