Are things really going to hell in a handbasket? In this elegant and urgent assessment of the human condition in the third millennium,cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker proves that--despite the robust market for prophecies of woe--we're living longer, healthier, safer, richer, freer, happier, and more meaningful lives worldwide. The problems we face are formidable, but we have the tools to solve them. Our best days are, indeed, still ahead of us.
Progress is not inevitable, or the result of some mysterious force, he argues; it is the fruit of a system of beliefs and values that many of us embrace without even realizing it. These are the ideals of the Enlightenment: the conviction that we can use reason and science to enhance human flourishing. Far from being a naïve dream, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. Pinker shows in more than sixty jaw-dropping graphs that humanity is far better off than it was decades and centuries ago. But because of our cognitive and moral biases, we overlook this progress and prefer to sermonize about decline and despair
This myopia is dangerous, Pinker argues. It makes us sink into a paralyzing cynicism, demonize enemies instead of solve problems, and embrace demagogues and political and religious radicalism. But science and reason have given us a deep understanding of life and the cosmos, the conquest of pestilence and famine, and the precious gift of liberal democracy. The tools for to help us continue to survive and thrive are in our hands.