Steven Pinker receiving the Richard Dawkins Award:
Well, I managed to watch the first 35 minutes of the whole 58 minute dreary video, dreary not due to the statistics presented, but due to the insufferable conviction of Pinker, a much spoiled man who is isolated from the world and its real problems, that humanity is so much better off now that it has ever been, and that, O, we are so much more enlightened than our predecessors. What insufferable cheek.
His biggest error in logic (and he claims to be a man of reason!) is his constant use of percentages in an invalid manner, which leads him to false conclusions. If you look at a graph of world population historically, the world population is almost always rising, but the rise in population starting early in the 20th century has been exponential. Therefore, when he compares a percentage statistic of violence in an earlier era to a percentage statistic in the 20th or 21st century, he is talking about a vastly smaller number of persons killed, murdered, or maimed in the earlier era compared to the vast amounts of persons killed, murdered, or maimed in the 20th and 21st centuries. The unmistakable, unavoidable conclusion to this is that Pinker values a human life in any bygone era far above that of a human life in the modern era. By Pinker’s own logic, he doesn’t value contemporary lives as being of much worth at all, despite his claims to value human life. In reality, a human life has value regardless of what era a person lived in. Pinker can afford to sit in his comfortable armchair surrounded by like-minded (deluded) liberal friends who have gentlemanly and ladylike manners, enjoying an expensive glass of wine, and ignore such a consideration, which if he had a grain of honesty, he would have acknowledged to himself long before.
His claim about the elimination of slavery would be laughable if it weren’t so tragically false. He said slavery is no longer legal anywhere. It’s legal in Qatar under the guise of sponsorship laws. It’s virtually legal in Uzbekistan, due to the government’s organization of forced labor in the cotton industry. There may be other countries where slavery is legal. It is also widely practiced in India. He gives no mention of the prevalence of child slavery, legal or not, in countries across the globe. And he gives no mention of sex slavery, which is on a sharp rise in “civilized” countries in Europe and in the USA. He also gives no mention of the virtual slavery endured by millions due to the global capitalists who have created the conditions whereby a wage slave will accept almost any horrific conditions due to the reason that otherwise he and his family will starve to death.
He talks about the abolition of torture. But he does not mention the resumption of the use of torture by the government of the United States, and the cast of grossly immoral and (literally) criminal lawyers who provided the pseudo-legal-justification to adopt cruel methods of torture not only at the prison in Guantanamo but also at a host of known “black sites” in Afghanistan (Salt Pit, AKA Cobalt, Code Black), Lithuania (Antaviliai, Code Violet), Romania (Bright Light, Code Black), Poland (Quartz, Code Blue), Thailand (Cat’s Eye, Code Green) and a secret site on the Guantanamo Naval Base, known as Strawberry Fields (Forever). http://anonhq.com/not-finished-yet-think-guantanamo-bad-nine-cia-black-sites-worse-torture-abuse-happened/ This information was freely available to Pinker, if he had cared to look for it. He didn’t. Since he is a citizen of the United States, he really should have looked.
He also does not mention any of the times that the rulers of the world in the 20th century came ever so close to blowing up the entire planet not just once (the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962) but 9 other documented times that folks don’t read about in the corporate-controlled newspapers. If this had come to pass, neither Pinker and like-minded “enlightened” intellectuals, nor any of the rest of us, would be around to discuss the topic in our cozy surroundings.
If Pinker thinks that literacy and our education in propaganda has created a more enlightened populace, that we more modern folks are any better judges of ourselves and the world than humans of past eras, then he is full of the most stercoraceous humbug ever pedaled to a gullible audience.
As Voltaire said (and Pinker quoted Voltaire as saying so), “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” Pinker ought to reflect on the fact that this is precisely so if one takes at face value the absurdities promulgated by the global capitalists and their apologists, of whom Pinker is himself an example.