Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Violence Within Us.
About Steve Pinker's TEDTalk
Steven Pinker says our perception of how violent we are as a species is skewed.
Steven Pinker says our perception of how violent we are as a species is skewed. Robert Leslie/TED
Steven Pinker charts the decline of violence from Biblical times to the present, and argues that, though it may seem illogical and even obscene, given events in Darfur and Syria, we are living in the most peaceful time in our species' existence.
About Steve Pinker
Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, questions the very nature of our thoughts — the way we use words, how we learn, and how we relate to others. In his best-selling books, he has brought sophisticated language analysis to bear on topics of wide general interest. Pinker asserts that not only are human minds predisposed to certain kinds of learning, such as language, but that from birth our minds — the patterns in which our brain cells fire — predispose us each to think and behave differently.
His deep studies of language have led him to insights into the way that humans form thoughts and engage our world. He argues that humans have evolved to share a faculty for language, the same way a spider evolved to spin a web. We aren't born with "blank slates" to be shaped entirely by our parents and environment, he argues in books including The Language Instinct; How the Mind Works; and The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.