Bill Gates Hopes His New Favorite Book Will Turn You Into an Optimist

It’s no secret that Bill Gates is an avid reader, regularly posting on social media about the books that have inspired him and taught him something new. Now, in a new blog post, Gates reveals the title that he describes as “my new favorite book of all time.”

It is called Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress and it is the latest from one of Gates’s favorite authors, Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker. In the past, Gates has called Pinker’s 2012 work, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, “the most inspiring book I’ve ever read.”

The book, which is out in February, looks at historical trends for major global issues such as hunger, infant mortality, vehicle and airplane accidents and deaths, even being hit by a bolt of lightning — all of those have been on the decline for the past 50 years. Pinker posits that these trends show that the world is actually getting better.

“Humanity really does seem to be improving, in one area after another. It almost makes you believe in this old-fashioned thing called progress,” Pinker joked with Gates in video posted to to the Gates Notes blog.

Gates shared that what he found most fascinating about Pinker’s research was the disconnect between those facts that Pinker cites and many people’s yearning for the past.

“People all over the world are living longer, healthier, and happier lives, so why do so many think things are getting worse?,” Gates writes. “Why do we gloss over positive news stories and fixate on the negative ones? [Pinker] does a good job explaining why we’re drawn to pessimism and how that instinct influences our approach to the world. … Progress can be a messy, sticky thing — but that doesn’t mean we’re headed in the wrong direction.”

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