Frases de Steven Pinker

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Steven Pinker

Data de nascimento: 18. Setembro 1954

Steven Arthur Pinker é um psicólogo e linguista canadense naturalizado estadunidense da Universidade Harvard e escritor de livros de divulgação científica. Durante 21 anos foi professor no Departamento do Cérebro e Ciências Cognitivas do Massachusetts Institute of Technology antes de regressar a Harvard em 2003. Pinker completou o bacharelado em Psicologia da Universidade McGill no ano 1976, e doutorado em Psicologia Experimental da Universidade de Harvard em 1979.

Pinker escreve sobre a linguagem e as ciências cognitivas em vários níveis, desde artigos especializados até publicações de divulgação científica. Ele é mais bem conhecido pela sua pesquisa da aquisição da fala e pelo seu trabalho sobre as noções de desenvolvimento inato da linguagem avançadas por Noam Chomsky. No entanto, ao contrário de Chomsky, Pinker considera a linguagem como uma adaptação evolutiva.

Seus livros Como a Mente Funciona e Tabula rasa estiveram entre os finalistas para o Prêmio Pulitzer. Em 2004, Pinker foi nomeado uma das 100 pessoas mais influentes pela Revista Time. Ele também figurou na lista "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" da revista Foreign Policy.


„O desejo de variedade sexual nos homens é insaciável. Quanto maior for o número de mulheres com quem um homem tiver relações, mais filhos ele terá. Então demais nunca é o bastante.“

„Mas e quanto ao imperativo darwiniano de sobreviver e reproduzir-se? No que concerne ao comportamento cotidiano, não existe esse imperativo. Há quem fica assistindo a um filme pornográfico quando poderia estar procurando um parceiro, quem abre mão de comida para comprar heroína, quem posterga a gestação dos filhos para fazer carreira na empresa, quem come tanto que acaba indo mais cedo para o túmulo. O vício humano é prova de que a adaptação biológica, na acepção rigorosa do termo, é coisa do passado. Nossa mente é adaptada para os pequenos bandos coletores de alimentos nos quais nossa família passou 99% de sua existência, e não para as desordenadas contingências por nós criadas desde as revoluções agrícola e industrial. Antes da fotografia, era adaptativo receber imagens visuais de membros atraentes do sexo oposto, pois essas imagens originavam-se apenas da luz refletindo-se de corpos férteis. Antes dos narcóticos em seringas, eles eram sintetizados no cérebro como analgésicos naturais. Antes de haver filmes de cinema, era adaptativo observar as lutas emocionais das pessoas, pois as únicas lutas que você podia testemunhar eram entre pessoas que você precisava psicanalizar todo dia. Antes de haver a contracepção, os filhos eram inadiáveis, e status e riqueza podiam ser convertidos em filhos mais numerosos e mais saudáveis. Antes de haver açucareiro, saleiro e manteigueira em cada mesa, e quando as épocas de vacas magras jamais estavam longe, nunca era demais ingerir todo o açúcar, sal e alimentos gordurosos que se pudesse obter. As pessoas não adivinham o que é adaptativo para elas ou para seus genes. Estes dão a elas pensamentos e sentimentos que foram adaptativos no meio em que os genes foram selecionados.“


„Em um sistema bem projetado, os componentes são caixas-pretas que desempenham suas funções como por mágica. Ocorre exatamente assim como a mente. A faculdade com que ponderamos o mundo não tem a capacidade de perscrutar seu próprio interior ou nossas outras faculdades para ver o que as faz funcionar. Isso nos torna vítimas de uma ilusão: a de que nossa própria psicologia provém de alguma força divina, essência misteriosa ou princípio todo-poderoso.“

„It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer. But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth. Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings.

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„Just as blueprints don't necessarily specify blue buildings, selfish genes don't necessarily specify selfish organisms. As we shall see, sometimes the most selfish thing a gene can do is build a selfless brain. Genes are a play within a play, not the interior monologue of the players.“ How the Mind Works

„Sex and excretion are reminders that anyone's claim to round-the-clock dignity is tenuous. The so-called rational animal has a desperate drive to pair up and moan and writhe.“

„Challenge a person's beliefs, and you challenge his dignity, standing, and power. And when those beliefs are based on nothing but faith, they are chronically fragile. No one gets upset about the belief that rocks fall down as opposed to up, because all sane people can see it with their own eyes. Not so for the belief that babies are born with original sin or that God exists in three persons or that Ali is the second-most divinely inspired man after Muhammad. When people organize their lives around these beliefs, and then learn of other people who seem to be doing just fine without them--or worse, who credibly rebut them--they are in danger of looking like fools. Since one cannot defend a belief based on faith by persuading skeptics it is true, the faithful are apt to react to unbelief with rage, and may try to eliminate that affront to everything that makes their lives meaningful.“ The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

„Much of what is today called "social criticism" consists of members of the upper classes denouncing the tastes of the lower classes (bawdy entertainment, fast food, plentiful consumer goods) while considering themselves egalitarians.“ The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature


„Equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group.“ The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

„The scriptures present a God who delights in genocide, rape, slavery, and the execution of nonconformists, and for millennia those writings were used to rationalize the massacre of infidels, the ownership of women, the beating of children, dominion over animals, and the persecution of heretics and homosexuals. Humanitarian reforms such as the elimination of cruel punishment, the dissemination of empathy-inducing novels, and the abolition of slavery were met with fierce opposition in their time by ecclesiastical authorities and their apologists. The elevation of parochial values to the realm of the sacred is a license to dismiss other people’s interests, and an imperative to reject the possibility of compromise.“ The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

„Why should the spread of ideas and people result in reforms that lower violence? There are several pathways. The most obvious is a debunking of ignorance and superstition. A connected and educated populace, at least in aggregate and over the long run, is bound to be disabused of poisonous beliefs, such as that members of other races and ethnicities are innately avaricious or perfidious; that economic and military misfortunes are caused by the treachery of ethnic minorities; that women don't mind to be raped; that children must be beaten to be socialized; that people choose to be homosexual as part of a morally degenerate lifestyle; that animals are incapable of feeling pain. The recent debunking of beliefs that invite or tolerate violence call to mind Voltaire's quip that those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.“ The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

„Nature is a hanging judge," goes an old saying. Many tragedies come from our physical and cognitive makeup. Our bodies are extraordinarily improbable arrangements of matter, with many ways for things to go wrong and only a few ways for things to go right. We are certain to die, and smart enough to know it. Our minds are adapted to a world that no longer exists, prone to misunderstandings correctable only by arduous education, and condemned to perplexity about the deepest questions we can ascertain.“ The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature


„Fiction is empathy technology.“

„The supposedly immaterial soul, we now know, can be bisected with a knife, altered by chemicals, started or stopped by electricity, and extinguished by a sharp blow or by insufficient oxygen.“ How the Mind Works

„Thanks to the redundancy of language, yxx cxn xndxrstxnd whxt x xm wrxtxng xvxn xf x rxplxcx xll thx vxwxls wxth xn "x" (t gts lttl hrdr f y dn't vn kn whr th vwls r)“

„Why give a robot an order to obey orders—why aren't the original orders enough? Why command a robot not to do harm—wouldn't it be easier never to command it to do harm in the first place? Does the universe contain a mysterious force pulling entities toward malevolence, so that a positronic brain must be programmed to withstand it? Do intelligent beings inevitably develop an attitude problem? (…) Now that computers really have become smarter and more powerful, the anxiety has waned. Today's ubiquitous, networked computers have an unprecedented ability to do mischief should they ever go to the bad. But the only mayhem comes from unpredictable chaos or from human malice in the form of viruses. We no longer worry about electronic serial killers or subversive silicon cabals because we are beginning to appreciate that malevolence—like vision, motor coordination, and common sense—does not come free with computation but has to be programmed in. (…) Aggression, like every other part of human behavior we take for granted, is a challenging engineering problem!“ How the Mind Works

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