"Countering fears about humanity's survival, social psychologist and knowledge-transfer consultant Ronald Havelock argues that progress is accelerating. His focus is the creation and dispersal of knowledge, the increasing rate of which he tracks from the Stone Age to the present. Rather than worrying about particular threats such as global warming and nuclear proliferation, he argures that in the long term, the sharing of information across global society is a force for good that enhances well-being." —Nature
"Acceleration is an upbeat philosophical perspective on humanity’s past, present, and future. Audiences from all walks of life will find it thought-provoking and inspirational."—The Futurist
"In the tradition of my husband Julian Simon's orientation, Acceleration: The Forces Driving Human Progress by Ronald G. Havelock provides data and thoughtful arguments that support a positive, optimistic view of the future. He points to increased food production, the greater abundance of energy, the increased discovery and use of raw materials, distribution of manufactured goods, world trade, the increased literacy and distribution of print materials, increased infant survival rates, and the increased average life span as some reasons for optimism about the world being a better place in the future. Reading Havelock's Acceleration will give you a good feeling about the future."
—Rita J. Simon, PhD, University Professor,
School of Public Affairs, American University
“While I, along with many others, have always believed in ongoing human progress, Ronald Havelock has written a book that clarifies the forces that have made it work based on a very detailed analysis of history and science. Like many other innovators, Havelock has pulled together the many contributions of others into an integrated theoretical theme.”
—Arthur S Couch, faculty member and researcher at Harvard University
"Before you succumb to common fears that the world is steadily going to hell, read Ron Havelock’s Acceleration. He marshals a great deal of credible evidence to show that our species is on an upward course. His is a sound and heartening welcome to the future."
Carol Hirschon Weiss
Beatrice B. Whiting Professor Emerita
It’s trendy to be pessimistic about the future. We hear daily about the looming threats from global warming, terrorist plots, nuclear proliferation, overpopulation, and other frightening possibilities. It’s also easy to point to the unprecedented toll of destruction during the two world wars of the 20th century and conclude that the prospects for global civilization rest on pretty shaky grounds.
While not discounting the calamities of the past or the troubling realities on the horizon, social psychologist Ronald G. Havelock looks at the same facts and sees a different, much more optimistic trend. He calls it the forward function, a cluster of six forces that has driven human progress from the Stone Age to the present.
In this positive yet realistic appraisal of the human condition, Havelock examines in detail these six forces. He explains that the key to humanity’s past and future success is our ability to pass on what has been learned from one generation to the next, resulting in an ever larger and more widely shared knowledge platform. This has been especially evident in the last two hundred years, when the scientific revolution has produced an explosive growth of knowledge building and the application of that knowledge to human needs.
Today, the most exciting and hopeful development is that the transfer of knowledge is increasingly not just from generation to generation but within generations and across cultures. And it extends from the rich to the middle class and even to the poor. The primary consequence of knowledge expansion is thus the empowerment of those who can understand and use it and a better life for more and more people.
Havelock argues that, despite periodic setbacks, progress is actually accelerating on many dimensions of human existence. In his view, fears for the human future are wildly exaggerated and overlook both the knowledge resources at hand to solve problems and the ingenuity of succeeding generations in using those resources for both individual and planetary well-being.
Grounded in a wealth of solid research, this optimistic outlook on human destiny offers a realistic hope that we human beings are fully capable of solving even our most challenging problems.
Shipping Weight: 2lbs
Ronald G. Havelock, PhD is the director of the Knowledge Transfer Institute, a consulting practice formerly affiliated with The American University of Washington, D.C. He is the author of five books, including The Change Agent’s Guide (with Steve Zlotolow).