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The Rational Optimist – How Prosperity Evolves

Matt Ridley, 2010, Harper Perennial

Chapter 1 opens with the following quote from Thomas Barrington Macaulay. On what principle is it, that when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?

Matt Ridley then proceeds with wit, intelligence and a broad sweep of research to show that there have always been people who will tell us that the end is nigh, The plague, Y2K, Peak Oil, the ozone, AIDS, H5N1 etc., etc., etc., and yet not only have we survived but we enjoy a standard of living that even King Louis the XVI would have envied.

Matt Ridley makes the point that while we face many issues there is no reason to believe that our lives won’t improve. The history of humans is one of improving quantity and quality of life primarily because we share ideas and trade.

I cannot recommend this book enough as an antidote to the endless stream of pessimism served up by our sensation seeking media and the media’s audience… US!