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Archive for the ‘Steven Pinker’ Category

Our ancestors were far more violent than we are. We are now the most peaceful we’ve ever been? The Decline of Violence

Posted by pwl on March 21, 2009

Steven Pinker charts the decline of violence from Biblical times to the present, and argues that, though it may seem illogical and even obscene, given Iraq and Darfur, we are living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.

This is one of the most enlightening talks that I’ve seen on the topic of violence and war.

If the death rates in tribal warfare had prevailed in the 20th century there would have been two billion deaths rather than a hundred million.” – Steven Pinker

Yes, we still have a long way to go as one hundred million deaths due to war is unacceptable. Holding political leaders personally responsible for each death that occurs on their watch under their orders will take humanity to the next level of peace by increasing the decline of violence even faster. How? Which politicians will go to war when they know that if they do they’ll be automatically brought up on charges of crimes against humanity! Let’s start by bringing the previous USA administration to justice for their unspeakable crimes against humanity.

Posted in Complex Systems, Ethics in Science, History, Human|Ape, Humbled by Nature, Politics, Science Education, Steven Pinker, Video, Yikes! The sky is NOT falling! | Leave a Comment »

The Stuff of Thought – If I held you any closer I’d be on the other side of you!

Posted by pwl on March 21, 2009

This is one of the most fascinating books that I’ve ever read, along with Society of Mind by Minsky, A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram, Science and Sanity by Alfred Korzybski, Frogs into Princes by Richard Bandler, and of course, R. Buckminster Fuller’s Synergetics. Earth shattering! Not only is the author, Steven Pinker, an eloquent writer he brings this same quality into his speaking.

Renowned linguist Steven Pinker speaks at Google’s Mountain View, CA, headquarters about his book “The Stuff of Thought.” This event took place on September 24, 2007, as part of the Authors@Google series.

New York Times Bestseller Editors’ Picks: Best Science Books of 2007
Choice: Outstanding Academic Titles of 2008

“A display of fiercely intricate intelligence and nobody with the least interest in language should miss reading it.”-The Times (London)
“Curious, inventive, fearless, naughty.” -New York Times
“Packed with information, clear, witty, attractively written, and generally persuasive.” -Colin McGinn, New York Review of Books

The Stuff of Thought is a revelation. In this exhilarating new book, Steven Pinker analyzes how our words relate to thoughts and to the world around us and reveals what this tells us about ourselves.

How does a mind that evolved to think about rocks and plants and enemies think about love and physics and democracy? Why do we threaten and bribe and seduce in such elaborate, often comical ways? How can a choice of metaphors start a war, impeach a president, or win an election? Why do people impose taboos on topics like sex, excretion, and the divine? What does the peculiar syntax of swearing (just what does the “fuck” in “fuck you” actually mean?) tell us about ourselves? Why do some names thrive while others fall out of circulation? How do we control the amount of information that we absorb? And what good does this actually do us? Pinker answers all these questions and many, many more. He shows us that language really can tell us unexpected and fascinating things about ourselves.

The Stuff of Thought is a book for everyone. Steven Pinker has devoted his life to studying the way we think and communicate. And language, in his hands, becomes a profound, and highly entertaining, way to shed light on every aspect of human nature.

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Posted in books, Complex Systems, Exercise for the Reader (that's you), Hard Science, Human|Ape, Humbled by Nature, Ideas Crazy Enough to Have a Chance, Ignorance to Knowledge, Intelligent Designer - Yeah Right, It's a good thing that your god(s) die with you, Majestic Universe, Science Education, Steven Pinker, Video | Leave a Comment »

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