The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Author: Steven Pinker
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by douglaswlance   2019-04-15
Step away from "news" and read Better Angels of our Nature by Stephen Pinker:

Not only is the world better than ever, it is getting better faster than ever, and it's accelerating.

The news is getting more negative as the world gets better.

This is happening because as subscription revenue dries up, the media is incentivized toward click-bait, and the human brain is biased toward negativity. As a hunter-gatherer, a negative incident can have much worse consequences than can a positive one, so we've evolved toward a negative bias for survival reasons.

by bloomindaedalus   2019-01-13

Yeah i wasn't being snarky. just dorkily name-dropping. (cause im uncool like dat)

In fact, as somebody who almost seriously went to graduate school for linguistics and/or cognitive science, I can attest that though Pinker is an old hero of mine, when he started getting all positive about the world i wasn't all in at first..

But he is persuasive.


For those playing "life sucks but i want to believe it is getting better" along at home here's a start:









by vgSelph   2019-01-13

Please don't take this post from me as aggressive, I just wanted to point out a few things about your post.

You make a few mistakes early in your post. One is you're making the No True Scotsman argument. Essentially you're arguing that the bad Christians you assume we've met or are the cause for us leaving the church, aren't real Christians anyway. I think we need to trust people. If they say they're a Christian, I believe them.

Also, things aren't that bad here on the Earth. We've got some issues, but the things you mention are actually better now than at any point in history. Allow me to point you toward a great, great book about this, Steven Pinker's Better Angels of Our Nature . It's a great book about this exact topic, I think it may allay some of your fears.

Also, why is this life not enough? Why do you deserve more than this life? You're saying that unless you have the potential at eternity, this life isn't worth living. Why not? I've got an amazing wife, and I choose to spend some of my limited time with her. She's so great, that makes it worthwhile. I've got two great kids, my daughter is going to turn 5 in a few weeks and she's super fun to be around. I've got a 1.5 year-old son. He's crazy, no fear, always wants me to pick him up and throw him around through the air. I like to do woodworking and make really, really nice pieces for my family and friends that I just give away. I love looking at the beauty in the world. There's no intent behind it, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful and awesome. Why is that not enough? Why do you need more?

You also forget that your third option also includes a place of eternal torment for people like me. You sincerely believe that I am going to burn in Hell forever. I try to be a good person, I put a TON of effort into thinking about ethics and philosophy. I like to help people, give away my time, and just generally do what I can. But as I'm sure you know, the Bible says that we aren't saved by works. So in spite of all my efforts, because I am unable to have faith, I have eternal torment to look forward to.

It isn't Christians that made me an ex-Christian. They were largely just people where I grew up. It's the religion that I reject and everything about it. Just food for thought.

by life_of_phi   2019-01-13

May I recommend this book ?

by HappierShibe   2018-11-10

Far far less often.
Immediacy, more comprehensive reporting, and the complete lack of any kind of geographic filtration just make it seem like things are getting worse, when it is in fact the exact opposite. There's plenty of good statistical analysis to back it up, but the easier solution is to just pick up a copy of 'Better angels of our nature' by Stephen Pinker. It does a good job of breaking down the trends on different comparative perspectives, analyzing different interpretations of the data, and highlighting the most compelling conclusions we can draw from it:

When I was growing up, we didn't really hear much about most murders or other violent crimes any further away than the next town over...

by matthewdreeves   2018-11-10

Hello and welcome! Here are some recommendations for de-indoctrinating yourself:

Take some time to learn about the history of the bible. For example, you can take the Open Yale Courses on Religious Studies for free.

Read Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman

Also read A History of God by Karen Armstrong

Watch this talk from Sam Harris where he explains why "free will" is likely an illusion, which debunks the entire premise of "the fall of man" as presented by most Christian religions.

Watch this video on the Cordial Curiosity channel that teaches how the "Socratic Method" works, which essentially is a way to question why we believe what we believe. Do we have good reasons to believe them? If not, should we believe them?

Watch this video by Theramin Trees that explains why we fall for the beliefs of manipulative groups in the first place.

This video explains why and how childhood indoctrination works, for those of us born-in to a high-control group.

Another great source is this youtube series debunking 1914 being the start of the last days.

Next, learn some science. For example - spoiler alert: evolution is true. Visit Berkeley's excellent Understanding Evolution Website. Or, if you're pressed for time, watch this cartoon.

Read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.

Read The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins.

Watch this series where Aron Ra explains in great detail how all life is connected in a giant family tree.

Learn about the origin of the universe. For example, you could read A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

Learn about critical thinking from people like Michael Shermer, and how to spot logical fallacies.

For good measure, use actual data and facts to learn the we are NOT living in some biblical "last days". Things have gotten remarkably better as man has progressed in knowledge. For example, watch this cartoon explaining how war is on the decline.

Read The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker.

Watch this Ted Talk by Hans Rosling, the late Swedish Statistician, where he shows more evidence that the world is indeed becoming a better place, and why we tend to wrongly convince ourselves otherwise.

I wish you the best. There is a whole world of legitimate information out there based on actual evidence that you can use to become a more knowledgeable person.

You may still wonder how you can be a good human without "the truth." Here is a good discussion on how one can be good without god. --Replace where he talks about hell with armageddon, and heaven with paradise--

Start to help yourself begin to live a life where, as Matt Dillahunty puts it, you'll "believe as many true things, and as few false things as possible."

by niceloner10463484   2018-11-10

Ya know, shit like what you said is the reason many coastal liberals call the red middle America a bunch of jealous, hypocritical leeches that must be dragged forward kicking and screaming

Anyways, a positive I got from the various lip sync videos is the ever present body cameras you see on the officers. I have been pondering a lot about the status of law enforcement in this country. I do not subscribe to the polarizing thin blue line vs racist trigger happy murderers debate, the ACAB vs blue lives matter crap. I treat them as these distance but close-siblings.

When I see one I have respect for the dude/dudette. When they do good/stop violent bad guys I admire them. When they get hurt or killed on duty I mourn for them. But when they act reckless or bad, or try to cover up for each other I feel strong outrage that this happens in American law enforcement.

The body cams are a small, small example of the changes for the better humanity have close made that are written about in this book

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

by vibrunazo   2018-11-10

Se está interessado em se aprofundar no assunto de por que violência aumenta ou diminui. Sugiro ler esse livro do Steven Pinker que é referência mundial no assunto.

O livro foca mais no cenário global como um todo. Aonde a violência está diminuindo na média. Mas reconhece que em alguns focos na América latina violência está indo em direção contrária.

O livro é extremamente extenso, a explicação não é simples, são diversos fatores diferentes. Mas uma das teclas que ele bate bastante e nos parece bem familiar no Brasil, é um Estado ineficiente na área de segurança. Apesar de alguns políticos populistas estarem apelando pra sugestão de que deveria ser responsabilidade de cada indivíduo se defender sozinho. O que o livro mostra é que historicamente a evidência é bem forte de que quem faz segurança é a polícia. Os estados brasileiros aonde a polícia está mal paga, com greves, paralisações, é justamente aonde estão os piores focos de violência.

by puppy_and_puppy   2018-11-10

I'm not sure if this would work or not, but I would try redirecting people who have conservative or right-wing leaning views at least toward better thinkers than Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson and toward optimistic views of the future of society, to cull some of the us-vs-them and zero-sum thinking that plagues these discussions.

Sometimes it feels like men, especially, feel existentially threatened by other modes of thought, so being at least sympathetic to the good bits of their ideas and offering something similar but that promotes openness and liberal ideas may help.

Hans Rosling's Factfulness presents a pretty optimistic view of the world. It's all getting better! Seriously!

Jonathan Haidt (and Greg Lukianoff for the first book)

I had worried that the first book would be a reiteration of right-wing talking points around safe spaces, but I was surprised to find it a good listen so far. It mentions several cognitive distortions and how cognitive behavioral therapy can overcome them as well. The second book is sympathetic to conservative views and gives a good tour of moral psychology. Really recommend.

Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined is also good. Seriously, the world is getting better! Pinker is heavier on the nature side that most lefties, so knowing that may make people more receptive if they won't receive an gender argument without some mention of biology.

by TheAbyssGazesAlso   2018-11-10

I highly recommend both Sapiens , and also The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker (which Bill Gates calls "the most inspiring book I've ever read")

They'll make you think (a lot) but they're good reads and super interesting.