Radical Optimism Is the Most Rebellious Stance You Can Take

“We are becoming healthier, cleaner, smarter, kinder, happier, and more peaceful.”

Matt Ridley gave a talk at the Long Now Foundation’s Seminar of Long Term Thinking called “Deep Optimism”. Ridley is the author of a recent book, The Rational Optimist, where he makes the case that human culture was created not by language (conventional wisdom) but by the exchange of ideas. That’s a useful theory, but not upsetting. Much more provocative and powerful is Ridley’s larger thesis that progress is real, enduring, widely spread, and for the near future, unlimited. In other words, civilization as a whole is (and has been) experiencing real progress, in most dimensions, and for most people, not just the privileged. And further, this goodness shows no signs of stopping.

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