The worst in us is stronger than the best

21 октября, 2021 от Kinok Выкл

It is not known — the future is difficult to predict and you can only imagine. If we are not talking about the future of specific people, but about the future of all mankind, imagining the picture will be strongly dependent on two important points.

From the answer to the first question in principle, it depends on or not to be humanity in the imaginary future. From the answer to the second, — what will have the people of the future in their heads, how they will perceive the world, other people and themselves.

The first question was put five years ago. His discussion was dedicated in 2016 in the city of Bergen 161nd Nobel Symposium «Causes of the World» — The Causes of Peace.

The second is just a month ago seventeen scientists of international level in the book published by them.

As can be seen from the name, the goal of the book is to answer the 1st question: to give a scientific refutation of the popular and misleading the thesis of Stephen Pinker that we, people, live in an increasingly peaceful world. At the same time, the authors tried to answer the 2nd question.

But first things first.


In the course of the intellectual battle, Taleb Stone’s stone did not leave the Pinker’s theory (which sets out in detail in his book

The report of the Professor of Political Sciences was heard as a third opinion on the symposium.

Two-minute brief of the Posyuller’s position, presented to them

The conclusions of the Talee 100% coincided with the conclusions of Braumuller.

Stephen Pinker, naturally, was also invited to speak on the Nobel symposium, but never came.

His answer to the criticism of the theory of decline in violence was many articles and publication in the 2018 new book.

As a result, the pinker turned into the most famous and influential thinker and public intellectual in the world, preaching optimistic views on progress and its fruits.

The crushing criticism of the theory of Pinker, who sounded in the Nobel symposium, was sunk in the summer. The argument of Talee and Braumuller, too complicated for understanding of non-nucleates, not widely published. It was too incomprehensible for the mass reader there were mathematical calculations given to substantiate the specifics of distributions with «thick tails». Oh possibly hiding in these tails «black swans» — rare, unlikely, but very significant events making meaninglessly calculating medium values ​​(as stated in the Nobel symposium), — in Massmenia chose not to write at all.

The story-based here is a vivid example, when a myth is introduced as a proven scientific theory into the consciousness of society. Fake concept that does not have any scientific basis. And unfortunately, this example is not unique.

In the example we considered, Stephen Pinker is a well-known specialist in the field of cognitive psychology, — offered the world the concept of a historical downturn of violence, reinforcing it with extensive data collected by various sciences (from history to osteoarcheology), for which the study of the history of violence is a profile topic.

As mentioned above, in 2016 Taleb and Braumuller professionally demonstrated that the statistical processing of historical data underlying the concept of Pinker is incorrect. And therefore, the conclusion received by the pinker about the decline in violence cannot be made on the basis of the data used.

However, Pinker did not reduce the debate with Taleb or with a Braumeller, preferring to them a popular current show with a large audience. Characteristic example —

Those who wish to feel the difference between scientific debates and a talk show do not necessarily spend one and a half hours — enough and a couple of minutes.

In September of this year, a collection of works of seventeen scientists of international level


Most of the assets of the collection are also professors of the history of US University, Great Britain, Australia and Sweden, specializing in the history of violence. The topics of their essays in the collection concern whether the arguments of Pinker correspond to the decline in violence with real historical analysis. During the analysis of Pinker’s arguments, the authors refer to the extensive list of scientific work, which occupies 45 pages in the collection.

The central argument on the gradual pacification of our species during progress and the associated statement that the present time is the most peaceful time in the history of mankind, faced with many evidence-proof problems.

The authors also write that the fallacy of the conclusions of Pinker are a consequence of at least the twelve principal misses, distortions and / or errors made by him in justifying their concept.

Not being a historian, I do not take comment on this list of 12 points. On my unprofessional look, each of them is important and serious. I will only note that half of these items can be summarized.

About this characteristic example writes in the essay

Therefore, as Linda Fibiger writes, the thesis of Pinker, despite his fame, both in the popular and academic sphere, does not occupy a prominent place in the archaeological and bioarcheological anthropological discourse on the nature of violence. The thesis of Pinker, if it is mentioned, then, rather, in footnotes, where he is written about its misunderstanding of the complexity of bioarcheological records and identifying past lives. In other words, Pinker’s claims are not perceived seriously by specialists of specific specialized areas of studies of violence.

It cannot be said that all 12 points of criticism of the Concept of Pinker contain fundamentally new arguments. Pinker has rolled out more than once from specialists who indicated a whole memory of errors in his books. Even the close friends of Pinker are forced to recognize these errors. For example, his friend, a well-known biologist-evolutionist

Those who wish to get acquainted with the details of professional criticism from historians can do this by reading the collection. We will turn to the final part of the collection, where such a generalization of the findings of its authors is given.

For several years it seemed that Pinker could become a major voice in the public political and cultural discourse of our time. However, ten years later it became obvious that the thesis of Pinker on the decrease in human violence and the growing calm of our time is just a card house. With its attentive consideration in the light of modern scientific knowledge, it becomes clear that the concept of Pinker does not withstand a strict check. It’s time to move on.

Completing this story, you can answer the questions posed at the beginning.

It is unlikely that, of course, academic texts will once be as widely read as popular. But I am an hope of myself hope that readers of my channel, to read the bestsellers Stephen Pinker, have a chance to evaluate them in dignity:


Stephen Pinker seems to me a high-class cognitive psychologist and an outstanding popularizer of science, a real intellectual and a very interesting person.

However, with the concept of a decline in violence, he trapped capital.
You can only guess the reasons for this. Most likely, this is due to the ideologization of the Pinker approach, which you can read in an interesting and informative Longrid Alex Blacedela «

Progress # violence # big war