A conversation with Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, and Stephen Heuser, Ideas Editor, The Boston Globe, on the decline of human violence.
Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world's foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT. His research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Psychological Association. He has also received seven honorary doctorates, several teaching awards at MIT and Harvard, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and often writes for The New York Times, Time, and The New Republic. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine's "The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals," Foreign Policy's "100 Global Thinkers," and Time magazine's "The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today." His most recent book is The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. (photo credit: Max Gerber)
Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, author of the New York Times Magazine article "My Genome, My Self," reflects on being part of the Personal Genome Project and whether participants should publicize their genetic information.
I have read Dr Pinker's book. I would like to agree with him but do not. I think humans are as able now as ever to propitiate violence. In the book he discusses biblical examples which suggests these events in fact happened, which they did not. Violence towards women is still epidemic. etc. Child poverty is still staggering. If humans were in fact becoming more compassionate and less violent there would not be 11000 children a day die of starvation as we grab a coffee daily which would save a life. I think Dr Pinker was looking for certain facts and found them while he disregarded others.