Politics on the Couch

A podcast about psychology, politics and anything else that comes up along the way.

Is Democracy Rational? A conversation with Steven Pinker Politics on the Couch

Human beings routinely make terrible choices but humanity still achieves amazing things. How does this paradox work? And is it still working when technology seems to amplify the worst in us. In this episode, Politics on the Couch host Rafael Behr talks to Professor Steven Pinker about the constant struggle between evidence and emotion for control of the political agenda; whether truth and fact are winning the long war against superstition and falsehood, and why rationality always has the last word. Professor Steven Pinker is Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and the author of a number of highly acclaimed and prize-winning books about psychology, cognitive science, linguistics and history. His latest book Rationality: What it is; why it seems scarce; why it matters was published in September. https://stevenpinker.com/publications/rationality-what-it-why-it-seems-so-scarce-and-why-it-matters More about Steven Pinker: https://stevenpinker.com/biocv Other books by Steven Pinker mentioned in episode The Better Angels of our Nature https://stevenpinker.com/publications/better-angels-our-nature Enlightenment Now https://stevenpinker.com/publications/enlightenment-now-case-reason-science-humanism-and-progress A couple of references in this episode that might be useful as further reading. Michael Ignatieff’s book Fire and Ashes, about a failed career in politics https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/27/michael-ignatieff-fire-ashes-review Jonathan Rauch’s book The Constitution of Knowledge, about the crisis of trust in institutions https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jun/26/the-constitution-of-knowledge-review-jonathan-rauch-trump Politics on the Couch has been chosen by Feedspot as one of the Top 25 UK Psychology Podcasts and Top 25 Political Science Podcasts on the web. https://blog.feedspot.com/uk_psychology_podcasts https://blog.feedspot.com/political_science_podcasts This podcast is hosted by ZenCast.fm
  1. Is Democracy Rational? A conversation with Steven Pinker
  2. Order and chaos – why the left keeps losing
  3. Empire State of Mind, with Sathnam Sanghera
  4. Radicalisation – how minds go to extremes, and how to turn them back
  5. Fear of Change – Matt d'Ancona on fixing a broken politics

The full Politics on the Couch archive is here.