An avid reader, Bill Gates doesn’t hesitate to share his favorite reads with the literary community, having recently shared his top five books of 2017. The new year brings new favorites, however, and the billionaire business giant announced his all-time favorite book that every reader should indulge in.
Bill Gates’ newest favorite read is Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress written by Harvard Psychology Professor and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Steven Pinker.
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The New York Times bestseller examines the history and progression of the human condition around the world, ultimately arguing that the ideals of Enlightenment (i.e. reason and science) can enhance human success.
Gates described the core purpose of Pinker’s book, stating, “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). The result is a holistic picture of how and why the world is getting better.”
Gates had the opportunity to sit down with the author and discuss his arguments and findings, which you can check out below.
Though Enlightenment Now hasn’t hit shelves yet (it will be released on February 27, 2018) Gates was able to secure an early copy and found himself intrigued by meticulous yet straightforward exploration of each of the fifteen measures of progress that Pinker discusses.
“He manages to share a ton of information in a way that’s compelling, memorable, and easy to digest,” Gates said.
If the study of enlightenment and its connection to human progression sounds daunting and boring, don’t dismiss it just yet. As Gates notes, there are plenty of interesting facts to take away from Enlightenment Now, having shared his own five favorite facts from the book that, “show how the world is improving.” Here they are, in Gates’ words:
- You’re 37 times less likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than you were at the turn of the century—and that’s not because there are fewer thunderstorms today. It’s because we have better weather prediction capabilities, improved safety education, and more people living in cities.
- Time spent doing laundry fell from 11.5 hours a week in 1920 to an hour and a half in 2014. This might sound trivial in the grand scheme of progress. But the rise of the washing machine has improved quality of life by freeing up time for people—mostly women—to enjoy other pursuits. That time represents nearly half a day every week that could be used for everything from binge-watching Ozark or reading a book to starting a new business.
- You’re way less likely to die on the job. Every year, 5,000 people die from occupational accidents in the U.S. But in 1929—when our population was less than two-fifths the size it is today—20,000 people died on the job. People back then viewed deadly workplace accidents as part of the cost of doing business. Today, we know better, and we’ve engineered ways to build things without putting nearly as many lives at risk.
- The global average IQ score is rising by about 3 IQ points every decade. Kids’ brains are developing more fully thanks to improved nutrition and a cleaner environment. Pinker also credits more analytical thinking in and out of the classroom. Think about how many symbols you interpret every time you check your phone’s home screen or look at a subway map. Our world today encourages abstract thought from a young age, and it’s making us smarter.
- War is illegal. This idea seems obvious. But before the creation of the United Nations in 1945, no institution had the power to stop countries from going to war with each other. Although there have been some exceptions, the threat of international sanctions and intervention has proven to be an effective deterrent to wars between nations.
If those facts don’t shock or interest you, then maybe Gates’ high opinion of it will be enough to make you contemplate reading Enlightenment Now.
“I’m glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture,” Gates wrote. “Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time.”
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress will be released on February 27th and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.
Featured image courtesy of Bill Gates/’Entrepreneur’