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The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker • history of violence

Book cover of The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker - history of violence

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker is a great and comprehensive study about the evolution, the history of violence. I grabbed this book when I found out that Bill Gates mentioned that, for him, it was the most inspiring book he has ever read.

Anyway, the book contradicts everything that we hear on TV or we read on the Internet. It is a rich, earnest source of information about the evolution of behaviour. In addition, the book offers an insightful and comprehensive analysis of factors which created the modern world.

On 600 pages (more than 200 pages of notes, references and the index excluded) you will read about the reduction of vicious interpersonal violence. For instance, cutting off noses, the elimination of cruel practices like human sacrifice, torture-executions, and flogging.  The abolition of institutions such as slavery and debt bondage, the falling out of fashion of blood sports and duelling. The erosion of political murder and despotism, the recent decline of wars, pogroms, and genocides. The study also provides vast details on the reduction of violence against women, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the protection of children and animals. I could give you many more examples like these.

He describes how all wars have been trickling out.  If you look at the number of casualties and frequency of wars through to rape, murder and other serious crimes you will see that it has continued to fall in the last many decades despite the fact that we have fewer policemen in the last few years than we had before.

If you take the evolution of IQ, Steven Pinker cites the fact that Mensa is having to adjust IQ values by 3 per cent every year. In this respect in the early part of the last century what would have been considered a genius now would be average today and what was average then would now be seen as learning disabled.

In conclusion, the reality is that it has just never been better to be a human being. This is just the truth. That’s just data. That’s the reality.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
by Steven Pinker

Final rating:

Interesting story
Complexity of ideas
Flourish language

Book details:

Size: 832 pages
Published: 2012


Other information and reviews of this book on Goodreads:

Other useful links:
Pinker’s website:
Steven Pinker on Wikipedia:
Other book about the history of humankind: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

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