Atheist Alliance of America 2013 National Convention: Steven Pinker

Sep 4, 2013

Steven Pinker receives the Richard Dawkins Award at the Atheist Alliance of America convention

Dr. Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world's foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT. His research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Psychological Association. He has also received seven honorary doctorates, several teaching awards at MIT and Harvard, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and often writes for The New York Times, Time, and The New Republic. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine's "The World's Top 100 Public Intellectuals," Foreign Policy's "100 Global Thinkers," and Time magazine's "The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today."


See Steven Pinker's talk at the convention by clicking on the link below

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0 comments on “Atheist Alliance of America 2013 National Convention: Steven Pinker

  • 1
    brianhunt62 says:

    Agree completely with the thought that a scientist should win a Nobel Prize in literature. Pinker’s ‘Better Angels’ would be a great contender for the prize. I only occasionally read novels anymore, as I find modern scientific writing so much more engaging. When people are puzzled by this I tell them that I read scientific books for some of the same reasons that some one might read Shakespeare, to try to better understand and be entertained by human nature. If human nature and the mind is your interest, Pinker is your guy.

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  • 3
    Clappers says:

    Having listened again to Richard’s description, I should warn you that the first few chapters of the book are anything but light and easy reading, unless you think that describing being “hung, drawn and quartered” is easy reading. However, I should say that the detail in The Better Angels is needed to make the non intuitive case, which he does brilliantly.
    The Blank Slate is my favourite non fiction book, which I regularly recommend to people

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  • 9
    FreeWillyB says:

    I agree with the idea that it is time that a scientist win the Nobel Prize for Literature. And Steven Pinker would be an excellent candidate – each book of his is even better than the last. But what about Richard Dawkins? Not only do his books change the way a lay person (like me) sees the world, but also other scientists themselves (as I understand it), including being the father of memetics. But since this is the Nobel Prize for Literature that we are talking about, I must add that the beauty of his prose is – in my view – unsurpassed. As a composer, I hear melodies wafting about immediately after reading a sentence like this [from the Ancestor’s Tale] – “We are modified worms, swimming on our backs, descended from an early equivalent of a brine shrimp, which for some long-forgotten reason, turned over.”

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  • 10
    aldous says:

    The literature Nobel goes to novelists, playwrights and poets. Notable exceptions are Churchill, Bertrand Russell and Theodor Mommsen. It’s time to break with the conventional notion of what constitutes literature and to make an award to a distinguished writer who deals in fact rather than fiction. There’s no justification for defining literature to exclude some of our best writers, such as Dawkins and Pinker.

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  • 11
    flamenco says:

    Agree. The Better Angels is one of the most interesting and compelling books I’ve ever read. As a retired teacher, I’d love to know how to present it to schools. In its current form, it is too long and too detailed for school kids to absorb. Perhaps someone with the know-how could package some of its essential elements in video/TV/documentary form?

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  • 13
    MarcusA1971 says:

    In reply to #2 by Clappers:

    Since having read the Better Angels of our Nature, I believe he should win the Nobel Peace Prize

    Totally disagree. By awarding the peace prize to people like Yassa Arafat, Henry Kissinger and Mother Teresa, the award has lost any credibility. I understand and appreciate your sentiment, however.

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  • 15
    dduncombe says:

    Oh to have a conversation with Mr. Pinker! After I finish The Selfish Gene (reading now) it’s on to Pinker and I don’t care which. I’m so grateful for people such as yourselves. You said it so well; your books make “good company”.

    One of my most treasured possessions is the email reply I received from Mr. Pinker; as warm and sincere as ever. Congratulations Sir!

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