SALT: Steven Pinker, “The Decline of Violence”

Dates: October 8, 2012
Location: San Francisco, California

It’s pretty rare for a psychologist to permanently change how we think about history, but Harvard’s Steven Pinker has done that with his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature.

First, he presents exhaustive evidence that the tragic view of history is wrong and always has been. A close examination of the data shows that in every millennium, century, and decade, humans have been drastically reducing violence, cruelty, and injustice—right down to the present year. A trend that consistent is not luck; it has to be structural.

So, second, he boldly founds a discipline that might as well be called “psychohistory.” As a Harvard psychologist and public intellectual (author of The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate), he sought causes for the phenomenon he’s reporting—why violence has declined. Real ethical progress, he found, came from a sequence of institutions, norms, cultural practices, and mental tricks employed by whole societies to change their collective mind and behavior in a peaceful direction.

Humanity’s great project of civilizing itself is far from complete, but Pinker’s survey of how far we’ve come builds confidence that the task will be completed, and he illuminates how to get there.

October 8th – 7:30pm to 9:00pm PST
Herbst Theatre on Van Ness Ave. San Francisco, California

To be sure of a seat:
• Long Now Members can use the discount code on the Pinker Seminar page to reserve 2 free seats.
• You can purchase tickets for $10 each.
• Tune into the live audio stream for Long Now Members at 7:30 PST – become a member for just $8 a month. Share this talk: Steven Pinker, “The Decline of Violence” Long Now talk on 10/8 http://goo.gl/q7wlX

Herbst Theatre on Van Ness Ave.  San Francisco, California

To be sure of a seat:

 Long Now Members can use the discount code on the Pinker Seminar page to reserve 2 free seats.

 You can purchase tickets for $10 each.

 Tune into the live audio stream for Long Now Members at 7:30 PST - become a member for just $8 a month. Share this talk: Steven Pinker, “The Decline of Violence” Long Now talk on 10/8