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The Evolution of Everything

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The Evolution of Everything


5 min read
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Inventors and innovators take too much credit for their role in human progress.

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Throughout history, society has extolled the inventors and innovators who make new discoveries. But science journalist Matt Ridley believes adulation for revered creators such as Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein is overblown. He discusses how all ideas and technologies, much like languages, evolve organically from the bottom up in an unplanned, incremental way, and he minimizes individuals’ role in progress. getAbstract recommends Ridley’s lively contrarian presentation to anyone interested in the processes of idea creation, discovery and evolution.


Some 200 years ago, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace hypothesized about a bottom-up process of natural selection. Their theory of evolution is now established thinking, and though it applies to a broad spectrum of fields beyond biology, society still makes the “creationist mistake” of crediting humans for evolutionary progress. For instance, humans created language, yet no single person is responsible. Rather, language emerges organically and incrementally through trial and error. Similarly, the Internet emerged spontaneously once computer-enabled “peer-to-peer interaction” became possible...

About the Speaker

Science journalist Matt Ridley, a peer in the British House of Lords, wrote Genome and The Rational Optimist.

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