by Pinker, Steven, The Better Angels of Our Nature, Allen Lane, 2011 ISBN 978-1- 846- 14093-9 (hbk) 700p £30Steven Pinker is an evolutinary psychologist. In this book he collates and assesses a wide range of evidence to support a profoundly important and counter-intuitive theory that violence has been decreasing throughout human history from neolithic times to the present day. This claim is not wishful thinking but the conclusion that emerges convincingly from the evidence. He does not assert that violence will continue to decrease – that depends on the circumstances but the possiblity exists that it could decline further before levelling off. His book includes a thorough search for evidence about why violence has decreased which allows some popular opinions to be discarded and more credible ones given qualified support.
Hence this is a very import book to study for anyone who is concerned about the future of human society.
(Ed. note that if a less violent society is rapidly emerging, that will facilitate world developments in cooperation and governance that are essential if carbon emissions are to be cut back massively to prevent any worsening of climate change compared with what is already inevitable due to past and present emissions.)