Is Optimism Rational?

Matt Ridley’s book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, continues to be my favorite book. It is not simply my favorite non-fiction book; it is my favorite book: challenging, witty, and chock-a-block full of facts. If you are pessimistic about our world’s future (as I was), you owe it to yourself (and your children) to read Ridley’s book–this is doubly true if you are a teacher. I like it so much I own it as an audiobook, an e-book, and a hardback book, and I refer to them quite often. On his website Ridley has this about the book: “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.”

In this video Ridley makes his case:

PS, I should mention also Frank Robinson’s website, The Rational Optimist. His book is The Case for Rational Optimism, which, he writes, “examines the facts, and finds that in reality, humans are fundamentally cooperative, the world is becoming increasingly peaceful, and the causes for it are growing ever stronger.”

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