tv [untitled] December 19, 2013 12:30am-1:01am EST
because the human mind estimates risk from examples especially vivid examples our impressions of the amount of violence in the world is biased only if you look at statistics on how much violence there is now and how much violence there has been at earlier periods of time do you have an accurate picture of the changes in violence over time i think the statistics the data that you provide is very persuasive and you achieve be of that decrease in violence sustained decrease in violence to the better angels of our nature our peaceable inclinations taking over some of our of violent tendencies but i wonder if it's right to equate the lack of violence with a decrease of to violence to peace because the number of people meeting a violent and may have significantly decreased but has that necessarily made the quality of the lives spared more peaceful well i think it has it for one thing if
you don't have to worry about being raped doris assaulted or murdered or invaded i think that's a huge improvement in quality of life but in addition other measures of human well being measured globally also show increases people live longer more people go to school fewer people die of disease more people can afford small luxuries worldwide but my book is really about violence itself and that is an enormous contributor to quality of life and now i used to cover armed conflicts and one thing that i noticed about pretty much all of them is the emergence of these war mindset when people ordinary people commit such atrocities that they would never have imagined doing just a short while ago and what's interesting is that after the while and subsides they go back to being you know loving parents and productive members of their communities it seems that the the better angels of the need. a char
a bit and reliable and that performance and they yield to demons quite easily on a very short notice yes i think that is true and i am certainly not a romantic when it comes to human nature in my previous work i have emphasized that human beings are not blank slates we're not just passively shaped by our culture but we do have very dangerous urges like revenge like sadism like exploitation like dominance fortunately that's not all we have in our skulls we also have empathy and self-control and reason and moral norms it's a question of social insects and political institutions that at any given time determine which side of human nature actually controls our behavior and you're absolutely correct that as circumstances change our demons can emerge and i think that's a very crucial argument probably the most crucial argument in your book role of
circumstance of the role of environment in that of a neighboring and bringing out our peaceable inclinations and if we take this idea to its logical conclusion. it seems that peace could be manufactured do you agree with that yes absolutely in fact i think. i have a quote in one of the chapters that war is as old as humanity but peace is a modern invention but does it mean that war too could be manufactured through artificially creating conditions that bring out the worst about human nature the worst in people yes i think tend to think that by default if there are no institutions pushing either way we naturally fall back into violence so i think it's peace that requires more of a conscious effort i don't think you have to. it doesn't take much to do. people to
fall back into warlike ways now some of the most violent regions in the world today are the middle east and north africa especially the region that was affected by the so-called arab spring that was celebrated just three years ago for the democratic gains but now is a region where violence is a preferred method for settling disputes and from your book at least it seems that what we now have in the egyptian or in syria or in mali could have been easily predicted because you make a point that the dissolution of a state especially through the use of force almost inevitably leads to an increase in violence while i certainly believe that that stable democratic governments are among the most effective violence reduction methods our species has ever invented now of course once you have a government as we see in syria. a government on the one hand can prevent people from killing each other on the other hand the government itself can do
a lot of killing i see a democracy as a way of getting the advantages of government without the disadvantages namely the advantage of a government is that it spares people from the violence of the marquis the problem with the government is it introduces the problem of violence of tyranny and a democratic government tries to have the least government that you can get away with without perpetrating even more violence on its own citizens so i guess the biggest question of our time is really how to make that transition from an authoritarian government to a democratic government and i would like to use the example of a levy of the conflict that i covered the extensively. country saw these transition from and also krajcik a times of brutal regime to you essentially a failed state where militia groups of vigilante groups fight for power and one thing that our friend here is that you know this initial challenges are. inevitable
give it some time and libya will be a burgeoning democracy and i think it's a very popular argument in the west for the so-called assisted democratization even though i don't think we've seen too many successful examples of that really happening so i would like to ask you as a. as a scientist and from the point of view of social psychology realistically how long does it take for an authoritarian society a society that has tasted blood and that has tasted violence to transition to more peaceful ways to more democratic ways we talking months years i don't know decades centuries it very much depends on the nature of the society under tyranny i called one study that asked this question and found that the degree of education of the population was the best predictor of whether democracy would take ten years down the line that when people are educated they appreciate the value of
institutions and rule of law as a way of settling disputes they are less likely to see every contest as a winner take all they can only be determined by force well i guess what i'm asking really is about revolutions which now seems to be a common way of changing a society a legitimate way of changing a society even though many of the revolutions in the past turned out to be quite bloody including the famed french revolution which was celebrated for the advancement of france but that came at a very very high coast and if i were to ask you to weigh the process and cons of revolutions in terms of the violence it can potentially eliminate and the violence it can create i wonder why would you stand in general nonviolent resistance is better than violent resistance for two reasons the obvious one is that. killing
people and it is bad but the other one is that surprisingly nonviolent resistance is more effective than violent insurgency now it doesn't mean that every nonviolent revolution works and it doesn't mean that every violent one fails but on average the nonviolent ones are twice as likely to succeed over the course of the twentieth century and the trend has been to the advantage of nonviolent revolutions now speaking about the difference between violent and known violent ways i think that brings us back to the question i asked you earlier about creating conditions for peace if tensions in in any given society are running high would that be in the interest of that society as a whole to. allow for that anger to be expressed freely on the streets or rather for it to be suppressed how do you really balance the the right of people to assemble against the dangers of violence will of course is
a huge difference between a peaceful assembly and violent riots so it's possible to have you know as gandhi and others theorized if you have a certain percentage of the population that just refuses to do their daily job of it and to allow society to function often even brutal tyrants will be forced to step down because they can just no longer run the country again it's hard it sounds romantic it sounds squishy it sounds like nine hundred sixty s. hippies but statistically we see that actually it works more often than violent revolutions and of course it's much more likely to lead to a stable democratic government than one that is seized by by force one of the biggest factors as to whether democracy succeeds is whether prior to the democracy there had been a history of peaceful transitions of power as opposed to. the use of assassination
and coup d'etat as the way of transferring power professor brinkley and just let me follow up on that very quickly you mentioned that there is a huge difference a huge gap between peaceful assembly and violent riots but i wonder if that gap is really saw a so wide because many of the revolutions we have seen in the past have started as peaceful revolution zambian no scientifically that crowds any crowds are more prone to violence than individuals. although done not necessarily because we know that there are big mass rallies just. fifty years ago the march on washington by african-americans in the united states had zero violence and it was highly effective in changing laws partly because they had an ethic of nonviolence adopted by martin luther king from gandhi. but in forced norm of nonviolence they were determined not to be violent even though they often were victims of government
violence at the time but is that necessarily a ruler or an exception because we can also bring out by the example of nelson mandela who are who found that it is pretty much inevitable that any peaceful cause later on transfers into some mob violent violent means i think of mendell it was the other way around because he started off advocating violent revolution. but eventually attained his goals through nonviolent means we have to take a short break now but when we come back living from the heart seems to be the order of the day but is it really a good recipe for reducing violence around the world that's coming up in a few moments on worlds apart.
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g.d.p. as it is in japan so the global interest of the global debt is approaching the global g.d.p. and you enter into this slippery vortex of credit to collateralize hell where no amount of revenue our taxes will ever repay the debt which is exactly what the plantation owner is what we all be living on the field that. the street. strategic. cover team of journalists trying to release which leads documents. the united states is growing. more american they encounter fear ignorance and pressure. the way to. information freedom. media stuff on our team coming right down the street. first street.
and i think the germs. on our employers twitter. and instagram. could be in the. closet. welcome back to worlds apart where we're discussing be counter-intuitive decrease in violence around the world with professor steven pinker professor pinker just before the break we were talking about this link or rather conscience between democracy and violence and i would like to proceed a bit further you make a point in your book that the worst outbreaks of violence are often much motivated by idealistic moralistic belief system something that you call utopian ideologies
and we can definitely see some elements of that in what is happening in the middle east much of the violence there or at least some of the violence there is fueled by militant islam but some of the western governments in the beginning of that struggle supported those forces because probably they believed that was the better or the best way of reading that region from dictatorships and bringing about democracy and i wonder if we can add democracy at least they expand chinese democracy of the kind of styles by george w. bush to that at least a few topi an ideology is on par with communism on par with nazism on par with militant religion's you know the ideologies that can ultimately lead to an increase in violence. i don't think so because i think the track record of democracy when it is measured quantitatively is one that succeeds in reducing violence and seeing
human wellbeing so it's not just a question of a charismatic leader rallying the crowd to the glorious vision of a democratic future if you actually work people are happier democracies democracies are less likely to have genocides they're less likely to have civil wars they're less likely to go to war they're more likely to be destinations that immigrants choose to live in so. the idea that democracy can be imposed on other countries by bill. terry force is a kind of ideology that to put it mildly has not been proved to be correct but the . ideal of democracy i think is one that the facts speak for it isn't just a question of motion or charisma but yet they said you're all exporting democracies and you know to believe that he can actually help signal countries to
become more democratic seems to be a very popular around washington and it was practiced not only by the previous administration it was also somewhat espoused by the current american administration don't you think so well the paradox is that the advantage of democracy is that power is allocated transferred by peaceful means and likewise disputes are resolved by peaceful means so imposing democracy by force is already undermining the entire idea of democracy i think it's still it is still true that if you could wave a magic wand and get people to adopt democracy a democratic government if you got an autocratic governments to step aside or become democratic the world would be better off and the people of that country would be better off i think the problem is the idea that by military force you can decapitate a government create a state of anarchy and hope that democracy would spontaneously blossom or could be imposed on a society that still tribal where there's no concept of
a commonwealth of people collectively choosing a government with has no idea the result that disputes can be resolved peacefully that's probably a prerequisite to democracy and simply having elections we now know is not enough to bring peace to a country now very closely linked to the idea of democracy is the idea of human rights and i heard you say previously that you believe that human rights are an anglo-saxon concept and it is certainly part of. some of the western country. it's foreign policy agenda and i find this a idea extremely contentious because it had something that is truly human and universal then it would probably be something that is inborn and there is no need to push it on to others if it's just a social concept than. pushing it on to other countries also doesn't make much sense isn't the idea of actively promoting human rights
a bit out of touch with reality like i don't know requiring a preschooler or a second grader to learn the advanced math is it realistic i think it is realistic and i think that the data that i present in the better angels of our nature show that it's realistic simply because if you look at the curves the idea of human rights has been increasingly implemented the world abolished legal slavery the more and more countries are democratic. the idea that women should not be subject to violence is increasingly accepted. so i think that is the historical trend i don't think it's particularly natural i don't know i think that it's an anglo american concept by its very nature i think it was first. implemented in by the british and american governments but that's just a historical accident there's nothing that's inherently british or american about
the concept i think it's psychologically unnatural because we have very strong tribal feelings we have very strong authoritarian feelings we have strong puritanical feelings it's only when you realize that if everyone has those feelings at the same time you are worse off than if you adhere to the concept of human rights we have to send children to school to learn to read and write and do subtraction and we may have to send them to school to understand the benefits of human rights and democracy but it's well worth the effort but. i wonder how crucial is the is the concept of time and care because one could think that if you push certain values on to society before it's truly ready that could create not only. a democratic delana because the society is not. that easy for that change but that could also create a backlash against the government and most importantly against the values that it's
trying to promote and i think the issue of gay marriage for example is a very typical one here because there is a concerted effort on the part of some western governments to introduce that as a norm isn't the timing there readiness of any given society crucial here in deciding what forces whether it is an angels or demons are going to be engaged within that society and i agree except that there is a general trend when people are free to express their opinions when you have to justify your opinions to other people when people from different communities different tribes different countries engage in dialogue i think that forces the discussion in a certain direction and that direction tends towards human rights which is why in the united states we have research and in the west more generally there's been a huge tidal wave in favor of first gay rights and now we're starting to see gay
marriage something that no one would have predicted even five years ago i think five years ago if you were to say that in many american states case could marry they say you're crazy that's utopian that's a dream but professor pinker you just mentioned this reversal of attitudes in the united states and i think it's true that it happened extremely quickly i mean if we compare that to some of the other contentious social issues like women's rights or . let's say universal suffrage. the change of heart on the issue of homosexuality and even same sex marriage was sick. prizing really quick it took less than a decade but in many other countries european countries we see a backlash against that in terms of people trying to protect traditional family values well that was true of the united states until very very recently in fact united states is really not in the lead when it comes to gay rights or most progressive social issues it's the countries of western and northern europe that
are in the lead in the united states is actually a little bit behind but what happens is the debate that you just mentioned has taken place in the united states and if people are free to hash out their disagreements to have the debate i think it tends to go in a certain direction it will inevitably i think read to gay marriage just because the arguments for gay marriage are better than the arguments against it and i think that's why the change has happened so quickly ok i want to speech gears a little bit and in your book you make a point that many forms of violence have a century out cleaved the usefulness over time but there are also some new forms of violence terrorism being one of them. and terrorism as we all know realize have a way on more than technology to spread fear i want to as a cognitive psychologist which way do you think the humanities evil genius will go in the future oh well terrorism is spectacularly unsuccessful as
a tactic of political change more than ninety eight percent of terrorist movements fail to achieve any of their objectives so the way the reason that terrorism is so popular is that it involves a small expenditure of violence that gets a huge amount of attention because it exploits a feature of our own psychology namely that we pay attention to. extreme events such as acts of violence. and we exaggerate how often they occur also helped along by the news media which report terrorist attacks in such gory detail now speaking about some of the factors that may have driven this decline in violence you mentioned the steady increase in literacy is one of them and it is generally assumed that people are getting smarter with each passing day kid but i
wonder if this increase in literacy is really so linear and irreversible because if we look at some of the traditional organized religions they very definitely seeing some. some reverting to the literal interpretation of their holy books and that in and over itself can lead to an increase in violence i wonder if we as a species know deceiving ourselves about how much more. self-restraint and smarter we have become in comparison to our ancestors were not deceiving ourselves because you can look at the numbers fewer people are dying in war fewer people are dying of homicide there are more democracies there are fewer states that criminalize homosexuality so. as soon as you try to count measurable manifestations of nonviolence you see the trends are in general in a positive direction now it's not linear there are reversals it's a kind of like
a declining sawtooth and there are some shocks there are cases where violence can return to go through the roof such as in the middle decades of the twentieth century but the overall trend is one of decline and. so we're not we're not fooling ourselves we can see it in the numbers i think the nature of violence is also becoming increasingly more international and cosmopolitan you can hardly find any conflict in the world these days that is not supported. aided by third parties i wonder what do you make about the change in the nature of fire. doesn't make it more contagious with the end of the cold war those proxy wars decreased and that's one of the reasons that there have been fewer civil wars and fewer deaths and civil wars you didn't have the cold war powers arming and financing and encouraging their surrogates professor pinker unfortunately this is
all we have time for thank you very much for being on the show and to our viewers please join us again same place same time here on worlds apart. for us because the car business eastern related to man for his cars by offering his workers increased wages in cash but now in america the idea is to increase demand by offering workers access to more debt more credit which is a slippery slope into hell because that debt of course comes in interest payments and the interest on america's debt is not greater than or approaching america's g.d.p. as it is in japan so the global interest in the global debt is approaching the global g.d.p.
and you enter into this slippery vortex of credit. lateralized hell where no amount of revenue or taxes will ever pay that debt which is exactly what the plantation owner is what we all be living on the field that. the money with the business over russia. largest consumer of p.c.'s and i see it many in the country is the federal government simply say's property of the united states government. is the united states privilege and it was done in public has to realize it can't just buy. just throw it away this is a problem for instance belongs to the united states environmental protection agency
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