Total Posts:13|Showing Posts:1-13
Jump to topic:

Steven Pinker takes on Malcolm Gladwell

dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 4:44:10 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley debate Malcolm Gladwell and Alain de Botton on whether "Humanity's best days lie ahead." You can watch portions of the debate here: https://www.youtube.com... (not sure what happened to the full version).

This debate was frustrating to watch, mainly because Con was so intent on misrepresenting Pro's position and steering the debate in another direction (and in the case of Gladwell, insulting Pinker), but also because Pro only pointed out some of the flaws in Con's reasoning, which left the winner more ambiguous than it needed to be.

Basically, the debate went like this. Pro laid out a bunch of dimensions relevant to human happiness, and argued that humanity is making great progress in these areas and is showing no sign of slowing down. They were incredibly general dimensions, like health, education, rates of violence, etc. Con responded by pointing to issues that affect human happiness that weren't covered by Pro (e.g., problems with family dynamics, depression, basically "first world problems"). However, they neglected to show that these issues are likely to get worse in the future, or that not solving them undermines progress made in other areas. This is important, because if humanity is improving in some ways while stagnating in other ways, it is still improving. For some reason, this perfectly obvious fact was never mentioned by either side.

Toward the end of the debate, Con switched tactics and decided to start focusing on climate change. This was probably a good move, considering their utter defeat in previous rounds. However, they didn't even attempt to back up their position with evidence. They pretty much just dropped the word "Global Warming" and acted as if that were enough. While the fact of global warming is not particularly controversial, the dangers it poses, and when we can expect those dangers to start affecting our lives in significant ways, certainly is. At best this suggests that humanity's worst days might lie ahead, which isn't even incompatible with the idea that humanity's best days lie ahead. On the basis of such evidence, one could make the case that both humanity's best and worst days lie ahead.

The only real qualm I had with Pro's reasoning was when Pinker attempted to reduce global warming to merely an economics issue. It's clearly a lot more than that, at least as it pertains to this debate. If science is unable to provide us with the means to power our world without bringing about environmental catastrophe, or if society is unwilling to act inline with principles of self-preservation, then economics cannot really offer any solutions, at least if preserving anything like our current standard of living is a necessary component of any "solution".
ShabShoral
Posts: 3,234
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 5:11:06 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Reported for votebombing.
"This site is trash as a debate site. It's club penguin for dysfunctional adults."

~ Skepsikyma <3

"Your idea of good writing is like Spinoza mixed with Heidegger."

~ Dylly Dylly Cat Cat

"You seem to aspire to be a cross between a Jewish hipster, an old school WASP aristocrat, and a political iconoclast"

~ Thett the Mighty

"fvck omg ur face"

~ Liz
1harderthanyouthink
Posts: 13,102
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 5:28:01 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Well Pinker has been a staunch critic of Gladwell's books (and he tends to be very right about them) - so I can't say I'm surprised that he insulted Pinker.
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

DDO Risk King
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 5:39:28 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 5:28:01 AM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Well Pinker has been a staunch critic of Gladwell's books (and he tends to be very right about them) - so I can't say I'm surprised that he insulted Pinker.

Yeah, I remember reading one of Pinker's essays that basically told Gladwell to get out of the kitchen because he had no idea what he was talking about (he did so as kindly as he could have, I think). That doesn't excuse Gladwell's offensive (and frankly, bizarre) behavior though. It was totally unnecessary (in case you're wondering, he basically called Steven Pinker effeminate).
1harderthanyouthink
Posts: 13,102
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 5:41:15 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 5:39:28 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:28:01 AM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Well Pinker has been a staunch critic of Gladwell's books (and he tends to be very right about them) - so I can't say I'm surprised that he insulted Pinker.

Yeah, I remember reading one of Pinker's essays that basically told Gladwell to get out of the kitchen because he had no idea what he was talking about (he did so as kindly as he could have, I think). That doesn't excuse Gladwell's offensive (and frankly, bizarre) behavior though. It was totally unnecessary (in case you're wondering, he basically called Steven Pinker effeminate).

Yeah he's kind of an a$s.

I like Alain, though.
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

DDO Risk King
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 5:43:48 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 5:41:15 AM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:39:28 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:28:01 AM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Well Pinker has been a staunch critic of Gladwell's books (and he tends to be very right about them) - so I can't say I'm surprised that he insulted Pinker.

Yeah, I remember reading one of Pinker's essays that basically told Gladwell to get out of the kitchen because he had no idea what he was talking about (he did so as kindly as he could have, I think). That doesn't excuse Gladwell's offensive (and frankly, bizarre) behavior though. It was totally unnecessary (in case you're wondering, he basically called Steven Pinker effeminate).

Yeah he's kind of an a$s.

I like Alain, though.

I like him as a person (he has a popular Youtube channel which I kind of follow) but he made so many terrible arguments in this debate that I'm not sure if I respect him as a thinker. He's pretty inconsistent when it comes to being insightful.
1harderthanyouthink
Posts: 13,102
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 5:48:22 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 5:43:48 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:41:15 AM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:39:28 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:28:01 AM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Well Pinker has been a staunch critic of Gladwell's books (and he tends to be very right about them) - so I can't say I'm surprised that he insulted Pinker.

Yeah, I remember reading one of Pinker's essays that basically told Gladwell to get out of the kitchen because he had no idea what he was talking about (he did so as kindly as he could have, I think). That doesn't excuse Gladwell's offensive (and frankly, bizarre) behavior though. It was totally unnecessary (in case you're wondering, he basically called Steven Pinker effeminate).

Yeah he's kind of an a$s.

I like Alain, though.

I like him as a person (he has a popular Youtube channel which I kind of follow) but he made so many terrible arguments in this debate that I'm not sure if I respect him as a thinker. He's pretty inconsistent when it comes to being insightful.

I think he is better outside of the debate circle, but I don't think that necessarily means he's not a good thinker. He's certainly infinitely more respectable than Gladwell.
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

DDO Risk King
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 5:51:37 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 5:48:22 AM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:43:48 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:41:15 AM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:39:28 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 5:28:01 AM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Well Pinker has been a staunch critic of Gladwell's books (and he tends to be very right about them) - so I can't say I'm surprised that he insulted Pinker.

Yeah, I remember reading one of Pinker's essays that basically told Gladwell to get out of the kitchen because he had no idea what he was talking about (he did so as kindly as he could have, I think). That doesn't excuse Gladwell's offensive (and frankly, bizarre) behavior though. It was totally unnecessary (in case you're wondering, he basically called Steven Pinker effeminate).

Yeah he's kind of an a$s.

I like Alain, though.

I like him as a person (he has a popular Youtube channel which I kind of follow) but he made so many terrible arguments in this debate that I'm not sure if I respect him as a thinker. He's pretty inconsistent when it comes to being insightful.

I think he is better outside of the debate circle, but I don't think that necessarily means he's not a good thinker. He's certainly infinitely more respectable than Gladwell.

Gladwell is a master at making things seem more profound than they really are. That's the only reason he's popular. His books aren't completely worthless, but if they're all you're going on, you're in major trouble.
Wylted
Posts: 21,167
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 11:34:44 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
When you start resorting to crazy conspiracy theories such as global warming, it's a concession that you lost the debate in my opinion. It's one thing to blame the Jews for trying to destroy the world, but to blame the weather for conspiring against us, is beyond absurd.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 8:11:10 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 11:34:44 AM, Wylted wrote:
When you start resorting to crazy conspiracy theories such as global warming, it's a concession that you lost the debate in my opinion. It's one thing to blame the Jews for trying to destroy the world, but to blame the weather for conspiring against us, is beyond absurd.

So does that mean when the toaster burns your toast, it has "conspired against you"?
Wylted
Posts: 21,167
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/30/2015 11:46:51 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 8:11:10 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 11:34:44 AM, Wylted wrote:
When you start resorting to crazy conspiracy theories such as global warming, it's a concession that you lost the debate in my opinion. It's one thing to blame the Jews for trying to destroy the world, but to blame the weather for conspiring against us, is beyond absurd.

So does that mean when the toaster burns your toast, it has "conspired against you"?

My toaster knows better.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
12/3/2015 7:54:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 11:46:51 PM, Wylted wrote:
At 11/30/2015 8:11:10 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 11:34:44 AM, Wylted wrote:
When you start resorting to crazy conspiracy theories such as global warming, it's a concession that you lost the debate in my opinion. It's one thing to blame the Jews for trying to destroy the world, but to blame the weather for conspiring against us, is beyond absurd.

So does that mean when the toaster burns your toast, it has "conspired against you"?

My toaster knows better.

lol