Saturday, March 03, 2018

The Better Angels: WE ARE EVO

I remember how surprised I was when I saw Steven Pinker defend himself against the negative review of "Better Angels" in the New Yorker, by calling on Razib Khan. But I shouldn't have been. I knew that Pinker and Khan went back to at least 2006 as I talked about the first time I mentioned Khan on this blog in August 2006.

Here's how Khan began:
My post below defending Steve Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature elicited some responses on twitter. Robert Lee Hotz finds it odd that I defend a book I haven’t read. My logic here is simple: the outline of the argument in The Better Angels of Our Nature has been presented in shorter form. John Gray’s piece doesn’t even address this digest, so I am skeptical that it could address the data which is no doubt strewn across hundreds of pages. It is obviously theoretically possible that The Better Angels of Our Nature is thinner in results than the shorter essays and presentations I’ve seen over the years on the same topic from Pinker, but highly unlikely. If Gray does a disservice to the short form argument, I doubt he is being any fairer to a longer exposition.
Nice way to get out of reading the whole damn book which is over seven hundred pages and full of random trivia that Pinker felt he just had to share, like Keith Moon's deplorable personal life.

I mostly focused on the one chapter and even that was a tiresome chore.

Khan proceeds to mostly review the New Yorker review and finishes with:
I think Pinker’s description of the decline in violence is precise and accurate. As to whether that is sustainable, and his theories for how the description came about, I’m more skeptical. But I’ll get to that when I read the book!
What's interesting though isn't so much what Khan has to say about the book, but rather the fact that he's the only person Pinker mentions in response to the question "Has anyone else replied to Kolbert?" 

I suspect because Pinker knew he could count on Khan, as a member of the evo-psycho brotherhood.

And Pinker returns the favor, as I have been documenting. Most recently by saying:
When (people who gravitate to the alt-right) are exposed the first time to true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses, or in The New York Times, or in respectable media, they are almost like a bacillus to which they have no immunity. And they're immediately infected with both the feeling of outrage that these truths are unsayable, and no defense against taking them to what we might consider to be rather repellent conclusions.
At first glance you assume Pinker is talking about himself - that somehow his true statements have never been voiced in college campuses. But that's clearly wrong. Pinker is speaking freely in the video at Harvard. And Jesse Singal at the New York Times immediately defended Pinker's remarks.

So clearly Steven Pinker has no trouble from academia or the media.

So whose truths are being repressed? We'll talk about that next.