Steven Pinker's fake enlightenment: His book is full of misleading claims and false assertions - 2019-01-26
In a recent article for Quillette, the "Intellectual Dark Web's" online safe space, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker offers some reflections on his most recent book, "Enlightenment Now," one year after it was published. Pinker notes that EN (as I will abbreviate it), a pollyannaish paean to Enlightenment "progressionism," has been the target of "irate attacks from critics on both the right and the left."
Some have pointed out that modern racism more or less originated in the Enlightenment — contra Pinker — while others have accused the professor of various forms of scholarly malpractice by offering readers a skewed presentation of the facts. As the Princeton historian David Bell puts it, EN "makes use of selective data, dubious history, and, when all else fails, a contempt for 'intellectuals' straight out of Breitbart."
Since my primary area of academic research is "existential threats," and since Pinker has an entire chapter dedicated to this issue — aptly titled "Existential Threats" — I decided to pull out my exegetical microscope and take a closer look at what Pinker had to say. What I found was startling, but not altogether surprising in light of Bell's observations: Mined quotes, cherry-picked data, false dichotomies, misrepresented research, misleading statements and outright false assertions on nearly every page.