Steven Pinker - The Social Role of Innuendo and Indirect Speech

Would you like to come up to my apartment and see my sketchings? Human social relationships being what they are, I'm sure you've found yourself at some point in the middle of a situation in which you asked yourself why someone else couldn't have just come out and stated some truth directly. Wouldn't that be a great way to avoid confusions of all kinds? And after all, isn't honesty a virtue?

Well, as Steven Pinker shows in the awesome animated lecture below, there is a fascinating logic to the way in which we communicate, part of which includes a theory of mind about other people, a theory of plausible deniability, a theory of shared knowledge, and an ever-so-fragile set of social hierarchies whose integrity is best preserved by certain kinds of indirect speech.

And if you want to listen to the whole lecture, including a delicious section on the role of cursing and swearing, check out this previous entry.

Or check out more of these awesome RSA Animate lectures.
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