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Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, psycholinguist, popular science author and public intellectual. He is an advocate of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

Steven Pinker
Pinker in 2011
Born
Steven Arthur Pinker

(1954-09-18)September 18, 1954 (age 67)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
NationalityCanada
US
EducationMcGill University (BA)
Harvard University (PhD)
Notable work
Spouse(s)
AwardsTroland Award (1993, National Academy of Sciences),
Henry Dale Prize (2004, Royal Institution),
Walter P. Kistler Book Award (2005),
Humanist of the Year award (2006, issued by the AHA),
George Miller Prize (2010, Cognitive Neuroscience Society), Richard Dawkins Award (2013)
Scientific career
FieldsEvolutionary psychology
Experimental psychology
Cognitive science
Psycholinguistics
Visual cognition
InstitutionsHarvard University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
New College of the Humanities
ThesisThe Representation of Three-dimensional Space in Mental Images(1979)
Doctoral advisorStephen Kosslyn
InfluencesNoam Chomsky · Jerry Fodor · Richard Dawkins · Robert Trivers · Leda Cosmides · John Tooby · Ray Jackendoff · Daniel Dennett · Judith Rich Harris · Donald Symons · Rebecca Goldstein · Thomas Hobbes · Thomas Schelling · Peter Singer · Norbert Elias · Roy Baumeister
(0:27)
from the BBC program Desert Island Discs, June 30, 2013
Websitestevenpinker.com

Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and his academic specializations are visual cognition and developmental linguistics. His experimental subjects include mental imagery, shape recognition, visual attention, children's language development, regular and irregular phenomena in language, the neural bases of words and grammar, as well as the psychology of cooperation and communication, including euphemism, innuendo, emotional expression, and common knowledge. He has written two technical books that proposed a general theory of language acquisition and applied it to children's learning of verbs. In particular, his work with Alan Prince published in 1989 critiqued the connectionist model of how children acquire the past tense of English verbs, positing that children use default rules, such as adding -ed to make regular forms, sometimes in error, but are obliged to learn irregular forms one by one.

Pinker is also the author of nine books for general audiences. The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007) describe aspects of psycholinguistics and cognitive science, and include accounts of his own research, positing that language is an innate behavior shaped by natural selection and adapted to our communication needs. Pinker's The Sense of Style (2014) is a general language-oriented style guide. Pinker's book The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011) posits that violence in human societies has generally steadily declined over time, and identifies six major trends and five historical forces of this decline, the most important being the humanitarian revolution brought by the Enlightenment and its associated cultivation of reason. Enlightenment Now (2018) elaborates this argument by using social science data to show a general improvement of the human condition over recent history brought by reason, science and humanism. The nature and importance of reason is further explored in his next book Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters (2021).

In 2004, Pinker was named in Time's "The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today", and in the years 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2011 in Foreign Policy's list of "Top 100 Global Thinkers". Pinker was also included in Prospect Magazine's top 10 "World Thinkers" in 2013. He has won awards from the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Humanist Association. He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. He has served on the editorial boards of a variety of journals, and on the advisory boards of several institutions. Pinker was the chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary from 2008 to 2018.

Contents

Pinker was born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1954, to a middle-class Jewish family. His grandparents emigrated to Canada from Poland and Romania in 1926, and owned a small necktie factory in Montreal. His father was a lawyer. His mother eventually became a high-school vice-principal. His brother is a policy analyst for the Canadian government, while his sister, Susan Pinker, is a psychologist and writer who authored The Sexual Paradox and The Village Effect.

Pinker married Nancy Etcoff in 1980 and they divorced in 1992; he married again in 1995 and again divorced. His third wife, whom he married in 2007, is the novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein. He has two stepdaughters: the novelist Yael Goldstein Love and the poet Danielle Blau.

Pinker graduated from Dawson College in 1973. He graduated from McGill University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then did doctoral studies in experimental psychology at Harvard University under Stephen Kosslyn, receiving a Ph.D. in 1979. He did research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a year, then became a professor at Harvard and then Stanford University.

From 1982 until 2003, Pinker taught at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, was the co-director of the center for Cognitive science (1985–1994), and eventually became the director of the center for Cognitive neuroscience (1994–1999), taking a one-year sabbatical at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1995–96. Since 2003, he has been serving as the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard and between 2008 and 2013 he also held the title of Harvard College Professor in recognition of his dedication to teaching. He currently gives lectures as a visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities, a private college in London.

Pinker adopted atheism at 13, but at various times was a serious "cultural Jew."

Pinker's research on visual cognition, begun in collaboration with his thesis adviser, Stephen Kosslyn, showed that mental images represent scenes and objects as they appear from a specific vantage point (rather than capturing their intrinsic three-dimensional structure), and thus correspond to the neuroscientist David Marr's theory of a "two-and-a-half-dimensional sketch." He also showed that this level of representation is used in visual attention, and in object recognition (at least for asymmetrical shapes), contrary to Marr's theory that recognition uses viewpoint-independent representations.

In psycholinguistics, Pinker became known early in his career for promoting computational learning theory as a way to understand language acquisition in children. He wrote a tutorial review of the field followed by two books that advanced his own theory of language acquisition, and a series of experiments on how children acquire the passive, dative, and locative constructions. These books were Language Learnability and Language Development (1984), in Pinker's words "outlin[ing] a theory of how children acquire the words and grammatical structures of their mother tongue", and Learnability and Cognition: The Acquisition of Argument Structure (1989), in Pinker's words "focus[ing] on one aspect of this process, the ability to use different kinds of verbs in appropriate sentences, such as intransitive verbs, transitive verbs, and verbs taking different combinations of complements and indirect objects". He then focused on verbs of two kinds that illustrate what he considers to be the processes required for human language: retrieving whole words from memory, like the past form of the irregular verb "bring", namely "brought"; and using rules to combine (parts of) words, like the past form of the regular verb "walk", namely "walked".

In 1988 Pinker and Alan Prince published a critique of a connectionist model of the acquisition of the past tense (a textbook problem in language acquisition), followed by a series of studies of how people use and acquire the past tense. This included a monograph on children's regularization of irregular forms and his popular 1999 book, Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. Pinker argued that language depends on two things, the associative remembering of sounds and their meanings in words, and the use of rules to manipulate symbols for grammar. He presented evidence against connectionism, where a child would have to learn all forms of all words and would simply retrieve each needed form from memory, in favour of the older alternative theory, the use of words and rules combined by generative phonology. He showed that mistakes made by children indicate the use of default rules to add suffixes such as "-ed": for instance 'breaked' and 'comed' for 'broke' and 'came'. He argued that this shows that irregular verb-forms in English have to be learnt and retrieved from memory individually, and that the children making these errors were predicting the regular "-ed" ending in an open-ended way by applying a mental rule. This rule for combining verb stems and the usual suffix can be expressed as Vpast → Vstem + d, where V is a verb and d is the regular ending. Pinker further argued that since the ten most frequently occurring English verbs (be, have, do, say, make ... ) are all irregular, while 98.2% of the thousand least common verbs are regular, there is a "massive correlation" of frequency and irregularity. He explains this by arguing that every irregular form, such as 'took', 'came' and 'got', has to be committed to memory by the children in each generation, or else lost, and that the common forms are the most easily memorized. Any irregular verb that falls in popularity past a certain point is lost, and all future generations will treat it as a regular verb instead.

In 1990, Pinker, with Paul Bloom, published a paper arguing that the human language faculty must have evolved through natural selection. The article provided arguments for a continuity based view of language evolution, contrary to then current discontinuity based theories that see language as suddenly appearing with the advent of Homo sapiens as a kind of evolutionary accident. This discontinuity based view was prominently argued by two of the main authorities, linguist Noam Chomsky and Stephen Jay Gould. The paper became widely cited and created renewed interest in the evolutionary prehistory of language, and has been credited with shifting the central question of the debate from "did language evolve?" to "how did language evolve". The article also presaged Pinker's argument in The Language Instinct.

In 2007, Pinker gave his expert interpretation as a linguist of the wording of a federal law pertaining to the enticement of minors into illegal sex acts via the internet. This opinion was provided to Alan Dershowitz, a personal friend of Pinker's, who was the defense attorney for Jeffrey Epstein, resulting in a plea deal in which all federal sex trafficking charges against Epstein were dropped. In 2019, Pinker stated that he was unaware of the nature of the charges against Epstein, and that he engaged in an unpaid favor for his Harvard colleague Alan Dershowitz, as he had regularly done. He stated that he regrets writing the letter. Pinker says he never received money from Epstein and met with him three times over more than a dozen years, and said he could never stand Epstein and tried to keep his distance.

Human cognition and natural language

Pinker's 1994 The Language Instinct was the first of several books to combine cognitive science with behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology. It introduces the science of language and popularizes Noam Chomsky's theory that language is an innate faculty of mind, with the controversial twist that the faculty for language evolved by natural selection as an adaptation for communication. Pinker criticizes several widely held ideas about language – that it needs to be taught, that people's grammar is poor and getting worse with new ways of speaking, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis that language limits the kinds of thoughts a person can have, and that other great apes can learn languages. Pinker sees language as unique to humans, evolved to solve the specific problem of communication among social hunter-gatherers. He argues that it is as much an instinct as specialized adaptative behavior in other species, such as a spider's web-weaving or a beaver's dam-building.

Pinker states in his introduction that his ideas are "deeply influenced" by Chomsky; he also lists scientists whom Chomsky influenced to "open up whole new areas of language study, from child development and speech perception to neurology and genetics"Eric Lenneberg, George Miller, Roger Brown, Morris Halle and Alvin Liberman. Brown mentored Pinker through his thesis; Pinker stated that Brown's "funny and instructive" book Words and Things (1958) was one of the inspirations for The Language Instinct.

There has been debate about the explanatory adequacy of the theory. By 2015, the nativist views of Pinker and Chomsky had a number of challenges on the grounds that they had incorrect core assumptions and were inconsistent with research evidence from psycholinguistics and child language acquisition. The reality of Pinker's proposed language instinct, and the related claim that grammar is innate and genetically based, has been contested by linguists such as Geoffrey Sampson in his 1997 book, Educating Eve: The 'Language Instinct' Debate' '. Sampson argues that "while it may seem attractive to argue the nature side of the 'nature versus nurture' debate, the nurture side may better support the creativity and nobility of the human mind." Sampson denies there is a language instinct, and argues that children can learn language because people can learn anything. Others have sought a middle ground between Pinker's nativism and Sampson's culturalism.

The assumptions underlying the nativist view have also been questioned in Jeffrey Elman's Rethinking Innateness: A Connectionist Perspective on Development, which defends the connectionist approach that Pinker attacked. In his 1996 book Impossible Minds, the machine intelligence researcher Igor Aleksander calls The Language Instinct excellent, and argues that Pinker presents a relatively soft claim for innatism, accompanied by a strong dislike of the 'Standard Social Sciences Model' or SSSM (Pinker's term), which supposes that development is purely dependent on culture. Further, Aleksander writes that while Pinker criticises some attempts to explain language processing with neural nets, Pinker later makes use of a neural net to create past tense verb forms correctly. Aleksander concludes that while he doesn't support the SSSM, "a cultural repository of language just seems the easy trick for an efficient evolutionary system armed with an iconic state machine to play."

Two other books, How the Mind Works (1997) and The Blank Slate (2002), broadly surveyed the mind and defended the idea of a complex human nature with many mental faculties that are genetically adaptive (Pinker is an ally of Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins in many disputes surrounding adaptationism). Another major theme in Pinker's theories is that human cognition works, in part, by combinatorial symbol-manipulation, not just associations among sensory features, as in many connectionist models. On the debate around The Blank Slate, Pinker called Thomas Sowell's book A Conflict of Visions "wonderful", and explained that "The Tragic Vision" and the "Utopian Vision" are the views of human nature behind right- and left-wing ideologies.

In Words and Rules: the Ingredients of Language (1999), Pinker argues from his own research that regular and irregular phenomena are products of computation and memory lookup, respectively, and that language can be understood as an interaction between the two. "Words and Rules" is also the title of an essay by Pinker outlining many of the topics discussed in the book. Critiqueing the book from the perspective of generative linguistics Charles Yang, in the London Review of Books, writes that "this book never runs low on hubris or hyperbole". The book's topic, the English past tense, is in Yang's view unglamorous, and Pinker's attempts at compromise risk being in no man's land between rival theories. Giving the example of German, Yang argues that irregular nouns in that language at least all belong to classes, governed by rules, and that things get even worse in languages that attach prefixes and suffixes to make up long 'words': they can't be learnt individually, as there are untold numbers of combinations. "All Pinker (and the connectionists) are doing is turning over the rocks at the base of the intellectual landslide caused by the Chomskian revolution."

In The Stuff of Thought (2007), Pinker looks at a wide range of issues around the way words related to thoughts on the one hand, and to the world outside ourselves on the other. Given his evolutionary perspective, a central question is how an intelligent mind capable of abstract thought evolved: how a mind adapted to Stone Age life could work in the modern world. Many quirks of language are the result.

Pinker is critical of theories about the evolutionary origins of language that argue that linguistic cognition might have evolved from earlier musical cognition. He sees language as being tied primarily to the capacity for logical reasoning, and speculates that human proclivity for music may be a spandrel — a feature not adaptive in its own right, but that has persisted through other traits that are more broadly practical, and thus selected for. In How the Mind Works, Pinker reiterates Immanuel Kant's view that music is not in itself an important cognitive phenomenon, but that it happens to stimulate important auditory and spatio-motor cognitive functions. Pinker compares music to "auditory cheesecake", stating that "As far as biological cause and effect is concerned, music is useless". This argument has been rejected by Daniel Levitin and Joseph Carroll, experts in music cognition, who argue that music has had an important role in the evolution of human cognition. In his book This Is Your Brain On Music, Levitin argues that music could provide adaptive advantage through sexual selection, social bonding, and cognitive development; he questions the assumption that music is the antecedent to language, as opposed to its progenitor, noting that many species display music-like habits that could be seen as precursors to human music.

Pinker has also been critical of "whole language" reading instruction techniques, stating in How the Mind Works, "...the dominant technique, called 'whole language,' the insight that [spoken] language is a naturally developing human instinct has been garbled into the evolutionarily improbable claim that reading is a naturally developing human instinct." In the appendix to the 2007 reprinted edition of The Language Instinct, Pinker cited Why Our Children Can't Read by cognitive psychologist Diane McGuinness as his favorite book on the subject and noted:

One raging public debate involving language went unmentioned in The Language Instinct: the "reading wars," or dispute over whether children should be explicitly taught to read by decoding the sounds of words from their spelling (loosely known as "phonics") or whether they can develop it instinctively by being immersed in a text-rich environment (often called "whole language"). I tipped my hand in the paragraph in [the sixth chapter of the book] which said that language is an instinct but reading is not. Like most psycholinguists (but apparently unlike many school boards), I think it's essential for children to be taught to become aware of speech sounds and how they are coded in strings of letters.

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Violence in the middle ages: detail from "Mars" in Das Mittelalterliche Hausbuch, c. 1475 – 1480. The illustration is used by Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature when he writes: "The knights raided one another's territories in a Hobbesian dynamic of conquest, preemptive attack and vengeance, and as the Housebook illustrations suggest, they did not restrict their killing to other knights".

In The Better Angels of Our Nature, published in 2011, Pinker argues that violence, including tribal warfare, homicide, cruel punishments, child abuse, animal cruelty, domestic violence, lynching, pogroms, and international and civil wars, has decreased over multiple scales of time and magnitude. Pinker considers it unlikely that human nature has changed. In his view, it is more likely that human nature comprises inclinations toward violence and those that counteract them, the "better angels of our nature". He outlines six "major historical declines of violence" that all have their own socio/cultural/economic causes:

  1. "The Pacification Process" – The rise of organized systems of government has a correlative relationship with the decline in violent deaths. As states expand they prevent tribal feuding, reducing losses.
  2. "The Civilizing Process" – The cultivation of impulse control and the consolidation of centralized states and kingdoms throughout Europe results in the rise of criminal justice and commercial infrastructure, organizing previously chaotic systems that could lead to raiding and mass violence.
  3. "The Humanitarian Revolution" – The 18th to 20th century abandonment of institutionalized violence by the state (breaking on the wheel, burning at the stake). Suggests this is likely due to the spike in literacy after the invention of the printing press thereby allowing the proletariat to question conventional wisdom.
  4. "The Long Peace" – The powers of 20th Century believed that period of time to be the bloodiest in history. This led to a largely peaceful 65-year period post World War I and World War II. Developed countries have stopped warring (against each other and colonially), adopted democracy, and this has led a massive decline (on average) of deaths.
  5. "The New Peace" – The decline in organized conflicts of all kinds since the end of the Cold War.
  6. "The Rights Revolutions" – The reduction of systemic violence at smaller scales against vulnerable populations (racial minorities, women, children, homosexuals, animals).

The book was welcomed by many critics and reviewers, who found its arguments convincing and its synthesis of a large volume of historical evidence compelling.[excessive citations] It also aroused criticism on a variety of grounds, such as whether deaths per capita was an appropriate metric, Pinker's liberal humanism, excessive focus on Europe (though the book covers other areas), the interpretation of historical data, choice of methodologies, and its image of indigenous people.[excessive citations]

English writing style in the 21st century

In his seventh popular book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (2014), Pinker attempts to provide a writing style guide that is informed by modern science and psychology, because a long time has passed since William Strunk wrote The Elements of Style in 1918.

Pinker and Nils Brose speaking at a neuroscience conference.

Pinker is a frequent participant in public debates surrounding the contributions of science to contemporary society. Social commentators such as Ed West, author of The Diversity Illusion, consider Pinker important and daring in his willingness to confront taboos, as in The Blank Slate. According to West, the doctrine of tabula rasa remained accepted "as fact, rather than fantasy" a decade after the book's publication. West describes Pinker as "no polemicist, and he leaves readers to draw their own conclusions".

In January 2005, Pinker defended comments by then-President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers. Summers had speculated that in addition to differing societal demands and discrimination, "different availability of aptitude at the high end" may contribute to gender gaps in mathematics and science. In a debate between Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke on gender and science, Pinker argued in favor of the proposition that the gender difference in representation in elite universities was "explainable by some combination of biological differences in average temperaments and talents interacting with socialization and bias".

In 2007, Pinker was noted for having identified the rename of Phillip Morris to Altria as an "egregious example" of phonesthesia, with the company attempting to "switch its image from bad people who sell addictive carcinogens to a place or state marked by altruism and other lofty values".

In January 2009, Pinker wrote an article about the Personal Genome Project and its possible impact on the understanding of human nature in The New York Times. He discussed the new developments in epigenetics and gene-environment interactions in the afterword to the 2016 edition of his book The Blank Slate.

In a November 2009 article for The New York Times, Pinker wrote a mixed review of Malcolm Gladwell's essays, criticizing his analytical methods. Gladwell replied, disputing Pinker's comments about the importance of IQ on teaching performance and by analogy, the effect, if any, of draft order on quarterback performance in the National Football League. Advanced NFL Stats addressed the issue statistically, siding with Pinker and showing that differences in methodology could explain the two men's differing opinions.

In an appearance for BBC World Service's "Exchanges At The Frontier" programme, an audience member questioned whether the virtuous developments in culture and human nature (documented in The Better Angels of Our Nature) could have expressed in our biology either through genetic or epigenetic expression. Pinker responded that it was unlikely since "some of the declines have occurred far too rapidly for them to be explicable by biological evolution which has a speed limit measured in generations, but crime can plummet in a span of 15 years and some of these humanitarian reforms like eliminating slavery and torture occurred in say 50 years". Helga Vierich and Cathryn Townsend wrote a critical review of Pinker's sweeping "civilizational" explanations for patterns of human violence and warfare in response to a lecture he gave at Cambridge University in September 2015.

In his 2018 book Enlightenment Now, Pinker posited that enlightenment rationality should be defended against attacks from both the political left and political right. The book received both positive and critical reviews. In a debate with Pinker, post-colonial theorist Homi Bhabha said that Enlightenment philosophy had immoral consequences such as inequality, slavery, imperialism, world wars, and genocide, and that Pinker downplayed them. Pinker responded that humanity, prior to the Enlightenment, had been characterized by poverty and disease.

In 2020, an open letter to the Linguistic Society of America requesting the removal of Pinker from its list of LSA Fellows and its list of media experts was signed by hundreds of academics. The letter accused Pinker of a "pattern of drowning out the voices of people suffering from racist and sexist violence, in particular in the immediate aftermath of violent acts and/or protests against the systems that created them", citing as examples six tweets and a phrase used in his 2011 book. Pinker said that through this letter he, and more importantly, younger academics with less protection, were being threatened by "a regime of intimidation that constricts the theatre of ideas". Several academics criticized the letter and expressed strong support for Pinker. Conor Friedersdorf, writing in The Atlantic, criticized the letter for engaging in guilt by association and for creating a "chilling effect" on the speech of non-tenured academics, The executive committee of the Linguistic Society of America issued a letter stating that the group "is committed to intellectual freedom and professional responsibility. It is not the mission of the Society to control the opinions of its members, nor their expression. Inclusion and civility are crucial to productive scholarly work. And inclusion means hearing (not necessarily accepting) all points of view, even those that may be objectionable to some."

Pinker in Göttingen, 2010

Pinker was named one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy's 100 top public intellectuals in both years the poll was carried out, 2005 and 2008; in 2010 and 2011 he was named by Foreign Policy to its list of top global thinkers. In 2016, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

His research in cognitive psychology has won the Early Career Award (1984) and Boyd McCandless Award (1986) from the American Psychological Association, the Troland Research Award (1993) from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize (2004) from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the George Miller Prize (2010) from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Newcastle, Surrey, Tel Aviv, McGill, Simon Fraser University and the University of Tromsø. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998 and in 2003. Pinker received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1999. On May 13, 2006, he received the American Humanist Association's Humanist of the Year award for his contributions to public understanding of human evolution.

Pinker has served on the editorial boards of journals such as Cognition, Daedalus, and PLOS One, and on the advisory boards of institutions for scientific research (e.g., the Allen Institute for Brain Science), free speech (e.g., the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), the popularization of science (e.g., the World Science Festival and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), peace (e.g., the Peace Research Endowment), and secular humanism (e.g., the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Secular Coalition for America).

From 2008 to 2018, Pinker chaired the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. He wrote the essay on usage for the fifth edition of the Dictionary, published in 2011.

In February 2001, Pinker, "whose hair has long been the object of admiration, and envy, and intense study", was nominated by acclamation as the first member of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS) organized by the Annals of Improbable Research.

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Steven Pinker

Books

Articles and essays

  1. "Steven Pinker". Desert Island Discs. June 30, 2013. BBC Radio 4. RetrievedJanuary 18, 2014.
  2. "Steven Pinker Biography". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. "Steven Pinker: the mind reader". The Guardian. November 6, 1991. RetrievedSeptember 11, 2019.
  4. Pinker, Steven (1997). How the Mind Works. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-06973-0.
  5. Pinker, Steven (2016). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-101-20032-2.
  6. Sherk, John. "Steven Pinker on Cognitive Psychology, Computational Theory, and Conversation".
  7. "YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on October 30, 2021.
  8. The Sense of Style
  9. Wright, Robert (April 26, 2004). "The 2004 Time 100". Time.
  10. "World Thinkers 2013".
  11. "APA PsycNet". psycnet.apa.org.
  12. "Steven Pinker". www.nasonline.org.
  13. "Humanist of the Year Award". American Humanist Association.
  14. "George A. Miller Award".
  15. "Curriculum Vitae of Steven Pinker"(PDF).
  16. "Developmental Review Editorial Board". Elsevier.
  17. Pinker, Steven (July 22, 2014). The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. New York, NY: Penguin.
  18. Pinker, S. (2009). Language Learnability and Language Development, With New Commentary by the Author. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674042179. RetrievedOctober 10, 2014.
  19. Pinker, Steven (April 30, 2018). "A Montreal pilgrimage in the footsteps of Leonard Cohen (the girl standing next to the young Cohen in the group photo is my mother, Roslyn Wiesenfeld Pinker).https://www.jta.org/2018/04/24/news-opinion/montreal-pilgrimage-footsteps-leonard-cohen#.WucYP-F0APc.twitter …".
  20. "At home: Steven Pinker". Financial Times. December 14, 2012.
  21. Brockman, John (January 7, 2019). Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist. Vintage Books. ISBN 9781400076864 – via Google Books.
  22. Pinker, Steven (June 26, 2006). "Groups and Genes". The New Republic. RetrievedOctober 25, 2017.
  23. Shermer, Michael (March 1, 2001). The Pinker Instinct. Altadena, CA: Skeptics Society & Skeptic Magazine. RetrievedSeptember 11, 2007.
  24. Steven Pinker: the mind reader The Guardian Accessed November 25, 2006.
  25. Biography for Steven Pinker at imdb. Retrieved September 12, 2007.
  26. "How Steven Pinker Works" by Kristin E. Blagg Archived October 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine The Harvard Crimson Accessed February 3, 2006.
  27. "Britannica Encyclopedia".
  28. Curriculum Vitae(PDF), Harvard University, archived from the original(PDF) on July 15, 2017, retrievedJune 23, 2017
  29. Pinker, Steven. "Official Biography. Harvard University". Pinker.wjh.harvard.edu. Archived from the original on December 29, 2005. RetrievedJanuary 20, 2012.
  30. "The professoriate" Archived June 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, New College of the Humanities. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  31. "Professor Steven Pinker", New College of the Humanities. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  32. "Steven Pinker: the mind reader" by Ed Douglas The Guardian Accessed February 3, 2006.
  33. Grothe, D.J. (February 23, 2007). "Podcast:Steven Pinker - Evolutionary Psychology and Human Nature". Point of Inquiry with D.J. Grothe. RetrievedDecember 29, 2014.
  34. The nature of the language faculty and its implications for evolution of language
  35. Pinker, Steven. "Steven Pinker: Long Biography". Harvard University. Archived from the original on December 29, 2005. RetrievedMay 18, 2014.
  36. Pinker has written a piece on The Irregular Verbs Archived June 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, stating that "I like the Irregular verbs of English, all 180 of them, because of what they tell us about the history of the language and the human minds that have perpetuated it.
  37. Pinker, Steven. "Words and rules (essay)"(PDF). Harvard University. Archived from the original(PDF) on August 30, 2014. RetrievedMay 24, 2014.
  38. Pinker, S. & Bloom, P. (1990). Natural language and natural selection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4): 707‐784
  39. Christine Kenneally. "Language Development:The First Word. The Search for the Origins of Language". Archived from the original on July 14, 2014.
  40. Pinker, Steven; Bloom, Paul (1990). "The 20th Anniversary of Steven Pinker & Paul Bloom: Natural Language and Natural Selection (1990)". Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Replicatedtypo.com. 13 (4): 707–726. doi:10.1017/S0140525X00081061. S2CID 6167614.
  41. "Jeffrey Epstein's First Criminal Case Was Helped By A Famous Harvard Language Expert". BuzzFeed News.
  42. Johnson, Carolyn Y.; Svrluga, Susan (September 17, 2019). "Jeffrey Epstein, the academy and questions about male dominance in science". Washington Post.
  43. Pinker, Steven (1994). The Language Instinct. Penguin. pp. 23–24.
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  45. Kagan, Jerome (1999). "Roger William Brown 1925-1997"(PDF). Biographical Memoirs. 77: 7.
  46. * Fernald, Anne; Marchman, Virginia A. (2006). "27: Language learning in infancy". In Traxler and Gernsbacher (ed.). Handbook of Psycholinguistics. Academic Press. pp. 1027–1071. ISBN 9780080466415., quote p. 1030: "Some critiques directly challenge the logic of arguments made by Chomsky, Pinker, and like-minded theorists, questioning such core assumptions as the universality of generative grammar, the autonomy of syntax in language processing, and the fundamental unlearnability of language (e.g., Bates & Goodman, 1999; Braine, 1994; Pullum & Scholz, 2002; Tomasello, 1995). Other critiques focus on empirical evidence inconsistent with particular nativist assertions. For example, the claim that negative evidence is not available when children make grammatical errors, an assumption central to the “poverty of the stimulus” argument at the heart of Chomsky’s theory, is not supported by a recent analysis of parents’ reformulations in speech to children (Chouinard & Clark, 2003). These diverse challenges, both philosophical and data-driven, have fueled debate over four decades about the explanatory adequacy of nativist theories of language learning." * de Bot, Kees (2015). A History of Applied Linguistics: From 1980 to the Present. Routledge. ISBN 9781138820654., quote pp. 58–60: "GG is generally seen as a declining paradigm and its proponents now tend to stay away from conferences like AAAL (the American Association of Applied Linguistics) and University of Boston Child Language Development conferences, as a cursory count of papers on the basis of abstracts shows [...] In the psycholinguistic community, the idea of innateness and a Language Acquisition Device (LAD) were seen as problematic [...] Now that generation of GG linguists is retiring and there is a tendency in many universities not to replace them with younger scholars of that school, but rather appoint UB oriented linguists. There is almost a euphoria that the grip of the nativists on what constitutes linguistics is gone and that other approaches and more social orientations are seen as meaningful alternatives. Others try to explain the reasons for the decline of GG [...] Some informants are quite outspoken about the role of GG in AL. William Grabe states: “Fundamentally Chomsky is wrong and we wasted a lot of time. In 1964 Chomsky’s Aspects was published. Now, in 2014, we are 50 years later. What impact has all of that had in real world language use? This is an overstated theoretical direction.” Jan Hulstijn summarizes: “Generative linguistics has had no noticeable (or durable) impact.”"
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Steven Pinker Article Talk Language Watch Edit Steven Arthur Pinker born September 18 1954 2 3 is a Canadian American cognitive psychologist psycholinguist popular science author and public intellectual He is an advocate of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind 4 5 6 7 Steven PinkerPinker in 2011BornSteven Arthur Pinker 1954 09 18 September 18 1954 age 67 Montreal Quebec CanadaNationalityCanada USEducationMcGill University BA Harvard University PhD Notable workThe Language Instinct 1994 How the Mind Works 1997 The Blank Slate 2002 The Better Angels of Our Nature 2011 Enlightenment Now 2018 Spouse s Nancy Etcoff m 1980 div 1992 wbr Ilavenil Subbiah m 1995 div 2006 wbr Rebecca Goldstein m 2007 wbr AwardsTroland Award 1993 National Academy of Sciences Henry Dale Prize 2004 Royal Institution Walter P Kistler Book Award 2005 Humanist of the Year award 2006 issued by the AHA George Miller Prize 2010 Cognitive Neuroscience Society Richard Dawkins Award 2013 Scientific careerFieldsEvolutionary psychology Experimental psychology Cognitive science Psycholinguistics Visual cognitionInstitutionsHarvard University Massachusetts Institute of Technology New College of the HumanitiesThesisThe Representation of Three dimensional Space in Mental Images 1979 Doctoral advisorStephen KosslynInfluencesNoam Chomsky Jerry Fodor Richard Dawkins Robert Trivers Leda Cosmides John Tooby Ray Jackendoff Daniel Dennett Judith Rich Harris Donald Symons Rebecca Goldstein Thomas Hobbes Thomas Schelling Peter Singer Norbert Elias Roy BaumeisterSteven Pinker s voice 0 27 source source source from the BBC program Desert Island Discs June 30 2013 1 Websitestevenpinker wbr com Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and his academic specializations are visual cognition and developmental linguistics His experimental subjects include mental imagery shape recognition visual attention children s language development regular and irregular phenomena in language the neural bases of words and grammar as well as the psychology of cooperation and communication including euphemism innuendo emotional expression and common knowledge He has written two technical books that proposed a general theory of language acquisition and applied it to children s learning of verbs In particular his work with Alan Prince published in 1989 critiqued the connectionist model of how children acquire the past tense of English verbs positing that children use default rules such as adding ed to make regular forms sometimes in error but are obliged to learn irregular forms one by one Pinker is also the author of nine books for general audiences The Language Instinct 1994 How the Mind Works 1997 Words and Rules 2000 The Blank Slate 2002 and The Stuff of Thought 2007 describe aspects of psycholinguistics and cognitive science and include accounts of his own research positing that language is an innate behavior shaped by natural selection and adapted to our communication needs Pinker s The Sense of Style 2014 is a general language oriented style guide 8 Pinker s book The Better Angels of Our Nature 2011 posits that violence in human societies has generally steadily declined over time and identifies six major trends and five historical forces of this decline the most important being the humanitarian revolution brought by the Enlightenment and its associated cultivation of reason Enlightenment Now 2018 elaborates this argument by using social science data to show a general improvement of the human condition over recent history brought by reason science and humanism The nature and importance of reason is further explored in his next book Rationality What It Is Why It Seems Scarce Why It Matters 2021 In 2004 Pinker was named in Time s The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and in the years 2005 2008 2010 and 2011 in Foreign Policy s list of Top 100 Global Thinkers 9 Pinker was also included in Prospect Magazine s top 10 World Thinkers in 2013 10 He has won awards from the American Psychological Association the National Academy of Sciences the Royal Institution the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and the American Humanist Association 11 12 13 14 15 He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013 He has served on the editorial boards of a variety of journals and on the advisory boards of several institutions 16 Pinker was the chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary from 2008 to 2018 17 Contents 1 Biography 2 Linguistic career 3 Popularization of science 3 1 Human cognition and natural language 3 2 The Better Angels of Our Nature 3 3 English writing style in the 21st century 4 Public debate 5 Awards and distinctions 6 Bibliography 6 1 Books 6 2 Articles and essays 7 References 8 External links 8 1 Interviews 8 2 Filmed talks 8 3 DebatesBiography EditPinker was born in Montreal Quebec in 1954 to a middle class Jewish family 18 19 His grandparents emigrated to Canada from Poland and Romania in 1926 20 21 and owned a small necktie factory in Montreal 22 His father was a lawyer His mother eventually became a high school vice principal His brother is a policy analyst for the Canadian government while his sister Susan Pinker is a psychologist and writer who authored The Sexual Paradox and The Village Effect 23 24 Pinker married Nancy Etcoff in 1980 and they divorced in 1992 he married again in 1995 and again divorced 25 His third wife whom he married in 2007 is the novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein 26 He has two stepdaughters the novelist Yael Goldstein Love and the poet Danielle Blau Pinker graduated from Dawson College in 1973 He graduated from McGill University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology then did doctoral studies in experimental psychology at Harvard University under Stephen Kosslyn receiving a Ph D in 1979 He did research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a year then became a professor at Harvard and then Stanford University 27 From 1982 until 2003 Pinker taught at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT was the co director of the center for Cognitive science 1985 1994 and eventually became the director of the center for Cognitive neuroscience 1994 1999 28 taking a one year sabbatical at the University of California Santa Barbara in 1995 96 Since 2003 he has been serving as the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard and between 2008 and 2013 he also held the title of Harvard College Professor in recognition of his dedication to teaching 29 He currently gives lectures as a visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities a private college in London 30 31 Pinker adopted atheism at 13 but at various times was a serious cultural Jew 32 33 Linguistic career EditPinker s research on visual cognition begun in collaboration with his thesis adviser Stephen Kosslyn showed that mental images represent scenes and objects as they appear from a specific vantage point rather than capturing their intrinsic three dimensional structure and thus correspond to the neuroscientist David Marr s theory of a two and a half dimensional sketch 34 He also showed that this level of representation is used in visual attention and in object recognition at least for asymmetrical shapes contrary to Marr s theory that recognition uses viewpoint independent representations In psycholinguistics Pinker became known early in his career for promoting computational learning theory as a way to understand language acquisition in children He wrote a tutorial review of the field followed by two books that advanced his own theory of language acquisition and a series of experiments on how children acquire the passive dative and locative constructions These books were Language Learnability and Language Development 1984 in Pinker s words outlin ing a theory of how children acquire the words and grammatical structures of their mother tongue 35 and Learnability and Cognition The Acquisition of Argument Structure 1989 in Pinker s words focus ing on one aspect of this process the ability to use different kinds of verbs in appropriate sentences such as intransitive verbs transitive verbs and verbs taking different combinations of complements and indirect objects 35 He then focused on verbs of two kinds that illustrate what he considers to be the processes required for human language retrieving whole words from memory like the past form of the irregular verb 36 bring namely brought and using rules to combine parts of words like the past form of the regular verb walk namely walked 35 In 1988 Pinker and Alan Prince published a critique of a connectionist model of the acquisition of the past tense a textbook problem in language acquisition followed by a series of studies of how people use and acquire the past tense This included a monograph on children s regularization of irregular forms and his popular 1999 book Words and Rules The Ingredients of Language Pinker argued that language depends on two things the associative remembering of sounds and their meanings in words and the use of rules to manipulate symbols for grammar He presented evidence against connectionism where a child would have to learn all forms of all words and would simply retrieve each needed form from memory in favour of the older alternative theory the use of words and rules combined by generative phonology He showed that mistakes made by children indicate the use of default rules to add suffixes such as ed for instance breaked and comed for broke and came He argued that this shows that irregular verb forms in English have to be learnt and retrieved from memory individually and that the children making these errors were predicting the regular ed ending in an open ended way by applying a mental rule This rule for combining verb stems and the usual suffix can be expressed as 37 Vpast Vstem d where V is a verb and d is the regular ending Pinker further argued that since the ten most frequently occurring English verbs be have do say make are all irregular while 98 2 of the thousand least common verbs are regular there is a massive correlation of frequency and irregularity He explains this by arguing that every irregular form such as took came and got has to be committed to memory by the children in each generation or else lost and that the common forms are the most easily memorized Any irregular verb that falls in popularity past a certain point is lost and all future generations will treat it as a regular verb instead 37 In 1990 Pinker with Paul Bloom published a paper arguing that the human language faculty must have evolved through natural selection 38 The article provided arguments for a continuity based view of language evolution contrary to then current discontinuity based theories that see language as suddenly appearing with the advent of Homo sapiens as a kind of evolutionary accident This discontinuity based view was prominently argued by two of the main authorities linguist Noam Chomsky and Stephen Jay Gould 39 The paper became widely cited and created renewed interest in the evolutionary prehistory of language and has been credited with shifting the central question of the debate from did language evolve to how did language evolve 39 40 The article also presaged Pinker s argument in The Language Instinct In 2007 Pinker gave his expert interpretation as a linguist of the wording of a federal law pertaining to the enticement of minors into illegal sex acts via the internet This opinion was provided to Alan Dershowitz a personal friend of Pinker s who was the defense attorney for Jeffrey Epstein resulting in a plea deal in which all federal sex trafficking charges against Epstein were dropped 41 In 2019 Pinker stated that he was unaware of the nature of the charges against Epstein and that he engaged in an unpaid favor for his Harvard colleague Alan Dershowitz as he had regularly done He stated that he regrets writing the letter 41 Pinker says he never received money from Epstein and met with him three times over more than a dozen years 42 and said he could never stand Epstein and tried to keep his distance 41 Popularization of science EditHuman cognition and natural language Edit Main articles The Language Instinct Words and Rules How the Mind Works The Blank Slate and The Stuff of Thought Pinker s 1994 The Language Instinct was the first of several books to combine cognitive science with behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology It introduces the science of language and popularizes Noam Chomsky s theory that language is an innate faculty of mind with the controversial twist that the faculty for language evolved by natural selection as an adaptation for communication Pinker criticizes several widely held ideas about language that it needs to be taught that people s grammar is poor and getting worse with new ways of speaking the Sapir Whorf hypothesis that language limits the kinds of thoughts a person can have and that other great apes can learn languages Pinker sees language as unique to humans evolved to solve the specific problem of communication among social hunter gatherers He argues that it is as much an instinct as specialized adaptative behavior in other species such as a spider s web weaving or a beaver s dam building Pinker states in his introduction that his ideas are deeply influenced 43 by Chomsky he also lists scientists whom Chomsky influenced to open up whole new areas of language study from child development and speech perception to neurology and genetics 43 Eric Lenneberg George Miller Roger Brown Morris Halle and Alvin Liberman 43 Brown mentored Pinker through his thesis Pinker stated that Brown s funny and instructive 44 book Words and Things 1958 was one of the inspirations for The Language Instinct 44 45 There has been debate about the explanatory adequacy of the theory By 2015 the nativist views of Pinker and Chomsky had a number of challenges on the grounds that they had incorrect core assumptions and were inconsistent with research evidence from psycholinguistics and child language acquisition 46 The reality of Pinker s proposed language instinct and the related claim that grammar is innate and genetically based has been contested by linguists such as Geoffrey Sampson in his 1997 book Educating Eve The Language Instinct Debate 47 48 Sampson argues that while it may seem attractive to argue the nature side of the nature versus nurture debate the nurture side may better support the creativity and nobility of the human mind Sampson denies there is a language instinct and argues that children can learn language because people can learn anything 48 Others have sought a middle ground between Pinker s nativism and Sampson s culturalism 49 The assumptions underlying the nativist view have also been questioned in Jeffrey Elman s Rethinking Innateness A Connectionist Perspective on Development which defends the connectionist approach that Pinker attacked In his 1996 book Impossible Minds the machine intelligence researcher Igor Aleksander calls The Language Instinct excellent and argues that Pinker presents a relatively soft claim for innatism accompanied by a strong dislike of the Standard Social Sciences Model or SSSM Pinker s term which supposes that development is purely dependent on culture Further Aleksander writes that while Pinker criticises some attempts to explain language processing with neural nets Pinker later makes use of a neural net to create past tense verb forms correctly Aleksander concludes that while he doesn t support the SSSM a cultural repository of language just seems the easy trick for an efficient evolutionary system armed with an iconic state machine to play 50 Two other books How the Mind Works 1997 and The Blank Slate 2002 broadly surveyed the mind and defended the idea of a complex human nature with many mental faculties that are genetically adaptive Pinker is an ally of Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins in many disputes surrounding adaptationism Another major theme in Pinker s theories is that human cognition works in part by combinatorial symbol manipulation not just associations among sensory features as in many connectionist models On the debate around The Blank Slate Pinker called Thomas Sowell s book A Conflict of Visions wonderful 51 and explained that The Tragic Vision and the Utopian Vision are the views of human nature behind right and left wing ideologies 51 In Words and Rules the Ingredients of Language 1999 Pinker argues from his own research that regular and irregular phenomena are products of computation and memory lookup respectively and that language can be understood as an interaction between the two 52 Words and Rules is also the title of an essay by Pinker outlining many of the topics discussed in the book 37 Critiqueing the book from the perspective of generative linguistics Charles Yang in the London Review of Books writes that this book never runs low on hubris or hyperbole 53 The book s topic the English past tense is in Yang s view unglamorous and Pinker s attempts at compromise risk being in no man s land between rival theories Giving the example of German Yang argues that irregular nouns in that language at least all belong to classes governed by rules and that things get even worse in languages that attach prefixes and suffixes to make up long words they can t be learnt individually as there are untold numbers of combinations All Pinker and the connectionists are doing is turning over the rocks at the base of the intellectual landslide caused by the Chomskian revolution 53 In The Stuff of Thought 2007 Pinker looks at a wide range of issues around the way words related to thoughts on the one hand and to the world outside ourselves on the other Given his evolutionary perspective a central question is how an intelligent mind capable of abstract thought evolved how a mind adapted to Stone Age life could work in the modern world Many quirks of language are the result 54 Pinker is critical of theories about the evolutionary origins of language that argue that linguistic cognition might have evolved from earlier musical cognition He sees language as being tied primarily to the capacity for logical reasoning and speculates that human proclivity for music may be a spandrel a feature not adaptive in its own right but that has persisted through other traits that are more broadly practical and thus selected for In How the Mind Works Pinker reiterates Immanuel Kant s view that music is not in itself an important cognitive phenomenon but that it happens to stimulate important auditory and spatio motor cognitive functions Pinker compares music to auditory cheesecake stating that As far as biological cause and effect is concerned music is useless This argument has been rejected by Daniel Levitin and Joseph Carroll experts in music cognition who argue that music has had an important role in the evolution of human cognition 55 56 57 58 59 60 In his book This Is Your Brain On Music Levitin argues that music could provide adaptive advantage through sexual selection social bonding and cognitive development he questions the assumption that music is the antecedent to language as opposed to its progenitor noting that many species display music like habits that could be seen as precursors to human music 61 Pinker has also been critical of whole language reading instruction techniques stating in How the Mind Works the dominant technique called whole language the insight that spoken language is a naturally developing human instinct has been garbled into the evolutionarily improbable claim that reading is a naturally developing human instinct 62 In the appendix to the 2007 reprinted edition of The Language Instinct Pinker cited Why Our Children Can t Read by cognitive psychologist Diane McGuinness as his favorite book on the subject and noted One raging public debate involving language went unmentioned in The Language Instinct the reading wars or dispute over whether children should be explicitly taught to read by decoding the sounds of words from their spelling loosely known as phonics or whether they can develop it instinctively by being immersed in a text rich environment often called whole language I tipped my hand in the paragraph in the sixth chapter of the book which said that language is an instinct but reading is not 63 Like most psycholinguists but apparently unlike many school boards I think it s essential for children to be taught to become aware of speech sounds and how they are coded in strings of letters 64 The Better Angels of Our Nature Edit Main article The Better Angels of Our Nature Violence in the middle ages detail from Mars in Das Mittelalterliche Hausbuch c 1475 1480 The illustration is used by Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature when he writes The knights raided one another s territories in a Hobbesian dynamic of conquest preemptive attack and vengeance and as the Housebook illustrations suggest they did not restrict their killing to other knights 65 In The Better Angels of Our Nature published in 2011 Pinker argues that violence including tribal warfare homicide cruel punishments child abuse animal cruelty domestic violence lynching pogroms and international and civil wars has decreased over multiple scales of time and magnitude Pinker considers it unlikely that human nature has changed In his view it is more likely that human nature comprises inclinations toward violence and those that counteract them the better angels of our nature He outlines six major historical declines of violence that all have their own socio cultural economic causes 66 The Pacification Process The rise of organized systems of government has a correlative relationship with the decline in violent deaths As states expand they prevent tribal feuding reducing losses The Civilizing Process The cultivation of impulse control and the consolidation of centralized states and kingdoms throughout Europe results in the rise of criminal justice and commercial infrastructure organizing previously chaotic systems that could lead to raiding and mass violence The Humanitarian Revolution The 18th to 20th century abandonment of institutionalized violence by the state breaking on the wheel burning at the stake Suggests this is likely due to the spike in literacy after the invention of the printing press thereby allowing the proletariat to question conventional wisdom The Long Peace The powers of 20th Century believed that period of time to be the bloodiest in history This led to a largely peaceful 65 year period post World War I and World War II Developed countries have stopped warring against each other and colonially adopted democracy and this has led a massive decline on average of deaths The New Peace The decline in organized conflicts of all kinds since the end of the Cold War The Rights Revolutions The reduction of systemic violence at smaller scales against vulnerable populations racial minorities women children homosexuals animals The book was welcomed by many critics and reviewers who found its arguments convincing and its synthesis of a large volume of historical evidence compelling 67 68 69 70 71 excessive citations It also aroused criticism on a variety of grounds such as whether deaths per capita was an appropriate metric Pinker s liberal humanism excessive focus on Europe though the book covers other areas the interpretation of historical data choice of methodologies and its image of indigenous people 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 excessive citations English writing style in the 21st century Edit In his seventh popular book The Sense of Style The Thinking Person s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century 2014 Pinker attempts to provide a writing style guide that is informed by modern science and psychology because a long time has passed since William Strunk wrote The Elements of Style in 1918 81 Public debate Edit Pinker and Nils Brose speaking at a neuroscience conference Pinker is a frequent participant in public debates surrounding the contributions of science to contemporary society Social commentators such as Ed West author of The Diversity Illusion consider Pinker important and daring in his willingness to confront taboos as in The Blank Slate According to West the doctrine of tabula rasa remained accepted as fact rather than fantasy 82 a decade after the book s publication West describes Pinker as no polemicist and he leaves readers to draw their own conclusions 82 In January 2005 Pinker defended comments by then President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers Summers had speculated that in addition to differing societal demands and discrimination different availability of aptitude at the high end may contribute to gender gaps in mathematics and science 83 84 85 In a debate between Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke on gender and science Pinker argued in favor of the proposition that the gender difference in representation in elite universities was explainable by some combination of biological differences in average temperaments and talents interacting with socialization and bias 86 In 2007 Pinker was noted for having identified the rename of Phillip Morris to Altria as an egregious example of phonesthesia with the company attempting to switch its image from bad people who sell addictive carcinogens to a place or state marked by altruism and other lofty values 87 In January 2009 Pinker wrote an article about the Personal Genome Project and its possible impact on the understanding of human nature in The New York Times 88 He discussed the new developments in epigenetics and gene environment interactions in the afterword to the 2016 edition of his book The Blank Slate 89 In a November 2009 article for The New York Times Pinker wrote a mixed review of Malcolm Gladwell s essays criticizing his analytical methods 90 Gladwell replied disputing Pinker s comments about the importance of IQ on teaching performance and by analogy the effect if any of draft order on quarterback performance in the National Football League 91 Advanced NFL Stats addressed the issue statistically siding with Pinker and showing that differences in methodology could explain the two men s differing opinions 92 In an appearance for BBC World Service s Exchanges At The Frontier programme an audience member questioned whether the virtuous developments in culture and human nature documented in The Better Angels of Our Nature could have expressed in our biology either through genetic or epigenetic expression Pinker responded that it was unlikely since some of the declines have occurred far too rapidly for them to be explicable by biological evolution which has a speed limit measured in generations but crime can plummet in a span of 15 years and some of these humanitarian reforms like eliminating slavery and torture occurred in say 50 years 93 Helga Vierich and Cathryn Townsend wrote a critical review of Pinker s sweeping civilizational explanations for patterns of human violence and warfare in response to a lecture he gave at Cambridge University in September 2015 94 In his 2018 book Enlightenment Now Pinker posited that enlightenment rationality should be defended against attacks from both the political left and political right 95 The book received both positive and critical reviews In a debate with Pinker post colonial theorist Homi Bhabha said that Enlightenment philosophy had immoral consequences such as inequality slavery imperialism world wars and genocide and that Pinker downplayed them Pinker responded that humanity prior to the Enlightenment had been characterized by poverty and disease 96 In 2020 an open letter to the Linguistic Society of America requesting the removal of Pinker from its list of LSA Fellows and its list of media experts was signed by hundreds of academics 97 98 The letter accused Pinker of a pattern of drowning out the voices of people suffering from racist and sexist violence in particular in the immediate aftermath of violent acts and or protests against the systems that created them citing as examples six tweets and a phrase used in his 2011 book 99 Pinker said that through this letter he and more importantly younger academics with less protection were being threatened by a regime of intimidation that constricts the theatre of ideas 99 100 101 102 Several academics criticized the letter and expressed strong support for Pinker 97 Conor Friedersdorf writing in The Atlantic criticized the letter for engaging in guilt by association and for creating a chilling effect on the speech of non tenured academics 97 The executive committee of the Linguistic Society of America issued a letter stating that the group is committed to intellectual freedom and professional responsibility It is not the mission of the Society to control the opinions of its members nor their expression Inclusion and civility are crucial to productive scholarly work And inclusion means hearing not necessarily accepting all points of view even those that may be objectionable to some 103 Awards and distinctions Edit Pinker in Gottingen 2010 Pinker was named one of Time s 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 104 and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy s 100 top public intellectuals in both years the poll was carried out 2005 105 and 2008 106 in 2010 and 2011 he was named by Foreign Policy to its list of top global thinkers 107 108 In 2016 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences 109 His research in cognitive psychology has won the Early Career Award 1984 and Boyd McCandless Award 1986 from the American Psychological Association the Troland Research Award 1993 from the National Academy of Sciences the Henry Dale Prize 2004 from the Royal Institution of Great Britain and the George Miller Prize 2010 from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Newcastle Surrey Tel Aviv McGill Simon Fraser University and the University of Tromso He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and in 2003 Pinker received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1999 110 On May 13 2006 he received the American Humanist Association s Humanist of the Year award for his contributions to public understanding of human evolution 111 Pinker has served on the editorial boards of journals such as Cognition Daedalus and PLOS One and on the advisory boards of institutions for scientific research e g the Allen Institute for Brain Science free speech e g the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education the popularization of science e g the World Science Festival and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry peace e g the Peace Research Endowment and secular humanism e g the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Secular Coalition for America 112 From 2008 to 2018 Pinker chaired the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary 113 He wrote the essay on usage for the fifth edition of the Dictionary published in 2011 In February 2001 Pinker whose hair has long been the object of admiration and envy and intense study 114 was nominated by acclamation as the first member of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists LFHCfS organized by the Annals of Improbable Research Bibliography EditWikiquote has quotations related to Steven PinkerBooks Edit Language Learnability and Language Development 1984 Visual Cognition 1985 Connections and Symbols 1988 Learnability and Cognition The Acquisition of Argument Structure 1989 Lexical and Conceptual Semantics 1992 The Language Instinct 1994 How the Mind Works 1997 Words and Rules The Ingredients of Language 1999 The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human Nature 2002 The Best American Science and Nature Writing editor and introduction author 2004 Hotheads an extract from How the Mind Works 2005 ISBN 978 0 14 102238 3 The Stuff of Thought Language as a Window into Human Nature 2007 The Seven Words You Can t Say on Television 2008 The Better Angels of Our Nature Why Violence Has Declined 2011 Language Cognition and Human Nature Selected Articles 2013 The Sense of Style The Thinking Person s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century September 30 2014 Enlightenment Now The Case for Reason Science Humanism and Progress February 13 2018 Rationality What It Is Why It Seems Scarce Why It Matters September 28 2021 Articles and essays Edit Selective compilation of articles and other works hosted at Harvard faculty pages Pinker S 1991 Rules of Language Science 253 5019 530 535 Bibcode 1991Sci 253 530P doi 10 1126 science 1857983 PMID 1857983 Ullman M Corkin S Coppola M Hickok G Growdon J H Koroshetz W J Pinker S 1997 A neural dissociation within language Evidence that the mental dictionary is part of declarative memory and that grammatical rules are processed by the procedural system Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 9 2 289 299 doi 10 1162 jocn 1997 9 2 266 PMID 23962016 S2CID 981612 Pinker S 2003 Language as an adaptation to the cognitive niche In M Christiansen amp S Kirby Eds Language evolution States of the Art New York Oxford University Press Pinker S 2005 The Evolutionary Psychology of Religion Pinker S 2005 So How Does the Mind Work Mind and Language 20 1 1 24 doi 10 1111 j 0268 1064 2005 00274 x Jackendoff R Pinker S 2005 The nature of the language faculty and its implications for evolution of language Reply to Fitch Hauser amp Chomsky Cognition 97 2 211 225 doi 10 1016 j cognition 2005 04 006 S2CID 6571737 In Defense of Dangerous Ideas Steven Pinker July 15 2007 Archived from the original on August 7 2017 Pinker S 2012 The False Allure of Group Selection Edge June 19 2012 Pinker S 2013 Science Is Not Your Enemy New Republic August 6 2013 Pinker S 2014 The Trouble With Harvard The Ivy League is broken and only standardized tests can fix it New Republic September 4 2014 References Edit Steven Pinker Desert Island Discs June 30 2013 BBC Radio 4 Retrieved January 18 2014 Steven Pinker Biography Encyclopaedia Britannica Steven Pinker the mind reader The Guardian November 6 1991 Retrieved September 11 2019 Pinker Steven 1997 How the Mind Works W W Norton amp Company ISBN 978 0 393 06973 0 Pinker Steven 2016 The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human Nature Penguin ISBN 978 1 101 20032 2 Sherk John Steven Pinker on Cognitive Psychology Computational Theory and Conversation YouTube YouTube Archived from the original on October 30 2021 The Sense of Style Wright Robert April 26 2004 The 2004 Time 100 Time World Thinkers 2013 APA PsycNet psycnet apa org Steven Pinker www nasonline org Humanist of the Year Award American Humanist Association George A Miller Award Curriculum Vitae of Steven Pinker PDF Developmental Review Editorial Board Elsevier Pinker Steven July 22 2014 The Sense of Style The Thinking Person s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century New York NY Penguin Pinker S 2009 Language Learnability and Language Development With New Commentary by the Author Harvard University Press ISBN 9780674042179 Retrieved October 10 2014 Pinker Steven April 30 2018 A Montreal pilgrimage in the footsteps of Leonard Cohen the girl standing next to the young Cohen in the group photo is my mother Roslyn Wiesenfeld Pinker https www jta org 2018 04 24 news opinion montreal pilgrimage footsteps leonard cohen WucYP F0APc twitter At home Steven Pinker Financial Times December 14 2012 Brockman John January 7 2019 Curious Minds How a Child Becomes a Scientist Vintage Books ISBN 9781400076864 via Google Books Pinker Steven June 26 2006 Groups and Genes The New Republic Retrieved October 25 2017 Shermer Michael March 1 2001 The Pinker Instinct Altadena CA Skeptics Society amp Skeptic Magazine Retrieved September 11 2007 Steven Pinker the mind reader The Guardian Accessed November 25 2006 Biography for Steven Pinker at imdb Retrieved September 12 2007 How Steven Pinker Works by Kristin E Blagg Archived October 17 2014 at the Wayback Machine The Harvard Crimson Accessed February 3 2006 Britannica Encyclopedia Curriculum Vitae PDF Harvard University archived from the original PDF on July 15 2017 retrieved June 23 2017 Pinker Steven Official Biography Harvard University Pinker wjh harvard edu Archived from the original on December 29 2005 Retrieved January 20 2012 The professoriate Archived June 8 2011 at the Wayback Machine New College of the Humanities Retrieved June 8 2011 Professor Steven Pinker New College of the Humanities Retrieved November 4 2014 Steven Pinker the mind reader by Ed Douglas The Guardian Accessed February 3 2006 Grothe D J February 23 2007 Podcast Steven Pinker Evolutionary Psychology and Human Nature Point of Inquiry with D J Grothe Retrieved December 29 2014 The nature of the language faculty and its implications for evolution of language a b c Pinker Steven Steven Pinker Long Biography Harvard University Archived from the original on December 29 2005 Retrieved May 18 2014 Pinker has written a piece on The Irregular Verbs Archived June 6 2014 at the Wayback Machine stating that I like the Irregular verbs of English all 180 of them because of what they tell us about the history of the language and the human minds that have perpetuated it a b c Pinker Steven Words and rules essay PDF Harvard University Archived from the original PDF on August 30 2014 Retrieved May 24 2014 Pinker S amp Bloom P 1990 Natural language and natural selection Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 4 707 784 a b Christine Kenneally Language Development The First Word The Search for the Origins of Language Archived from the original on July 14 2014 Pinker Steven Bloom Paul 1990 The 20th Anniversary of Steven Pinker amp Paul Bloom Natural Language and Natural Selection 1990 Behavioral and Brain Sciences Replicatedtypo com 13 4 707 726 doi 10 1017 S0140525X00081061 S2CID 6167614 a b c Jeffrey Epstein s First Criminal Case Was Helped By A Famous Harvard Language Expert BuzzFeed News Johnson Carolyn Y Svrluga Susan September 17 2019 Jeffrey Epstein the academy and questions about male dominance in science Washington Post a b c Pinker Steven 1994 The Language Instinct Penguin pp 23 24 a b Pinker Steven 1998 Obituary Roger Brown PDF Cognition 66 3 199 213 see page 205 doi 10 1016 s0010 0277 98 00027 4 PMID 9689769 S2CID 6858457 Archived from the original PDF on May 18 2015 Kagan Jerome 1999 Roger William Brown 1925 1997 PDF Biographical Memoirs 77 7 Fernald Anne Marchman Virginia A 2006 27 Language learning in infancy In Traxler and Gernsbacher ed Handbook of Psycholinguistics Academic Press pp 1027 1071 ISBN 9780080466415 quote p 1030 Some critiques directly challenge the logic of arguments made by Chomsky Pinker and like minded theorists questioning such core assumptions as the universality of generative grammar the autonomy of syntax in language processing and the fundamental unlearnability of language e g Bates amp Goodman 1999 Braine 1994 Pullum amp Scholz 2002 Tomasello 1995 Other critiques focus on empirical evidence inconsistent with particular nativist assertions For example the claim that negative evidence is not available when children make grammatical errors an assumption central to the poverty of the stimulus argument at the heart of Chomsky s theory is not supported by a recent analysis of parents reformulations in speech to children Chouinard amp Clark 2003 These diverse challenges both philosophical and data driven have fueled debate over four decades about the explanatory adequacy of nativist theories of language learning de Bot Kees 2015 A History of Applied Linguistics From 1980 to the Present Routledge ISBN 9781138820654 quote pp 58 60 GG is generally seen as a declining paradigm and its proponents now tend to stay away from conferences like AAAL the American Association of Applied Linguistics and University of Boston Child Language Development conferences as a cursory count of papers on the basis of abstracts shows In the psycholinguistic community the idea of innateness and a Language Acquisition Device LAD were seen as problematic Now that generation of GG linguists is retiring and there is a tendency in many universities not to replace them with younger scholars of that school but rather appoint UB oriented linguists There is almost a euphoria that the grip of the nativists on what constitutes linguistics is gone and that other approaches and more social orientations are seen as meaningful alternatives Others try to explain the reasons for the decline of GG Some informants are quite outspoken about the role of GG in AL William Grabe states Fundamentally Chomsky is wrong and we wasted a lot of time In 1964 Chomsky s Aspects was published Now in 2014 we are 50 years later What impact has all of that had in real world language use This is an overstated theoretical direction Jan Hulstijn summarizes Generative linguistics has had no noticeable or durable impact The Language Instinct Debate University of Sussex May 2005 ISBN 9780826473851 a b Empiricism v Nativism Nature or Nurture GRSampson net Retrieved June 8 2014 More at The Language Instinct Debate Cowley S J 2001 The baby the bathwater and the language instinct debate Language Sciences 23 1 69 91 doi 10 1016 s0388 0001 00 00017 6 Aleksander Igor 1996 Impossible Minds pp 228 234 ISBN 1 86094 030 7 a b Sailer Steve October 30 2002 Q amp A Steven Pinker of Blank Slate United Press International Archived from the original on March 16 2015 Retrieved May 10 2014 Pinker Steven Words and Rules book Harvard University Archived from the original on March 30 2014 Retrieved May 24 2014 a b Yang Charles August 24 2000 Dig dug think thunk review of Words and Rules by Steven Pinker London Review of Books 22 6 33 Pinker Steven The Stuff of Thought Harvard University Archived from the original on May 9 2008 Retrieved May 30 2014 Levitin D J Tirovolas A K 2009 Current Advances in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Music Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1156 1 211 231 Bibcode 2009NYASA1156 211L doi 10 1111 j 1749 6632 2009 04417 x PMID 19338510 S2CID 2856561 Perlovsky L 2011 Music Cognitive Function Origin And Evolution Of Musical Emotions WebmedCentral PSYCHOLOGY 2 2 WMC001494 Abbott Alison 2002 Neurobiology Music maestro please Nature 416 6876 12 14 Bibcode 2002Natur 416 12A doi 10 1038 416012a PMID 11882864 S2CID 4420891 Cross I 1999 Is music the most important thing we ever did Music development and evolution preprint html preprint pdf In Suk Won Yi Ed Music mind and science pp 10 39 Seoul Seoul National University Press Interview with Daniel Levitin Pbs org May 20 2009 Retrieved December 29 2012 Carroll Joseph 1998 Steven Pinker s Cheesecake For The Mind Cogweb ucla edu Retrieved December 29 2012 Levitin Daniel 2006 This Is Your Brain On Music The Science of a Human Obsession New York Dutton Penguin Pinker Steven 1997 How the Mind Works New York W W Norton amp Company p 342 Pinker Steven 2007 The Language Instinct 3rd ed New York Harper Perennial p 186 Pinker Steven 2007 The Language Instinct 3rd ed New York Harper Perennial pp PS14 Pinker Steven 2011 The Better Angels of Our Nature Allen Lane p66 Pinker Steven The Decline of Violence IAI Retrieved January 3 2014 Horgan John October 3 2011 Will War Ever End Steven Pinker s new book reveals an ever more peaceable species humankind Slate Boyd Neil January 4 2012 The Empirical Evidence for Declining Violence HuffPost Brittan Samuel October 22 2011 The Better Angels of Our Nature The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes by Stephen Pinker The Spectator Coffman Scott September 28 2012 Book Review The Better Angels of Our Nature Courier Journal Archived from the original on January 19 2013 Kohn Marek October 7 2011 Book Review The Better Angels of Our Nature The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes By Steven Pinker The Independent UK Fry D P 2013 War Peace and Human Nature The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views Oxford University Press Epstein R October 2011 Book Review Scientific American Boyd Neil January 4 2012 The Empirical Evidence for Declining Violence HuffPost Gray John September 21 2011 Delusions of peace Prospect Magazine UK Kolbert Elizabeth October 3 2011 Peace In Our Time Steven Pinker s History of Violence in Decline The New Yorker Pinker Steven November 2011 Frequently Asked Questions about The Better Angels of Our Nature Why Violence Has Declined Archived from the original on September 19 2016 Retrieved May 30 2014 Laws Ben March 21 2012 Against Pinker s Violence Ctheory Archived from the original on May 12 2013 Retrieved May 30 2014 The Big Kill By John Arquilla Foreign Policy December 3 2012 Retrieved January 22 2013 Corry Stephen The case of the Brutal Savage Poirot or Clouseau Why Steven Pinker like Jared Diamond is wrong PDF Survival International Retrieved May 30 2014 Summary at The myth of the Brutal Savage Steven Pinker Using Grammar as a Tool Not as a Weapon Point of Inquiry Center for Inquiry November 10 2014 Retrieved January 9 2017 a b West Ed August 17 2012 A decade after Steven Pinker s The Blank Slate why is human nature still taboo The Daily Telegraph Archived from the original on August 19 2012 Retrieved May 30 2014 Full Transcript President Summers Remarks at the National Bureau of Economic Research Jan 14 2005 The Harvard Crimson February 18 2005 Retrieved January 25 2022 Marks AR 2005 Sex and the university system J Clin Invest 115 4 790 doi 10 1172 JCI24841 PMC 1070438 PMID 15841161 PSYCHOANALYSIS Q and A Steven Pinker The Harvard Crimson Accessed March 7 2019 The Science of Gender and Science Pinker Vs Spelke A Debate Edge org May 16 2005 Retrieved May 10 2014 Pinker Steven 2007 The Stuff of Thought Penguin Books p 304 Pinker Steven January 11 2009 My Genome My Self The New York Times A Talk with Professor Steven Pinker August 8 2017 Pinker Steven November 15 2009 Malcolm Gladwell Eclectic Detective The New York Times Let s Go to the Tape The New York Times November 29 2009 Burke Brian April 22 2010 Steven Pinker vs Malcolm Gladwell and Drafting QBs Advanced NFL Stats Archived from the original on September 8 2011 Retrieved January 20 2012 Exchanges At The Frontier 2011 BBC Human violence and morality http online liverpooluniversitypress co uk doi pdf 10 3828 hgr 2015 7 Can Science Justify Itself Ada Palmer Harvard Magazine March April 2018 Does the Enlightenment Need Defending IAI TV Philosophy for our times cutting edge debates and talks from the world s leading thinkers September 13 2018 Retrieved December 4 2018 a b c Friedersdorf Conor July 20 2020 The Chilling Effect of an Attack on a Scholar The Atlantic Retrieved August 10 2020 Open Letter to the LSA July 2020 via Google Docs a b Powell Michael July 15 2020 How a Famous Harvard Professor Became a Target Over His Tweets The New York Times Retrieved August 16 2020 Stanley Tim July 18 2020 Steven Pinker The man who refused to be cancelled The Telegraph Archived from the original on January 11 2022 via www telegraph co uk Isackson Peter July 22 2020 Steven Pinker and the Debate Over Cancel Culture Fair Observer Smith Laing Tim July 20 2020 The stink of academic hypocrisy Steven Pinker usurps the very humanist values he claims to hold The Telegraph Archived from the original on January 11 2022 via www telegraph co uk Bailey Ronald July 10 2020 Steven Pinker Beats Cancel Culture Attack Reason com Retrieved August 10 2020 Steven Pinker How Our Minds Evolved by Robert Wright Archived December 30 2005 at the Wayback Machine Time Accessed February 8 2006 The Prospect FP Top 100 Public Intellectuals Archived December 1 2009 at the Wayback Machine Foreign Policy free registration required Accessed 2006 02 08 Intellectuals Prospect 2009 Archived from the original on September 30 2009 The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers 2010 Foreign Policy Foreignpolicy com 2010 Archived from the original on December 3 2010 69 Steven Pinker The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers 2011 Foreign Policy Foreignpolicy com 2011 Archived from the original on January 30 2012 48 Steven Pinker For Looking on Bright Side National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected News from the National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Sciences May 3 2016 retrieved May 14 2016 Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement www achievement org American Academy of Achievement Steven Pinker Receives Humanist of the Year Award American Humanist Association May 12 2006 Archived from the original on June 15 2006 About Steven Pinker Retrieved January 5 2021 Usage Panel American Heritage Dictionary Archived from the original on November 12 2020 Retrieved January 5 2021 The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists Annals of Improbable Research Archived from the original on January 15 2018 Retrieved January 14 2018 External links EditWikiquote has quotations related to Steven PinkerSteven Pinker on Twitter Official website Appearances on C SPANInterviews Edit 7th Avenue interview on Better Angels 2014 Steven Pinker on The Hour Steven Pinker Multimedia audio and video files Mosaic Science Wellcome interviewFilmed talks Edit Steven Pinker at TED The Better Angels of our Nature Archived March 28 2016 at the Wayback Machine Royal Institution November 2011 Linguistics Style and Writing in the 21st Century With Steven Pinker Archived July 4 2016 at the Wayback Machine Royal Institution October 2015 Q amp A Linguistics style and writing with Steven Pinker Archived July 3 2016 at the Wayback Machine Royal Institution October 2015 Steven Pinker amp Michael Shermer Pangburn September 2018Debates Edit The Two Steves Debate with neurobiologist Steven Rose The Science of Gender and Science Debate with cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Spelke Video of the debate on YouTube The Decline of Violence Debate with economist Judith Marquand BHA chief executive Andrew Copson and BBC broadcaster Roger Bolton Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Steven Pinker amp oldid 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