Do Humankind's Best Days Lie Ahead?: The Munk Debates Paperback – December 13, 2016
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About the Author
Matt Ridley's books have been finalists for nine major literary prizes, won several awards, been translated into thirty languages, and sold over one million copies. He currently writes the Mind and Matter column in the Wall Street Journal and writes regularly for The Times. As Viscount Ridley, he was appointed to the House of Lords in 2013 and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Northumberland, UK.
Alain de Botton is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a "philosophy of everyday life." He has written about love, travel, architecture, and literature. His books have been bestsellers in thirty countries. De Botton also started and helps to run a London-based school called The School of Life, dedicated to a new vision of education. His latest book, published in February 2014, is titled The News: A User's Manual. He lives in London.
Malcom Gladwell is a Canadian journalist and the author of five New York Times bestsellers: The Tipping Point, Blink, What the Dog Saw, and his latest, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. He has been named one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time magazine and one of Foreign Policy magazine's "Top 100 Global Thinkers." Gladwell has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has won a National Magazine Award and been honored by the American Psychological Society and the American Sociological Society. He lives in New York.
- Publisher : House of Anansi Press (December 13, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 128 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1487001681
- ISBN-13 : 978-1487001681
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.4 x 7.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #147,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Would have liked to have Vaclav Smil on the Gladwell side instead of De Botton, who came off a little tangential and not as compelling as the rest.
Featuring four of the most influential and well recognised thinkers of our days, the debate, held on 5 November 2015, addressed that fundamental question. On the one side of the argument, Pinker and Ridley declare optimism that can be well summarised in the following statement: with all that past evidence that human living standards improve, it seems indefensible to expect that the best days are past us.
On the other side, De Botton and Gladwell rehearse a more pessimistic view and purport that scientific and technological progress can seldom account for a pure indication of happiness. Optimists, that their opponents sarcastically call "Pollyannas", propose ten factors (lifespan, health,prosperity, peace safety, freedom, knowledge, human rights, gender equality, intelligence) that have been radically though gradually improving, albeit not always ceremoniously, due to our tendency to pay attention and make news from negative developments. Pessimists, laterally nicknamed "Cassandras" contend that medicine and science tend to present an over-sanguine view of the world, that is often politically charged, while the less optimistic view of the psyche and the humanities approach goes largely unnoticed, and make the point that unhappiness cannot be eradicated through the material improvements referred to in Pinker and Ridley's argument. They further draw on the aggravation of existential risk and maintain that the significant achievements of science in our times have introduced new hazards and that we as a species have only managed to reshuffle and redistribute risks, as opposed to eliminating them or reducing their effect for that matter.