Steven Pinker – Enlightenment Now

Steven Pinker is a best-selling author and Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.

Time Magazine called him one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World Today”

His most popular books include The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct.

His most recent book, Enlightenment Now; The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress, tells the heroic story of human progress, and why we neglect it at our peril.


00:00 Trailer.

02:37 Brian’s thoughts on the episode.

05:00 Brian’s introduction.

05:31 Steven loves being back in London.

06:20 How the MIT perspective and culture are woven into Steven’s books.

09:23 Voluntary sacrifices are not going to make a nick in the problem of climate change.

11:37 Aware of people’s cognitive biases, Steven uses data and figures to prove the world has improved.

17:28 How to guard against one’s cognitive biases.

20:26 The internet allows irrational ideas to flourish whilst science sites disprove them.

30:13 Why idea tribalism is prevalent in today’s world and how statistical evidence can dispel beliefs.

32:03 Is Steven’s optimism the reason why people favour his point of view?

35:55 The Progressives tend to be on the Left and hate progress, but there is a right-wing version too.

41:26 Steven’s optimism for a progressive future, one without interstate wars.

47:15 The Blank Slate, the modern denial of human nature.  Steven’s views on gender equality.

56:16 James Damore’s firing for questioning male domination in computer coding.

1:00:09 Steven’s perspective on the word Patriarchy.

1:07:57 A sense of universal solidarity, love and commonality could be induced by oxytocin in the brain.

1:10:17 The, everybody’s talking about it, influence of social media.

1:18:11 Success secrets.

1:18:56 What scares Steven.

1:19:37 How we are doing in dealing with problems in the Environment.

1:23:15 Phone call to the 20 years old Steven.

1:26:05 Best advice ever received.

1:28:01 Advice to the young person listening.

1:29:27 Brian’s summing up.

Leave a Reply

4 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
9 Comment authors
Andrew Cashmiroscambopalmer460zamerijhoffdavejstanley391Matt Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Andrew Cashmiros

A bit annoyed that it’s hard to find the audio on Shout Engine. Could you just post direct like to audio, preferably with download link? Thanks 🙂


A delightful and charming man… but teeth grindingly naive. Beware the brainwashed academic.


In what way?


Lost me at about an hour in when he says men rape bc of their instinct to procreate. Such bs. Most other male animals do not rape their female counter parts. There are heierachies and coutships that take place in most all animal relationships. All male lions or peacocks don’t go running around raping as many females as they can bc that’s not a instinctive response.


So consensual sex is about the instinct to procreate (im assuming you’ll grant that), but the moment sex becomes non consensual it ceases to be be about the instinct to procreate? Thing is, even consensual sex usually involves eroticised dominance and submission. So it’s not actually very far from consensual sex to rape. Hard to accept because we don’t like to look at all the dodgy things we are complicit with… But none of this is to say that rape is acceptable. It’s the same with murder. Violence is instinctive, but the point of civilisation is to reduce violence as… Read more »


That’s actually kinda funny that you say that about lions. You kinda left out the part that male lions will kill the cubs of the mother during the mating ritual.


And that’s not what Steven Pinker said.


A lot of animals do take one another. Ducks for example. And dogs.


As a female minority in the US and a child of immigrant parents, I wish there were more people like this man (and Jordan Peterson) who would spread these messages throughout the media.