In this episode, we witness the debate that raged over the birth of what is perhaps the most powerful idea in history; the idea that supports our ability to make the world a better place, and the idea that defines the meaning of America.
Niall Ferguson is one of the most influential historians of our generation. His professional effort extends well beyond academia to ensure that policy makers and the public better understand how to apply historical lessons to current issues. Niall and I connected to further discuss some of those issues.
Why The West Rules – for Now: the Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future, by Ian Morris
Is there a logic to history?
Many scholars balk even at the idea of searching for such logic, insisting that each culture may only be understood on its own terms.
Merchants of Doubt is not just a book about how illusions of scientific controversy have been constructed, it’s also about the people who constructed them.
If civilization collapsed, and people in the future could rediscover a single work to get humanity back on track scientifically and technologically, this book would be a contender: Peter Atkins’ Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science, published in 2004.
Humanity has been at the mercy of disease forever – plagues have destroyed entire civilizations – but through custom, science, and medicine, we’ve learned so much about disease in recent centuries that its threat has faded somewhat from modern life. Another way to say this might be that, while disease used to be perhaps the most important historical factor in the success or failure of societies, it no longer is.