• Title: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
  • Author: Steven Pinker Arthur Morey
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 287
  • Format: Audiobook
  • The Better Angels of Our Nature Why Violence Has Declined We ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking What is the world coming to But we seldom ask How bad was the world in the past In this startling new book th
    We ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, What is the world coming to But we seldom ask, How bad was the world in the past In this startling new book, the best selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species exiWe ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, What is the world coming to But we seldom ask, How bad was the world in the past In this startling new book, the best selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species existence.Evidence of a bloody history has always been around us the genocides in the Old Testament and crucifixions in the New the gory mutilations in Shakespeare and Grimm the British monarchs who beheaded their relatives and the American founders who dueled with their rivals the nonchalant treatment in popular culture of wife beating, child abuse, and the extermination of native peoples Now the decline in these brutal practices can be quantified.With the help of than a hundred graphs and maps, Pinker presents some astonishing numbers Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century The murder rate in medieval Europe was than thirty times what it is today Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then suddenly were targeted for abolition Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the numbers they did a few decades ago Rape, battering, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse, cruelty to animals all substantially down.How could this have happened, if human nature has not changed What led people to stop sacrificing children, stabbing each other at the dinner table, or burning cats and disemboweling criminals as forms of popular entertainment Was it reading novels, cultivating table manners, fearing the police, or turning their energies to making money Should the nuclear bomb get the Nobel Peace Prize for preventing World War III Does rock and roll deserve the blame for the doubling of violence in the 1960s and abortion deserve credit for the reversal in the 1990s Not exactly, Pinker argues The key to explaining the decline of violence is to understand the inner demons that incline us toward violence such as revenge, sadism, and tribalism and the better angels that steer us away Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, bargain rather than plunder, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence.With the panache and intellectual zeal that have made his earlier books international best sellers and literary classics, Pinker will force you to rethink your deepest beliefs about progress, modernity, and human nature This gripping book is sure to be among the most debated of the century so far.

    One Reply to “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”

    1. Breathtakingly mindless for 2/5 of the book, blowhard the whole way through.Sometimes a good joke is more revealing than 800 pages of blowhardness. Pinker gives himself away with this quote by George Carlin on page 622: I think motivation is overrated. You show me some lazy prick who's lying around all day watching game shows and stroking his penis, and I'll show you someone who's not causing any fucking trouble!I hope I am not the only one who thinks it is not necessarily a good thing to be red [...]

    2. VIOLENCE HAS DECLINED, AND I WILL KICK THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF ANYONE WHO SAYS IT HASN'TDisappointingly, Pinker strikes a slightly less confrontational tone than that, but the basic idea is the same. His thesis is that violence of every kind, from international warfare down to murder and corporal punishment, has been on a steady decline throughout human history, up to and including the present day – and not only does he make this case in considerable detail, but he goes on to give a very wide-r [...]

    3. The Skeptic’s PeacePinker warns the reader upfront that the book is huge, and with more than 800 dense pages there is no question about it. It is so wide-ranging that it is fortunate it has such a memorable title - the reader might have easily lost track of where it is all supposed to be heading. Individually, any single section of the book is a throughly entertaining masterpiece, but as a whole, in terms of coherence, and on how the thesis and the direction of the arguments hold together, the [...]

    4. This seems like a stunning misstep by the normally brilliant Steven Pinker. His ability to write with extraordinary force and clarity has been demonstrated repeatedly in two separate areas of expertise -- linguistics and cognitive science. Unfortunately, the brilliance of his earlier books in those areas is nowhere in evidence in this regrettable dog's breakfast of a book. I found it almost unreadable - poorly argued, undisciplined, self-indulgent, and - despite its grotesquely bloated length (8 [...]

    5. When an academic steps outside his or her field of expertise, it's best to brace yourself for a torrent of nonsense. Steven Pinker, whose work in linguistics and psychology I greatly enjoy, has made a habit of using that work as a springboard to foist his pet political theories on the public. Whereas his previous attempt in The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature was a vehicle for his ideological ramblings, it was at least not based on a gaping statistical flaw and had some value in r [...]

    6. In this book, Steven Pinker explores a very controversial thesis, that is, violence is declining. Different types of violence are declining on multiple time scales. It would seem like the twentieth century had some major wars and plenty of genocide to make his thesis sound rather foolish. But in the first seven chapters he shows lots and lots of statistics to back up his thesis. In the eighth and ninth chapters he also explores the scientific reasons for violence and the reasons for increasingly [...]

    7. I have a peripheral awareness that Pinker awakens red penitus in a goodly proportion of his stalwart readers: but I don’t know why. I shan’t delve into this before I write up ‘better angels’: don’t want to be distracted by ‘noise’. 800 pages of socio-economic postulating: always an inexact science, is going to rub someone the wrong way hither or thither. We see what we want to see, and 800 pages of the ‘humanities’ is like waving a red flag to a bull: plenty of scope to flare u [...]

    8. I love optimistic books, and there is a lot of optimism in the almost 800 pages of "The better angels of our nature". At the same time, I find it impossible to give a single opinion about this behemoth of a book, because I found some of its elements truly excellent, some ok, and some absolutely scream-out-loud dreadful. In brief: - the great: the quality of the writing is superb. This is one of the best books I've ever read in terms of clarity of exposition and effectiveness of the writing. Also [...]

    9. Steven Pinker has written a monster of a book. He has used his intelligence to crunch a huge volume of material. He has made a number of great points to which I'm sure to be referring often.Yet despite all the insights and accompanying drum rolls, I am suspicious of the dramatic hypothesis, the grand prediction that humankind has learned in any permanent sense to be kinder and gentler. That hypothesis is a welcome change from all the dystopian predictions, and I do think I, and western civilizat [...]

    10. Steven Pinker certain ranges widely in intellectual circles. Although he is nominally a professor of psychology at Harvard, but even with specialties (per ) in experimental psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, he somehow dove into history to present one of the best TED Talks, back in 2007: Steven Pinker on the myth of violence (watch those nineteen minutes, if you haven't already).Wonderfully, he has now followed that presentation up with an entire volume.Peter Singer wrote the glowing re [...]

    11. Are you afraid of being of being attacked or murdered? Do you think our society is becoming more violent and less safe? If you watch the news, read the papers and listen to politicians it would be logical to be afraid of the seemingly rising tide of violence and criminality in the world. However, Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature will show you your feelings are misguided- crime and violence in society is lower than it has ever been, and our often idealized past (even the recent pas [...]

    12. Steven Pinker’s "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined" is a big ambitious book. Perhaps too big, perhaps too ambitious. And perhaps, too sprawling for its own good. One could opt for a Peace Studies reader and get a more eclectic taste of what research is out there. Would it be as comprehensive as this book? Maybe, maybe not, but you would get the benefit of tasting the many kinds of literature through many different voices. Here, we get a great deal of peace science, beh [...]

    13. Make me a t-shirt that says “I read an 800-page book and all I got from it was this lousy review.”The Good:There’s a nice irreverent romp through the Bible, he shows what monsters "chivalrous" knights were, shows why we shouldn't be so afraid of terrorist attacks or child abductions or Iran. The bad: everything else.How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Conquistadors:“Though imperial conquest and rule can themselves be brutal, they do reduce endemic violence among the conquered” [...]

    14. This book is sure to anger or confuse just about everyone who cares about the world today, but particularly those who love to hate the idea of cultural progress: "What? You gotta be kidding - violence has declined over time? No frikin' way - just look at the news." But be assured - after you read only a few pages of this book, you'll be reminded of what life used be like in the foreign country called The Past and you just might change your tune and recognize how, for large sectors of the world's [...]

    15. After a steady recent diet of short-attention-span theater internet surfing, it was very interesting to dive into a dense read that took me a week to chew through. (I am not a very fast reader, but I'm usually faster than that.) The exercise of following a really long, complex, sustained argument was probably good for me.Seven chapters of convincing examination of historical evidence to the best approximation that could be managed, all of which jibes well with what I know or have experienced of [...]

    16. Pinker goes into voluminous detail to show us that violence has steadily declined in human society since prehistoric times. In this well-structured work rich with statistics, charts, and the ideas of influential scholars he identifies six prevailing trends: The Pacification Process, the Civilizing Process, the Humanitarian Revolution, the Long Peace, the New Peace, and the Rights Revolutions. Turning from history to psychology he identifies five inner demons that lead us to violence: Predation, [...]

    17. Loathing is the word. It infuriated me. You'd think that after all these years one would stop being surprised by this style of typical new-atheist/liberal argumentation but when I see this much cherrypicking, oversimplification, handwaving and western supremacism shoved into a single book, I still get all worked up. And of course, it doesn't help that they call themselves "The Brights" and "The Enlightened" etc. I mean, who does that? Even if I was intellectually convinced by their arguments, I [...]

    18. Mind-blowing book! I have never read a book about history and statistics that was this interesting. I love how Steven Pinker argues with countless studies and a great logical validity. This book is a must-read book for anyone interested in sociology, history, politics and environment. This book breaks the long romanticized picture of the past which has been filled with nostalgia and confirmation biases.

    19. Did this really take two and a half years to read? I see that it did. I picked it up after a new-ish boyfriend press-ganged me into seeing Pinker talking about his new book - this one - in Edinburgh, and thinking that it sounded fascinating and potentially relevant to a PhD I was considering doing. Well, the PhD idea is discarded, and as for the boyfriend, I swapped Pinker for Susanna Clarke and moved in with him. He finished my book first.The premise of The Better Angels of Our Nature is that t [...]

    20. I have recently learned about some stunning statistical anomalies and misinterpretations in here which I had shamefully missed. A simple understanding of Chinese history in the 20th century already seems to be a profound stumbling block for this hypothesis. The jury is out. Further deliberation continues.

    21. Audio Books : Educational : MP3/Variable : Englishblurb - We've all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, "What is the world coming to?" But we seldom ask, "How bad was the world in the past?" In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species' existence.Evidence of a bloody history has always been around us: the [...]

    22. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. --The Federalist, No. 51, James MadisonThis is easily one of the best books of 2011, and I suppose it must already be earmarked as a Pulitzer finalist. It’s about violence, but so much more than that since it strikes at the very core of human nature, the hum [...]

    23. I better admit up front that I don’t have any intuitive or educated grasp on statistics, and without actually sitting down with the data sets, I haven’t the least idea of whether they’re appropriately chosen, correctly delineated, etc, etc. I do note, though, that Steven Pinker is a respected academic, Penguin are a respected publisher, and I was directed to reading this by another academic. Where he talks about history, he seems to be broadly correct, and his explanation of his graphs and [...]

    24. Pinker has disappointed me for so long that it is no surprise to me to discover that this is the work of a charlatan. Here on try David Giltinan's review .But also zcommunications/realit is worthy of a read.Is his basic message pretty much that if first world white people aren't dying, then violence is decreasing? And has this been greeted with great approbation in - ummm - the first white world? Oh deary me.

    25. In reviewing The Better Angels of our Nature, I find myself struggling to avoid the absolutes that Pinker so deftly dodges in this epic study of the history of violence in humankinds history. This book is possibly the best structured arguement I have read (even if it does result in a book that you clearly need to pick up with both hands so as to not inflict spinal damage on yourself) and leaves you with a fresh perspective on things that you took as given in so many ways.To even begin to try and [...]

    26. This is a sprawling mess of a book. Flashes of arguably brilliant insight alternate with meandering musings. Fascinating narrow conclusions are drawn from carefully parsed evidence—and then sweeping conclusions are drawn from highly dubious evidence. Historical insights are used incisively in an argument—then the next argument is undermined by total historical illiteracy. At the end, the reader is left uncertain whether he has read 800 pages of genius, 800 pages of authoritative-sounding-but [...]

    27. Stunning book! Probably the most fascinating nonfiction I've ever found!In recorded form, this was 36+ hours long, but it was divided into sections that seemed like full books in themselves.What a work of scholarship! In order to demonstrate the shift toward greater kindness and less violence in the world, Steven Pinker first examined, thoroughly, the many forms that cruelty has taken since our earliest primate ancestors. He then summarized the relevant studies in the sciences and social science [...]

    28. Ok small confession to make. I was hoping to purchase this piece on the day it became available, power through it, and be one of the first to post a review on .This was before seeing the thingBut after pumping through the ~700 pages I feel its worth the size. Pinker dives through history, philosophy, psychology and politics to identify the apparent causes for the 'decline in violence.'I would describe reading the book as a combo of history, psychology and professional polemic. Obviously in picki [...]

    29. This was really really good, as in, maybe the best book I've read that year. Time and again, I was shocked to find subjects treated of keen interest to me, or which read like Pinker had taken some of my essays but done them way better (on terrorism, on the expanding circle, etc.); even so, I was surprised to learn new things (resource problems don't correlate well with violence?).I initially thought I might excerpt some parts of it for an essay or article, but as the quotes kept piling up, I rea [...]

    30. There is a reason that I made reason the last of the better angels of our nature. Once a society has a degree of civilization in place, it is reason that offers the greatest degree of hope for further reducing violence. The other angels have been with us for as long as we've been human, but during most of our long existence they have been unable to prevent war, slavery, despotism, institutionalized sadism, and the oppression of women. As important as they are, empathy, self-control, and the mora [...]

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