New Book: Factfulness by Hans Rosling

The new book from the recently departed Hans Rosling, the Swedish statistician, science populariser, and pessimism debunker: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.

Looks good, despite being rather off-putting recommended by the lefties at BBC Radio 4. There’s coverage of the new book at the Financial Times: “Why the world isn’t nearly as bad as you think it is” (£) and Telegraph Science “Do you have a distorted view of the world? Why life is better than we think” (£). The latter cheerily leading with a picture of an atomic bomb exploding. Gotta work on your visual positivity, guys…


New book: 2020 & Beyond

Superversive Press is a rare publisher specialising in traditional heroic and conservative science-fiction (tagline: “books for a more civilised age”). One of their most recent books is the optimistic and future-facing conservative sci-fi anthology MAGA 2020 & Beyond (Nov 2017)…

“MAGA 2020 & Beyond tells the tales of a prosperous future where evil is defeated, the border wall is built, society has righted itself, space exploration is common and world peace has been attained. These aren’t just fantastical stories of a far-fetched future, they are stories of a future that can be obtained.”

For my piffling £3 I got 340 pages of optimistic essays and futurist articles and short fiction. Available on Kindle.

I see they also have a forthcoming sci-fi anthology for readers who are “sick of today’s portrayals of men as toxic or bumbling idiots”. The call for that book was last September, so I’m guessing it’ll be available soon.

I have to say that 2020 & Beyond doesn’t have the best front cover. I want a bit of curvy eco-green in my future city, not some re-hash of a tired 1980s conception of a future city. And while I can see how the gold typeface is meant to evoke MAGA/Trump, it’s in such a cheesy font and the gradient is naff. I do wish people would use cover consultants and put a bit more thought into covers, but I guess bad covers are now just a near-unavoidable occupational hazard for science-fiction authors. Very few get the superb covers they deserve. That said, many of Superversive Press’s steampunk and art-lit covers are definitely above average.

Long Now: Steven Pinker

A new Seminar About Long-term Thinking, at the Long Now: Steven Pinker giving a long lecture on the themes of his new book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Followed by audience questions with the venerable Stewart Brand.

In the Q&A there’s some moaning about Trump (who I seriously doubt is channelling the 1920s ideas of the likes of Ernst Junger, as is suggested by Pinker), but it’s easily chuckled at for credulously buying into the muddle-headed ‘Trump is Hitler’ stance of the far-left.

Something for the weekend, #3

Some recent optimism in the press:

* “Reasons to believe” outlines the main contents of the recent TIME magazine issue that contained Bill Gates’s special section on Optimism — The Manila Times, the Philippines.

  … regrettably, the rest of that TIME magazine issue read like a copy of Socialist Worker circa 1985.

* Why the Chinese are cheerful about the futureThe Age, Australia.

  … if you still believe in opinion polls.

* “Israeli breakthrough in noninvasive prostate cancer test”The Times of Israel.

  … looks very promising, though the news hasn’t yet been picked up by the press outside Israel.

* 10 science-proven facts that will help you be optimistic about the future.

   … [the book] “Progress: 10 Reasons to Look Forward to the Future, by Johan Norberg [was] published in English in 2017 and is now being published in other languages.”

* The launch of It’s Better than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear.

  … another major new book on the topic.

New book: It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear

Just launched and published in hardcover a week ago, the major book It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear. The Carnegie Council has a launch event transcript, in which the author introduces and outlines the book, followed by a Q&A.

A search of Google News for the title suggests a near-total media blackout among the establishment media. A week after launch and release, one passing mention in the Boston Globe — in order to score a silly anti-Trump point. One bit of coverage on an obscure local radio station. The author did a pre-launch podcast interview at the leftist Slate, but the podcast’s text blurb highlighted the point that “gun control advocates shouldn’t compromise.” Kirkus manages one of its typically tiny and snide reviews, but the reviewer grudgingly calls it a “contrarian pep talk” that “will ring hollow for many, but it’s an argument worth considering.”

New book from Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker (Better Angels of Our Nature) has a new book on pre-order now, for delivery at the end of February 2018. Enlightenment Now is another 570-page door-stopper, and looks for optimism in fifteen measures of human progress, crunching the data by using the same approach Pinker used for violence in Better Angels.

Good to see another optimistic book, but it seems slightly worrying that (according the U.S. Amazon page) the Guardian and the New York Times both love it. If they like a book, then I’m instantly suspicious that it harbours some ugly leftisms.