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The Stuff of Thought

Steven Pinker | 1:15:06


 I'm Douglas Merrill. I'm a VP of engineering here at Google, and, uh, as a side note, have a PhD in cognitive science. In my dissertation, I spend about a chapter and a half fairly tuly citing you and saying why I think you're wrong. So , uh, for the record, every time Steven and I have argued he's been right and I'm sure it was the case this time as well.

Steven is the Johnston family professor of Psychology at Harvard, I believe. Is that roughly correct? He recently devolved, he was at MIT for many years. . But that's okay. The commute's shorter. Uh, I asked Stephen what he wanted me to say, if anything in particular, and he wants me to definitely call out Two things.

One, well, actually Anne wanted me to call out one thing, which is that he was listed by Time Magazine as one of the most, 100 most influential people of all time, which I find fairly creepy. But Stephen wanted me to mention that he appeared on Colbert and didn't suck

And with that, it's a great, great, great honor to introduce one of the fathers of, of the field of actually understanding how human minds work. Steven Tinker . Thank, thank you.

Thank you so much. It's a real pleasure and honor to be here. This old wood cut of the story of the blind men in the elephant, uh, is a reminder that any complex subject can be studied in many ways, and that is certainly true for a subject as complex as human nature. Anthropology can study universal patterns of, uh, the belief and behavior across the world's societies as the, as well, as the ways in which they differ.

Biology can document how the process of evolution selected the genes that help to wire the. Psychology. My own field can get people to disclose that to, uh, disclose their foibles in laboratory studies, and even fiction can illuminate human nature by showing the universal themes and plots that obsess people in their myths and stories.

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