Compare opinions of world leading experts and influencers.

Steven Pinker

Psychology Professor

Steven Pinker is a professor of psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time, and Slate, and is the author of seven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, The Blank Slate, and most recently, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.

Steven Pinker's Opinions

How can I be so confident that consciousness is secreted by the brain tissue in my skull, rather than lurking in the software that my brain is running? ... Perhaps the human mind, a mere product of evolution [...], is biologically incapable of understanding the solution. If so, our invention the computer would present us with the ultimate tease. Never mind whether a computer can be conscious. Our [own] consciousness, the most obvious thing there is, may be forever beyond our conceptual grasp.
18 Aug 1997    Source


Mostly Disagree
My criticism of religion [...] was defensive, meant to counter the argument that morality can only come from a belief in a soul that accepts God's purpose and is rewarded or punished in an afterlife. I think the evidence suggests that this doctrine is false both logically and factually. I don't make a point of criticizing religion in general. Some hard-headed biologists and evolutionary theorists believe that an abstract conception of a divine power is consistent with conventional Darwinism.
30 Oct 2002    Source

To sum up. The universal propensity toward religious beliefs a genuine scientific puzzle. But many adaptationist explanations for religion, such as the one featured in Time last week, don't, I think, meet the criteria for adaptations. There is an alternative explanation, namely that religious psychology is a by-product of many parts of the mind that evolved for other purposes.
29 Oct 2004    Source

The moral design of nature is as bungled as its engineering design. What twisted sadist would have invented a parasite that blinds millions of people or a gene that covers babies with excruciating blisters? To adapt a Yiddish expression about God: If an intelligent designer lived on Earth, people would break his windows.
07 Aug 2005    Source

It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer. But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth. Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings. Our own bodies are riddled with quirks that no competent engineer would have planned but that disclose a history of trial-and-error tinkering: a retina installed backward, ... goose bumps that uselessly try to warm us by fluffing up long-gone fur.
07 Aug 2005    Source

Many people who accept evolution still feel that a belief in God is necessary to give life meaning and to justify morality. But that is exactly backward. In practice, religion has given us stonings, inquisitions and 9/11. Morality comes from a commitment to treat others as we wish to be treated, which follows from the realization that none of us is the sole occupant of the universe. Like physical evolution, it does not require a white-coated technician in the sky.
07 Aug 2005    Source

There is not the slightest reason to believe in a coming singularity. The fact that you can visualize a future in your imagination is not evidence that it is likely or even possible. Look at domed cities, jet-pack commuting, underwater cities, mile-high buildings, and nuclear-powered automobiles--all staples of futuristic fantasies when I was a child that have never arrived. Sheer processing power is not a pixie dust that magically solves all your problems.
01 Jun 2008    Source

Mostly Disagree
...I think politicians have low credibility because our institutions at present don't reward truth-telling among them. Quite the contrary. It's easy to get away with blatant lies and misleading euphemism and doublespeak. So the incentive structure favors bending the truth among politicians, more so than one finds in the institutions of science.
01 Sep 2008    Source

Comparisons with Other Experts and Influencers

The similarity between Steven Pinker and each expert and influencer is calculated by looking at how the same questions were answered. These figures are used to calculate conforming, nonconforming, and projected opinions. The accuracy of the analysis depends on Steven Pinker's coverage, which grows with the number of their opinions entered into TakeOnIt.

Richard Dawkins
Evolutionary Biologist, Writer, Atheism Activist
93% agreement / 4 opinions

James Randi
Magician, Illusionist, Writer, Skeptic
91% agreement / 3 opinions

Jeff Hawkins
Neuroscientist, Inventor of Palm Pilot
87% agreement / 2 opinions

L. Ron Hubbard
Founder of Scientology
100% agreement / 1 opinions

Joe Biden
US Vice President, Democrat
100% agreement / 1 opinions

Friedrich Nietzsche
Iconic Philosopher of 19th Century
100% agreement / 1 opinions

Mostly Agree
Eliezer Yudkowsky
Artificial Intelligence Researcher
75% agreement / 4 opinions

Ayn Rand
Philosopher, Novelist
62% agreement / 2 opinions

Bill Maher
Political T.V. Host, Comedian
62% agreement / 2 opinions

Albert Einstein
Physicist, Icon of the 20th Century
62% agreement / 2 opinions

Karl Marx
Father of Communism
75% agreement / 1 opinions

Bertrand Russell
Iconic Philosopher of 20th Century
75% agreement / 1 opinions

Barack Obama
United States President
50% agreement / 3 opinions

Napoleon Bonaparte
Emperor of France
50% agreement / 2 opinions

Dean Hamer
50% agreement / 1 opinions

Daniel Dennett
Philosophy Professor
50% agreement / 1 opinions

Phillip Johnson
Law Professor
50% agreement / 1 opinions

Mostly Disagree
Robin Hanson
Economics Professor
25% agreement / 3 opinions

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Iconic Philosopher of 20th Century
25% agreement / 1 opinions

Ron Paul
U.S. Politician, Libertarian
25% agreement / 1 opinions

Kenneth Miller
Biology Professor, Christian
25% agreement / 1 opinions

Roy Spencer
25% agreement / 1 opinions

Kevin Rudd
Australian Prime Minister, 2007-2010
25% agreement / 1 opinions

The Catholic Church
Largest Christian Church
16% agreement / 3 opinions

Christian Encyclopedia
12% agreement / 2 opinions

Osama Bin Laden
Former Leader of Al Qaeda
12% agreement / 2 opinions

Ann Coulter
Political Commentator
0% agreement / 1 opinions

Conforming Opinions

Steven Pinker's conforming opinions are opinions that align with the group of experts and influencers Steven Pinker typically agrees with.

Coverage Answer Question
High Agree Did complex life evolve through the process of natural selection?
Medium Disagree Is God just?
Medium Disagree Does religion encourage good behavior?
Medium Mostly Disagree Is truthfulness a characteristic of a politician who is good for the people?

Nonconforming Opinions

Steven Pinker's nonconforming opinions are opinions that contradict the group of experts and influencers Steven Pinker typically agrees with.

Coverage Group Answer Expert Answer Question
High Disagree Mostly Disagree Does God exist?
Low Mostly Agree Neutral Could a computer ever be conscious?

Projected Opinions

Steven Pinker's projected opinions are opinions Steven Pinker is expected to have if their opinions align with the experts and influencers that they typically agree with.

Coverage Answer Question
Medium Disagree Does astrology work (is personality correlated with the positions of celestial bodies at birth)?
Medium Neutral Can science prove or disprove the existence of God?
Medium Mostly Agree Is free will an illusion?
Medium Neutral Can we handle the truth?
Medium Mostly Agree Should abortion be legal?
Medium Disagree Must God exist to explain how the universe began?
Medium Disagree Do we have an immaterial soul?
Medium Agree Should atheists directly challenge religious beliefs?
Medium Neutral Should the federal government ban gay marriage?
Low Disagree Are our enemies innately evil?
Low Neutral Is morality objective?
Low Disagree Are the core truths of science and religion complementary?
Low Disagree Does homeopathy work?
Low Disagree Did the US Government play a part in the 9/11 attacks?
Low Mostly Agree Is free trade generally beneficial for a country?
Low Agree Would the world be better off without the Catholic Church?
Low Disagree Is truth relative?
Low Agree Is self-deception a fault?
Low Mostly Agree Is abortion morally acceptable?
Low Neutral Is Yucca mountain the best place to store nuclear waste?
Low Neutral Would invading Iraq result in a quagmire?
Low Agree Is revenge OK?
Low Neutral Is hypocrisy acceptable?
Low Disagree Is the theory of evolution falsified by fossil evidence?
Low Agree Is the world explainable without God?
Low Disagree Do miracles happen?