Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The Rational Optimist
The book is intensely thorough, and does more than just present data -- it attempts to uncover the forces that are at work making things better, starting with the question of why we have it so much better than the other animals. The answer, Ridley explains, is trade. We are the only animal that trades. Other animals give and take, and use tools, but none of them trade. He even shows interesting evidence that this is what allowed us to kill all the Neanderthals -- they couldn't trade and specialize, and we could. He goes farther, suggesting that our differences in gender roles are probably what got this started.
I found this an incredibly thought provoking book, and it gave me great tools for thinking about the future -- I recommend it highly.