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Rationality: Steven Pinker in conversation with Tim Harford

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Rationality matters. Steven Pinker discusses a user’s guide to rationality during an epidemic of unreason.

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Join 5x15 online for an enlightening discussion between renowned experimental cognitive scientist Steven Pinker and behavioural economist, broadcaster and writer Tim Harford.

In the twenty-first century, humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding - and at the same time appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that discovered vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, quack cures and conspiracy theorizing?

In his new book, Rationality, Steven Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply an irrational species - cavemen out of time fatally cursed with biases, fallacies and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives and set the benchmarks for rationality itself. Instead, he explains, we think in ways that suit the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we have built up over millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, causal inference, and decision-making under uncertainty.

Rationality leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Brimming with insight and humour, this is a conversation that will enlighten, inspire and empower.

Steven Pinker is an experimental cognitive scientist. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won many prizes for his research, teaching, and his eleven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and Enlightenment Now. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, one of Foreign Policy's 'World's Top 100 Public Intellectuals' and Time's '100 Most Influential People in the World Today'.

Tim Harford is a behavioural economist, BBC radio and TV presenter and award-winning Financial Times columnist. He offers a distinctive blend of storytelling, humour and intelligence. The presenter of the BBC’s More or Less and Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy, FT columnist, Oxford Fellow and million-selling business author is a compelling storyteller on economics, management, psychology and the unexpected bits in between. Books include The Undercover Economist and How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers.

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