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Musco Center for the Arts and Chapman University Office of the Provost present Matt Ridley: The Evolution of Everything

Musco Center for the Arts and Chapman University’s Office of the Provost welcome bestselling British science writer Matt Ridley on November 6, 2019 for an eye-opening look at everything. Ridley’s The Evolution of Everything, based on his 2015 book of the same name, brings the same encompassing understanding that made that book, The Origins of Virtue, and The Rational Optimist bestsellers.

With wit and humor, he enlivens his discussion based on extensive research into biology, economics, and the climate. The New York Times has said that Ridley “forces us to see life through new eyes.”

After working for The Economist magazine for nine years as science editor, Washington correspondent, and American editor, he became a self-employed writer, speaker, and businessman. He currently writes the “Mind and Matter” column in the Wall Street Journal and writes regularly for The Times.

Ridley’s appearance is part of the second of three 2019-20 Season Provost Talks. While on campus, Ridley will also offer a Musco Master Class, one of many events that enable small groups of Chapman University students to learn from and work with exemplary artists and scholars whose subjects expand on University curricula.

Tickets from $38 to $68 are available online at or by calling Musco Center at 844-626-8726 (844-OC-MUSCO).

Taking on contemporary pessimism

In Ridley’s provocative books on evolution, genetics, and society, he argues that the ability human beings have to connect, collaborate, and co-operate gives us a capacity for change and social progress that we drastically underestimate.

The Evolution of Everything, 2015, argues that humanity’s most important achievements develop from the bottom up, countering conventional assumptions that it is top-down authorities that dictate major scientific and social imperatives.

In his 2010 bestseller, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, Ridley took on contemporary pessimism to argue that, in spite of disasters and reverses, the world has been getting better and better for humanity over the last two centuries. In our lifetime alone, per capita income has trebled, lifespan has increased by one third and child mortality has fallen by two thirds. Furthermore, he predicts that our quality of life and material wealth will continue to increase in the 21st Century. Rational Optimist was long-listed for the Financial Times’ Business Book of the Year, short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction, and won the 2011 Hayek Prize and the 2012 Julian Simon Award.

Speaking at 2010 TEDGlobal, Ridley showed how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It’s not important how clever individuals are, he argued. What really matters is how smart the collective brain is. Innovation comes from people and human exchange, not from government policy or elite “diktats.” Nearly two million have viewed the video post of that TED talk.

Tickets and additional information
Launched last season, the annual Provost Talks Series of appearances by international thought leaders is presented through a partnership between Musco Center and Chapman University’s Office of the Provost, Glenn M. Pfeiffer, Ph.D. The final 2019-20 Provost Talk will be Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s “Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow ” on April 7, 2020.

Tickets from $38 to $68 are available online at or by calling Musco Center at 844-626-8726 (844-OC-MUSCO). Special Provost Series ticket pricing for Chapman University Students is $5, and $10 for faculty and staff. Limit two per ID and subject to availability. All print-at-home tickets include a no-cost parking pass.

Musco Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Chapman University at 415 North Glassell, Orange, Calif.

This article was released by the Musco Center for the Arts.