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Steven Pinker: "The Better Angels of Our Nature"

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Looks like a fascinating book and it ties into what we have discussed a lot here: Whether the world is getting more dangerous.

    Pinker argues, apparently convincingly, that it is not.

    I almost bought the book last night at Barnes & Noble in Indianapolis, but it was $40. Going to probably order it from amazon.

  2. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    Haven't read it, so I can't comment too much, but I do remember the book being rather (at least somewhat) eviscerated in the New Yorker in October--I don't have my copy at hand, but I think some of the criticism dealt with the book's simplicity, or at least that it glossed over wide swaths of relevant history.
  3. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    I think the "average person" is getting nicer, kinder, more tolerant, etc etc. but those who aren't have greatly magnified abilities to spread ill will in every venue from interpersonal communication to intercontinental war.
  4. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    I think part of Pinker's hypothesis from what I gathered from the review is at least on the surface rather simple: that current violent events, are, for the lack of better words, "blown out of proportion," and distract us from the fact that at least the West represents the safest societies in history. He may very well be right, but I think the fact that ever-changing technology constantly provides the potential for increased mayhem may be one counterpoint.

    And what about Asia or Africa? Are they any safer now then they were say, even just a few centuries ago?
  5. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Asia is safer. Tens of millions of people aren't dying in China due to natural or man-made famines. Africa seems to be worse off due to civil wars in many countries.
  6. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    That would be my take on it too. With how developed the media is now, it wouldn't surprise me if deaths and other violent crime is magnified so significantly that it gives the false impression that there is more of it. Every night on the local news, thanks to AP reports and network news, they show a murder from somewhere; even if it isn't in your state, or within a thousand miles with you, I imagine it has an effect on what you think of crime in the world at large. Heck, even the prime-time TV schedule is now bloated with tons of police procedurals and crime shows and forensic science...
  7. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member


    Hellooooo, library.
  8. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I meant no way was I paying that. I'm sure Amazon has it cheaper.
  9. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Heard him in the radio a couple times. He was brilliant. Colleague at work had the book. She didn't like it. Said it was too academic. She's not the brightest bulb, though. I guess I'll decide for myself when my spot on the library waiting list comes up.
  10. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Fourth on our local library waitlist, for the one audio copy in play. We can wait.
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