Fans of the leadership genre won’t love Matt Ridley’s new book, The Evolution of Everything. Those who enjoy a good worldview-shake will. Ridley, a science writer, argues that much of the manmade world develops in the same way as the natural world: without design, from the bottom-up. Changes in religion, government, science, and many other fields are the products of human and other forces acting over time rather than of individuals making declarations. “Evolution follows a narrative, going from one stage to the next,” writes Ridley. “It creeps rather than jumps; it has its own spontaneous momentum, rather than being driven from outside; it has no goal or end in mind; and it largely happens by trial and error–a version of natural selection.” No one decreed the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the rise of Asia, or the ubiquity of mobile phones: even revered inventors merely build on innovations that came before (and more than one “inventor” often comes up with the same idea at the same time). For entrepreneurs dismayed by how much their companies deviate from their original visions, there’s a message here. You must do everything necessary to achieve your objective. But success is not something you ultimately control.
Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission.Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.