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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Steven Pinker
Oscar Wilde?s prophecy that ?as long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.?
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 5533-34 | Added on Sunday, July 14, 2013, 04:35 PM
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Preferential attachment is also known as accumulated advantage, the-rich-get-richer, and the Matthew Effect, after the passage in Matthew 25:29 that Billie Holiday summarized as ?Them that?s got shall get, them that?s not shall lose.?
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 4859-60 | Added on Saturday, July 13, 2013, 02:06 PM
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What are the odds of going from a small war, say, with 1,000 deaths, to a medium-size war, with 10,000 deaths? It?s the same as the odds of going from a medium-size war of 10,000 deaths to a large war of 100,000 deaths, or from a large war of 100,000 deaths to a historically large war of 1 million deaths, or from a historic war to a world war.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 4833-35 | Added on Saturday, July 13, 2013, 02:03 PM
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with every tenfold jump in the death toll of a war, you can expect to find about a third as many of them.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 4768-69 | Added on Saturday, July 13, 2013, 01:57 PM
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This cognitive illusion was first noted in 1968 by the mathematician William Feller in his classic textbook on probability: ?To the untrained eye, randomness appears as regularity or tendency to cluster.? 33
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 4601-3 | Added on Thursday, July 11, 2013, 10:34 PM
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In his book The Expanding Circle, the philosopher Peter Singer has argued that over the course of history, people have enlarged the range of beings whose interests they value as they value their own. 136 An interesting question is what inflated the empathy circle. And a good candidate is the expansion of literacy.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 4001-3 | Added on Tuesday, July 09, 2013, 10:03 PM
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The growth of writing and literacy strikes me as the best candidate for an exogenous change that helped set off the Humanitarian Revolution.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 3994-95 | Added on Tuesday, July 09, 2013, 10:02 PM
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The word slave comes from Slav, because, as the dictionary informs us, ?Slavic peoples were widely captured and enslaved during the Middle Ages.?
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 3527-28 | Added on Monday, July 08, 2013, 09:39 PM
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The essence of a culture of honor is that it does not sanction predatory or instrumental violence, but only retaliation after an insult or other mistreatment. The psychologists Richard Nisbett and Dov Cohen have shown that this mindset continues to pervade southern laws, politics, and attitudes. 90 Southerners do not outkill northerners in homicides carried out during robberies, they found, only in those sparked by quarrels.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 2340-43 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 12:57 PM
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In Europe, first the state disarmed the people and claimed a monopoly on violence, then the people took over the apparatus of the state. In America, the people took over the state before it had forced them to lay down their arms?which, as the Second Amendment famously affirms, they reserve the right to keep and bear. In other words Americans, and especially Americans in the South and West, never fully signed on to a social contract that would vest the government with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 2317-21 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 12:55 PM
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Even if you subtract all the killings with firearms and count only the ones with rope, knives, lead pipes, wrenches, candlesticks, and so on, Americans commit murders at a higher rate than Europeans. 75
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 2224-26 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 12:46 PM
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free market puts a premium on empathy. 38 A good businessperson has to keep the customers satisfied or a competitor will woo them away, and the more customers he attracts, the richer he will be. This idea, which came to be called doux commerce (gentle commerce), was expressed by the economist Samuel Ricard in 1704:
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1908-10 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 12:20 PM
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culture of honor?the readiness to take revenge?gave way to a culture of dignity?the readiness to control one?s emotions.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1808-9 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 12:09 PM
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boor (which originally just meant ?farmer,? as in the German Bauer and Dutch boer); villain (from the French vilein, a serf or villager); churlish (from English churl, a commoner); vulgar (common, as in the term vulgate); and ignoble, not an aristocrat.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1778-80 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 12:06 PM
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the emotion of disgust evolved as an unconscious defense against biological contamination. 24
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1771-72 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 12:05 PM
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As Europe became more urban, cosmopolitan, commercial, industrialized, and secular, it got safer and safer.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1656-57 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 11:56 AM
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In the earlier centuries the upper and lower social classes engaged in homicide at comparable rates. But as the homicide rate fell, it dropped far more precipitously among the upper classes than among the lower ones, an important social change to which we will return. 10
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1638-40 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 11:54 AM
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When I surveyed perceptions of violence in an Internet questionnaire, people guessed that 20th-century England was about 14 percent more violent than 14th-century England. In fact it was 95 percent less violent.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1589-91 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 11:50 AM
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moral change: a shift from valuing souls to valuing lives. The doctrine of the sacredness of the soul sounds vaguely uplifting, but in fact is highly malignant. It discounts life on earth as just a temporary phase that people pass through, indeed, an infinitesimal fraction of their existence. Death becomes a mere rite of passage, like puberty or a midlife crisis.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 3328-31 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 10:26 PM
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the first Leviathans solved one problem but created another. People were less likely to become victims of homicide or casualties of war, but they were now under the thumbs of tyrants, clerics, and kleptocrats. This gives us the more sinister sense of the word pacification: not just the bringing about of peace but the imposition of absolute control by a coercive government.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1554-56 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 10:22 AM
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the Roman historian Tacitus: ?Formerly we suffered from crimes; now we suffer from laws.?
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1539-40 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 10:20 AM
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So holding many factors constant, we find that living in a civilization reduces one?s chances of being a victim of violence fivefold.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1423-24 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Cannibalism may have been so common in prehistory as to have affected our evolution: our genomes contain genes that appear to be defenses against the prion diseases transmitted by cannibalism. 41
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1309-11 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 09:57 AM
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Robert Howard put it, ?Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split.?
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 3005-6 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 09:52 PM
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Elias called a ?controlled decontrolling of emotional controls? and what Wouters calls third nature. 182 If our first nature consists of the evolved motives that govern life in a state of nature, and our second nature consists of the ingrained habits of a civilized society, then our third nature consists of a conscious reflection on these habits, in which we evaluate which aspects of a culture?s norms are worth adhering to and which have outlived their usefulness.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 2998-3002 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 09:51 PM
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This so-called culture war, I suspect, is the product of a history in which white America took two different paths to civilization. The North is an extension of Europe and continued the court- and commerce-driven Civilizing Process that had been gathering momentum since the Middle Ages. The South and West preserved the culture of honor that sprang up in the anarchic parts of the growing country, balanced by their own civilizing forces of churches, families, and temperance.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 2493-96 | Added on Sunday, July 07, 2013, 03:10 PM
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Across time and space, the more peaceable societies also tend to be richer, healthier, better educated, better governed, more respectful of their women, and more likely to engage in trade. It?s not easy to tell which of these happy traits got the virtuous circle started and which went along for the ride,
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 203-5 | Added on Saturday, July 06, 2013, 12:24 PM
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anatomically modern Homo sapiens,? is said to be 200,000 years old. But ?behaviorally modern? humans, with art, ritual, clothing, complex tools, and the ability to live in different ecosystems, probably evolved closer to 75,000 years ago in Africa before setting out to people the rest of the world.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1183-86 | Added on Saturday, July 06, 2013, 11:11 PM
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Violence between the combatants may be called war; violence by the bystander against the combatants may be called law. The Leviathan theory, in a nutshell, is that law is better than war.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1063-64 | Added on Saturday, July 06, 2013, 10:59 PM
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The political scientist Thomas Schelling offers the analogy of an armed homeowner who surprises an armed burglar, each being tempted to shoot the other to avoid being shot first. This paradox is sometimes called the Hobbesian trap or, in the arena of international relations, the security dilemma. 8
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 1038-40 | Added on Saturday, July 06, 2013, 10:57 PM
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crucifixion, the source of the word excruciating.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 594-95 | Added on Saturday, July 06, 2013, 02:45 PM
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(The word Passover alludes to the executioner angel?s passing over the households with Israelite firstborns.)
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 462-63 | Added on Saturday, July 06, 2013, 02:33 PM
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The decline of violent behavior has been paralleled by a decline in attitudes that tolerate or glorify violence, and often the attitudes are in the lead.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker - Highlight Loc. 178-79 | Added on Wednesday, July 03, 2013, 08:15 PM
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