Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate” is also shit.

I’ve posted a number of links on the numerous serious flaws in Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of our Nature. But he’s written other shit books. The Blank Slate, Pinker’s political attack on the opponents of evolutionary psychology, is also shit. Stavvers debunks The Blank Slate’s attacks on Anarchism.

Essentially, two hypotheses are proposed by Pinker in his treatment of anarchism:

1. That violence is an integral part of human nature

2. That the only way to stop it is to have a police force

The first hypothesis is not possible to test: this is a shortcoming of evolutionary psychology as a whole: one cannot empirically test whether something is “human nature” or not. We can look at proxies–for example, if violence is genetic, we can study identical twins who were raised apart, though even this methodology is flawed.

The second hypothesis would require controlling for all confounding variables, to test whether a police force is truly necessary and the only thing standing in the way of our horrifying nature. Essentially, one would need people raised in a complete vacuum with no mitigating factors such as economic deprivation or racism. This is, of course, impossible to test.

So what we are left with is a fairy story: we’re all violent, grappling thugs, and it’s only the presence of a policeman that stops us chucking a brick through the nearest window and running off with a spangly new telly.

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