Steven Pinker: the dangers of “pseudo intellectual bullsh*t”

Part 2 here:

Are human beings “probability blind”? How can we best explain exponential growth – does it involve vampires? And how can we best avoid “pseudo-intellectual bullsh*t?”

In the twenty-first century, humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding – and at the same time appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that discovered vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, quack cures and conspiracy theorizing? Live from London, in conversation with Marcus du Sautoy, Professor Steven Pinker explores why – in part 1 of this exclusive How To Academy conversation.

Steven Pinker is an experimental cognitive scientist. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won many prizes for his research, teaching, and his eleven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and Enlightenment Now. His videos for Big Think (Linguistics and the brain), RSA (Language and human nature), TED (Is the world getting better or worse?), human nature, the surprising decline in violence), Unbelievable? (Debating God), The Royal Institution (Linguistics, Style and Writing), How To Academy Mindset (With Stephen Fry), The Rubin Report (Sex differences, human nature and identity politics), World Science Festival (Mind Your Language), Jordan Peterson (Enlightenment and the righteous mind), Big think (The great free will debate), AprendemosJuntos (El reto de ser racionales), Ram Talks (La Naturaleza Humana), Russell Howard, Reason TV, PhilosophyInsights and UnHerd, have garnered millions of views.

Marcus du Sautoy is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2008 he was appointed to the university’s prestigious professorship as the Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science, a post previously held by Richard Dawkins. His videos with Numberphile (Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, Music on a Clear Möbius Strip, Shortcuts), TED-Ed (The paradox at the heart of mathematics), World Science Festival (The Illusion of Certainty: Risk, Probability and Chance), The Royal Institution (What We Cannot Know, Constructor Theory), The Guardian (Painted with numbers), and Ted (Symmetry, reality’s riddle), have amassed millions of views.


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  1. Funny a psychologist talking about pseudo intelligence when psychology is the biggest pseudeo intelligence field in academia. Other than few like Freud, Kahneman most have non practical ideas and basically modernize basic philosophies from centuries ago.

  2. Why would anyone take advice on rational decision-making from someone who used to kiss Jeffrey Epstein's ass for funding? Perhaps Pinker should have developed his intuition more in life.

  3. I like the comment at around 18 minutes regarding availability bias. Why don’t the smart folk like Steven use nuclear power and deaths from it as a really powerful example.. Everyone who is engaged with the debate regarding the continued use of nuclear power usually quotes Chernobyl, Fukushima and Three Mile Island as an argument to shut down further discussion.

    Every rational academic in the energy research business should lead with this idea. They don’t. It makes me think they are blind sighted by their own biases. Can someone explain why I am getting this wrong. Genuinely I ask this in good faith

  4. Judging by the title this discussion is dangerous. I have a serious question for anyone who has the answer. Whenever mankind's most brilliant minds build more powerful and destructive nuclear weapons they'll immediately point them at themselves! Is that a sign of intelligence ⁉️

  5. Why am I here?
    High? Sure. but.
    Two old white dudes is this history?
    Nah they’ve no idea what they’re talking about.

    My hair looks more fucked up. Quarter.

    Define consciousness.

  6. An entire younger generation seems now full of it thanks to a few academic ‘intellectuals’ who, otherwise unemployable, went into education… Anyone who has been to any university in the past 30 years has witnessed evidence of this putrid imbecilia.
    Atheism and a willful attempt to destroy civilizational beauty are also at the heart of this atrophy – but mostly it is decadence – a result of sheer sloth.
    The only positive is that it is – as it will be proven – REVERSIBLE, thank God.

  7. "How not to Audio Engineer a Discussion"

    You'd think this channel could afford competent audio engineers who'd know how to place mics, set levels, and make a proper recording.

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