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The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age

Category: Book
By (author): Venkataraman, Bina
Subject:  BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
  HISTORY / Social History
Publisher: Riverhead
Published: August 2019
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 336
Size: 9.00in x 6.00in x 0.75in
Our Price:
$ 37.00
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*A trailblazing exploration of how we can plan better for the future-our own, our families', and our society's.
Many of us never learned-or have forgotten-how to make smart decisions for the long run. In a world where immediate satisfaction is the norm, it's easy to avoid thinking ahead. Whether it's decisions about our health (our chronic overuse of antibiotics has triggered a shocking rise in superbugs that are resistant to them), our finances (20 percent of Americans save nothing for retirement), or our jobs (we slash R&D budgets to improve short-term profit and then can't keep pace with competitors), we lack the tools to choose what's best for the future. Today more than ever, we need to know how to make better long-term decisions-for ourselves, our families, and the world.

Bina Venkataraman understands this. A former journalist and senior adviser in the Obama administration, she forged partnerships between government and business to combat climate change, and she learned firsthand why people don't think ahead. In The Optimist's Telescope, she draws from her own experience, the stories she has reported from around the world, and research in biology, psychology, economics, archaeology, and beyond to identify the best ways to make decisions that benefit us over time. She dispels the myth that human nature is impossibly reckless, and explains how culture and environment shape our behavior. She highlights the surprising and successful practices that each of us can adopt. The result is a book brimming with useful ideas and insights to help us make better decisions about the future.
Review Quote*"Most of us only see the future after it becomes the past. The Optimist's Telescope is here to change that. It's a rare read that's as fascinating as it is important. In it, Bina Venkataraman brings together powerful narrative, cutting-edge behavioral science, and the rich experience of a high-impact career." -Adam Grant, author of Originals

"The unknown can always be scary. But in this wise, eye-opening, and hopeful book, Bina Venkataraman shows us the ways we can think more clearly and strategically about the future - in our communities, our families, and in our own lives." -Arianna Huffington

"Bina Venkataraman illuminates how we can make better decisions for ourselves, our communities, and Earth itself. She introduces us to an array of colorful and unexpected characters, from ancient philosophers to tech entrepreneurs, all while distilling the science of foresight into practical advice we can all use. A timely and valuable book." -Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business

"The Optimist's Telescope is a noble and important book. Through stories of people who have made a difference and an acute awareness of how things can be made better, Bina Venkataraman shows how we can effect change and make the world a better place. She is the good parent this planet so desperately needs." -Errol Morris, Oscar-winning filmmaker and author of Believing Is Seeing

"We live in an age marked by problems of enormous scope and complexity--climate change, income inequality, food security--and yet we are still relying on tools and solutions that have failed us repeatedly in the past. In The Optimist's Telescope, Bina Venkataraman marshals a wide-ranging collection of astounding and provocative examples of our myopia and offers insightful practices for short-circuiting our short-sightedness to address the huge challenges we face as citizens of Earth." -Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab

"Chinese peasants once got paid by the piece to find dinosaur bones; soon they took to smashing the bones into tiny pieces to boost their income. This book is a sobering compendium of the many ways in which ill-conceived short-term incentives undermine valuable long-term goals.  The stakes go way beyond busted fossils: think rising sea waters, treatment-resistant pathogens, collapsing infrastructure, disappearing topsoil . . . A grim list and grounds for pessimism unless, that is, it gets read in the context of this book, for Bina Venkataraman has assembled a remarkable repair kit, full of tested tools for harmonizing the lure of present reward with the foresight we need if we are to build a durable future." -Lewis Hyde

"The Optimist's Telescope will help you think about the biggest decisions you face in your life and that humanity faces in this historical moment. Everyone should read this book." -Gary Knell, chairman of National Geographic Partners
Biographical NoteBina Venkataraman teaches in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and is a fellow at New America. A former journalist for The New York Times and The Boston Globe who also served as senior adviser for climate change innovation in the Obama White House, she is now director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Venkataraman is an alumna of Brown University and the Harvard Kennedy School. She grew up in the Midwest and now lives in Boston.