The Responsibility to Protect Comes of Age

NEW YORK – Good news not only sells less well than bad news, but also often seems harder to believe. Reaction to Harvard psychologist Stephen Pinker’s majestic new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, is a case in point.

In 800 meticulously argued and documented pages, Pinker shows that, over the course of history, there has been a dramatic decline in violence, both domestically and internationally – and that this downward trend is continuing through the post-Cold War years. But the response of many reviewers to Pinker’s work has been incomprehension, denial, or a tenacious focus on individual horror stories, as though they somehow change the larger picture.