Steven Pinker Thinks Your Sense of Imminent Doom Is Wrong – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/09/06/magazine/steven-pinker-interview.html?action=click&algo=lda_unique&block=editors_picks_recirc&fellback=false&imp_id=114485650&impression_id=34eee837-1179-11ec-8bf9-11a4c5ca1b69&index=1&pgtype=Article&pool=pool%2Fe76d7165-92f7-4bd2-bc6e-298322d3680a&region=footer&req_id=367884245&surface=eos-home-featured&variant=1_lda_unique

“. . . I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that rising authoritarianism, the pandemic and the climate crisis, among other things, are signs that we’re going to hell in a handbasket. Is that irrational of me? It’s not irrational to identify genuine threats to our well-being. It is irrational to interpret a number of crises occurring at the same time as signs that we’re doomed. It’s a statistical phenomenon that when events are randomly sprinkled in time they cluster. That sounds paradoxical, but unless you have a nonrandom process that spaced them apart — We’re going to have a crisis every six months but we’re never going to have two crises in a month — events cluster. That’s what random events will always do. ”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This piece lost me. Climate change, the pandemic, and the rise of authoritarianism are not equals. Bad questions lead to bad answers. Why exactly is this professor not deeply concerned about the existential threat of climate change and the sixth extinction? Perhaps there should be a follow up interview by an environmentalist. Does he know what the sixth extinction is? Does he know that in the last 50 years, human population doubled, while the populations of most species were cut in half, and thousands were eliminated. Some studies show insects and birds are down 70% Half the great barrier reef is bleached or dead. How is Mr. Pinker optimistic, when we went from 2 billion humans to almost 8 billion humans, 7.8 billion human beings, in just under 100 year– probably since 1930 to the present. Edward O Wilson, also of Harvard, but a naturalist, has written that if we lose half the world’s species, the human species will probably not survive.

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