Full Version: The Limitations of Steven Pinker's Optimism
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A somewhat mild but effective critical review of Steven Pinker's new book Enlightenment Now.
Pinker is so annoying; he's like a caricature.

«Pinker looks in some depth at the rise in scepticism about science, in society and in parts of academia such as the humanities.» In Pinker's precious enlightenment, Hume proved that science has no rational basis whatsoever. And science has never rose to the challenge. Instead, it has "progressed" through chauvinism and tyranny (cf. Feyerabend). Pinker says «intellectuals hate progress», and there's a reason for that; it was expressed by Sale: «Progress is the myth that assures us that full-speed-ahead is never wrong. Ecology is the discipline that teaches us that it is disaster.»

Pinker is a tool. (In several meanings of the term.) This critique is written by another optimist, but a more reflected one. While largely unsatisfying (in that it could've gone further), it's still a nice enough read for anyone who doesn't know about Pinker's writings, which all basically serve the same techno-optimist science ideology.
I was thinking of starting a website debunking all of Pinker's claims and ideas. It would be a huge undertaking, and I'm not sure I'm up to the task, but it's an idea I've toyed with for a while. I thought of calling it: Pinker-nocchio, showing a picture of his face with every lie or misinterpretation of the facts making his nose grow longer.
A better and much more sophisticated critique of Pinker:
You should all be elated because my cherry-picked data says you are.
Steven Pinker: the world's most annoying man

Another excellent critique..

"You know, of course, what the most grating and infuriating human behavior is. It is not when another person is simply being unreasonable. It is when that person is constantly insisting that they are Just Being Reasonable, and wondering why you’re acting so crazy and irrational, while they themselves are in fact being extremely goddamn unreasonable. It is not when they are just wrong, but when they top it off by patronizingly explaining your own views to you, purporting to refute them, while not having the faintest understanding of what those views actually are."