Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Pinker, Steven (2011-10-04), The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Penguin, Retrieved on 2015-05-29
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  • Folksonomies: enlightenment culture ethics violence

    Memes

    29 MAY 2015

     The Past is a Brutally Foreign Place

    If the past is a foreign country, it is a shockingly violent one. It is easy to forget how dangerous life used to be, how deeply brutality was once woven into the fabric of daily existence. Cultural memory pacifies the past, leaving us with pale souvenirs whose bloody origins have been bleached away. A woman donning a cross seldom reflects that this instrument of torture was a common punishment in the ancient world; nor does a person who speaks of a whipping boy ponder the old practice of flo...
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    30 MAY 2015

     The Violent Past of Otzi and Kennewick Man

    In 1991 two hikers stumbled upon a corpse poking out of a melting glacier in the Tyrolean Alps. Thinking that it was the victim of a skiing accident, rescue workers jackhammered the body out of the ice, damaging his thigh and his backpack in the process. Only when an archaeologist spotted a Neolithic copper ax did people realize that the man was five thousand years old.2 Ötzi the Iceman, as he is now called, became a celebrity. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine and has been the subj...
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    30 MAY 2015

     The Bible is One Long Celebration of Violence

    Like the works of Homer, the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) was set in the late 2nd millennium BCE but written more than five hundred years later.12 But unlike the works of Homer, the Bible is revered today by billions of people who call it the source of their moral values. The world’s bestselling publication, the Good Book has been translated into three thousand languages and has been placed in the nightstands of hotels all over the world. Orthodox Jews kiss it with their prayer shawls; witn...
    Folksonomies: immorality violence bible
    Folksonomies: immorality violence bible
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    Also mentions King Solomon and how his solution to carve a baby in half was horrific. The prostitutes must have known he was capable of doing it.

    30 MAY 2015

     Violence Must be Considered Proportionally When Compared ...

    In absolute numbers, of course, civilized societies are matchless in the destruction they have wreaked. But should we look at absolute numbers, or at relative numbers, calculated as a proportion of the populations? The choice confronts us with the moral imponderable of whether it is worse for 50 percent of a population of one hundred to be killed or 1 percent of a population of one billion. In one frame of mind, one could say that a person who is tortured or killed suffers to the same degree ...
    Folksonomies: violence quantification
    Folksonomies: violence quantification
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    30 MAY 2015

     Means of Quantifying Violence

    Now let’s turn to the present. According to the most recent edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2,448,017 Americans died in 2005. It was one of the country’s worst years for war deaths in decades, with the armed forces embroiled in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Together the two wars killed 945 Americans, amounting to 0.0004 (four-hundredths of a percent) of American deaths that year.57 Even if we throw in the 18,124 domestic homicides, the total rate of violent ...
    Folksonomies: violence quantification
    Folksonomies: violence quantification
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    30 MAY 2015

     States Reduce Violence

    So did Hobbes get it right? In part, he did. In the nature of man we find three principal causes of quarrel: gain (predatory raids), safety (preemptive raids), and reputation (retaliatory raids). And the numbers confirm that relatively speaking, “during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war,” and that in such condition they live in “continual fear, and danger of violent death.” But from his armchair in 17th-ce...
    Folksonomies: society governance violence
    Folksonomies: society governance violence
      1  notes
     
    30 MAY 2015

     Violence and the Concept of Social Justice

    The main reason that violence correlates with low socioeconomic status today is that the elites and the middle class pursue justice with the legal system while the lower classes resort to what scholars of violence call “self-help.” This has nothing to do with Women Who Love Too Much or Chicken Soup for the Soul; it is another name for vigilantism, frontier justice, taking the law into your own hands, and other forms of violent retaliation by which people secured justice in the absence of ...
    Folksonomies: violence social status
    Folksonomies: violence social status
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    30 MAY 2015

     The South's Long History of Violence

    Why has the South had such a long history of violence? The most sweeping answer is that the civilizing mission of government never penetrated the American South as deeply as it had the Northeast, to say nothing of Europe. The historian Pieter Spierenburg has provocatively suggested that “democracy came too early” to America.85 In Europe, first the state disarmed the people and claimed a monopoly on violence, then the people took over the apparatus of the state. In America, the people took...
    Folksonomies: violence vigilantism
    Folksonomies: violence vigilantism
      1  notes
     
    30 MAY 2015

     Literacy Increases Compassion

    The human capacity for compassion is not a reflex that is triggered automatically by the presence of another living thing. As we shall see in chapter 9, though people in all cultures can react sympathetically to kin, friends, and babies, they tend to hold back when it comes to larger circles of neighbors, strangers, foreigners, and other sentient beings. In his book The Expanding Circle, the philosopher Peter Singer has argued that over the course of history, people have enlarged the range of...
    Folksonomies: literacy morality
    Folksonomies: literacy morality
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    30 MAY 2015

     The Enlightenment Ideal Ingrained in Culture

    You and I ought to reach this moral understanding not just so we can have a logically consistent conversation but because mutual unselfishness is the only way we can simultaneously pursue our interests. You and I are both better off if we share our surpluses, rescue each other’s children when they get into trouble, and refrain from knifing each other than we would be if we hoarded our surpluses while they rotted, let each other’s children drown, and feuded incessantly. Granted, I might be...
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    30 MAY 2015

     Human Biology and Monarchy

    Luard calls the first of his ages, which ran from 1400 to 1559, the Age of Dynasties. In this epoch, royal “houses,” or extended coalitions based on kinship, vied for control of European turfs. A little biology shows why the idea of basing leadership on inheritance is a recipe for endless wars of succession. Rulers always face the dilemma of how to reconcile their thirst for everlasting power with an awareness of their own mortality. A natural solution is to designate an offspring, usual...
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    30 MAY 2015

     Capitalist Peace

    Such findings have led some political scientists to entertain a heretical idea called the Capitalist Peace.243 The word liberal in Liberal Peace refers both to the political openness of democracy and to the economic openness of capitalism, and according to the Capitalist Peace heresy, it’s the economic openness that does most of the pacifying. In arguments that are sure to leave leftists speechless, advocates claim that many of Kant’s arguments about democracy apply just as well to capita...
    Folksonomies: capitalism peace
    Folksonomies: capitalism peace
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    30 MAY 2015

     Pessimism in Predictions and the False Sense of Insecurity

    You would think that the disappearance of the gravest threat in the history of humanity would bring a sigh of relief among commentators on world affairs. Contrary to expert predictions, there was no invasion of Western Europe by Soviet tanks, no escalation of a crisis in Cuba or Berlin or the Middle East to a nuclear holocaust.1 The cities of the world were not vaporized; the atmosphere was not poisoned by radioactive fallout or choked with debris that blacked out the sun and sent Homo sapien...
    Folksonomies: perspective pessimism
    Folksonomies: perspective pessimism
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    30 MAY 2015

     The Rights Revolutions Erase Their Victories

    The Rights Revolutions have another curious legacy. Because they are propelled by an escalating sensitivity to new forms of harm, they erase their own tracks and leave us amnesic about their successes. As we shall see, the revolutions have brought us measurable and substantial declines in many categories of violence. But many people resist acknowledging the victories, partly out of ignorance of the statistics, partly because of a mission creep that encourages activists to keep up the pressure...
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    30 MAY 2015

     Scientific Consensus is the Spanking is Bad

    At least since Dr. Spock, child-care gurus have increasingly advised against spanking.175 Today every pediatric and psychological association opposes the practice, though not always in language as clear as the title of a recent article by Murray Straus: “Children Should Never, Ever, Be Spanked No Matter What the Circumstances.”176 The expert opinion recommends against spanking for three reasons. One is that spanking has harmful side effects down the line, including aggression, delinquency...
    Folksonomies: science parenting spanking
    Folksonomies: science parenting spanking
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    30 MAY 2015

     Risk of Childhood Kidnapping are Very Low

    A generation ago 70 percent of children played outside; today the rate is down to 30 percent.209 In 2008 the nine-year-old son of the journalist Lenore Skenazy begged her to let him go home by himself on the New York subway. She agreed, and he made it home without incident. When she wrote about the vignette in a New York Sun column, she found herself at the center of a media frenzy in which she was dubbed “America’s Worst Mom.” (Sample headline: “Mom Lets 9-Year-Old Take Subway Home A...
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    30 MAY 2015

     Information Fertilizes Moral Growth

    ...a flow of information can fertilize moral growth. Scholars who have puzzled over the trajectory of material progress in different parts of the world, such as the economist Thomas Sowell in his Culture trilogy and the physiologist Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, have concluded that the key to material success is being situated in a large catchment area of innovations.306 No one is smart enough to invent anything in isolation that anyone else would want to use. Successful innovators...
    Folksonomies: information morality
    Folksonomies: information morality
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    30 MAY 2015

     The Myth of Pure Evil

    The myth of pure evil gives rise to an archetype that is common in religions, horror movies, children’s literature, nationalist mythologies, and sensationalist news coverage. In many religions evil is personified as the Devil—Hades, Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Mephistopheles—or as the antithesis to a benevolent God in a bilateral Manichean struggle. In popular fiction evil takes the form of the slasher, the serial killer, the bogeyman, the ogre, the Joker, the James Bond villain, or depe...
    Folksonomies: mythology evil
    Folksonomies: mythology evil
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    30 MAY 2015

     The Informational Stakes of Dominance

    The commodity that is immediately at stake in contests of dominance is information, and that feature differentiates dominance from predation in several ways. One is that while contests of dominance can escalate into lethal clashes, especially when the contestants are closely matched and intoxicated with positive illusions, most of the time (in humans and animals alike) they are settled with displays. The antagonists flaunt their strength, brandish their weapons, and play games of brinkmanship...
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    30 MAY 2015

     Intellectual Leaders Have Fewer Deaths in War

    Now that the presidency of George W. Bush is over, the theory that we are better off with unintellectual leaders is just embarrassing, and the reasons for the embarrassment may be quantified. Measuring the psychological traits of public figures, to be sure, has a sketchy history, but the psychologist Dean Simonton has developed several historiometric measures that are reliable and valid (in the psychometrician’s technical sense) and politically nonpartisan.208 He analyzed a dataset of 42 pr...
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    30 MAY 2015

     Human Combinatoric Reasoning

    Humans, of course, were not created in a state of Original Reason. We descended from apes, spent hundreds of millennia in small bands, and evolved our cognitive processes in the service of hunting, gathering, and socializing. Only gradually, with the appearance of literacy, cities, and long-distance travel and communication, could our ancestors cultivate the faculty of reason and apply it to a broader range of concerns, a process that is still ongoing. One would expect that as collective rati...
    Folksonomies: reasoning combinatorics
    Folksonomies: reasoning combinatorics
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    30 MAY 2015

     Scientific Reasoning Explains Increases in IQ

    The bombshell is that the Flynn Effect is almost certainly environmental. Natural selection has a speed limit measured in generations, but the Flynn Effect is measurable on the scale of decades and years. Flynn was also able to rule out increases in nutrition, overall health, and outbreeding (marrying outside one’s local community) as explanations for his eponymous effect.241 Whatever propels the Flynn Effect, then, is likely to be in people’s cognitive environments, not in their genes, d...
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    30 MAY 2015

     Sophistication of Political Discourse

    Sophistication of Political Discourse. Finally, let’s have a look at political discourse, which most people believe has been getting dumb and dumber. There’s no such thing as the IQ of a speech, but Tetlock and other political psychologists have identified a variable called integrative complexity that captures a sense of intellectual balance, nuance, and sophistication.283 A passage that is low in integrative complexity stakes out an opinion and relentlessly hammers it home, without nuanc...
    Folksonomies: rhetoric language
    Folksonomies: rhetoric language
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    30 MAY 2015

     Empathy is a Circle

    Empathy is a circle that may be stretched, but its elasticity is limited by kinship, friendship, similarity, and cuteness. It reaches a breaking point long before it encircles the full set of people that reason tells us should fall within our moral concern. Also, empathy is vulnerable to being dismissed as mere sentimentality. It is reason that teaches us the tricks for expanding our empathy, and it is reason that tells us how and when we should parlay our compassion for a pathetic stranger i...
    Folksonomies: empathy
    Folksonomies: empathy
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