Steven Pinker’s book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, has garnered much attention. Part of the reason is because it is a classic example of scholarship that stands on the shoulders of academic giants. The thesis is not entirely new (as many of his critics are quick to point out), but Pinker marshals substantial evidence from across disciplines and integrates it in a novel and compelling way. Consequently, this interdisciplinary salvo has been debated widely and deeply. One recent example is Pinker’s reception at the International Studies Association earlier this year (2012) which was covered by TVOL (see here).
Of course debate continues, and the latest critique comes from New York University Professor Nassim Taleb. Professor Taleb posted a short riposte (The “Long Peace” is a Statistical Illusion) that outlines a number of components of Pinker’s thesis and responds briefly to each. Having learned of the Taleb piece (which is actually a work in preparation), Pinker generated a response that he posted on his own website. Both papers can be accessed at each author’s personal websites:
Nassim Taleb: The “Long Peace” is a Statistical Illusion