”The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” & Being Persuasive is Important

We’re always so preoccupied with how dangerous the world is around us– often vastly overestimating the odds of murder, terrorost attacks and the like, but in his latest 800-ebook-page heavyweight, author Stephen Pinker (professor of psychology in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT) tells us violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’s existence. Now, what I love about this is Pinker takes an assumption and blows it up with detailed analysis. It’s not so much the result that I envy, but his approach. He lays it out this way:

The Five Major Historical Forces for Peace:
The Leviathan (the state; reigns in internal violence)
Gentle Commerce (economic incentives for cooperation)
Feminization (empowerment of women; men are naturally more violent)
The Expanding Circle (empathy; sympathizing with ever wider classes)
The Escalator of Reason (rationality; application of empathy)

Our work as strategists requires us to take rather complicated behavioral transitions and make sense of them, and what Pinker does best is provide a strong foundation and a clear and logical step-by-step analysis. He may be right, he may be wrong. But that doesn’t matter. What I look for is how persuasive he can be. That’s the mark of a great writer and thinker.And in light of the current Global situation with Iran, Pinker’s thinking on what prompts nations to attack one-another (cost/benefit equations) has never been more relevant. It’s clear that we exist within a delicate balance of Peace and one small random act or chance taken can upset the status-quo, but for now violence is less pervasive than it has ever been — just be sure to make the right decision when the time comes (or be very, very persuasive yourself).

 

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