Rationality — What is it? Why does it seem scarce? Why does it matter?
Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding — and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that doubled its lifespan, sequenced its genome, and developed vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, quack cures, conspiracy theories, and “post-truth” rhetoric?
Bestselling author and experimental psychologist who conducts research in cognition, language, and social relations Steven Pinker’s new book is a primer in logical thinking and has been called an entertaining expedition through all the trapdoors we can tumble through when we try to parse reality or bend it to our will. As always, Pinker’s examples range from the profound (the impossibility of proving God exists), to the hilarious (using a scene from the old movie Love Story to demonstrate deduction as well as seduction). He rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions. We actually think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we’ve discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. In his new book Rationality he also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity, and uplifting mythology can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth. Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress.
Join him for an evening of insight and humor and be enlightened, inspired, and empowered.
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