Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Kill the killer!
That is not what Steven Pinker writes but capital punishment is one of several provocative subjects in his book. Pinker is a Professor of Psychology at MIT.
People who have an opinion about human nature may change their mind. Victor Bevine professionally narrates this interesting exploration.
Pinker says that 50 percent of “who we are” is inherited. He argues that clinical studies show that inherited genes interacting with today’s environment are the primary determinants of human nature. Our environment changes in small ways; i.e., we hear the tone of a piano key, see a bird fly, or taste and feel the texture of a raspberry. External stimulus triggers chemical interaction between genetic inheritance and the environment in unfathomably complicated and varied ways. That is why even twins, raised in the same environment and family, are different. Pinker asserts that scientific studies show that less than ten percent; maybe zero percent, of who we become is based on how we were raised.
This observation is saying that parenting has little to do with who our children become. Pinker’s argument is that human nature is mankind’s genetic inheritance with individuation shaped by moments of environmental interaction. A corollary of that belief is that a person can be inadvertently programmed for violence; justifying a “kill the killer” mentality. Genetic interaction with environmental incidents may develop an immutable part of a person's human nature. This is oversimplifying Pinker's genetic argument but it does make a listener think about rational justification for capital punishment.
Learned a lot
Guns, Germs, and Steel
Not monotonous, but dry; not horribly so. Acceptable.
The book is dull at times, but overall very worth while. It has caused me to look at human nature differently, and consider different explanations for human behaviour.
I read all sorts of books from various non-fiction to YA fantasy. Love them all!
I found the narration in this audiobook quite acceptable. Nothing amazing, but not bad either. I mean, how can you be amazing when reading a book like this, anyway?
In The Blank Slate, Pinker outlines three dogmas that he says are the prevailing views of human nature in modern philosophy:
1) The blank slate, in which the mind has no innate (genetic) properties and, as John Watson boasted, through conditioning you could train a child to become anybody you want her to become.
2) The noble savage, in which people are born good, and society forms them into deviants. Pinker suggested that Rousseau was a strong proponent of this theory, but according to Wikipedia (which is always accurate), Rousseau never used this term.
3) The ghost in the machine, in which people's choices are solely dependent upon their soul.
Pinker provides evidence that these three dogmas are false, and that there is a strong genetic drive in human behavior. He covers diverse topics including racism, violence, rape, and feminism (among many others).
Overall, I found this book fascinating. I didn't think I was going to agree with Pinker...especially when I first started the book. But he presented some pretty good arguments that convinced me to waffle, if not to change my mind. I was a bit put off by Pinker's arrogance (like when he says that he's "proven" something when he's only provided evidence), but I guess that's to be expected in many well-respected intellectuals.
The Blank Slate is a masterpiece, a must-read book for our times. It describes the relationship of science with social science and the humanities with great clarity and fascination, with a warm heart and a cool head. The narration and audio quality are up to the task of bringing this book direct to your ears and brain.
There's a lot of wisdom in here, but had I known it was written in 2002 but might not have bought it. The examples are from way in the past.
Just a stupid truck driver.
Among the top. I learned a lot, although, I'm not smart enough to say that I grasped all the concepts completely.
No. I'm open minded. I learned a lot.
This is probably a book where one should buy the book and not listen to the audiobook. I've been told that the book has a lot of corresponding graphs, etc., so that you can see the data and grasp the concepts at hand.
This is a very interesting and well written book on an important topic, the malleability of human nature. Similar to "The Righteous Mind," which I also enjoyed immensely. The narration was also excellent.
Pinker skewers those who, either wittingly or willingly pervert science and art in order to prop up a belief system whose time has clearly come. More astonishing is the fact that he does so while giving far more time to the opposing viewpoint. Admittedly, this almost becomes tedious, but each chapter lets you off the hook with a healthy dose of real science. A must read for all natural and social scientists, philosophers and educators.