Friday, September 20, 2019

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Violence (defined as human on human violence per capita around the world) has been on the decline for decades and centuries, contrary to popular belief. The Better Angels of Our Nature explores this topic, first proving the premise to be true, then digging into possible causes for this decline.

I found the topic fascinating, but the book was so long that I often considered putting it down. I already believed the premise (that violence is declining), so I skimmed a lot of that. But it still took me ages to read this.

Author Stephen Pinker delves deeply into many factors that may have played a role in violence's decline, including giving a lot of space to issues that he in fact *doesn't* believe are among the causes. If you go into all the reasons you think cause something, maybe you could write a book on the topic. But if you go into all the reasons you *don't* think cause something, your book can be enormous.

I guess this can be a good reference book if you need one, as it summarizes a lot of ideas from a lot of authors and documents a lot of violence's decline. But there's an opportunity cost for the reader here, and if you're only casually interested in the topic, I would recommend only reading the introduction and the conclusion.

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