Steven Pinker Professor of Psychology

Harvard University


Psychologist Steven Pinker has been instrumental in asserting that human brains are born predisposed to certain kinds of behavior and learning. Previous to his work, much of the popular discussion regarding human development strongly favored the “blank slate” model, which proposes that people are completely shaped by culture. Pinker argues that science has shown that we are each uniquely shaped by innate biological traits in the brain, relics of our evolutionary history. More recently, Pinker has weighed in on our understanding of human history. He believes—contrary to popular wisdom—that violence has been steadily declining for tens of thousands of years, and that we now live in the safest era humanity has ever experienced. He sees this phenomenon emerging from increased globalization and availability of information, saying: "The more you think about and interact with other people, the more you realize it is untenable to privilege your interests over theirs."


The Language Instinct
How the Mind Works
Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined


Photo by Max Gerber.

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