Do Humankind’s Best Days Lie Ahead? Ed. Rudyard Griffiths (2016)

Do Humankind's Best Days Lie Ahead?The semi-annual Munk Debates bring some of the world’s biggest thinkers and personalities together to talk about big issues and ideas. Normally the focus is on current news topics, but in November 2015, Canadians Steven Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell squared off against each other, each with a European colleague, to tackle the idea of progress. In “Do Humankind’s Best Days Lie Ahead?” Pinker and British journalist Matt Ridley take the pro side, asserting that thanks to everything from cellphones to clean water, we are indeed making steady progress and we are living, collectively speaking, better lives than ever. Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton joins Gladwell in presenting the nay view, pointing to the wealth gap, natural disasters and deadly conflicts as proof that life is different but not better, and our path forward is a dark one. This slim volume numbers fewer than 100 pages – about half are devoted to the actual debate transcript, along with a brief introduction by editor/host Rudyard Griffiths, short pre-debate interviews with each debater, and a post-debate commentary by Ali Wyne, a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project. The debaters clearly enjoyed themselves, needling each other with good humour, and it comes through in the transcript. More importantly, as the debates are intended to do, the ideas presented are thought-provoking. As a privileged, educated Canadian, I’ve struggled with my understanding of what progress is, what it means for individuals, as well as its impact on nations and the planet. The debates don’t resolve this for me, but they do lead me to continue questioning my views and understanding. Always a good thing!
Not a plethora of reviews of this book. Here’s the link to the Goodreads entry: and to the Munk Debates where you can watch the debate or read the transcript as well as buy the little book:

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