Ayer, Steven Pinker hizo un AMA en Reddit . I am Steve Pinker, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard. Ask me anything.

Merece la pena leerlo entero, porque hay partes estupendas. En este post he destacado algunas de las respuestas más interesantes… para mí. Por diferentes motivos, pero muy subjetivos. Recomiendo leerlo todo.

Por ejemplo, le preguntan si el hecho de comprender la mente no afecta negativamente a su propia felicidad, si no hace que la vida le parezca arbitraria y sin sentido y la euforia sólo una reacción química. A lo que él responde:

“Quite the opposite — I find a naturalistic understanding of human nature to be indispensable to leading a wise and mature life, and it is often exhilarating. Wisdom consists in appreciating the preciousness and finiteness of our own existence, and therefore not squandering it; of being cognizant of what makes people everywhere tick, and therefore enhancing happiness and minimizing suffering; of being alert to limitations and flaws in our own judgments and decisions and passions, and thereby doing our best to circumvent them. The exhilaration comes from understanding that we are a part of natural world; that deep mysteries can be explained; and that the world — including our own mental lives — can be intelligible, rather than a source of superstition and ignorance. Yes, mortality sucks, but given that it exists, I’d rather know that than be kept in a childlike state of delusion”.

– Le preguntan qué grandes pensadores, poco valorados en general, recomendaría seguir. Y responde:

John Mueller, on the history and politics of war. Linguist Ray Jackendoff, on language and cognition. Psychologist Philip Tetlock, on the psychology of taboo, and the limitations of expert prediction. The philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein (disclosure: we are married). Anthropologist Alan Fiske, on the nature of human relationships and cross-cultural variation in them. Historical criminologist Manuel Eisner. Psychologist Leda Cosmides. Anthropologist John Tooby. The Northwestern U scholar of medicine, sexuality, and other topics Alice Dreger“. Y afirma que “we are living in a golden age of brilliant minds”.

– Le preguntan si hay alguna razón por la que, siendo ateo, no se haya vinculado al movimiento ateista, más bien agresivo, de otros como Dawkins.

Pinker explica que “Atheism is simply the denial of one set of beliefs, and it has never been a priority to stipulate one among the many things I don’t believe in”. Pero también destaca que “After having written Better Angels I now have a stronger intellectual and moral commitment to Enlightenment humanism, classical liberalism, and the ideal of human rights, because I saw how those ideas were instrumental in bringing about the best things that have happened in human history — the reduction of institutionalized violence, and the development of knowledge and technologies that have increasingly allowed human beings to flourish”.

Le preguntan si sigue pensando que la música no tiene ni ha tenido ningún propósito desde la perspectiva de la psicología evolutiva. Y responde:

I have still not seen a bona fide adaptive explanation for music. Ironically, when it comes to music, everyone is a rabid, evidence-free, panglossian, just-so-story loving adaptationist, while when it comes to psychological phenomena for which we have enormous bodies of empirical evidence, they are in a state of denial. I think it’s the moralistic fallacy again: we value music, therefore want it to be an adaptation; we deplore violence, selfishness, tribalism, rape, and sex differences, therefore want them not to be adaptations“.

– Le preguntan por la posible relación entre videojuegos y violencia. Y responde:

There is no good evidence that violent video games cause real-life violence. Christopher Ferguson has reviewed the literature extensively and shown that claims to the contrary are bogus (and the Supreme Court agreed). Just for starters: the era in which video games exploded in popularity is exactly the era in which violent crime among young people plummeted”.