Sunday, November 9, 2014

Steven Pinker on free speech

Last month I made myself a hot fudge sundae. The fudge was legitimately hot, the whip cream was homemade and there were broken candy bar pieces to mix in.

In a similar triple-enjoyment experience, this week a video was released showing Steven Pinker talk about free speech for the 15th Anniversary of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Just like the sundae, each of those three things was a winner on its own, but when combined made someone exponentially more tempting.

Not to give away the ending, but this section really resonated with me:

On top of this knowledge, a liberal education should make certain habits of rationality second nature. Educated people should be able to express complex ideas in clear writing and speech. They should appreciate that objective knowledge is a precious commodity, and know how to distinguish vetted fact from superstition, rumor, and unexamined conventional wisdom. They should know how to reason logically and statistically, avoiding the fallacies and biases to which the untutored human mind is vulnerable. They should think causally rather than magically, and know what it takes to distinguish causation from correlation and coincidence. They should be acutely aware of human fallibility, most notably their own, and appreciate that people who disagree with them are not necessarily stupid or evil. Accordingly, they should appreciate the value of trying to change minds by persuasion rather than intimidation or demagoguery.

Absolutely brilliant. The people we disagree with and the people we love and respect can indeed be the same people.

1 comment:

  1. "...they should appreciate the value of trying to change minds by persuasion rather than intimidation or demagoguery."

    Once the general public grants the same autonomy, dignity and objective value to others that they demand for themselves and their ideals, everything will be alright. This is the essence of higher morality and of Libertarianism, specifically.