Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Better Angels of Our Nature

In the wake of the Chas church shooting, we have the predictable demand for gun bans. 
Steven PInker wrote a book that's very popular among secular humanists: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.
Pinker's book has many critics. But let's assume for the sake of argument that his trajectory is accurate. Guns didn't even exist for most of human history. So, according to Pinker, at the very time when you have far more violent deaths (percentage-wise), you had zero access to guns. By definition, there could be no gun-related violence before guns were invented. Conversely, violent death has gone down at the same time access to guns has gone up. An inverse ratio between gun-ownership and violent death.

I'd add that even if you disagree with Pinker's dubious stats, it's still the case that human history was enormously violent long before the advent of guns. Mass murder doesn't require guns. Massacres were committed far and wide without gun access. 

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