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Steven Pinker’s new book is a compelling manifesto for optimism

The world is becoming a better place—despite appearances to the contrary

By Philip Ball   March 2018

Let there be light: An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby (1768). PHOTO12/UIG VIA GETTY IMAGES

Anyone can see that the world is going to hell in a handcart. The great European project looks sick; war and fundamentalism ravage the Middle East; and we’re running out of clean water and usable antibiotics. Most worryingly, a pathological liar in the White House is taunting a nuclear-armed North Korean despot with schoolboy tweets.

But the Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker has a cure…

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