Sep 2nd, 2008 by ravi
The Broken Windows theory of Civilisation!

Pinker while pimping his book in Seed Magazine throws in this insight:

Seed: Steven Pinker on Swearing and Violence

Contrary to the popular belief that we are living in horrifically violent times, rates of homicide in the West have plummeted ten- to a hundredfold over the centuries. The sociologist Norbert Elias noted that this pacification process, correlated with other changes in everyday manners. Starting in the Late Middle Ages, people stopped blowing their noses onto the dining room table, urinating onto curtains, defecating in public, and giving their eight-year-olds advice about prostitution. Taboos on speaking about excretion and sexuality were part of this development. Ellis lumps these trends into a “civilizing process,” in which the formation of states and complex social networks forced people to exercise their superego (today we would say their prefrontal cortex) to inhibit their first impulses.

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  • Doyle Saylor says:

    Ahhh… Pinker, he writes well enough, has some amusing things to say about this and that in terms of language. One of the parts I balk at though is his polemics against Gould. He is shaped by the thought genetics control behavior, and feels a specific linkage to Chomsky about this. To the point culture which he is writing about above is a problem for him. The 'blank slate' is a political red flag of left wing dangers to him.

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