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Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He grew up in Montreal and earned his BA from McGill and his PhD[…]

“How did we get here?”

Question: What question should we be asking ourselves?

Pinker:    I think the kind of question to . . . that would be good to ask is, “What’s good about our condition – not just what’s bad about it – and how did we get here?  How do we get to enjoy it?”  Not just what went wrong, which is very easy to ask; but also what went right?  Also, the other question I would want people to ask is, “What really is our current state of affairs?  How bad are things compared to other times and places?  How polluted is our environment compared to the way it was 100 years ago?  How much war and peace is there compared to what there was at other times?  How much murder, and rape and homicide?”  Get an objective picture of our current state of affairs so as to have a rational basis for asking what went right in the things that we do value.  How can we bottle it, and purify it and concentrate it so that we can enjoy more of whatever that is in the future.