Like all creative geniuses before him, Bill Gates devotes a substantial amount of his free time to reading. Luckily for us, he's made a habit of sharing his all-time favourite books on his personal blog, Gates Notes. Per his recent post, it appears that Steven Pinker's new novel, Enlightenment Now, has officially usurped The Better Angels of Our Nature as Gates's favourite book of all time.
In stark contrast to the news headlines we read on a daily basis, the book focuses on the idea that we're currently living in the most peaceful time in human history. "Enlightenment Now takes the approach he uses in Better Angels to track violence throughout history and applies it to 15 different measures of progress (like quality of life, knowledge, and safety)," explains Gates. "The result is a holistic picture of how and why the world is getting better. It's like Better Angels on steroids."
In it, author and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker argues that rather than paying attention to the negative headlines that propagate the idea that our world is crashing and burning, we should pay attention to the statistics. He highlights 75 different graphs that show that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, both in the United States and around the world.
"People all over the world are living longer, healthier, and happier lives, so why do so many think things are getting worse? Why do we gloss over positive news stories and fixate on the negative ones? He does a good job explaining why we're drawn to pessimism and how that instinct influences our approach to the world," continues Gates. "The world is getting better, even if it doesn't always feel that way. I'm glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture. Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker's ever written.
It's my new favourite book of all time."
Watch Gates and Pinker discuss the new book below.