Thoughts from Pinker

One of our favorite thinkers is the Harvard-based psychologist Steven Pinker, who recently answered a few questions for the UK magazine Prospect. Here are a few bits worth sharing:

Are people better off today than 100 years ago? "Unquestionably! Rates of death from war, homicide and genocide are far lower, even if they're still too high. Globally, people are longer-lived, healthier, richer and better educated. Knowledge has exponentiated and is available to all. Technology allows us to experience the world's delights while staying in touch with our loved ones."

What is the biggest problem of all? "Climate change won't be mitigated by personal abstemiousness, undoing the industrial revolution, or intermittent sources like solar and wind. The numbers are fearsome, particularly when you include the justifiable ambition of the rest of the world to get rich. Massive infrastructure changes, including new nuclear technologies, are needed."

Your favourite saying? "From the 1st century BC Rabbi Hillel: 'If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?'"

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