Once again Dr Gutting, at the NYT gutts Pinkers’ book, the better angels. This is gutting ridiculous. Dr. Gutting assumes that the Pinkers’ proposal, “we are getting smarter” is true. But, we are not getting “smarter”: we may know more about the universe, but thats’ it. There is no data to assume our generations are getting smarter, if we could find a “resonable” definition of “intelligence” or “being smart” (to not screw up?). I find it amazing that Pinker and Gutting and all others promoting the success of neocapitalist science can get away with weak arguments, flawed logic and desperate data. I call it neocapitalist science because these guys endorse the capitalist race science based to heaven-but many are atheists-on earth.
Goes Gutting : ” The two key empirical claims that Pinker puts forward are suggested in the title: that the level of human violence (war, murder, etc.) has been decreasing over the centuries and that the human ability to reason has been correspondingly increasing. He goes on to explain the first claim by the second. Our ability to reason causes us to be less violent: “A smarter [more rational] world,” he says, “is a less violent world.”
We know very well that Pinkers’ arguments in favour of decreasing world wide violence are thinly thin. The fact that even in the case if it was true, to attribute this to reason, is a bit logically and historically preposterous. Hence, the clincher: we are morally”better”-enlightened-because of reason-we are smarter-.
While at the grind, i read in the Sunday NYT Review an article by S Marche “Wouldnt it be cool if Shakespeare wasnt Shakespeare” taking on the conspiracy theories that other than the Bard himself wrote his work. He concludes:
“The problem is that not everybody does deserve a say-in anything-. Just because an opinion exists does not mean that the opinion is worthy of respect. Some people deserve to be marginalized and excluded. There are many questions in this world over which rational people can have sensible confrontations: whether lower taxes stimulate or stagnate growth; whether abortion is immoral; whether the ’60s were an achievement or a disaster; whether the universe is motivated by a force for benevolence; whether the Fonz jumping on water skis over a shark was cool or lame. Whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare is not one of these questions. Unfortunately, the nonquestion of Shakespeare’s identity is now being asked on billboards all over the world. It will raise debate where none should be. It will sow confusion where there is none. Somebody here is a fraud, but it isn’t Shakespeare.”
I suggest this applies quite to the question of “ascending intelligence” and less violence today as developed by Pinker. Remarkable: somebody floats a “reasonable idea’ and lord and behold it takes a life of its own. Examples: we live in a “less’ violent world-ask the people of Sinaloa, Mx-selfish gene-which still waits for further explanation, meme, multiverse, the singularity, the megafauna extinction by humans, Jared Diamonds’ floting ideas from the disseapereance of humans in Rapa Nui to other more bizarre ones, so forth. It seems to me all these ideas surge from the angst of their creators trying to find a ‘scientifically” informed meaning in the world that mirrors the clockwork of reason and the scientific method (more to follow).
This line of reasoning applies, a propos of violence, what Sebag Montifiore writes in the NYT-again- that “dictators deserve the death they get”. Here we have a subversive, revisionist (if possible both together) statement to appease our fear witnessing a horrendous unavoidable event.
This somehow startling pustch to invest morality with a reasonable scientific “foundation” is well, “unreasonable”. Shouldnt we advocating saner laws, equality, equity, diversity and all that will enhance the shared human condition, rather than proselityzing with confused scientific bs? At Rationally Speaking, pun intended, De Dora writes : “But the relationship between morality and law runs much deeper than one failed amendment. Indeed, this country’s foundational philosophical concepts — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness —(very self evident for everybody else in the universe) are rooted in morality!!!!!!!!!! So are fundamental principles found in the Bill of Rights, such as the right to freedom of speech and belief, the right to assembly, the right to privacy, and the right to a fair trial. This list continues on, from basic crimes like murder, rape, and robbery, to insider trading and so-called sin laws, like cigarette taxes or seat belt fines. Each one of these examples is based on some prior moral notion about what is right or wrong, or what is good or bad. In short, as Barack Obama argues in his book, The Audacity of Hope (for reference, page 218, though I suggest you read the entire book), I propose that most law, either in spirit or letter, is nothing but encoded morality.” (arghh..200 years later actually 1000 if you count the Carta Magna.). This guy works fo the NYC branch of the CFI; no wonder. He says ABSOLUTELY nothing.