Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down — all across the globe.
Some less-than-random thoughts by a dismal scientist I use this blog to discuss and share ideas on the following topics: I intend to discuss both scholarly topics and topics that target a general audience. I write this blog purely in my own name, and nothing of what is published on this site commits my employer.
The argument of the book rests on two pillars. First of all, there are the factual arguments. Ridley argues that you can take almost indicator of human well-being, and that you will find that, through time and in most places, these indicators have evolved for the better: Exchange leads to specialization according to comparative advantage and, as Ricardo already pointed out more than two centuries ago, this leads to a higher productivity and thus to higher overall welfare.
However, Ridley goes on to argue that human exchange is not limited to an exchange of goods, but also includes the exchange of ideas, which are the main source of productivity improvements over time.
A book whose avowed purpose is to row against the tide is bound to prove controversial. Before writing this review, I have briefly looked at some of the discussions on the Internet, and, as expected, there is some heated debate going on out there. As a rationalist who is not naturally inclined to optimism, I will contribute my bit here.
Before proceeding with an assessment of the contents of the book, let me first say some words on the form. If an author want this type of work to be taken seriously, rigorous referencing is absolutely required. To be honest, the referencing in this book is dreadful, and would not be accepted in an essay by an undergraduate student.
First of all, even though the book contains more or less 60 pages of notes of references, several of the boldest claims of the author are actually not referenced at all!
For instance, nice to hear that sperm counts are not falling, but where does the information come from? As these claims can hardly be considered to be common knowledge, one wonders why the references have been omitted.
Second, although the author cites extensively from peer reviewed scientific papers, some of the again boldest claims come from very partisan secondary sources.
I think this seriously undermines the credibility of the book. A related problem is that, as far as I can judge, the author has been very selective in his references.
For instance, Ridley argues that, when incomes rise, environmental quality first declines and subsequently improves: Ridley then cites one relatively old paper on the subject and creates the impression that the issue is settled.
Actually, it is not: One wonders if this selective referencing is a deliberate strategy or is simply the by-product of trying to cover too many fields in a short book.
Now, what about the substance? To begin on a positive note, there are two points that I have very much enjoyed about this book.Extracted from The Rational Optimist. Specialisation encouraged innovation, because it encouraged the investment of time in a tool-making tool.
That saved time, and prosperity is simply time saved, which is proportional to the division of labour. Page: 7 This, along with unbridled commerce, seems to be the point of this book.
The Rational Optimist argues—quite persuasively, I might add—that while it’s fashionable for the media to cover doom-and-gloom stories about how the world is headed to hell in a handbasket for any number of reasons, this is not consistent with the facts.
The facts are that throughout history, humanity as a whole has become wealthier, happier, smarter, healthier, and longer-lived—and this holds true even for the . Rational Optimist How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley available in Trade Paperback on feelthefish.com, also read synopsis and reviews.
Life is getting better and at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are 5/5(1). 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.4/5(15).
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley Reviews-Bio-Summary-All Formats-Sale Prices for The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. ISBN: Lowest Book Prices! The book's strength, however, does not lie in its economic analysis.
Ridley's real target is those doomsayers who insist that everything is going from bad to worse and something must be done about it.