The Better Angels of Our Nature, Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

What thrills me about Better Angels is that it presents overwhelming empirical proof of what we already know; the world is getting less violent, more kind and more fair.   I was born in 1956 when Jim Crow was the law, people with disabilities were invisible and wife-beating was sitcom humor.

Through the din of corporate news and in the grip of Mean World Syndrome it’s easy to forget that rape in the US has been reduced by more than 80% since 1979, that bullying in schools is now treated as a symptom of disorder where it used to be called, “childhood”.  Amid the endless and endlessly wrong predictions of doom we might not notice that the great power of Europe, the nations that gave white people a bad name, the folks who gave us the inquisition, the Crusades, trans-oceanic slavery and the Holocaust are now so gentle they won’t extradite mass killers to the US for fear we might hurt them.

Pinker sites lots of reasons for violences’ decline from outsourcing of revenge to our 130 year worldwide increase in IQ scores.  He also, rightly says the decline of violence in all categories around the world and the rise of kindness and reason are accomplishment for which all of humanity can – and says me should, take a bow.

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