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Matt Ridley - Author

About the Author

Matt Ridley received his BA and D. Phil at Oxford researching the evolution of behaviour. He has been science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor of The Economist. He is the author of bestselling titles The Red Queen (1993), The Origins of Virtue (1996), Genome (1999) and Nature via Nurture (2003). His books have sold over half a million copies, been translated into 25 languages and been shortlisted for six literary prizes. In 2004 he won the National Academies Book Award from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine for Nature via Nurture. In 2007 Matt won the Davis Prize from the US History of Science Society for Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code. He is married to the neuroscientist Professor Anya Hurlbert.

Featured books by Matt Ridley

The Rational Optimist How Prosperity Evolves

The Rational Optimist How Prosperity Evolves

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2011

Matt Ridley, acclaimed author of the classics 'Genome' and 'Nature via Nurture', turns from investigating human nature to investigating human progress. In 'The Rational Optimist' Ridley offers a counterblast to the prevailing pessimism of our age, and proves, however much we like to think to the contrary, that things are getting better. Over 10,000 years ago there were fewer than 10 million people on the planet. Today there are more than 6 billion, 99 per cent of whom are better fed, better sheltered, better entertained and better protected against disease than their Stone Age ancestors. The availability of almost everything a person could want or need has been going erratically upwards for 10,000 years and has rapidly accelerated over the last 200 years: calories; vitamins; clean water; machines; privacy; the means to travel faster than we can run, and the ability to communicate over longer distances than we can shout. Yet, bizarrely, however much things improve from the way they were before, people still cling to the belief that the future will be nothing but disastrous. In this original, optimistic book, Matt Ridley puts forward his surprisingly simple answer to how humans progress, arguing that we progress when we trade and we only really trade productively when we trust each other. 'The Rational Optimist' will do for economics what 'Genome' did for genomics and will show that the answer to our problems, imagined or real, is to keep on doing what we've been doing for 10,000 years -- to keep on changing.

Other books by Matt Ridley

Wenn Ideen Sex haben

Wenn Ideen Sex haben

Author: Matt Ridley Format: eBook Release Date: 05/07/2018

Eine uberzeugende Absage an den Pessimismus unserer Zeit. Die Geschichte der Menschheit ist eine groartige Erfolgsgeschichte, und es gibt keinen vernunftigen Grund fur die - allerdings weitverbreitete - Annahme, dass urplotzlich in unserer Zeit der Fortschritt erlahmen, die Innovationskraft und Erfindungsgabe der Menschen versiegen und die Verbreitung von Wohlstand an ein Ende kommen soll. Die kulturelle Entwicklung des Menschen hat uber Jahrtausende zu immer besseren Lebensbedingungen gefuhrt. Der Schlussel dafur waren die Arbeitsteilung und der Austausch von Ideen. Wenn wir nicht verzagen und die kreativen Krafte der Menschen nicht behindert werden, dann kann uns ein 21. Jahrhundert bevorstehen, in dem der Wohlstand sich vermehrt, Armut zuruckgeht, Krankheiten eingedammt werden, die Uberbevolkerung abnimmt, die technologische Entwicklung bluht, Wissen und Bildung immer mehr Menschen erreicht und Umweltbedingungen sich verbessern.

Evolution of Everything

Evolution of Everything

Author: Matt Ridley Format: eBook Release Date: 24/09/2015

We are taught that the world is a top-down place. Acclaimed author, Matt Ridley, shows just how wrong this is in his compelling new book. We are taught that the world is a top-down place. Generals win battles; politicians run countries; scientists discover truths; artists create genres; inventors make breakthroughs; teachers shape minds; philosophers change minds; priests teach morality; businessmen lead businesses; environmentalists save the planet. Not just individuals, but institutions too: Goldman Sachs, the Communist Party, the Catholic Church, Al Qaeda - these are said to shape the world. This is more often wrong than right. '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. Top downery is the source of most of our worst problems in the past - why Hitler won an election, why the sub-prime bubble happened, why Africa lingered in poverty when Asia did not, why the euro is a disaster - and will be the scourge of this century too. And although we neglect, defy and ignore them, bottom-up trends still shape the world. The growth of technology, the sanitation-driven health revolution, the quadrupling of farm yields so that more land could be released for nature - these were largely emergent phenomena. So was the internet, the mobile phone revolution and the rise of Asia. In this wide-ranging, highly opinionated non-fiction narrative, Ridley draws on anecdotes from science, economics, history, politics and philosophy and examples drawn from the scientific literature, from historical narratives and from personal anecdotes.

The Evolution of Everything How Ideas Emerge

The Evolution of Everything How Ideas Emerge

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/09/2015

We are taught that the world is a top-down place. Acclaimed author, Matt Ridley, shows just how wrong this is in his compelling new book. We are taught that the world is a top-down place. Generals win battles; politicians run countries; scientists discover truths; artists create genres; inventors make breakthroughs; teachers shape minds; philosophers change minds; priests teach morality; businessmen lead businesses; environmentalists save the planet. Not just individuals, but institutions too: Goldman Sachs, the Communist Party, the Catholic Church, Al Qaeda - these are said to shape the world. This is more often wrong than right. `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. Top downery is the source of most of our worst problems in the past - why Hitler won an election, why the sub-prime bubble happened, why Africa lingered in poverty when Asia did not, why the euro is a disaster - and will be the scourge of this century too. And although we neglect, defy and ignore them, bottom-up trends still shape the world. The growth of technology, the sanitation-driven health revolution, the quadrupling of farm yields so that more land could be released for nature - these were largely emergent phenomena. So was the internet, the mobile phone revolution and the rise of Asia. In this wide-ranging, highly opinionated non-fiction narrative, Ridley draws on anecdotes from science, economics, history, politics and philosophy and examples drawn from the scientific literature, from historical narratives and from personal anecdotes.

The Evolution of Everything How Ideas Emerge

The Evolution of Everything How Ideas Emerge

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 21/09/2015

We are taught that the world is a top-down place. Acclaimed author, Matt Ridley, shows just how wrong this is in his compelling new book. We are taught that the world is a top-down place. Generals win battles; politicians run countries; scientists discover truths; artists create genres; inventors make breakthroughs; teachers shape minds; philosophers change minds; priests teach morality; businessmen lead businesses; environmentalists save the planet. Not just individuals, but institutions too: Goldman Sachs, the Communist Party, the Catholic Church, Al Qaeda - these are said to shape the world. This is more often wrong than right. `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. Top downery is the source of most of our worst problems in the past - why Hitler won an election, why the sub-prime bubble happened, why Africa lingered in poverty when Asia did not, why the euro is a disaster - and will be the scourge of this century too. And although we neglect, defy and ignore them, bottom-up trends still shape the world. The growth of technology, the sanitation-driven health revolution, the quadrupling of farm yields so that more land could be released for nature - these were largely emergent phenomena. So was the internet, the mobile phone revolution and the rise of Asia. In this wide-ranging, highly opinionated non-fiction narrative, Ridley draws on anecdotes from science, economics, history, politics and philosophy and examples drawn from the scientific literature, from historical narratives and from personal anecdotes.

The Rational Optimist How Prosperity Evolves

The Rational Optimist How Prosperity Evolves

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2011

Matt Ridley, acclaimed author of the classics 'Genome' and 'Nature via Nurture', turns from investigating human nature to investigating human progress. In 'The Rational Optimist' Ridley offers a counterblast to the prevailing pessimism of our age, and proves, however much we like to think to the contrary, that things are getting better. Over 10,000 years ago there were fewer than 10 million people on the planet. Today there are more than 6 billion, 99 per cent of whom are better fed, better sheltered, better entertained and better protected against disease than their Stone Age ancestors. The availability of almost everything a person could want or need has been going erratically upwards for 10,000 years and has rapidly accelerated over the last 200 years: calories; vitamins; clean water; machines; privacy; the means to travel faster than we can run, and the ability to communicate over longer distances than we can shout. Yet, bizarrely, however much things improve from the way they were before, people still cling to the belief that the future will be nothing but disastrous. In this original, optimistic book, Matt Ridley puts forward his surprisingly simple answer to how humans progress, arguing that we progress when we trade and we only really trade productively when we trust each other. 'The Rational Optimist' will do for economics what 'Genome' did for genomics and will show that the answer to our problems, imagined or real, is to keep on doing what we've been doing for 10,000 years -- to keep on changing.

Genome

Genome

Author: Matt Ridley Format: eBook Release Date: 18/01/2011

The genome's been mapped.But what does it mean?Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers. Questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life.Genome offers extraordinary insight into the ramifications of this incredible breakthrough. By picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine. From Huntington's disease to cancer, from the applications of gene therapy to the horrors of eugenics, Matt Ridley probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome. It will help you understand what this scientific milestone means for you, for your children, and for humankind.

Red Queen

Red Queen

Author: Matt Ridley Format: eBook Release Date: 18/01/2011

Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators. The Red Queen answers dozens of other riddles of human nature and culture -- including why men propose marriage, the method behind our maddening notions of beauty, and the disquieting fact that a woman is more likely to conceive a child by an adulterous lover than by her husband. Brilliantly written, The Red Queen offers an extraordinary new way of interpreting the human condition and how it has evolved.

Rational Optimist

Rational Optimist

Author: Matt Ridley Format: eBook Release Date: 27/05/2010

Matt Ridley, acclaimed author of the classics Genome and Nature via Nurture, turns from investigating human nature to investigating human progress. In The Rational Optimist Ridley offers a counterblast to the prevailing pessimism of our age, and proves, however much we like to think to the contrary, that things are getting better. Over 10,000 years ago there were fewer than 10 million people on the planet. Today there are more than 6 billion, 99 per cent of whom are better fed, better sheltered, better entertained and better protected against disease than their Stone Age ancestors. The availability of almost everything a person could want or need has been going erratically upwards for 10,000 years and has rapidly accelerated over the last 200 years: calories; vitamins; clean water; machines; privacy; the means to travel faster than we can run, and the ability to communicate over longer distances than we can shout. Yet, bizarrely, however much things improve from the way they were before, people still cling to the belief that the future will be nothing but disastrous. In this original, optimistic book, Matt Ridley puts forward his surprisingly simple answer to how humans progress, arguing that we progress when we trade and we only really trade productively when we trust each other. The Rational Optimist will do for economics what Genome did for genomics and will show that the answer to our problems, imagined or real, is to keep on doing what we've been doing for 10,000 years - to keep on changing.

Rational Optimist

Rational Optimist

Author: Matt Ridley Format: eBook Release Date: 18/05/2010

Ridley writes with panache, wit, and humor and displays remarkable ingenuity in finding ways to present complicated materials for the lay reader. Los Angeles Times In a bold and provocative interpretation of economic history, Matt Ridley, the New York Times-bestselling author of Genome and The Red Queen, makes the case for an economics of hope, arguing that the benefits of commerce, technology, innovation, and changewhat Ridley calls cultural evolutionwill inevitably increase human prosperity. Fans of the works of Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel), Niall Ferguson (The Ascent of Money), and Thomas Friedman (The World Is Flat) will find much to ponder and enjoy in The Rational Optimist.

Francis Crick Discoverer of the Genetic Code

Francis Crick Discoverer of the Genetic Code

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/02/2008

Acclaimed author Matt Ridley traces the colourful life of the man who discovered the structure of DNA, the building blocks of life. Building on a biographical tradition that can be traced back to Aubrey's `Brief Lives', Dr Johnson's `Lives of the Poets' and Lytton Strachey's `Eminent Victorians', this exciting and ground-breaking new series pairs great biographers, historians and novelists with iconic subjects, the writing bristling with original and distinctive points of view. On 28 February 1953, Francis Crick walked into the Eagle pub in Cambridge and announced that he and his American colleague James Watson `had found the secret of life'. In fact, they had indeed done so. That morning, Crick and Watson had worked out the structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). They had discovered its 'double helix' form, one which could replicate itself, confirming theories that it carried life's hereditary information. Matt Ridley's life of Crick begins with his birth in 1916 at the home of a shoe factory owner, his early explosive experiments at primary school and time developing torpedoes in the Navy. After his seismic DNA discovery, which won him the Nobel Prize before he'd even gained a PhD, the scientist's later work was rarely uncontroversial. From California, he proposed that life began when micro-organisms from another planet were dropped here by a spaceship sent to Earth, and maintained that the 'human soul' was entirely explicable in terms of brain activity. Matt Ridley's entertaining account traces the colourful and entirely original work behind one of mankind's greatest discoveries and displays the life of a scientist considered of the very first rank.

Nature via Nurture Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human

Nature via Nurture Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/04/2006

Acclaimed author Matt Ridley's thrilling follow-up to his bestseller `Genome'. Armed with the extraordinary new discoveries about our genes, Ridley turns his attention to the nature versus nurture debate to bring the first popular account of the roots of human behaviour. What makes us who we are? In February 2001 it was announced that the genome contains not 100,000 genes as originally expected but only 30,000. This startling revision led some scientists to conclude that there are simply not enough human genes to account for all the different ways people behave: we must be made by nurture, not nature. Yet again biology was to be stretched on the Procrustean bed of the nature-nurture debate. Acclaimed science writer Matt Ridley argues that the emerging truth is far more interesting than this myth. Nurture depends on genes, too, and genes need nurture. Genes not only predetermine the broad structure of the brain; they also absorb formative experiences, react to social cues and even run memory. They are consequences as well as causes of the will. Published fifty years after the discovery of the double helix of DNA, `Nature via Nurture' chronicles a new revolution in our understanding of genes. Ridley recounts the hundred years' war between the partisans of nature and nurture to explain how this paradoxical creature, the human being, can be simultaneously free-willed and motivated by instinct and culture. `Nature via Nurture' is an enthralling, up-to-the-minute account of how genes build brains to absorb experience.

Nature via Nurture Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human

Nature via Nurture Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/05/2004

Acclaimed author Matt Ridley's thrilling follow-up to his bestseller Genome. Armed with the extraordinary new discoveries about our genes, Ridley turns his attention to the nature versus nurture debate to bring the first popular account of the roots of human behaviour. What makes us who we are? In February 2001 it was announced that the genome contains not 100,000 genes as originally expected but only 30,000. This startling revision led some scientists to conclude that there are simply not enough human genes to account for all the different ways people behave: we must be made by nurture, not nature. Matt Ridley argues that the emerging truth is far more interesting than this myth. Nurture depends on genes, too, and genes need nurture. Genes not only predetermine the broad structure of the brain; they also absorb formative experiences, react to social cues and even run memory. They are consequences as well as causes of the will. Published fifty years after the discovery of the double helix of DNA, Nature via Nurture chronicles a new revolution in our understanding of genes. Ridley recounts the hundred years' war between the partisans of nature and nurture to explain how this paradoxical creature, the human being, can be simultaneously free-willed and motivated by instinct and culture. Nature via Nurture is an enthralling, up-to-the-minute account of how genes build brains to absorb experience.

Genome The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

Genome The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/03/2000

The most important investigation of genetic science since The Selfish Gene, from the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling The Red Queen and The Origins of Virtue. The genome is our 100,000 or so genes. The genome is the collective recipe for the building and running of the human body. These 100,000 genes are sited across 23 pairs of chromosomes. Genome, a book of about 100,000 words, is divided into 23 chapters, a chapter for each chromosome. The first chromosome, for example, contains our oldest genes, genes which we have in common with plants. By looking at our genes we can see the story of our evolution, what makes us individual, how our sexuality is determined, how we acquire language, why we are vunerable to certain diseases, how mind has arisen. Genome also argues for the genetic foundations of free will. While many believe that genetics proves biological determinism, Ridley will show that in fact free will is itself in the genes. Everything that makes us human can be read in our genes. Early in the next century we will have determined the function of every one of these 100,000 genes.

The Origins of Virtue

The Origins of Virtue

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/10/1997

Why are people nice to each other? What are the reasons for altrusim? Matt Ridley explains how the human mind has evolved a special instinct for social exchange, offering a lucid and persuasive argument about the paradox of human benevolence.

The Red Queen Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

The Red Queen Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

Author: Matt Ridley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/10/1994

Sex is as fascinating to scientists as it is to the rest of us. A vast pool of knowledge, therefore, has been gleaned from research into the nature of sex, from the contentious problem of why the wasteful reproductive process exists at all, to how individuals choose their mates and what traits they find attractive. This fascinating book explores those findings, and their implications for the sexual behaviour of our own species. It uses the Red Queen from `Alice in Wonderland' - who has to run at full speed to stay where she is - as a metaphor for a whole range of sexual behaviours. The book was shortlisted for the 1994 Rhone-Poulenc Prize for Science Books. `Animals and plants evolved sex to fend off parasitic infection. Now look where it has got us. Men want BMWs, power and money in order to pair-bond with women who are blonde, youthful and narrow-waisted ... a brilliant examination of the scientific debates on the hows and whys of sex and evolution' Independent.