About the Book

In a bold and provocative interpretation of economic history, Matt Ridley, the New York Times-bestselling author, makes the case for an economics of hope, arguing that the benefits of commerce, technology, innovation, and change—what Ridley calls cultural evolution—will inevitably increase human prosperity.
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. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people’s lives as never before. The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for two hundred years.
Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization—which started more than 100,000 years ago—has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair.
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. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the 21st century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.
Copies of The Rational Optimist will be available for purchase.

About the Author

Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics, and society. His previous books, including The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, and The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nature, have sold over 800,000 copies, and have been translated into 27 languages.
The Los Angeles Times says that “Ridley writes with panache, wit, and humor and displays remarkable ingenuity in finding ways to present complicated materials for the lay reader.”
He received a doctorate in zoology from Magdalen College, Oxford, before beginning a career in journalism. Ridley worked as the science editor, Washington correspondent, and American editor of The Economist, and later was a columnist for the Sunday Telegraph and Daily Telegraph.


The Competitive
Enterprise Institute
and Reason magazine
invite you to a cocktail reception
to honor the publication of 
by acclaimed science writer
Matt Ridley
Thursday, May 20, 2010
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Competitive Enterprise Institute
1899 L Street, N.W.
12th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20036

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