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    steven pinker Quotes

    In a high tech world the cure for the tragic shortcomings and perilous fallacies of human intuition is education, but education in economics, evolutionary biology, probability and statistics - unfortunately most High School and College curricula have barely changed since Medieval times!
    — Steven Pinker
    Dominance in an adaptation to anarchy and it serves no purpose in a society that has undergone a civilising process or in an international system regulated by agreements and norms. Anything that deflates the concept of dominance is likely to drive down the frequency of fights between individuals and wars.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: society  process  fight  anarchy  war 
     
    It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer. But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth. Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: work  living  earth  designer 
     
    In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints ... and gods.
    — Steven Pinker
    After their return from Babylon, the practice of human sacrifice died out among the Jews, but survived as an ideal in one of its break-away sects, which believed that God accepted the torture-sacrifice of an innocent man in exchange for not visiting a worse fate on the rest of humanity. The sect is called Christianity.
    — Steven Pinker
    For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment that we can savor - and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible.
    — Steven Pinker
    Commerce is a noble profession, and Jews should get over any self-hatred they might harbor from contemplating the capitalist spirit of diaspora Judaism.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: spirit  profession  noble 
     
    Morality comes from a commitment to treat other as we wish to be treated, which follows from the realization that none of us is the sole occupant of the universe.
    — Steven Pinker
    Knowing there is a world that will outlive you, there are people whose well-being depends on how you live your life, affects the way you live your life, whether or not you directly experience those effects. You want to be the kind of person who has the larger view, who takes other people's interests into account, who's dedicated to the principles that you can justify, like justice, knowledge, truth, beauty and morality.
    — Steven Pinker
    Obviously no language is innate. Take any kid from any race, bring them up in any culture and they will learn the language equally quickly. So no particular language is in the genes. But what might be in the genes is the ability to acquire language.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: language  culture  learn  kids  race 
     
    Sex and excretion are reminders that anyone's claim to round-the-clock dignity is tenuous. The so-called rational animal has a desperate drive to pair up and moan and writhe.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: animals  dignity  sex 
     
    Babies are born with the instinct to speak, the way spiders are born with the instinct to spin webs. You don't need to train babies to speak; they just do. But reading is different.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: reading  instinct 
     
    We will never have a perfect world, but it's not romantic or naive to work toward a better one.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: work  world  romantic 
     
    Without goals the very concept of intelligence is meaningless
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: intelligence  goal 
     
    We're living in primate heaven. We're warm, dry, we're not hungry, we don't have fleas and ticks and infections. So why are we so miserable?
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: living  heaven 
     
    Cognitive psychology tells us that the unaided human mind is vulnerable to many fallacies and illusions because of its reliance on its memory for vivid anecdotes rather than systematic statistics.
    — Steven Pinker
    The idea that children are passive repositories to be shaped by their parents has been massively overstated. A child's peer group is a far greater determinant of its development and achievements than parental aspiration.
    — Steven Pinker
    Evolutionarily speaking, there is seldom any mystery in why we seek the goals we seek - why, for example, people would rather make love with an attractive partner than get a slap on the belly with a wet fish.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: people  mystery  goal  example 
     
    Being smarter gives you a tailwind throughout life. People who are more intelligent earn more, live longer, get divorced less, are less likely to get addicted to alcohol and tobacco, and their children live longer.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: children  people  live  child  alcohol 
     
    Thanks to the redundancy of language, yxx cxn xndxrstxnd whxt x xm wrxtxng xvxn xf x rxplxcx xll thx vxwxls wxth xn "x" (t gts lttl hrdr f y dn't vn kn whr th vwls r)
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: language 
     
    I would argue that nothing gives life more purpose than the realization that every moment of consciousness is a precious and fragile gift.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: realization  moment  gift 
     
    All our behaviours are a result of neurophysiological activity in the brain. There is no reason to believe there is any magic going on.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: magic  believe  brain 
     
    If the myth of pure evil is that evil is committed with the intention of causing harm and an absence of moral considerations, then it applies to very few acts of so-called 'pure evil' because most evildoers believe what they are doing is forgivable or justifiable.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: evil  believe  morals 
     
    The great appeal of the doctrine that the mind is a blank slate is the simple mathematical fact that zero equals zero.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: facts  mind 
     
    The theory that religion is a force for peace, often heard among the religious right and its allies today, does not fit the facts of history.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: peace  right  facts  religious 
     
    Though knowledge itself increasingly ignores boundaries between fields, professors are apt to organize their pedagogy around the methods and history of their academic subculture rather than some coherent topic in the world.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: world 
     
    The reason I'm not a neurobiologist but a cognitive psychologist is that I think looking at brain tissue is often the wrong level of analysis. You have to look at a higher level of organization.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: brain  wrong 
     
    If you give people literacy, bad ideas can be attacked and experiments tried, and lessons will accumulate.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: people  lessons  bad  ideas 
     
    Consciousness surely does not depend on language. Babies, many animals, and patients robbed of speech by brain damage are not insensate robots; they have reactions like ours that indicate that someone's home.
    — Steven Pinker
    Plants can't very well defend themselves by their behavior, so they resort to chemical warfare, and plants are saturated with toxins and irritants to deter creatures like us who want to eat them.
    — Steven Pinker
    M.I.T. has a reputation for turning out Dilberts. They may be brilliant in what they do, but no one can understand what they say.
    — Steven Pinker
    Societies that empower women are less violent in every way.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: women  society  violent 
     
    Equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group.
    — Steven Pinker
    Most wars are not fought over shortages of resources such as food and water, but rather over conquest, revenge, and ideology.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: food  revenge  water  war 
     
    The stirrings of morality emerge early in childhood. Toddlers spontaneously offer toys and help to others and try to comfort people they see in distress.
    — Steven Pinker
    I suspect music is auditory cheesecake, an exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots of... our mental faculties.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: mental  music 
     
    The doctrine of the sacredness of the soul sounds vaguely uplifting, but in fact is highly malignant. It discounts life on earth as just a temporary phase that people pass through, indeed, an infinitesimal fraction of their existence"the gradual replacement of lives for souls as the locus of moral value was helped along by the ascendency of skepticism and reason
    — Steven Pinker
    Terrorist bombings, like rampage shootings, are events that maximize the amount of publicity per amount of damage. That's why people do them, because they know they will set off a media frenzy.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: people  media 
     
    Look at almost any passage, and you'll find that a paragraph has five or six metaphors in it. It's not that the speaker is trying to be poetic, it's just that that's the way language works.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: work  language  metaphor 
     
    One can choose to obsess over prescriptive rules, but they have no more to do with human language than the criteria for judging cats at a cat show have to do with mammalian biology.
    — Steven Pinker
    tags: language  human  rules  cat  biology 
     
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