Steven Pinker

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I think it may not be a coincidence that the rise of printing and book publication and literacy and the phenomenon of best sellers all preceded the humanitarian reforms of the Enlightenment.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Best
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Roads, better harnesses for horses, time-keeping devices, financial instruments like a currency that was recognized everywhere in the kingdom, enforceable contracts - all of this made commerce more appealing than plunder.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

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Capitalism saved the world, and there is even a heretical theory now, moving up from the level of individuals to countries: countries that trade more and have more open economies are less likely to fight wars and less likely to have genocides.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

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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

Steven Pinker

   Life
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I teach classes 28 weeks of the year, but the rest of the time I do research and write books. While I'm writing a book, which I probably do two out of every three years, it's like having a second job. I squeeze in the hours when I can.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Time
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I'm very interested in language because it reflects our obsessions and ways of conceptualising the world.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

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The decline of violence isn't a steady inclined plane from an original state of maximal and universal bloodshed. Technology, ideology, and social and cultural changes periodically throw out new forms of violence for humanity to contend with.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Technology
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I learned to focus my energy on high-quality, long-term projects rather than lower-quality projects with quicker payoffs.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Energy
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Part of the bargain of being alive is that one takes a chance at dying a premature or painful death, be it from violence, accident, or disease.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Death
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It's misleading to essentialize an entire society as if it were a single mind.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Society
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I don't think there was a thunderclap or a divine spark that suddenly made one species smart. You can see, in our ancestors, there was a gradual expansion of the brain; there was an expansion of the complexity of tools.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

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You have to remember that not every creature that was evolving left behind its skull or its tools for our convenience tens of thousands of years later. Most bones or most tools rot or get buried and are never found again.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

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The actual organization of behavior goes on the level of the individual nerve cells and their connections, and we have a hundred billion nerve cells, probably a hundred trillion connections. It's just mind-boggling to think of all the different ways in which they're arranged in a baby's head.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Baby
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I think that if you were to probe a lot of people's religious opinions, they would not be as religious as the numbers would suggest.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   People
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The way to understand how different species evolved is to think about the niches that they fill in an ecosystem - basically, how they make a living.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Living
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I don't think language could have evolved if it was the only distinctive trait. It goes hand in hand with our ability to develop tools and technologies, and also with the fact that we cooperate with nonrelatives.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

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Indeed, children thrown together in a community that doesn't have a language of its own will invent one in order to communicate with each other.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Community
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As women are empowered, violence can come down, for a number of reasons. By all measures, men are the more violent gender.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Violence
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We know about every massacre that has taken place close to the present, but the ones in the distant past are like trees falling in the forest with no one to hear them.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Trees
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Everywhere you look for comparisons of life under anarchy and life under government, life under government is less violent.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

   Life