The great science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein once suggested that “Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.” We will see later in this book that this Heinlein Theorem is only partly true, because lazy women are just as important as lazy men, sloth is not the only mother of invention, and “progress” is often a rather upbeat word for what happens. But if we flesh it out a little, I think Heinlein’s insight becomes about as good a one-sentence summary of the causes of social change as we are likely to find.

– Ian Morris, Why the West Rules – for Now: The Patterns of History and What They Reveal about the Future (2011)

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