Thursday, March 22, 2012

17 Reasons to be a Rational Optimist

Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, was recently interviewed by Reader's Digest, leading to an article listing "17 reasons it's a great time to be alive" or "17 reasons to be cheerful." (The first link leads to the Reader's Digest article, the second to Ridley's blog about the article.)

The list includes a couple points I've made here, and lots more. He says the environment is better than we think, partly thanks to urbanization, partly thanks to technology, especially in agriculture. Also, despite inflation, many things cost far less than they used to. In 1800, an hour's light cost the average person six hours' worth of wages, while today it costs half a second.

By all means, read the full list. As Ridley says, "The world has never been a better place to live in, and it will keep on getting better."

Some other choice quotes:
  • "Self-sufficiency is poverty."
  • "It's easier to wax elegiac for the life of a pioneer when you don't have to use an outhouse. The biggest-ever experiment in back-to-the-land hippie lifestyle is now known as the Dark Ages."
  • "The more we prosper, the more we can prosper. The more we invent, the more inventions become possible. The world of things is often subject to diminishing returns. The world of ideas is not: The ever-increasing exchange of ideas causes the ever-increasing rate of innovation in the modern world. There isn't even a theoretical possibility of exhausting our supply of ideas, discoveries, and inventions."

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