Life is getting better 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.
"Delightful Case for Things Looking Up"
Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators.
Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers - questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life. Matt Ridley here probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome.
"Still useful today."
The Evolution of Everything is about bottom-up order and its enemy, the top-down twitch - the endless fascination human beings have with design rather than evolution, with direction rather than emergence. Drawing on anecdotes from science, economics, history, politics, and philosophy, Matt Ridley's wide-ranging, highly opinionated opus demolishes conventional assumptions that major scientific and social imperatives are dictated by those on high.
If, as Darwin suggests, evolution relentlessly encourages the survival of the fittest, why are humans compelled to live in cooperative, complex societies? In this fascinating examination of the roots of human trust and virtue, a zoologist and former American editor of The Economist reveals the results of recent studies that suggest that self-interest and mutual aid are not at all incompatible. In fact, he points out, our cooperative instincts may have evolved as part of mankind's natural selfish behavior - by exchanging favors we can benefit ourselves as well as others.
The Samuel Johnson Prize Shortlist Nominees 2011. Over 10,000 years ago there were fewer than 10 million people on the planet. Today there are more than six billion, 99 per cent of whom are better fed, better sheltered, better entertained and better protected against disease than their Stone Age ancestors. Yet, bizarrely, however much things improve from the way they were before, people still cling to the belief that the future will be nothing but disastrous.
We are taught that the world is a top-down place. Generals win battles; politicians run countries; scientists discover truths; artists create genres; inventors make breakthroughs; teachers shape minds; philosophers change minds; priests teach morality; businessmen lead businesses; environmentalists save the planet.