What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, and Why It Matters
Steven Pinker asks the big questions about human progress and sets out, in public, to answer them. In Rationality, his follow-up to Enlightenment Now, the acclaimed author explores why—when humanity is reaching new heights of scientific reasoning—there appears to be more fake news, conspiracy theorizing, and medical quackery than ever before. Rejecting the cynicism that humans are inherently irrational, Pinker offers an insightful, hopeful analysis of what rationality really is, why it can feel like it’s scarce, and how we can use it to drive better choices in our personal lives and in the public sphere.
“Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time”— Bill Gates on Enlightenment Now
A provocative speaker, much in demand, Steven Pinker is a cognitive scientist who has been named by TIME as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. His keynotes have helped millions demystify the science behind human language, thought, and action. Pinker is a Harvard professor, a TED speaker, and a bestselling author, twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Highly respected in the scientific community, his work and opinions are extensively covered in the mainstream media, and have won a wide general audience. In his latest book, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, Pinker argues that we fail to take advantage of the most powerful tools of reasoning discovered by some of our best thinkers: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation. These tools are not a standard part of our educational curricula, and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book—until now. Rationality promises to be an enriching, inspiring, and captivating new read on how to harness rationality to improve our personal lives and advance social progress.
In his earlier book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress Pinker argued that, despite fear-mongering and political upheaval, the world is getting better: peace, prosperity, knowledge and happiness are on the rise. “The world is getting better, even if it doesn’t always feel that way,” wrote Bill Gates, in a review of the book. “I’m glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture. Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time.” The New York Times included the book in its year-end list of 100 Notable Books, and NPR and Esquire both named it as one of the best books of the year. Enlightenment Now was the follow-up to The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Had Declined, which was a #1 Amazon bestseller. Keynotes based on that book inspired audiences worldwide with its core message that, if you look at the facts, we are living in the most peaceful human era ever. The talks pointed the way to a better future for humankind.
Pinker’s other bestselling books include The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (“Required reading.” – Los Angeles Times) and How The Mind Works (“A model of scientific writing: erudite, witty, and clear.” – New York Review of Books). Pinker’s acclaimed “language” series includes The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, Words and Rules, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, as well as The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.
A native of Montreal, Steven Pinker is Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Previously, he taught at Stanford and at MIT. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has won a number of teaching prizes, and his research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has received numerous awards, including the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences.
What does a book about 19th century philosophy have to do with 21st century corporate culture? Plenty! In this keynote—drawn from the book Bill Gates called the best he’d ever read—the lessons are clear. The values of The Enlightenment transformed an entire planet: creating wealth, inspiring creativity, advancing science, empowering individuals, and introducing Democracy to America, France, and the globe at large. If these values can transform the world, they can transform an organization. A perfect discussion point for today—Steven Pinker will lead your audience through an exploration of who we are and where we are going, minus the baggage of today’s headlines.