Just a side note, Jack, but I think Pinker did an excellent job providing the evidence to show that violence has been declining. It’s only when he tried to explain why it was declining I found his book unsatisfactory.
Actually, it seems to have been the patern in many books I have read this year, where the authors do a great job at identifying a certain problem and then fail to explain its cause. I saw it in Pagel’s “Wired for Culture,” in Murray’s “Coming Apart,” and the biggest disappointment was Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind.”
I read the review on Pagel’s book; could these be used by researchers as an intro on each topic and not the last word on the subject? I wonder. I’m not at all familiar with the other two you mentioned but may read their reviews as well. Also, I know we’ve hashed and rehashed “Better Angels…” but did you find his research inconclusive or sloppy? Just asking, as this was the first Pinker book I read and I felt that he explained the decline in depth by using easily read graphs and charts. His historical references were right on the mark too.