Steve Pinker has a new YouTube channel.

July 23, 2022 • 11:15 am

Reader Paul informed me that Steve Pinker has a YouTube channel, and he does and it looks official—run by Qualia.

It’s called “The Life of the Mind“, and there will be an episode every Wednesday. The first one is up and is 18½ minutes long; it’s a short history of psychological experiments beginning with behaviorism. (There’s also a short 50-second intro video, but the longer video has the same information.)

Steve’s own career in psychology mirrors the history from Skinnerian behaviorism until today, when cognitive psychology is a big deal. Throughout the narrative he interweaves his own career, and he winds up connecting experiments with rats getting rewards at “random” intervals with the intervals during which humans engage in war. The point there is that a truly random process, like the one used to give pellets to rats, looks to the layperson like they are clustered.  Wars have seem clustered to many, but they aren’t.

This shows how Pinker’s involvement in classical psychology has fed into his more recent work on history and its trajectory.

I don’t know if Steve is being interviewed here (he seems to be looking at someone form time to time), but he’s extraordinarily eloquent (he never says “uh”), and I don’t think he’s reading from a script.

The guy is amazing, but, as he says, he’s hardly done anything that isn’t controversial. Because I happen to agree with most of what he’s written, and have spent time with him, learning that he’s a truly nice guy and not in the least arrogant, I find it hard to understand the animus against him.  Maybe it’s because he believes in genuine progress, which of course angers people for a number of reasons.

Anyway, check the link above each Wednesday, or perhaps you can subscribe. But do listen to the history below, which I found enlightening.

Does everyone have a channel or podcast now? I fear that websites like this are simply going out of style. So it goes.

17 thoughts on “Steve Pinker has a new YouTube channel.

    1. I agree, he should keep writing books and academic papers. But in this day and age, few people have the attention span to read so you can catch more people with video content.

      1. I’d say that reading a good piece of writing is time better spent than driving/biking around town, doing laundry, etc. and trying to pay attention to even the best lecture by the best speaker.

        However, I will reserve time if possible for a really interesting talk – maybe over dinner.

        People have stuff to do, I understand.

        … IMHO.

  1. How can there possibly be any real progress in a patriarchal, capitalist, white-supremacist society that is rotten to its core?? Doesn’t compute! Attack the messenger!

  2. Wow! This is very unexpected. I will definitely follow his channel. I hope this doesn’t distract him from writing more books, as they are more interesting than YouTube videos.
    I also agree with most of what he says, and I think his opponents tend to be Trumpists, Marxists, and the like, or at least that’s what I see on social media.

  3. Is there a transcript? I can’t listen to podcasts. The ideas come slowly and my mind wanders. I read a lot faster than I listen.

    1. You can change the playback speed on YouTube. I often do that on podcasts because I can listen faster than speakers speak. Not as good as reading but an improvement. Most podcast players have this feature but not all.

  4. Does everyone have a channel or podcast now?

    Drella was probably wrong about everyone being world-famous for 15 minutes in the future. But everyone will eventually have a podcast.

      1. Right on.

        Reading. Writing. …. ‘rithmatic…

        Maybe some cats…

        It’s Why Evolution Is True.

  5. Jerry, I would dearly love it if you started your own youtube channel. I think I speak for many in this regard.

    1. Not me – absolutely unnecessary – will serve only to drain attention from the writing – and also probably impossible to do the writing justice.

      … IMHO.

  6. I feel like disputing that wars are random, although they do seem to cluster similarly to random events. WWI led to WWII, and the resulting build up and projection of U.S. power, coupled the military build up and the communist block (another fall-out of WWI), led to one damn war after another in Asia. Feel free to dispute me back.

  7. Good for the Pinkah, and very interesting, but I think his talk would be improved by some illustrative graphs or so. He’s a great talker (and writer), but people’s attention span listening/looking at a person talking is limited. He should know that better than about anybody.

  8. awesome !!

    when the covid-19 pandemic hit, I came across his course talk, via twitter,
    and that was good fun, during a tough time.

    have the books on kindle.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *