Why Mark Zuckerberg wants everyone to read this book about 'idea sex'

The rational optimistAmazonMatt Ridley’s book was originally published in 2010.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s 2015 New Year’s resolution was to read an important book every two weeks and discuss it with the Facebook community.

Zuckerberg’s book club, A Year of Books, has focused on big ideas that influence society and business. For his 19th pick, he’s gone with “The Rational Optimist” by Matt Ridley.

Ridley is the only author to appear twice on Zuckerberg’s reading list. Ridley’s book “Genome” was one of Zuckerberg’s July picks.

“The Rational Optimist,” published in 2010, is one of Ridley’s most popular and controversial books. In it, he argues that the concept of markets is the source of human progress, and that progress is accelerated when they are kept as free as possible.

This allows ideas to “have sex,” as he puts it, blending together to create more adaptable offspring. He also argues that this evolution of ideas will consistently allow humankind to improve its living conditions, despite the threats of climate change and overpopulation.

Bill Gates is a prominent reader of Ridley’s work, and writes on his blog that although he strongly disagrees with some of Ridley’s ideas on charitable ventures and scientific innovation, his fundamental ideas regarding the evolution of ideas through markets and the concept of rational optimism “are very important and powerful.”

Zuckerberg explains his latest book-club pick on his personal Facebook page:

Two of the books I’ve read this year — “The Better Angels of Our Nature” and “Why Nations Fail” — have explored how social and economic progress work together to make the world better. “The Better Angels” argues that the two feed off each other, whereas “Why Nations Fail” argues that social and political progress ultimately controls the economic progress a society makes. This next book argues the opposite — that economic progress is the greater force [in] pushing society forward. I’m interested to see which idea resonates more after exploring both frameworks.

On his Facebook page, Zuckerberg added a photo of him reading Ridley’s book “Genome” alongside his dog, Beast:

Mark zuckerberg dog beastFacebook/Mark ZuckerbergZuckerberg relaxes at home with his Hungarian Sheepdog Beast.

A Year of Books so far:

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