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Authors: Steven Pinker

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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

BOOK: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
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Table of Contents
 
 
 
ALSO BY STEVEN PINKER
 
Language Learnability and Language Development
 
Learnability and Cognition
 
The Language Instinct
 
How the Mind Works
 
Words and Rules
 
The Blank Slate
 
The Stuff of Thought
 
 
EDITED BY STEVEN PINKER
 
Visual Cognition
 
Connections and Symbols
(with Jacques Mehler)
 
Lexical and Conceptual Semantics
(with Beth Levin)
 
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004
VIKING
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2RoRL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R oRL, England
 
First published in 2011 by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
Copyright © Steven Pinker, 2011
All rights reserved
 
Excerpts from “MLF Lullaby,” “Who’s Next?,” and “In Old Mexico” by Tom Lehrer.
 
Excerpt from “It Depends on What You Pay” by Tom Jones.
Excerpt from “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag,” words and music by Joe McDonald. © 1965, renewed 1933 by Alkatraz Corner Music Co.
 
LIBRARY OF CONGRES CATALOGING -IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Pinker, Steven, 1954–
The better angels of our nature: why violence has declined / Steven Pinker. p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN : 978-1-101-54464-8
1. Violence—Psychological aspects. 2. Violence—Social aspects. 3. Nonviolence—Psychological aspects. I. Title.
HM1116.P57 2011
303.609—dc22
2011015201
 
Charts rendered by Ilavenil Subbiah
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
 
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

http://us.penguingroup.com

TO
 
 
 
Eva, Carl, and Eric
 
Jack and David
 
Yael and Danielle
 
 
and the world they will inherit
 
What a chimera then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sewer of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of the universe.
—Blaise Pascal
 
LIST OF FIGURES
 
Figure
1–1
Everyday violence in a bodybuilding ad, 1940s
25
1–2
Domestic violence in a coffee ad, 1952
26
2–1
The violence triangle
35
2–2
Percentage of deaths in warfare in nonstate and state societies
49
2–3
Rate of death in warfare in nonstate and state societies
53
2–4
Homicide rates in the least violent nonstate societies compared to
state societies
55
3–1
Homicide rates in England, 1200–2000: Gurr’s 1981 estimates
60
3–2
Homicide rates in England, 1200–2000
61
3–3
Homicide rates in five Western European regions, 1300–2000
63
3–4
Homicide rates in Western Europe, 1300–2000, and in
nonstate societies
64
3–5
Detail from “Saturn
,” Das Mittelalterliche Hausbuch
(
The Medieval Housebook,
1475–80)
65
3–6
Detail from “Mars
,” Das Mittelalterliche Hausbuch
(
The Medieval Housebook,
1475–80)
66
3–7
Percentage of deaths of English male aristocrats from violence, 1330–1829
81
3–8
Geography of homicide in Europe, late 19th and early 21st centuries
86
3–9
Geography of homicide in the world, 2004
88
3–10
Homicide rates in the United States and England, 1900–2000
92
3–11
Geography of homicide in the United States, 2007
93
3–12
Homicide rates in England, 1300–1925, and New England, 1630–1914
95
3–13
Homicide rates in the northeastern United States, 1636–1900
96
3–14
Homicide rates among blacks and whites in New York
and Philadelphia, 1797–1952
97
3–15
Homicide rates in the southeastern United States, 1620–1900
98
3–16
Homicide rates in the southwestern United States and
California, 1830–1914
104
3–17
Flouting conventions of cleanliness and propriety in the 1960s
112
3–18
Homicide rates in the United States, 1950–2010, and
Canada, 1961–2009
117
3–19
Homicide rates in five Western European countries, 1900–2009
118
4–1
Torture in medieval and early modern Europe
131
4–2
Time line for the abolition of judicial torture
149
4–3
Time line for the abolition of capital punishment in Europe
150
4–4
Execution rate in the United States, 1640–2010
151
4–5
Executions for crimes other than homicide in
the United States, 1650–2002
152
4–6
Time line for the abolition of slavery
156
4–7
Real income per person in England, 1200–2000
171
4–8
Efficiency in book production in England, 1470–1860s
172
4–9
Number of books in English published per decade, 1475–1800
173
4–10
Literacy rate in England, 1625–1925
174
5–1
Two pessimistic possibilities for historical trends in war
191
5–2
Two less pessimistic possibilities for historical trends in war
192
5–3
100 worst wars and atrocities in human history
197
5–4
Historical myopia: Centimeters of text per century in a
historical almanac
199
5–5
Random and nonrandom patterns
205
5–6
Richardson’s data
205
5–7
Number of deadly quarrels of different magnitudes, 1820–1952
211
5–8
Probabilities of wars of different magnitudes, 1820–1997
212
5–9
Heights of males (a normal or bell-curve distribution)
213
5–10
Populations of cities (a power-law distribution), plotted on
linear and log scales
214
5–11
Total deaths from quarrels of different magnitudes
221
5–12
Percentage of years in which the great powers fought
one another, 1500–2000
224
5–13
Frequency of wars involving the great powers, 1500–2000
225
5–14
Duration of wars involving the great powers, 1500–2000
226
5–15
Deaths in wars involving the great powers, 1500–2000
227
5–16
Concentration of deaths in wars involving the
great powers, 1500–2000
227
5–17
Conflicts per year in greater Europe, 1400–2000
229
BOOK: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
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