This morning on BBC Radio 4, Jim Al-Khalili conducted a half-hour interview with Steve Pinker in “The Life Scientific” series. Although Steve is promoting his new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, only about six minutes of the interview deals with it. The rest covers a number of topics, including controversies about his first book, The Language Instinct, and about the more recent The Blank Slate.
You can hear the program archived here, and it will be rebroadcast this evening at 9:30 p.m. London time.
As always, Steve is eloquent: he appears to speak in complete and perfect paragraphs; see if you can spot anything ungrammatical. Eloquence is one thing that unites the Five Horsemen (yes, there are five): Pinker, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens; and I greatly envy that talent. I consider Hitch the most eloquent, but the rest are no slouches.
- How Steve met his wife Rebecca Goldstein (she saw her name in the index of one of his books and invited him for tea).
- Audio clips of some of Steve’s critics, and his response. Also, his account of his conflict with Steve Gould over evolutionary psychology.
- A bit of autobiography
- Steve’s take on his greater success as a popular writer than as an academic scholar
- His opinion on the role of genes vs. environments on human behavior
- A discussion of how much difference good parenting really makes on the behavior of children
- What he thinks of the “self esteem movement.”