Is this the least violent period in the history of humankind?

Most people are convinced that we live in violent times – perhaps the most violent times. But it ain’t necessarily so.

I was visiting friends yesterday and, on the kitchen table, was the book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”  by Canadian psychologist Stephen Pinker. Now I am never going to read this book myself because it is over 1,000 pages of small print. But the argument in this book is so important that we should all know something about it.

As the very useful Wikipedia summary puts it:

‘Pinker presents a large amount of data (and statistical analysis thereof) that, he argues, demonstrate that violence has been in decline over millennia and that the present is probably the most peaceful time in the history of the human species. The decline in violence, he argues, is enormous in magnitude, visible on both long and short time scales, and found in many domains, including military conflict, homicide, genocide, torture, criminal justice, and the treatment of children, animals, racial and ethnic minorities, and gay people. He stresses that “The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth; it has not brought violence down to zero; and it is not guaranteed to continue” ‘


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