Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

Are Things Really that Bad? The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress

Coleridge Series/
Tue 19 March 2019
18:30-19:45
Wills Memorial Building
Free Admission

Steven Pinker

Are Things Really that Bad? The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress

Steven Pinker
Tue 19 March 2019,
18:30-19:45
Wills Memorial Building
Free Admission

Is modernity really failing? Or have we failed to appreciate progress and the ideals that make it possible? If you follow the headlines, the world in the twenty-first century appears to be sinking into chaos, hatred and irrationality. Steven Pinker argues that this is an illusion – a symptom of historical amnesia and statistical fallacies. In fact, our lives have become longer, healthier, safer, happier, more peaceful, more stimulating and more prosperous – not just in the West, but worldwide.

Such progress is no accident: it’s the gift of a value system that many of us embrace without even realising it. These are the values of the Enlightenment: of reason, science, humanism and progress. The challenges we face today are formidable – inequality, climate change, the rise of Artificial Intelligence and the continuing threat of nuclear war. But the way to deal with them is not to sink into despair or try to lurch back to a mythical idyllic past; it’s to treat them as problems we can solve.

In making the case for an Enlightenment for the twenty-first century, Pinker shows how we can use our faculties of reason and sympathy to solve the problems that inevitably come with being products of evolution in an indifferent universe. We will never have a perfect world, but we can continue to make it a better one.

This event is part of our annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

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How to Book/

Booking opens 09:00 Monday 4 February 2019. This event is free, but booking is required. Online booking is via Eventbrite and managed by Festival of Ideas. Please use the contact function in Eventbrite or get in touch with any booking queries.

We have restricted the number of tickets that can be booked to one per transaction. This has been introduced in an effort to stop people automatically booking multiple tickets without confirming if they have guests to go with them. We hope this will help to limit the number of ‘no shows’ at the events, which currently run at around 35% of bookings.  If you need more than one ticket, you can click on the booking link again. The little extra effort involved will hopefully put off those who don’t really need more than one, but not those who do.

Events start punctually and, out of consideration to other audience members and speakers, our policy is not to admit latecomers. Please arrive in plenty of time to take your seat as we will be admitting anyone waiting without a ticket into empty seats 5 minutes before start.

The Festival of Ideas endeavours to hold its events in venues that are accessible to all. The Great Hall in the Wills Memorial Building has a loop system and is accessible to wheelchair users. For more information about accessing the venue, check here. If you have specific access concerns, please do contact us with any questions.

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