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Enlightenment Now - Steven Pinker


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  • 4 weeks later...

Just ordered on audio. I'm really liking the rise of the honest, thoughtful lefty's.

 

Not sure Pinker would call himself a lefty. He gets attacked by both sides. I think the left dislikes a lot of his evolutionary psychology stuff...

 

That's when you know you're an independent thinker: Once one side accuses you of being on the other side and vice versa, and all you're trying to do is figure out what's what on a case by case basis, so you don't fit into the nice arbitrary binary tribal divide that most people slot themselves into.

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Just ordered on audio. I'm really liking the rise of the honest, thoughtful lefty's.

 

Not sure Pinker would call himself a lefty. He gets attacked by both sides. I think the left dislikes a lot of his evolutionary psychology stuff...

 

That's when you know you're an independent thinker: Once one side accuses you of being on the other side and vice versa, and all you're trying to do is figure out what's what on a case by case basis, so you don't fit into the nice arbitrary binary tribal divide that most people slot themselves into.

 

I thought he considered himself a classical liberal. His views on gender certainly aren't post modernist. It seems many independent thinkers are finding themselves in no man's land lately.

 

It's interesting how often people's thinking is binary. It's to the point where I have to couch everything I say in "insofar" "inasmuch" "to the degree/extent". It's really bizarre to me folks can't contextualize anything I say and consider my implied probability, but they can't! If they would just listen it would be clear i was speaking of a small majority or a substantial minority etc.

 

About a year ago having dinner with two couples from SF in france after a day of climbing we had a conversation that ended, reductio ad absurdam, with me asking them if it would be okay to transport (a la star trek) an unwanted baby from a pre abortive mother. After overcoming their objections regarding the safety of transporters, they all said no, it's the mother's choice. In deep space 9 this was done between Nourice and Kaiko.

 

There's no room for nuance in a binary party line. The beginning of the conversation started with, "is it a human life at 8 months".

 

Anyways, Steven is a interesting guy. Thanks for the reminder.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just yesterday I listened to an interview with him on Joe Rogan's podcast.  It is episode #1073 from Feb 04, 2018 (podcast, youTube).  The book sounds interesting, I plan on reading it. A long time ago I also planned on reading "The Better Angels of Our Nature", but completely forgot about it until I listened to this interview yesterday.

 

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Just yesterday I listened to an interview with him on Joe Rogan's podcast.  It is episode #1073 from Feb 04, 2018 (podcast, youTube).  The book sounds interesting, I plan on reading it. A long time ago I also planned on reading "The Better Angels of Our Nature", but completely forgot about it until I listened to this interview yesterday.

 

I suggest 'The Blank Slate' by Pinker, it's a great book.

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Just yesterday I listened to an interview with him on Joe Rogan's podcast.  It is episode #1073 from Feb 04, 2018 (podcast, youTube).  The book sounds interesting, I plan on reading it. A long time ago I also planned on reading "The Better Angels of Our Nature", but completely forgot about it until I listened to this interview yesterday.

 

I suggest 'The Blank Slate' by Pinker, it's a great book.

 

Thanks.  I'll check that one out too.  He didn't mention his book by that name specifically in the interview, but he did talk a little about his opposition to the theory that humans are born a "blank slate".

 

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Just yesterday I listened to an interview with him on Joe Rogan's podcast.  It is episode #1073 from Feb 04, 2018 (podcast, youTube).  The book sounds interesting, I plan on reading it. A long time ago I also planned on reading "The Better Angels of Our Nature", but completely forgot about it until I listened to this interview yesterday.

 

I suggest 'The Blank Slate' by Pinker, it's a great book.

 

Thanks.  I'll check that one out too.  He didn't mention his book by that name specifically in the interview, but he did talk a little about his opposition to the theory that humans are born a "blank slate".

 

That's the one. It's a good overview of the field of evolutionary psychology. Moral Animal by Robert Wright is similar.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have listened to him talk live. It was pretty good talk though very reminiscent and perhaps overlapping with Hans Rosling's presentations. He pretty much showed the graphs of progress in all areas of life through last centuries.

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I like Mr. Pinker's work but his optimism is quite monolithic.

Here's a critical look at his most recent book.

"This approach holds a certain appeal for wonks who may hope that today’s problems can be fixed by a set of inspiring TED Talk slides."

https://newrepublic.com/article/147391/hype-best

 

Maybe the curve of human progress is like the stock market.

It will tend to go up, but there may be intermittent periods of regression.

What is fascinating is that humans always want more and take a lot for granted.

Maybe that's the spirit that has always driven humanity forward?

 

Hoping for the best.

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I like Mr. Pinker's work but his optimism is quite monolithic.

Here's a critical look at his most recent book.

"This approach holds a certain appeal for wonks who may hope that today’s problems can be fixed by a set of inspiring TED Talk slides."

https://newrepublic.com/article/147391/hype-best

 

Maybe the curve of human progress is like the stock market.

It will tend to go up, but there may be intermittent periods of regression.

What is fascinating is that humans always want more and take a lot for granted.

Maybe that's the spirit that has always driven humanity forward?

 

Hoping for the best.

 

Not a fan of the article. He's essentially saying, it's better but what if something really bad happened, then it wouldn't be better. Also, people suffering less doesn't address how people feel, people don't feel better. Or, if we end up annihilating ourselves, it's all for naught.

 

All of the above seems to be the basic human operating system, which is why Pinker writes the books he writes. Outside of nihilistic feelings or potential annihilation, things are getting better. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

 

If we don't know why we're successful, we won't continue to do what's worked. You won't notice the red flags. We'll self sabotage.

 

It's surprising to me how difficult it is to have a conversation about how much things are improving.

 

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« things are getting better »

 

I very much agree with that.

 

The point of the post is that this may not be a straight line and I’m also trying to understand « how difficult it is to have a conversation about how much things are improving. ».

 

Some help from Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, which I highly recommend, when he describes how satisfaction never really reaches expecations because expectations may be an elusive and recalibrating target.

 

“The most common reaction of the human mind to achievement is not satisfaction, but craving for more.”

 

https://www.amazon.com/Homo-Deus-Brief-History-Tomorrow/dp/0062464310

 

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“The most common reaction of the human mind to achievement is not satisfaction, but craving for more.”

 

I agree.  And if this wasn't the case humanity would still be hunting and gathering.  The relentless striving for more is what has gotten us this far.

Look at Jeff Bezos, he's worth over $100B, why does he go to work?  Why doesn't he cash out and live the good life?

 

My wife and I were just talking about this the other day.  We could probably buy a tiny house someplace with a low cost of living and retire now in our 40's, but we won't, because we want more.  I'm sure I'll work until I either physically or mentally can't.

 

Humans aren't wired for contentment with what they have, and thank goodness for that.

 

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  • 5 months later...

Just yesterday I listened to an interview with him on Joe Rogan's podcast.  It is episode #1073 from Feb 04, 2018 (podcast, youTube).  The book sounds interesting, I plan on reading it. A long time ago I also planned on reading "The Better Angels of Our Nature", but completely forgot about it until I listened to this interview yesterday.

 

If you don't have the "The Better Angels of Our Nature" yet, the kindle version is on sale today for $2.99

 

https://www.amazon.com/Better-Angels-Our-Nature-Violence-ebook/dp/B0052REUW0?_bbid=10568389&tag=bookpage2-20

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Just ordered on audio. I'm really liking the rise of the honest, thoughtful lefty's.

 

Not sure Pinker would call himself a lefty. He gets attacked by both sides. I think the left dislikes a lot of his evolutionary psychology stuff...

 

That's when you know you're an independent thinker: Once one side accuses you of being on the other side and vice versa, and all you're trying to do is figure out what's what on a case by case basis, so you don't fit into the nice arbitrary binary tribal divide that most people slot themselves into.

 

Or maybe it's because he loudly declared himself to be an atheist.  Most on the left are religious, as are those on the right, that's the main reason you get the bashing.  Was the same for Feynman. Einstein also got bashed when he expressed his opinion.

 

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