2007 : WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?

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Science Writer; Founding chairman of the International Centre for Life; Author, The Rational Optimist
Science Writer; Founding chairman of the International Centre for Life; Author, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code

The Future

The future. That's what I'm optimistic about. The historian Macaulay said, in 1830: 'We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason.' The eternal, enduring pessimism of human beings about the future does real harm by persuading people, especially the young, to retreat from adventure and enterprise into anomie. Sure, the world has problems: AIDS, Islamofascism, carbon dioxide. But I bet we can solve them as we have solved others, such as smallpox, the population explosion and the high price of whale oil.