Steven Pinker on the History of Violence: A Happy Tale

In July, the held its annu­al “Mas­ter Class” in Napa, Cal­i­for­nia and brought togeth­er some influ­en­tial thinkers to talk about “The Sci­ence of Human Nature.” The high­lights includ­ed:

Prince­ton psy­chol­o­gist Daniel Kah­ne­man on the mar­vels and the flaws of intu­itive think­ing; Har­vard math­e­mat­i­cal biol­o­gist Mar­tin Nowak on the evo­lu­tion of coop­er­a­tion; Har­vard psy­chol­o­gist Steven Pinker on the his­to­ry of vio­lence; UC-San­ta Bar­bara evo­lu­tion­ary psy­chol­o­gist Leda Cos­mides on the archi­tec­ture of moti­va­tion; UC-San­ta Bar­bara neu­ro­sci­en­tist Michael Gaz­zani­ga on neu­ro­science and the law; and Prince­ton reli­gious his­to­ri­an Elaine Pagels on The Book of Rev­e­la­tions.

The has now start­ed mak­ing videos from the class avail­able online, includ­ing, this week, Steven Pinker’s talk on the his­to­ry of vio­lence. You can watch Pinker’s full 86 minute talk here (sor­ry, we could­n’t embed it on our site.) Or, if you want the quick gist of Pinker’s think­ing, then watch the short clip above. In five min­utes, Pinker tells you why vio­lence is steadi­ly trend­ing down, and why some things are actu­al­ly going right in our momentarily/monetarily trou­bled world.

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