The New York Times bestselling author of The Rational Optimist and Genome returns with a fascinating, brilliant argument for evolution that definitively dispels a dangerous, widespread myth: that we can command and control our world.
The Evolution of Everything is about bottom-up order and its enemy, the top-down twitch—the endless fascination human beings have for design rather than evolution, for direction rather than emergence. Drawing on anecdotes from science, economics, history, politics and philosophy, Matt Ridley’s wide-ranging, highly opinionated opus demolishes conventional assumptions that major scientific and social imperatives are dictated by those on high, whether in government, business, academia, or morality. On the contrary, our most important achievements develop from the bottom up. Patterns emerge, trends evolve. Just as skeins of geese form Vs in the sky without meaning to, and termites build mud cathedrals without architects, so brains take shape without brain-makers, learning can happen without teaching and morality changes without a plan.
Although we neglect, defy and ignore them, bottom-up trends shape the world. The growth of technology, the sanitation-driven health revolution, the quadrupling of farm yields so that more land can be released for nature—these were largely emergent phenomena, as were the Internet, the mobile phone revolution, and the rise of Asia. Ridley demolishes the arguments for design and effectively makes the case for evolution in the universe, morality, genes, the economy, culture, technology, the mind, personality, population, education, history, government, God, money, and the future.
As compelling as it is controversial, authoritative as it is ambitious, Ridley’s stunning perspective will revolutionize the way we think about our world and how it works.
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About the Author
Matt Ridley is the award-winning, bestselling author of several books, including The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves; Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters; and The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature. His books have sold more than one million copies in thirty languages worldwide. He writes regularly for The Times (London) and The Wall Street Journal, and is a member of the House of Lords. He lives in England.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book outlines an entirely new way to look at everyday life. The first part was a little monotonous, at least for me, but as I moved deeper into the book I realized it was important for establishing the basis for what followed. A great read and I look forward to reading it again.
I’ve read all of Matt Ridley’s works. Much like Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee, this book largely serves as an amalgamation of several different thoughts and ideas that are explored individually and more deeply in some of his other works. For that reason, this book serves as more of as sort of a Greatest Hits book rather than anything that explores new insights not covered in his other books and thus, in my personal opinion, leaves this book as his least impactful. One thing that is fresh in this book is his much more overt libertarian themes that range from genuinely insightful at their best and completely off the deep end absurd at their worst. He attempts, with some but not complete success to link the bottom up processes that guide natural selection with arguments for banks printing their own currencies and shots against concerns about climate change- leaps in logic that even rabid conservatives and libertarians would find perplexing. In the end, the book functions best as an introduction to Matt Ridley’s general world view complete with his scientific insights that have made him required reading for many a biology student to his libertarian, anti-government political insights which will delight many and sour others.