Pinker the ProphetIssue: Nov-Dec 2011
Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (New York: Viking Adult, 2011), 832 pp., $40.00.
[amazon 0670022950 full]WITH THE United States fighting two wars, countries from Tunisia to Syria either in or on the brink of intrastate conflicts, bloodshed continuing in Sudan and reports that suicide bombers might foil airport security by planting explosives within their bodies, it is hard to be cheerful. But Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker tells us that we should be, that we are living in the least violent era ever. What’s more, he makes a case that will be hard to refute. The trends are not subtle—many of the changes involve an order of magnitude or more. Even when his explanations do not fully convince, they are serious and well-grounded.