College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor Steven Pinker

Professor Steven Pinker to give a Gifford lecture on declining rates of violence over the course of history entitled 'The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity'

Steven Pinker

The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

Event details

Date: Wednesday 29 May 2013, 5.30pm - 6.30pm

Venue: McEwan Hall, Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG


Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.

He conducts research on language and cognition, which has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the American Psychological Association, and the Cognitive Neuroscience Society.

He has also received several teaching awards and many prizes for his eight books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate.

He has been named Humanist of the Year, and has been listed among Prospect magazine’s “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.”

He is currently Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New York Times, Time, The New Republic, and other publications.

His most recent book is The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined.

Lecture abstract

Contrary to the popular impression view that we are living in extraordinarily violent times, rates of violence at all scales have been in decline over the course of history. I explore how this decline could have happened despite the existence of a constant human nature.

Lecture video