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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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Performance
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  •  
    Johannes Lindgren 06-01-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Pinker is truly a Master"

    This book explains...

    ... beautiful insights into the mind.
    ... indispensable tools for ethics.
    ... scientifically backed arguments for both politics and economics.
    ... the most common and serious misconceptions of human nature.

    There are some tedious chapters. They can easily be skipped without disturbance occurring later.

    Mr Pinker, Yo da man

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzan 04-18-16
    Suzan 04-18-16 Member Since 2016
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    "fantastic"

    Another solid performance by Victor Bevine. well researched, well thought out, and intriguing. Although I disagreed with a few of the author's analyses of other literature, it did not detract from his credibility not from his overall theme.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gabriel 04-13-16
    Gabriel 04-13-16 Member Since 2015
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    "a great introduction to the debate"

    I want to learn more. much more about the subject. thoroughly recommended. I can't wait to listening to Pinker and his detractors again: to join the debate

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 03-27-16
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 03-27-16 Member Since 2015

    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.

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    "HUMAN NATURE"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DEREK E DOLSEN 03-09-16
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    "Challenging but rewarding"
    If you could sum up The Blank Slate in three words, what would they be?

    Learned a lot


    What other book might you compare The Blank Slate to and why?

    Guns, Germs, and Steel


    What about Victor Bevine’s performance did you like?

    Not monotonous, but dry; not horribly so. Acceptable.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No way.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

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

    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
  •  
    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
  •  
    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
  •  
    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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