Lauren 's Reviews > Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
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really liked it
bookshelves: philosophy, science, psychology

In Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, Steven Pinker spends 550+ pages attempting to disavow you of any notion of "the good ol' days".

And he IS pretty convincing. He's got stats and graphs and lots of evidence to bolster his case that we live in amazing times - that progress and Enlightenment-era ideals have lead to better conditions in almost every measurable sphere. And he's right. He spends some ink and time on why we feel the opposite so often - the world is a hell hole! - pointing towards psychological phenomena like the optimism gap, the availability heuristic, (leaning heavily on Kahneman and Tvorsky's work) and the tendency we all have to remember negative over positive.

I didn't read his earlier book about the decline of violence, The Better Angels of our Nature, but this book looks like a more robust version of that one, with a broad focus to include public health, economics, climate change, nuclear weapons, and the timely discussion of authoritarian populism.

It's not all roses and puppies, but there are many great things and amazing research that lead to more great things. That's a good thing to remember, and a clarion call to keep going with research and evidence-based activism. All in the name of progress and making things more equal.
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Reading Progress

December 7, 2017 – Shelved
December 7, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
December 7, 2017 – Shelved as: philosophy
December 7, 2017 – Shelved as: science
October 11, 2018 – Started Reading
October 12, 2018 –
17.0%
October 14, 2018 –
28.0%
October 16, 2018 –
64.0%
October 17, 2018 –
83.0%
October 18, 2018 – Finished Reading
October 19, 2018 – Shelved as: psychology

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