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Steven Pinker on Why Doom is not Inevitable

I don’t think that any­thing will save the world in the sense of bring­ing Utopia to Earth. But I think the world could be improved, and that would be the ver­sion of the ques­tion that I’m very much inter­est­ed in.

The Conversation #43 — Roberta Francis

Generally peo­ple don’t see the skir­mish­es that are always always always going on in the back­ground to pre­serve where we are now in terms of laws again­st sex dis­crim­i­na­tion or laws that would pro­mote sex equal­i­ty. But com­pared to where we were when the ERA came out of Congress in 1972, we are very much bet­ter off in terms of equal­i­ty of rights being guar­an­teed by the law, because so many laws that did dis­crim­i­nate on their face are off the books as a result of the strug­gle for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Conversation #38 — Alexa Clay

I think at a fun­da­men­tal lev­el I just believe in human agen­cy. And I think that every­one should feel like they can par­tic­i­pate and shape the econ­o­my, rather than feel like they’re expe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms of the econ­o­my. When the reces­sion hap­pened, there was all this chat­ter around well, the Fed is going to do this. Or the banks are going to do this. And gov­ern­ment is going to do this. And there was no nar­ra­tive around what peo­ple are going to do.

Data and Oil

I come here today because I’m excit­ed about data but also because I’m ter­ri­fied. I’m ter­ri­fied that we are hav­ing pro­gress with­out cul­ture in the world of data. And as we’ve seen with the­se failed indus­tries before, pro­gress with­out cul­ture does not work.

The Conversation #30 — Henry Louis Taylor Jr.

We don’t have a con­cept of bal­ance. Not only do we not have a con­cept of bal­ance, but we have a very dis­tort­ed sense of social jus­tice that has been reframed to jus­ti­fy a soci­ety that is fun­da­men­tal­ly anchored around the con­cept of imbal­ance. The resources of the world clus­ter toward a hand­ful of very very pow­er­ful coun­tries, one coun­try hav­ing an even greater share. In order to jus­ti­fy this greater share, it’s made them believe that this high­er con­cen­tra­tion of pow­er is nor­mal, and that any­body in all coun­tries can have it, and that all coun­tries should aspire for it.

The Conversation #22 — Wes Jackson

You’re deal­ing with timescales that are beyond humans’ inter­est. I mean, it’s sor­ta like glob­al warm­ing. The heat that we have now built up, that car­bon was burned thir­ty years ago. It’s going to take a while for the cor­rec­tion process. So, if you have the ele­ments of the phos­pho­rus, the potas­si­um, the man­gane­se, and so on, it can be built back pret­ty fast. But a short­hand way of putting it is that soil is as much of a non-renewable resource as oil. And, more impor­tant than oil. I mean, we’re talk­ing about stuff we’re made of. So that’s why I’ve said that the plow­share has destroyed more options for future gen­er­a­tions than the sword. 

The Conversation #21 — Robert Zubrin

So long as we’re lim­it­ed to one plan­et, ulti­mate­ly our resources are lim­it­ed. And there­fore every per­son in the world is com­pet­ing with every oth­er per­son in the world for a piece of a finite pie. Okay, and every new per­son born is a threat, every nation is fun­da­men­tal­ly the ene­my of every oth­er nation, every race of every oth­er race, and the only ques­tion is how do we kill them.

The Conversation #20 — David Miller

I enjoy clean air and clean water as much as the most rabid envi­ron­men­tal per­son. I just think we can have the prod­ucts of soci­ety, as well as hav­ing the­se things. Progress is a good thing. I’m just sim­ply a real­ist. And I’m just try­ing to enjoy life, enjoy fam­i­ly, enjoy friends, and con­tribute to soci­ety as best I can. And I think pro­vid­ing ener­gy, I think pro­vid­ing the met­als that soci­ety con­sumes, that peo­ple have in their their iPads, in their iPods, in their iPhones… I think that’s an hon­or­able thing to do. What else would you do? You know, why fight that?

The Conversation #13 — Ariel Waldman

I think the sad­dest thing is if you ever stop want­i­ng to learn new things. And it can be about any­thing. That’s just real­ly heart­break­ing. I don’t know. It’s just so much part of like who you are as a human to learn new things con­stant­ly. And so to not be curi­ous, not want to learn new things and not cre­ate new pat­terns and connections…you’re pret­ty much giv­ing up your human self.

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