Appreciating Pinker

2011-04-12

in Books and literature, Geek stuff, Science, Writing

Now that I am forty pages in, I can enthusiastically endorse Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate. It engages with complex and important ideas in a highly accessible way, without the tediousness that sometimes accompanies technical writing. In terms of his brilliance in covering challenging topics comprehensibly, Pinker reminds me of Richard Dawkins and Simon Singh.

It’s one of those books where you want to underline and quote nearly every sentence.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan April 12, 2011 at 10:16 pm

One neat fact from Pinker: when babies kick in the womb, they are
calibrating the sizes of different elements within their joints so
they work together. A fetus that is paralyzed in the womb will be born
with “grossly deformed joints”. (90)

A neat example of feedback systems in embryonic development.

Tristan April 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I’m glad you are enjoying Pinker. If afterwards you are interested in reading something else on cognitive science, I can recommend Evan Thompson’s “Mind in Life” (hard, but worth it) or Alvan Noe’s “Out of our Heads” (easy, but still rewarding) , either of which you can borrow from me.

Milan May 12, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I found the inclusion of Pinker’s book in this collection somewhat surprising and amusing.

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