Saturday, March 5, 2016
This strange juxtaposition...........
There are two ways to tell the story of the twentieth century. You can describe a series of wars, revolutions, crises, epidemics, financial calamities. Or you can point to the gentle but inexorable rise in the quality of life of almost everybody on the planet: the swelling of income, the conquest of disease, the disappearance of parasites, the retreat of want, the increasing persistence of peace, the lengthening of life, the advances in technology. I wrote a book about the latter story, and wondered why it seemed original and surprising to do so. It was surely gloriously obvious that the world was a much, much better place than it had ever been. Yet read the newspapers and you would think we had lurched from disaster to disaster, and faced a future of inevitable further disaster. Glance at school history curriculums and you find them utterly dominated by the disasters of the past - and the crises of the future. I could not quite reconcile in my mind this strange juxtaposition of optimism and pessimism. In a world that delivers an endless supply of bad news, people's lives get better and better.
-Matt Ridley, The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge