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Read “Enlightenment Now” Now!

Posted by Rex Alexander on Thu 17 Oct 19 in Books & Media, bookshop, Rational living, Rational Thinking, Read any good books lately? |

 

If you read one book this year, read Steven Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now.” Please! More than any book I have read, this one exposes how the despair, nastiness, anger and masochism characteristic of today’s social-cultural-political climate is irrational, manufactured and simply based on incorrect information. ~Rex 

 

 

Enlightenment Now:
The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress


by Steven Pinker
 
Rex gives 4 1/2 hearts

The follow-up to Pinker’s groundbreaking The Better Angels of Our Nature presents the big picture of human progress: 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.

 


Rex gives it five out of five hearts!
 

 

 

Have you read this book? Please add a review or comment or question in the form at the bottom.  Thanks!

 

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Originally posted 2018-10-01 06:33:40.

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Rex Alexander

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Rex is a blogger, REBT coach and founder of the REBTraining.com / REBTinfo.com website, admin and regular contributor to the REBTraining Facebook Group

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1 Comments
Rex Alexander Fri 13 Sep 19
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Earlier today on the REBTraining Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/REBTraining/ " target="_blank" title="https://www.facebook.com/groups/REBTraining/">https://www.facebook.com/groups/REBTraining/ ">https://www.facebook.com/groups/REBTraining/">https://www.facebook.com/groups/REBTraining/ Somone posted this article criticizing Pinker's book.   https://rootsofprogress.org/enlightenment-now" target="_blank" title="https://rootsofprogress.org/enlightenment-now">https://rootsofprogress.org/enlightenment-now">https://rootsofprogress.org/enlightenment-now">https://rootsofprogress.org/enlightenment-now. with thesse comments 

" the article says he labels people as ‘SJW’? Wow. That doesn’t seem good REBT?

Of course, there are idealists who hold certain values that we might indeed label as SJW *behaviour.*


However, It seems to me that labelling others, rather than listening to what they have to say, only amplifies division.

I’m not keen on populist terms that create division."

And my long-winded response.

At least the author does not attempt to disguise his bias in the lead sentence "Pinker’s Enlightenment Now is a manual for liberal self-congratulation. This preening tome professes a pragmatic and quantitative approach to the world’s problems."

And th
en goes on to dismiss the entire point of the book "Superficially, Enlightenment Now is compelling to the fair-minded reader, as it is chock full of statistics and graphs ostensibly demonstrating the march of progress since the Age of Reason. "

Pinker's work is hardly immune to criticism, and many dislike him, as is their privilege. However, to use this dislike to obscure the fundamental "take away" from the book is unfortunate. The book is indeed "chock full" of statistics and graphs. However, Pinker did not just find them under a turnip patch; they are the product of of scholarly research, so "extensive documentation" might be a more fair-minded way of characterizing "chock full." More importantly, the statistics and the graphs are not the point, the point is what the statistics and the graphs are telling us: Many or most of us stubbornly maintain decidedly inaccurate view of (social) reality because the rate of change from the beginning of the 20th Century has been so vast, and has come upon us so blindingly fast that we simply have not kept up with it, and therefore are forming conclusions about the state of the world in a vacuum of ignorance. You are free to quibble with any of the statistics but it is difficult to argue with the overwhelming, overarching conclusion of those statistics. Circumstances are and have been radically improving world-wide especially in areas that have been the poorest, most oppressed most unequal. Measures of health, wealth, inequality, the environment, peace, democracy are better, in many cases much, much better than even 20 years ago. Just two factlets: Life expectancy in Africa was 30 years in 1900, 60 years in 2015, and projected to be 70 years in 2018. The acceleration even more dramatic in other regions. Famine is has been decimated; today most people have access to 2,500 calories.

These numbers are easy to gloss over unless you take a moment to compare them to your preconceived notions of reality. Before you heard 2,500 calories, how many calories would you have guessed were available to most people in Africa? This is monumental, and Mr. Pinker documents it in 600 pages which have significantly more impact that a few words on a facebook post.

But none of this is good news to SJWs (or however they would prefer to be referred to) who depend on stirring up and nurturing a sense of gloom, depression, outrage, victimization to advance their agenda.

If you are not up to Pinker's 600 pages, there is a website that does, I think, a pretty good bullet-point summary
https://rootsofprogress.org/enlightenment-now?fbclid=IwAR0ujELjcfpzSQxRnI2yHYuV3MM_8jGMoTxiJBF1vTtfiETAiW1xjy1aSkw" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener" data-lynx-mode="asynclazy" data-lynx-uri="https://rootsofprogress.org/enlightenment-now" target="_blank" title="https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Frootsofprogress.org%2Fenlightenment-now%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR0ujELjcfpzSQxRnI2yHYuV3MM_8jGMoTxiJBF1vTtfiETAiW1xjy1aSkw&h=AT34D02m3lidRY3b1u3FM2_Mrv6raA2dbvOu_BKm6uIEzca4ihdN-5LU6_NqRUScHtZTWpk0GNRooJ1MjSMEp98ER4V-ChlL7iwBs3vgGDqqYqO2SKWIpQfXoyNYq4fB84cT">https://rootsofprogress.org/enlightenment-now">https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Frootsofprogress.org%2Fenlightenment-now%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR0ujELjcfpzSQxRnI2yHYuV3MM_8jGMoTxiJBF1vTtfiETAiW1xjy1aSkw&h=AT34D02m3lidRY3b1u3FM2_Mrv6raA2dbvOu_BKm6uIEzca4ihdN-5LU6_NqRUScHtZTWpk0GNRooJ1MjSMEp98ER4V-ChlL7iwBs3vgGDqqYqO2SKWIpQfXoyNYq4fB84cT">https://rootsofprogress.org/enlightenment-now

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