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For two hundred years the pessimists have dominated public discourse, insisting that things will soon be getting much worse. But in fact, 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. Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people's lives as never before. In his bold and bracing exploration into how human culture evolves positively through exchange and specialization, bestselling author Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. An astute, refreshing, and revelatory work that covers the entire sweep of human history--from the Stone Age to the Internet--"The Rational Optimist" will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.
Matt Ridley is the author of several award-winning books, including Genome, The Agile Gene, and The Red Queen, which have sold more than 800,000 copies in twenty-seven languages worldwide. He lives in England.
Table of Contents
Prologue: when ideas have sex
A better today: the unprecedented present
The collective brain: exchange and specialisation after 200,000 years ago
The manufacture of virtue: barter, trust and rules after 50,000 years ago
The feeding of the nine billion: farming after 10,000 years ago
The triumph of cities: trade after 5,000 years ago
Escaping Malthus's trap: population after 1200
The release of slaves: energy after 1700
The invention of invention: increasing returns after 1800
Turning points: pessimism after 1900
The two great pessimisms of today: Africa and climate after 2010
The catallaxy: rational optimism about 2100
Notes and references
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