I’m thinking a lot why “fake news”, “simplistic populism” and other contemporary movements have gained so much momentum over the recent decade (or more). After all, in a world in which information is largely open and freely available, the days of being obviously miss-informed should be over, shouldn’t they?
A simple solution for a complex problem appears to be the way to win political elections and other contested posts. However, in the vast majority of circumstances there are NO simple solutions for complex problems. Otherwise, humanity would have stumbled upon the perpetuum mobile a long time ago.
So when I spotted (and bought) St. Pinker’s most recent book, I was already elated by its subtitle (see the image). “Finally”, I thought, “somebody makes a point for science, for reasoning and for enlightenment”.
But then as I read the book, whilst being OK with most of its content, I started asking myself: who on earth will change his/her opinion because of a book like that? It takes the author several pages, graphs and chapters to try to convince the readers that the world is a better place today. In case of infant mortality and similar measures he definitely is correct.
I expected more on the “how” to take populism the wind out of its sails and much less of preaching to the converted. So after the reading, I left the book somewhat disappointed. After all, those who read this book, are mostly likely aware of improved infant mortality numbers already.
Maybe Mr. Pinker keeps the “how” to himself because he wants to either write a second book and/or he plans to run for an election and doesn’t want to give his “line” away too early? We shall see.