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Didem Gurdur

I like reading Steven Pinker. I am quite a fan of his comments, which almost always are supported by data. The latest book ”Enlightenment Now” is no different. I, especially, like the way he draws attention to how scientists change the destiny of humanity hundreds, thousands of times and how we are better than 50-100 years ago. It is impossible to do not agree with him on small and big ideas he describes throughout the book. It is also wonderful to remind ourselves that the world is a wonderful place and that it is not easy to destroy humanity. At the end of the day, neither humans nor the humanity are fragile snowflakes. In short, I agree with Steven Pinker. Generally.

BUT-yes surely there is a but and it is a big but!

Nearly in every book, he makes a few unnecessarily embarrassing and very exaggerated comments on either socialism or environmentalism. You see, I am not a person who takes whatever is given without question. I love reading him and then I hate reading him, at the same time. He makes me question why I am not fond of capitalism again and again-which is wonderful because I love to disagree with smart people. It is the best way to develop a new understanding and grow. What disappoints me most is not that we are not at the same page or knowing that if he looks at the data in hand a little bit differently he can come up with a different analysis, but the certainty that he knows this already. He knows and he talks about the danger of using data this way. You know what, it is fine to do not agree on things. And I agree to disagree with Steven Pinker on socialism. Perfect! What about environmentalism?

I just do not accept his arrogant comments on green movement and environmentalists. I also do not accept how he chooses to use a few examples out of hundreds of wonderful ones just to make fun of these brave people who care and are concerned about the future of the earth. These are the people who feel responsible for the environment even though, most of the time, they are the ones who damage the nature least. I just do not accept that he that easily can write a chapter about the environment and make not only wrong but also untrue generalizations. And believe me I am not saying this as a vegan, feminist, socialist or environmentalist; I say it as a data scientist. So now, I am thinking what else my favorite author wrote in his books that was wrong and untrue.

Do you remember how much you were loving that band that you were having a poster of on the wall of your bedroom when you were a teenager? Then you start to listen to jazz instead and the old poster in your family’s house turns to be an embarrassment. Yes, I am a little concerned about feeling that way. Apparently, my dear favorite author with each book is running towards being a member of Spice Girls (which in my case would be Megadeath).

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