Steven Pinker - The Better Angels of Our Nature

Having just published a voluminous book whose title was inspired by the immortal words of a guy who met his tragic end by having his brains blown out in public :), Steven Pinker argues that despite some obvious fluctuation, violence has seen an overall historical decline over the past few thousand years, and that we are living today in the least violent era our species has ever seen.

That may sound ridiculous to you, what with the world wars of the 20th century and our increasing technological capabilities to wreak havoc in scales our predecessors couldn't have dreamed of, but Pinker is no dummy who argues in lazy generalizations, and he's got plenty of corroborating evidence to make his point.

More interestingly, perhaps, is why violence has declined over time, and if you're already familiar with Pinker's work, you know things are about to get interesting when he starts invoking philosophy, history, evolutionary psychology, economics, cognitive psychology, rational-decision theory and other fascinating disciplines. And as if that weren't stimulating enough, the lecture is followed by a discussion with Matt Ridley and some Q&A.

For more, check out the Steven Pinker tag.
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