with Niall Ferguson
What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters“
This event premieres on October 6, 2021 at 6pm PDT/9pm EDT
— $40 includes the book with signed book plate (shipping included)
(* we only ship to US addresses)
— also includes access on video-on-demand for 72 hrs after the event.
— ASL interpreter available upon request.
“In our uncertain age, which can so often feel so dark and disturbing, Steven Pinker has distinguished himself as a voice of positivity.” – New York Times
Can reading a book make you more rational? Can it help us understand why there is so much irrationality in the world? Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now answers all the questions here
Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in cognition, language, and social relations. He earned his BA from McGill and his PhD from Harvard. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won many prizes for his research, his teaching, and his books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Sense of Style, and Enlightenment Now. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He was Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications.
Niall Ferguson is a historian and the author of sixteen books, including Civilization, The Great Degeneration, Kissinger, 1923–1968: The Idealist, and The Ascent of Money. He is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the managing director of Greenmantle LLC. He is also a regular Bloomberg Opinion columnist. His many prizes include the International Emmy for Best Documentary (2009), the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service (2010), and the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award (2016).
“An impassioned and zippy introduction to the tools of rational thought… Punchy, funny and invigorating.”—The Times (London)
Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding–and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?
Rationality is a primer in logical thinking and an entertaining expedition through all the trapdoors we can tumble through when we try to parse reality or bend it to our will. As always, Pinker’s examples range from the profound (the impossibility of proving God exists), to the hilarious (using a scene from the old movie Love Story to demonstrate deduction as well as seduction).
Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational–cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives, and set out the benchmarks for rationality itself. We actually think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we’ve discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. These tools are not a standard part of our education, and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book–until now.
Rationality also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity, and uplifting mythology can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth.
Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Brimming with Pinker’s customary insight and humor, Rationality will enlighten, inspire, and empower.