October 5, 2011
Steven Pinker on the illusion of ever-present violence
"The very idea [that violence has gone down] invites skepticism, incredulity, and sometimes anger. Perhaps the main cause of the illusion of ever-present violence springs from one of the forces that drove violence down in the first place."
"The decline of violent behavior has been paralleled by a decline in attitudes that tolerate or glorify violence, and often the attitudes are in the lead. By the standards of the mass atrocities of human history, the lethal injection of a murderer in Texas, or an occasional hate crime in which a member of an ethnic minority is intimidated by hooligans, is pretty mild stuff. But from a contemporary vantage point, we see them as signs of how low our behavior can sink, not of how high our standards have risen."
~ Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined