Steven Arthur Steve Pinker is a Canadian-born American cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology, Pinkers academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics. He has written two books that proposed a general theory of language acquisition and applied it to childrens learning of verbs. In his popular books, he has argued that the faculty for language is an instinct. He is the author of seven books for a general audience, the sixth book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, makes the case that violence in human societies has, in general, steadily declined with time, and identifies six major causes of this decline. Pinker has been named as one of the worlds most influential intellectuals by various magazines and he has won awards from the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and the American Humanist Association. He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013 and he has served on the editorial boards of a variety of journals, and on the advisory boards of several institutions. He has frequently participated in debates on science and society and is a regular contributor to the online science. Pinker was born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1954, to a middle-class Jewish family and his parents were Roslyn and Harry Pinker. His grandparents immigrated to Canada from Poland and Bessarabia in 1926 and his father, a lawyer, first worked as a manufacturers representative, while his mother was first a home-maker then a guidance counselor and high-school vice-principal. His brother Robert is a policy analyst for the Canadian government, while his sister, Susan Pinker, is a psychologist and writer who authored The Sexual Paradox and The Village Effect. Pinker married Nancy Etcoff in 1980 and they divorced in 1992, he married Ilavenil Subbiah in 1995 and his third wife, whom he married in 2007, is the novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein. He has two stepdaughters, the novelist Yael Goldstein Love and the poet Danielle Blau, Pinker graduated from Dawson College in 1973. He received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from McGill University in 1976 and he did research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a year, after which he became an assistant professor at Harvard and then Stanford University. As of 2003, he is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard and he currently gives lectures as a visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities, a private college in London. About his Jewish background Pinker has said, I was never religious in the theological sense, I never outgrew my conversion to atheism at 13, but at various times was a serious cultural Jew. I laughed off my parents argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose and our competing predictions were put to the test at 8,00 A. M. on October 17,1969, when the Montreal police went on strike. This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters, Pinker identifies himself as an equity feminist, which he defines as a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology or biology
Pinker in 2011
Pinker argues that the human faculty for language is as much an instinct as a beaver's ability to build dams.