Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Evolution of Everything

Thanks to blog reader Juan's recommendation, I recently read The The Evolution of Everything and was not disappointed.

The book is about how new paradigms have emerged in human history, and how in retrospect they appear to be top-down structures but emerged as anything but. I share Ridley's viewpoint on a number of topics, so for me this book was partly an enjoyable, gentle massage of my confirmation bias nerve.

I still learnt a lot from the book, however, as I hadn't even considered a great many of the topics he brought up. For example, while I have understood the mechanism of Darwinian natural selection for decades now, I don't think I was properly thinking through how certain characteristics get chosen. I just figured that randomly some genes change and if they work out for the species then great, those genes will survive. But after reading this book I'm much more inclined to think that culture is the major driver of determining what random gene changes get selected, rather than the genes in isolation.

But I didn't buy everything Ridley was offering. I don't quite share all of Ridley's libertarian views, though I do sympathize with them. Particularly on the topic of monetary policy, I thought he too easily dismissed a lot of the bad things that used to happen before central banking became a thing, which then makes it easy to blame central banking for everything that happens on its watch.

Overall, I highly recommend the book.

1 comment:

juan said...

Glad to know you liked it, Saj.
"...this book was partly an enjoyable, gentle massage of my confirmation bias nerve". Great phrase.