Rational refutation of anti-gun hysteria from Steven Pinker


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Shear_stress
January 8, 2013, 10:11 PM
And on CNN radio no less!

I stumbled onto this interview with Professor Steve Pinker of Harvard, cognitive scientist and author of "Better Angels of Our Nature", "The Blank Slate" and "How the Mind Works."

http://cnnradio.cnn.com/2012/12/21/cnn-profiles-newtown-and-the-decline-of-violence/

The whole broadcast is a little long, but the gist of it is that rampages like Newtown, tragic as they are, are extremely rare events that pale in comparison to other less media friendly causes of death. What's interesting about this interview and what makes it on topic here is the very thing that is conspicuously absent: the talk of guns as causative agents of violence. While nearly every other commenter on television of radio has focused blindly on guns alone, Steven Pinker reminds us of the inconvenient truth for the antis--that life is actually far safer than it's ever been and there's no evidence that the latest spate of rampages is due to anything other than randomness. Random events do happen, but it's counterproductive to try to radically reconstruct our life to try to prevent everything that could possibly happen.

Anyway, this interview is exactly the kind of calm, rational type of discussion we need at this point.

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HorseSoldier
January 9, 2013, 04:58 PM
While I was kind of underwhelmed with his argument (and sketchy methodology) in Better Angels of Our Nature, it's nice to hear a guy with his credentials and Harvard tenure rationally arguing something besides the notion that evil, evil guns whisper in the night to their owners urging them to run amok.

Shear_stress
January 9, 2013, 05:06 PM
I think some parts of "Better Angels" were more compelling than others, but I think his statements offer an important logical basis for refuting those who claim that a handful of rampage incidents are all the justification required for banning certain types of firearms.

The anti-gun folks have been the most vocal on the issue of "assault rifles" in the past month. Unfortunately, few in the media seem to be questioning the underlying assumptions of the anti argument, which is that semi-automatic rifles present a clear and present danger to society. The reality is that the actual threat posed by these firearms is tiny and mostly anecdotal. We need to nail public figures on this issue and keep them honest about the terms of the debate. In other words, we need to question them openly about ineffectual bans and "look tough on crime" security theater.

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