Total found: 49
Steven Pinker
As many political writers have pointed out, commitment to political equality is not an empirical claim that people are clones.
Steven Pinker
There has to be innate circuitry that does the learning, that creates the culture, that acquires the culture, and that responds to socialization.
Steven Pinker
Many artists and scholars have pointed out that ultimately art depends on human nature.
Steven Pinker
Art works because it appeals to certain faculties of the mind. Music depends on details of the auditory system, painting and sculpture on the visual system. Poetry and literature depend on language.
Steven Pinker
By exploring the political and moral colorings of discoveries about what makes us tick, we can have a more honest science and a less fearful intellectual milieu.
Steven Pinker
Trivers, pursuing his theory of the emotions to its logical conclusion, notes that in a world of walking lie detectors the best strategy is to believe your own lies. You can't leak your hidden intentions if you don't think they are your intentions. According to his theory of self-deception, the conscious mind sometimes hides the truth from itself the better to hide it from others. But the truth is useful, so it should be registered somewhere in the mind, walled off from the parts that interact with other people.
Steven Pinker
The scriptures present a God who delights in genocide, rape, slavery, and the execution of nonconformists, and for millennia those writings were used to rationalize the massacre of infidels, the ownership of women, the beating of children, dominion over animals, and the persecution of heretics and homosexuals. Humanitarian reforms such as the elimination of cruel punishment, the dissemination of empathy-inducing novels, and the abolition of slavery were met with fierce opposition in their time by ecclesiastical authorities and their apologists. The elevation of parochial values to the realm of the sacred is a license to dismiss other people's interests, and an imperative to reject the possibility of compromise.
Steven Pinker
We will never have a perfect world, but it's not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one.
Steven Pinker
Science is thus a paradigm for how we ought to gain knowledge
Steven Pinker
Left to our own devices, we are apt to backslide to our instinctive conceptual ways. This underscores the place of education in a scientifically literate democracy, and even suggests a statement of purpose for it (a surprisingly elusive principle in higher education today). The goal of education is to make up for the shortcomings in our instinctive ways of thinking about the physical and social world. And education is likely to succeed not by trying to implant abstract statements in empty minds but by taking the mental models that are our standard equipment, applying them to new subjects in selective analogies, and assembling them into new and more sophisticated combinations.
Steven Pinker
Because much of the content of education is not cognitively natural, the process of mastering it may not always be easy and pleasant, notwithstanding the mantra that learning is fun. Children may be innately motivated to make friends, acquire status, hone motor skills, and explore the physical world, but they are not necessarily motivated to adapt their cognitive faculties to unnatural tasks like formal mathematics. A family, peer group, and culture that ascribe high status to school achievement may be needed to give a child the motive to persevere toward effortful feats of learning whose rewards are apparent only over the long term.
Steven Pinker
Education is neither writing on a blank slate nor allowing the child's nobility to come into flower. Rather, education is a technology that tries to make up for what the human mind is innately bad at. Children don't have to go to school to learn to walk, talk, recognize objects, or remember the personalities of their friends, even though these tasks are much harder than reading, adding, or remembering dates in history. They do have to go to school to learn written language, arithmetic, and science, because those bodies of knowledge and skill were invented too recently for any species-wide knack for them to have evolved.
Steven Pinker
When people have different ideas about which of these four modes of interacting applies to a current relationship, the result can range from blank incomprehension to acute discomfort or outright hostility. Think abut a dinner guest offering to pay the host for her meal, a person barking an order to a friend, or an employee helping himself to a shrimp off the boss' plate. Misunderstandings in which one person thinks of a transaction in terms of Equality Matching and another thinks in terms of Market Pricing are even more pervasive and can be even more dangerous. They tap into very different psychologies, one of them intuitive and universal, the other rarefied and learned, and clashes between them have been common in economic history.
Steven Pinker
It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer. But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth. Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings.[Can You Believe in God and Evolution? Time Magazine, August 7, 2005]
Steven Pinker
the mind is a neural computer
Steven Pinker
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to compute it.
Steven Pinker
The task of evolutionary psychology is not to weigh in on human nature, a task better left to others. It is to add the satisfying kind of insight that only science can provide: to connect what we know about human nature with the rest of our knowledge of how the world works, and to explain the largest number of facts with the smallest number of assumptions.
Steven Pinker
It Begins with skepticism. The history of human folly, and our own susceptibility to illusions and fallacies, tell us that men and women are fallible.
Steven Pinker
What could be more fundamental to our sense of meaning and purpose than a conception of whether the strivings of the human race over long stretches of time have left us better or worse off? How, in particular, are we to make sense of modernity
Steven Pinker
Science is thus a paradigm for how we ought to gain knowledge
Steven Pinker
Many people implicitly believe in the Hydraulic Theory of Violence: that humans harbor an inner drive toward aggression (a death instinct or thirst for blood), which builds up inside us and must periodically be discharged. Nothing could be further from a contemporary scientific understanding of the psychology of violence. Aggression is not a single motive, let alone a mounting urge. It is the output of several psychological systems that differ in their environmental triggers, their internal logic, their neurobiological basis, and their social distribution.
Steven Pinker
Many people think that the theory of the selfish gene says that animals try to spread their genes. That misstates the facts and it misstates the theory. Animals, including most people, know nothing about genetics and care even less. People love their children not because they want to spread their genes (consciously or unconsciously) but because they can't help it. That love makes them try to keep their children warm, fed, and safe. What is selfish is not the real motives of the person but the metaphorical motives of the genes that built the person. Genes try to spread themselves by wiring animals' brains so the animals love their kin and try to keep warm, fed, and safe.
Steven Pinker
I think moralistic science is bad for morals and bad for science.
Steven Pinker
The Darwinian approach to sex is often attacked as being antifeminist, but that is just wrong. Indeed, the accusation is baffling on the face of it, especially to the many feminist women who have developed and tested the theory. The core of feminism is surely the goal of ending sexual discrimination and exploitation, an ethical and political position that is in no danger of being refuted by any foreseeable scientific theory or discovery.
Steven Pinker
Language-lovers know that there is a word for every fear. Are you afraid of wine? Then you have oenophobia. Tremulous about train travel? You suffer from siderodromophobia. Having misgivings about your mother-in-law is pentheraphobia, and being petrified of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth is arachibutyrophobia. And then there's Franklin Delano Roosevelt's affliction, the fear of fear itself, or phobophobia.
Steven Pinker
Some people think that evolutionary psychology claims to have discovered that human nature is selfish and wicked. But they are flattering the researchers and anyone who would claim to have discovered the opposite.
Steven Pinker
What could be more fundamental to our sense of meaning and purpose than a conception of whether the strivings of the human race over long stretches of time have left us better or worse off? How, in particular, are we to make sense of modernity
Steven Pinker
Friendship, like other kinds of altruism, is vulnerable to cheaters, and we have a special name for them: fair-weather friends. These sham friends reap the benefits of associating with a valuable person and mimic signs of warmth in an effort to become valued themselves. But when a little rain falls, they are nowhere in sight.
Steven Pinker
The psychological components of war have not gone away
Steven Pinker
Knights do protect ladies, but only to keep them from being abducted by other knights.
Steven Pinker
Matthew White, a self-described atrocitologist who keeps a database with the estimated death tolls of history's major wars, massacres, and genocides, counts about 1.2 million deaths from mass killing that are specifically enumerated in the Bible. (He excludes the half million casualties in the war between Judah and Israel described in 2 Chronicles 13 because he considers
Steven Pinker
The foundation of individual rights is the assumption that people have wants and needs and are authorities on what those wants and needs are. If people's stated desires were just some kind of erasable inscription or reprogrammable brainwashing, any atrocity could be justified.
Steven Pinker
Many criminologists believe that the source of the state's pacifying effect isn't just its brute coercive power but the trust it commands among the populace. After all, no state can post an informant in every pub and farmhouse to monitor breaches of the law, and those that try are totalitarian dictatorships that rule by fear, not civilized societies where people coexist through self-control and empathy. A Leviathan can civilize a society only when the citizens feel that its laws, law enforcement, and other social arrangements are legitimate, so that they don't fall back on their worst impulses as soon as Leviathan's back is turned.
Steven Pinker
A bumper sticker from the 1970s read, A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.
Steven Pinker
The researchers argued that an orderly environment fosters a sense of responsibility not so much by deterrence (since Groningen police rarely penalize litterers) as by the signaling of a social norm: This is the kind of place where people obey the rules.
Steven Pinker
The supposedly immaterial soul, we now know, can be bisected with a knife, altered by chemicals, started or stopped by electricity, and extinguished by a sharp blow or by insufficient oxygen.
Steven Pinker
cademics and intellectuals are culture vultures. In a gathering of today's elite, it is perfectly acceptable to laugh that you barely passed Physics for Poets and Rocks for Jocks and have remained ignorant of science ever since, despite the obvious importance of scientific literacy to informed choices about personal health and public policy. But saying that you have never heard of James Joyce or that you tried listening to Mozart once but prefer Andrew Lloyd Webber is as shocking as blowing your nose on your sleeve or announcing that you employ children in your sweatshop, despite the obvious unimportance of your tastes in leisure-time activity to just about anything.
Steven Pinker
Computation has finally demystified mentalistic terms. Beliefs are inscriptions in memory, desires are goal inscriptions, thinking is computation, perceptions are inscriptions triggered by sensors, trying is executing operations triggered by a goal.
Steven Pinker
The collapse of communism and a recognition of its economic and humanitarian catastrophes took the romance out of revolutionary violence and cast doubt on the wisdom of redistributing wealth at the point of a gun.
Steven Pinker
Positive legacy of the 1960s was the revolutions in civil rights, women's rights, children's rights, and gay rights, which began to consolidate power in the 1990s as the baby boomers became the establishment. Their targeting of rape, battering, hate crimes, gay-bashing, and child abuse reframed law-and-order from a reactionary cause to a progressive one, and their efforts to make the home, workplace, schools, and streets safer for vulnerable groups (as in the feminist Take Back the Night protests) made these environments safer for everyone.
Steven Pinker
In the foreign country, we call the past, crucifixion was a common punishment. It was invented by the Persians, carried back to Europe by Alexander the Great, and widely used in Mediterranean empires.
Steven Pinker
In allowing the crucifixion to take place, God did the world an incalculable favor. Though infinitely powerful, compassionate, and wise, he could think of no other way to reprieve humanity from punishment for its sins (in particular, for the sin of being descended from a couple who had disobeyed him) than to allow an innocent man (his son no less) to be impaled through the limbs and slowly suffocate in agony. By acknowledging that this sadistic murder was a gift of divine mercy, people could earn eternal life. And if they failed to see the logic in all this, their flesh would be seared by fire for all eternity.
Steven Pinker
So holding many factors constant, we find that living in a civilization reduces one's chances of being a victim of violence fivefold.
Steven Pinker
One of the tragic ironies of the second half of the 20th century is that when colonies in the developing world freed themselves from European rule, they often slid back into warfare, this time intensified by modern weaponry, organized militias, and the freedom of young men to defy tribal elders.77 As we shall see in the next chapter, this development is a countercurrent to the historical decline of violence, but it is also a demonstration of the role of Leviathans in propelling the decline.
Steven Pinker
What is truly arresting about our kind is better captured in the story of the Tower of Babel, in which humanity, speaking a single language, came so close to reaching heaven that God himself felt threatened.
Steven Pinker
Even evolutionary explanations of the traditional division of labor by sex do not imply that it is unchangeable, natural in the sense of good, or something that should be forced on individual women or men who don't want it.
Steven Pinker
Apes have a wide variety of sexual arrangements. That means, by the way, that there is no such thing as an ape legacy that humans are doomed to live by.
Steven Pinker
As technology accumulates and people in more parts of the planet become interdependent, the hatred between them tends to decrease, for the simple reason that you can't kill someone and trade with him too.
Steven Pinker
Instead of asking, Why is there war? we might ask, Why is there peace? We can obsess not just over what we have been doing wrong but also over what we have been doing right. Because we have been doing something right, and it would be good to know what, exactly, it is.