Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Better Angels of Our Nature

I just finished reading a wonderful book by Steven Pinker called "The Better Angels of Our Nature; Why Violence Has Declined". Just to warn you it is not a short read, but the data presented and the logic including studies in psychology, sociology and anthropology just adds to the strength of the argument. Steven Pinker is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and a two time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and has been named as being among Times 100 most influential people in the world today and Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinkers. His premise, which he able to mobilize large data sets, is that violence has been declining since the 1500s. In the beginning chapters he gathers the data and presents it. He goes through the studies and experiments done in sociology, anthropology and psychology and integrates those studies into the premise and I think proves it. What is really wow as so many things in science and history is that the data/evidence completely goes against intuition. I would think that the 20th Century was the bloodiest with the world wars etc. but no it was not. The good old days were not that good really. It is a book I am going to keep in my library for its logic, integrating of data, experiment and history to come up with good theory of the decline of violence in the scientific sense.
Peace Skeptical DoDo


Anonymous said...

I am skeptical of Pinker's data. Stalin's regime and the combination of all the communist regimes murdered tens of millions in the 20th century, and that doesn't even count actual wars.

skeptical dodo said...

Take a look at where he got the data. Most if not all was obtained by other researchers. Stalins and other communist regimes are included in the data.