The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

Book Review: The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
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Compare Products. Home The Rational Optimist. Skip to the end of the images gallery. Skip to the beginning of the images gallery. The Rational Optimist. Matt Ridley author. Be the first to review this product. Life is on the up. In stock. Isolation—self-sufficiency—caused the shriveling of their technology" page Give thanks to the Black Plague. After a population boom in the 13th century, labor had become cheap, and it was more profitable for a shopkeeper to hire additional sweepers than to figure out how to invent a better broom. This reliance on cheap labor is what kept populous China from industrializing and innovating. But in Europe, the Black Death decimated the population—"by , the population of England had been reduced to roughly where it had been in " page —raising the cost of labor and giving merchants an incentive to design cheaper technologies. In other words, low-cost labor is like an economic drug, and it's hard to kick the habit.

Despite his fervent admiration for innovation and technology, Ridley says that alternative energy is an inadequate solution for today's environmental problems. He calculates that to provide power for million Americans, the United States would need a solar-panel array the size of Spain or a wind farm the size of Kazakhstan.

Today's coal, oil, gas, and nuclear setup supplies the whole U. There's no smoking gun here, but remember that Ridley cut his teeth at The Economist, a libertarian flagship. In Ridley's mind, there is very little the free market can't do;in fact, the book is a not-so-subtle glorification of capitalism. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, hosted an event to celebrate the book's release.

Like other free marketeers, Ridley mostly ignores the role of government. There's also plenty to make environmentalists—and particularly climate scientists—cringe.

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves – By Matt Ridley

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (P.S.) [Matt Ridley] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. For two hundred years the pessimists . Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Ideas have sex, in Ridley's schema; they follow a The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (P.s.) Kindle Edition. by.

Ridley spills a lot of ink justifying the hydrocarbon industry, and he argues that "there is just no sign of most renewables getting cheaper. I think he got so carried away by optimism that he veered from its rational form to its irrational form. I believe Ridley's failure to appreciate the importance of climate change is largely based on his emotional and ideological aversion to strong governments. If a strong government role is required to lead the fight on climate change, then he wants to pretend climate change isn't important. He doesn't seem to understand the role of government very well, particularly democratic government in developed countries, and focuses instead on the obvious weaknesses of dysfunctional autocratic government in failing countries.

Yet it seems curious that the wealthiest countries of the world are precisely those that have strong democratic governments and well-functioning public sectors -- with perhaps the partial exception of the United States.

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

However, the US has benefited extraordinarily from importing educated labor from abroad, from exploiting abundant resources in a large continent, and from living beyond its means as the holder of the world's only major reserve currency. There are limits to growth in that model too. All in all, this is a book well worth reading. It's thought-provoking, intellectually wide-ranging, mostly well-argued and … definitely optimistic. View all 6 comments. Jan 01, Ada Ma rated it did not like it Shelves: read , facebook-a-year-of-books , so-awful-i-cannot-finish-reading.

Journalist famed for his books on biology writes about economic issues. He should have stuck to biology. All materials are covered in too simplistic manner without any attention to the nuances.

This is not rational. This is far from rational. This is Ridley being a fool.

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Like he pointed out that the costs of buying food produced and grown from afar is less costly than getting similar produces that are grown nearby. That's fine. I can accept that. But then a few sentences down the line I found tha Journalist famed for his books on biology writes about economic issues.

Then he stated that women are liberated by the more effective household appliances to join the labour market. Well, no this isn't what I was taught in economic history class. We were told that economists have found that the wives are now held to higher standard of house keeping than before. So basically the amount of time women or human being as a whole as now men are doing more housework than say a years ago spend on doing housework is the same, just that the floor is now kept cleaner, clothes are washed everyday instead of every week, etc.

I have came to read this book via the Facebook book club in I really regret having bought this book.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Matt Ridley’s “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves””

I have got to chapter 3, I'm not sure if I can read this to the end. I am deeply disappointed. I wonder if I had only thought of him as a fine writer because I didn't still don't know much about biology. Update: Flipping through the rest of the book very quickly - the book is filled with repeated examples and few references about trades and exchanges have had occurred in the past. Isn't that kinda obvious? It's just basically the author padding up the book - the paperback edition is pages, I reckon a volume of pages would have dealt with the central themes pretty thoroughly already.

The people who shortlisted this book for Samuel Johnson prize have they actually read the book? I very much doubt that. The author talks about the goodness and greatness of free market and then condemns people who have preferences that he doesn't like e. Ridley is happy that you having your freedom as long as you agree with him. I am so glad that he is only a journalist.

Dec 12, Maciej Nowicki rated it it was amazing. As we are constantly bombarded with doom prophesies the book makes a really good job and puts all of that into greater perspective. Rational Optimist starts with a thesis that we are way better off than we ever were. The book states that our lives have improved significantly in terms of wealth, nutrition, life expectancy, literacy and many other measures.

Matt Ridley makes convincing arguments that things will continue to improve. The book also serves as a defence of free trade and globalisation As we are constantly bombarded with doom prophesies the book makes a really good job and puts all of that into greater perspective. The book also serves as a defence of free trade and globalisation.

The book offers much more than the title suggests. The Rational Optimist seeks to explain how humans continuously managed to improve their quality of life. Aug 26, Amine rated it did not like it.

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The author shows evident climate-change skeptism, denies any significant contribution of scientific research and public funding policies to world prosperity, and instead attributes all the merit to free market and capital. I will not comment any further. Jul 13, David rated it it was amazing Shelves: audiobook , nonfiction.

Matt Ridley -- The Rational Optimist

Pessimists get all the media coverage; optimists are poo-pooed for their naivete. Nevertheless, Matt Ridley puts together a good argument that in general, conditions in the world are improving. Not everywhere, of course; but in general, living conditions are improving, there is less violence, innovation is accelerating, and the dire events predicted by doomsayers are not coming true.

Free trade, cheap energy, and specialization are the things that help grow civilizations. Science is not the cause Pessimists get all the media coverage; optimists are poo-pooed for their naivete.

Science is not the cause of, but a by-product of innovation. Innovation is the result of new ideas "having sex" with each other. These and many other interesting concepts are explained in this book, and make it very enjoyable. Jul 06, David rated it it was ok Shelves: read-econbiz. This libertarian screed has been praised by a predictable array of dangerous right-wing organizations, such as The Guardian and the BBC.

In addition to the usual libertarian bullying, name-calling, unsupported assertions, cherry-picking of facts, and disregarding of counter-examples, the reader must endure the Full Monty of Ayn Rand-style Orthodoxy, including the contention that Franklin Roosevelt was a barely-controlled menace to American liberty p.

Like many who picked up this book if comments here at Goodreads are any indication , I am bored with self-serving drumbeat of unimaginative attention-seekers and lazy media hacks predicting the worst in newspapers, magazines, books, movies, and TV. The author documents past predictions that, by now, the world would be a radioactive waste, too hot, too cold, starving, overpopulated, flooded, parched, drained of oil, saturated in smog, or some combination of the above with other horrors thrown in. It isn't although there are undeniable problems. Personally, I want to demonstrate to the pundits, the fund-raisers, and the hot-button-pushers who keep flooding my email in-box with dire predictions that I am not the easily-manipulated peabrain that they take me to be, but my attempts to find a voice of reason whose example I wish to emulate and communicate to others are stymied by authors like this.

While I agree with many of the contentions in this book, Ridley makes reading them as enjoyable as listening to a belligerent drunk shout into his cell phone on a commuter train. I want to know: where can I find the kind of soft-hearted editors that allow books like this one to go to press?

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I've got a great idea for a book on the doom-and-gloom industry. Like Ridley, I don't want anybody to tell me that writing this or that particular thing will make me seem like a pompous dolt. I just want it to pound it into my word processor and have it assume the dignity of the widely-distributed printed page.

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Is that so wrong? Aug 25, Leo Walsh rated it it was ok. I really thought I would like "The Rational Optimist. As a science writer, I'd figure that Ridley would be firmly grounded in facts.