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Steven Pinker: Violence Is Lower Than Ever

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker talked about the thesis of his new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, at the ScienceWriters2011 conference in Flagstaff on October 17. Steve Mirsky reports

“Believe it or not, violence has been in decline for long stretches of time. And today are probably living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.” Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker at the ScienceWriters2011 conference in Flagstaff on October 17th. His new book is The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

“The decline of violence has not been steady. It has not brought violence down to zero. And it is not guaranteed to continue. But…it is a persistent historical development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from the waging of wars and genocides to the spanking of children and the treatment of animals.”

One example is homicide rates. “It turns out that homicide records go back in Europe in many places for centuries…a medieval Englishman was at least 35 times more likely to be murdered than his modern counterpart. This is true not just in England, but in every European country for which statistics have been gathered.”

—Steve Mirsky

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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