It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… but mostly the best of times

Humanity has endured two world wars, countless murders, atomic bombs, and unimaginable violence. And yet, here’s why we’re actually living in the most peaceful, most prosperous times in our species’ history. 

In a provocative talk, journalist Matt Ridley, author of “The Rational Optimist,” gives us reason to believe that humans are progressing both in terms of quality of life and ingenuity. When ideas get together and have sex, we get creativity. When productive creativity happens, we advance as a species. In the second talk, cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, author of the forthcoming “A Brief History of Violence,” shows us that violence has been steadily decreasing in our species’ history, and that this decrease is a fractal phenomenon. We are living in the most peaceful era that our species has ever seen.

Taken together, we have reason to be optimistic in the age of suicide bombings and oil spills. Perhaps March Hauser had it right when he put forth a seemingly revolutionary new theory: that “humans have evolved a universal moral instinct, unconsciously propelling us to deliver judgments of right and wrong independent of gender, education, and religion.”


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