Optimistic about humanity

Here’s the book everyone will be talking about, and well they should: Harvard evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker has made, in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, a massively evidenced claim that we have grown, as a species, significantly less violent over time. Counterintuitive, but really only for those who think television news reports of the most recent murder are representative of humanity. Instead, using a mix of psychological research and historical evidence, Pinker argues that on a per capita basis, we are much less likely to encounter violence in our daily lives than were our great grandparents—or our even more distant ancestors. He attributes the decline to factors such as the rise of agriculture, and, much later, of feminism, as well as the ever-growing list of those who are perceived worthy of equality. Don’t be fooled by perception: There are good reasons to be optimistic about people.