Monday, February 11, 2013

Steven Pinker On The Decline Of Violence

I enjoy listening to Steven Pinker on a variety of topics. He recently has been lecturing about how levels of violence have seen a precipitous decline in recent years and what factors may have been contributing to the decline. Overall, I agree with him. Since the end of World War II the world has seen much longer periods of peace with much larger numbers of people enjoying it than ever before. We still live in a world where violence exists of course, but overall we do not have as high a chance of dying violent deaths as did our ancestors hundreds or thousands of years ago.

It is interesting to note how much violence has declined when considering the increase in secularism during those same years. I'm not saying secularism is the primary cause of lower levels of violence, but separating the government from religion has freed governments from operating under the irrational beliefs of religion. It is  more likely that the spread of liberal democracy along with secularism is the greater reason. Dr. Pinker offers some other possibilities that are worth meditating on. I'm particularly interested in how the formation of government after our evolution from hunter/gatherer tribes lead to people being able to live with expectations of law and order and free of the fear that they were always going to be attacked.

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