Mark Zuckerberg has named the second book to be featured in his new Facebook “book club” called “A Year in Books.” This kiss of approval from Mark Zuckerberg will surely send the book into a sales explosion on Amazon. Speculative investors may want to grab copies now.
“Our second book is ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’ by Steven Pinker.
Feel free to discuss it in the comments here, but please keep all conversation relevant to this book.”
The book was published in 2011. It is described as “a provocative history of violence.” The full title is actually “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.” It is generally about how, contrary to popular belief and what media saturation might have you believe, the incidence of violence among humans has declined.
The Amazon description of the book is as follows:
“Believe it or not, today we may be living in the most peaceful moment in our species’ existence. In his gripping and controversial new work, New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history. Exploding myths about humankind’s inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious book continues Pinker’s exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly enlightened world.”
Mark Zuckerberg himself described the book this way:
“Recent events might make it seem like violence and terrorism are more common than ever, so it’s worth understanding that all violence — even terrorism — is actually decreasing over time. If we understand how we are achieving this, we can continue our path towards peace. A few people I trust have told me this is the best book they’ve ever read.”
What I want to know is: Did Mark Zuckerberg have his staff write an algorithm to weed out irrelevant comments in the book’s discussion thread? If so, can he make that feature available to the rest of us for our own posts?
One commenter, John Griffin, got the ball rolling with this comment:
“This book is fantastic, and I just have a couple of comments at the macro level.
First, this book has deeply affected the role I’d give government (if it were up to me). Imperfect as governments are, they do reduce violence, and before reading this book I tended to focus on the imperfections of government.
Second, it seems like an issue like violence is pretty low hanging fruit. Humans are so clever and the utopian horizon of what we imagine we can accomplish is fascinating, worthwhile, and compelling, but I think Pinker is right to aim at the low hanging fruit. Maybe we’ll solve issues like civil rights and inequality with political or technological innovations, but first, maybe we could just focus on not killing each other.
Third, Pinker points out what else tends to happen psychologically when we find out violence is on the decline. It is a hopeful thing to know we are heading in the right direction.
Love this book. Thanks, Pinker, for writing it, and Mark Zuckerberg for drawing more attention to it.”