The Evolution of Everything – Book Review

the evolution of everythingLast week I finished an interesting book by Matt Ridley (the author of several good books on genetics and evolution) – “The Evolution of Everything”.

The main idea from the book is simple, yet to many people disturbing: government, technology, society, religion and other areas evolves without any real control over the process. Although we neglect and ignore them, bottom-up trends shape the world in many aspects.

This isn’t true of everything, but it’s true of far more than we care to believe. As humans, we like to think we control events. But in many examples, through the book, we see that it’s far from reality. Moreover, it is similar to the ‘narrative fallacy’ (the backward-looking mental tripwire that causes us to attribute a linear cause-and-effect chain to our knowledge of the past.) that Taleb points out in his great (and hard) book “The Black Swan“.

The one aspect from the book conclusions that I don’t agree with is the idea that emergent solutions succeed, and planned solutions fail. 

Although the author does his best to show you that it’s valid in many cases, I’m sure there are many other cases that it’s not working in this way. It would be great if he could explain why and when we need to ‘free’ the planning and when we should insist on it.


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