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The Blank Slate Audiobook

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

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Publisher's Summary

In The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading experts on language and the mind, explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. With characteristic wit, lucidity, and insight, Pinker argues that the dogma that the mind has no innate traits - a doctrine held by many intellectuals during the past century - denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces objective analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of politics, violence, parenting, and the arts.

Injecting calm and rationality into debates that are notorious for ax-grinding and mud-slinging, Pinker shows the importance of an honest acknowledgment of human nature based on science and common sense.

NOTE: Some changes to the original text have been made with the author's approval.

©2003 Steven Pinker; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[P]ersuasive and illuminating." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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    Ajit WESTFORD, MA, United States 02-07-16
    Ajit WESTFORD, MA, United States 02-07-16 Listener Since 2008
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    "very nice narration"

    loved it. a little dense and I had to listen to it multiple times. great on audio.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Rachel COLUMBUS, OH, United States 10-12-15
    Rachel COLUMBUS, OH, United States 10-12-15 Member Since 2016

    I read all sorts of books from various non-fiction to YA fantasy. Love them all!

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    "Interesting concepts, good narration"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Tony 09-30-15
    Tony 09-30-15
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    "Sheer Brilliance, Persuasive, Essential"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Fuzzface Mankato, MN United States 09-11-15
    Fuzzface Mankato, MN United States 09-11-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Its age is period."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    James O. Williams Aiken,SC 07-12-15
    James O. Williams Aiken,SC 07-12-15

    Just a stupid truck driver.

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    "Steven Pinker is very objective."
    Where does The Blank Slate rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Among the top. I learned a lot, although, I'm not smart enough to say that I grasped all the concepts completely.


    Which character – as performed by Victor Bevine – was your favorite?

    N/A. Nonfiction


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No. I'm open minded. I learned a lot.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Harry Warren 01-07-15
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    "A Deep Read"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Tedd United States 06-24-14
    Tedd United States 06-24-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Magnificent"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Kevin 06-18-14
    Kevin 06-18-14

    Trying to support 1) the comparably smaller non-fiction selection and 2) the few here that are not misinformation. Got mind? Use it.

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    "One of my favorites: Science meets Societal issues"
    What did you love best about The Blank Slate?

    At this point, this is my favorite non-fiction read; absolute gem.

    Like any great science books, certain details and arguments presented are open for debate, but the ideas covered are relevant, fascinating, and well-argued.

    With Mr. Pinker's classic "How the Mind Works", I was hoping he would then take the next step and apply his expertise of cognitive science to history/social issues, and this book was the answer!

    NOTE: detailed book (23 hours after all), but not difficult to absorb like some science non-fictions.

    Read (well, listen), absorb, question, and explore further. This is non-fiction at it's best: powerful theories with clear and gripping narration.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Blank Slate?

    23 enlightening and entertaining hours, that's impressive by any standards.


    What does Victor Bevine bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Strong narration. My favorite is when I can escape into the story without thinking about the narrator, and this is a fine example.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Tim United States 04-01-14
    Tim United States 04-01-14 Member Since 2011

    I read nothing that is popular.

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    "Absorbing Like a Wet Paper Towel"

    There is something about Steven Pinker that I like. For the nonbelievers, his explanation of having a blank slate and the theory of human nature makes sense. I've been reading a lot of Dr. Pinker's books and lectures and most of his material relates to the human mind, violence, and our natural instincts and desires.

    As I read more of his work, I'm starting to believe that I am somewhat an atheist because a lot of his ideas are easy to absorb, like a wet paper towel. Even when I was in Sunday school, I didn't really drink the Kool Aid. I'm not saying that is neither bad or good, but for me, I always questioned.

    As for "The Blank Slate", so far this is my favorite book. It gives an overall view of the blank slate theory. Just enough to get your feet wet, but not overbearing with one topic and leave you with boredom.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Sam Motes Tampa 10-25-13
    Sam Motes Tampa 10-25-13 Listener Since 2009
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    "The not so blank slate"

    Another great read by Pinker that takes on the nature versus nurture debate head on. He argues against the blank slate and gives good evidence why the people your kids hang out with have significant input as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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