Book Forum

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

(Harper, 2010)

Watch the Event

Join the conversation on Twitter using #CatoEvents. Follow @CatoEvents on Twitter to get future event updates, live streams, and videos from the Cato Institute. If you have questions or need assistance registering for the event, please email our staff at events@​cato.​org.

Date and Time
May 20, 2010 12 - 2 PM EDT
Featuring the author, Matt Ridley; with comments by Robin Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University. Moderated by Brink Lindsey, Vice President for Research, Cato Institute.

Purchase bookOur economy is hurting, and many see environmental degradation as a looming threat. Unfortunately, the proposed solutions for getting humanity back on track are, in fact, rejections of the very factors that guided us from the poverty of our ancestors to the prosperity of today.

In his book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, bestselling author Matt Ridley (The Red Queen, The Origins of Virtue, Genome) draws on the work of Adam Smith and Charles Darwin to present a history of cultural and economic evolution — a story of progress driven not by the heavy hand of rulers but by bottom-up innovation, specialization of labor, and freedom of trade. He uses the insights this historical perspective offers to address some of today's most pressing issues, from the financial crisis to energy scarcity to globalization. Join us for a discussion of the book by the author, with commentary from Robin Hanson, associate professor of economics at George Mason University.