Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

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

Coleridge Series/
Tue 19 March 2019

Steven Pinker

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

Steven Pinker
Tue 19 March 2019,

This FREE event is now fully booked and the waiting list is closed. If you have a ticket you can no longer use, please cancel it so it can be offered to someone else. Due to the high number of no shows at free events, there will be a returns queue on the night and we will admit those waiting on a first come first serve basis five minutes before the start.

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.

Supported by/

Share this/

Related Events/