Discover more from The Roots of Progress
Tomorrow: Joel Mokyr on “Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Progress: How the Modern Age Got Started”
The Torch of Progress, Episode 6
Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10am Pacific, Joel Mokyr will speak live on “Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Progress: How the Modern Age Got Started”. This is part of “The Torch of Progress”, the speaker series of Progress Studies For Young Scholars:
For most of human history, most people were poor beyond our worst nightmares. None of our modern conveniences, from heating and cooling to flush toilets and anti-allergy medications were even dreamed of. Hunger, cold, disease, violence, and fear were everyday events, expected, and tolerated. In the past 200 years or so, everything changed. The world did not become a paradise, but material life for most people on the planet became much less brutish, nasty, and short. On average, modern people live much longer, eat better, are warm in the winter and cooler in the summer, and there are fewer diseases around to make our lives miserable. Not every person on the planet shares in this progress equally, but few places are unaffected.
This is the greatest event in history—nothing else even comes close. But how did it come about? The answer consists of a few key insights: as a society, we know more than anyone before us. We are not wiser or smarter as individuals, but as a society, we know more about the physical and biological processes that allow us the control our environment and harness nature to our needs (that is, engage in production). It is the key to the economy. Control of natural processes can and does misfire, hence Global Warming, Superfund sites, and extinctions. But even with those, nobody seriously wants humanity to go back to the Middle Ages.
In this talk, Prof. Mokyr will provide an explanation for this momentous event. The explanation centers around two keywords: Attitudes and Aptitudes. Stay tuned.
Free and open to all, info & registration here.
Other upcoming events (all at 10am Pacific time):
July 15: Noor Siddiqui, founder of Orchid Bioscience
July 22: Anton Howes, author of Arts and Minds: How the Royal Society of Arts Changed a Nation
July 29: Danica Remy, president of the Asteroid Institute, on “Astronauts, Asteroids, Astrophysicists and Rock Stars”
August 19: Laura Mazer, Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan
Video: Deirdre McCloskey on bourgeois liberty and the Great Enrichment
The Torch of Progress, Episode 5
I talked to Deirdre McCloskey for the fifth episode of “The Torch of Progress”. Topics include the role of bourgeois liberty in the Great Enrichment, how England surpassed the Netherlands, and why she doesn’t think that science or patent laws can explain the Industrial Revolution.
More classes of Progress Studies for Young Scholars starting soon, apply today
Progress Studies for Young Scholars, my online summer program in the history of technology for high schoolers, is getting rave reviews from parents and students. Apply today to get in when the next class starts! Scholarships are available—if you need financial aid, mention it on your application: