A counterblast to the prevailing pessimism of our age, and
proves, however much we like to think to the contrary, that things
are getting better.
Over 10,000 years ago there were fewer than 10 million people on
the planet. Today there are more than 6 billion, 99 per cent of
whom are better fed, better sheltered, better entertained and
better protected against disease than their Stone Age ancestors.
The availability of almost everything a person could want or need
has been going erratically upwards for 10,000 years and has rapidly
accelerated over the last 200 years: calories; vitamins; clean
water; machines; privacy; the means to travel faster than we can
run, and the ability to communicate over longer distances than we
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. In this original, optimistic book, Matt
Ridley puts forward his surprisingly simple answer to how humans
progress, arguing that we progress when we trade and we only really
trade productively when we trust each other. The Rational
Optimist will do for economics what Genome did
for genomics and will show that the answer to our problems,
imagined or real, is to keep on doing what we've been doing for
10,000 years -- to keep on changing.