I want to give you the back story behind today’s TED Talk and make the case that it’s one of the most significant we’ve ever posted. And I’m not just talking about its incredible animation. I’m talking about its core idea. Two years ago the psychologist Steven Pinker and the philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, who are […]Continue reading
Why you should listen
Steven Pinker's books have been like bombs tossed into the eternal nature-versus-nurture debate. 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.
Time magazine named Pinker one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004. His book The Stuff of Thought was previewed at TEDGlobal 2005. His recent book The Better Angels of Our Nature looks at our notion of violence.
For the BBC, he picks his Desert Island Discs >>
What others say
“'Better Angels' is a monumental achievement. His book should make it much harder for pessimists to cling to their gloomy vision of the future. Whether war is an ancient adaptation or a pernicious cultural infection, we are learning how to overcome it. ” — Slate.com
Steven Pinker’s TED talks
Intriguing reads from around the Internets this week: Two journalists on why the red line on chemical warfare is necessary. [Foreign Affairs] The story of Sara Josephine Baker, a doctor who saved 90,000 inner-city children by the time she died in 1945. [NYRB] “You can’t defend the humanities by declaring it off limits to amateurs.” […]Continue reading
TED Talks cover an incredible breadth of topics — from mathematical origami to self-repairing architecture to personalized medicine. Some talks explore what lies at the very essence of TED — the act of talking. The 10 talks below explore the various dynamics of speech — from phonology to cognition to the socio-cultural role of language in […]Continue reading