The reluctance to accept coincidence lies also at the heart of a faith in government action. In fact Ridley compares social planning to “creationism.” In Human Action (1949), Ludwig von Mises remarked that “The historical role of the theory of the division of labor as elaborated by British political economy from Hume to Ricardo consisted in the complete demolition of all metaphysical doctrines concerning the origin and the operation of social cooperation.” Ridley wholeheartedly agrees.
In a way, this book can be read as a conversation between Ridley and his scientist friends. They fall prey to an inherent contradiction. Understanding evolution in nature, they have deep admiration for the beauty of self-organized ecosystems. But concerning the human things, they often take a top-down view, under which the human self-organizing ecosystems call for corrections from the bright and the bold.