Sunday, October 16, 2011

Steven Pinker Thread at CT

Popcorn on the go.

Note that Steven Pinker is a jerkwad.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Pinker is right, as long as you ignore all the contrary evidence (like he does) and accept all of his claims and estimates.

Smut Clyde said...

Violence down, claims Pinker the thinker

But violence is an expression of human nature, which is biologically hard-wired and refractory to social evolution. I heard that from someone called Pinker.

mikey said...

But I'm sure this Pinker fellow is grateful for all of you willing to invest your valuable time in keeping him amused. There is little doubt his life would be barren without you kind souls...

Smut Clyde said...

I see that LGW are on the case as well. Lemieux links to an old review of 'Blank Slate' for the sake of nostalgia.

I've never read 'Blank Slate' so I'll outsource all my future Pinker-is-a-jerkwad activities to that review; it really is a classic.

Substance McGravitas said...

It's great.

One of the cool things on the atrocities list is that it's all about state action, which is what tames us.

Anonymous said...

We have here a warty old thinker
In regrettably tenured Pinker:
Myth-masher supreme,
Black basher extreme,
He really belongs in the clinker!

Smut Clyde said...

From that 'Blank Slate' review:

the "universality of basic visual tastes" has been proved, Pinker points out, by the artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid

I am not an art theorist, but I do know that if Komar and Melamid made up a supposed international survey of aesthetic tastes (to satirise trends in the art world), and you cite those made-up figures as if they are objective evidence, then you deserve to lose some credibility.

Pinker relies on a 1998 book called "The Nurture Assumption," by Judith Rich Harris

Ah, so it's jerkwads all the way down.

Substance McGravitas said...

made up a supposed international survey of aesthetic tastes

I remember very much enjoying that project. It was a terrific idea.

On the other hand Pinker goes a long way to prove the notion of the Gullibility Gene.

Smut Clyde said...

Pinker goes a long way to prove the notion of the Gullibility Gene.

See also Pinker's acolyte Denis Dutton, author of the distinctively Pinker-themed The Art Instinct, all about "Modern art is crap and here's some evolutionary psychology to show that my tastes are objectively correct".

Dutton claimed to be a sceptic*, but he swallowed the Komar/Melamid hoax whole. Oh how I laughed. Then Dutton died before anyone had the pleasure of telling him what an arse he'd been.

* That selective form of scepticism that allowed him to deny AGW, because as a philosophy lecturer he knew better than those self-deluded climaotologists.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I was thinking along the same lines, S.C.

This is acceptable evidence of Pinker's claim, yet the case for AGW is phony science?

Smut Clyde said...

IIRC Pinker accepts that climate change is happening, and is a problem; but he worries that people are sloppy thinkers and lack his clear-sighted hard-headedness so they are taking the wrong steps to try and stop it -- i.e. trying to reduce their carbon emissions.

Here's a quote for your Pinker gallery. In the context of creating a market for organ transplants:

Her argument is completely reasonable to me, yet blazingly controversial to everyone else. It is the story of my life.

Anonymous said...

I had an art history professor that covered those roadside art galleries and factory produced paintings in his World Art survey course. Some people just paint the windmills,some just paint the cows. His lectures were a real kick in the butt. If Pinkerton wants to understand art theory he should cut his teeth on some bad translations of nineteenth century art theory then stand in awe at the people who can decipher it. Math isn't the only measure of smarts.


Smut Clyde said...

Until people started quoting excerpts in the LGM thread, I didn't realise that the review of Pinker's book by John Gray is itself such a source of humour. It is a consoling thought: even if Pinker stops writing, we will still have Gray to amuse us and astonish us with flabbergastingly stupid announcements.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know more of your thoughts, SC, on this John Gray... do you not find his comments apt, re: African American's in U.S. jails?

Hear the one about the statistician who died crossing a river an average of 3 ft. deep?