On the edge

by Russ Roberts on January 4, 2007

in The Future

I stumbled on The Edge today (HT: Ego Food), a site on science and knowledge. They ask a question every year of a bunch of smart people. This year’s question is: What are you optimistic about? Why? (OK, two questions. Sort of.)

They have 160 responses. A few of them (Dennett and Dawkins for starters and maybe more than a few more) are optimistic that religion will die out in the very near future. This strikes me as remarkably unlikely. (I think it equally unlikely that were religion to die out that its death would result in a world of peace and harmony.)

But some of the others I found very interesting, including Chris DiBona, Max Tegmark and Geoffrey Carr. The latter is the science editor of the Economist and he speaks rather cheerfully about population growth and why Malthus was wrong.

BTW, Morgan Rose in this essay and its sequel, defends Malthus against many unfair attacks.

My quick scan of the list of contributors reveals no economists. Yet I think many economists (this one for example) are very optimistic about many things, including a rising worldwide standard of living and increases in life expectancy.

One thing I am not particularly optimistic or pessimistic about is human nature.

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