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My a place where ambiguity honest analysis and critiue is fostered but doesn t conduct a similar survey of the ratio of left to right thinkers in positions of power in public office or corporate boardrooms not to mention the academy Later during his analysis of Islam he uotes ex Muslim activist Sarah Haider who says Religions are ust ideas and don t have rights Criticizing the ideas of Islam is no bigoted than criticizing the ideas of neoliberalism or the Republican Party Platform p442 I wonder if he feels this way about other non Muslim faith based states in the region replace Islam with another faith and I wonder what sort of reception his book would have receivedI could go on and on as every page packs a groaner Overall Pinker loses the gist of his thesis in a stew of gross generalizations and what I would consider a contempt for the Enlightenment project as it relates to preserving open discussion of ideals and efforts against the reification of power structures and narratives that hinder progress Has humanity come a long way Sure who really doubts that Do we have work to do Yes we do but you wouldn t feel any urgency to do so from this bookPinker says Instead their reputations hinge on their ability to entertain titillate or shock on their ability to instill confidence or fear in the hopes that a prophecy might be self fulfilling or self defeating and on their skill in galvanizing a coalition and celebrating its virtue I would say this is a good description of the author of Enlightenment NowJust to be clear I didn t like this book A few months ago I heard Steven Pinker give a talk about this book I must say that his speaking skill did not impress me However his writing skill is brilliant This is a very important book epic in scope comprehensive well thought out and structured incredibly well researched and full of some very important messagesThe book begins with a student s uestion Why should I live To which Pinker answers with a profound interpretation of the meaning of life I won t repeat his complete answer but he writes You have the ability to like love respect help and show kindness and you can enjoy the gift of mutual benevolence with friends family and colleagues You can foster the welfare of other sentient beings by enhancing life health knowledge freedom abundance safety beauty and peace Pinker writes that the Enlightenment helped us escape from superstition and ignorance It increased our understanding of ourselves through science Also Humanism is a secular foundation for morality And it is individuals who are sentient not the tribe The Enlightenment helped to abolish cruel punishments and slavery Also Humanism helped bring about an increase in peaceThe Enlightenment has helped to eradicate some terrible diseases Science is the most unambiguous achievement by mankind Science helped to eradicate smallpox a painful and disfiguring disease that killed 300 million people in the 20th century And we have forgotten that on April 12 1955 people observed moments of silence rang bells honked horns took the day off closed schools and forgave enemies That was the day that Jonas Salk s polio vaccine was declared to be safe Pinker extols the virtues of genetic engineering that can accomplish in days what farmers accomplished over millennia and what Norman Borlaug took years of mind warping tedium to accomplish Hundreds of studies every major health and science organization and over a hundred Nobel laureates have testified to the safety of transgenic crops Nevertheless some traditional environment groups persist in denying them to the worldI ust loved this uote from the book In 1976 Mao single handedly and dramatically changed the direction of global poverty with one simple act he diedPinker devotes chapters to improvements in the environment and the problem of climate change He shows that there is virtually no dissension among scientists that climate change and specifically global warming is a significant problem However he is optimistic that these issues can in principle be solved by courageous governmental actionThe book describes the growth of democracy around the world not steadily but in waves Democratic countries have higher rates of economic growth fewer wars and genocides better educated citizens and almost no famines The best reason for democracy stated by Karl Popper is that it is a solution to the problem of how to dismiss bad leadership without bloodshed And it gives people the freedom to complainPinker shows how disbelief in human caused climate change is not correlated with scientific illiteracy but is due to allegiance to values held by one s social circle Political tribalism is decried as the most insidious form of irrationality today And this tribalism exists on the left and the right sides of the political spectrum Pinker writes American conservative politics has become steadily know nothing from Ronald Reagan to Dan uayle to George W Bush to Sarah Palin to Donald Trump Pinker lists all of the ways in which President Trump has resisted progress and backtracks to a less advanced way of life Reversal of health care reversal of globalism reversal in the growth of wealth reversal of the environment safety law and order international trade eual rights tolerance and the udicial system The president has all The Hallmarks Of A Dictator hallmarks of a dictator is impulsive and vindictive The last chapter of the book is about humanism the chapter starts out well but then briefly becomes too philosophical and abstract for my taste Then the chapter returns to a accessible concrete structure It becomes obvious that "PINKER IS AN ATHEIST HE WRITES THAT THE EXISTENCE " is an atheist He writes that the existence the God of scripture is a perfectly testable scientific hypothesis And he list some experiments that could be performed to test the hypothesis He also shows how the religiosity of nations and even from region to region within the United States is inversely related to happiness and well being The United States being religious on the whole than West European countries has higher homicide rates abortion STD s child mortality obesity educational mediocrity and premature deaths And Pinker points out that non religious people in the US tend not to vote that helps explain why we have Trump in office todayThis is such a fascinating book it takes up arguments where his earlier book The Better Angels of Our Nature Why Violence Has Declined leaves off This is the seventh book that I have read by Steven Pinker and this one is Revenge of the Land: A Century of Greed, Tragedy, and Murder on a Saskatchewan Farm just as wonderful as his previous books Why I won t be reading this When this book was not boring me it was irritating me All of the author s anecdotes I had read elsewhere Science is good I don t need convincing Vaccines work Poverty is bad and is getting better throughout the world Everyone who wants to know this stuff already knows itWhy euate Al Gore with Theodore Kaczynski The Unabomber as the author seems to do regarding the environment Is Fox News really right when they said the poor can t be poor because they have cell phones and air conditioning today The author defended that absurdity though he doesn t mention that Fox used to argue that when Obama was president And why did the author make a false euivalence between Bernie Sanders and Trump Sanders didn t believe climate change is a Chinese Hoax or pick someone in his cabinet who thinks vaccines cause autism or wanted to build a wall and claim Mexico will pay for it or feed our hate against Muslims Browns Asians or anyone who strikes his fancy for the day even kneeling football players This author always seemed to have some pie in the sky anti humanist post modernist Strawman he was easily demolishing for some reason I couldn t figure out He mentioned the in gratitude were in the 9th circle of hell and implied Dante had a point and people most of us have never heard of such as Heidegger Adorno and Neitzsche and I think he also mentioned Marcuse belonged there for their in gratitude I m going to venture a guess since I didn t read all of the book the author doesn t like identity politics and gets bothered by political correctness and thinks both sides are to blame I don t know if that s where he was going but I wasn t going to find out by wading thru a familiar story I ve read better told in other booksThe author is completely out of his depth on economics and ineuality I suggest you read Piketty s book instead of this author s poorly constructed deconstruction of Piketty s wonderful book and then tell me again why ineuality is not real or not a big deal His Enlightenment and Romanticism knowledge seemed superficial Of the 8 or so Voltaire uips he provided I had heard them all elsewhere I stopped this book after 5 hours I got my credit back from Audible I seldom do that This author was teaching me nothing I didn t already know and worse than that seemed to have a disregard for the truth by trying to defend his own thesis beyond what the facts would take a reasonable person For years I ve been saying Steven Pinker s The Better Angels of Our Nature was the best book I d read in a decade If I could recommendust one book for anyone to pick up that was it Pinker uses meticulous research to argue that we are living in the most peaceful time in human history I d never seen such a clear explanation of progressI m going to stop talking up Better Angels so much because Pinker has managed to top himself His new book Enlightenment Now is even better Enlightenment Now takes the approach he uses in Better Angels to track violence throughout history and applies it to 15 different measures of progress like uality of life knowledge and safety The result is a holistic picture of how and why the world is getting better It s like Better Angels on steroidsI read the book slowly since I loved it so much but I think most pe. –tribalism authoritarianism demonization magical thinking–which demagogues are all too willing to exploit Many commentators committed to political religious or romantic ideologies fight a rearguard action against it The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperationWith intellectual depth and literary flair Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason science and humanism the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progre. ,

Fewer and less severe homicides are down racism is in decline terrorism is a fading fad democracy rules communicable diseases and poverty are on their way out Life expectancy is up and police are killing fewer people both black and white Even the poor have refrigerators Ineuality is a reuisite sign of success So appreciate the wonderful state of affairs you find yourself in This is the message of Enlightenment Now with a title that sounds like a protest placard but which is actually a survey of the world by the statistics that states collectWe re so progressive we re beating back entropy itself Steven Pinker takes 500 pages to create a world where everything is so fabulously much better than it ever has been that anyone who says different is perpetuating an intellectual lie This is why it is your enlightenment The book is an endless uplifting editorial If you re buyingHe s at his best criticizing politics and science He shows precisely how our biases prejudice our most thoughtful conclusions and bemoans the lack of respect for science and the humanities He says science is presented in some schools as April 16th: Virginia Tech Remembers just another narrative or myth Humanities are in danger of extinction and they are critical to progressPinker has a nice tendency to support his arguments with examples and charts Unfortunately he balances this with a tendency to ignore states or countries that don t conform to his claims and he swings numbers around to make them look better He claims when he measures what people consume as opposed to what they earn the poverty rate in the USA is 3% So really everyone is thriving Even if they re visibly not I fully realize Pinker is untouchable and slated for sainthood but many things he says don t add up and a lot of it isust outrageous on its face Let him speak for himself On war Virtually every acre of land that was conuered after 1928 has been returned to the state that lost it Something must have happened in 1927 for him to pick 1928 but he doesn t say Where do you even begin to refute this Kaliningrad Mauritania The South China Sea Crimea Donbass Palestine He defends the demolition of the middle classes in the West Yes a hundred million Americans are worse off But a billion Chinese are better off The tradeoff is worth it he says That the extremely rich got fabulously rich is fine with him too On terrorism s decline Pinker points to recently low numbers of victim deaths to show how safe we really are He doesn t mention all the freedom of movement assembly and privacy we have lost to the terrorists He s satisfied they don t kill that much and that they will eventually fade away On the mellowing of war Weapons don t come into existence ust because they are conceivable or physically possible Yes they do And worse everything can be weaponized from food to mouseclicks Pinker goes even further claiming most historians don t think the atomic bombings caused Japan to surrender in three days but rather it was the potential of Russia turning its attention from west to east There is a great deal of nonsense about how much cheaper life is today The provision of a light indoors would have cost the euivalent of 40000 in the middle ages if anyone could read while today lights cost fractions of pennies And 100 years ago it took 1800 hours work to afford a refrigerator among too many such examples But Pinker never bothers with the other side of the coin That today everyone must spend 150 a month on cable 125 on phone after purchasing a phone every two years with each costing than the fridge a 20000 car a mortgage and 50000 in school debt none of which were factors in the cost of living in the middle ages or be unable to function in society His endless comparisons are pointless He keeps repeating that because even the poor have flush toilets and refrigerators they are much better off today than ever He says even the fabulously wealthy Rothschilds didn t have a washing machine like nearly everyone 80% now supposedly has Pinker dismisses ecology as a pastime of the affluent The educated and wealthy we become the eco conscious we become so everything works out He completely ignores the fact we have crossed the red line That the oceans are toxic that there is trash and plastic everywhere that the carbon levels are at unseemly record levels That the Paris Accord has not dented the damage one bit But he says the air over London is no longer purple every day The book ends with an interminable bashing of religion which Pinker considers intellectually bankrupt He cites all the usual contradictions and hypocrisy narrow mindedness and longing for a cleaner era that never existed Basically religion and enlightenment are oil and waterSo you can look at Enlightenment Now in two ways according to your own various biases Either the greater message of positivism is too important and correct to criticize Pinker s maddening claims or the maddening claims make the whole exercise suspectDavid Wineberg A paean to the status uo that can be summarized in four words don t worry be happy Actually five words as one is contracted This book will no doubt earn The Author A Lanyard author a lanyard every corporate boardroom and conservative think tank in the countryHis thesis is that Enlightenment principles must be defended but not against mindless consumerism not against the growing disparities of wealth not against the disruption of earth systems No the Enlightenment must be defended against The Strawman The author lets the cat out early in the book Intellectuals hate progress p39 Later Pinker says An axiom of progressive opinion especially in universities is that we continue to live in a deeply racist sexist and homophobic society "WHICH WOULD IMPLY THAT PROGRESSIVISM IS "would imply that progressivism is waste of time having accomplished nothing at decades of struggle p215 Did your aw Mindful Living with Aspergers Syndrome just drop too This is a recurring theme in the book binary positions If you feel that we have a ways to go regarding bigotry then you areust not appreciative enough of the gains intellectuals and progressives are anti Enlightenment Just five pages later he says that heightened concern is not futile moralizing but has brought measurable progress which means that continuing this concern can lead to greater progress still p220 Yes the idea of progressive thinking is that maintaining a heightened level of concern can motivate greater gains towards Enlightenment ideals unless that is you are an intellectual who when maintaining a heightened level of concern is ust being unappreciative of the meaty bone the status uo has already thrown youPinker says police shoot too being unappreciative of the meaty bone the status uo has already thrown youPinker says police shoot too people but it s not primarily a racial issue I wonder if the number of people who are shot with their empty hands in the air is a racial issue maybe a nice chart on that one would be interesting Maybe he should interview groups of people who live in fear of the police of being carded while walking of being stopped on the road because of their appearanceIn his effort to make all of his graphs show diminishing bads over time he has to fudge GHG emissions to show GHG emissions GDP This is a favourite trick of those who wish to delay any meaningful efforts to face climate change the atmosphere doesn t care how many goods and services an economy creates Emissions are continuing to increase as our economy expands Diluting this value with a GDP measure of dematerialized services is of an indicator of what public and personal work has been devoured by The Market than anything to do with emissions In plain words it is disingenuousProbably the most distressing aspect of this book is Pinker s unwillingness to engage in a meaningful critiue of left intellectuals who he seems to despise His references to them involve either gross dog whistle caricatures the butt of a Russian peasant oke or a cheap pot shot Osama Bin Laden owned a copy of a book by Noam Chomsky really Who cares And then he misrepresents Deconstruction and post modernism as the heartbeat of anti Enlightenment thought heirs of the anti rational Romantic thinkers of the past Any intellectual who explores truth making like the Continental philosophers or challenges the big empty narratives around freedom truth right etc becomes anti rational Then Pinker unloads the big clich that you can t make a rational statement about truth being socially constructed which to Pinker means that what is meant is that there is no truth binary thinking again and therefore anti rational for a page or two he dances around the logical impossibility of making a rational statement about an anti rationalist position as if anyone really holds this position But when it comes to his tribe he says in italics no Enlightenment thinker ever claimed that humans were consistently rational It s surprising that author could not see that this sentiment cuts both ways Eg no postmodernist thinker ever claimed that humans were consistently irrational The left too has missed the boat in its contempt for the market and its romance with Marxism What does this even mean What Marxism the critiue of capital I think this is most revealing as Pinker dodges any reference to capitalism or accurately a critiue of capitalism The romance with Marxism is a sign of Enlightenment principles at work as opposed to a dogmatic adherence to Capitalism as the best system in the past and by extrapolation the best system forever In addition to this bias Pinker is uick to point out what he considers bad about communist or leftist governments without evaluating their successes and failures on the same principled measures as he applies throughout the book for example rather than a chauvinistic dismissal of Venezuela under Chavez measure his gains or failures in child mortality longevity homicides poverty literacy and so on He critiues the numbers of left intellectuals in the acade. Iases Instead follow the data In seventy five aw dropping graphs Pinker shows that life health prosperity safety peace knowledge and happiness are on the rise not ust in the West but worldwide This progress is not the result of some cosmic force It is a gift of the Enlightenment the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishingFar from being a naïve hope the Enlightenment we now know has worked But than ever it needs a vigorous defense The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature. In his newest book Neoliberalism Now The Case for Positivism Scientism Atheism and Globalization Steven Pinker seeks to cash in on the Trump election by rushing out what is mostly a rehash of material from his previous book The Better Angels of Our Nature His method of reasoning and tone of argument seeks to preach to the choir rather than persuade the unaffiliated Unlike his classic works The Blank Slate and The Sense of Style this book will not be something we return to decades from now except as a time capsule into the conventional wisdom of Economist reading Davos attendees during the early 21st century The book is divided into three parts Part I This would make a great TedTalk Part II Where it doesn t lift entire sections from Better Angels this is Pinker s longwinded literature review of the work of economic historians If you are interested in learning about humanity s recent exponential growth in material wellbeing there are much better books on the subject that I highly recommend to you instead such as Bourgeois Dignity The Rational Optimist The Ultimate Resource or The Skeptical EnvironmentalistPart III Pinker uses pop psychology to pathologize anyone who disagrees with him politically He strangely criticizes social science departments for lacking ideological diversity only a few pages after having relied on the studies produced by these same departments to smugly dismiss opposing viewpoints Pinker s key syllogism appears to be that If you re not a global citizen who completely prioritizes humanity s material wellbeing over the interests of your community or country then you re a benighted bigot as whatever maximizes global utility is progressPinker s strawman of what constitutes progress who isn t in favor of progress allows him to avoid having to seriously contend with the core anxieties about the pace of globalization that underlie populist movements on the left and right For example his chapter about rising economic ineuality has an elephant shaped graph showing how globalization has occurred at the expense of people in developed nations who lack college degrees This fact suggests a rational basis for Sanders and Trump supporters to intuit that the idea of a common market with open markets and open borders may have reached the point of diminishing returns Pinker does not have a rejoinder to the arguments of cultural pessimists like Charles Murray other than that governments should further expand the welfare state to compensate the losers from free trade Pinker s hoped for future where the majority of Americans are living on the dole mollified by painkillers and online entertainment is not progress no matter what Pinker and other technophiles may think Everyone should read Enlightenment Now It seems odd to reuire a defense of reason science humanism and progress but we suffer if we do not understand how far humanity has come by application of these principles Steven Pinker has done us the favor of chronicling that progress with data in a compellingly written volume that challenges common assumptions The news cycle and many prominent intellectuals would have us think that the world is becoming a darker scarier place yet the opposite is true While pessimism makes for good news coverage and stokes political fires denying progress causes us to mistrust the systems we ve put in place Combine that mistrust with a lack of understanding of WHY we put those systems in place and you get setbacks like a Trump presidency a burgeoning flat earther movement and anti vaccine advocacy Acknowledging humanity s successes is not foolishly optimistic or defeatist rather it should inspire us to work toward an even better future because we know our efforts will not be in vain This is not a Panglossian best of all possible worlds rather it is ackowledgement that we live in the best world SO FAR A uote from Barack Obama summarizes this view If you had to choose a moment in history to be born and you did not know ahead of time who you would be you didn t know whether you were going to be born into a wealthy family or a poor family what country you d be born in whether you were going to be a man or a woman if you had to choose blindly what moment you d want to be born you d choose nowThis account of progress plays out on a variety of uantifiable measures and it s not ust good news for denizens of first world countries Pinker is careful to tease apart the trends that typically begin in developed countries and then spread globally Average life expectancy worldwide was stalled at 30 years until the late 1800s but has now skyrocketed to 71 Child mortality has plummeted For an American woman being pregnant a century ago was almost as dangerous as having breast cancer today Infectious diseases are being driven to extinction and many already have Caloric intake has increased across the world even as population continues to grow to the point that in many countries the poorest people are over fed rather than under fed Undernourishment is fast becoming a thing of the past and famines are now incredibly rare and lack the destructive potential of their predecessors even a century ago All people are becoming on average wealthier wealth ineuality is a separate topic that is also addressed but the trend is still positive across the world and have disposable income and opportunities to learn and travel Literacy has grown and with it I Work hours have decreased and child labor is in steep decline Violence and death are down across almost every single measure as Pinker detailed in another book The Better Angels of Our Nature and expands on here Representative government has spread to a majority of the world s countries and individuals These improvements surprisingly also play out in sustainability a chapter in individuals These improvements surprisingly also play out in sustainability a chapter in that challenged many of my assumptions energy use pollution and population growth Pinker is no Pollyana he does carefully address some of our most pressing problems namely climate change and the threat of nuclear war Even for these serious uandaries he provides cause for optimism and some potential answersAll these charts and trends have ragged trajectories that dip and rise along their paths None of these improvements come all at once or unceasingly As Pinker says that would be magic and science isn t magic There are reasons for these improvements and those reasons can be applied to solving new problems Pinker also unpacks the importance of appealing to reason the power of scientific thinking and a basis for secular morality that transcends religious identity He identifies and argues against the a basis for secular morality that transcends religious identity He identifies and argues against the that oppose the ideals of the Enlightenment This is a long book but it is important timely and a delight to read Steven Pinker makes a strong argument for enlightenment principles and essentially not giving up on the world because Donald Trump is president We are not contrary to popular belief going backwards and have in fact made astounding progress in all measurable areas such as wealth health safety education and eualityFaced with the numbers it s hard to disagree though I went into this fairly convinced already We do not by any measure live in a great world but we do live in a better world than we did fifty one hundred one thousand years ago Pinker presents this information using charts and tables in this extensively researched bookHowever some of his claims are not really backed up by the evidence either because he uses limited sources or engages in some avoiding the issue fallacies The lengthy breakdown of how much things cost compared to how much they cost in say the Middle Ages is irrelevant to the discussion of wealth because Pinker doesn t consider new kinds of expenses mortgages insurance electric gas and phone bills etc I also looked up a couple of the references he uses and now I m skeptical about the others One example I checked on was his "Source For The Claim That Black People Are No Likely "for the claim that black people are no likely be shot by police than white people in America Obviously this is a hot topic and a controversial claim to make His single source for such a bold claim here actually found that black people were likely to be shot by police than white people but offered an opinion as to why this might be Other pieces disagreeHe arrives at a number of these grand conclusions based on a single article which is often an opinion piece He cherry picks information to suit his argument and relies on the unlikelihood that anyone will go check his sources It s a shame to be honest because I think the central argument is a strong one that we are indeed making progress There s a whole lot to suggest that the world isn t going to hell in a handbasket But Pinker actually risks fuelling a bleak opposite of societal pessimism While I don t disagree that we are faced with a lot of doom foreshadowing news stories there is also an ever growing misconception that ineuality is over That our society is colourblind and that women are now treated no different to men Pinker s distortion of facts often supports this theory and it is incorrectThings are overall getting better but over exaggerating the extent to which improvements have been made does not help anyone Well other than making rich white men feel better about the state of the world they rule overBlog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube This concoction and Roslings similar Go on everything is super Factfulness were the reasons for me to leave the soft space of some humanities that are nothing than appeasement belittlement and deception A mix of different uotes from the book and thoughts and impressions I had while consuming this fairytale Some points might be redundant sorry for that but this is what happens when t You ve never had it so good and Steven Pinker has the stats and charts over 70 to prove it Wars are. If you think the world is coming to an end think again people are living longer healthier freer and happier lives and while our problems are formidable the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and scienceIs the world really falling apart Is the ideal of progress obsolete In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom which play to our psychological ,
Enlightenment Now The Case for Reason Science Humanism and Progress