CHANGE OF SPEAKER
ORIGINAL SPEAKER HAS POSTPONED UNTIL 20TH JANUARY 2014
Emeritus professor of psychology
The future is brighter than anyone yet realizes. Matthew Ridley, acting like an intellectual aristocrat of the 18th and 19th centuries, justifies optimism, rather than pessimism, in his latest book ‘The Rational Optimist: how prosperity evolves’ (4th Estate, 2011).
As the 5th Viscount Ridley, he was Chairman of Northern Rock in 2007, when it was effectively nationalized. Despite this, he is best known as a distinguished zoologist and evolutionary theorist. He has written six very serious, but popular books; all of which have been well received. However, many distinguished people, such as Bill Gates and George Monbiot, have criticized his latest book, which justifies optimism for two reasons.
The vast amount of evidence that life is better now, than at any time in the past.
Evolution ensures that better things (physical, biological, mental) survive longer.
Articles in Wikipedia, the Guardian, and in Google, summarize the debate. Ridley seems to have the better of the argument in most cases. However, in contrast to most of his critics, I think he understates his case, because he does not fully recognize that the processes of evolution operate, simultaneously, at many different levels, in an infinite variety of contexts, with most of them interacting cooperatively. A small number of things compete to discover what is the “fittest”, but the importance of this is usually exaggerated.
MEETING FORMAT: Our speaker talks, uninterrupted for 20 minutes, to introduce his topic. During a break to get drinks, the Hat goes round. Then there is an hour’s chaired question and answer session. Cafe Sci is funded by the Hat (no sponsors). We suggest a contribution £5 (waged) or £2 - £3 (unwaged). Full details here