Is Democracy Rational? A conversation with Steven Pinker

Episode 22: Is Democracy Rational? A conversation with Steven Pinker

Host Rafael Behr talks to Professor Steven Pinker about rational thinking in a democracy

Show notes

Human beings routinely make terrible choices but humanity still achieves amazing things.

How does this paradox work?

And is it still working when technology seems to amplify the worst in us.

In this episode, Politics on the Couch host Rafael Behr talks to Professor Steven Pinker about the constant struggle between evidence and emotion for control of the political agenda; whether truth and fact are winning the long war against superstition and falsehood, and why rationality always has the last word.

Professor Steven Pinker is Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and the author of a number of highly acclaimed and prize-winning books about psychology, cognitive science, linguistics and history.

His latest book Rationality: What it is; why it seems scarce; why it matters was published in September.

https://stevenpinker.com/publications/rationality-what-it-why-it-seems-so-scarce-and-why-it-matters

More about Steven Pinker:

https://stevenpinker.com/biocv

Other books by Steven Pinker mentioned in episode

The Better Angels of our Nature

https://stevenpinker.com/publications/better-angels-our-nature

Enlightenment Now https://stevenpinker.com/publications/enlightenment-now-case-reason-science-humanism-and-progress

A couple of references in this episode that might be useful as further reading.

Michael Ignatieff’s book Fire and Ashes, about a failed career in politics

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/27/michael-ignatieff-fire-ashes-review

Jonathan Rauch’s book The Constitution of Knowledge, about the crisis of trust in institutions

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jun/26/the-constitution-of-knowledge-review-jonathan-rauch-trump

Politics on the Couch has been chosen by Feedspot as one of the Top 25 UK Psychology Podcasts and Top 25 Political Science Podcasts on the web.

https://blog.feedspot.com/uk_psychology_podcasts

https://blog.feedspot.com/political_science_podcasts

This podcast is hosted by ZenCast.fm

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