More on the Rational Optimist
Not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.
John Stuart Mill
Two years ago in this blog I shared my views on a book written by Matt Ridley entitled The Rational Optimist. According to Ridley, humankind has developed an unmatched capacity to resolve its most pressing challenges. Nevertheless, it is interesting to discover that in the past two hundred years pessimists have dominated the debate on the global issues that matter the most. But ever since Malthus, they have all failed in their dark forecasts.
Recently, Ridley updated his outlook in his blog. He emphasizes that in the past few months negative news has been the dominant trend in all areas, from the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the Argentine default, the bombing of Gaza, the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to the resurgence of the ebola virus in Africa. We might think that humanity has progressed little in recent years.
However, Ridley once again infects us with his rational optimism. With an overview that spans half a century and based on statistics from a very peculiar site, we can see that humankind has made substantial progress in all fields. Over the course of fifty years, humanity is richer, healthier, happier, smarter, cleaner, freer, safer, and more peaceful.
For a closer look at Ridley’s rational optimism, I recommend his blog entry, which is reprinted below:
Reasons to be cheerful – Matt Ridley