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View Full Version : Steven Pinker: paid propagandist or imbecile?



zhao
16-01-2012, 07:03 AM
what ever his achievements in other fields, this Pinker dude's views on War and Civilization are either paid propaganda efforts, or simple and clear drooling idiocy.

the almost 100% bullshit content is apparent from the stink of the title of his new book alone, but Pinker seems to be taken seriously (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/books/review/the-better-angels-of-our-nature-by-steven-pinker-book-review.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1) by many in the general public and even some in academic circles. i've heard citing of his TED lecture in pubs... certainly the idea that humans need the State to curb our "violent nature" is a very popular fallacy spread by, surprise surprise, the State. (and oh look they seem to love Steven Pinker in Israel (http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/hail-the-noble-savage-1.400527)).

even if it were true, which it most certainly isn't (Vietnam, Serbia, Congo, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.), saying that "war has stopped since WW2" is like saying "I quit smoking. 3 minutes ago."

even if one takes the period of 70 years since WW2 as ANY kind of indication that our world is going one way or another, as John Gray points out in this excellent article (http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2011/09/john-gray-steven-pinker-violence-review/)) the fact that the super powers have exported their conflicts to poorer countries can not, and MUST not be ignored. 5.8 MILLION have died because of the ongoing violence in the Congo in the past decade alone, and that is only 1 example of ‎wars which are directly connected with global capitalism and the "first world".

about the history of violence one thing is clear and indisputable: war and its possibility arises with every more complex social ties, and its practice and scale drastically increases with the size of society. so from Band level to Tribe level societies the frequency and size of conflicts increase. and in our period of Nation States, where nationalism plays a big role of pitching entire populations against each other, the frequency and size of conflicts have reached a level never before experienced by human kind. (especially since the 20th century, with the added factor of advanced war technologies)

and that is exactly the nature of the primary practical mistake made by Pinker in all those impressive looking graphs -- and those before that have influenced him -- the one of scale: the percentages and graphs do not proportionally represent accurately mortality rates caused by war IN PROPORTION to the size of the socieities that they are comparing.

Pinker claims that "Enlightenment Humanism", by extension Lib-Dem-Prog ideology, and the Media have increased the level of empathy in the world. While to me this is just pure fucking ludicrous: empathy is systematically eroded in modern times, with the media playing a central role of desensitization, misinformation, and propaganda for the war-mongering states.

zhao
16-01-2012, 07:29 AM
Since reading The Language Instinct several years ago I've suspected Steven Pinker to be something of a charlatan. Charlatan or not, ... he's the worst sort of complacent, unimaginative intellectual fraud. There's so much wrong about his flatulent assertions that I don't know where to begin. .


... "civilization" merely serves to obscure the barbarity behind an acceptable veneer, inside the homes of wife beaters, into the sweatshops of the third world, far from our gaze, into the minds of the mentally ill created by such societies. It neutralizes it into the invisible hand of capitalism, dematerializes it and abstracts it into the modern financial system of hyper-capital and meta-futures, melts it away in the white heat of computer game techno-conflict. The violence, exploitation and inhumanity continue, indeed on a far greater scale, but at an acceptable remove. This is in itself civilization, perhaps... it has tamed violence into a denatured, economic/administrative function...

luka
16-01-2012, 07:35 AM
i told you what i think on facebook. i certainly dont think you need to pay people like this. plenty of french people were willing collaborators when france was occupied by the nazis. this is much more innocuous. its just wishful thinking. ultimately its unimportant. have you read it? why? why waste your time? read something serious, or, alternatively, read something beautiful, or fun.

zhao
16-01-2012, 07:46 AM
i told you what i think on facebook. i certainly dont think you need to pay people like this. plenty of french people were willing collaborators when france was occupied by the nazis. this is much more innocuous. its just wishful thinking. ultimately its unimportant. have you read it? why? why waste your time? read something serious, or, alternatively, read something beautiful, or fun.

basically what my GF said to me last night. but for some reason this stupid shit bugs me. probably because whether he himself is just a silly simpleton who means well or not, he is fundamentally and ultimately in support of dominant power: hiding, minimizing, and justifying its crimes and injustice, preserving the status quo, and giving more life to the asinine narrative of historical progress.

luka
16-01-2012, 08:04 AM
your dear friend vimothy says this on the conspiracy thread

Can't you allow for people to hold different views because they sincerely believe them, and not just because they are fools or knaves?
i think that can be a disingenuous argument but theres plenty of times when its applicable, i guess i think this is one of them. and besides which compared with the likes of murdoch its a drop in the ocean. it wont change minds although it may reinforce assumptions already held.

luka
16-01-2012, 08:06 AM
we all collude with power in one way or another wittingly or unwittingly. you make money by making products look more desirable. i make coffee so people can work even when theyre exhausted!

luka
16-01-2012, 08:08 AM
thats not an argument for fatalism in case anyone wants to put words in my mouth.

baboon2004
16-01-2012, 10:18 AM
we all collude with power in one way or another wittingly or unwittingly. you make money by making products look more desirable. i make coffee so people can work even when theyre exhausted!

Absolutely. First thing is to recognise that.

The idea that empathy has increased is, as Zhao says, laughably stupid, though. Conflict just morphed, mostly cos oppression could be carried out at a distance, hence why colonialism stopped in its 'on the ground' form.

zhao
16-01-2012, 11:24 AM
we all collude with power in one way or another wittingly or unwittingly. you make money by making products look more desirable. i make coffee so people can work even when theyre exhausted!

of course we do. our cell phones contribute to massacres in the Congo, etc. (even though i don't have one right now ha)

but there is collusion and then there is collusion. there are those who collude by make life liveable within the system, because there is not much realistic choice to move to the Amazon rain forests, but try to do as much as they can to raise awareness of the structural problems with the system. And then there are those who actively try to further the ideological agendas of the State.

zhao
16-01-2012, 11:25 AM
psychology today: Steven Pinker's Stinker on the Origins of War (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-dawn/201103/steven-pinkers-stinker-the-origins-war)

Corpsey
16-01-2012, 09:07 PM
Haven't read the book. I've read ''How The Mind Works''. I don't know how much of that was bollocks. When it comes to the world of science I'm so generally ignorant that I will pretty much take a Harvard Professor's word for it. I need somebody knowledgeable to point out the bullshit for me.

I listened to an interview with him where he argued that violence is generally connected to an excess amount of, rather than a lack of, self-esteem, and so if you tested the LDN rioters (the interview was around that time) you'd probably find that they had too much self-esteem. This was an opinion I've never heard from an obviously intelligent person before and it rubbed me up the wrong way but for all I know he's right.

Corpsey
16-01-2012, 09:12 PM
BTW I realise that trusting Harvard Professors is unwise, since I'm assuming Harvard is about as establishment as an American academic institution can get.

yyaldrin
16-01-2012, 09:23 PM
Maybe he means things have gotten better in the global north? I don't know, maybe he's excluding Africa and some other parts of the world. I don't know the guy, where can I read about his views? I mean, it is true there are no Vikings and such around any more.

Mr. Tea
16-01-2012, 09:52 PM
I listened to an interview with him where he argued that violence is generally connected to an excess amount of, rather than a lack of, self-esteem, and so if you tested the LDN rioters (the interview was around that time) you'd probably find that they had too much self-esteem. This was an opinion I've never heard from an obviously intelligent person before and it rubbed me up the wrong way but for all I know he's right.

I think arrogance is easily confused with self-esteem and that while it can come from excessive self-esteem it can also be a reaction to a lack of it. Or a sort of self-esteem that's the inverse of what mainstream society considers estimable; the pride of being a criminal, a badman.