Steven Pinker – A History Of Violence

This is probably one of the best lectures you’ll find on YouTube.   The most fascinating fact that Pinker points out is that human violence has been steadily on the decline as Western civilization has developed, contrary to what most people believe.  As people become more educated, as economic systems with the right incentives are put in place, and as more democratic governments are implemented, violence has drastically declined throughout the world.  We’re living in the most peaceful age humanity has ever experienced.  It’s important to note that though we so often focus on everything still wrong in the world, we’ve done a lot of things right.

The media so often gives us the wrong impression of the world, considering that most of the top news stories are the horrific events that have recently taken place.  What they’re not telling you is that these events are becoming less and less frequent every day.  Believe it or not, the world really is getting better everyday.

His discussion goes all the way back to tribesmen chasing animals and the first established farmers.   After the lecture was over, the last 25 minutes or so were for questions and I was tempted to shut it off, but don’t!  A lot of the questions are great.  One man asks if he thinks nuclear weapons have been a successful deterrent.  Another asks about arms races between nations and Pinker breaks it down using game theory, pointing out that such conflicts are negative sum games in which both sides lose.  He talks about the pros and cons of a one world government.  This is a must watch.

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