Steven Pinker talks to Gillian Tett

Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

Winter Weekend 2021, 

In the 21st 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 Rationality, the cognitive psychologist rejects the argument 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 and decision-making in times of uncertainty. These tools have never been on a national curriculum. Yet rationality leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Written with insight and humour, this book aims to enlighten, inspire and empower. He talks to the author and Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett.

This event will be free to watch from 9am on 15 November.

Steven Pinker talks to Gillian Tett