☯Bettie☯'s Reviews > The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
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Mar 06, 14

bookshelves: fraudio, published-2011, nonfiction, philosophy, summer-2012, tbr-busting-2012, abandoned
Read from December 17, 2011 to June 19, 2012

Audio Books : Educational : MP3/Variable : English



blurb - We've all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, "What is the world coming to?" But we seldom ask, "How bad was the world in the past?" In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species' existence.
Evidence of a bloody history has always been around us: the genocides in the Old Testament and crucifixions in the New; the gory mutilations in Shakespeare and Grimm; the British monarchs who beheaded their relatives and the American founders who dueled with their rivals; the nonchalant treatment in popular culture of wife-beating, child abuse, and the extermination of native peoples. Now the decline in these brutal practices can be quantified.
With the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps, Pinker presents some astonishing numbers. Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then suddenly were targeted for abolition. Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the numbers they did a few decades ago. Rape, battering, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse, cruelty to animals - all substantially down.How could this have happened, if human nature has not changed? What led people to stop sacrificing children, stabbing each other at the dinner table, or burning cats and disemboweling criminals as forms of popular entertainment? Was it reading novels, cultivating table manners, fearing the police, or turning their energies to making money? Should the nuclear bomb get the Nobel Peace Prize for preventing World War III? Does rock and roll deserve the blame for the doubling of violence in the 1960s - and abortion deserve credit for the reversal in the 1990s?
Not exactly, Pinker argues. The key to explaining the decline of violence is to understand the inner demons that incline us toward violence (such as revenge, sadism, and tribalism) and the better angels that steer us away. Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, bargain rather than plunder, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence.
With the panache and intellectual zeal that have made his earlier books international best sellers and literary classics, Pinker will force you to rethink your deepest beliefs about progress, modernity, and human nature. This gripping book is sure to be among the most debated of the century so far.


SHEEIT - turned off half way through the introduction so how could I possibly force myself to trudge through nearly 900 pages of earnest non-subject.

NEXT!!
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Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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message 1: by Hayes (new)

Hayes He was better when he was talking about linguistics, et alia... but he was still pretty unbearable. It's a genetic condition, I think.


message 2: by ☯Bettie☯ (last edited Jun 19, 2012 12:09PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

☯Bettie☯ Hayes wrote: " It's a genetic condition, I think."




I used to fancy him rotten - shame he opened his non-linguistosity


message 3: by Hayes (new)

Hayes I used to think he was the cat's PJs too. Why is it that people who are smart in one area think they can be smart all over the place... he'll prolly be running for president of the US next.


☯Bettie☯ the cat's pyjamas - haven't heard that phrase in a blue moon

xx


☯Bettie☯ Bird Brian wrote: "Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses

Haha! Yeah, thanks to governments for keeping violence down. I guess street crime co..."


*chuckles* - that is exactly how my head was going. Mathematics is not my greatest friend however one feels that 20thC was pretty bloody:

Russian
China
Japan
Armenians
wwI
wwII
All points Africa

etcetera
etcetera
etcetera

shall we dance and leave silly man to his permed locks?


☯Bettie☯ This bit made me gasp:

With the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps...


message 7: by Wanda (new)

Wanda I am going completely off-topic - it's the fab Lady Penelope from The Thunderbirds! Yeah!!


message 8: by ☯Bettie☯ (last edited Jun 19, 2012 04:28PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

☯Bettie☯

Lady P says to Parker - "torpedo the horrid book." Violence hasn't declined at all.

heh!


message 9: by Wanda (new)

Wanda I loved the Konami Fab1 car - so pink!


☯Bettie☯ Wanda wrote: "I loved the Konami Fab1 car - so pink!"



Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward with car-matching trouser suit.


message 11: by Hayes (new)

Hayes Bettie wrote: "This bit made me gasp:

With the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps..."


Brevity is the soul of wit, after all.


Daniel Lomax So you didn't read it then?


☯Bettie☯ Daniel wrote: "So you didn't read it then?"

Just over half, Daniel. Like I say, a non-subject earnestly rendered. Violence is on the increase, just look around.


Daniel Lomax I tried looking around but then I remembered I can't see the whole world, or the past. In other words a point never entails a trend. And anecdotal evidence is pretty insufficient.


☯Bettie☯ Daniel wrote: "I tried looking around but then I remembered I can't see the whole world, or the past. In other words a point never entails a trend. And anecdotal evidence is pretty insufficient."

go itch forbitch with other earnest non-subject adherents, I think it is pretty clear how I stand on this subject and you are trolling my review because I don't agree with you.


Daniel Lomax Not at all, I just thought it was interesting you'd dismiss his point and call him a silly man when all you've read is half the introduction. But I didn't realise you've looked around, which is an unbeatable counter-argument, so pardon me for "trolling".


message 17: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Musacha You people are sick. This is the worst review and comments I've seen on any book, ever.


☯Bettie☯ John wrote: "You people are sick. This is the worst review and comments I've seen on any book, ever."

Thanks John - we all tried hard because we knew you and Daniel were out there.
:O)


Daniel Lomax No really, I think "blurb reviews" could be the next big thing.


☯Bettie☯ Daniel wrote: "No really, I think "blurb reviews" could be the next big thing."

Your (and John's of course) unsolicited remarks prove how Pinker's book is just so wrong at core reality level.

Rest my case at this point proved moment. YAY


message 21: by Miss M (new)

Miss M YAY! Case proved by fabulousness, and awarded to Bettie!

But you know what is fabulous about the peeps like John and Daniel - they make old reviews pop up so I get to see the cool Thunderbird pix which I missed before, because we weren't friends yet. So they're not total plonkers, then...
YAY! ;)


☯Bettie☯ Miss M wrote: "So they're not total plonkers, then..."

hahaha No of course they can't be total plonkers if their behaviour underscores why this book is just another emperor's new clothes affair. But we shall draw a line under that now and move on.

Glad you liked the Thunderbird piccies, and you have yourself a lovely weekend Miss M, everyone.
:O)


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