In addition to being a Cognitive Philanthropist, I’ve considered myself a rational optimist. Imagine my delight to come across a book, a business/economics/philosophical book, titled The Rational Optimist. British author Matt Ridley presents the world a delicious perspective on the truth of prosperity and quality of life. Can you say, Duh!
Having been bombarded for two decades of doom and gloom end-of-times – over population – no more water – climate disaster – poison planet – humans are a virus, well, you know the list. Ridley maintains optimism because he’s studied economics, prosperity, innovation, free markets and human nature. They all add up to a promising future. Heck, they add up to a more enjoyable present once the goofy terror and fear mongering is cast out. Some of his bon mots:
The message from history is so blatantly obvious – that free trade causes mutual prosperity while protectionism causes poverty – that it seems incredible that anybody ever thinks otherwise.
When asked at the Chicago World Fair in 1893 which invention would most likely have a big impact in the twentieth century, nobody mentioned the automobile, let alone the mobile phone.
Is there a mystery to Ridley’s optimism? No mystery, but a manner of thinking. He cites Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Isaac McPherson:
He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.
If you’re needing some fresh thinking, a bit of rational relief, a venture into the reality of ideas, then you’ll enjoy Ridley’s book.
Here’s a delightful summary: