Steven Pinker - Quotes

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The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer. ---->>>

Human nature is complex. Even if we do have inclinations toward violence, we also have inclination to empathy, to cooperation, to self-control. ---->>>

Cognitive psychology tells us that the unaided human mind is vulnerable to many fallacies and illusions because of its reliance on its memory for vivid anecdotes rather than systematic statistics. ---->>>

Morality is not just any old topic in psychology but close to our conception of the meaning of life. Moral goodness is what gives each of us the sense that we are worthy human beings. ---->>>

When people talk, they lay lines on each other, do a lot of role playing, sidestep, shilly-shally and engage in all manner of vagueness and innuendo. We do this and expect others to do it, yet at the same time we profess to long for the plain truth, for people to say what they mean, simple as that. Such hypocrisy is a human universal.

When people talk, they lay lines on each other, do a lot of role playing, sidestep, shilly-shally and engage in all manner of vagueness and innuendo. We do this and expect others to do it, yet at the same time we profess to long for the plain truth, for people to say what they mean, simple as that. Such hypocrisy is a human universal.

Most wars are not fought over shortages of resources such as food and water, but rather over conquest, revenge, and ideology. ---->>>

Students do everything on laptops these days, so I definitely think electronic books are a trend that's going to expand. ---->>>

Northeastern and most coastal states will vote for the candidate who is more closely aligned with international cooperation and engagement, secularism and science, gun control, individual freedom in culture and sexuality, and a greater role for the government in protecting the environment and ensuring economic equality.

Northeastern and most coastal states will vote for the candidate who is more closely aligned with international cooperation and engagement, secularism and science, gun control, individual freedom in culture and sexuality, and a greater role for the government in protecting the environment and ensuring economic equality.

There is a correlation between economic inequality and personal violence. The explanation for the correlation isn't completely clear; there are a number of possibilities. ---->>>

Being smarter gives you a tailwind throughout life. People who are more intelligent earn more, live longer, get divorced less, are less likely to get addicted to alcohol and tobacco, and their children live longer. ---->>>

Conventions are unstated agreements within a community to abide by a single way of doing things - not because there is any inherent advantage to the choice, but because there is an advantage to everyone making the same choice. ---->>>

Some people believe that the nuclear bomb should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, since it scared the major powers away from war by equating it with doomsday. ---->>>

I think the reason that swearing is both so offensive and so attractive is that it is a way to push people's emotional buttons, and especially their negative emotional buttons. Because words soak up emotional connotations and are processed involuntarily by the listener, you can't will yourself not to treat the word in terms of what it means. ---->>>

One of the things that people complain about is loneliness, disconnectedness. If you live in a society where your life is rarely threatened and most of your relationships are more on an economic exchange basis, then this could leave people feeling less connected. ---->>>

A hostility to modernity is shared by ideologies that have nothing else in common - a nostalgia for moral clarity, small-town intimacy, family values, primitive communism, ecological sustainability, communitarian solidarity, or harmonies with the rhythms of nature.

A hostility to modernity is shared by ideologies that have nothing else in common - a nostalgia for moral clarity, small-town intimacy, family values, primitive communism, ecological sustainability, communitarian solidarity, or harmonies with the rhythms of nature.

Cognitive psychology has shown that the mind best understands facts when they are woven into a conceptual fabric, such as a narrative, mental map, or intuitive theory. Disconnected facts in the mind are like unlinked pages on the Web: They might as well not exist. ---->>>

The strongest argument against totalitarianism may be a recognition of a universal human nature; that all humans have innate desires for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The doctrine of the blank slate... is a totalitarian's dream.

The strongest argument against totalitarianism may be a recognition of a universal human nature; that all humans have innate desires for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The doctrine of the blank slate... is a totalitarian's dream.

I would argue that nothing gives life more purpose than the realization that every moment of consciousness is a precious and fragile gift. ---->>>

Plants can't very well defend themselves by their behavior, so they resort to chemical warfare, and plants are saturated with toxins and irritants to deter creatures like us who want to eat them. ---->>>

Why is it surprising that scientists might have long hair and wear cowboy boots? In fields like neuroscience, where the events you are recording are so minute, I suspect scientists cultivate a boring, reliable image. A scientist with a reputation for flamboyance might be suspect. ---->>>

There's a misconception that survival of the fittest means survival of the most aggressive. The adjective 'Darwinian' used to refer to ruthless competition; you used to read that in business journals. But that's not what Darwinian means to a biologist; it's whatever leads to reproductive success.

There's a misconception that survival of the fittest means survival of the most aggressive. The adjective 'Darwinian' used to refer to ruthless competition; you used to read that in business journals. But that's not what Darwinian means to a biologist; it's whatever leads to reproductive success.

Commerce, trade and exchange make other people more valuable alive than dead, and mean that people try to anticipate what the other guy needs and wants. It engages the mechanisms of reciprocal altruism, as the evolutionary biologists call it, as opposed to raw dominance. ---->>>

Of course, genes can't pull the levers of our behavior directly. But they affect the wiring and workings of the brain, and the brain is the seat of our drives, temperaments and patterns of thought. ---->>>

Photography is a kind of virtual reality, and it helps if you can create the illusion of being in an interesting world. ---->>>

If you give people literacy, bad ideas can be attacked and experiments tried, and lessons will accumulate. ---->>>

People today sometimes get uncomfortable with empirical claims that seem to clash with their political assumptions, often because they haven't given much thought to the connections. ---->>>

Economic libertarians and Christian evangelicals, united by their common enemy, are strange bedfellows in today's Republican party, just as the two Georges - the archconservative Wallace and the uberliberal McGovern - found themselves in the same Democratic Party in 1972. ---->>>

The reason I'm not a neurobiologist but a cognitive psychologist is that I think looking at brain tissue is often the wrong level of analysis. You have to look at a higher level of organization. ---->>>

I spent 20 years doing research on regular and irregular verbs, not because I'm an obsessive language lover but because it seemed to me that they tapped into a fundamental distinction in language processing, indeed in cognitive processing, between memory lookup and rule-driven computation. ---->>>

I think students should know something about religion as a historical phenomenon, in the same way that they should know something about socialism and humanism and the other great ideas that have shaped political philosophies and therefore the course of human events. ---->>>

With violence, as with so many other concerns, human nature is the problem, but human nature is also the solution. ---->>>

I suspect music is auditory cheesecake, an exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots of... our mental faculties. ---->>>

Democracy is an imperfect way of steering between the violence of anarchy and the violence of tyranny, with the least violence you can get away with. ---->>>

In any dispute, each side thinks it's in the right and the other side is demons. ---->>>

Many artists and scholars have pointed out that ultimately art depends on human nature. ---->>>

Personality and socialization aren't the same thing. ---->>>

Evolutionary psychology is one of four sciences that are bringing human nature back into the picture. ---->>>

As long as your ideology identifies the main source of the world's ills as a definable group, it opens the world up to genocide. ---->>>

I think a lot of moral debates are not over what is the basis of justice, but who gets a ticket to play in the game. ---->>>

The idea that children are passive repositories to be shaped by their parents has been massively overstated. A child's peer group is a far greater determinant of its development and achievements than parental aspiration. ---->>>

One of the perks of being a psychologist is access to tools that allow you to carry out the injunction to know thyself. ---->>>

I think that if you were to probe a lot of people's religious opinions, they would not be as religious as the numbers would suggest. ---->>>

Societies that empower women are less violent in every way. ---->>>

Statisticians tell us that people underestimate the sheer number of coincidences that are bound to happen in a world governed by chance. ---->>>

Whenever you speak to someone, you are presuming the two of you have a certain degree of familiarity - which your words might alter. So every sentence has to do two things at once: convey a message and continue to negotiate that relationship. ---->>>

Equity feminism is a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology or biology. ---->>>

Everywhere you look for comparisons of life under anarchy and life under government, life under government is less violent. ---->>>

We're living in primate heaven. We're warm, dry, we're not hungry, we don't have fleas and ticks and infections. So why are we so miserable? ---->>>

Evolution is an indispensable component of any satisfying explanation of our psychology. ---->>>

I never outgrew my conversion to atheism at 13, but at various times was a serious cultural Jew. ---->>>

Paris Hilton, it turns out, is related to fellow celebrity jailbirds Zsa Zsa Gabor and G. Gordon Liddy. ---->>>

Academics lack perspective. In a debate on whether the world is round, they would argue, 'No,' because it's an oblate spheroid. They suffer from 'the curse of knowledge': the inability to imagine what it's like not to know something that they know. ---->>>

Reading is a technology for perspective-taking. When someone else's thoughts are in your head, you are observing the world from that person's vantage point. ---->>>

No matter how inured you get to atrocities, you're still always stunned and shocked by how cruel and wasteful Homo sapiens can be. ---->>>

The great appeal of the doctrine that the mind is a blank slate is the simple mathematical fact that zero equals zero. ---->>>

Most intellectuals today have a phobia of any explanation of the mind that invokes genetics. ---->>>

Racism, because it favors color over talent, is bad for business.

Racism, because it favors color over talent, is bad for business.

There has to be innate circuitry that does the learning, that creates the culture, that acquires the culture, and that responds to socialization. ---->>>

You can't hear a word and just hear it as raw sound; it always evokes an associated meaning and emotion in the brain. ---->>>

Astrology had an important role in the ancient world. You can't understand many things unless you know something about astrology - the plays of Shakespeare and so on. ---->>>

For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment that we can savor - and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible. ---->>>

People know there is a difference between what you do and what you accept. There is a difference between me knowing that people swear, me hearing people swear and me swearing, and everyone accepting that this is something you can do as much as you like. ---->>>

I don't consider myself to be that radical a thinker. ---->>>

The human capacity for compassion is not a reflex that is triggered automatically by the presence of another living thing. ---->>>

Parents provide their children with genes as well as an environment, so the fact that talkative parents have kids with good language skills could simply mean that and that the same genes that make parents talkative make children articulate. ---->>>

Broadly speaking, the Southern and Western desert and mountain states will vote for the candidate who endorses an aggressive military, a role for religion in public life, laissez-faire economic policies, private ownership of guns and relaxed conditions for using them, less regulation and taxation, and a valorization of the traditional family. ---->>>

If you aren't just brought up in your tribe but interact with other people either directly or vicariously, through journalism and literature, you see what life is like from other points of view and are less likely to demonize them or dehumanize others and more likely to empathize with them. ---->>>

My worst boss was a departmental chair who never learned to appreciate new developments in the field. He had contempt for students and younger researchers, and he saw the job of running the department as a nuisance. ---->>>

People have long assumed that violence is necessary for political change. Rulers never cede power voluntarily, the argument goes, so progressives have no choice but to contemplate the use of force to bring about a better world, mindful of the trade-off between a small amount of violence now and acceptance of an unjust status quo indefinitely. ---->>>

Photography is a demanding action sport. The light can change so quickly. I often find myself sprinting so that I can catch the perfect light falling on a photogenic subject. ---->>>

The stirrings of morality emerge early in childhood. Toddlers spontaneously offer toys and help to others and try to comfort people they see in distress. ---->>>

Violent movements attract thugs and firebrands who enjoy the mayhem. Violent tactics provide a pretext for retaliation by the enemy and alienate third parties who might otherwise support the movement. ---->>>

America had, for one thing, lived in anarchy for - until much more recently than Europe. We had the Wild West, where the cliche of the cowboy movies was the nearest sheriff is 90 miles away, and so you had to pack a gun and defend yourself. ---->>>

I do look for openings where I can overturn popular misconceptions, but unlike Christopher Hitchens, I am neither a contrarian nor a lone heretic. I like to have a significant number of academics watching my back. ---->>>

I try to jog in every city I visit, and I particularly enjoy harbour-front paths that let me ogle big ships, railroad bridges and the ruins of factories and warehouses. ---->>>

If you look in general at people who live in anarchy, they have quite high rates of death from either homicide or warfare or both. Anarchy is one of the main reasons for violence, and it may be the most important.

If you look in general at people who live in anarchy, they have quite high rates of death from either homicide or warfare or both. Anarchy is one of the main reasons for violence, and it may be the most important.

A decent government with an effective, but not gratuitously violent, police force and a fair court system are essential. This deters and incapacitates psychopaths, bullies and hotheads - and if it earns the confidence of the people, they don't have to become violent in self-defence. ---->>>

Climate change could produce a lot of misery and waste without necessarily leading to large-scale armed conflict, which depends more on ideology and bad governance than on resource scarcity. ---->>>

One of my favourite kinds of movie is the American picaresque, in which the characters make their way across the country, learning about life against the gorgeous backdrops of that vast land. ---->>>

Regardless of its causes, thoughtlessly blaming the present is a weakness which, even if it is never outlawed, ought to be resisted. Though commonly flaunted as a sign of sophistication, it can be an opportunity for one-upmanship and an excuse for misanthropy, especially against the young. ---->>>

The connections I draw between human nature and political systems in my new book, for example, were prefigured in the debates during the Enlightenment and during the framing of the American Constitution. ---->>>

An enormous amount of scientific language is metaphorical. We talk about a genetic code, where code originally meant a cipher; we talk about the solar system model of the atom as though the atom were like a sun and moon and planets. ---->>>

Human evolution, at first, seems extraordinary. How could the process that gave rise to slugs and oak trees and fish produce a creature that can fly to the moon and invent the Internet and cross the ocean in boats? ---->>>

I have never been a fan of science fiction. For me, fiction has to explore the combinatorial possibilities of people interacting under the constraints imposed by our biology and history. When an author is free to suspend the constraints, it's tennis without a net. ---->>>

I think it may not be a coincidence that the rise of printing and book publication and literacy and the phenomenon of best sellers all preceded the humanitarian reforms of the Enlightenment. ---->>>

I think this confusion leads intellectuals and artists themselves to believe that the elite arts and humanities are a kind of higher, exalted form of human endeavor. ---->>>

It is true that raids and battles killed a tiny percentage of the numbers that die in modern warfare. But in tribal violence, the clashes are more frequent, the percentage of men in the population who fight is greater, and the rates of death per battle are higher. ---->>>

Language pedants hew to an oral tradition of shibboleths that have no basis in logic or style, that have been defied by great writers for centuries, and that have been disavowed by every thoughtful usage manual. ---->>>

My politics were pretty anarchistic until 1969 when the Montreal police went on strike. Within hours, mayhem and rioting broke out and the Mounties had to be called in to restore order. It instilled in me that one's convictions can be subjected to empirical test. ---->>>

Obviously no language is innate. Take any kid from any race, bring them up in any culture and they will learn the language equally quickly. So no particular language is in the genes. But what might be in the genes is the ability to acquire language. ---->>>

The reason the United States is not so likely to invade Iran is precisely because of the lessons learned from Iraq. And conversely, the Iranian push towards nuclear capability is calculated to deter invasions like the kind deposing Saddam Husain. ---->>>

There is no society ever discovered in the remotest corner of the world that has not had something that we would consider the arts. Visual arts - decoration of surfaces and bodies - appears to be a human universal.

There is no society ever discovered in the remotest corner of the world that has not had something that we would consider the arts. Visual arts - decoration of surfaces and bodies - appears to be a human universal.

When time permits, I try to see interesting people in the cities I visit. In Seattle, I met Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, who is shy in personality but flamboyant in his philanthropy. ---->>>

You have to remember that not every creature that was evolving left behind its skull or its tools for our convenience tens of thousands of years later. Most bones or most tools rot or get buried and are never found again. ---->>>

20th-century totalitarian movements were no more defined by a rejection of Judeo-Christianity than they were defined by a rejection of astrology, alchemy, Confucianism, Scientology, or any of hundreds of other belief systems. ---->>>

A word is an arbitrary label - that's the foundation of linguistics. But many people think otherwise. They believe in word magic: that uttering a spell, incantation, curse, or prayer can change the world. Don't snicker: Would you ever say, 'Nothing has gone wrong yet' without looking for wood to knock? ---->>>

An eye for beauty locks onto faces that show signs of health and fertility - just as one would predict if it had evolved to help the beholder find the fittest mate. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Capitalism saved the world, and there is even a heretical theory now, moving up from the level of individuals to countries: countries that trade more and have more open economies are less likely to fight wars and less likely to have genocides. ---->>>

If crime is going down, you shouldn't be increasing resources for crime prevention. Or you should be taking note of what has worked and concentrate the crime-prevention methods on policies that have a track record of success. ---->>>

It's likely that taboo words are stored in the right hemisphere of the brain. Massive left hemisphere strokes or the entire surgical removal of the left hemisphere can leave people with no articulate speech other than the ability to swear, spout cliches and song lyrics. ---->>>

Semantics is about the relation of words to thoughts, but it also about the relation of words to other human concerns. Semantics is about the relation of words to reality - the way that speakers commit themselves to a shared understanding of the truth, and the way their thoughts are anchored to things and situations in the world. ---->>>

The actual organization of behavior goes on the level of the individual nerve cells and their connections, and we have a hundred billion nerve cells, probably a hundred trillion connections. It's just mind-boggling to think of all the different ways in which they're arranged in a baby's head. ---->>>

We know about every massacre that has taken place close to the present, but the ones in the distant past are like trees falling in the forest with no one to hear them. ---->>>

As individual people, embedded in our daily lives, of course we're interested in what makes one person different from another. We've got to hire one person and not another, marry one person and not another. ---->>>

There's guilt about our treatment of native peoples in modern intellectual life, and an unwillingness to acknowledge there could be anything good about Western culture. ---->>>

Words let us say the things we want to say and also things we would be better off not having said. They let us know the things we need to know, and also things we wish we didn't. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

The European wars of religion were more deadly than the First World War, proportionally speaking, and in the range of the Second World War in Europe. The Inquisition, the persecution of heretics and infidels and witches, they racked up pretty high death tolls. ---->>>

Though knowledge itself increasingly ignores boundaries between fields, professors are apt to organize their pedagogy around the methods and history of their academic subculture rather than some coherent topic in the world. ---->>>

Evolutionary psychologists seem to want to unmask our noblest motives as ultimately self-interested - to show that our love for children, compassion for the unfortunate and sense of justice are just tactics in a Darwinian struggle to perpetuate our genes. ---->>>

Why do people believe that there are dangerous implications of the idea that the mind is a product of the brain, that the brain is organized in part by the genome, and that the genome was shaped by natural selection? ---->>>

In societies no less than individuals, acknowledging our limitations may ultimately be more humane than denying them. ---->>>

Language is a window into human nature, but it is also a fistula, an open wound through which we're exposed to an infectious world. ---->>>

The rules of friendship are tacit, unconscious; they are not rational. In business, though, you have to think rationally. ---->>>

I think that a failure of statistical thinking is the major intellectual shortcoming of our universities, journalism and intellectual culture. ---->>>

People are under the impression that dictionaries legislate language. What a dictionary does is keep track of usages over time. ---->>>

All of the violence that doesn't occur doesn't get reported on the news. ---->>>

Anything that makes it easier to imagine trading places with someone else increases your moral consideration for that other person. ---->>>

I like ice hockey. No one is ever going to ask me to write about that as a metaphor for life. ---->>>

The decline of violence is a fractal phenomenon. You can see it over millennia, over centuries, over decades and over years. ---->>>

All our behaviours are a result of neurophysiological activity in the brain. There is no reason to believe there is any magic going on. ---->>>

But in most cases even the possibility that the correlations reflect shared genes is taboo. ---->>>

The way to understand how different species evolved is to think about the niches that they fill in an ecosystem - basically, how they make a living. ---->>>

We are visual creatures. Visual things stay put, whereas sounds fade. ---->>>

Heritability pertains to the entirety of the genome, not to a single gene. ---->>>

I get drawn in when I feel there is something deep and mysterious going on beneath the surface of something. ---->>>

I learned to focus my energy on high-quality, long-term projects rather than lower-quality projects with quicker payoffs. ---->>>

If anything, Powerpoint, if used well, would ideally reflect the way we think. ---->>>

Indeed, children thrown together in a community that doesn't have a language of its own will invent one in order to communicate with each other. ---->>>

It's misleading to essentialize an entire society as if it were a single mind. ---->>>

Language mavens commonly confuse their own peeves with a worsening of the language. ---->>>

M.I.T. has a reputation for turning out Dilberts. They may be brilliant in what they do, but no one can understand what they say. ---->>>

Mother Teresa was the very embodiment of saintliness: white-clad, sad-eyed, ascetic and often photographed with the wretched of the earth. ---->>>

Part of the bargain of being alive is that one takes a chance at dying a premature or painful death, be it from violence, accident, or disease. ---->>>

Today we take it for granted that war happens in smaller, poorer and more backward countries. ---->>>

We can make fun of hockey fans, but someone who enjoys Homer is indulging the same kind of vicarious bloodlust. ---->>>

We really are creatures of a violent world, biologically speaking - watching violence and learning about it is one of our cognitive drives. ---->>>

Why are empirical questions about how the mind works so weighted down with political and moral and emotional baggage? ---->>>

If the myth of pure evil is that evil is committed with the intention of causing harm and an absence of moral considerations, then it applies to very few acts of so-called 'pure evil' because most evildoers believe what they are doing is forgivable or justifiable. ---->>>

As every student in Philosophy 101 learns, nothing can force me to believe that anyone except me is conscious. This power to deny that other people have feelings is not just an academic exercise but an all-too-common vice, as we see in the long history of human cruelty. ---->>>

Consciousness turns out to consist of a maelstrom of events distributed across the brain. These events compete for attention, and as one process outshouts the others, the brain rationalizes the outcome after the fact and concocts the impression that a single self was in charge all along. ---->>>

As a graduate student, I wrote a long paper connecting the dots between mathematical models of learning and language development in children. It was published in a major journal. ---->>>

My opinions about human nature are shared by many psychologists, linguists, and biologists, not to mention philosophers and scholars going back centuries. ---->>>

'Capitalism' is a dirty word for many intellectuals, but there are a number of studies showing that open economies and free trade are negatively correlated with genocide and war. ---->>>

I don't think there was a thunderclap or a divine spark that suddenly made one species smart. You can see, in our ancestors, there was a gradual expansion of the brain; there was an expansion of the complexity of tools. ---->>>

You could think of an ecosystem as a bunch of antagonistic arms races, almost: Everything that an animal depends upon for food is the body part of some other animal or plant who would just as soon keep that body part for itself. ---->>>

However much we might deplore the profit motive, or consumerist values, if everyone just wants i-Pods we would probably be better off than if they wanted class revolution. ---->>>

I teach classes 28 weeks of the year, but the rest of the time I do research and write books. While I'm writing a book, which I probably do two out of every three years, it's like having a second job. I squeeze in the hours when I can. ---->>>

I've never argued that humans are massively hot-wired. What I was trying to point out was that you can't understand how we learn unless you identify the learning mechanisms. And these have some genetic basis. ---->>>

Roads, better harnesses for horses, time-keeping devices, financial instruments like a currency that was recognized everywhere in the kingdom, enforceable contracts - all of this made commerce more appealing than plunder. ---->>>

So no, it's not all in the genes, but what isn't in the genes isn't in the family environment either. It can't be explained in terms of the overall personalities or the child-rearing practices of parents. ---->>>

Terrorist bombings, like rampage shootings, are events that maximize the amount of publicity per amount of damage. That's why people do them, because they know they will set off a media frenzy. ---->>>

Tom Hanks, who starred in 'The Da Vinci Code,' turns out to be related to a number of the historic characters that feature in 'The Da Vinci Code,' including William the Conqueror and Shakespeare. ---->>>

Violence and religion have often gone together, but it's not a perfect correlation, and it doesn't have to be a permanent connection, because religions themselves change. ---->>>

You don't like to be lied to, by your friends or in your business dealings. So why would you want to be lied to when it comes to the origin of life or the fate of the planet? ---->>>

But the newest research is showing that many properties of the brain are genetically organized, and don't depend on information coming in from the senses. ---->>>

Consciousness surely does not depend on language. Babies, many animals, and patients robbed of speech by brain damage are not insensate robots; they have reactions like ours that indicate that someone's home. ---->>>

Jews are known for many things, but strength, swiftness, and agility are not among them. There is one trait, as controversial as it is familiar, for which Jews are above all known, and that is shrewdness in business. ---->>>

Look at almost any passage, and you'll find that a paragraph has five or six metaphors in it. It's not that the speaker is trying to be poetic, it's just that that's the way language works. ---->>>

No one knows what the nongenetic causes of individuality are. Perhaps people are shaped by modifications of genes that take place after conception, or by haphazard fluctuations in the chemical soup in the womb or the wiring up of the brain or the expression of the genes themselves. ---->>>

Though as a psychologist I like to think that nothing human is foreign to me, I admit to having been repeatedly flabbergasted by the insouciance, and sometimes relish, with which our ancestors carried out and witnessed unspeakable cruelties. ---->>>

Everyone's pedigree merges into everyone else's pedigree. So if you go back far enough, everyone is related. ---->>>

The brain is not a bag of traits. It's startlingly complex. There are few or no single genes with a consistent effect on the mind. ---->>>

As many political writers have pointed out, commitment to political equality is not an empirical claim that people are clones. ---->>>

There's a common criticism of evolutionary psychology that it's fatalistic and it dooms us to eternal strife, 'Why even try to work toward peace if we're just bloody killer apes and violence is in our genes?' ---->>>

I think that communism was a major force for violence for more than 100 years, because it was built into its ideology - that progress comes through class struggle, often violent. ---->>>

The decline of violence isn't a steady inclined plane from an original state of maximal and universal bloodshed. Technology, ideology, and social and cultural changes periodically throw out new forms of violence for humanity to contend with. ---->>>

By all measures men are the more violent gender. ---->>>

I teach classes 28 weeks of the year, but the rest of the time I do research and write books. ---->>>

All our behaviours are a result of neurophysiological activity in the brain. ---->>>

I'm very interested in language because it reflects our obsessions and ways of conceptualising the world. ---->>>

Like the early days of the Internet, the dawn of personal genomics promises benefits and pitfalls that no one can foresee. ---->>>

As women are empowered, violence can come down, for a number of reasons. By all measures, men are the more violent gender. ---->>>

I don't think aggression works like thirst or sleep. I think aggression is more elicited by particular situations. I think it can be mitigated. ---->>>

You wouldn't believe the kind of hate mail I get about my work on irregular verbs. ---->>>

Pre-state societies were far more violent than our own. ---->>>

Technology, ideology, and social and cultural changes periodically throw out new forms of violence for humanity to contend with. ---->>>

The 9/11 strikes left an indelible impact on our minds, but in relative terms, the scale of casualties actually wasn't all that high. ---->>>

The more you think about and interact with other people, the more you realize that it is untenable to privilege your interests over theirs. ---->>>

For one thing, before the 20th century, there were plenty of genocides. We tend to forget about them, partly because they weren't as well documented and partly because, until recently, people didn't care. We used euphemisms like 'sackings' and 'sieges' instead of calling them 'genocides.' ---->>>

I don't think language could have evolved if it was the only distinctive trait. It goes hand in hand with our ability to develop tools and technologies, and also with the fact that we cooperate with nonrelatives. ---->>>

In the 1970s, many intellectuals had become political radicals. Marxism was correct, liberalism was for wimps, and Marx had pronounced that 'the ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.' ---->>>

Probably Hobbes got it right when he said that a leviathan, a third party with a monopoly on the use of legitimate use of force in a territory, might be among the biggest violence reduction techniques ever invented. ---->>>

Commerce is a noble profession, and Jews should get over any self-hatred they might harbor from contemplating the capitalist spirit of diaspora Judaism. ---->>>

Biography

Nationality: Canadian
Born: 09-18, 1954
Birthplace:
Die:
Occupation: Scientist
Website:

Steven Arthur "Steve" Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-born American cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind (wikipedia)