Wednesday, January 16, 2019
in conversation with Terrence McNally
discussing his book,
The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
244 S. San Pedro Street
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012
$65 first four rows (includes book)
$45 orchestra section (includes book)
$35 balcony section (includes book)
Steven Pinker is an experimental cognitive scientist and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. He is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His earlier books include The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and often writes for The New York Times, Time, and other publications. He is an elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences, and 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.”
“The world is getting better, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. I’m glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture. Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time.”—Bill Gates
If you think the world is coming to an end, think again: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science.
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.
Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature–tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking–which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation.
With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.
Terrence McNally is a communications consultant who helps organizations tell better stories. You may recognize him as the longtime host of Free Forum on KPFK. He now hosts a weekly interview show on the Progressive Voices Network on TuneIn and a monthly podcast for a science institute at Harvard. All his podcasts can be found at iTunes and TerrenceMcNally.net