Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Pinker, Steven (2018227), Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: enlightenment humanism

Memes

27 JUL 2018

 The Enlightenment Needs Vigorous Defense

The ideals of the Enlightenment are products of human reason, but they always struggle with other strands of human nature: loyalty to tribe, deference to authority, magical thinking, the blaming of misfortune on evildoers. The second decade of the 21st century has seen the rise of political movements that depict their countries as being pulled into a hellish dystopia by malign factions that can be resisted only by a strong leader who wrenches the country backward to make it “great again.”...
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Entropy, Evolution, Information (Entro, Evo, Info)

How is entropy relevant to human affairs? Life and happiness depend on an infinitesimal sliver of orderly arrangements of matter amid the astronomical number of possibilities. Our bodies are improbable assemblies of molecules, and they maintain that order with the help of other improbabilities: the few substances that can nourish us, the few materials in the few shapes that can clothe us, shelter us, and move things around to our liking. Far more of the arrangements of matter found on Earth a...
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 The Great Lifespan Escape

At the time when the lines begin, in the mid-18th century, life expectancy in Europe and the Americas was around 35, where it had been parked for the 225 previous years for which we have data.3 Life expectancy for the world as a whole was 29. These numbers are in the range of expected life spans for most of human history. The life expectancy of hunter-gatherers is around 32.5, and it probably decreased among the peoples who first took up farming because of their starchy diet and the diseases ...
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Gratitude for the Scientists Who Saved Lives

When I was a boy, a popular literary genre for children was the heroic biography of a medical pioneer such as Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, Frederick Banting, Charles Best, William Osler, or Alexander Fleming. On April 12, 1955, a team of scientists announced that Jonas Salk’s vaccine against polio—the disease that had killed thousands a year, paralyzed Franklin Roosevelt, and sent many children into iron lungs—was proven safe. According to Richard Carter’s history of t...
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Norman Borlaug, Giga-Lifesaver

In the 1950s and ’60s, another giga-lifesaver, Norman Borlaug, outsmarted evolution to foment the Green Revolution in the developing world.21 Plants in nature invest a lot of energy and nutrients in woody stalks that raise their leaves and blossoms above the shade of neighboring weeds and of each other. Like fans at a rock concert, everyone stands up, but no one gets a better view. That’s the way evolution works: it myopically selects for individual advantage, not the greater good of the ...
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 The Progressive Effects of Education

Homo sapiens, “knowing man,” is the species that uses information to resist the rot of entropy and the burdens of evolution. Humans everywhere acquire knowledge about their landscape, its flora and fauna, the tools and weapons that can subdue them, and the networks and norms that entangle them with kin, allies, and enemies. They accumulate and share that knowledge with the use of language, gesture, and face-to-face tutelage. [...] The mind-altering effects of education extend to every s...
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Heritable IQ is Boosted by Environment, Just Like Height

hough it’s not easy to pinpoint the causes of the rise in IQ scores, it’s no paradox that a heritable trait can be boosted by changes in the environment. That’s what happened with height, a trait that also is highly heritable and has increased over the decades, and for some of the same reasons: better nutrition and less disease. Brains are greedy organs, consuming about a fifth of the body’s energy, and they are made of fats and proteins that are demanding for the body to produce. Fig...
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Fluid Intelligence has Made the Most Gains

So which kinds of intellectual performance have been pushed upward by the better environments of recent decades? Surprisingly, the steepest gains have not been found in the concrete skills that are directly taught in school, such as general knowledge, arithmetic, and vocabulary. They have been found in the abstract, fluid kinds of intelligence, the ones tapped by similarity questions (“What do an hour and a year have in common?”), analogies (“BIRD is to EGG as TREE is to what?”), and ...
Folksonomies: intelligence iq
Folksonomies: intelligence iq
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 The Information Age has Increased Abstract Intelligence

Most dramatically, an increase in one kind of abstract intelligence is visible all over the world: mastery of digital technology. Cyberspace is the ultimate abstract realm, in which goals are achieved not by pushing matter around in space but by manipulating intangible symbols and patterns. When people were first confronted with digital interfaces in the 1970s, like videocassette recorders and ticket machines in new subway systems, they were baffled. It was a running joke of the 1980s that mo...
Folksonomies: intelligence iq
Folksonomies: intelligence iq
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Measuring Progress by the Cost of Light

Time is not the only life-enriching resource granted to us by technology. Another is light. Light is so empowering that it serves as the metaphor of choice for a superior intellectual and spiritual state: enlightenment. In the natural world we are plunged into darkness for half of our existence, but human-made light allows us to take back the night for reading, moving about, seeing people’s faces, and otherwise engaging with our surroundings. The economist William Nordhaus has cited the plu...
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Human Progress Confounds -isms

It should not be surprising that the facts of human progress confound the major -isms. The ideologies are more than two centuries old and are based on mile-high visions such as whether humans are tragically flawed or infinitely malleable, and whether society is an organic whole or a collection of individuals.43 A real society comprises hundreds of millions of social beings, each with a trillion-synapse brain, who pursue their well-being while affecting the well-being of others in complex netw...
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Successful Prediction

Successful prediction is the revenge of the nerds. Superforecasters are intelligent but not necessarily brilliant, falling just in the top fifth of the population. They are highly numerate, not in the sense of being math whizzes but in the sense of comfortably thinking in guesstimates. They have personality traits that psychologists call “openness to experience” (intellectual curiosity and a taste for variety), “need for cognition” (pleasure taken in intellectual activity), and “int...
Folksonomies: statistics prediction
Folksonomies: statistics prediction
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Our Modern Worldview and Morality is Shaped by Science

To begin with, the findings of science imply that the belief systems of all the world’s traditional religions and cultures—their theories of the genesis of the world, life, humans, and societies—are factually mistaken. We know, but our ancestors did not, that humans belong to a single species of African primate that developed agriculture, government, and writing late in its history. We know that our species is a tiny twig of a genealogical tree that embraces all living things and that e...
Folksonomies: science humanism morality
Folksonomies: science humanism morality
  1  notes
 
27 JUL 2018

 Nietzsche is the Opposite of Humanism

If one wanted to single out a thinker who represented the opposite of humanism (indeed, of pretty much every argument in this book), one couldn’t do better than the German philologist Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900).109 Earlier in the chapter I fretted about how humanistic morality could deal with a callous, egoistic, megalomaniacal sociopath. Nietzsche argued that it’s good to be a callous, egoistic, megalomaniacal sociopath. Not good for everyone, of course, but that doesn’t matter:...
  1  notes