Matt Ridley has been a scientist, journalist and businessman. With BA and DPhil degrees from Oxford University, he worked for the Economist for nine years as science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor, before becoming a self-employed writer and businessman. He was founding chairman of the International Centre for Life in Newcastle. He was non-excutive chairman of Northern Rock plc and Northern 2 VCT plc. He currently writes the Mind and Matter column in the Wall Street Journal and writes for many other publications. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is married to the neuroscientist Professor Anya Hurlbert. They have two children and live at Blagdon near Newcastle upon Tyne in England. Matt Ridley's books have sold over 900,000 copies, been translated into 30 languages, been short-listed for nine major literary prizes and won several awards.
His latest book `The Rational Optimist: How prosperity evolves' argues that human beings are not only wealthier, but healthier, happier, cleaner, cleverer, kinder, freer, more peaceful and more equal than they have ever been. This is because the source of human innovation is, and has been for 100,000 years, not individual inspiration through reason but collective intelligence evolving by trial and error resulting from the sharing of ideas through exchange and specialization. The secret of human prosperity is that everybody is working for everybody else. The book sparked vigorous debate and has drawn both praise and criticism from Bill Gates. It was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction and it won the Hayek Prize 2011 and the Julian Simon award 2012.